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MAIN SERVER DOWN - comments temporarily open here.

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - 1 hour 46 min ago
Dear friends,

Looks like the main server in Iceland is down.  

It might be a case of this:

Looked like we are being DDOSed.

Until this is fixed, I am opening an unmoderated  "open thread" here.

The Saker
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Ukraine ready to default? Central Bank raises Interest Rates to 30%

pennyforyourthoughts2 - 5 hours 25 min ago
Market Watch

If Ukraine defaulted how would the debt to Russia for gas be dealt with?
Input appreciated :)
The conflict in the Ukraine is relevant to global investors as it directly affects security in Europe, which is the home of an economy the size of the U.S. The trade bans due to conflict-driven sanctions involve many countries and add to the European deflation ( bankers don't want deflation) at present. Those trade bans might get wider should the conflict intensify based on the realization that a political solution would not give the rebels and their Russian backers what they want — enough autonomy to keep Ukraine out of the EU and NATO.

I do not follow this conflict to determine who is right or wrong but to gauge how it affects financial markets. Most of my conclusions may seem relevant only to institutional investors that deal in currencies, sovereign bonds, credit-default swaps (CDSs), and the energy markets, but I do believe those geopolitical developments affect quite a few individual investors, even those in the U.S.

Last week the Ukrainian truce barely took hold when fighting over the strategic Ukrainian town of Debaltseve, which controls rail lines linking Luhansk and Donetsk, threatened to unravel the ceasefire agreement. The rebels decided to take the town "no matter what," as a prolonged truce made it necessary for them to control logistics in their territory.It has been clear for a long time that Ukraine is a divided country where half the population supports the rebels and the other half supports the government in Kiev — as demonstrated by this map of the 2010 election, which brought Yanukovych to power. This map also suggests this conflict can quickly carry all the way to Odessa, which Russian ruler Catherine the Great (1729-1796) turned into a key trading hub for the Russian Empire. There is also an unhappy minority of Russians in a strip of Moldova adjacent to Ukraine, where Russian peacekeepers have been stationed for years. It is entirely possible they see this conflict as the opportunity to resolve their situation once and for all.Perhaps because of all of the above considerations, Ukrainian government bonds are at all-time lows. When such a bear market in credit gets to prices like 44 cents on the dollar, this is the bond market saying that Ukraine will likely default. I am not sure the IMF would be putting more funds in a country that is in the middle of an intensifying civil war. The inversion between the one-year and five-year Ukrainian CDS has continued to widen past 2700 basis points, indicating rising chances of a sovereign default in 2015.I don't understand this completely... but if Ukraine defaulted what could be the potential fallout?
CDSs act like leveraged put options on bonds. To try to simplify this comparison, one can say it looks like an options skew before an earnings announcement when investors are bearish on the prospects of a company meeting consensus estimates. In such a situation, investors cause the puts to be much more expensive than the calls before the earnings announcement. This CDS inversion is similar to a "put skew" in equities.The Ukrainian Hryvnia (green line) has collapsed, and at last count is changing hands at 33.50 to the dollar (before this mess started, it was at 8 to the dollar). There is no telling where the currency is going. In order for it to stabilize, this conflict has to be over — and it is not close to being over yet. Currencies have this amazing ability to spiral out of control, resulting in a negative feedback loop where weakness in the currency causes more inflation, which causes more weakness in the currency.George Soros, who has managed to capitalize on more than one of these "loops," calls this "reflexivity." Such reflexivity is likely to continue to play itself out until we know for sure how this mess is going to be resolved. At this point, it is uncertain if this conflict resolution will arrive in 2015, or later.
Practical considerations for individual investors

While the above insights may seem esoteric to some and only relevant to institutional markets like CDSs, currencies and sovereign bonds, they do affect individual investors, in my opinion.

I think this geopolitical situation is bearish for the euro, as it adds to the deflation and economic stagnation in the eurozone via trade bans. The euro has another leg lower as I write this, flirting with 2015 lows, but it is becoming increasingly clear that parity is in the cards this year. Let's not forget that it has been as low as 83 cents since it became a "paper currency." In a deflationary situation counterbalanced by intensifying QE from the ECB, the euro can decline well below parity.

A popular ETF that tracks the euro is the Currencyshares Euro Trust FXE, -0.87% even though there are leveraged ones like the Proshares Ultrashort Euro EUO, +1.83%  and its leveraged bullish antithesis from the same ETF family. Keep in mind that leveraged ETFs are not really buy-and-hold instruments, but rather trading vehicles that an investor should consider liquidating quickly if the trade goes against you. Keep that in mind when trying to get in front of a move in the euro. Very few investors know how to handle leverage. This is the reason why so few people make good futures traders.This currency implication is relevant for all ADRs denominated in euros as well as any mutual fund that invest in debt and equity securities in the eurozone — they are all swimming against the current. A 20% move in the dollar against them would mean that they need a 20% rise in the EUR-denominated asset to stay flat. If the asset does not rally you can lose money, even if it stays flat in the local market. Not enough U.S.-based investors realize this by staying diversified in the eurozone and by hunting for "values" there.

There is also an implication for the price of oil. The premium of Brent over WTI futures prices nearly disappeared in this price decline in the latter part of 2014, but that pricing gap had dramatically widened in 2015, where Brent is over $60/bbl on the April futures as I write this, while WTI April futures are below $50. I think this is the futures market predicting that Brent will be in shortage due in part to the likelihood of disruptions because of a possible escalation of the Ukrainian conflict.
Ukraine Central Bank Raises Key Rate to 30%

KIEV, Ukraine—The central bank pushed lending rates even higher Tuesday in an attempt to stabilize Ukraine’s beleaguered currency and hold its financial system together until promised international loans arrive later this month.

The move comes as the government hurried to complete painful overhauls—including raising energy prices and cutting pensions...
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Roundup - A Converging Pattern of Toxicity from Farm to Clinic to Lab-

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 18:32
 Yup, it's another post on the "Chemical Manipulation of Humanity"

Roundup - a converging pattern of toxicity from farm to clinic to laboratory

Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji / 25th February 2015
This is long, has multiple links which are accessible in the pdf (scroll down to access that)
As scientific evidence grows of the many ways in which glyphosate - pipe-cleaner, herbicide and antibiotic - damages the environment and health, governments and regulators turn a blind eye, writes Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji, and the EU has even raised allowable residue levels. It's time for us all to put bans in place wherever we can!    Not only is glyphosate toxic to health and the environment, but a cocktail of even more lethal herbicides have to be deployed to deal with glyphosate-resistant weeds. In short, we have an ecological and agronomic disaster.Glyphosate, perhaps surprisingly for a chemical so ubiquitously associated with our food, was not first used as an agricultural chemical.

Instead it was first patented as a metal chelator in 1964 by Stauffer Chemical company (US 3160632 A) and used as an industrial pipe cleaner.

It was later patented by Monsanto as an herbicidal agent in 1974 (US3799758 A) based on its ability to block the shikimate pathway involved in the production of aromatic amino acids in both plants and bacteria.It has become the most popular herbicide in the world especially since glyphosate tolerant genetically modified (GM) crops were commercialized in the mid-1990s, together with the assumption (perpetrated by Monsanto) that the herbicide is safe for health and the environment. In 2010, it was also patented by Monsanto as an antibiotic agent.Widespread use as pre-harvest 'dessicant'
Moreover, it is being increasingly used as a pre-harvest desiccant for drying seeds, a process that results in contamination of non-GM grains, one of the main exposure routes in the EU where GM crops are not commonly grown.

Thus, an estimated 70% of UK oil seed rape (canola) and 50-60% of EU sunflowers are sprayed with glyphosate, resulting in products of major food brands in the UK testing positive for glyphosate residues in a 2014 analysis by GM Freeze, with glyphosate the most commonly detected of all chemicals.All of glyphosate's chemical properties already mentioned have implications for the health of both people and planet. Scientific research has additionally implicated glyphosate as an endocrine disruptor and a DNA mutagen; and it affects over 291 different enzymes in the body.It is increasingly linked with a wide variety of illnesses, the sharp rises in illnesses occurring in parallel with glyphosate application across various GM cultivating regions of the world.

The most convincing evidence of glyphosate toxicity is the consistent pattern of diseases associated with glyphosate that has emerged from the farm to the clinic and from scientific studies to citizen testimonials.Glyphosate widespread in the environment and in our bodies
Glyphosate's popularity is due in large measure to its concomitant use with the most widely planted type of GM crops, those tolerant to glyphosate-herbicides.

Monsanto commercialised the first Roundup-ready crop in 1996 (Roundup being the commercial formulation containing 'adjuvants' that make it much more toxic than the active ingredient glyphosate alone, see later).

In countries such as Argentina where large swaths of the country have been dubbed soy deserts, GM soybean cultivation has resulted in an 858% rise in glyphosate use. Similarly, the US has seen even greater rises of 2,500% from 1987 to 2007.This widespread and massive application of glyphosate herbicides has resulted in almost ubiquitous contamination of the environment. A 2014 study on US water systems across 38 states found glyphosate and its principle metabolite AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid) not only in rivers, lakes and streams, but also rain, soil and sediment, ditches and drains and groundwater.Yes, it's even found in rainwater!
Some 70% of rain samples tested positive for glyphosate. Similarly in Europe, (in Catalonia, a large region of Spain) it was found that all 11 groundwater sites were positive for glyphosate despite it being a region free from glyphosate-tolerant crop cultivation: 41% of samples were above detection limits.

The detection in groundwater goes against one of the claims on glyphosate safety that its propensity to bind to soil and sediment means it will not leach into our fresh water supplies.In Argentina, new data of rain sample measurements averaged an extreme 6.5 µg/L and reaching as high as 67 µg/L (67 ppb) across four regions from October 2012 to April 2014. These levels are far higher than those seen in US rain samples where the average and maximum concentrations were 0.11 µg/L and 2.5 µg/L respectively.

Tap water and rivers also test positive for glyphosate with UK samples coming up (30 parts per trillion (ppt) and 190 ppt respectively) at concentrations within range of those found to be toxic in lab studies (see How Roundup Poisoned my Nature Reserve, SiS 64).Urban areas also get sprayed, prompting London citizens to organise banning campaigns of glyphosate spraying in public areas including child-friendly zones. Even oceans are not spared from glyphosate poisoning, with run-offs into the sea persisting for up to 267 days in sea water obtained from the Great Barrier Reef and tested in the lab.
Officially 'safe' - but where are the data?
Due to the official 'safe' status of glyphosate, data on how much we are being exposed have been scarce, forcing citizen activists and civil society organizations to find out for themselves.

Friends of the Earth Europe commissioned an analysis of 182 volunteers across 18 EU countries and found detectable levels in 44% of urine samples with concentrations ranging from 0.16 ug/L average in Switzerland, to 1.82ug/L in Latvia. Of the UK citizens tested, 7 out of 10 were positive. In the US, urine samples show concentrations 8 times those in Europe.The analysis, commissioned by Moms Across America, also tested 10 mother's breast milk, which came up positive for glyphosate with levels ranging from 76 µg/L to 166 µg/L (76-166 ppb).

These levels are 760 to 1,600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides, and raise obvious concerns as they fall within the range of concentrations at which developmental toxicity has been observed in animal studies (see below).This analysis is the only study on breast milk to date, as no government or public health body has found it necessary to carry out any study on bioaccumulation in internal organs and tissues or in breast milk fed to infants.Glyphosate levels in urine samples correlate to ill-health
Recent independent scientific studies have backed up the work of activists and civil society organisations. Awad Shehata and colleagues in Germany looked at glyphosate levels in the urine of both chronically ill and healthy people, and found significantly higher levels in ill people in samples taken from 102 and 199 healthy and chronically ill people respectively.

Those who ate predominantly organic food had lower levels, along with livestock that were fed conventional versus genetically modified feed. The study also looked at levels in cow tissues as well as urine.Detection of glyphosate in the tissues contradicts one of the assumption-based arguments used by industry and regulators that due to glyphosate's high water solubility, it is rapidly excreted from the body and therefore risks of harm are negligible.

In such a case, the levels of glyphosate in urine would be expected to be much greater than levels found in the tissues. However, urine levels in cows averaged 27-42 µg/ml (27-42 parts per million (ppm)), while the level in tissues (intestine, liver, spleen, kidney and muscle) averaged between 14-20 µg/ml, which is within range of urine levels.Though they did not compare glyphosate levels in urine and internal organs of the same cow, the average levels across all cow samples dispute the assumptions taken by regulators that glyphosate does not remain in the body at levels that can cause harm.In summary, glyphosate is almost ubiquitous in our environment and in people and livestock; it has even been discovered in hospital feeding tubes for child cancer patients in the US. The impacts are described below.A birth defect epidemic in people and animals
Argentina is one of the biggest cultivators of GM soybeans and the country has witnessed a sharp increase in serious illnesses since cultivation began. Concerned doctors and health practitioners founded the Network of Physicians of Crop Sprayed Towns and met in 2010.

They presented data showing increased incidence of birth defects, spontaneous abortions, infertility, still births, cancers, Down's syndrome, mental disability, immune and endocrine disorders, as well as acute effects such as increased convulsions in epileptic patients at time of fumigation, respiratory and dermatological problems (see ) and Pesticide Illnesses and GM Soybeans, SiS53 ).The Network, together with a large citizen movement, is pushing for a complete ban on aerial spraying of agrochemicals plus a ban of its use within a kilometre of residential areas. They documented a 2-5 times increase in birth defects in sprayed towns compared to before spraying began.
Common defects include neural tube defects, which are replicated in laboratory studies on glyphosate (see later).
A 2013 report from the Centre of Congenital defects claims that nationally, the number of cases has not gone up, but a closer scrutiny gives a different picture. Data gathered during a six month period from the hospital Maternidad Provincial in Córdoba showed that despite recording a low level of birth defects of 36 out of a total of 2140 births (1.68%), 22 of those came from mothers living in crop-sprayed towns, which accounts for 61% of all the birth defects.The US has seen a surge in neural tube birth defects (anencephaly) in the Yakima River, Washington State. The source remains a mystery to officials who have ruled out common causes such as low folic acid and lifestyle choices. Rates have reached 8 cases per 10 000 births from 2010-2013 compared to a national average of 3 cases per 10 000 births.Glyphosate has emerged as a prime suspect as the state of Washington use herbicides, most often glyphosates, to kill noxious weeds in both land and water. An estimated 146 pesticides were applied in the area in the year 2000, and studies are now needed to confirm whether or not glyphosate, either alone or in combination with other chemicals is responsible for neural tube defects in the area.

Reproductive problems such as miscarriages and infertility have also risen in Argentina (see Glyphosate/Roundup & Human Male Infertility, SiS62). Physicians of sprayed towns have recorded as many as 23% of women suffering from miscarriage in the last 5 years.The latest victims of Argentina's chemical agricultural system, of which GM cultivation is an extreme example, could very well have been spared if the evidence of the teratogenic properties of glyphosate produced by industry since the 1980s had not been dismissed.
Glyphosate is teratogenic - according to Monsanto's own data

Monsanto's own toxicology tests submitted to the EU commission showed evidence of teratogenicity (see EU Regulators and Monsanto Exposed for Hiding Glyphosate Toxicity, SiS51). The submitted test reports describe rats and rabbits with skeletal abnormalities including the development of a 13th rib in offspring, as well as cardiac abnormalities.

Scientific studies such as that of the late Professor Andrés Carrasco reporting neural tube birth defects in frog and chick embryos exposed to agricultural concentrations of glyphosate have validated both Monsanto's findings and clinical observations (see also Lab Study Establishes Glyphosate Link to Birth Defects, SiS48).Probing into the mechanisms underlying the defects, Carrasco discovered that glyphosate disrupted retinoic acid activity, a well-known regulator of developmental processes.

Epidemiological studies have linked increased incidence of birth defects (spina bifida, circulatory/respiratory anomalies, tracheo-esophogeal defects, gastrointestinal defects, urogenital defects, cleft lip, adactyly, clubfoot, musculoskeletal anomalies, Down's syndrome and other birth defects) and reproductive toxicity in those who live near agrochemical-sprayed fields.

Other lab studies are accumulating evidence of birth defects and reproductive toxicity in a range of animals from rats to catfish.

Evidence from the farm follows the same pattern. Ib Borup Pedersen recently documented personal experiences on his pig farm, where removing GM soybean feed from the diet resulted in pronounced improvement in the health of his pigs, reducing medicine use by a third and increasing his profits (see "Changing from GMO to Non-GMO Natural Soy, Experiences from Denmark, SiS 64).

Profits were also increased due to his sows living longer and giving birth to more piglets. After researching glyphosate and GMOs Ib investigated further and collaborated with scientists in Germany who analysed 38 of his 1-day old deformed piglets, finding glyphosate in various organs of the pigs.

Pigs suffered defects ranging from severe to mild, including spinal, cranial defects and others affecting limbs, gender, internal organs, tongue and more. Many appear to be neural tube defects as seen in the clinic and laboratory.
Cancer rates skyrocket in South American regions of GM cultivation
Neighbourhood resident organisations such as the association of Mothers of Ituzaingo, in collaboration with the Network of Sprayed Towns have been mapping cancer incidence in their towns for many years to draw attention to the epidemic they are facing.

It is has reached the point where now, 30% of all deaths in these regions are from cancers, affecting both adults and children. Cities such as Hernando have seen a 258% rise in cases between 2001-2002 and 2010-2012.

Rises in cancer rates can be explained by glyphosate's role in cancer-causing mechanisms including DNA damage and endocrine disruption. Endocrine disruption may well also underlie some of the reproductive and teratogenic effects of glyphosate described above.Lab studies show glyphosate damages DNA in lab animals as well as in people who were exposed to the chemical in Argentina. It also disrupts cell cycle regulation that can lead to increased cell division and cancer development [36,37].

The glyphosate metabolite AMPA was also shown in a 2014 study to induce DNA damage in fish at concentration ranges previously documented in streams and surface water in N. America. Glyphosate's carcinogenic potential has been documented since the 1980s (see Glyphosate & Cancer, SiS 62)

Distinct from DNA damaging properties, glyphosate also mimics oestrogen at very low levels and promotes the growth of hormone-dependent breast cancer cell lines.

Actually glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor and alters the expression of multiple hormones including testosterone, leutinising hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and the aromatase enzyme complexes that convert testosterone to oestrogen.
Cancer doubles in areas of high agro-chemical use

Epidemiological studies corroborate lab studies and reports from local citizens in Argentina and the US. The Ministry of Health of Córdoba in Argentina reported in June 2014 the doubling of cancer cases in high agrochemical use areas compared to the national average.

Consistently, a new meta-analysis found association between glyphosate and cancers following occupational exposure. The study looked at all epidemiological papers on non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) incidence that had been published in English since 1980 that reported agricultural, occupational exposure to specific pesticides.

A total of 44 papers were analysed, covering 80 active ingredients and 21 pesticide chemicals, finding the strongest associations between pesticides and specific subtypes of NHL, including an association between glyphosate and B lymphoma.

They also found that phenoxy herbicides, carbamate insecticides, organophosphorus insecticides and the active ingredient lindane, an organochlorine insecticide, were positively associated with NHL.

The most comprehensive GMO feeding study to date carried out by Gilles-Eric Séralini and his team, looked at the effects glyphosate and glyphosate tolerant maize NK603 on rats during their two-year life-time.

It showed increased incidence of tumours (including cancers), other illnesses, as well as reduced life-span and altered hormone status. The 2012 publication was aggressively attacked by industry and its supporters and unilaterally and illicitly retracted a year after publication following the appointment of an ex-Monsanto employee as an editor for the journal (see Retracting Séralini Study Violates Science and Ethics, SiS 61).
It has subsequently been republished elsewhere after massive public protest (see Open Letter on Retraction and Pledge to Boycott, SiS 61).
Fatal kidney disease epidemic across continents foreseen by lab studies

Kidney disease has reached epidemic levels in regions that heavily use glyphosate such as farmers in Sri Lanka and sugar cane workers in Central America. Kidney problems have been highlighted by scientific studies, including Séralini's rat feeding study where kidney tumours were observed.

A meta-analysis of feeding studies conducted by Séralini's lab revealed kidney pathology in animals fed Roundup Ready soybeans, while in vitro studies have shown that glyphosate had cytotoxic effects on human embryonic kidney cell lines [52,53] (see GM Feed Toxic, Meta-Analysis Confirms, SiS52, Death by multiple poisoning ,glyphosate and Roundup, SiS 42).

In Sri Lanka, chronic kidney disease of unknown aetiology (CKDu) has afflicted the agricultural population in recent years. A study published in 2014 linked glyphosate-based herbicides to the epidemic.

It appears that hard water in the agricultural regions leads to heavy metal toxicity in the kidneys via glyphosate's metal chelating activity, and is responsible for the 400,000 cases of the disease and 20 000 fatalities (see Sri Lanka Partially Bans Glyphosate for Deadly Kidney Disease Epidemic, SiS 62).

The government temporarily banned glyphosate from hard water areas, but this decision was reversed due to a lack of agricultural workers to take over the manual weeding required without the application of glyphosate.Similar health problems are widely affecting communities in Central America with one in four sugar cane workers reporting kidney disease in some areas [58, 59].

This epidemic forced the El Salvador government to call for international help after the epidemic began overwhelming the health systems. The El Salvadorian government has since approved legislation to ban glyphosate herbicides, though this is yet to be enforced.
Digestive illnesses widespread - in pigs, cows and humans

Digestive illnesses plagued the pig farm in Denmark (mentioned earlier) while they were being fed GM soy. When GM produce and glyphosate were removed from their diet, the pigs no longer suffered chronic diarrhoea, which was so severe that 30% of new born piglets were dying as a result.

Chronic botulism, caused by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria, has also been on the rise in livestock in Germany, the US, and UK since the 1990s. The latest study shows that glyphosate results in dysbiosis of the cow gut, with a reduction of beneficial bacteria in the rumen of cows accompanied by a rise in C. botulinum microbes.

The digestive illnesses in livestock mirrors a growing health problem in the West, particularly in the US where food intolerances, allergies, celiac disease, bowel diseases, infections and other problems continue to become more common.

