Russia Will Not Sell Out Iran for Washington, Suggests Possibility of Returning to Iranian Airbase; Ukrainian Media & Gov’t Sources Admit Kiev Re-ignited Recent Fighting in Donbass; Dennis Kucinich Speaks Out on Syria Trip with Tulsi Gabbard; Patrick Armstrong on Strengths of Russian Economy; What Do Average Americans Really Think of Russia?

Russian long range bomber taking off from a base in Iran, August 16, 2016

Russian long range bomber taking off from a base in Iran, August 16, 2016; © Russian Defense Ministry Press Service Photo via AP

Over the past week, the Russian government has dropped some subtle and not so subtle hints that it is unwilling to sell out it’s strategic economic and military relationship with Iran for promises of playing nice from Washington.   Alexander Mercouris has detailed Russia’s initial moves conveying this message:

First off was President Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who made clear Moscow’s disagreement with Donald Trump’s description of Iran as “the world’s number one terrorist state”

We disagree with this postulate.  You all know that Russia has good relations of partnership with Iran and we cooperate with that country on a number of issues. We appreciate our relations in the trading and economic sphere and we hope for their further development
Peskov was followed by Foreign Minister Lavrov, who not only did not agree with Trump’s assessment of Iran as a “terrorist state”, but who on the contrary made clear his belief that Iran should be a party to any anti-ISIS coalition

Iran has never been found linked to Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra.  Moreover, Iran makes its own contribution to the struggle against the Islamic State.  We have long pressed for creating a genuinely universal front of struggle against terrorism. I am certain that if we make an unbiased approach to the potential members of such a coalition, Iran must be part of our common efforts

This came after Russia also made known its disagreement with the latest sanctions the US has imposed on Iran.

Within the past couple of days, the Russian ambassador to Iran, Levan Dzhagaryan, spoke publicly about the possibility of Russia working out of Iran’s air base near Hamadan, which they pulled out of months ago after briefly using it to run bombing missions into Syria.  He also highlighted other aspects of the military and technical partnership between the two countries.

In an interview with the Russian news agency TASS, Dzhagaryan said the following:

“If the leadership of the two countries will consider it necessary to use the Iranian military infrastructure to combat terrorism in Syria or elsewhere, such steps will be taken,” the diplomat said.

….By now, Moscow has fully closed a contract for the delivery of S-300 complexes to Iran, the Russian diplomat said.

“Last year, Russia finished completely the fulfillment of its obligations for the delivery of S-300 air defense systems to Iran,” the ambassador said.

….”Cooperation between Russia and Iran proceeds in many fields, including the military-technical sphere,” the diplomat said. “The two countries’ defense ministries are currently in talks at different levels on many projects of interest to Iran.”

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Mark Nicholas at Russia Insider has pointed out how the Ukrainian media, quoting Ukrainian intelligence officials, has admitted that Kiev was the initiator of recent intensified conflict in the Donbass:

Take for example the reporting of the popular local news portal the Ukrainian Pravda:

Escalation in Avdiyivka Sunday January 29 began after the collision of ATO’s [‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’] reconnaissance and sabotage unit with the militants.

This was revealed to Ukrainian Pravda by the source in the intelligence structures familiar with the situation.

The source said the fighters of the intelligence garthering unit encountered DPR militants nearby.

“The battle began. Militants requested artillery support. Therefore, to save soldiers, Commander (23-year-old captain, deputy commander of a mechanized battalion of the Cornel Andrew Ombre 72 -red.) was forced to lead men forward and play a role as fighters,” said the UP source.

According to the UP source the militants are now trying to regain from ATO a strategic position (the position of the militants called “Diamond 2” – Ed.), since it fully controlls the roads Donetsk, Lugansk and Donetsk, Gorlovka. [emphasis in original]

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Former congressional Representative Dennis Kucinich, who recently accompanied Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on her fact-finding mission to Syria, has spoken out on his Facebook page about the cheap attacks against Gabbard by certain government officials and members of the media who don’t want to hear the truth that Gabbard speaks:

I have dedicated my life to peace. As a member of Congress I led efforts to avert conflict and end wars in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Iran. And yet those of us who work for peace are put under false scrutiny to protect Washington’s war machine. Those who undermine our national security by promoting military attacks and destroying other nations are held up as national leaders to admire.

