Not Everyone is Down with the Anti-Russia Hysteria; Syrian President’s Interview with Italian Media

When the Ukraine crisis erupted in late 2013-early 2014, the western establishment media embarked on its anti-Russia campaign in earnest. According to establishment media, Putin had suddenly woken up one day and decided that things were just getting too boring. It was time to invade Crimea, the Donbas and maybe the Baltics and Poland while snapping his fingers to the Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”

Then when the results of the 2016 election came in, the anti-Russia hysteria really went into overdrive as the Hillary machine sought to evade blame for her epic failure. Now, if you question the establishment on economic or foreign policy – hell, if you even look at the establishment and its media mouthpieces funny – you’re gonna get called a Russian asset.

But having reached a saturation point, how effective is the anti-Russia propaganda? It has certainly had a negative effect on the political discourse in the U.S., but do all Americans really think Putin is coming to destroy freedom, democracy, and chocolate? Does he have a secret plan to round up trans-sexual unicorns to spite liberals and “sow discord”?

Well, according to a couple of recent surveys of opinion, the results have been a bit mixed. A survey was released last week which revealed that almost half of U.S. military households and over a fourth of Americans overall viewed Russia as an ally. But, of course, rather than consider that their nonstop campaign of animus toward Russia is over-the-top and maybe not entirely justified or wise, Washington and establishment media are framing this as the successful results of a pernicious Russian influence campaign. Voice of America reported it thus:

WASHINGTON – Russian efforts to weaken the West through a relentless campaign of information warfare may be starting to pay off, cracking a key bastion of the U.S. line of defense: the military.

While most Americans still see Moscow as a key U.S. adversary, new polling suggests that view is changing, most notably among the households of military members.

The second annual Reagan National Defense Survey, completed in late October, found nearly half of armed services households questioned, 46%, said they viewed Russia as ally.

Overall, the survey found 28% of Americans identified Russia as an ally, up from 19% the previous year.

Representatives of the government have assured us they’re going to get out in front of this horrible trend of conciliatory sentiments toward the world’s other nuclear superpower:

“There is an effort, on the part of Russia, to flood the media with disinformation to sow doubt and confusion,” Defense Department spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Carla Gleason told VOA.

“This is not only through discordant and inflammatory dialogue but through false narratives designed to elicit sympathetic views,” she said, adding, “we are actively working to expose and counter Russian disinformation whenever possible.”

A recent Pew survey of people around the world showed which countries were perceived as the biggest threat. Russia wasn’t even in the top 6 and didn’t yield double-digits except in the US. (24%) and Canada (10%).

Proud holder of the number one spot as perceived threat in the world is the U.S., followed by China, Pakistan, Iran and Israel.

In the heart of Europe, the anti-Russia hysteria now seems to be hitting a wall. According to a new YouGov poll, 55% of Germans thought that they should lessen their reliance on the U.S. for their defense, while 54% favored more cooperation with Russia.

Earlier this week Syrian president Bashar al-Assad gave an interview with the Italian media outlet, RaiNews 24. He discussed several issues, including the OPCW whistleblowers who have exposed the conclusions that blamed the Douma chemical attack in April of 2014 on the Syrian government to be fraudulent.

Learn more about the OPCW whistleblower story below. It has not been covered by the establishment media except for one UK outlet and Tucker Carlson (!).

Update on Normandy Four Talks

Moscow-based journalist Bryan MacDonald has tweeted the following thread regarding what happened at the Normandy Four talks:

Russia’s @Kommersant (known to have good Kremlin sources) reports Paris negotiations on peace in Eastern Ukraine have failed to reach an agreement. Moscow claims it’s because Kiev can’t agree to withdraw its military from front lines. https://kommersant.ru/doc/4187813?from=main_1…

Putin says he had a “good, businesslike” private meeting with Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky. The leaders are now having dinner with Emmanuel Macron & Angela Merkel. With a press briefing to follow

Kommersant adds that Ukraine and Russia have agreed on gas transit. If so, that would be a major win for Zelensky and give him something tangible to take back to Kiev.

However, that appears to be in dispute according to Ukrainian media as relayed by Dr. Ivan Katchanovski (academic expert that has been cited on this blog regarding the Maidan violence in February of 2014):

Head of @NaftogazUkraine denies that @ZelenskyyUa and #Putin agreed on new Russian gas transit agreement via #Ukraine

Furthermore, Katchanovski says that Ukrainian media is also reporting that no deal has been reached at the meeting, but that a further exchange of prisoners before the end of the year has been agreed to:

#Ukrainian media reports that Zelensky and Putin discussed elections in #Donbas and resumption of #Ukraine control of border with #Russia there but failed to agree which would be first. Negotiations continue in #NormandySummit format of leaders of 4 states

My comment on this point: Russia and the Donbas rebels would be stupid to agree to returning control of the border prior to elections as Russia and the rebels would have little leverage to force Kiev to implement the agreement on elections. More from Katchanovksi:

#Ukrainian media also reports that #Zelensky and #Putin has agreed on new exchange of prisoners before New Year. #Ukraine#Russia#NormandySummit

So, it looks like some more trust-building measures have been agreed, but no deal. About the best that most of us expected at this point.

Update #1:

According to the Normandy Summit Communique just released to the public, the participants agree to the following:

  1. Current ceasefire will be sustained and strengthened by adding 3 new areas where forces on both sides will pull back. This will happen by the end of March, 2020; more de-mining activities will also occur;
  2. Confirmation of the Steinmeier Formula and the general principles of the Minsk Agreement;
  3. A further summit within 4 months.

I will provide a link to the communique once it is available. I have written this summary based on an image of the communique embedded within a tweet.

Normandy Four Meets Today; Nancy Pelosi Admits She Knew Bush II Administration Lied About WMD’s in Iraq But Didn’t Think it Was an Impeachable Offense – But Trump’s Phone Call with Zelensky Is

The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany are scheduled to meet today in Paris. Most analysts, myself included, are skeptical that anything substantive will come out of the meeting – namely because of the political pickle Zelensky finds himself in with respect to the ultra-right forces in Ukraine who have complained about Zelensky’s moderate steps toward even fulfilling the Steinmeier Formula and reviving the Normandy Four talks. US-UK-backed media outlets, including Hromadske, have run warnings to Zelensky not to make any concessions to Russia.