Nancy Swanson and colleagues showed a clear correlation between spikes in both inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal infection with glyphosate in the US. Deaths from intestinal infections have risen from less than 0.25 deaths per 100,000 in 1979 to over 80 deaths per 100,000 in 2010. Inflammatory bowel disease has risen from around 3 diagnosed cases per 100,000 in 1990 to almost 90 per 100,000 in 2010.
Moms across America's testimonials reflect the evidence from the farm and science studies, with children who come off GM and glyphosate covered foods reducing the severity of allergy symptoms as well as other problems such as regular vomiting.

With glyphosate's antibiotic properties, it had already been previously shown to cause disruption of the gut bacteria in poultry, swine and cows. Salmonella and Clostridium are highly resistant to glyphosate, whereas Enterococcus,Bifidobacteria, and Lactobacillus are especially susceptible.(The Clostridium resistance explains the big surge in C Dif cases)

Perturbation in the balance of these microbial species is associated with digestive disorders such as celiac disease. Similarly, chronic botulism in cows is rectified in livestock by feeding fermented and pro-biotic foods along with charcoal and humic acids. These both bind to the toxins produced by the bacterial pathogen.(I am going to start fermenting food- one goal I have to deal with this chemical manipulation of humanity)
This treatment also reduces the urinary content of glyphosate, suggesting its binding as an underlying mechanism in the recovery of the infection.

Autistic people are well known to have disturbed intestinal function and dysbiosis of the gut. Autism rates are also spiking in parallel with glyphosate use in the US and glyphosate's antibiotic activity may well be an underlying mechanism behind this.Indeed, mothers have also documented much improved autism symptoms in their children upon giving them a glyphosate and GM-free diet.
Health of American citizens deteriorating

One argument for the safety of GM food and their associated pesticides is that the US has been consuming them for years without ill effect. However, in the absence of labelling GM foods, it is illegitimate to make such a claim. On the contrary, there has been a drastic deterioration of public health in the US since GM crops were introduced.

A new publication by Swanson and colleagues plots the rise of 20 chronic diseases using available US government data, all correlating closely with increasing glyphosate application to corn and soy crops, especially over the past several years.

The diseases included cancers, Parkinson's, autism, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, digestive disease and kidney failure. Correlation does not prove causation, but such strong association certainly cannot be dismissed, especially in combination with the plethora of other evidence from laboratory studies, and the experiences of doctors in their clinics and farmers in the fields.

For a detailed analysis of the study please see Marked Deterioration of Public Health Parallels Increase in GM Crops and Glyphosate Use, US Government Data Show ( SiS 65).

Though heart disease had not been studied as extensively as cancers and birth defects in relation to glyphosate, the above study implicates its role in cardiac dysfunction. This is corroborated by the new finding that glyphosate formulations cause abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia) by interfering with the electrical activity of heart cells in rabbits.

A new study published in 2015 finds a correlation between glyphosate use and pineal gland pathology. The pineal gland is located in the brain and is known to regulate circadian rhythm through melatonin secretion.

Glyphosate is hypothesised to disrupt melatonin metabolism, as well as induce pineal gland neuropathology through aluminium-induced hypoxia that results from the metal chelating properties of glyphosate. In this way, glyphosate use tightly correlates with the rises in sleep disorders as well as other disorders with symptoms of sleep dysfunction such as autism and dementia.

It is becoming clear that glyphosate has multiple toxicities that link it to many diseases through its metal chelating, antibiotic, endocrine disrupting, and genotoxic properties. Glyphosate also has the ability to block cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzyme activity, a class of enzymes involved in detoxifying xenobiotics amongst other things.

Glyphosate therefore not only is a toxin in its own right, but enhances the toxicity of other chemicals by preventing the CYP enzymes from detoxifying the body.

Americans are definitely getting sicker in numerous ways highly correlated with adopting GM crops and rise in glyphosate use and, as shown by all the testimonials from Moms across America, peoples' health improves after removing GMOs and glyphosate residues from their foods by buying organic.
Environmental toxicity a concern for biodiversity, agriculture and sustainability

The spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds is increasingly compromising the effectiveness of the herbicide. There are now a reported 31 species of resistant weeds, up from 23 a year ago as recorded by the Weed Science organisation in the US.

In Brazil, an aggressive spread of weeds prompted a former DuPont agronomist to acknowledge the difficulties faced by farmers cultivating glyphosate-tolerant GM crops both in Brazil and Argentina.

Monsanto now recommends an "integrated weed management" strategy that includes tilling the soil (of previously no-till land) and using multiple herbicides.

The main selling points of Monsanto's Roundup Ready (RR) GM crop system was to reduce environmental damage through no-tillage agriculture and glyphosate use - a supposedly 'safe' herbicide compared to older chemicals.

Not only is glyphosate toxic to health and the environment, but a cocktail of even more lethal herbicides have to be deployed to deal with glyphosate-resistant weeds, and an end to no till agriculture, resulting in further soil erosion. In short, we have an ecological and agronomic disaster.

Glyphosate toxicity to wildlife is well-documented. Many species, including aquatic organisms, reptiles, beneficial soil organisms including certain microbes and worms have been shown in scientific studies to be affected by glyphosate exposure (see Ban GMOS Now, ISIS special report).

This includes chronic and acute toxicity to the model aquatic organism Daphnia magna at below accepted thresholds for glyphosate presence in US freshwater. Amphibians, the most endangered animals in the world, are so sensitive to glyphosate that 78% of frogs died in one study on being exposed to Roundup herbicide.

Glyphosate has also been shown to stimulate the growth of soil fungi, increase the pathogenicity of soil pathogens such as Xylella fastidosa while numerous beneficial soil organisms have been decimated (see Scientists Reveal Glyphosate Poisons Crops and Soil, SiS 47).

The latest study on soil organisms concluded that non-target organisms are at risk of local extinction after finding sub-lethal doses of glyphosate reduced fertility as well as survival of juvenile and adult E.fetida worms.

Monarch butterfly decline has been linked to glyphosate destruction of the milkweed in the US, the only food source for its larvae. Their migration from the US is at an all-time low and has been declining for the last 17 years (1994-5 to 2010-2011) (see Glyphosate and Monarch Butterfly Decline, SiS 52).

This decline has prompted a move to protect the butterflies under the Endangered Species Act by over 200 organisations and 40 scientists in November 2014. A new report on a Welsh nature reserve documents the decline in insects including beneficial pollinators such as bees as glyphosate levels increase (see How Roundup Poisoned my Nature Reserve, SiS 64).
Reducing micro-nutrient availability

Not only are non-target organisms negatively affected, but also the target crops. Glyphosate's metal chelating properties reduce the micronutrients available to the plant, which it needs to maintain a fully-functioning immune system, thereby increasing its susceptibility to disease.

This mechanism is thought to underlie the spread of over 40 crop diseases in glyphosate-tolerant GM crops (see USDA scientist reveals All, SiS53). Indeed, USDA senior scientist Don Huber states that glyphosate's ability to kill plants is through the destruction of their immune system.

This was clearly demonstrated by his experiments showing that non-GM plants grown in a sterile soil do not die when sprayed with glyphosate as the pathogens are not there to take advantage of the compromised immune system.

A reduction in mineral nutrients has health impacts on those eating the crops such as abnormalities in calves that are caused by manganese deficiency, which are on the rise and may well result from glyphosate chelation.

Farm animals are further suffering from other illnesses (and birth defects) as described by the Danish pig farmer earlier. Similar problems have been reported in Germany, where cows are suffering from chronic infections such as botulism. Also in the US, with for example, the veterinarian Art Dunham reporting botulism in dairy cows, as well as reproductive problems, bloody bowels, rickets and viral diseases in hogs.

As a result of the problems faced by farmers, many are now moving away from GM and glyphosate-based systems. The US is seeing a growth in the non-GM seed market (see Global Status of GMO and non-GMO crops, SiS 62).

Agriculture experts such as Howard Vlieger are helping 300-400 farmers in the US switch from GM to non-GM crops without glyphosate use due to its ill effects to soil, plants and animals.

Glyphosate-tolerant crops have also been shown to need more water and do worse in drought situations (see GM Crops and Water - A recipe for Disaster SiS 56, and GM Crops Destroyed by US Drought but non-GM Varieties Flourish, SiS56). This is consistent with their health being compromised by glyphosate.

While GM crops are causing problems for farmers, non-GM crops are leading the way in providing drought- and salt-tolerant varieties, which makes sense when one considers that the majority of traits are highly complex, involving multiple genes and pathways and therefore too complicated to mimic with crude genetic engineering techniques (see Genetic Modification Trails Conventional Breeding By Far, SiS 64).
  Regulatory science corrupt, ban glyphosate locally

Glyphosate re-assessment by the EU commission was performed in 2014, not only re-approving glyphosate, but approving increased residue levels for food and feed, with the final decision expected in 2015.

The reassessment was performed by industry, though Germany acted as the rapporteur state, submitting the renewal assessment report to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (see Scandal of Glyphosate Re-assessment in Europe(SiS63).

This report relied on summary assessments provided by the Glyphosate Task Force which consists of Monsanto and other chemical companies such as Syngenta UK and Dow Italy. Assessments were made on glyphosate excluding commercial formulations most frequently used such as Roundup, and focused on studies showing less toxic results.It has been well-documented and previously explained in Ban GMOS Now , that adjuvants present in glyphosate formulation products such as POEA, as well as glyphosate metabolites like AMPA have their own toxicity and moreover, that glyphosate and the adjuvants together are far more toxic than glyphosate alone.

A new 2014 study by Professor Séralini's group further confirms this, showing for the first time that glyphosate formulation products (as well as insecticide and fungicides) are far more toxic than glyphosate alone at concentrations well below agricultural dilutions.

Using human cell lines (HEK293, JEG3 and HepG2), they showed formulations to cause significant reductions in cell viability at concentrations 125 times less than glyphosate alone, challenging the relevance of the current acceptable daily intake (ADI).
It is important to note that studies on the effects of pesticide cocktail mixtures, a far more likely scenario in real life, have yet to be properly investigated.

We must all act against glyphosate where we can

The evidence of glyphosate toxicity to both human and animal health and the ecosystem has built up to such an extent that some governments are taking action.

As mentioned earlier, both El Salvador and Sri Lanka have made steps towards banning the herbicide. The Netherlands successfully banned its sale to private individuals.

Russia has recently decided to ban the import and cultivation of all GM crops due to health and environmental concerns, while a section of the Chinese army has reportedly banned its consumption. In Brazil a public prosecutor is also looking to suspend its use.

For those of us who are not being protected by our governments, it is time to start initiating our own campaigns - banning it first from our homes, communities, schools, cities, counties and regions.That is all of us,  not being protected by our governments! It's up to all of us- each one working together- This is the reason I started the Chemical Manipulation of Humanity series

Link to a pdf which contains every external link contained within the above article 

Save the pdf, share it with everyone you can- Let's help one another
Categories: Blogroll feed

Bill Gates- Extols the benefits of a Global Tyranny

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 10:28
(ANTIMEDIA) In a recent interview with the German publication “Süddeutsche Zeitung“, Bill Gates made some disturbing comments in favor of world government. Go away Bill, the world does not need another "philanthropist"
Not only did Gates advocate global government, but he also spoke favorably of the UN and NATO, completely overlooking that they are a major force of oppression in the world. NATO can’t even hold a meeting without thousands of people gathering in the streets to protest their actions. Someone as heavily involved in world affairs as Bill Gates should know all about this.

During the interview last month, Gates said, “Take the UN, it has been created especially for the security in the world. We are ready for war, because we have taken every precaution. We have NATO, we have divisions, jeeps, trained people. But what is with epidemics? How many doctors do we have as much planes, tents, what scientists? If there were such a thing as a world government, we would be better prepared. “

Not long ago this subject was considered a total conspiracy theory, but now one of the richest people in the world is openly suggesting that this is a good idea. Governments are generally a pretty bad idea, even when they are small they can still do a tremendous amount of damage. So when a government rules the entire planet, there is no telling what type of atrocities it will be capable of.
The UN was created for 'world security'? World security for who, exactly? The psychopathic elites?
The plundering multinationals? Certainly not for the regular folk.
Flashback!  UN: Child trafficking on the Rise and UN intervention is at the heart of the problem!

NATO. Yah, we have NATO the global military apparatchik of the UN.
NATO destroying nations, killing children aiding in drug and human trafficking

World government would be nothing more then a global gulag- Period!

German article via translate
Categories: Blogroll feed

IPCC Rajendra K. Pachauri accused of sexual harrasement- resigns

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 07:11
Resigned from the IPCC- Resigned from the Prime Ministers's council and on indefinite leave from The Energy and Resources Institute

The Energy & Resource Institute-  Brought to us all by TATA chemicals 
Hmmm...conflicts of interest abound

R K Pachauri, who has been accused of sexual harassment, has resigned from the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change as well, a government statement today said. “The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has accepted the resignation of R K Pachauri from the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change,” said the one line statement. 

Pachauri had earlier resigned from his position as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a post that he had been holding since 2002. He has also taken indefinite leave from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), of which he has been director general for about three decades. Pachauri has been accused of sexual harassment by one of his junior colleagues at TERI. The victim has registered a police complaint against him. Pachauri is currently in a Delhi hospital undergoing treatment.
Don't Miss-  Great Lakes Ice coverage now at almost 89%
Categories: Blogroll feed

Great Lakes Ice coverage now at almost 89%

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 06:58
While NOAA was claiming Great Lakes Ice is at 88.3 the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab is showing satellite footage with 88.9 percent coverage.
Satellite shows ice coverage on Great Lakes at nearly 89 percent
The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory updated some satellite images Saturday showing how much ice is actually covering the Great Lakes.

The entire Great Lakes is at 88.8 percent ice coverage, with the highest totals coming from Lake Huron and Lake Erie at about 96 percent ice coverage, according to NOAA. Lake Superior is close behind those two with 95 percent coverage, followed by Lake Michigan with 73 percent and Lake Ontario with 70 percent.

 According to NOAA data, the Great Lakes ice coverage is up over 3 percent. This time last year, there was 85.4 percent coverage.
Keeping an eye on NOAA.....
Categories: Blogroll feed

Updating Great Lakes Ice Cover 2015- Passes 88 percent mark!

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 08:30
Following up the Great Lakes ice build up!  I will relink the two previous posts below!
88.3 percent and growing- The images are from the first of March/15

Previous Posts:
 Related:The global warming slowdown is real — but that’s no reason to question climate science ??
Categories: Blogroll feed

The world on edge as Moscow and the West faces off - February, 2015

The Rise of Russia - Sun, 03/01/2015 - 20:21
The world is on edge as Russia and Western powers face off in eastern Europe and in the Middle East. The political climate throughout the region has not been this volatile, this unpredictable since the Second World War. A continuous arc starting from eastern Europe to the southern tip of the Middle East has been turned into a boiling cauldron in recent years. Exactly a century after the onset of the First World War, humanity faces the possibility of yet another man-made calamity. And similar to factors that led humanity to the unprecedented blood-lettings of the first and second world wars, the Anglo-American-Jewish political order once again figures prominently in the current calculus. The Anglo-American-Jewish Western alliance is in fact the primary source of problems we see throughout the world.

What humanity is facing today is a global offensive by Western powers to preserve their power. Their ultimate goal is to contain Russia, Iran and China, three nations that pose long-term threats to their global hegemony. This long term, geostrategic effort to undermine the growing influence of Moscow, Tehran and Beijing is essentially what has brought the world today to the precipice of a new world war. Thankfully, awareness of and resistance to Western hyper-imperialism is growing around the world. The Russian Federation, in particular, has become the front-line as well as the spearhead of the current global resistance effort against the West. 

Ten years ago I began proclaiming throughout Cyberia that Russia was the long awaited messiah, the miraculously resurrected superpower that would save mankind by creating the modern foundations of a multi-polar world. For ten years I have been heralding the rise of Russia as humanity's last front against Western imperialism, Globalism, Wahhabi Islamic extremism, Zionism and pan-Turkism. Seven years ago I was ecstatic about the sudden reawakening of the Russian Bear as it angrily rampaged throughout Georgia in an attempt to salvage its vanishing ecosystem. But even after Georgia, even after the onset of what looked to be a new Cold War between the East and the West, I could not even begin to imagine where we are today -
Call to Arms (November, 2011): Libya 1951-2011 (November, 2011): Iran (December, 2011): Political unrest nearing Russia's southern border (February, 2012): Cold War II (May, 2012): Hints at Intervention in Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict (July, 2012): war in Syria (May, 2013): Steps Into World Leadership Role (September, 2013): In a historic dispute with the West, Russia reclaims Crimea (March, 2014): of eastern Ukraine (May, 2014): Driving a Sunni wedge in the Shiite Arc (June, 2014): Brewing For the World's Policeman (December, 2014): Who would have thought that Libya and Syria would fall apart like they have? Who would have thought that Russia would almost singlehandedly save Bashar Assad's government? Who would have thought that the West would embark on a major crusade to curb growing Shiite influence in the Middle East. Who would have thought that a new, barbaric extremist group supported by the West and its allies would establish a ruthless theocratic state on Syrian and Iraqi territory? Who would have guessed that Crimea would be part of Russia once more? Who in their wildest imagination would have thought that NATO and Russian forces would be facing off in Ukraine in the twenty-first century?

What we are seeing take place in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen currently - and the war like situation that has develped between Armenia and Azerbaijan - may one day be looked upon as the preliminary stages of a third world war. Tension is steadily building throughout the region. If deescalation does not take place and the prevailing situation persists, the boiling cauldron is bound to explode and when it does Armenia will be in the epicenter of it. We are again at this juncture in world history because we the sheeple continue to be easily manipulated and led astray by those who control global levers of manipulation. We are again at this juncture in world history essentially because of Western powers' desire to maintain supremacy in global affairs. We are at this juncture in world history essentially because Western powers want to maintain a certain standard-of-living at home.

The Western world is therefore doing what it has done best throughout history: Bringing order through chaos. 

The order in question is of course a Western global order, also known as the One World Order. This is the political paradigm in which Western powers and their satellites dominate every aspect of global affairs. This is a world order in which the world's wealth is controlled primarily by Anglo-American-Jews; a world where the sheeple is racially mixed and speaks English; a world in which notions about God, family and country are looked down upon; a world where apostolic Christianity and European culture is demonized; a world in which homosexuality, birth control and women's liberation are promoted as a way of artificially curbing population growth; a world where everyone adopts and worships Anglo-American-Jewish values. 
While some in the West (i.e. Neocons) believe this world order can best be achieved through economic warfare, armed intervention and fomenting revolutions in targeted countries, others, like veteran politicians such as Henry Kissinger, believe such a political global order should be achieved via diplomatic means and economic/financial baiting. Regardless of the method, however, their ultimate goal is comprehensive global hegemony. Consequently, the geostrategic desire to maintain Western supremacy over the world is thus the common thread we see within most of the bloodletting around the world today.
One of the great talents of the Anglo-American-Jewish political order is their uncanny ability to meddle in the affairs of nations around the world. Using their massive technological, cultural, financial, economic and political influences, they are able to go to virtually any spot on earth today and exploit societal grievances, old biases and hatreds. To better understand what they do, imagine a great power coming to North America one day and exploiting domestic problems that exists inside American society. Imagine what would happen in the United States if Washington was weak and a great power came to North America to organize, fund and arm separatist Mexicans, Muslims, American Indians and/or African Americans against the country's WASP/Jewish establishment. Imagine what would happen if a global power came to American shores, established thousands of NGOs and propaganda outlets and began systematically making a play on the anger and emotions of America's poor and disenfranchised? If such a thing was done, the US would surely and spectacularly fall apart. Isn't the scenario I just described exactly what Western powers are doing around the world?

But let's not hold our breaths waiting for any world power to come to North America's shores. Since 1812 we have been living in an Anglo-American-Jewish era in world history. This era in human history is not about to go through any drastic changes, at least not in the near future. The aforementioned trinity therefore currently has the high ground, the initiative, the tools and the global levers to meddle, manipulate and exploit anywhere it wants. Nations resisting the political West will therefore be on the defensive for the foreseeable future. 

How did we get to this juncture? The blame ultimately goes to we the sheeple because it is our materialism, our hatreds, our biases, our political illiteracy, our shortsightedness and our ignorance of the world we live in that gives them their powers. But there is hope. While it is not nearly as powerful as the Western political order, the Russian nation today - thanks to its political acumen, natural wealth, warrior culture, deep rooted nationalism and modern nuclear arsenal - is the only political entity on earth today capable of standing in the way of the West's desire for total world domination. This is why I and many others like myself consider Russian President Vladimir Putin to be quite literally God sent. Just like when mother nature takes corrective measures to bring about order and balance in ecology, the Russian president was destined by higher, supernatural powers for his earthly task. Although they may not realize it, the Russian nation is doing God's work on earth. And this work began in earnest in 2008.
Kosovo set today's precedence

Remember Kosovo? Remember how in the spring of 1999 they used a ruthless aerial bombing campaign in Serbia to sever this historically Serbian region from Belgrade and place it essentially under Albano-Turco-Islamic rule? Now that Moscow is resorting to similar measures to correct the wrongs of history, why are Western powers shocked?

I cannot help but laugh now when I see visibly frightened Western officials talk about the dangers of "military interventionism" and the "inviolability of national borders" in reference to Russian actions in eastern Ukraine. These cowardly reptiles need to be reminded of their crimes against Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. These hypocritical reptiles need to be reminded about Granada, Diego Garcia, Panama, Guantanamo Bay, Northern Ireland, Malvinas and the illegally annexed Mexican territories of south-western United States. After all, haven't these Turcophile reptiles been tolerating the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus for the past forty years? Haven't these Anglo-American-Jewish reptiles been tolerating the Israeli occupation of the West Banks and Gaza for the past fifty years? Didn't these bloodthirsty reptiles create a Kurdistan out of Iraqi territory? Didn't these despicable reptiles sow the seeds of civil war in Ukraine by funding an armed uprising against the democratically elected government in Kiev a little over a years ago? But if a precise date is to be placed on the start of the global mess we are in today, it would be February, 2008 -Independence for Kosovo (February 2008): Brzezinski: Kosovo not Precedent for Abkhazia, South Ossetia or Karabakh (March, 2008): Says `War Has Started' (August, 2008): Recognizes Georgian Regions (August, 2008): The Western decision to grant independence to Kosovo set the precedence for events that would later take place in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Crimea and Novorossia. The violent, arrogant and flagrant manner in which Kosovo was removed from Serbia and placed under a Western-backed Albano-Turco-Islamic rule was the geostrategic alarm that forced the Russian Bear into action. Prior to Kosovo's independence, international order in Eurasia was, relatively speaking, being upheld. All sides at least pretended to uphold international law. After Kosovo, all pretenses essentially ended. It became starkly apparent to Russian policymakers that the Anglo-American-Jewish world order had to be challenged wherever and whenever possible. Merely six months after the proclamation of Kosovo's independence, the Russian Bear stood before a historic opportunity to do just that. In a direct challenge to the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance,  Russia took the opportunity presented by the Western-backed Georgian President Saakashvili's aggression against South Ossetia by sending tank armies into Georgia to liberate both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. February, 2008 was the historic moment when the Russian Bear awoke. The summer of 2008 was a historic turning point, a pivotal time that may one day be looked upon as the time in history when Western global hegemony began its decline.
The path we are on today was paved during the years when Western powers began taking advantage of a weak, post-Soviet Russia by redrawing the borders of eastern Europe and the Middle East. Western powers thus set today's bloody precedence. Let's hope that Mother Russia is able to correct the wrongs of history.