Recently Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and I took a Congressional Ethics-approved fact finding trip to Lebanon and Syria, where we visited Aleppo and refugee camps, and met with religious leaders, governmental leaders and people from all sides of the conflict, including political opposition to the Syrian government.

Since that time we have been under constant attack on false grounds. The media and the war establishment are desperate to keep hold of their false narrative for world-wide war, interventionism and regime change, which is a profitable business for Washington insiders and which impoverishes our own country.

Today, Rep. Gabbard came under attack yet again by the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin who has been on a tear trying to ruin the reputations of the people and the organization who sponsored our humanitarian, fact-finding mission of peace to the Middle East. Rogin just claimed in a tweet that as community organization I have been associated with for twenty years does not exist.

The organization is in my neighborhood. Here’s photos I took yesterday of AACCESS-Ohio’s marquee. It clearly exists, despite the base, condescending assertions of Mr. Rogin.

Enough of this dangerous pettiness. Let’s dig in to what is really going on, inside Syria, in the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon. In the words of President Eisenhower, let’s beware (and scrutinize) the military-industrial-complex. It is time to be vigilant for our democracy.

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Patrick Armstrong, Russia expert and former adviser on Russia issues to the Canadian government, provided the following critique of Wikipedia’s claims that Canada and Germany have a bigger GDP than Russia and what this does not take into account in terms of the Russian economy:

RUSSIA INC.  Summarising three recent authorities, Wikipedia says Canada’s GDP is greater than Russia’s and Germany’s is about two and a half times greater. There’s something deeply misleading and, in fact, quite worthless about these GDP comparisons. Russia has a full-service space industry including the only other operating global satellite navigation system. Neither Canada nor Germany does. It has an across the board sophisticated military industry which may be the world leader in electronic warfare, air defence systems, silent submarines and armoured vehicles. Neither Canada nor Germany does. It has a developed nuclear power industry with a wide range of products. Ditto. It builds and maintains a fleet of SSBNs – some of the most complicated machinery that exists. Ditto. Its aviation industry makes everything from competitive fighter planes through innovative helicopters to passenger aircraft. Ditto. It has a full automotive industry ranging from some of the world’s most powerful heavy trucks to ordinary passenger cars. It has all the engineering and technical capacity necessary to build complex bridges, dams, roads, railways, subway stations, power stations, hospitals and everything else. It is a major and growing food producer and is probably self-sufficient in food today. Its food export capacity is growing and it has for several years been the leading wheat exporter. It has enormous energy reserves and is a leading exporter of oil and gas. Its pharmaceutical industry is growing rapidly. It is intellectually highly competitive in STEM disciplines – a world leader in some cases. Its computer programmers are widely respected. (Yes, there is a Russian cell phone.) It’s true that many projects involve Western partners – the Sukhoy Superjet for example – but it’s nonetheless the case that the manufacturing and know-how is now in Russia. Germany or Canada has some of these capabilities but few – very few – countries have all of them. In fact, counting the EU as one, Russia is one of only four. Therefore in Russia’s case, GDP rankings are not only meaningless, but laughably so. While Russians individually are not as wealthy as Canadians or Germans, the foundations of wealth are being laid and deepened every day in Russia. What of the future? Well there’s a simple answer to that question – compare Russia in 2000 with Russia in 2017: all curves are up. Of course Russians support their government – why wouldn’t they? It’s doing what they hired it to do; we others can only dream of such governments. For what it’s worth, PwC predicts Russia will be first in Europe in 2050, but, even so, I think it misses the real point: Indonesia and Brazil ahead of Russia? No way: it’s not GDP/PPP that matters, it’s full service. Russia is a full-service power and it won’t become any less so in the next 30 years. Autarky. Very few aren’t there? And… in that little group of four autarkies on the planet, who’s going up and who’s going down? A big – fatal even – mistake to count Russia out.