Interestingly, Thomas E. Graham, a former aide to George W. Bush and one of the few realists in his administration, wrote an article in October for Foreign Affairs magazine in which he outlined a proposal for how to resolve the Ukraine crisis. The article has been criticized for being unrealistic and for ostensibly making too many concessions to Russia (i.e. any concessions in a diplomatic process that, by definition, is supposed to include give-and-take). The article is behind a paywall but its main points are summarized by Professor Serhiy Kudelia on his Facebook page:

“Thomas Graham, former senior director on Russia at the National Security Council under George W. Bush, offers advice on how to achieve breakthrough during Normandy talks in Paris published in the leading US foreign policy journal: ‘The recent election in Ukraine of a new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, whose supporters now dominate the parliament, has created an opening for a comprehensive resolution of the crisis. Two tradeoffs are essential. First, to allay Russian concerns, the United States should tell Ukraine that NATO membership is off the table, while deepening bilateral security cooperation with Kiev. Second, Kiev should recognize Russia’s incorporation of Crimea in exchange for Moscow’s acceptance of the full reintegration of the Donbas into Ukraine without any special status. In a comprehensive agreement, Ukrainians would also receive compensation for lost property in Crimea and Ukraine would be afforded access to offshore resources and guaranteed passage through the Kerch Strait to ports on the Sea of Azov. The United States and the EU would incrementally ease their sanctions on Russia as these arrangements took effect. At the same time, they would offer Ukraine a substantial assistance package aimed at facilitating reform in the belief that a strong, prosperous Ukraine is both the best deterrent against future Russian aggression and a necessary foundation for more constructive Russian-Ukrainian relations. Such an approach would be met initially with great skepticism in Kiev, Moscow, and elsewhere in Europe. But Zelensky has staked his presidency on resolving the Donbas conflict, and Putin would welcome the chance to redirect resources and attention to countering spreading socioeconomic unrest in Russia.'”

What’s even more interesting is that on November 25th, Graham was in Moscow meeting with Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov. The description of the meeting on the foreign ministry’s web page was short and vague, stating simply:

Opinions were exchanged on current issues of bilateral relations. They also touched on some international and regional issues.

Now Washington is not formally a part of the Normandy talks but no doubt the U.S. wants to exert influence. I’m wondering if the Trump administration sent Graham to Moscow as some kind of back channel on the Ukraine issue. Of course, that would mean that the Trump administration is actually showing some competence. It will be interesting to see what happens.

In a recent CNN Town Hall, Nancy Pelosi was asked a question by a member of the audience about why she had opposed impeachment proceedings in the past, specifically against George W. Bush in 2006 for misleading the country into the Iraq war, but supports it now against Trump in connection with his phone call with the president of Ukraine. Below is video of her response. It needs no comment from me.

Polls: What Russians Think About Their Lives, How Inclined They are Toward Protesting and About What; Kamala Harris Drops Out of Presidential Race

Palace Square in St. Petersburg, site of Bloody Sunday, which triggered the first Russian Revolution of 1905

Several polls of Russian opinion have come out over the past few weeks that reveal some interesting insight into what Russians are thinking.

One Russian poll from November showed that 84% of Russians felt happy with their lives, with contentment with family life being counted as the most important contributing factor to that happiness. As TASS reported on the results:

“The level of happiness among Russians is still high, as 84% of those surveyed said they were content. The number is high in every social and demographic group but a thing to note is that people who consider their financial situation to be solid (94%) tend to be more optimistic than those complaining about a dire financial situation (66%),” the statement reads.

Keep that last line in mind as we continue on.

The same Russian polling agency did a poll in October which asked similar but different questions about Russians’ life satisfaction. This poll was also reported on by TASS:

“One in two Russians is satisfied with the life they lead (50%), which is the highest indicator for the last year. One-fourth of respondents, 25%, say they are partially satisfied with their life, and 22% of Russians are dissatisfied with it,” the poll says.

More than half of those surveyed (57%) positively evaluate the domestic situation, while 35% say the opposite. One-fourth of Russians are optimistic about the future, 25% are confident that their life will improve in a year, another 41% believe that nothing while change, while 23% think that things will just get worse.

“Half of those polled (48%) are concerned and worried about their future, but their number is falling. <…> One in four respondents said they are optimistic about the future (26%) and almost the same number (23%) are neither optimistic nor worried about it,” the state-run pollster said.

According to that last paragraph, although the number has gone down, around half of those polled are worried about their future, while 64% (from penultimate paragraph) think things will not change or will get worse. This is consistent with other polls I’ve looked at over the past couple of years indicating that Russians are getting a bit concerned and restless about the stagnating living standards, with wages having “contracted” over the past six years – though there was a small uptick last quarter attributed to the decline in inflation. In order to make ends meet or keep up their lifestyle, more and more Russians have been turning to credit.

This brings me to another interesting poll from early November in which 70% of Russians said they were concerned about social inequality in general. More specifically, they were concerned about falling incomes (63%), problems with getting free medical care (58%), and the high cost of necessities (58%).

But will this translate into protests in the street?

The protests in Russia we most hear about in western media are political protests in connection with more abstract ideas like democracy, freedom, and anti-corruption. But there have been protests over the past few years in various parts of Russia relating to socioeconomic issues that affect Russians’ material well-being. For example, there were protests by truck drivers over toll fees in 2015 and protests in response to the Putin government’s increase in the retirement age in 2018.

The results of a Levada Center poll released earlier this week showed that a fifth of Russians said they would participate in a political protest, but a third said they would be willing to protest economic conditions.

Apparently, the Russian government is indeed more concerned by the potential of protests based on socioeconomic discontent as reflected in a report by Professor Paul Robinson yesterday about a French sociologist who was denied entry to Russia where she was going to attend an academic conference.

The story in question is that French sociologist Carine Clément was detained by Russian border guards last week when she attempted to enter the country to attend an academic conference, and was then deported back to France. Clément had been due to give a paper discussing the French ‘Gilets jaunes’ [Yellow Vests] and comparing them to Russian vatniki (rednecks, roughly speaking). Superficially, it doesn’t seem like something which should really bother the Russian security services. After all, the Russian state-funded TV network RT has been about the only international media outlet to regularly report on the Gilets jaunes over the past year. Nevertheless, despite the fact that she has a Russian husband and daughter, Clément was declared a threat to national security and told that she was forbidden from entering Russia for 10 years…

I was able to find an English-language version of a 2015 article  [by Clement] entitled ‘Putin, Patriotism, and Political Apathy’.  It’s actually quite good, so I thought that I would share some excerpts of it here.