Winter offensive in Novorossia
The wrongs of history are being systematically corrected by Russian-backed militants. Russian-backed fighters of Novorossia were recently on a brilliantly executed winter offensive. The Western-backed junta's military has suffered yet another major defeat. A strategically located airport in Donetsk and a strategic rail hub at Debaltsevo have been liberated as a result, the strategic port city if Mariupol may be next. All indicators suggest that 2015 may prove disastrous for the chocolate king. European powers are incapable of helping Kiev. Western powers are incapable of helping Kiev. The sociopolitical climate in Kiev is slowly reaching dangerous levels. We may even seen another Maidan uprising before this year is over. 

Moscow's war effort in Novorossia was slow and sloppy in the beginning. But what a brilliant display of warcraft it has been since. I can't properly express how impressed I am at how well Moscow has been orchestrating its proxy war in eastern Ukraine. The way they have maneuvered between diplomacy and covert war fighting has been masterful to say the least. They have also been very effective, surprisingly effective, in the information war. Their leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, has been nothing less than amazing. The man, who was recently wounded in combat, is one of those natural born leaders that appear almost out of nowhere in times of great travail.
Russians have once again risen to the occasion. Slavs, men and women alike, Russians in particular, are indeed a warrior breed within the human ecology. Whereas other nations need either cutting edge war fighting technology (westerners), fanaticism (Muslims), racist indoctrination (Jews) or the threat of annihilation (Armenians) to get their people to fight, Slavs are naturally, organically ready for war; all they seem to require is a steady supply of cigarets and vodka. As long as Russia keeps producing such men and women, the Russian nation will never be defeated. As long as Moscow can keep "Western values" out of Russian society, Russia will continue giving birth to such warriors. If I had to go to war I can't think of a better people to go to war with. It would be wise for Armenians to form a confederation with these people. Knowing the south Caucasus, we will sooner-or-later need their assistance -UAF POWs abused by Givi and taken to parade through the city destroyed by UAF artillery:
Assault on the New Terminal combat footage 16-18 January "Donbas under fire" documentary:
Zakharchenko hands over the bodies of UAF KIAs, POWs:
First footage of a mass surrender of Ukrainian troops:Зачистка Дебальцево: Фронтовые дневники. Дебальцевский крест: Moscow's rebels on a steady march in south-eastern Ukraine, Western powers are in a serious bind. Moscow has outmaneuvered them in every regard. Moscow now has Western powers in a serious predicament. If the West doesn't militarily help Kiev, more Ukrainian territory will be lost in the east. If they do help Kiev, Moscow will increase the volume and quality of its military assistance to the rebels and more Ukrainian territory will be lost in the east - perhaps at a faster pace. If Western powers don't help the junta in Kiev in any significant way, they run the risk of looking impotent, worthless and backstabbing, much more so than in the aftermath of the 2008 war in Georgia. There is yet another aspect to this political calculus: If Western powers begin providing Kiev with advanced weaponry, not only will they face losing more Ukrainian territory in a Russian backlash, they will also face the possibility of advanced Russian arms going to Iran and Hezbollah. One of Washington's gravest fears is to see Moscow providing sophisticated arms to Iran and Hezbollah. Western powers know that once they cross their limits in Ukraine (and Syria) Moscow is more than willing to provide Iran and Hezbollah with very lethal weaponry. Moscow hasn't done so thus far precisely because it has wanted to keep this option as a viable leverage over the West. Armed with modern ballistic missiles, anti-aircraft missile systems, anti-ship missiles and anti-tank rockets, Iran and Hezbollah will be a formidable force in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. This is a nightmare scenario not only for Washington but also for London, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Ankara.

So, will the West risk such a thing by providing lethal weaponry to Kiev, especially knowing that such aid will most probably not change the course of events on the ground in eastern Ukraine? And as noted above, not providing arms to Kiev runs the risk of making Western powers look backstabbing, impotent and unreliable. Sucks to be Uncle Sam. The unenviable position Washington has gotten itself into in Ukraine was best expressed recently by the warmongering war criminal, John McCain.

Nonetheless, I have no doubt that additional territories will be systematically liberated, especially now that the infamous tie-eating dictator, Saakashvili is advising Porochenko. But, unlike what Moscow did in Crimea, this time around, I do not think it will outright annex any of the liberated territories. In other words, Karabakhization of Novorossia is what's being foreseen by Russian officials.  Similar to how the political status quo in Nagorno Karabakh is used by Moscow to keep leverage over both Yerevan and Baku, Moscow will be using it's influence in Novorossia as a leverage over Kiev and NATO. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the pro-Russian insurgency in Novorossia effectively takes Crimea out of any discussions. Notice that there has been very little talk in the West about Crimea's historic reunification with Mother Russia. As pro-Russian separatists grow in strength in Novorossia, Crimea will become a very distant memory for Kiev as well. It should be pointed out that Russia's successful annexation of the strategically important peninsula alone, so historic in its scope and brilliant in its execution, is ultimately why the Western-instigated crisis in the Ukraine will be a Russian victory - regardless of what happens in Kiev going forward.

With that said, it is obvious that Moscow would like to - one way or the other -  turn Ukraine into a dependency and eventually bring Kiev into a pact with Russia. But I strongly feel that regardless of what happens in Kiev, Novorossia, like Nagorno Karabakh, will henceforth be defacto part of Russia. Novorossia's ties with Moscow will be very close even if the region eventually becomes a semi-autonomous, federal province within Ukraine. From a Russian perspective, it would be very foolish if Moscow surrenders Novorossia to Ukraine - even if a pro-Russian government comes into power in Kiev. I do not think Moscow will give up its hard won ties in the region for any reason. I do not think Moscow will repeat the mistake of the Soviets. Nevertheless, in the short to midterm, Novorossia will be de facto part of Russia and the rest of Ukraine will be sort of a no man's land, a buffer zone between Russia and NATO.

If the West's strategic objective was to sever Ukraine away from Moscow and place it in the EU or NATO, it has been a miserable failure. If, however, the West's objective was to sow divisions between Europeans and Russians, then it's been somewhat of a victory. But such a victory will prove to be a short-lived one because Europeans are increasingly realizing that the current crisis in the Ukraine was instigated by Anglo-American-Jews and is thus against European interests. Europeans understand that the political West is seeking more control over Europe through this crisis. As a countermeasure to Western designs, Russian officials have been doing their best to keep relations with European powers cordial and healthy. This soft approach by Moscow will pay dividend in the future as more-and-more Europeans, Germans and French in particular, turn against Western powers. The key for Moscow here therefore is to continue presenting the negative impact that the crisis in Ukraine is having on the rest of Europe as a consequence of Western aggression and duplicity. Moscow's Russia Today news agency is doing an excellent job in this regard. Moscow needs to place more emphasis on the information war currently taking place. Moscow will have the clear advantage in this regard because to has the truth behind it. After all, the artificially created crisis in Ukraine was a Western operation to curb growing Russian influence in Europe. The current mess in the region was therefore not in Russia's or Europe's interest. For historical reference, the following are materials foretelling the crisis in Ukraine many years ago -
Russian politician Zhirinovsky vs Zbigniew Brzezinski (1/2) (English subs):Обама начнет третью мировую с Крыма?: in all, Uncle Sam has gotten itself stuck in some deep shit and nonconforming nations such as China, India, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Armenia, Cyprus and Egypt are making it sink deeper and deeper into it. The troubling part here, however, is that when Uncle Sam is in deep shit - thanks to the far reaching tentacles of Westernization and Globalism - humanity also faces the risk of getting dragged into deep shit as well. And when the proverbial shit hits the fan, Armenia will be in the epicenter of it all.
Armenia in the epicenter

Our tiny, landlocked and impoverished homeland is surrounded by predatory animals in one of the most hostile ecosystems on earth. The south Caucasus is merely one bad event away from reverting back to being a Turkic/Islamic cesspool. Western machinations in the region has created a climate where such a scenario very possible today. Needless to say, Russia (and to a lesser extent Iran) is the only deterrence factor in the south Caucasus. The long term health and well-being of the Russian nation is thus crucially important. The danger that the region faces today is the reason why Moscow has been signalling for the past couple years that it will not hesitate to smash through Georgia to link-up with its strategically located 102nd military base in Armenia in the event of a major war in the region. Here is the most recent Russian warning as covered by John Hughes' CIA-sponsored ArmeniaNow propaganda outlet - 
New strategy or provocation?: Russian analyst’s article on “straight way” to Armenia via Georgia stirs controversy: and Region: Moscow floats ideas on ensuring railroad link with Armenia via Georgia:
Armenian officials need to stop Armenia's exposure to Western powers. Armenian officials need to develop some political foresight and ideological backbone. Yerevan needs to place its emphasis on developing its north-south axis as a way of breathing life into Armenia's stagnant economy and establish links with developing nations beyond Russia and Iran. This is the kind of thing we are missing out on due to Yerevan's "complimentary politics" bullshit -Armenia to become part of energy chain with Georgia and Iran: supports India's full membership of SCO: India to negotiate free trade zone with Russia-led Customs Union: Iran to launch trade development center in Armenia: news items are very significant. These types of strategic regional projects - as well as regional superhighways - have been discussed by Moscow, Yerevan and Tehran for quite a few years. The only obstacle to their implementation has been the West's machinations throughout the region. In particular, Georgia's West-leaning government is mainly the party responsible for keeping the south Caucasus economically desperate and politically volatile. Tbilisi has to be brought to its senses. If that will require Russian troops invading Georgia once more, then so be it. Use Javakhq or Abkhazia or South Ossetia to create a pretense and send in the beautiful tanks. The sooner Georgia is fixed, the sooner will Pax Russicana descend on to the region. The sooner Pax Russicana descends onto the region, the sooner will major economic projects for the region become a reality. And the sooner such projects become a reality, the sooner will Armenia finally breath. The West's hindrance of Russian and Iranian economic/infrastructure projects in the region reveals just how toxic the Western world has become in global affairs and how dangerous and mentally retarded Armenia's Western-led Russophobic activists.
I ask the Armenian reader to once more think of the "Caucasian table" where Turks, Georgians, Azeris, Persians, Wahhabi Islamists, Russians, Western oil interests and Armenians sit around and discuss regional matters. Think of this table without its Russian participant. In other words, think of how Armenia would have fared in the geopolitical climate of the region today had a handful of men, primarily the Karabakh clan, not been wise enough to keep Armenia firmly within the Russian orbit and allow the stationing of Russian troops on Armenian soil. Armenia has not suffered the fate of Cyprus, Serbia, Georgia, Syria or Ukraine only because of Russian boots on the ground in Armenia. Speaking of Syria, we may be nearing the end of the four year old nightmare.
The final chapter in Syria
The following is the link to an interview I saw a couple of months ago on Farid Zakaria's GPS show on CNN. The whole thing looked/felt/sounded like a rehearsed infomercial, not much unlike much of the news reporting we see all across the US these days. The topic discussed, however, was very serious. It is my opinion that they are in the process of finalizing the final chapter on the nation formerly known as Syria. With that in mind, watch Farid's interview with Professor Joshua Landis (who according to Farid is the "top Syria scholar in the US") very carefully and try to read between the lines of what's being said -
Is backing Syria rebels a mistake?

The following are revealing excerpts from the above interview that tells it all -
"The map of 1919 which the British and French drew was wrong. [The new map of a partitioned Syria and Iraq] is the map that reflects the realities of sectarianism and is possibly more stable... [The state that ISIS has created stretching] from the edges of Baghdad all the way to Aleppo today is a Sunni state and it's already emerged. And what America is doing by bombing it is trying to destroy this state that is there and it is going to be a very hard thing to do... Accept reality, accept that state but try to get better rulers for it, not ISIS."
The West was never serious about fully supporting Syria's homegrown/independently raised anti-Assad rebel factions simply because they were deemed unreliable (i.e. they are not controlled by the West or its close allies). The whole agenda in Syria from day one has been about partitioning the nation and forming a new Western-backed Sunni state in its territory as a counterbalance to growing Shiite, Iranian and Russian power in the region. This task was trusted to Al Qaeda and ISIS, not the Syrian rebels. As I have been saying from day one: ISIS is the rabid dog they set loose in Iraq and Syria. Now that ISIS has managed to carve out a Sunni state between Damascus and Baghdad, it's time to slowly put the dog back into its cage and take control over the territory. Although I am not surprised, it is nevertheless very interesting that Professor Landis - who, allow me remind the reader, is "the top Syria scholar in the US" - suggests that Washington wants Turkey to act as the guarantor of the new Sunni state being formed in Syria by having Ankara put in place there a "good government" so that the US can thereafter "pour money into [its] development".

I have pointed all this out in previous blog commentaries, but I thought it would be better if the reader heard it right from the source. And regarding the source: It is noteworthy that the Pakistani native, Farid Zakaria is one of the Council for Foreign Relation's many high paid lapdogs working throughout the Anglo-America-Jewish world's news/propaganda outlets. Individuals like Joshua Landis, Farid Zakaria, Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Christiane Amanpour, etc., are not journalists in the traditional sense, they cogs in the imperial war machine. Their task is to spread misinformation and deceit. I would go as far as saying, they are highly dangerous combatants.

Recent events involving Jordan is in my opinion an integral part of the final chapter in Syria. I do not think the Jordanian pilot was burned alive. I personally think the whole thing, like the beheadings of Westerners before it, was faked for psy-ops value. Even the timing of the announcement of the pilot's death, which came while Jordan's king was in Washington, was very suspicious. But whether the pilot died or not is really not the issue here for he may very well have been killed. What's important to understand here is that as with all ISIS acts, the purpose of his burning was to, again, "shock and awe" the public into compliance. There are carefully preparing their field of play. What's more poignant and revealing is the political reaction that came out of Amman and Washington to the alleged immolation. The spontaneous anti-ISIS protests in Amman (mostly by military age men) looked anything but spontaneous. The official Jordanian reaction felt very orchestrated. Jordan's American style war fever and the "tough" rhetoric coming out of Amman seems formulated to in fact appeal to Western sentiments. I mean stupid crap like this -The king of Jordan sent out this badass photo in response to ISIS: is the monster they created and the terrible carnage we are seeing in Syria and Iraq is the by-product of the Western world's imperial aspirations in the Middle East. The political West and their Jewish, Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Qatari friends are in fact responsible for the genocide of Yezdis, Christians and Alewites and a series of other crimes against humanity throughout Syria and Iraq. As they are dissecting the Iranian/Shiite Arc of influence in the region, they are also creating a north-south Sunni axis between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Besides the Western world's obvious geostrategic factors, besides the Zionist factors at play, the region's all-important energy factor also plays prominently into all this. ISIS was therefore meant to "shock and awe" the sheeple into backing an eventual ground invasion of Syria by Western or Western-backed forces. Their geostrategic agenda is to create a swath of Western-Saudi backed Sunni state between Damascus and Baghdad. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Jordan, along with Turkey, was a strategic staging area for the anti-Assad war effort.

With Erdogan's increasingly belligerent behavior not to mention his self-serving neo-Ottoman fantasies pissing-off policymakers in Washington and Tel Aviv, it now seems as if the Anglo-Arab king of Jordan has been chosen the lead the Sunni war effort in Syria. If it all pans out, I think we will eventually see an invasion of regions in Syria that are currently occupied by ISIS by Western-backed Arab forces. It should also be mentioned that all this may be coordinated with Assad's government. I suspect that a final deal has been reached or is in the process of being reached with Bashar Assad. I think Syria's final partition has been decided by all powers involved in the civil war, including Russia. I think that in time a new Western-backed Sunni state will be created within the former territories of Syria and Iraq.

Ultimately, the four year old Syrian tragedy will prove to be a stalemate. There will not be any clear winners. Western/Israeli/Saudi/Turkish interests were not able to defeat Shiite-backed Alewites and the Hezbollah; Shiite-Alewite interests were not able to create a continuous link from Lebanon to Iran. With that said, going forward, Turkey and Israel will be the wild cards in the geopolitical formulation process. Ankara still wants a final say in how Syria will look after the war ends. Ankara still wants leverage over Iraqi Kurds. Israel, for its part, still wants to see Hezbollah defeated or disarmed and it still wants to stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. Therefore, Turkish and Israeli actions will remain unpredictable. Israeli belligerence and nonconformity is already being felt in Washington.

New year assault against Armenia
The new year started off with a series of major assaults against the Armenian state: A rapid escalation of violence along Armenia's border with Azerbaijan has brought the nation to a near war-like situation; a Russian soldier inexplicably murdered an entire family of seven in the Armenian city of Gyumri causing serious tensions between Moscow and Yerevan; an extremist group known as Founding Parliament has increased the intensity of its effort to incite a revolution in Armenia and has more recently attempted to embroil Artsakh as well; Armenia's ruling political party had an unexpected but a serious falling out with the nation's second most powerful political party; and Victoria "Fuck the EU" Nuland and was just recently in Armenia to give out cookies.

Is a Maidan being planned for Armenia this year? I personally think so. And I am not the only one. Former Ronald Reagan official also thinks so. Please see the following interview with Paul Craig Roberts translated into Armenian and Russian -
Փոլ Քրեյգ Ռոբերթս. Նրանք փորձելու են ոչնչացնել ավանդական բարոյականությունը:Пол Крейг Робертс. Армении грозит опасность: many potentially explosive incidents are taking place almost simultaneously. These things don't happen by chance, especially not in a place like the south Caucasus. This is a multi-pronged assault against the Armenian state. There are dark forces trying to sabotage Armenia's Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) membership by attempting to drive a wedge between Yerevan and Moscow. There are dark forces trying to drive a wedge between Armenia and Artsakh. There are dark forces trying to incite a Ukraine-like uprising in Armenia. There are dark forces trying to divert Armenian attention from the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. They successfully set fires to Syria and Ukraine. It seems to be Armenia's turn. Armenians are looked upon as a gullible, restless and easily manipulated sheeple.

A Ukraine-style uprising is definitely in the works for Armenia. But, will it succeed?

I personally do not think so. That proverbial train left the station many years ago. Although we Armenians have more than our share of easily manipulated idiots who are more than willing to destroy their homeland in their blind pursuit of Western fairytales, Western-sponsored color revolutions have not been able to find fertile ground in Armenia. The Armenian on the street understands the paramount importance of Armenia's alliance with Russia. Despite Yerevan's flirtations with the West, the country's powerful "Karabakh clan" remains staunchly pro-Russian. Moreover, Armenia's Russian-backed security services are very capable and perform their tasks very efficiently.

Armenia is bound to have sociopolitical unrest and periodic strife, but a major revolution is all but ruled out.

The first such attempt by Levon Petrosian and his gang in 2008 failed miserably. The second such attempt by Raffi Hovanissian in 2013 was also a total failure. They are now placing hope on a new breed of activists - very small in number but very extremist in demeanor - to push forward their agenda in the country. Founding Parliament (formerly known as Pre-Parliament) extremists seem to have been tasked with spearheading the internal assault against Armenia's statehood. As outrageous as it may sound, Founding Parliament extremists are promising to raise a civilian militia and topple the ruling "regime" by the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. We see Founding Parliament extremists trying to do in Armenia what was and is currently being done in places such as Venezuela, Serbia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Ukraine. They are exploiting the country's growing pains and Yerevan's incompetence (i.e. appeasement towards Western powers) in an attempt to sow sociopolitical unrest in the country.After a few failed attempts to capture the public's attention, Founding Parliament extremists finally managed to make headlines on January, 31 when they took their traveling circus to Artsakh -«Ռեյդային ստուգումներ» Արցախում: In a nutshell, Founding Parliament gathered a large convoy of motor vehicles and traveled to Artsakh in an attempt to recruit activists in the area for their planned revolution, of course set to take place on the one hundred anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2015. Their operation did not get far. Once at the border with Artsakh, they got a nasty surprise from the authorities.

These people are truly a strange gaggle of weirdos. Although they love to claim to be Armenian patriots, their extremist political agenda is glaringly and dangerously anti-Armenian in nature. How "patriotic" is it to attempt to topple the Armenian government by the use of arms, especially at a time like this? How intelligent is it to attempt to severe Armenia's ties with Russia, especially at a time like this? The only agenda Founding Parliament freaks are pushing forward in Armenia are the ones formulated in Washington and Ankara. These fatalistic freaks may be patriots, but they are not Armenian patriots.  These extremist freaks seem hellbent on repeating the fatal mistakes of Georgians and Ukrainians. In fact, their name and political methodology actually reminds me of the Bolshevik movement's early beginnings.