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And, finally, some heartening news on the Russia front.  Russia scholar Pietro Shakarian went to several cities in Ohio and interviewed a cross-section of average Americans – on the streets, in bars and coffee shops, etc. – to get their views on Russia, U.S.-Russia relations and what they think about the recent allegations of the Russian government having hacked the U.S. presidential election.

Before I get to an excerpt and link to the results, here is a little more background on Shakarian:

Pietro A. Shakarian, a PhD Candidate in Russian History at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.  He earned his MA in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, his MLIS at Kent State University, and his BA in History at John Carroll University in Cleveland.  In addition to Reconsidering Russia, he has written about developments in Russia and the former Soviet space for The Nation, Hetq Online, and Russia Direct and he has appeared on The John Batchelor Show and the podcast for Sean’s Russia Blog.

Here is an except of what Americans in Cleveland told Shakarian:

My first stop in Cleveland was the Clevelander Bar & Grill in the city’s downtown on 27 December 2016. After ordering a beer, I asked the people behind the bar about the Russians.

“Can we get along with them?” I inquired.

“Look, if there was a war or something, I would want Russia on my side,” said the bartender, “They’re big and tough, man. Who was the guy who led them during the war? You know, with the mustache?”

“You mean Stalin?”

“Yeah. He was tough, man.”

“What do you think?” I asked the barmaid.

“Of course, we should have them as our allies,” she said. “We need to have a dialogue with them, but I don’t trust them. You know what they say: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Still, I don’t trust Russia. It’s a very scary country.”

“Why do you think Russia is scary?” I asked.

“I dunno. That’s what the media says,” she responded. “However, I don’t think the people are bad. Our neighbor is a Russian. He’s married to a Serbian woman. We have no problems with them. In general, I think that people can get along. The governments can’t. That’s the problem.”

Later, I walked down the street to a Subway restaurant. After ordering a sandwich, I casually began a conversation about the Russians with the owner and his assistant, both middle-aged, round and jovial African-American men.

“The Russians are tough,” said one of the men. “They mean business. You don’t wanna mess with them, man.”

“Do you think that US-Russian relations can improve?”

“Not while Donald Trump is in the White House,” he chuckled heartily. “That man’s crazy! He can’t even keep his Twitter under control! How can we expect him to deal with the Russians?”

Walking back, I traveled to the old beaux arts Leader Building on Superior Avenue. The building is under construction, being converted into condos. This was a perfect place to continue inquiries about the Russians. I found a group of affable construction workers on their break. The men were middle-aged. Three were white, one was black.

“Can we get along with the Russians?” I asked.

“Why not?” said the black construction worker, smiling easily. “We need them.”

“We do need them,” said another construction worker smoking a cigarette, “I mean, look how big their country is! They’re a lot of people. We need as many people to be our friends as possible. We don’t need anymore enemies. You know, my neighbors are Russian immigrants. I have no problems with them. Honestly, I think conflict now between the two governments is basically one big pissing match. If you just bring the people together and leave the politicians out of it, then we’d be fine.”

“I know the authors Dostoevsky and Bulgakov,” interjected another worker. “Crime and Punishment and The Master and the Margarita are among my favorite novels. If Russians can write such great novels, then they must not be bad people. We can work with them.”

Read the full article here

 

3 thoughts on “Russia Will Not Sell Out Iran for Washington, Suggests Possibility of Returning to Iranian Airbase; Ukrainian Media & Gov’t Sources Admit Kiev Re-ignited Recent Fighting in Donbass; Dennis Kucinich Speaks Out on Syria Trip with Tulsi Gabbard; Patrick Armstrong on Strengths of Russian Economy; What Do Average Americans Really Think of Russia?”

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