Clément starts off by noting Putin’s political popularity. This is genuine, she argues, and it’s not just a product of alternative voices being repressed. Political repression exists in Russia, but ‘Repression is not occurring on a massive scale. Many independent initiatives that are critical of current authorities still operate in broad daylight.’ The root of Putin’s support instead lies in the experience of the 1990s, Clément argues. In that time period, ordinary people ‘watched unscrupulous individuals make fortunes through small or big-time fraud’, while being treated with the utmost ‘contempt’ by the reformers and their allies, who dismissed them as ‘losers’ and ‘maladjusted’…

At the same time, Clément remarks, the liberal opposition is ‘cut off from the people’. It is obsessed with overthrowing the ‘Putin regime’, but ‘The problems that preoccupy most Russians, as indicated by polls, including poverty, housing, education, and health, do not appear as priorities.’ She recounts the story of a woman who visited the offices of the Yabloko party to complain about people who were poisoning dogs in her locality, and was told, ‘yes, of course, we see the problem. But tell us, how are we going to fight the regime?’

Russians see that this sort of thing is pointless, Clément argues. The political protests of the liberal opposition don’t interest them. Instead, they’re turning to more local forms of action, focusing on the sort of social-economic issues I mentioned at the start of this post. Clément believes that it is this sort of action, coming from below, and ‘rooted in local concerns and the realities of daily life’ which offers the best prospects for change in Russia.

Putin seems to have some awareness of average Russians’ concerns as he has reportedly been seeking feedback from his administration on how to “jump-start” the economy. His administration is also in the process of trying to implement the national projects that he has spoken of in his last two addresses to the Federal Assembly. Those infrastructure projects – with a special emphasis on improvement of roads – have been slow getting off the ground, however.


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Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris announced that she was dropping out of the race for the presidency.

All I can say is: Aloha, baby! Don’t let the door hit your tush on the way out.

But seriously, establishment media pundits are trying to spin this in various disingenuous ways – that she couldn’t gain traction because she was a woman of color, etc. But as political comedian and analyst Tim Black discusses below, it is because she was running a dismal campaign in which she articulated no major policy upon which she was running to fix a major problem – of which there are many currently in this country. The fact that she was very arrogant also hurt her. This arrogance was reflected in her dismissive treatment of Tulsi Gabbard, while refusing to address the substantive and very relevant problems with Harris’s record that Gabbard brought up. In fact, Harris was given several opportunities to answer Gabbard’s charges and failed every time.

Instead of offering substance as a candidate, Harris offered up her identity politics credentials, jokes that only she laughed at, and a mission to get Trump removed from Twitter. The era of style-over-substance neoliberal candidates is over. Unfortunately, Harris got the memo too late.

Caitlin Johnstone: 25 Times Trump Has Been Dangerously Hawkish on Russia

By Caitlin Johnstone

Medium.com

CNN has published a fascinatingly manipulative and falsehood-laden article titled “25 times Trump was soft on Russia”, in which a lot of strained effort is poured into building the case that the US president is suspiciously loyal to the nation against which he has spent his administration escalating dangerous new cold war aggressions.

The items within the CNN article consist mostly of times in which Trump said some words or failed to say other words; “Trump has repeatedly praised Putin”, “Trump refused to say Putin is a killer”, “Trump denied that Russia interfered in 2016”, “Trump made light of Russian hacking”, etc. It also includes the completely false but oft-repeated narrative that “Trump’s team softened the GOP platform on Ukraine”, as well as the utterly ridiculous and thoroughly invalidated claim that “Since intervening in Syria in 2015, the Russian military has focused its airstrikes on anti-government rebels, not ISIS.”


CNN’s 25 items are made up almost entirely of narrative and words; Trump said a nice thing about Putin, Trump said offending things to NATO allies, Trump thought about visiting Putin in Russia, etc. In contrast, the 25 items which I am about to list do not consist of narrative at all, but rather the actual movement of actual concrete objects which can easily lead to an altercation from which there may be no re-emerging. These items show that when you ignore the words and narrative spin and look at what this administration has actually been doing, it’s clear to anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty that, far from being “soft” on Russia, Trump has actually been consistently reckless in the one area where a US president must absolutely always maintain a steady hand. And he’s been doing so with zero resistance from either party.

It would be understandable if you were unaware that Trump has been escalating tensions with Moscow more than any other president since the fall of the Berlin Wall; it’s a fact that neither of America’s two mainstream political factions care about, so it tends to get lost in the shuffle. Trump’s opposition is interested in painting him as a sycophantic Kremlin crony, and his supporters are interested in painting him as an antiwar hero of the people, but he is neither. Observe:

1. Implementing a Nuclear Posture Review with a more aggressive stance toward Russia

Last year Trump’s Department of Defense rolled out a Nuclear Posture Review which CNN itself called “its toughest line yet against Russia’s resurgent nuclear forces.”

“In its newly released Nuclear Posture Review, the Defense Department has focused much of its multibillion nuclear effort on an updated nuclear deterrence focused on Russia,” CNN reported last year.

This revision of nuclear policy includes the new implementation of so-called “low-yield” nuclear weapons, which, because they are designed to be more “usable” than conventional nuclear ordinances, have been called “the most dangerous weapon ever” by critics of this insane policy. These weapons, which can remove some of the inhibitions that mutually assured destruction would normally give military commanders, have already been rolled off the assembly line.

2. Arming Ukraine

Lost in the gibberish about Trump temporarily withholding military aide to supposedly pressure a Ukrainian government who was never even aware of being pressured is the fact that arming Ukraine against Russia is an entirely new policy that was introduced by the Trump administration in the first place. Even the Obama administration, which was plenty hawkish toward Russia in its own right, refused to implement this extremely provocative escalation against Moscow. It was not until Obama was replaced with the worst Putin puppet of all time Uthat this policy was put in place.

3. Bombing Syria

Another escalation Trump took against Russia which Obama wasn’t hawkish enough to also do was bombing the Syrian government, a longtime ally of Moscow. These airstrikes in April 2017 and April 2018 were perpetrated in retaliation for chemical weapons use allegations that there is no legitimate reason to trust at this point.