Over one hundred years ago, Western/Jewish funded Marxist activists operating out of Germany, Britain, France and the US began traveling to the Russian Empire to spread their ideological "enlightenment". These activists who would later become known as Bolsheviks would travel from village to village, from town to town to spread what essentially was the time period's Western values (fairytales about equality, atheism and international brotherhood). The geopolitical goal of their agenda, however, was to strike a fatal blow to the already weakened Russian Empire. The poor living conditions of the peasantry throughout the region was the opportunity they exploited. The bait used was promises of justice, land rights and better living conditions. A bright future was promised to all - if only the Russian Czar could be toppled. It was these Western funded extremists with utopian slogans that managed to rise to prominence in the chaotic backdrop of the First World War. It was these champions of the downtrodden and the working class that become some of history's most bloodthirsty murderers. It was these advocates of the common man that were ultimately responsible for the deaths of many millions of people. It was these champions of atheism and "international brotherhood" that created conditions that allowed the genocide of Ottoman Armenians to take place. Today, Bolsheviks are back, but this time under the guise of Globalism, Westernization, Liberalism and Democracy. And just like yesterday, today's Bolsheviks are once again funded by Western Jews and they are collaborating with Western imperialists. We see their ilk throughout Armenia's ideologically empty and morally bankrupt political opposition. The following link is to an Azeri news article about one of Armenia's typical opposition characters -
Famous Armenian journalist apologizes for Khojaly: probably do not realize it, but in spirit and demeanor, Founding Parliament is the reincarnation of Bolshevik extremists. They probably do not realize it, but Founding Parliament is pushing forward a Turco-Western agenda in Armenia. They probably do not realize it, but Founding Parliament extremists are the West's cannon-fodder. One of the group's activists may even get assassinated by their Western handlers as a provocation against Yerevan. Taking into consideration the assassination attempt on Paruyr Hayrikian a couple of years ago and the recent successful assassination of Boris Nemtsov, trust me, this is not a farfetched theory. People like Hayrikian and Nemtsov are more valuable to their Western masters dead than alive. Nevertheless, Founding Parliament's latest political stunt is particularly alarming because this is the first time any political opposition group has made a direct play on Artsakh. Although Levon Petrosian's gang was responsible for first sowing anti-Kharabakhtsi sentiments in Armenian society, Founding Parliament has become the first to physically embroil Artsakh in the muck-and-more of their political agenda.

Regarding what happened on January 31: Founding Parliament extremists should not have tried to draw Artsakh into their neo-Bolshevik nonsense, especially at a time like this when the region is in a virtual state of war. Founding Parliament extremists should not have taken their women and children with them, especially after they were told that their activities were not wanted in Artsakh. With that said, however, I also think that Artsakh police may have somewhat overreacted. I know it's the south Caucasus. I understand we are talking about Armenians. But the region's law enforcement bodies could have acted more professional by setting up a roadblock to stop Founding Parliament's traveling circus. They could have then ordered Founding Parliament's traveling circus to return back to Armenia. Founding Parliament clowns that did not obey orders could have been arrested. Founding Parliament clowns that attempted to resist arrest could have then - and only then - been roughed up. In situations like this, when there are no laws being flagrantly broken, I do not condone police violence. This did not have to happen this way. The only winners in this incident were the Turks and Azeris watching from the sidelines. With that said, I primarily blame incompetent politicians in Yerevan - and their "complimentary politics" which has allowed Western activists in Armenia a free hand - for allowing things to get out of control like this. With that said, I will not place any blame on Artsakh authorities for anything simply because the territory is in a state of war and this is not time for Founding Parliament's nonsense. It was Yerevan's job to stop the motorcade from reaching Artsakh.
One last thing: Jirayr Sefilian's time in Armenia has long expired. What gives the people the stupid idea that just because someone is good on the battlefield will be good as a politician? If Sefilian truly wanted to contribute to Armenia's security and development, he should have remained within the ranks of the military instead of surrounding himself with dubious characters such as Igor Muradyan and Gegham Julfajyan. Jirayr Sefilian is no longer serving Armenian interests. In fact, he hasn't done so in twenty years. As a Middle Eastern Armenian of Cilician decent, I call on Armenian officials to hang a shiny medal around Sefilian's neck, thank him for his service to the motherland twenty years ago, then politely place him, his wife and his child on the very next flight to Beirut and say bye-bye.

The arm wrestler that wanted to be king

What Armenia's needs is a sociopolitical evolution, not a Western-sponsored revolution. With the region reaching a boiling point, this is the time to rally around the Armenian state. This is not the time and the south Caucasus is not the place for Western inspired sociopolitical experiments in Armenia. This is not the time for bicker over petty domestic matters. This is not the time for power plays on the Armenian throne. But if that's what Western interests want, Armenia's self-destructive peasantry will make sure that is what they will get. Enter the arm wrestler that wanted to be king.

In a quintessential Armenian version of the Game of Thrones, Gagik Tsarukyan (aka Dodi Gago), the arm wrestler/sex offender turned billionaire businessman recently made a serious attempt on the Armenian presidential seat. Prior to this, Tsarukyan's political party, Prosperous Armenia (Arm: Բարգավաճ Հայաստան կուսակցություն) had what could only be described as an interesting relationship with the country's ruling party, the Republicans (Arm: Հայաստանի Հանրապետական Կուսակցություն). At times Tsarukyan's political party looked as if it's playing the role of a controlled opposition (i.e. collaborating with the ruling administration), at other times it looked as if it was making a serious play on power. I do not know how sincere Tsarukyan's most recent attempt was but this was not the first time he made an attempt on the Armenian throne.
Back in 2007, Tsarukyan was also a contender in the presidential race in Armenia. As with all political competitions, he soon began badmouthing his main presidential rival, Serj Sargsyan. However, Tsarukyan didn't stop merely there, he went a step further in his rhetoric. He began talking negatively about Armenia's relationship with Russia. On April 12, 2007 it was reported that two small bombs exploded in two of Tsarukyan's political offices. Not much else was said about the extraordinary incident by the news press in Armenia. The following inconspicuous commentary about the incidents in question was written by the British agent/rights activist, Onnik Krikorian -

Prosperous Armenia Party Offices Damaged by Yerevan Blasts:
Merely days after the incident, it was said that Tsarukyan had taken a previously unplanned trip to Moscow. Nothing was said about why he went or with whom he met while he was there. However, after Tsarukyan returned to Armenia from his short stay in Moscow, he seemed to be a new man. He quietly dropped out of the presidential race and began complimenting Armenia's relationship with Russia. In an interview with a Russian news agency on April 18, 2007, Tsarukyan commented that - "we will develop 90 percent of our relations with Russia and 10 percent with Europe and others" -
Gagik Tsarukyan’s interview to Russian O2TV: 2011, Tsarukyan's political party was back in the presidential race. With American agent Vartan Oskanyan at his side back then, Tsarukyan seemed to have secured Western support. But, being the shrewd businessman that he is, he was not about to risk the destruction of any more of his political offices. He therefore was smart enough to seek President Putin's blessing as well. His efforts ultimately proved futile.
Fast forward to today: For reasons that can as of now only be explained by speculation, Tsarukyan just made his third and by-far the most blatant attempt on the presidential seat in Armenia. Was Tsarukyan recruited into the Western agenda to topple the Armenian government? Time will tell. But Tsarukyan's second largest political party in Armenia brought the country to the brink of a major political crisis. A disaster, however, was averted at the last minute. Similar to what had happened in the past, Tsarukyan seems to have been summoned to Moscow and set straight. After bringing the country to the brink of yet another political disaster, Tsarukyan proved smart enough or was frightened enough to once more take a step back -Armenian Opposition Force Backs Down: latest Tsarukyan retreat seems to have been the last straw for Vartan Oskanian. I guess it's tme for Uncle Sam's parasites to look for another accommodating host. Incidentally, after Raffi Hovanissian's failed attempt on the Armenian throne, he also traveled to Moscow to have "several good meetings" with Russian officials. Levon Petrosian is also said to have done the same during his failed attempts on the Armenian throne. Nevertheless, the recent spat between Tsarukyan's political party and the Republican party is a symbol of how low modern Armenian civilization has fallen. These characters, these tactless chobans-in-Armani-suites and Western mercenaries are unfortunately an accurate reflection of the nature of the modern Armenian. With that said, however, it should also be said that the current leadership headed by President Sargsyan is by-far the lesser of all evils currently waiting on the political sidelines in Yerevan to take advantage of any sociopolitical unrest. It is the realization that those waiting on the political sidelines of Yerevan are those who serve Western/Turkish agenda in Armenia is the reason why I remain a reluctant supporter of the "regime".
How I wish or Armenians to put aside their arrogance, jealousy, selfishness and political illiteracy and begin understanding and appreciating what it means to have a state. Our people's shortsightedness, self-righteousness and political ignorance is becoming a serious problem for our homeland. The aforementioned problem that we suffer from is a pan-national one. In other words, the Armenian Diaspora, particularly the Western Diaspora, is not immune to shortsightedness and political illiteracy. 

Dubious voices warning about Russian betrayals

Russian-Armenian relations has historically been based on very firm geostrategic foundations. This is why those who try to cast a dark shadow on it only manage to make themselves look stupid or treasonous. But try, they do. With political tensions in Armenia rising to new heights, there are dubious voices once more warning Armenians about Russian "betrayals" -
Sleeping with Our Enemy: Russia Sells Weapons to Azerbaijan: again, like hyenas sensing a weakened pray, Russophobes are attempting to exploit flaws within Armenia's relationship with Russia. Once again, people who normally spend their time wondering about what blackman will Kim Kardashian be sleeping with next are trying to engage in "political analysis". The author or of the above article wants American-Armenians to believe that Russia is "betraying" Armenia - at a time when higher powers are trying to drive a wedge between Yerevan and Moscow, at a time when Armenia desperately needs Russian support for survival. How smart or responsible is that? Had the stakes not be so high, I would normally ignore our idiots. But the stakes are such that any wrong step by Yerevan may prove fatal for the Armenian state. My humble suggestion for American-Armenians is to mind their own damn business... which is to worry about their comatose, near-dead community that has turned into a dangerous catalyst for Western political agendas inside Armenia. The above article, however, gives me an opportunity to further address this topic once more.

Those who seek to drive a wedge between Russia and Armenia have developed what can be described as three silly slogans: "Czarist Russia wanted Armenia without Armenians", "Russians gave Armenian lands to Turks" and "Russia betrays Armenia by selling weapons to Azerbaijan". It does not matter whether those who disseminate such dark fairytales do so consciously or subconsciously. What matters is that what they do is psy-ops who's purpose is to make a play on the sentiments and emotions of the easily manipulated sheeple. In other words, the intent is to subtly and systematically sow anti-Russian sentiments within Armenian society.

The first slogan about Czarist Russia (essentially a Dashnaktsakan fairytale from a time period when Armenian revolutionaries were foolishly rebelling against a government that was actually supporting their struggle in the Ottoman Empire) is too ridiculous to respond to other than by simply stating: It's precisely because of Czarist Russia that an Armenia came into existence, it's precisely because of a Czarist Russia that Armenian nationalism came into existence. None of our deaf, dumb and blind Russophobes are capable of naming one actual thing that Russians, as a nation, have knowingly done against Armenians. Historically, not a single square millimeter of Armenian territory has ever been gifted to Turks by Russians. The party guilty of relinquishing Armenian territories to Turks and Azeris was the Western/Jewish led and financed Bolshevik government that had come to power in 1917 by destroying the Russian Empire from within. Bolsheviks represented Russia at the time as much as ISIS represents Syria today. Bolshevism was in fact much more destructive to Russia than to Armenia. Bolshevism through the 1920s was almost exclusively a none-Russian political system. Therefore, blaming Russians for the evils of Bolshevism is like blaming the murder victim for the actions of the murderer. Those to hang Bolshevik crimes on Russian necks are either imbeciles or agents of the Anglo-American-Jewish political order. 

Armenia lives today as a nation-state in the south Caucasus largely thanks to the geopolitical factor created by Russia's presence in the region during the past two hundred years. Had Russia not come down to the south Caucasus in the early 19th century - and stayed - all of us, including our Russophobes and proud nationalists, would still be herding goats or making donkey saddles somewhere in eastern Turkey or northern Iran.

Regarding Russian arms to Baku: There is something Armenians generally speaking have a very-very hard time understanding and it's called realpolitik. It does not matter how wealthy or how educated an Armenian is, when it comes to political matters, Armenians act like troubled children. I personally think this is a serious matter that has its roots in genetics (i.e. breeding). An Armenian can be brilliant in science, medicine, literature, art, business, sports, etc. But when it comes to politics, the Armenian is a self-destructive peasant regardless of his or her social status. That's why it's common in Armenian circles now to hear nonsense like - "If they are our friends who do they sell weapons to our enemies?!" Shouldn't children be asking stupid questions like this? Political ignorance and the lack of rational/objective thought in politics is so pervasive in Armenian society that there is actually a word for describing politically ignorant Armenians engaging in political analysis: It's called կոշկակարների քաղաքականութիւն. Roughly translated into English it means the political reasoning of tradesmen. In other words: Idiots trying to make sense of stuff that is well above their heads.

So, once more, allow me to explain Russian weapons sales to Azerbaijan:

While Russia and Armenia are in a genuine strategic alliance, Russia is doing its best to also lure Baku into its political orbit. This is somewhat similar to how Washington tries to kep its influence over Turks and Greeks and Israelis and Arabs by selling the conflicted parties US made weaponry. With that said, Russian officials realize that if Moscow does not sell weaponry to Baku there are nations like US, Britain, Ukraine, Belarus, Pakistan, urkey and Israel that would. So, from a Russian perspective, why not make money at the same time create leverage over Baku? At the end of the day, does it really matter where the weaponry Azerbaijan uses are made? Does it really matter where the bullet that killed a young Armenian soldier is made? No, it does not. The bullet or bomb are not the problem. The problem is how such tools are used by governments. Azeris have the luxury, the petrodollars to purchase whatever they want from whomever they want. We Armenians on the  other hand don't have the money for modern arms, we therefore are being given by Russia whatever arms we need to counter Azeri aggression. Can our Russophobic idiots at least say thank you? We also know that Armenia has a tiny military (so tiny that yearly quotas aren't even being met). By covering the entire length of Armenia's vulnerable border with Turkey, Russia is giving Armenia the ability to concentrate its meager resources on its more manageable border with Azerbaijan. Can our Russophobic idiots at least say thank you?

The reality that is somehow escaping most Armenians today is this: Even in ideal circumstances, Armenia would NOT be able to defend its borders against Turks and Azeris without a lot of direct Russian support. Moreover, there is another political angle to Russian arms to Baku: By supplying arms to Baku and Yerevan, Moscow is making sure to keep Azerbaijan and Armenia dependent on Russia. This is expected. This is logical. As we have seen recently, Russia's diplomatic abilities and statecraft are second-to-none. Russians know well that starving Armenians are easily bought. Russians know well that Armenia is saturated by Western mercenaries. Russians also know well that Armenia is allied to Russia today primarily because of the "Karabakh clan" in Yerevan. So, why should Russia trust Armenians? Well, is there trust in politics? Finally, by assisting both sides of the conflict, Moscow manages to "manage" the situation on the ground and is therefore able to maintain the prevailing status quo. I don't have to tell the reader that the status-quo in Artsakh is ONLY in Armenia's interest.

It should also be pointed out that Moscow is very serious about maintaining direct control over the situating in Artsakh because of the great geostrategic value Artsakh (similar to Abkhazia and South Ossetia) brings to the political table. As we saw back in 1999, the current status quo in Artsakh is something Moscow will maintain at all costs - even if that means spilling blood. And I am glad it has, because I have little doubt that had it been up to us Armenians, official Yerevan would most probably have adopted the infamous Goble Plan sometime back around 1999 and Armenia today would have been either laid waste by Russians or have become subordinate to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Western oil interests.

At the end of the day, there is no trust or friendships in politics. At the end of the day, arms supply to Baku or not, Armenia lives as a result of the Russian factor in the south Caucasus. No Russia in Armenia = no Armenia in the south Caucasus. So, instead of wasting time spreading Russophobia in Armenian cyberspace, concerned Armenians in positions of influence would do better to lobby Armenian interests with Russian officials for a change. For the record, US and British governments train Azeri snipers (yes, the kind of service personnel that kill dozens of Armenian soldiers annually) and Israel and Turkey provide Baku with a lot of military training, technical assistance and billions of dollars in sophisticated weaponry. Here are some facts to consider: 
American military contractors MPRI Inc is training Azeri marksmen: Naval Special Ops Demos Training in Azerbaijan:
The Sunday Times: British special forces carried out secret trainings in Azerbaijan:
Azerbaijan Makes Massive Israeli Weapons:
Is a US-Financed Azeri Satellite A Threat to Armenia’s Security?:
Turkish Jets to Deliver American Nuclear Warheads: is yet another twist to this matter. This is not 1991. If there is a war with Azerbaijan, the Armenian military will face on the battlefield a well prepared and bigger enemy force with large amounts of modern weaponry. If Armenia is to face modern weaponry on the battlefield, I rather it be weapons systems that the Armenian military is keenly familiar with and thus capable of defeating in combat. Here we see a Russian expert voicing similar sentiments for an Armenian audience -
Russian expert: Armenia should be interested in Russian-Azeri arms deals: http://www.arminfo.amRussians are helping a tiny, remote, landlocked, blockaded and impoverished nation protect itself from predators like Turkey and Azerbaijan. Despite what our people's massive ego and deep-seated political illiteracy makes them want to believe, we Armenians CANNOT sustain a state in the south Caucasus without Russian boots in Armenia.

So, once more: By securing Armenia's border with Turkey, Russia is allowing Armenia to concentrate its meager resources on a more manageable enemy, Azerbaijan. Baku has the petrodollars to purchase whatever it wants, from whoever it wants. To create military parity between Armenians and Azeris, Russia is providing Armenia modern weaponry essentially for free. Russia's 102nd base is the single most important military factor in the south Caucasus for it is a deterrence against Turks and NATO. The 102nd base was created with a duel role: Project Russian power in the region and protect Armenia from invasion. When was the last time our "patriotic" Armenians said "thank you Mother Russia for helping us keep up with Azeri arms purchases"?

Anyone that tries to blame Russians for the crimes of Bolsheviks is an intellectual midget. Anyone that tries to spread Russophobia in Armenian society is a traitor to Armenia. I don't care if they do it knowingly or unknowingly, what they are doing is extremely dangerous to Armenia. One must be deaf, dumb and/or blind not to see this. We saw where this kind of Russophobic nonsense got Georgia and Ukraine. How stupid or treasonous must one be to do the same? I think American-Armenians should mind their own business and leave politics to Armenian officials in Yerevan and Stepanakert. At the end of the day, if one day Russians decided to betray Armenia, none of our big talking patriotic yahoos would be able stop them. So, instead of talking nonsense I suggest our nationalist nutjobs pray that it does not happen. Actually, along with praying I also suggest working on bettering Russian-Armenian relations so that it does not happen.

I really don't understand why any of this is so difficult to understand. I serious think Armenians have deep grained psychological problems. It must be a breeding matter. ANYONE that tries to sow Russophobia in Armenian society in this day in age is a TRAITOR to the Armenian nation. How insane, how treasonous, how intellectually empty must one be to continue on spreading anti-Russian rhetoric amongst Armenians after Seeing what has taken place in Syria and Ukraine? I sometimes feel as if one must travel to the deepest African jungle or to the remotest Arabian desert to find a tribe of people more politically ignorant than us Armenians...

My message to our "nationalists" and Russophobes

The problem with your intellectually bankrupt kind (and I know your kind very well) is that you simply don't know how to be critical in a constructive sense. You are Armenian after all. So, I understand, but that does not mean I will tolerate your nonsense. You foolishly think that simply by "uniting" Armenia and defeat its enemies. You foolishly think that by not being dependent on Russia, Armenia will gain independence. You discuss various political matters without ever putting the subject matter into a proper historical and geopolitical context. More often than not your facts are half-truths. Sometimes your facts are lies that were passed down to you by your grandparents. Your perception, your understanding of the world and yourself is twisted. Your reality is warped beyond recognition. Your kind was until very recently very pro-Western. It had to take the bloody tragedies in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Ukraine to wake you up from your American dream. Despite what you now know about the political West, your kind continues to spread within Armenian society a dangerous toxin know as Russophobia. Therefore, forgive me if I don't trust any of you when it comes to Armenia. In fact, I don't care if you see yourselves as an Armenian patriot. For me you are worst than a Turk because you are a dangerous cancer within the Armenian body that is easily manipulated by Armenia's enemies.

If God forbid the Russopbobia that comes to you so naturally ever goes mainstream in Armenia, our country will disappear from the map once more. Before you talk your nonsense, just take a moment to look at the bigger picture. Perhaps you'll begin realizing that if Russians somehow turned against Armenia someday, not even a million of our "fedayees" would be able to save the country from its inevitable fate. So, I suggest you pray it doesn't happen. Actually, along with praying, I also suggest you work towards making sure it doesn't happen. In other words, put a rest to your Cold War ghosts, curb your ego, put aside you petty nonsense and try to lobby Armenian causes amongst Russians. And if there is something that you don't like about Russian-Armenian relations, voice it in a constructive manner. In other words, do not sow panic in Armenian society with nonsense about Russians betraying Armenians, or Russia wanting Armenia without Armenians, or Russia giving away Armenian lands to Turks...

At the end of the day, Armenia lives today because of Russia. Armenia's independence from Russia will only result in Armenian dependence on Turkey. In other words, no Russia in Armenia means no Armenia in the south Caucasus. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to realize any of this, but you do have to have a clear mind. Sadly, most Armenians today are too engulfed in their petty world and too distracted by their massive arrogance to see things clearly. The more I observe Armenians the more I become convinced that Armenians are simply incapable of seeing what's truly in the long-term interests of Armenia.

Our nationalist nutjobs today remind me of the cat that looked in the mirror and saw a lion. God forbid this delusional Cat (i.e. the Armenia that exists in the minds of our nationalists) ever goes out to play in the real world where hungry Wolves roam. God forbid this Cat goes out into an ecosystem where the Bear has not driven away the Wolves. Our nationalist nutjobs seriously need to stop their foolish "fedayee" nonsense before it kills our country. That "fedayee" stuff works only against backward peasants (like the Azeris in the early 1990s). That "fedayee" stuff works only when there is a major power in the background supporting it. The geopolitical circumstances of the region within which Armenia unfortunately finds itself in dictates that we Armenians will be subordinate to Russia for the foreseeable future. There are no real alternatives to this.

With Armenia fully within the Russian orbit, we can all expect Western powers to make a direct play on Armenian nationalism once more. The West successfully used Armenian nationalism in Diasporan circles to sow disunity amongst Armenians during Soviet period. The West's agenda to support Armenian nationalists, however, dissipated when the Soviet Union collapsed and nationalism became a problem for the West. The West therefore concentrated on supporting liberal, globalist ideals in the post-Soviet years. Now, however, that the Russian Bear is back and Western powers have in response turned various regions into a volatile powder keg, we can all expect them to once more begin exploiting Armenian nationalism to once again sow discord between Diasporan Armenians and their Armenian homeland. Sadly, Western powers will find a fertile ground to sow their seeds amongst nationalists because nationalism, especially Armenian nationalism, has a tendency to be extremely shortsighted, emotional, irrational and uncompromising.

Armenians desperately need politically awareness and a type of nationalism that rational, farsighted, pragmatic and pro-Russian. Similar to Armenian-Persian relations in the ancient world, Armenians need to begin seeing Armenia and Russia as two segments of one civilization. Accordingly, Armenians need to apply their positive traits (ingenuity, creativity, resilience, perseverance, hard work, etc) towards fully extracting the potentials of Russia's alliance with Armenia. At the very least, we need to be happy that a neighboring superpower looks at our Armenia as a great geostrategic asset and not a nuisance. After all, Russia is the only nation on earth that will be adversely impacted if Armenia disappears. This has a great geostrategic significance to Armenia. So, instead of complaining like old women (which is what our nationalist nutjobs and Russophobes do), we need to figure out a way to better lobby Armenian matters within the walls of the Kremlin.

Why is it that Armenians admire Jews for their political agility but when the opportunities comes for Armenians to act like Jews, Armenians instead act like Arabs? This Arabesque behavior of Armenians may be why Washingtonian reptiles are keeping hope alive in Yerevan.

Bad omen for Armenia

After seeing what we have been seeing in places such as Venezuela, Serbia, Greece, Ukraine, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Iraq in recent years, I still find it rather amazing that there are significant numbers of Armenians today that have somehow convinced themselves that Armenia needs a revolution and that Armenia can do without Russian protection because the "civilized world" (i.e. the political West) will provide for and protect Armenia in times of need. Haven't these idiots learned anything from our history? Haven't these idiots learned anything from recent world events? Haven't these idiots seen the "civilized world" destroy nations and kill millions around the world? Haven't these idiots realized that for centuries Western powers have been in bed with Turks? I suggest we don't repeat the mistakes of our forefathers. We have already lost so much because of our political illiteracy. I think one genocide is enough. There is a time and place for everything. Armenia is surrounded by predators in the south Caucasus. The Caucasus region is one bad event away from exploding. This is therefore not the time and the south Caucasus is not the place for a revolution or for Russophobia. This is the time to strengthen Armenia's ties with the Russian Federation. This is the time to begin strengthening Armenia economically by looking north, south and east. This is the time to rally around the Armenian state regardless of who is currently at the helm in Yerevan. 

Nevertheless, the troubling realization that there are voices in Armenian society demanding a "regime change" (on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of all times) and the expulsion of the Russian military from Armenia (at a time when that region of the world is on the verge of a major calamity) reveals just how suicidal, how treasonous, how self-destructive and how politically illiterate many Armenians can be.  And just when things couldn't get worst...

Victoria "Fuck the EU" Nuland (the wife of neocon zealot Robert Kagan) was in Armenia recently to essentially give out cookies to gullible Armenians, similar to what she did in Kiev a little over a year ago just before that country fell into utter ruin. The cookie in Armenia's case, however, was her visit to the memorial complex of a genocide that she and her government refuses to officially recognize. There were other cookies as well. Similar to what Clinton did during her visits to Armenia on 2010 and 2012, it was also quite expected that Nuland would also meet with some of Uncle Sam's servants in the country. Nuland's imperial delegation also seems to have conveyed the message to Yerevan that the empire is pleased with it. According to various reports put out recently, Washington seems particularly pleased with the progress of "democracy", "freedom of press", "civil society" and "economic reform" in Armenia - US Hails Progress in Armenian Democracy:

Armenia ranked 78th in 2015 World Press Freedom Index:
Armenia Must Seek Further Press Freedom: All in all, this is a very bad omen for an Armenia that is already reeling from a series of internal and external assaults against it this year. That Washington is pleased with Armenia is something that should actually frighten the kaka out of Armenians. In an age where Western powers have weaponized everything imaginable, Armenians need to worry about the progress of "democracy" (i.e. providing the ignorant and easily manipulated masses a say in government); Armenians need to worry about the strengthening of "civil society" (i.e. tolerating dangerous subversive organizations funded by Western entities); Armenians need to worry about "reforming the economy" (i.e. keeping the financial system of Armenia subordinate to the US Dollar); and Armenians need to worry about "press freedoms" (i.e. allowing Western funded propaganda outlets posing as news agencies and Western funded "independent" journalists the freedom to sow Russophobia and foment sociopolitical unrest in Armenia).
It is truly troubling that democracy, civil society, human rights, freedom of the press and even humanitarian aid have become highly refined tools of manipulation and subversion in recent years. This is essentially because the hand that gives is always above the hand that receives. As long as nations look to the West for guidance or assistance, the West will look to manipulate. The Armenian pursuit of Western fairytales and Yerevan's burning desire for Western financial aid is therefore what's keeping Armenia politically vulnerable to Western machinations. Armenia's flirtations with the West is also why Washington seems pleased with Armenia. In other words, Washington's desire to remain in the political game in Armenia is the reason for its current soft approach towards Yerevan -NATO Official: Armenia’s Membership in EEU, CSTO ‘No Obstacle’ for NATO Relations:
EU Official: Armenia ‘An Integral Part of Europe’: that Armenia is now officially a member of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Washington will do its best to exploit its assets throughout Armenian society to keep channels of communication and collaboration open with Yerevan. This was predicted. The south Caucasus remains strategically very important for the West essentially because it is the gateway to energy rich Central Asia. Yerevan's alliance with Moscow, the only one of its kind in the south Caucasus, has thus made Armenia a pivotal player because Washington knows that Moscow can essentially lose all of the south Caucasus if Yerevan is somehow made to change course and seek an alliance with the West. Armenia is therefore a strategic prize not only for Moscow but also for the West.
Many Armenians realize that the West's ultimate geostrategic desire for the south Caucasus is to curb Russian and Iranian influence. Many Armenians realize that the West looks at the south Caucasus as a strategic corridor for the exploitation of Central Asian energy. Many Armenians realize that the West looks at Armenia as a strategic prize. Many Armenians are therefore making the mistake of thinking that Armenia can benefit from cooperating with Western powers. What many Armenians are failing to realize is that the West's agenda for the Caucasus runs the serious risk of creating a very dangerous political vacuum. If Russia (and/or Iran) suffers a defeat at the hands of Western powers, the only players that are already in the Caucasus region and ready to fill the vacuum are Western oil interests, Wahhabi Islamists and Turks. From an Armenian, Russian and Iranian perspective, this is the fundamental danger of the game Western powers are playing the Caucasus. Purely from an Armenian perspective, this is why the Western agenda for the region poses a threat that is existential in nature. This is the reason why Moscow, Yerevan and Tehran have formed an alliance of sorts in recent years. Simply put: Armenia's cooperation with Western powers cannot come at the expense of Russian interests in the south Caucasus because it is only the Russian factor in the region that's keeping Armenia alive. As I have said on many previous occasions: The Caucasus region has the natural tendency to revert back into being a Turkic/Islamic cesspool, and all that is required is one bad incident to make it happen.
I reiterate: For Russia, Armenia is a crucially important, natural ally in a highly volatile strategic region where anti-Russian sentiments run high. For the West, Armenia is a geopolitical prize to be won and essentially taken out of the political equation of the region. Russia is in the south Caucasus to protect its vulnerable southern borders from Turks, Wahhabi Islamists and Western interests. The West is in the south Caucasus to use Turks and Wahhabi Islamists to contain Russia and open an unhindered path for Western oil corporations. Armenia's friends, Russia and Iran, are the West's enemies. The West's friends, Turks and Wahhabi Islamists, are Armenia's enemies. The only country on earth that would be very adversely impacted if Armenia ceased to exist is Russia. Armenia's independence from Russia will only result in Armenia's dependence on Turkey. Therefore, no Russia in Armenia = no Armenia in the south Caucasus.
Anyone that cannot see what I am saying here simply does not understand geopolitics, does not know the Caucasus and has learned nothing about the region's history.

Ultimately, Washington will remain in the game in the Caucasus as long as Yerevan, Tbilisi and Baku continue to seek doing business with Western powers. Washington's destructive tug-of-war in the region will only end when Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan are firmly and securely placed within the Russian orbit and a new period of Pax Russicana begins. We still seem to be a long way from Pax Russicana. By having Victoria Nuland meeting rights groups and political activists in Yerevan, Washington is signaling to Yerevan that it expects such entities to be tolerated by Armenian authorities. It goes without saying that our chobans-in-Armani suites will happily give in to Washington's expectations just to look as if they are not too beholden to Moscow. Ultimately, our willingness to give into Western demands lies at the root of the sociopolitical problem in Yerevan because doing so provides Western powers a portal through with they will meddle, manipulate and exploit.
Let's stop fooling ourselves about Armenian capabilities or Armenian intelligence, we Armenians are awfully unprepared to safely sit at negotiation tables with masters of deceit and manipulation. Armenia is too weak and Armenians are too inexperienced to safely flirt with powers that have been cultivating their statecraft for centuries.
The finely crafted ability to meddle in a country's internal affairs is one of the ways with which Western powers always manage to stay in the game in targeted nations. At the end of the day, Washington's compliments about Armenia, as well as the Neocon war criminal's unwanted visit to the genocide memorial complex needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Essentially given the green light to operate by Armenian officials, US officials and CIA agents stationed in one of the largest US embassies in the world will continue working behind-the-scenes to foment sociopolitical unrest in the country. In fact, a headquarter meant to foment such unrest in "ex-Soviet countries" was just opened in Prague. In this context, "ex-Soviet countries" essentially means nations that are either allied to Russia (i.e. Armenia) or have the potential to be allied to Russia (i.e. Georgia). When it comes to inciting revolutions, the following center will be one of the seats of operation -Czechs open center for civil society activists from ex-Soviet countries: is through such networks (and their enthusiastic activists from around the world) that Western powers can organize flash mob protests virtually at will: President Putin is visiting Armenia? No problem. Quickly get out a few thousand Armenian freaks in Yerevan to protest. President Orban is holding trade talks with Moscow? No problem. Quickly get out a few thousand Hungarian freaks to protest. President Zemen does not want to go along with sanctions against Russia? No problem. Quickly get out a few thousand Czech freaks to protest. It's all meant to put pressure on a particular government and create a particular perception because for the sheeple - perception is reality! Like Marxists before them, they have an uncanny ability to appeal to the lowest or lowliest in social strata.

Ideal Illusions

Regardless of how beneficial or even necessary they may seem at first glance, any movement that has any form of Western-backing or is spearheaded by Western-led or inspired activists need to be categorically rejected. I say this because imperial interests in Washington have co-opted and weaponized sociopolitical issues and are currently exploiting them towards self-serving political gains. Accepting help, in any form, from the political West comes with dangerous strings attached, conditions that developing nations such as Armenia or the Ukraine cannot meet. I ask you to refer to a book by James Peck regarding this very important topic for our era -  Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights
"Devastating and deeply disturbing, this book lays bare any lingering illusions that human rights concerns seriously influence U.S. policy."—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules

The United States has long been hailed as a powerful force for global human rights. Now, drawing on thousands of documents from the CIA, the National Security Council, the Pentagon, and development agencies, James Peck shows in blunt detail how Washington has shaped human rights into a potent ideological weapon for purposes having little to do with rights—and everything to do with furthering America's global reach. Using the words of Washington's leaders when they are speaking among themselves, Peck tracks the rise of human rights from its dismissal in the cold war years as "fuzzy minded" to its calculated adoption, after the Vietnam War, as a rationale for American foreign engagement. He considers such milestones as the fight for Soviet dissidents, Tiananmen Square, and today's war on terror, exposing in the process how the human rights movement has too often failed to challenge Washington's strategies. A gripping and elegant work of analysis, Ideal Illusions argues that the movement must break free from Washington if it is to develop a truly uncompromising critique of power in all its forms. Book:, many of the world's Hollywood-struck sheeple these days are indeed suffering from ideal illusions. These sheeple are the cannon-fodder Washington exploits against developing nations that not in their pockets or under their boots. Now, to place the enlightening book featured above into a better, more complete perspective, juxtaposed its message to the following book titled "From Dictatorship to Democracy"Unlike the previous book's author, the following book was written by an American with a Western/Globalist political agenda. Unlike the previous book's intent, this work by Gene Sharp is essentially a step-by-step blueprint for revolution and its primary target (i.e. those it is trying to bait) are the freaks of society and the disgruntled masses  -
  From Dictatorship to Democracy
From Dictatorship to Democracy was a pamphlet, printed and distributed by Dr Gene Sharp and based on his study, over a period of forty years, on non-violent methods of demonstration. Now in its fourth edition, it was originally handed out by the Albert Einstein Institution, and although never actively promoted, to date it has been translated into thirty-one languages. This astonishing book travelled as a photocopied pamphlet from Burma to Indonesia, Serbia and most recently Egypt, Tunisia and Syria, with dissent in China also reported. Surreptitiously handed out amongst youth uprisings the world over - how the 'how-to' guide came about and its role in the recent Arab uprisings is an extraordinary tale. Once read you'll find yourself urging others to read it and indeed want to gift it.Book: Western financed civic society organizations gather their diverse operatives to form networks and workshops and make global connections during their annual meetings and conventions, these are the types of publications they disseminate and this is the kind of inspiration at work behind their activism. We must for once recognize that virtually every single societal matter found around the world today - be it Islamic militancy or gay rights or planned parenthood or nature protection - is ultimately being financed, controlled and/or exploited by Western imperial interests. As the first book by James Peck courageously suggests: Sociopolitical movements of the world today must first break free of Western control if they are to be safely embraced by developing societies. As the second book by Gene Sharp reveals, many of the democracy uprising we are seeing in various parts of the world get their funding and inspiration from Western sources. More perspective on this topic -Does the US engineering revolutions?: 
Documents Leaked by WikiLeaks Show an Organization Training Opposition Around the World: 
How to Start a Revolution: 
Revolution Engineering: US know-how and 'colourful' technology: 
South of the Border: Weight of Chains | Težina lanaca (2010):, an extension of US foreign policy: Talks Through NGOs: on the War Path: Civil Society as Battering-Ram: 
US NGO uncovered in Ukraine protest:
U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings: 
George Soros and his open society:
Czechs open center for civil society activists from ex-Soviet countries: reiterate: "press freedom", "human rights" and "democratic progress" are essentially code words for allowing Western assets in Armenia a free hand to meddle in the internal affairs of the country. I would like to point out that this is not a modern phenomenon. Marxists/socialist organizations perfected meddling methods one hundred years ago. Washington, for its part, has been perfecting its ability to sow unrest in targeted nations since the 1950s. The author of a recently published book on the infamous Dulles brothers had this to say in a recent interview -"[The Dulles brothers] were able to succeed [at regime change] in Iran and Guatemala because those were democratic societies, they were open societies. They had free press; there were all kinds of independent organizations; there were professional groups; there were labor unions; there were student groups; there were religious organizations. When you have an open society, it's very easy for covert operatives to penetrate that society and corrupt it." 
Stephen Kinzer in NPR Radio Interview: freer a society is, the more vulnerable it is to manipulation and exploitation by higher powers. Dwell on this notion for a while. We have seen nations like Serbia, Georgia, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine suffer devastating losses due to Western meddling. Not wanting to follow suit nations like Russia, China, Egypt, Iran and Venezuela are forced to tighten their control over society to stop Western meddling. It is truly unfortunate that freedom has to be curtailed to stop imperial exploitation. It is truly tragic that human progress is being stunted due to Western machinations. But this is where we are today and this has to be acknowledged. Today we have a convergence of interests between neo-Bolsheviks (civil society groups funded by Soros-like leftist entities in the Western world) and traditional Western imperialists. The aforementioned two have joined hands and are seeking to topple governments not under Anglo-American-Jewish rule. They have the money. They have the tools. They have the expertise. They have the experience. They have the following. They control the global control board. When they are given the freedom to operate in an targeted country, they waste no time in sowing their seeds of sociopolitical unrest.
Yerevan is vulnerable to this kind of foreign manipulation precisely because Armenia has more than ample political freedoms. In fact, politically, Armenia is much freer than the US. When was the last time the US had political parties and political activists as diverse or as violent or as competitive as the ones that exist in Armenia? Never. Political diversity is not an advantage, it's a serious problem. Western world has been powerful because of its entrenched elite, not because of its fictitious political freedoms. Had political diversity been a healthy thing for developing nations, Western powers would not be pushing it upon them. What Armenia needs today is tighter control of its Western funded news agencies, NGOs and activists. What Yerevan needs to do is limit its exposure to Western powers. What Yerevan also needs to do its place individuals and organizations that maintain ties with Western entities under constant surveillance. Having an open society is a serious liability for an embattled country like Armenia because political activism, humanitarian aid, financial assistance, independent journalism and information are being used as weapons of mass destruction by Western powers. We have seen enough examples in recent years. Armenia is too small. Armenians are too few. We Armenians simply cannot afford the kind of mistakes made by Serbians, Georgians and Ukrainians.

ArevordiFebruary, 2015


Sorry, Ukraine, You Can't Beat Putin

The Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny recently said that were it not for Western economic sanctions, Russian tanks would already have swept west to the port city of Odessa, occupying a huge swath of Southern Ukraine and cutting off the rest of the country from the Black Sea. He's probably right, yet it won't count for much if Ukraine's government doesn't take advantage of the respite sanctions have provided by changing course. Russian president Vladimir Putin has in recent weeks rekindled the war in Eastern Ukraine, and it's important to understand the role that Ukrainian actions have played in this. It's equally important to recognize that sanctions can't defeat Putin; they can only make him more cautious and open to a settlement.
It was just last September that Putin initiated the Minsk cease-fire agreement, halting his tanks after they had reversed many of the gains Ukraine's military had made against Eastern separatists over the summer. And it's a fair assumption that Europe's threat to impose heavier economic sanctions influenced his decision to stop his advance. Putin had demonstrated that Ukraine's military simply isn't capable of standing up to Russian regulars, and that his tanks could indeed roll on to Odessa if he chose to give the order. In return for stopping, though, he expected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to sue for a political settlement of the conflict, beyond the localized Minsk cease-fire.
Instead, Poroshenko had Ukraine's parliament rescind a law that had committed the country to military neutrality and announced its formal intention to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This was a serious misstep that made a return to war all but inevitable. If one thing is clear in this contest, it is that Putin will not -- and politically cannot -- make peace without some form of public assurance that Ukraine won't join NATO.
Another step Ukraine took after the Minsk deal was to build a defensive line around separatist territory. This it had to do. The city of Mariupol, the first stop on any Russian road to Odessa and Crimea, had been left defenseless before last summer's Russian assault, and the Ukrainian government had a duty to remedy that. Nevertheless, the place where Ukraine's military chose to dig in said a lot about whether its goal was purely to defend itself, or also to prepare to retake rebel-held areas by force. The decision to hold on to Donetsk airport at any cost, despite having agreed at Minsk that this would fall on the rebel side of the cease-fire line, suggested the latter.
Next, Ukraine trumpeted its efforts to resupply its forces with new weaponry from NATO members, including the U.S., which sent radar systems for guiding responsive fire at enemy artillery positions. This set the clock running for Putin to begin an assault before Ukraine's military could be rearmed and retrained.
So it was that, as early as October, Russian armor was heading back into Ukraine. The rebels announced an offensive to take Mariupol and other towns, and it looked as if the war would start again. Collapsing oil prices intervened, and by November the front was relatively quiet again. Yet this was unsustainable. Putin had still not blocked Ukraine from turning West. What's more, he looked weak. And to make matters worse on that front, U.S. President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, portrayed him as defeated:
Mr. Putin’s aggression, it was suggested, was a masterful display of strategy and strength. That’s what I heard from some folks. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.As fantasies go, this was right up there with George W. Bush's "mission accomplished" boast after the initial invasion of Iraq. Putin hadn't given up. And if Obama had the first inkling of Putin's character, he would understand that the best way to push him to attack is to boast of beating him.
So Ukraine and its partners lost an opportunity this winter, even if it's impossible to know whether Putin would himself have been willing to make the compromises needed for a settlement. It's also hard to know how far Putin will let his tanks go this time. If he believes there will be no more sanctions, or decides it's worth weathering them, Russian forces could take Mariupol, build a land corridor to Crimea or make the final push to Odessa.
Alternatively, he might merely help the rebels take the key positions -- such as the Donetsk airport, the Debaltseve rail junction and the Luhansk power station -- which they need to make their territory survivable, and then give Poroshenko another chance to sue for peace.
This is Putin's war. He contrived it when his ally Viktor Yanukovych was driven from power in Ukraine, and he largely controls it. Yet so long as the U.S. and NATO aren't willing to fight Russia over Ukraine (and they shouldn't be), they should help Poroshenko understand that this conflict can end only with a settlement that involves politically painful Ukrainian concessions. Such was the terrible squeeze that Georgia existed in for nearly two decades. Once Russia had secured control over separatist territories in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it could demand a political settlement on its terms. When Georgia refused and tried to resolve the problem militarily, it was crushed. (NATO did not come to the rescue.)
It is understandable that Ukraine doesn't want a super-sized Abkhazia or South Ossetia in Eastern Ukraine, but it is also too late to stop Russia from creating one. The longer Poroshenko pretends to his people that Ukraine can seize Donestsk and Luhansk back by force, the bigger Ukraine's Abkhazia will become and the more lives, sovereignty and wealth Ukraine will lose.