4. Staging coup attempts in Venezuela

Venezuela, another Russian ally, has been the subject of relentless coup attempts from the Trump administration which persist unsuccessfully to this very day. Trump’s attempts to topple the Venezuelan government have been so violent and aggressive that the starvation sanctions which he has implemented are believed to have killed tens of thousands of Venezuelan civilians.

Trump has reportedly spoken frequently of a US military invasion to oust Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, provoking a forceful rebuke from Moscow.

“Signals coming from certain capitals indicating the possibility of external military interference look particularly disquieting,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “We warn against such reckless actions, which threaten catastrophic consequences.”

5. Withdrawing from the INF treaty

For a president who’s “soft” on Russia, Trump has sure been eager to keep postures between the two nations extremely aggressive in nature. This administration has withdrawn from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, prompting UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to declare that “the world lost an invaluable brake on nuclear war.” It appears entirely possible that Trump will continue to adhere to the John Bolton school of nuclear weapons treaties until they all lie in tatters, with the administration strongly criticizing the crucial New START Treaty which expires in early 2021.

Some particularly demented Russiagaters try to argue that Trump withdrawing from these treaties benefits Russia in some way. These people either (A) believe that treaties only go one way, (B) believe that a nation with an economy the size of South Korea can compete with the US in an arms race, (C) believe that Russians are immune to nuclear radiation, or (D) all of the above. Withdrawing from these treaties benefits no one but the military-industrial complex.

6. Ending the Open Skies Treaty

“The Trump administration has taken steps toward leaving a nearly three-decade-old agreement designed to reduce the risk of war between Russia and the West by allowing both sides to conduct reconnaissance flights over one another’s territories,” The Wall Street Journal reported last month, adding that the administration has alleged that “Russia has interfered with American monitoring flights while using its missions to gather intelligence in the US.”

Again, if you subscribe to the bizarre belief that withdrawing from this treaty benefits Russia, please think harder. Or ask the Russians themselves how they feel about it:

“US plans to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons and multiply the risks for the whole world, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said,” Sputnik reports.

“All this negatively affects the predictability of the military-strategic situation and lowers the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, which drastically increases the risks for the whole humanity,” Patrushev said.

“In general, it is becoming apparent that Washington intends to use its technological leadership in order to maintain strategic dominance in the information space by actually pursuing a policy of imposing its conditions on states that are lagging behind in digital development,” he added.

7. Selling Patriot missiles to Poland

“Poland signed the largest arms procurement deal in its history on Wednesday, agreeing with the United States to buy Raytheon Co’s Patriot missile defense system for $4.75 billion in a major step to modernize its forces against a bolder Russia,” Reuters reported last year.

8. Occupying Syrian oil fields

The Trump administration has been open about the fact that it is not only maintaining a military presence in Syria to control the nation’s oil, but that it is doing so in order to deprive the nation’s government of that financial resource. Syria’s ally Russia strongly opposes this, accusing the Trump administration of nothing short of “international state banditry”.

“In a statement, Russia’s defense ministry said Washington had no mandate under international or US law to increase its military presence in Syria and said its plan was not motivated by genuine security concerns in the region,” Reuters reported last month.

“Therefore Washington’s current actions — capturing and maintaining military control over oil fields in eastern Syria — is, simply put, international state banditry,” Russia’s defense ministry said.

9. Killing Russians in Syria

Reports have placed Russian casualties anywhere between a handful and hundreds, but whatever the exact number the US military is known to have killed Russian citizens as part of the Trump administration’s ongoing Syria occupation in an altercation last year.

10. Tanks in Estonia

Within weeks of taking office, Trump was already sending Abrams battle tanks, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and other military hardware right up to Russia’s border as part of a NATO operation.

“Atlantic Resolve is a demonstration of continued US commitment to collective security through a series of actions designed to reassure NATO allies and partners of America’s dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine,” the Defense Department said in a statement.

11. War ships in the Black Sea

12. Sanctions

Trump approved new sanctions against Russia on August 2017. CNN reports the following:

US President Donald Trump approved fresh sanctions on Russia Wednesday after Congress showed overwhelming bipartisan support for the new measures,” CNN reported at the time. “Congress passed the bill last week in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, as well as its human rights violations, annexation of Crimea and military operations in eastern Ukraine. The bill’s passage drew ire from Moscow — which responded by stripping 755 staff members and two properties from US missions in the country — all but crushing any hope for the reset in US-Russian relations that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had called for.”

“A full-fledged trade war has been declared on Russia,” said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in response.

13. More sanctions

“The United States imposed sanctions on five Russian individuals on Wednesday, including the leader of the Republic of Chechnya, for alleged human rights abuses and involvement in criminal conspiracies, a sign that the Trump administration is ratcheting up pressure on Russia,” The New York Times reported in December 2017.

14. Still more sanctions

“Trump just hit Russian oligarchs with the most aggressive sanctions yet,” reads Vice headline from April of last year.

“The sanctions target seven oligarchs and 12 companies under their ownership or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank,” Vice reports. “While the move is aimed, in part, at Russia’s role in the U.S. 2016 election, senior U.S. government officials also stressed that the new measures seek to penalize Russia’s recent bout of international troublemaking more broadly, including its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and military activity in eastern Ukraine.”

15. Even more sanctions

The Trump administration hit Russia with more sanctions for the alleged Skripal poisoning in August of last year, then hit them with another round of sanctions for the same reason again in August of this year.

16. Guess what? MORE sanctions

“The Trump administration on Thursday imposed new sanctions on a dozen individuals and entities in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea,” The Hill reported in November of last year. “The group includes a company linked to Bank Rossiya and Russian businessman Yuri Kovalchuk and others accused of operating in Crimea, which the U.S. says Russia seized illegally in 2014.”

17. Oh hey, more sanctions

“Today, the United States continues to take action in response to Russian attempts to influence US democratic processes by imposing sanctions on four entities and seven individuals associated with the Internet Research Agency and its financier, Yevgeniy Prigozhin. This action increases pressure on Prigozhin by targeting his luxury assets, including three aircraft and a vessel,” reads a statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from September of this year.

18. Secondary sanctions

Secondary sanctions are economic sanctions in which a third party is punished for breaching the primary sanctions of the sanctioning body. The US has leveled sanctions against both China and Turkey for purchasing Russian S-400 air defense missiles, and it is threatening to do so to India as well.

19. Forcing Russian media to register as foreign agents

Both RT and Sputnik have been forced to register as “foreign agents” by the Trump administration. This classification forced the outlets to post a disclaimer on content, to report their activities and funding sources to the Department of Justice twice a year, and could arguably place an unrealistic burden on all their social media activities as it submits to DOJ micromanagement.

20. Throwing out Russian diplomats

The Trump administration joined some 20 other nations in casting out scores of Russian diplomats as an immediate response to the Skripal poisoning incident in the UK.

21. Training Polish and Latvian fighters “to resist Russian aggression”

“US Army Special Forces soldiers completed the first irregular and unconventional warfare training iteration for members of the Polish Territorial Defense Forces and Latvian Zemmessardze as a part of the Ridge Runner program in West Virginia, according to service officials,” Army Times reported this past July.

“U.S. special operations forces have been training more with allies from the Baltic states and other Eastern European nations in the wake of the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014,” Army Times writes. “A low-level conflict continues to simmer in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region between Russian-backed separatists and government forces to this day. The conflict spurred the Baltics into action, as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia embraced the concepts of total defense and unconventional warfare, combining active-duty, national guard and reserve-styled forces to each take on different missions to resist Russian aggression and even occupation.”

22. Refusal to recognize Crimea as part of the Russian Federation

…even while acknowledging Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights as perfectly legal and legitimate.

23. Sending 1,000 troops to Poland

From the September article “1000 US Troops Are Headed to Poland” by National Interest:

Key point:Trump agreed to send more forces to Poland to defend it against Russia.

What Happened: U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to deploy approximately 1,000 additional U.S. troops to Poland during a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, Reuters reported Sept. 23.

Why It Matters: The deal, which formalizes the United States’ commitment to protecting Poland from Russia, provides a diplomatic victory to Duda and his governing Law and Justice ahead of November elections. The additional U.S. troops will likely prompt a reactive military buildup from Moscow in places like neighboring Kaliningrad and, potentially, Belarus.

24. Withdrawing from the Iran deal

Russia has been consistently opposed to Trump’s destruction of the JCPOA. In a statement after Trump killed the deal, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was “deeply disappointed by the decision of US President Donald Trump to unilaterally refuse to carry out commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”, adding that this administration’s actions were “trampling on the norms of international law”.

25. Attacking Russian gas interests

Trump has been threatening Germany with sanctions and troop withdrawal if it continues to support a gas pipeline from Russia called Nord Stream 2.

“Echoing previous threats about German support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Trump said he’s looking at sanctions to block the project he’s warned would leave Berlin ‘captive’ to Moscow,” Bloomberg reports. “The US also hopes to export its own liquefied natural gas to Germany.”

“We’re protecting Germany from Russia, and Russia is getting billions and billions of dollars in money from Germany” for its gas, Trump told the press.

I could have kept going, but that’s my 25. The only reason anyone still believes Trump is anything other than insanely hawkish toward Russia is because it doesn’t benefit anyone’s partisanship or profit margins to call it like it really is. The facts are right here as plain as can be, but there’s a difference between facts and narrative. If they wanted to, the political/media class could very easily use the facts I just laid out to weave the narrative that this president is imperiling us all with dangerous new cold war provocations, but that’s how different narrative is from fact; there’s almost no connection. Instead they use a light sprinkling of fact to weave a narrative that has very little to do with reality. And meanwhile the insane escalations continue.

In a cold war, it only takes one miscommunication or one defective piece of equipment to set off a chain of events that can obliterate all life on earth. The more things escalate, the greater the probability of that happening. We’re rolling the dice on armageddon every single day, and with every escalation the number we need to beat gets a bit harder.

We should not be rolling the dice on this. This is very, very wrong, and the US and Russia should stop and establish detente immediately. The fact that outlets like CNN would rather diddle made-up Russiagate narratives than point to this obvious fact with truthful reporting is in and of itself sufficient to discredit them all forever.

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Possible False Flag on Iran in Near Future?

As many of you are, no doubt, aware, there have been anti-government protests going on in Iran in response to a hike in gas prices. Given that the Iranian people have been being squeezed by the effect of western sanctions, it is no surprise that something like this might push some people over the edge into protests – most of which have remained peaceful but there have been some episodes of violence and vandalism. However, we know from other examples (e.g. various Arab Spring uprisings and the Maidan protest movement-cum-coup) that western governments – namely Washington – will take advantage of the native discontent to foment a regime change operation if it involves a government that is perceived as not sufficiently acquiescent to Washington’s interests.

Washington has recently moved thousands of troops to Saudi Arabia and the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group arrived in the Persian Gulf last week. In recent days, a top U.S. general’s prediction of more Iranian “attacks” and a visit by the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Israel, should alert people to the possibility of a false flag attack to blame on Iran, which can then be used as a pretext for direct military intervention. Antiwar.com reported this past Sunday:

Gen. [Kenneth] McKenzie is making a point to predict Iran attacking “again” while reiterating the US blaming Iran for Yemeni drone strikes on Saudi Arabia, which Iran has denied any involvement with. This same putative Iran attack was the justification for a lot of the US buildup, particularly US ground troops being sent to Saudi oil-producing regions.

McKenzie’s prediction of more things like that, which again is to say Yemeni attacks on Saudi Arabia that the US can blame on Iran, is particularly concerning both in that Iran has no control over that, and because the US has put 3,000 ground troops in Saudi Arabia, effectively human shields…

… McKenzie’s statement was followed by a visit to Israel by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, who was also emphasizing meetings with Israeli officials on the idea of an imminent Iran conflict.

The fact that a major holiday is coming up in which Americans will be distracted also does not bode well. I hope nothing major comes of this – perhaps it is just intended as more bluff to try to intimidate Iran, but all of these things taken together make it worth keeping a skeptical eye on this situation.

For its part, the Iranian government sent representatives from the IRGC to a huge pro-government rally in Tehran where it was announced:

We have shown patience towards the hostile moves of America, the Zionist regime [Israel] and Saudi Arabia against the Islamic Republic of Iran… but we will destroy them if they cross our red lines.

Furthermore, a representative of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Abbas Mousavi said:

the [pro-government] demonstration allows the foreign states “to see who the real people in Iran are and what they are saying.”

Below is Kim Iversen discussing this situation more.

Here is a follow-up video Iversen did in which she discusses feedback she received from Iranians about what is going on in Iran.