Putin’s push into Ukraine is rational

A hyper-aggressive Russia, in the view of some Americans, is setting off a new and dangerous Cold War. Loud voices in Washington depict the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, as a richly empowered thug who is using his vast resources to lash out against his neighbors, Europe, the United States and the world. In fact Putin is a dangerously weak thug who is desperately trying to prevent the consummation of a Washington-based plan to surround his country with unfriendly forces.
The immediate reason for American outrage at Russia is its intervention in Ukraine. Washington’s goal is to turn Ukraine and other countries bordering on Russia into political partners. That would bring Western power directly to Russia’s borders. American weaponry already stares into Russia from Latvia and Estonia. If Ukraine can be brought into NATO, as some in Washington openly hope, that would be another step toward the encirclement of Russia.
Rather than allow this to happen, Russia has mobilized its allies in Ukraine to resist. Russia’s enemies, based principally in Washington, consider this a form of aggression. Yet any Russian leader who allowed Ukraine to join an enemy alliance would be betraying his country’s vital security interests. All countries try to prevent the emergence of enemies on or near their borders. They seek what geo-politicians call “strategic depth.” It means the seizure, overtly or covertly, of control over enough adjacent territory to protect their homeland.
Russia knows the value of “strategic depth” as well as any country on earth. It was invaded by Napoleon’s army in the 19th century and by Nazi Germany in the 20th century. The reason it brutally subjugated nations in Eastern Europe after World War II was that it wanted a buffer to prevent history from repeating itself.
After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the NATO alliance, which is dominated by the United States, saw its chance to advance against a prostrate Russia. Taking advantage of the trusting and naive Mikhail Gorbachev, one of the worst negotiators in modern history, NATO pushed Western military power into the Baltic states. The next step in this plan was to advance that power into Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. The Ukraine piece of this strategy nearly worked. In 2013 American-supported protesters succeeded in overthrowing Ukraine’s elected government. The new regime endorsed the idea of inviting anti-Russian forces into Ukraine. That raised the specter of more American weapons directly on Russia’s borders. No responsible Russian leader could tolerate this.
The United States, unlike Russia, respects the sovereignty of its neighbors — but only because they are friendly. If Mexico were to invite Russia to build a military base in Tijuana, or if Canada were to allow Chinese missiles to be deployed in Vancouver, the United States would certainly react. We would not wait to be attacked but would preempt the threat — by military means if necessary. This is precisely what Russia is doing in Ukraine. Rather than wait to be encircled, it is acting to defend its security perimeter.
These cold calculations are little comfort to suffering Ukrainians. Both of Ukraine’s main political factions — those favoring and opposing Russia — are sacrificing their country’s stability to big-power conflict. This does not perturb politicians or generals in Moscow and Washington. They are engaged in a high-stakes political battle in which the lives of ordinary people are expendable. Behind their crocodile tears, few Russian or American leaders care about Ukraine itself. They treat it as a pawn in big-power rivalry.
In the West, President Putin is often portrayed as a scheming despot determined to project Russian power as far as he can. That he is — but it is not the whole story. Putin leads a declining nation that is politically and militarily weak, riddled with corruption, and on the brink of economic collapse. By pushing potentially hostile power onto Russia’s borders, Western leaders give Putin a chance to divert public attention away from his failures and cloak himself in the garb of Russian nationalism. Putin now enjoys sky-high approval ratings despite having guided his country into a pitiful morass.
Putin rules Russia in ways most Americans find repugnant, but his job is not to please Americans. Like any head of state or government, though, he must devote himself above all to defending his country against foreign power. Western support for Ukraine may be aimed in part at promoting democracy, but the parallel goal is to intimidate Russia. Putin is responding to this challenge. Before the United States sends weapons or military advisers to Ukraine, we should stop to consider how we would react if Russia did that in Mexico or Canada.  Stephen Kinzer is a visiting fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Follow him on Twitter @stephenkinzer.

Countering Putin’s Grand Strategy

The heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine this week isn’t the only reason to be skeptical about the prospects for the peace summit that began Wednesday in Minsk, Belarus. Even if the meeting among Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian President Vladimir Puti n, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande produces a cease-fire agreement that holds up—unlike the one signed last fall—the conflict’s underlying reality will remain unchanged: The Russian-backed separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine is part of Moscow’s larger grand strategy. President Putin, who is consumed by historical humiliations, knows that Russia was invaded not only by Napoleon and Hitler, but before that also by the Swedes, Poles and Lithuanians. And so the Russian president seeks a post-Warsaw Pact buffer zone in Central and Eastern Europe. The Kremlin play book: imperialism by way of forcing energy dependence, intelligence operations, criminal rackets, buying infrastructure and media through third parties, the bribing of local politicians and playing off the insecurities of ethnic minorities.
Opinion Journal Video
Mr. Putin may be an autocrat, but he finds weak democracies convenient to his purpose. Their frail institutional and rule-of-law regimes make his favored forms of subversion easier. Thus, Moldova, Bulgaria and Serbia are particularly at risk while Romania, a member of the European Union since 2007 and far more stable than Bulgaria, is less so.
Mr. Putin has a North European Plain strategy in the Baltic states and Poland, which emphasizes dependence on natural gas and the manipulation of Russian minorities in the Baltic states. He also has a Black Sea strategy, as seen in his annexation of Crimea last year, his desire for a land bridge between Crimea and separatist eastern Ukraine, his military pressure on Georgia, and his friendship with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan—it all advances Russian influence in the adjacent Balkans, thus inside Europe. Western sanctions against Russia and the weakening of the Russian currency (because of the fall in oil prices) may constrain Mr. Putin a bit, but Russian history reveals a strong tendency for hardship at home and adventurism abroad. Dialing up nationalism amid economic turmoil is the default option for autocrats.
Matching Russia’s multifaceted imperialism requires a multifaceted U.S. counterstrategy: the coordinated use of sufficient military aid, intelligence operations, electronic surveillance, economic sanctions, information and cyberwarfare, and legal steps. The Obama administration is already pursuing in part such a strategy, but without the intensity and commitment necessary for success. This isn’t about going to war, but about making Russia respect limits. The Obama administration should intensify economic sanctions that further squeeze Russia’s ability to do business with U.S. banks; help allies build liquefied natural-gas terminals to reduce dependence on Russian energy; offer more tools to allies to help them defend against Russian cyberattacks; and launch a full-bore effort to get Ukraine to strengthen its military and other institutions—call it nation-building lite.
Other measures might include inviting recently elected Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and other deserving Central and Eastern European leaders on state visits to Washington, an increased tempo of bilateral military exercises with allies bordering Russia, and offering our friends more intelligence against Russian criminal organizations. Above all, U.S. policy makers should understand that NATO’s Article 5—specifying that an armed attack against one member state will be considered an attack on all members—doesn’t protect members against Russian subversion from within. Thus supporting Ukraine militarily means first getting the Kiev government and its fighting forces to modernize by, among other things, embedding experts from NATO and other organizations inside Ukrainian ministries and army units. Only then will the Ukrainian military be able to absorb the extra arms its allies should want to give it. This is the narrative Washington needs to create. Ukraine’s best defense against Russia is to become more of a viable Westernized state itself.
But there is another problem: Europe. The EU bureaucracy doesn’t want to absorb the troubles of Ukraine’s 45 million people with their corrupt institutions, and neither do most NATO member states. The European appetite for helping Ukraine has not measured up to Russia’s appetite for destabilizing it. The problem cannot be decoupled from Europe’s own inability, despite its recently launched version of quantitative easing, to deal decisively with the EU’s flatlining economy. The bitter European truth is that not enough individual countries will sacrifice for each other. So why should they sacrifice for Ukraine?
Thus the U.S., in addition to dealing with an assertive yet economically crumbling Russia, must also cope with a spineless Europe. To defeat Russia’s geopolitical ambitions, U.S. strategy should concentrate on protecting and fortifying what the Polish general and patriot of the interwar era, Józef Pilsudsk i, called the Intermarium (Latin for “between the seas,” between the Baltic and Black seas, that is). Pilsudski envisioned a belt of independent states stretching from Estonia south to Bulgaria that could withstand Russian aggression from the east and German aggression from the west. But because Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Germany is such a benign and conflicted power, even as Mr. Putin seeks to expand influence into the old Soviet Union, the Intermarium must now extend from the Baltics to the Caucasus, where the Russian strongman, in addition to putting military pressure on Georgia, has made Armenia a virtual satellite hosting thousands of Russian troops.
This means oil-rich Azerbaijan, its sorry human-rights record notwithstanding, is a pivot state, along with Poland in northeastern Europe and Romania in southeastern Europe. The recent flare-up in fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh provides Russia even greater opportunities for exerting influence, given that Moscow has armed both sides. Meanwhile, Mr. Putin’s vision of an ever-enlarging separatist Ukraine corresponds with what he has already achieved in Russian-occupied Transnistria, a sliver of land virtually annexed from Moldova in the early 1990s, where he has fashioned a murky smugglers’ paradise; 2,500 Russian troops are stationed there. Transnistria could be the future of Ukraine if Mr. Obama doesn’t act. With Europe weak and distracted, and Mr. Putin stoking nationalism in the midst of an economic crisis at home, only the U.S. can be the organizing principle for strengthening the Intermarium.
Mr. Kaplan, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, is the author of, among other books, “The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate” (Random House, 2012).
If the U.S. Arms Ukraine, Russia Vows Retaliation

espite President Obama’s claim on Monday that he has not yet made a decision about supplying defensive weapons to the Ukrainian army, which is battling Russia-backed separatists who want an independent region within that country, the Russian media is full of predictions. They’re warning of the terrible impact further U.S. involvement in the conflict might have. Quoting a member of the Russian Defense Ministry's public advisory board who requested anonymity, The Moscow Times reported Monday that if the U.S. supplied arms to Ukraine, it would be viewed as an act of war. That action would not only increase the tension in the region, it would also force the Kremlin to “respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts,” the publication reported.
Evgeny Buzhinsky, a former lieutenant general in the Russian Army who is now at the Moscow-based PIR Center, told the publication, “Russia would reasonably consider the U.S. to be a direct participant in the conflict.” Also on Monday, the government-owned news agency ITAR-TASS reported that Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said, “We see major pressure on the issue in the United States, especially in Congress.”
“If the U.S., following a request from the Ukrainian government, starts supplying weapons to Kiev, it will violate a number of international documents,” Churkin said. “The U.S. has repeatedly chosen a graded approach to rules of international law.” The government news agency also quoted Ruslan Bortnik, director of the Ukrainian Institute of Policy Analysis and Management, as calling the U.S. position a bluff. “It is just a kind of poker bidding up, it is a bluff, an attempt to press Putin to be more tractable,” Bortnik reportedly said.
Will the U.S. supply arms to Ukraine? “Of course not,” Bortnik told TASS. “It might trigger an arms race bound to end up in Ukraine’s complete military defeat.” Bortnik and his organization, it should be noted, are difficult to find in news archives, except in stories published by Russia’s government-friendly media. The Obama administration’s position on arming Ukraine is actually still far from clear. While Obama held open the possibility during Monday’s joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who arrived in Washington, D.C. Sunday evening, he was also dismissive of the Ukrainian army’s ability to effectively counter a “determined” Russian advance. U.S. aid, Obama suggested, would be aimed at raising the costs to Russia of further aggression, not actually preventing it entirely.
“The prospect for a military solution to this problem has always been low,” he said. “Russia obviously has an extraordinarily powerful military and given the length of the Russian border with Ukraine, given the history between Russia and Ukraine, expecting that if Russia is determined that Ukraine can fully rebuff a Russian army has always been unlikely.”
Ukraine has been losing ground in its eastern regions to the pro-Russian separatists, who are apparently armed with advanced armor from Russia. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko over the weekend made an emotional appeal to western leaders for defensive weapons to help counter the separatists’ assaults.

“We are an independent nation and we have a right to defend our people,” Poroshenko said Saturday at a high-level security conference in Munich. “Over the course of the offensive we have proved to be responsible and we will not use the defensive equipment for attack.”
Russian official: We could help Iran attack Saudi Arabia if US arms Ukraine

Despite President Obama’s claim on Monday that he has not yet made a decision about supplying defensive weapons to the Ukrainian army, which is battling Russia-backed separatists who want an independent region within that country, the Russian media is full of predictions. They’re warning of the terrible impact further U.S. involvement in the conflict might have. Quoting a member of the Russian Defense Ministry's public advisory board who requested anonymity, The Moscow Times reported Monday that if the U.S. supplied arms to Ukraine, it would be viewed as an act of war. That action would not only increase the tension in the region, it would also force the Kremlin to “respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts,” the publication reported.
"We can also encourage Iran, or even back Iran in a fight — a military operation — with Saudi Arabia, so then the prices for oil will skyrocket," the source said. Evgeny Buzhinsky, a former lieutenant general in the Russian Army who is now at the Moscow-based PIR Center, told the publication, “Russia would reasonably consider the U.S. to be a direct participant in the conflict.” Also on Monday, the government-owned news agency ITAR-TASS reported that Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said, “We see major pressure on the issue in the United States, especially in Congress.”
“If the U.S., following a request from the Ukrainian government, starts supplying weapons to Kiev, it will violate a number of international documents,” Churkin said. “The U.S. has repeatedly chosen a graded approach to rules of international law.”
The government news agency also quoted Ruslan Bortnik, director of the Ukrainian Institute of Policy Analysis and Management, as calling the U.S. position a bluff. “It is just a kind of poker bidding up, it is a bluff, an attempt to press Putin to be more tractable,” Bortnik reportedly said. Will the U.S. supply arms to Ukraine? “Of course not,” Bortnik told TASS. “It might trigger an arms race bound to end up in Ukraine’s complete military defeat.” Bortnik and his organization, it should be noted, are difficult to find in news archives, except in stories published by Russia’s government-friendly media. The Obama administration’s position on arming Ukraine is actually still far from clear. While Obama held open the possibility during Monday’s joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who arrived in Washington, D.C. Sunday evening, he was also dismissive of the Ukrainian army’s ability to effectively counter a “determined” Russian advance. U.S. aid, Obama suggested, would be aimed at raising the costs to Russia of further aggression, not actually preventing it entirely.
“The prospect for a military solution to this problem has always been low,” he said. “Russia obviously has an extraordinarily powerful military and given the length of the Russian border with Ukraine, given the history between Russia and Ukraine, expecting that if Russia is determined that Ukraine can fully rebuff a Russian army has always been unlikely.”
Ukraine has been losing ground in its eastern regions to the pro-Russian separatists, who are apparently armed with advanced armor from Russia. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko over the weekend made an emotional appeal to western leaders for defensive weapons to help counter the separatists’ assaults. “We are an independent nation and we have a right to defend our people,” Poroshenko said Saturday at a high-level security conference in Munich. “Over the course of the offensive we have proved to be responsible and we will not use the defensive equipment for attack.”
NATO is Already at War in Ukraine… and it is Losing

In yet another sleight of hand, Western news media are this week spinning the notion that the US and NATO are «considering sending lethal military aid» in order «to defend» the Kiev regime from «Russian aggression».
That’s a pathetic joke. The real explanation is that NATO is losing its war in Ukraine and needs to send more military fuel in order to salvage the mounting losses. First, the Western media slyly acknowledge that US-led NATO has so far «only dispatched non-lethal military equipment». That rhetorical ruse is used to pretend that non-lethal material is somehow not really military grade. But whether non-lethal or lethal, military equipment is military equipment. So, let’s just dispense with that bunch of semantics. The US and its public-relations alter-ego, NATO, are already deeply involved militarily in Ukraine, supporting the Kiev regime whose 10-month offensive on eastern Ukraine has resulted in over 5,300 deaths.
Secondly, the notion that Washington is «reconsidering» whether to send «lethal aid», as reported in the New York Times on Monday, is another risible illusion. The US and its NATO allies are already sending lethal military equipment to the Ukraine. US President Obama said this week that «pouring more weapons into Ukraine» will not resolve the conflict. While German Chancellor Angela Merkel also vowed that Germany would not be supplying weapons to the Kiev regime, adding that the conflict cannot be solved by military means. Both Obama and Merkel are either woefully deceptive or living in cloud-cuckoo land. Probably both. Let’s cut to the chase. NATO is at war in Ukraine and has been so for the past year, if not covertly for the past two decades
Wayne Madsen in his SCF column this week provides detailed evidence that a giant military transport plane, a Ukrainian Antonov AN124, has been tracked while flying weapons from the US and several NATO countries into Kiev for at least the past four months. The transporter plane – the world’s biggest such aircraft – has been spotted carrying out cargo runs in the US, Norway, Italy and Romania on a secret mission to funnel heavy weapons to the Kiev regime. Prior to that, the Russian government has claimed that US mercenaries, possibly belonging to Pentagon security contract firm, Blackwater/Academi, have been recorded operating inside Ukraine alongside Kiev’s military units, including the Nazi SS-styled National Guard. This week, a senior spokesman for the self-declared Lugansk People’s Republic, Alexei Karyakin, said that NATO munitions have been recovered from various battle zones. «Fragments recovered from munitions bear NATO marks… Now NATO is killing our countrymen», said Karyakin.
Earlier this month, when pro-Russian self-defence militia retook the Donetsk International Airport from Kiev forces, who had been using the facility to shell Donetsk City for the past several months, it was reported that among the charred remains were NATO manuals in several European languages and other items identified as NATO-standard equipment.
At the end of last year, the US Congress passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which mandates the supply of $350 million in lethal and non-lethal aid to the Kiev regime. The Obama administration maintains the fiction that it has not yet acted on the «non-lethal» provisions in the Act, but that is stretching credulity to breaking point. The notion that Washington and its NATO allies, including Britain, the Baltic states and Poland, are now – only now – mulling the possibility of furnishing lethal material to the Kiev regime is simply laughable.
Indeed, according to reliable reports, the neo-Nazi paramilitary Right Sector shock-troops that were used to incite the lethal Maidan protests in November 2013, which eventually led to the coup against the Yanukovych government in February last year, had spent months in preparation at military camps in Poland, learning the techniques of subversion and terrorism. NATO member Poland and the American CIA were thus instrumental in supplying the «dogs of war» that precipitated the regime-change crisis and the ongoing civil war.
We can go further back to the CIA-inspired «colour revolution» of 2004, or even as far back as 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the US began infiltrating Ukraine with $5 billion to foment «civil society groups». That is a euphemism for the USAID, CIA, George Soros umbrella of destabilising agents. We have knowledge of the $5 billion fund courtesy of the clumsy admission from neocon State Department siren Victoria Nuland, who actually bragged about the fact during the Maidan Square protests at the end of 2013. This week, Nuland’s minion at the State Department Jan Psaki again disclosed to reporters that the US has long been involved in «working with the Ukrainian opposition» to ensure the country was «on track» for «transition».
The interesting question is the timing of the latest supposed musings about «lethal» support. The New York Times, cites top influential present and former officials who are now advocating the sending of such military equipment. They include Secretary of State John Kerry, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, NATO military commander General Philip Breedlove and his predecessor Admiral James Stravidis. Other luminaries are members of the Brookings Institute and the Atlantic Council. These think-tanks recommend the White House supply $3 billion in military aid to the Kiev regime over the next three years – 10 times what the gung-ho Republican-controlled Congress mandates.
The CIA-linked Radio Free Europe news outlet «explains» that the debate on ramping up military aid to the Kiev regime has «intensified» because: «The Ukrainian government [Kiev regime] has suffered significant military setbacks in recent weeks as it has become increasingly clear that the ceasefire is not working». In other words, the Western-backed junta is losing the war – in spite of already having NATO military support and in spite of the pseudo ceasefire to re-group offensive forces. Also, the New York Times added a further factor for why Washington is now stepping up the military agenda, namely, that US and EU economic sanctions imposed on Russia «have not dissuaded» the government of President Vladimir Putin. Or as US State Department spokeswoman Jan Psaki would say, Russia has «not changed its behaviour» – that is, has not capitulated to Western demands to adopt a servile role to comply with Washington’s hegemonic global ambitions.
Washington and its European vassals are thus realising that their nefarious scheme for regime change in Ukraine is in danger of hitting a dead-end crash. Washington is therefore now trying to salvage its disastrous gambit to subjugate Ukraine, and by extension Russia, by escalating the military stakes. But Washington can’t very well escalate its military involvement openly for invidious political reasons, both domestically and internationally. Washington has to be careful not to divulge too openly that it is already militarily involved in Ukraine, along with its NATO gang members. Therefore, Washington is seeking to portray the situation as one of «defending» an EU-seeking, democracy-loving Kiev that is pitted against superior Russian-backed proxy insurgents. Hence the US officials and their trusty Western media mouthpieces are emphasising a faux ambivalence in «considering» supplying «lethal defensive military aid».
The tortuous language and reasoning reflects the systematic lies that Washington and NATO have been telling for months over the Ukraine conflict. The plain truth is that US-led NATO is up to its eyes in fuelling the Ukraine war, and it is losing the war it launched in the first place. That’s why Washington is now desperately performing all sorts of rhetorical gymnastics to deceive the Western public into acquiescing to a major military escalation of its war under the guise of supplying «defensive lethal weapons».
Paul Craig Roberts: Washington Has Resurrected The Threat Of Nuclear War

Foreign Affairs is the publication of the elitist Council on Foreign Relations, a collection of former and current government officials, academics, and corporate and financial executives who regard themselves as the custodian and formulator of US foreign policy. The publication of the council carries the heavy weight of authority. One doesn’t expect to find humor in it, but I found myself roaring with laughter while reading an article in the February 5 online issue by Alexander J. Motyl, “Goodbye, Putin: Why the President’s Days Are Numbered.”

I assumed I was reading a clever parody of Washington’s anti-Putin propaganda. Absurd statement followed absurd statement. It was better than Colbert. I couldn’t stop laughing.

To my dismay I discovered that the absolute gibberish wasn’t a parody of Washington’s propaganda. Motyl, an ardent Ukrainian nationalist, is a professor at Rugers University and was not joking when he wrote that Putin had stolen $45 billion, that Putin was resurrecting the Soviet Empire, that Putin had troops and tanks in Ukraine and had started the war in Ukraine, that Putin is an authoritarian whose regime is “exceedingly brittle” and subject to being overthrown at any time by the people Putin has bought off with revenues from the former high oil price, or by “an Orange Revolution in Moscow” in which Putin is overthrown by Washington orchestrated demonstrations by US financed NGOs as in Ukraine, or by a coup d’etat by Putin’s Praetorial guards. And if none of this sends Putin goodbye, the North Caucasus, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, and the Crimean Tarters are spinning out of control and will do Washington’s will by unseating Putin. Only the West’s friendly relationship with Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakstan can shield “the rest of the world from Putin’s disastrous legacy of ruin.”