NYT Gaslights Readers About Ukraine Helping Clinton in 2016; Polls Reflect that Impeachment Could Alienate Potential Independent Voters, Americans’ Belief in Exceptionalism Declining

The New York Times (and other establishment media outlets) has been recently reporting that the assertion that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election on behalf of the Clinton campaign is a “conspiracy theory” fostered by…wait for it….Russian disinformation. This position conveniently supports the establishment Democrats’ (and the U.S intelligence community) position as summarized in impeachment hearing testimony this past week by Russia hawk Fiona Hill who called such assertions a “fictional narrative.”

Granted, some of Trump’s references to Ukrainian help to Clinton/DNC contain his typical errors of detail within what sometimes sounds like verbal vomit. Just when you think he might be making some kind of sense, he’ll start spouting some hodgepodge of thoughts that ricochet off the walls. However, this “conspiracy theory” dismissal by the establishment media – led by the NYT – ignores in depth reporting done by Politico in January of 2017 which found that:

Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.

A Ukrainian-American operative [Alexandra Chalupa] who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia.

Read the full article here. Note that in a May 2016 email to a DNC official, Chalupa discussed her ongoing attempts to dig up dirt on Manafort in Ukraine and also mentioned, “there is a big Trump component you and Lauren need to be aware of that will hit in next few weeks.” This undermines any suggestions that she was doing this investigation for “personal” reasons and not to benefit the DNC and its interests.

Additionally, reporting from Yahoo.com also detailed some of Chalupa’s efforts to use Ukrainian connections to undermine Manafort and the Trump campaign on behalf of the DNC. Lev Golinkin also reported on this for The Nation. The NYT itself had reported on the Manafort allegations based on information it had knowingly received from Ukrainian sources – both within the Ukrainian government and outside of it. See here and here.

So, does this mean that the reporters and editors of Politico, Yahoo, and even the NYT were taken in by Russian disinformation? If so, how did it happen? Did the Russians beam the disinformation into their heads while they were sleeping? Did these fearless guardians of truth get hypnotized by Russian agents posing as news sources? Has the Kremlin managed to slip subliminal messages from RT into their smart phones? How can we ever trust what Politico, Yahoo or even the NYT reports ever again? Will Politico and the NYT be removed from Facebook? This demands answers!

But seriously, the “newspaper of record” has degenerated so much in the past two decades that it no longer makes any pretense of objectivity or even seriousness. The bullshit it peddles is so obvious to anyone who has an ounce of independent and critical thought left. As a follower on Twitter recently said, the NYT has now become such a rag, that “a bird would be ashamed to take a dump on it.”

Let’s move on to another aspect of the impeachment debacle that has just come out. As reported by Vanity Fair late last week, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll, focused on independents – who make up roughly 40% of the electorate according to Gallup – have now said they oppose impeachment. Several questions were asked by the pollsters, which enabled the reporters to take a deeper dive into how and why those polled came to oppose impeachment:

Three important factors are driving the views of Independents. The first is that, in their view, impeachment distracts from issues they care about. Twenty-seven percent of Independents described impeachment as a top priority, and another 10% agreed that it is a priority, just not a top one. In the abstract, 37% saying that an issue is a priority doesn’t sound too bad, but among the 11 issues that Politico and Morning Consult tested, impeachment ranked last, well below the deficit at 74%, health care at 72%, and infrastructure at 70%. Even Trump’s absurd border wall scored as a higher priority for Independents. Fundamentally, most Independents want Congress to focus on the issues that impact their lives. They have not been convinced that curtailing the bad acts of Donald Trump would have any tangible effect.

The second factor is the view among Independents that impeachment reflects the agenda of the political establishment and the media. Regardless of what they think about Trump’s behavior, Independents see impeachment as a continuation of the partisan bickering and media excess that began even before his inauguration. By massive margins, Independents say that the impeachment issue is “more important to politicians than it is to me” (62% to 22%) and “more important to the media than it is to me” (61% to 23%). It is hard to read this as anything but a warning to the Democratic leadership and candidates: Stop talking about issues that matter to you, not to me. Impeachment proceedings are viewed as bread and circuses for the anti-Trump crowd in Washington and the media—or, as Stanford political science professor Morris Fiorina described it to me, “entertainment and confirmation.” That’s a dangerous perception as Democrats approach one of the most consequential and fraught elections of our times.

Third, as other reporting has suggested, Independents suffer from scandal fatigue and overall confusion. They agreed with the statement “[It is] difficult to tell all the investigations in Washington apart” by a roughly two-to-one margin. (Even Democrats concur by a substantial, if somewhat smaller, margin). This no doubt reflects a successful Trump strategy to sow confusion and spread blame. By constantly charging others with acting badly and by creating such a long litany of disputable acts, Trump has in effect led many voters to dismiss the whole mess as the type of bad thing that all politicians do. Confusion has been aggravated by a rating-seeking media, whose credibility has been undermined by the fact that some cable hosts and their guests have consistently predicated, with astonishing stubbornness and inaccuracy, that the next scandal will be the one that topples Trump. It may be that the Democrats finally have the best facts against Trump, and the clearest story line of all. But they face a segment of the public that is jaundiced by what has gone on before.

Another poll, reported on by Axios, shows that, while a slight majority of Americans still think the U.S. is an exceptional nation, that number has declined from last year. Furthermore, Americans are generally inclined to be non-interventionist in terms of foreign policy. A breakdown of the demographics reveals a significant generation gap within the findings. Here are the details on attitudes toward intervention.

1. In response to humanitarian abuses overseas, most would opt for restraint (47.1%) or a UN-led response (33.5%) rather than U.S. military action (19.4%).

2. More Americans think the U.S. should decrease (57.6%) rather than increase (42.4%) its military presence in Asia in response to a rising China.

Many favor an argument often made by President Trump — that countries like Japan and South Korea can afford to defend themselves.

3. Americans are split over what to do about Afghanistan.

38.8% say the U.S. should withdraw within the year, 31.4% say the U.S. should negotiate with the Taliban but remain until a deal is reached, and 29.8% say the U.S. should remain until all enemies are defeated.

Normandy Four to Meet in Paris on December 9th; MSM: Americans Lack Interest in Impeachment Circus Because They’re Dumb and Apathetic

French President Macron in Paris/AP Photo/Michael Euler

After successful disengagement of forces in both major areas of the Donbas in recent weeks, French President Emmanuel Macron has announced he will be hosting Normandy Four talks with Germany, Ukraine and Russia on December 9th. According to the AP:

Macron’s office says that the meeting will allow implementation of the Minsk accords, the 2015 agreement sponsored by France and Germany that envisages broad autonomy for the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and an amnesty for the rebels.

A couple of folks in the media have apparently had some criticism thrown their way for acknowledging what everyone has already figured out – that the impeachment hearings last week have been about as stimulating as a shot of Nyquil or a hit of Benadryl. Listening to career National Security State bureaucrats relay Brzezinski’s talking points from the grave on Russia and Ukraine and the provision of a lot of second and third-hand hearsay that would not be permitted in a court of law, it turns out, is rather boring.

But, of course, it’s not enough to be subjected to this snoozefest as we slug rotgut coffee in between two crappy service jobs and wondering how we’re going to pay our medical bills. Now the average American also has to be condescended to by the political class and their media mouthpieces with implications that we’re too thick to understand the finer points of corruption being discussed by our intellectual superiors in Congress. Translation: Us plebes aren’t sufficiently waving our pompoms for impeachment because we’re morons.

In one of her famous daily “radar” rants at The Hill’s morning show, Krystal Ball explains to the whine and cheese crowd that average Americans understand quite a bit – including how the Democratic Party establishment has no moral leg to stand on when it comes to taking on Republican malfeasance because they’re all up to their botox-enhanced foreheads in the muck, parlaying their political positions into money-making enterprises on a regular basis.

Does anyone think that Obama would be making millions of dollars giving speeches to billionaires on Wall Street if he’d tried to govern like FDR? Does anyone imagine that he’s chiding these billionaires that they should temper their greed or “quickly get over” their sense of entitlement so that average Americans could have a fighting chance at a better standard of living and a more peaceful and sustainable world? Of course not. He knows he wouldn’t be invited back for more lucrative speeches if he did. The most he’ll do is ask these billionaires during a mutual admiration society meeting to give him a “thank you” for what he did for them while in office. With unmitigated gall, he reserves his finger-wagging for the little people who are finally making some demands for justice by supporting candidates like Bernie Sanders after decades of de-industrialization, stagnant wages, skyrocketing housing and health care costs, and endless wars that waste money and lives.

Moreover, Ball points out that even some Democrats are admitting in private that these hearings are not moving the needle to get more people to support impeachment and Trump’s removal from office. It’s a foregone conclusion that the Senate will not vote to remove Trump. But 6-8 weeks of a Senate trial will take several Democratic primary candidates – e.g. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – off the campaign trail during a crucial time. If one didn’t know better, it might look like Pelosi and the Dem Party leadership would rather have 4 more years of Trump than a left populist reformer like Sanders as president. And why not? They’d do just fine under a second Trump administration, just like they’re doing fine under the current one, getting to play the role of the loyal opposition for the cameras and laughing all the way to the bank, while not actually doing a damned thing to improve things for the rest of us.

Thank you, Hillary Clinton, for Helping Tulsi Surge; OSCE Confirms Successful Withdrawal of Forces Near DPR in Donbas

As many of you are likely aware, Hillary Clinton made some comments during a podcast interview a few weeks back suggesting that a female Democratic Party primary contender was being “groomed” by the evil Rooskies to run as a third party candidate, presumably to serve as a spoiler and split the vote. Clinton didn’t mention Tulsi Gabbard by name, but it was easy to figure out who she meant and all subsequent media coverage of Clinton’s comments ran with the assumption that it was Gabbard. Gabbard responded on Twitter with sharp criticism of Clinton’s record of “war-mongering” and dirty political tricks.

The controversy has helped put Gabbard on the media map as many have been sympathetic to Gabbard being targeted in such a defamatory way by the deeply disliked diva of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Earlier this week, lawyers for Gabbard’s campaign sent a letter to Hillary Clinton’s legal team demanding that Clinton publicly retract her baseless accusations against Gabbard, with the implied risk a defamation suit. It is unlikely that Gabbard would actually win such a suit given the fact that she is a public figure and the criteria for winning such a suit is more difficult to meet than for a person who is not in the public eye. But this keeps the controversy front and center for a bit longer.

And why not? The controversy – which Gabbard has expertly parlayed to her advantage by contrasting herself with the hated Hillary – has created a surge in support for Gabbard as reflected in a newly released poll showing Gabbard at 6% in New Hampshire – ahead of Andrew Yang and Kamala Harris who continues her death spiral in popularity. Gabbard has met the criteria for the debate coming up later this month and is on the cusp of qualifying for the December debate as well. This gives her more opportunities to make her case to the American public and to perhaps land a karate chop to another establishment/corporate toady candidate. Pete Buttigieg or Amy Krowbarjaw are on my wish list. Below is Rising‘s Krystal Ball giving a summary of Tulsi’s surge and how she might actually satisfy the search for that highly sought after, but elusive “most electable” candidate against Trump.

So, it would appear that Hillary’s strategy of trying to torpedo Gabbard’s candidacy has backfired in typical Wiley Coyote fashion. In fact, Clinton has a history of bad strategic moves that have come back to bite her hard in the butt (Pied Piper, anyone?). But she seems unable to learn from her failures. Rather than keeping her pie-hole shut for a while after this, she has continued on by either implying publicly that she knows who the Democratic nominee is likely to be or that it might even be her since she hasn’t ruled out running again.

From my perspective, Hillary Clinton has shown since her loss in 2016 that she has serious mental health issues as manifested by the obsession with her loss and refusing to take any responsibility for it, instead blaming it on a laundry list of excuses: sexism, James Comey, the Russians, the man in the moon. She is now doing psyops on the American public in a desperate attempt to stay relevant. This is the same woman who thought she had it so in the bag in 2016 that she could offer the American electorate nothing substantive, insult half of them as “deplorables,” and not bother campaigning in rust belt states that were important in terms of the electoral college. She also practically anointed Kamala Harris as her successor at the outset of the primary campaign by handing over her foreign policy and other contacts to her. How’s that judgment call working for you, Hillary? Why anyone would give Hillary’s opinions and prognostications – much less her chances of success in another presidential run – any credibility at this point is beyond me. The country would be better off ignoring her.

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On November 13th, the OSCE reported the following developments in the Donbas:

On 12 November, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) received a letter from the armed formations in non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk region, notifying that they had completed the withdrawal of forces and hardware in the agreed disengagement area near Petrivske.

On 13 November, the SMM received two Notes Verbales from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, one notifying that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had completed the withdrawal of forces and hardware in the agreed disengagement area near Petrivske….