When confronted with this level of ignorant nonsense in what is alleged to be a respectable publication, we experience the degradation of the Western political and media elite. To argue with nonsense is pointless. What we see here with Motyl is the purest expression of the blatant propagandistic lies that flow continually from the likes of Fox “News,” Sean Hannity, the neocon warmongers, the White House, and executive branch and congressional personnel beholden to the military/security complex. The lies are too much even for Henry Kissinger.

As Stephen Lendman, who documents the ever growing anti-Russian propaganda, honestly states: “America’s war on the world rages. Humanity’s greatest challenge is stopping this monster before it destroys everyone.”

The absurdity of it all! Even a moron knows that if Russia is going to put tanks and troops into Ukraine, Russia will put in enough to do the job. The war would be over in a few days if not in a few hours. As Putin himself said some months ago, if the Russian military enters Ukraine, the news will not be the fate of Donetsk or Mauriupol, but the fall of Kiev and Lviv.
Former US Ambassador to the Soviet Union (1987-91) Jack Matlock cautioned against the crazed propagandistic attack against Russia in his speech at the National Press Club on February 11. Matlock is astonished by the dismissal of Russia as merely “a regional power” of little consequence to the powerful US military. No country, Matlock says, armed with numerous, accurate, and mobile ICBMs is limited to regional power. This is the kind of hubristic miscalculation that ends in world destruction.

Matlock also notes that the entirely of Ukraine, like Crimea, has been part of Russia for centuries and that Washington and NATO have no business being in Ukraine. He also points out the violations of promises made to Russia not to expand NATO eastward and how this and other acts of US aggression toward Russia have recreated the lack of trust between the two powers that Reagan worked successfully to overcome.

Reagan’s politeness toward the Soviet leadership and refusal to personalize differences created an era of cooperation that the morons who are Reagan’s successors have thrown away, thus renewing the threat of nuclear war that Reagan and Gorbachev had ended. Washington’s foreign policy, Matlock says, is autistic, which he defines as impaired social interaction, failed communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior.
The View From NATO’s Russian Front

‘I believe the Russians are mobilizing right now for a war that they think is going to happen in five or six years—not that they’re going to start a war in five or six years, but I think they are anticipating that things are going to happen, and that they will be in a war of some sort, of some scale, with somebody within the next five or six years.”
So says Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe. It’s Monday evening at the Army’s Lucius D. Clay garrison near Wiesbaden, a small town in southwest Germany. The air outside is freezing, the ground coated by a thin layer of snow. Moscow lies 1,500 miles east, but Russia comes up almost immediately as I sit down to dinner with Gen. Hodges and one of his aides in a cozy dining room at the base.
“Strong Europe!” reads a sign on one of the walls. Next to it is the U.S. Army Europe insignia, a burning sword set against a blue shield. The two signs represent the strategic framework the three-star general has introduced—building on America’s decades-long role on the Continent—since taking command last year of the 30,000 or so U.S. soldiers stationed in Europe.
The U.S. military presence in Europe is more vital at this moment than it has been in many years. American engagement is essential if the West is to deter a revanchist Russia that has set out to “redraw the boundaries of Europe,” Gen. Hodges says with a native Floridian’s drawl. He points to the recent increase in violence in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Kremlin forces in January assaulted the Black Sea port of Mariupol, killing 30 civilians, and are now consolidating their gains.
“What’s happening in eastern Ukraine is very serious,” the 56-year-old West Point alumnus says. “When they fired into Mariupol that got my attention. Mariupol is an important place, city of 500,000 on the Black Sea. Russia has to resupply Crimea by sea or air, and that is very expensive, so obviously they would like to do it overland. Mariupol sits right in the way. They would really like to drive right through there.”
What Russian President Vladimir Putin “has done in Ukraine,” he says, “is a manifestation of a strategic view of the world. So when you look at the amount of equipment that has been provided, and the quality and sophistication of the equipment that has been provided to what I would call his proxies . . . they clearly have no intention of leaving there.”
The new weapons Mr. Putin has supplied to these proxies include “some of the latest air-defense systems,” says Gen. Hodges. “They also have brought in some of the latest, most-effective jamming, what we would call electronic-warfare, systems.” This level of assistance suggests Ukraine “is not a foray, not a demonstration. They are deploying capabilities way above and beyond anything that any militia or rebel organization could ever come up with.”
The fact that the political class in the West is still splitting hairs about the nature of the insurgency in Ukraine is testament to the success of the Kremlin’s strategy of waging war without admitting it. “When you saw video of the Spetsnaz [Russian special forces], the so-called little green men” in eastern Ukraine, the general says, “unless you absolutely know nothing about military stuff, how they carry themselves, the fact that they were all perfectly in uniform, that’s hard to do. It’s hard to get soldiers to stay in uniform and everybody carrying their weapon the right way all the time. That’s how you tell the difference between a militia, or rebels who have a variety of uniforms, and this group who are all perfectly in uniform.”
Gen. Hodges then strips his own Ranger badge from a Velcro patch on his uniform sleeve, just as those well-organized soldiers aiding the Ukrainian insurgents are badgeless. “I can take my patch off my uniform and say I’m not in the Army anymore,” he chuckles. “So there’s a reluctance to acknowledge it. I can understand that. This has huge implications. But that’s what so-called hybrid warfare is all about. It’s about creating ambiguity, giving people who don’t want to believe it an excuse to not believe. Or to create enough uncertainty so that the responses are slow, delayed, hesitant.”
Such hesitation has already worked for Mr. Putin, and contrasting Russia’s military buildup with anemic military spending in the West gives the general further reason for concern.
The Russians have “got some forces in Transnistria,” he says of the state that broke away from Moldova in the 1990s. “They’ve got forces in Georgia. And I think they view China as their existential threat, so they’ve got a lot of capacity out there.” The Russian military is thus already somewhat stretched, and Moscow had to carve out from existing units the battalion task groups currently arrayed near eastern Ukraine. Yet “they are clearly on a path to develop, to increase, their capacity,” Gen. Hodges says. Add to this expansion that “they’ve got very good equipment, extremely good communications equipment, their [electronic-warfare] capability, T-80 tanks.” How long will it take for Russia to reach its desired military strength? “I think within another two or three years they will have that capacity,” he says.
Gen. Hodges notes that the Russians already have an advantage in the information battleground: “They’re not burdened with the responsibility to tell the truth. So they just hammer away, and whenever somebody in the West puts out a blog or a tweet, there’s an immediate counterattack by these trolls.”
Russia Today, the Kremlin’s foreign-language television service, is estimated to be within reach of 600 million viewers world-wide. Russia Today’s YouTube channel has received a billion views, making it one of the most-watched channels on the online-video platform.
Then there is the Kremlin’s sheer aggressiveness, not least on the nuclear front. The Pentagon last year announced that it is removing missiles from 50 of America’s underground silos, converting B-52 long-range bombers to conventional use and disabling 56 submarine-based nuclear-launch tubes—all well ahead of the 2018 New Start treaty deadline. Moscow, by contrast, has been simulating nuclear strikes on Western capitals as part of annual exercises.
Gen. Hodges won’t comment on the U.S. strategic-force posture in Europe other than to say he is “confident in that process.” But he adds that the fact that the Russians rehearse nuclear-strike scenarios “shows that they’re not worried about conveying a stark message like that. You know, frankly, you hear this often from many people in the West, ‘Oh, we don’t want to provoke the Russians.’ I think concern about provoking the Russians is probably misplaced. You can’t provoke them. They’re already on a path to do what they want to do.”
Fear of provoking Russia has been part of the recent debate over providing lethal aid to Kiev. As a member of the military, Gen Hodges won’t weigh in directly in the Washington policy debate. “What’s more important is this,” he says. “We have to have a strategy. Just military aid is not a strategy.” Western leaders should first determine what outcome they’d like to see emerge in the region, he says, and then apply a “whole-of-government” approach, including a military dimension, to achieve it.
Before being posted here, and in between multiple post-9/11 deployments to the Middle East, Gen. Hodges served as an Army congressional liaison in Washington. What he learned was that lawmakers’ “interests will tend to be domestic,” he says.
“If you’re the delegation from North Carolina that cares about Fort Bragg, you’re going to want to see as much capability as possible and money spent in North Carolina. Same thing at Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Lewis, Washington,” he says. “But there is no congressman for Wiesbaden, no senator for Bavaria.”
Many Americans and their representatives are tempted to regard Crimea as a distant geographical abstraction—and to say that it’s about time Europeans met their own defense needs instead of financing bloated welfare states. “It’s a fair question,” Gen. Hodges says. “Why won’t the Germans do more? Why won’t the Brits do more? You’ll get that from people in the States. I’ve never been bashful about telling allies, ‘Hey, you have a responsibility here, too. You all agreed to spend 2% of your GDP on defense. Right now only four countries are doing it.’”
Yet the failure of many of European leaders to live up to their defense commitments “doesn’t change our interest,” Gen. Hodges says. “And the U.S. economic link to Europe, to the EU, dwarfs any other economic link in the world, anywhere in the Pacific, China, India, you name it. So if for no other reason it’s in our interest that Europe be stable, that people make money so they can buy U.S. products. . . . We provide capability assurance here by being present here.”
Gen. Hodges says there is also a huge payoff in U.S. security from U.S.-European cooperation. The main lesson of the post-9/11 wars is that “we are not going to do anything by ourselves militarily,” he notes. The U.S. “needs the capacity that other countries can bring.” These benefits come “from a relatively small investment—I mean, U.S. Army Europe is 2% of the Army’s budget and about 5% of the Army’s manpower. . . . You can’t sit back in Virginia, Texas or Oregon and build relationships with people here.” He quotes his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell: “You can’t surge trust.”
Nor can the U.S. project national power world-wide, as it has since the end of World War II, with an overstretched Army. “There are 10 division headquarters in the Army,” he says. “Nine of them are committed right now. I’ve never seen that. I don’t think at the height of Iraq and Afghanistan you had nine out of 10 division headquarters committed against some requirement.” That leaves little in reserve if another conflict breaks out.
To a commander like Gen. Hodges, the strain on the Army caused by budget sequestration is palpable. “With the possibility of sequestration hanging over our head, the Army will have to go to 420,000” personnel, he says. “That’s about another 80,000 below where we are now. . . . The strength of the Army at the height of the buildup was about 560,000.”
What Gen. Hodges fears is a “hollow” Army, in which commanders will have to forego a capable and sufficiently large personnel, readiness or modernization to meet budget requirements. To serve its purpose, however, an Army needs a depth of resources at its disposal.
“We’re not a business,” he says. “If you run a Napa [auto parts] franchise, the last thing you want is anything on the shelf. You basically want it coming out of the delivery truck to the customer, so you don’t have money tied up in inventory. In the military, that’s exactly what you want. You want stuff on the shelf, because you can’t possibly know how many customers you might have.”
In the Army, “customers” are global crises. “What are the three biggest things that have been on the news this past year?” Gen. Hodges asks. “Russia in Ukraine. Ebola. ISIL. A year ago, who had that on their list of things that are going to go wrong? Not all the geniuses in the think tanks and in all the agencies. I certainly didn’t.”
Even with supplies on the U.S. military’s shelves thinning, there is no bigger deterrent to Vladimir Putin and other bad actors than the knowledge that men like Gen. Hodges and the forces he commands are working in customer service.
Mr. Ahmari is a Journal editorial-page writer based in London.
Russia Would See U.S. Moves to Arm Ukraine as Declaration of War

U.S. provision of military aid to Ukraine would be seen by Moscow as a declaration of war and spark a global escalation of Ukraine's separatist conflict, Russian defense analysts said. With Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine seizing new territory from the Ukrainian army, voices in Washington are demanding that Kiev be given defensive weapons and hardware — including lethal equipment — to hold the line.
But if such aid were sent, "Russia would reasonably consider the U.S. to be a direct participant in the conflict," said Evgeny Buzhinsky,  a former lieutenant general on Russia's General Staff now at  Moscow-based think tank the PIR Center. Speaking to The Moscow Times on a condition of anonymity, a member of the Russian Defense Ministry's public advisory board warned that Moscow would not only up the ante in eastern Ukraine, "but also respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts."
Ukraine is at a crossroads. With rebel forces reportedly massing for a renewed assault on the strategically valuable railroad hub of Debaltseve and the port city of Mariupol, the West is racing to find the best means to bring a swift end to the conflict. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande traveled to Moscow last week to attempt to hash out a peace proposal with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The proposal is set to be discussed with all parties in the Belarussian capital of Minsk on Wednesday, but some consider peace talks hopeless, and advocate military measures.  The U.S.-led NATO military alliance says Moscow has sent troops and arms to aid pro-Russian rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine — which Russia denies. Calls to arm Ukraine are seen as a way to even the odds for the Ukrainian army, enabling Kiev to halt rebel advances and force them — and the Kremlin — to negotiate.
U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council called last month for Washington to give $3 billion in lethal and non-lethal military aid to Ukraine over the next three years. But Russian defense analysts polled by The Moscow Times said unanimously that U.S. arms transfers to Ukraine would be interpreted in Moscow as a declaration of open proxy war with Russia and inevitably lead to escalation of the conflict.
"It would become tit-for-tat," said Maxim Shepovalenko, an analyst at the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategy and Technology (CAST). "Moscow will not just sit by calmly and see what happens, it will counteract," he said.
Asymmetric Response
The Russian counterstrike could take the conflict far beyond Ukraine, according to the source on the Defense Ministry's public advisory board. Pointing to one possible avenue of asymmetrical retaliation, the source said Moscow could give in to long-standing Chinese requests for sensitive defense technologies that would aid in its development of high-tech weapons capable of doing serious damage to U.S. naval forces in the Asia-Pacific. Moscow has so far declined China's requests on "politically correct pretenses," the source said. "That's just one example. We can also encourage Iran, or even back Iran in a fight — a military operation — with Saudi Arabia, so then the prices for oil will skyrocket," the source said, explaining that these were just two possible responses.
Who Are We Giving This to?
The U.S. has already given a modest amount of non-lethal military aid to Ukraine, such as the delivery of three counter-battery radar systems to help identify the point of origin of pro-Russian rebel artillery fire. The CAST think tank wrote on its Russian-language blog last week that two of the three radars had already been destroyed, citing the outfit's sources on the ground in eastern Ukraine.
Only one of the units was reportedly destroyed by rebel fire. The other was reportedly dropped by Ukrainian soldiers — underscoring the difficulty of providing aid and ensuring it gets put to good use. "You might give aid to the regular armed forces, not the volunteer battalions, but you still need trained operators. Training takes time, additional money, and more than anything else — it takes practical experience," said Shepovalenko.
U.S. deployment of trainers to Ukraine would mean sending U.S. military personnel into Ukraine — which could easily be construed by Moscow as U.S. involvement in the war. Beyond training, there is no guarantee that weapons and hardware will not fall into enemy hands or wet the beaks of corrupt Ukrainian army personnel. Corruption in the ranks cannot be discounted, according to the PIR Center's Buzhinsky: "It is absolutely certain that at least fifty percent of what is delivered will be stolen and then sold on the side," he said.

Europeans warn Washington: arming Kiev will backfire

European defense officials warned on Friday that arming Ukraine in its fight against pro-Russian separatists would only inflame the conflict, but were told by NATO's top soldier, an American general, that the West should consider using "all tools" if diplomacy with Moscow wasn't working. The debate at the Munich Security Conference highlighted an emerging rift between Europe and Washington over how to confront Russian President Vladmir Putin as Moscow-backed rebels make territorial gains in eastern Ukraine. President Barack Obama is under pressure from some in Congress to provide Kiev with lethal weapons.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen voiced Europe's misgivings about this strategy: "Are we sure we would be improving the situation for the people in Ukraine by delivering weapons? Are we really sure that Ukraine can win against the Russian military machine?" "And would this not be an excuse for Russia to intervene openly in the conflict?" asked the German minister. Britain also fears that sending weapons could "escalate the conflict", her British counterpart Michael Fallon told the conference.

As they spoke, Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande held talks in Moscow with Putin to try to end the conflict in Ukraine that has killed more than 5,000 people and driven Russia's relations with the West to new lows. Their initiative was partly prompted by the debate about arming Kiev. NATO's top military commander, Gen. Philip Breedlove, gave the strongest indication so far that he is - as the New York Times reported this week - among the U.S. officials who favor providing defensive arms and equipment to Ukraine's military.

The West has tried using diplomatic and economic measures to put pressure on Putin, he said. "But if what is being done is not producing what you want to gain from the conversation, then maybe all tools in the tool bag should be used and conventional means should not be outwardly discounted," Breedlove added. Germany's von der Leyen questioned the strategic sense of providing weapons to Kiev when the separatists were so well-supplied by the Russians. "The support with arms from Russia to the separatists is potentially unlimited," she said. "And do we really count on being able to provide as many arms to the Ukrainian army that they could potential conquer the other side?"

Source:  Deepening Ties Between Greece and Russia Sow Concerns in West
At a wedding at a countryside hotel near Moscow in October, firebrand Greek nationalist Panos Kammenos sang and cooked traditional food for 90 Greek guests—and one Russian host. The Greeks were invited by Russian tycoon Konstantin Malofeyev, the groom’s best man and the hotel’s owner. The event had originally been planned for Greece, but Mr. Malofeyev had been barred from the European Union for allegedly supporting pro-Russia militants in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. So the party came to him. Now Mr. Kammenos is defense minister in the new Greek government. Its warmth toward Russia and ties to anti-American hawks close to the Kremlin have raised concerns in the West that Greece—a member of the European Union and NATO—could stymie already contentious efforts to curb Russia’s support for the militants in Ukraine.
U.S. officials say the Kremlin is trying to spread its foreign-policy agenda in Europe via tycoons such as Mr. Malofeyev, who has links with right-wing movements in the West. Mr. Kammenos said he didn’t know Mr. Malofeyev before the wedding and that they didn’t talk politics. Mr. Malofeyev said his European connections are religious, not political. The Russian ties to both parts of the new Greek coalition government—the leftist Syriza party and its junior party, Mr. Kammenos’s right-wing nationalist Independent Greeks—have flourished in recent years, fostered by a mix of shared Orthodox Christianity and traditional left-wing sympathies for Moscow in Greece. Mr. Kammenos met two senior pro-Kremlin lawmakers just before Greece’s Jan. 25 elections. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the Syriza leader, has also forged contacts with Russian parliamentarians and an official think tank headed by a former KGB officer. Mr. Tsipras has repeatedly said he opposes sanctions against Russia, the cornerstone of the EU’s response to the Ukraine crisis.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, shown here after EU leaders discussed Greece’s debts on Thursday, has forged valuable contacts in Moscow. Photo: Zuma Press
In Moscow on Wednesday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said Greece could mediate between Russia and the EU, criticizing sanctions as ineffective. His Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov praised the new Athens government’s “constructive line” and noted the countries’ “spiritual closeness.” European diplomats have said Greece may seek to link its potential veto of new or extended sanctions to greater leeway in its complex debt talks with Europe. Mr. Kotzias said last month Greece could block EU decisions on sanctions, which require agreement among all the bloc’s 28 nations, if they weren’t in Greece’s interest. Dismissing concerns about links to Russia, Mr. Kotzias said in Brussels on Jan. 29 that Greece is standing up for its own interests, not Moscow’s. “We are not the bad boy,” he said. But in Moscow, the victory of allies in Athens is being hailed as the crumbling of the EU’s united stance against Russia, with Greece’s new leaders as vectors of Russian influence.
“They had contacts with Russian politicians, and now they started to explain things to people [in Europe] in English,” said Frants Klintsevich, a senior pro-Kremlin lawmaker who hosted Mr. Kamennos in Russia’s parliament in January.
While the Soviet Union used communist ideology to build political relations with the European left, Moscow lawmakers, officials, and conservative ideologues are now also cultivating ties with European right-wing movements, whose religiously conservative, nationalist and frequently anti-American views often echo the Kremlin’s. Mr. Malofeyev, founder of a private-equity firm, said he was building religious, not political, ties among like-minded circles, from the Austrian far-right to the U.S. pro-life movement. He said most of his Greek acquaintances were monks on Mount Athos, a Greek monastic site many Orthodox Christians consider holy. The multimillionaire said there was no conspiracy among Russian and foreign conservatives, describing them as simply sharing an interest, like “a group of fishing enthusiasts.” Russia, he said, has become the “supporter and protector” for Christians amid what he described as U.S. initiatives to promote gay rights.
But U.S. officials say Mr. Malofeyev and others are using their money to advance Mr. Putin’s ideological agenda. Last week, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Russia had made oligarchs loyal to the Kremlin “into a weapon” of its aggressive foreign policy. Greece has a long history of warm ties with Russia, and Athens has taken a skeptical view in the past of American intentions. In 1983, the socialist Greek government refused to join Western condemnation when the Soviets downed a South Korean airliner. Greece hasn’t recognized Kosovo, whose U.S.-backed independence Russia condemns. Mr. Tsipras has made at least two trips to Moscow since 2013. In May, weeks after Russia’s annexation of Crimea drew sanctions from the U.S. and the EU, he met in Moscow with the speaker of the upper house of Russia’s parliament, Valentina Matvienko, a close ally of Mr. Putin who had been sanctioned. Mr. Tsipras and Mr. Kotzias, a university lecturer and former member of Greece’s Communist Party, also met with the leadership of the Kremlin’s Russian Institute of Strategic Studies. Its director, retired Lt. Gen. Leonid Reshetnikov, a former foreign intelligence officer once stationed in Greece, said the institute’s mission is “to champion Russian state interests.”
A year earlier, Mr. Kotzias met another conservative ideologue, Alexander Dugin, an outspoken anti-American political scientist and supporter of separatists in Ukraine who gave a lecture to a class taught by Mr. Kotzias at the University of Piraeus. Mr. Malofeyev’s frequent trips to Greece stopped in July, when the EU sanctioned him for alleged close links with separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, which he denies. The ban scotched plans to travel to the wedding of a Greek businessman he said he had met on Mount Athos. So Mr. Malofeyev invited the wedding party for a three-day celebration in Moscow and at his hotel some 60 miles away called Tsargrad, Russian for Constantinople. “It was a very happy social event. There was no politics,” Mr. Malofeyev said. “If it so happens that one of these people is now a minister, what can you do about it?”
'Grave' Repercussions If Greece Turns to Russia

There could be serious repercussions if Greece fails to reach an agreement on their debt with the eurozone, and turns to Russia instead, experts have warned. The Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos today said his country may be forced to carry out a “plan B” if a new bailout deal can’t be negotiated with the rest of the eurozone. Kammenos, who is a member of the Independent Greeks, the right-wing party who formed a coalition with left-wing Syriza after they failed to secure a majority in January’s elections, warned that: "Plan B is to get funding from another source. It could be the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries."
The newly formed Greek coalition government are attempting to negotiate a new deal with the eurozone on their debt obligations. However, while eurozone finance ministers meet in Brussels on Wednesday for another round of negotiations, the Greek foreign minister Nikolaos Kotzias will meet the Russian foreign minister in Moscow. Dr Jonathan Eyal from defence and security think tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) called Kammenos’ statement an “unbecoming threat from a NATO member state.”
He told Newsweek: “It’s another reminder that the Greeks have never offered the kind of solidarity to Europe that Europe has shown to Greece.”
“It’s very obvious the Russians have an opportunity to subsidise a country that can stop a consensus that is required to keep up sanctions on Russia. It’s very grave indeed. The repercussions of this could be quite serious depending on what Greece do in return.” These comments come just a day after reports of a proposed Russian base in Cyprus and Dr Eyal says today’s developments “fall into a pattern of threats which coincide with what’s been happening in Cyprus.” Members of the new Greek government have had developed good relations with Russia since coming to power. As well as objecting to calls for further sanctions against the country over the Ukraine conflict, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras reportedly accused Kiev of harbouring “neo-Nazi” elements while on a trip to Moscow before he was elected.
However, Dr Eyal says the prospect of Russia establishing a military presence in Greece is unlikely. “It’s possible although it’s a farfetched. If you were to see Russian bases in NATO territory it would obviously raise serious concerns.” “The Russians are not exactly flushed with cash. If the Russians were to be there it would take some time before they are in a position to something.” Greece’s current programme of loans ends on the 28th February. 
Greek Cyprus in spat with Britain over Russian use of military bases

Greek Cyprus’ offer to allow Russia the use of air and navy bases on its territory has triggered a feud with Britain, which is concerned over Russian military activities amid the Ukraine crisis. The top British envoy to the island made a series of warnings to Greek Cyprus regarding the gas crisis in the eastern Mediterranean and the use of military bases by Russia during an interview with Greek daily Kathimerini, sparking reaction from Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades.