…The second Note Verbale from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the above-mentioned letter from the armed formations also contained notifications of readiness to begin the removal of fortifications and other installations of military value from the disengagement area, together with baseline information and geographical co-ordinates of these fortifications, and other installations of military value.
These notifications were provided to the SMM in accordance with a timeline, endorsed by the Trilateral Contact Group on 1 October 2019, regulating activities in the disengagement areas concerning the withdrawal of forces and hardware, the removal of fortifications and demining.


The second Note Verbale and the letter also notified that the removal of fortifications and other installations of military value would begin in line with the agreed timeline.

Putin’s Remarks on Climate Change as Effects are Increasingly Seen in Russia and Youths Express Concern

Although it’s been very slow to emerge, there is increasing concern expressed in Russia about the environment, from pollution related to industry and unregulated landfills to climate change. The Russian government has finally been forced to recognize the problem – at least in terms of rhetoric, with 2017 having been officially declared “The Year of the Environment in Russia.”

This past September, Russia – the fourth biggest emitter of carbon in the world – finally ratified the Paris Climate Accord. However, Russia could remain within its commitments to the accord by increasing its current emissions because of the major drop that came after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. There has been talk for several years that Putin even supports the formation of a Green Party, though some wonder if it would just be another small rather ineffectual party with a green “flavor.”

Over the past year, Russia has experienced major storms, floods and wildfires on an unprecedented scale – of which the aftermath prompted a personal visit by Putin in which he scolded the poor emergency response by local officials. But there is much more damage happening that hasn’t received such a dramatic treatment by the media. A recent article from Asia Times reports:

The Kremlin has now been forced to acknowledge that Russia is being hit hardest by climate change. According to state agency Rosgydromet, global warming is taking place 2.5 times faster in Russia than on average in the rest of the world, because of its geographical position.

Some effects of climate change became evident this summer, when surging wildfires devastated millions of hectares of Siberian taiga and floods ravaged the Irkutsk region.

But these are minor developments compared to a far, far greater peril.

If temperatures continue rising, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia’s permanently frozen landmass – a vast geographic region which makes up 60% of the country’s territory.

Melting of permafrost poses threats to “the structural stability and functional capacities” of key infrastructure, as pointed out in a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

According to separate estimates by the Russian Academy of Science, at current rates, the area covered by permafrost will shrink by a staggering 25% by 2080. That shrinkage threatens $250 billion worth of physical infrastructure, including energy pipelines, transportation networks and residences.

Additional reporting by Moscow correspondent Fred Weir for CSM revealed more concerns:

Arctic ice, receding at a record pace, revealed five new islands in the Russian far north this year that had been hidden under the ice sheets for all of recorded human history.

Russian scientists aboard a research ship near the northern coast of Siberia last week were amazed to discover a massive eruption of methane bubbles from the ocean floor. The huge clouds of the super-greenhouse gas suggest that the underlying permafrost is melting faster than anyone could have anticipated.

This all begs the question of whether any short-term benefits that Russia might gain from more comfortable temperatures in populated areas or the opening up of formerly unreachable resources might be seriously outweighed by the longer-term liabilities.

According to polls administered by the Russian government, over half of Russians think environmental problems are worsening and two-thirds don’t think the government is doing enough about it. More importantly, a recent Russian poll to ascertain the attitude of youths (aged 10 – 18, living in 52 Russian regions) toward several issues, showed that almost half were concerned about the environment and 90 percent thought that updated laws were needed to better protect the environment.

With this context in mind, I will share comments that Putin made at the recent Valdai conference with respect to climate change in response to a question about Russia’s ratification of the Paris accord and how to resolve the conflict between protection of the environment and economic imperatives:

Vladimir Putin: As for the uniformity of approaches and evaluations, we will probably never reach this. Indeed, experts in various fields who somehow try to answer the question about the causes of climate change do not give unambiguous answers to the causes of climate change.

There are different opinions, I have heard them. Some say there is some global change in space that affects the Earth, so from time to time huge changes like this take place on our planet. I sailed along the Lena River in our country and saw high banks with deposits containing the remains of obviously ancient tropical mammals, which lived in tropical seas. I am talking about the Lena River, its stretch north of the Arctic Circle. It means back then the climate there was like this. Well, were there any anthropogenic emissions at the time? Of course, not. You see, there is no answer.

Just the same, my position is that if the human race is responsible for climate change, even in the slightest degree, and this climate change has grave implications, and if we can do something to, at least, slow down this process and avoid its negative consequences, we must spare no effort. This is our position. Despite all disagreements, we will support the international efforts to combat climate change.

Indeed, we have practically ratified the Paris Agreement and are committed to implementing it. You said we hesitated or argued about it. There will always be room for doubt or disputes. But look at the obligations that we undertook and those undertaken by our partners. We are committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 70 or 75 percent by 2050.

By the way, the European Union has undertaken to cut the same type of gas emissions by 60 percent. We have approved a national environmental programme. It sets forth in detail what we must do and how we must do it complete with the deadlines. We have approved 12 federal programmes under the national project to work to change the situation regarding the environment. Gas emissions in 12 of the largest metropolises in our country, where they affect people’s lives and have a negative impact on the environment, must be reduced by 20 percent.

We have adopted a programme to deal with waste dumps – not only with primitive rubbish dumps but with hazardous waste as well. We have adopted a programme to extend protected nature areas by five million square kilometres. We have a whole set of measures that we are not just intending to carry out but we have already started to implement and they have already been made law in our country. So, we are determined to move, together with our partners, along this path that is laid down in the Paris Agreement.

As for the hydrocarbons, I think it was yesterday that I said the structure of the Russian energy sector is one of the world’s greenest. The nuclear power and hydropower industries in our country account for a third of the energy sector and gas accounts for 50 percent of the remaining two-thirds.

We have one of the greenest energy sectors in the world plus the capacity of our forests to absorb [waste carbon dioxide]. So, we understand the threats that everyone, including us, are exposed to. The warming rate in Russia exceeds that in the rest of the world by 2.5 percent. We are aware of this.

And one more thing: there are forests ablaze in one part of our country while close to it there is flooding and there is also drought and so on. We are well aware of this and we will do, jointly with the whole world, with the humankind, whatever it takes to preserve nature and the environment.

Analysis & Book Reviews on U.S. Foreign Policy and Russia

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