Greek Cyprus had announced the country is ready to host Russia at its aviation and naval bases, marking a split with its fellow EU members, which are in a deep conflict with Moscow over the Russian intervention in Ukraine, which led to a violent insurgency within the country. In his interview, British High Commissioner to Cyprus, Damian Roberick Todd, said the EU has a common and voted stance against Russia over the recent developments in Ukraine, urging the government to act according to this.

Anastasiades, however, reacted to Todd’s remarks, asking the envoy to avoid using “baseless” words. “There is an old [defense] agreement, which should be renewed as is. At the same time, some additional services will be provided in the same way as we do with other countries, such as, for example, with France and Germany,” the Greek Cypriot president reportedly said. “Cyprus and Russia have traditionally had good relations, and this is not subject to change.”

Andreas Papandreou Airbase, which was constructed by the southern Cypriot government jointly with Greece, is presumed to be the base at issue. Both France and Israel have also demanded use of the facility. However, a draft military agreement approved by the Greek Cypriot cabinet last month included permission for Russian aircraft to land on the base. The final signature on the agreement is expected be inked during Anastasiades’ Moscow visit at the end of this month. Britain already has the use of the Aktotiri (Ağratur) airbase and the Dhekelia (Dikelya) naval base on the island.

Russia secures military deal to use Cyprus' ports despite EU concerns

Russian navy ships will keep having access to stop off at Cyprus' ports in Mediterranean as the two countries have agreed to prolong the pre-existing deal on military cooperation. The agreement, which applies to Russian vessels involved in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy efforts, was signed by President Vladimir Putin and his Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, in Moscow. The signing came aimed heightened tensions and sanctions between Russia and the EU over the military conflict in Ukraine. President Putin, however, stressed that the agreement, as well as Russia-Cypriot ''friendly ties aren't aimed against anyone." "I don't think it should cause worries anywhere," he said.
During his press conference at Tass news agency’s headquarters, Anastasiades stressed that Moscow and Nicosia haven’t signed any new agreements, but only prolonged those that were in place before. "The updated agreement envisages the right of Russian warships to visit the ports of Cyprus…for humanitarian purposes such as supply and refueling a swell as saving the lives and evacuation of Russian citizens from neighboring states,” he said. He called the prolongation of a military deal with Russia “a sensitive issue,” adding that Vladimir Putin discussed this matter in a very delicate manner, not putting Cyprus in an uncomfortable position before its EU partners.
Despite the permission to enter Cyprus port for Russian ships, the sides also agreed that Moscow will restructure its €2.5 billion bailout loan it gave Nicosia in 2011. In return for being granted permission for Russian navy ships to stop off in Cypriot ports, Moscow has agreed to restructure its €2.5 billion (£1.8 billion) bailout loan it gave Cyprus in 2011. Russia isn’t only country to have military ties with Cyprus as the Mediterranean island state also planning to host British military bases.
The cool down in relations with EU and the US saw Moscow working to maintain good relations with its long-time time European partners, including Greece, Hungary and Cyprus. Anastasiades spoke out against the implementation of further European sanctions against Russia as “they impact other countries [and] members of the EU, which include my motherland." He also reminded that “most of the Cyprus military’s weaponry is Russian made. Apart From France, only Russia supplies weapons to Cyprus.”

Egypt, Russia Sign Military, Economic and Nuclear Accords

Russia and Egypt signed several agreements to reinforce military and economic ties, along with a deal to help Cairo develop nuclear power capabilities.  The agreements capped a two-day visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The audience applauds Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as they agree to strengthen mutual ties in the face of a growing terrorist threat and outside economic pressures. At a news conference Tuesday, the two leaders also announced a nuclear deal to help Egypt develop its power capabilities. Putin said both sides had agreed to intensify cooperation in various areas, including Russian investments in Egypt, tourism, and cooperation in the battle against terrorism.
He says he and Sissi discussed in detail the regional and international situation and agreed to increase mutual efforts in fighting terrorism. He stressed the need to resolve both the Syrian and regional Middle East conflicts was imperative. Putin said Russia had shared details of recent Syria peace talks in Moscow and he and Sissi would like to see a peaceful resolution to the four-year-old conflict. Mark Katz, Professor of Government and International Affairs at George Mason University, said Putin wanted to show that Russia continued to be involved in the Middle East. "So the visit is meant to make a positive statement about Russian-Egyptian relations,” he said .
Without giving specific details, Sissi said the battle the Egyptian Army is waging against Islamist militants in the Sinai and elsewhere created an urgent need for Egypt to increase military cooperation with Russia. Russia "can’t offer all that much (to Egypt), said Katz. "Obviously there was the arms package the Russians have offered and the Saudis have indicated in the past that they will pay for it, but now they can’t, so it seems that the deal is not going well." Katz says that Egyptian officers believe they don’t see Russia as an alternative to the U.S. "They would much rather continue to deal with the U.S. and while the U.S. is not happy with the way Sissi came to power  or the way he ruled, the U.S. has very little choice but to work with him,” he said.
But many observers were caught by surprise by Sissi's announcement that Egypt and Russia had signed a nuclear power agreement. He says both parties have agreed to strengthen cooperation regarding various sorts of power, including peaceful nuclear generation due to Russia's long experience in this field and Egypt's need to develop its power capabilities. Egypt ended its nuclear power program in the 1980s, following the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in Ukraine.  Former President Hosni Mubarak announced a resumption of Egypt's nuclear program in 2006.
Chinese Media: Egypt-Russia Deal a ‘Rejection of U.S. Hegemony’

Most experts observing the meeting in Cairo between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi this week are interpreting it as Egypt’s way of letting the Obama Administration know there are other super-power fish in the sea. Judging by the report published in the state-run Xinhua press, China thinks something a bit more serious is going on: sunset for America’s status as the premiere world power. Putin traveled to Egypt this week for two days of talks with President Sisi, who has been criticized by the United States government for cracking down too vigorously on his Muslim Brotherhood nemeses. Putin made the trip to reaffirm his own government’s support for al-Sisi, praise the growing trade between their countries (up 50% in a single year by Putin’s estimation, as related by the BBC), float the idea of conducting that trade with something other than American dollars, talk up Russian arms sales to Egypt, discuss various conflicts in the Middle East, and finalize a deal to help build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant.

Xinhua bases most of its report on analysis from a single source, Cairo University professor of political science Nourhan al-Sheikh, who judged that the “first message behind the visit is that both countries are dissatisfied with the U.S. hegemony over the world, both politically and economically.”  However, the conclusions in the Xinhua article are not greatly different from what a number of other observers and analysts told other media outlets – for example, the UK Guardianwhich reached a similar conclusion about Sisi’s desire to express his independence from U.S. foreign policy, and Putin’s need to demonstrate that he is not feeling as “isolated” as President Obama claims he is.
Here’s the Xinhua take on Putin’s visit:
“The first message behind the visit is that both countries are dissatisfied with the U.S. hegemony over the world both politically and economically,” said Nourhan al-Sheikh, political science professor at Cairo University and expert in Russian affairs. The professor told Xinhua that Egyptian-Russian rejection of U.S. dominance is also indicated in Sisi’s remarks on the necessity for “the establishment of a fairer international economic system.”Although Sisi did not mention the U.S. by name, the Egyptian president said on Tuesday in a joint press conference with Putin that the world needs to develop “an international system that is more democratic, fairer and safer for all countries.” Egypt has been facing U.S.-led Western criticism since then-military-chief Sisi led the overthrow of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, whereas Russia has been suffering U.S. pressures and sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis. Sheikh described Putin’s visit to Cairo as “very supportive and earnest” as it shows Russia’s confidence in Egypt’s stability ahead of the country’s long-awaited economic summit to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh in March to offer foreign investment opportunities in Egypt.“This visit is like a Russian testimony that Egypt is stable, secure and trustworthy enough for strategic partnership and huge foreign investments,” the professor added, noting that Cairo is Putin’s first foreign visit in 2015.
Of course, since this is Xinhua, later we get a bit of boot-polishing for China courtesy of Abdel-Moneim Fawzi, who works at an Egyptian state-run media outlet, as he emphasizes the need to move the world away from a “unipolar” system dominated by the United States: “For instance, unlike the United States, China is the world’s second-largest economy, and it does not attempt to impose its will on other countries; the same applies to Russia.” I suppose folks in, say, Tibet and Ukraine might disagree, but Fawzi was not going to let such thoughts dispel his vision of a rosy multi-polar world in which countries like Russia and Egypt pursue “complementary interests and mutual needs for each others’ political and economic support,” while the United States “wants to tailor the world according to its visions and will.”
 Polish presidential candidate vows better ties with Russia

The presidential candidate for Poland's main left-wing party on Saturday criticized what she called the Polish government's antagonistic attitude to Russia, saying she would be willing to speak directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Magdalena Ogorek told a convention of the Democratic Left Alliance that Poland cannot afford to continue being described as "enemy No. 1" in the Russian media.  Poland's center-right government, which includes communist-era dissidents, has been one of Europe's most vocal critics of Putin's actions in Ukraine.  Ogorek said her party, the successor to the Cold War-era Communist party, condemns Russian actions in Ukraine but wants Warsaw and Moscow to communicate. "I would not be afraid to answer messages from Vladimir Putin and I would pick up the receiver to call (him)," Ogorek said. "Russia is and will remain our neighbor."  Ogorek, 35, and several other candidates face an uphill battle in their attempt to unseat the popular incumbent, Bronislaw Komorowski, in the May 10 presidential vote. Ogorek has the support of only around 5 percent of voters, and critics say her youth and lack of political experience make her an unconvincing candidate.  Ogorek has a doctorate in history, has worked in public administration and has had minor roles in films and TV soap operas. An attempt to win a parliament seat in 2011 failed.  After her speech Saturday, Ogorek once again refused to take questions from reporters. That has sparked some criticism — and a lack of knowledge about her views has allowed some Poles to focus on things like her striking good looks and the fact that her last name means "cucumber" in Polish.
Russia works hard to undermine USA's exceptionalism

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has recently paid visits to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. The details of his negotiations with Raul Castro remain undisclosed. It was said, though, that in Nicaragua, Minister Shoigu signed an intergovernmental agreement on a simplified procedure for naval ships to enter Nicaraguan ports. The Russian minister also signed a memorandum on cooperation in the naval area. In Venezuela, the sides discussed a question about the equipment of the army with field artillery, tanks and mechanized units. Venezuela expressed interest in buying modern air defense systems; officials agreed to hold joint military air defense drills.
Pravda.Ru interviewed Director of the Center for Public Policy Research Vladimir Yevseyev in an attempt to find out how the countries of Latin America can help Russia stop the West in building a dominant position.
"I believe that the visit [of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu] was not incidental. Through the territory of Nicaragua it is planned to build a new canal parallel to Panama Canal. In this case, vessels of the Russian fleet will be able to enter the Gulf of Mexico, that is exit the Pacific Ocean to enter the Atlantic. This is highly important, because in this case, Russia will be able to ensure so-called nuclear deterrence, because the Russian navy has long-range cruise missiles. If such Russian vessels are deployed somewhere near the territory of Cuba, they will be able to attack the United States. This is our response to the deployment of US military objects near the Russian border. If the United States continues to behave the same way, probably, Russia will make further steps to resume the work of the military facility in Lourdes," Vladimir Yevseyev told Pravda.Ru.
The expert noted that in general, such cooperation would involve technical support for the navy. "Afterwards, perhaps, strategic aviation aircraft will be able to make stops there. Therefore, the US policy aimed at creating NATO structures on Russia's western borders will apparently receive a response. I want to say that the United States is quite vulnerable. One may eventually have to create missile defense from the side of Florida, rather than Alaska. All these issues arise and require huge financial resources. I think it will convince the United States of the short-sightedness of this kind of policy. The Americans thoughts that Cuba would fall into their arms, but the Cubans asked the Americans to withdraw the Guantanamo military base first," the expert told Pravda.Ru
Vladimir Yevseyev stressed out in an interview with Pravda.Ru, that the West should not comment with Russia from a position of power. "Russia has a very good position in Nicaragua. In fact, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is an ambassador of peace, despite the fact that he serves as the defense minister. As an ambassador of peace, he solves all sorts of problems very successfully. Shoigu is capable of building relations in the military sphere."
American analysts (Douglas Farah, President of IBI Consultant; Liana Reyes, coordinator of the research group at IBI Consultant) wrote that Russia's growing influence in the Western Hemisphere became a new strategic challenge for the United States, as Russia could obtain new political, military and economic leverage. According to the experts, the number of USA's friends in the Western Hemisphere has been declining.  
"I think this is just a trend for the tie being, but it is unfavorable for the United States. Clearly, the United States can control Europe almost entirely. At the same time, Latin America is waiting for Russia's presence to materialize. Russia is not going to finance Cuba or Nicaragua, but it can create an alternative for the United States for them. This is very important for many countries, because they feel more or less confident in the international arena. Clearly, Nicaragua in unable to stand up against the USA. Yet, if Russia and China are there to lobby the interests of  Nicaragua, then this country may feel more independent. That's the value of an alternative," Vladimir Yevseyev told Pravda.Ru
The expert noted that India was the first country to have experienced such an alternative. Developing ties with the USA is a priority for India, but the country eyes the Russian arms market very seriously. "This is being done to ensure that India does not become dependent on the United States. No one wants to depend on the USA - that's the problem. From this point of view, Russia is a very attractive partner," the expert concluded.
UK Vulnerable to Russian Attack

UK Vulnerable
Russia has naturally stated that the flight was simply a planned patrol, and that it has not violated any aspect of international law. The British prime minister, however, was moved to comment that Russia was “trying to make some sort of point,” but other military personnel have suggested that the threat to the UK mainland is much more serious. Graydon stated in an interview with the British tabloid the Daily Mail that he doubted whether it would be possible for the UK to sustain a “shooting war” against Russia. He stated that the capabilities of the United Kingdom is roughly half what it was previously, and that Russia was probably engaging in these reconnaissance missions in order to monitor the defenses in Britain.
The former member of the RAF hierarchy went on to suggest that the mission Russia had engaged in probably revealed to them that the UK is by no means as sharp in this area as it once was. Graydon stated that it would be clear to the Russians that they knew they were engaged in a provocative act, and that it could be a timely one from a Russian perspective considering that Western air defense is relatively minimal compared to its past might. Other RAF personnel suggested that the situation is even more grim. But are these fears actually based in reality, or is it completely ludicrous alarmism?
BRIC World Order
To understand the situation with Russia, it is first important to familiarise one’s self with the BRIC nations. On 16th June, 2009, in Yekaterinburg, Russia the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China met for a conference that is now referred to as the BRIC summit. The acronym BRIC was first used in a Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) thesis projecting that the economic potential of these nations is such that they will be ranked as four of the five most dominant economies in the world by the year 2050. More on that later. The first BRIC summit – as with more secretive conferences such as Bilderberg – set the agenda for the group, so it is enlightening to look at what was discussed. Reuters described the conference as “seek[ing] global clout” and “discuss[ing] reform of the world financial system”.
A joint statement released in advance of the conference stated that “we, the leaders of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China, have discussed the current situation in the global economy and other pressing issues of global development, and also prospects for further strengthening collaboration within the BRIC, at our meeting in Yekaterinburg on June 16, 2009”.
Since then there have been several BRIC meetings, and these are clearly intended to strengthen the influence of China and Russia in the world, and with regard to existing financial institutions, from which they feel excluded. Additionally, it is often proposed that the BRIC nations will attempt to set up their own financial institutions and central bank, and in accordance with this will ramp up the pressure on the United States and British economies and financial-led infrastructure in the coming years.  This has ensured that the United States and Britain, traditional allies and trading partners, have become natural opponents to Russia and China in what is effectively a trading and financial war. It has been asserted that the tumbling price of oil in recent months has been a calculated attack by financial interests rooted in the United States to weaken the position of Russia, which is hugely reliant on oil and gas reserves.
Russian Retaliation
Considering that Russia has just had effectively 60 percent of its mineral wealth wiped out, at least in market terms, it is perhaps natural that the Eastern European nation is feeling a little twitchy. What complicates the situation is that European nations in particular have been, and still are, very reliant on a Russian oil and gas exports (although that UK imports most of its oil from Norway). So such reconnaissance missions as the one which David Cameron responded to could effectively be viewed as a show of strength by Russia in the context of an aggressive economic situation. But do British people actually have anything to worry about in terms of the physical threat from Russia, or will this war be played out in financial markets and other economic theaters?
Follow the Money
Of course, economics and warfare are inextricably linked, and one should never underestimate the influence of the former on the latter. But although what the former RAF personnel are stating about Britain’s air defenses may very well be accurate, one has to understand that Britain is the major ally of the united states, and any such attack on the mainland of Britain is pretty much unthinkable. One has to bear in mind that even during the height of the Cold War, which necessitated a huge amount of tension by its very nature, along with massive distrust and rhetorical conflict, the Soviet Union still do not come close to attacking the mainland of the United States. It must be said in mitigation that the Cuban Missile Crisis nearly led to the utterly disastrous prospect of a full-scale nuclear war, but no matter how hawkish the Soviet Union became there was no prospect of it ever attacking the mainland of the United States or one of its major allies, as it knew that it would be completely obliterated.
While many people, including your humble author, bemoan the existence of nuclear weapons, it can be argued that they have contributed to the relatively uneasy peace between Russia and the United States. Both have acted aggressively at times, but the potential consequences of a full-scale conflict have arguably played a part in dissuading such an unattractive proposition. The United States will never attack Russia because it has 8,000 nuclear weapons. By the same token, Russia will not dabble with a serious ally of the United States for exactly the same reason. Military men such as Graydon have a tendency to see things in rather blinkered terms, and much though this former RAF head is painting a negative picture of the situation, where Russia to actually carry out what he is suggesting then the consequences would be considerably more serious than he implies or seems to understand.
Chaotic Retreat Follows Ukrainians’ Withdrawal From Donetsk Airport

The ruins of the once gleaming and modern Donetsk airport, site of near relentless fighting in recent days, finally fell on Thursday to pro-Russian rebel forces who then paraded captured Ukrainian soldiers through the streets of the embattled city. The airport, which had been claimed by both sides, is nonfunctional, the terminal and runways having been destroyed months ago. Nonetheless, it has retained high symbolic value in the continuing hostilities as the government’s last toehold in the city, the largest in the contested territory of southeastern Ukraine.
By dawn on Thursday, it was clear the Ukrainian Army was in a chaotic and bloody retreat, leaving behind their dead in the ruins of the main terminal, a Russian news video showed. Later in the day, in an official statement, Ukrainian military officials acknowledged that they had lost the battle. In Donetsk, rebels forced a dozen captured Ukrainian soldiers to kneel on the streets near where artillery fire had gutted a trolley bus, killing at least eight people, encouraging passers-by to beat and spit on them.
“Fascists!” one old woman yelled at them. “Who are the terrorists now?”
The renewed violence, in Donetsk and at a remote checkpoint north of Luhansk, another major separatist-held city, threatened to plunge the region into ever-deepening chaos. Deepening the sense that the region might be descending into a fresh period of bloodshed, Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top commander in Europe, said that the alliance’s analysts had noted the presence of sophisticated Russian military systems, electronic warfare and air defense systems, in the conflict zone. Previously, he said, the presence of these systems has been associated with an incursion of Russian troops and presaged a fresh round of fighting.
Speaking at a meeting of security officials in Kiev after the capture of the airport and public humiliation of its last, captured defenders, Ukraine’s president, Petro O. Poroshenko, vented frustration with a broken peace process. “If the enemy does not want to abide by the cease-fire, if the enemy doesn’t want to stop the suffering of innocent people in Ukrainian villages and towns, we will give it to them in the teeth,” Mr. Poroshenko said in a statement on his website.
The Ukrainian Army and volunteer soldiers had held the airport through months of close combat. At times, Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian soldiers occupied different floors in the same building. Holes in the floor and stairwells became front lines. The turning point came when rebels exploded one of the floors, raining concrete and debris onto the heads of Ukrainian forces on the level below. The airport fell as months of continual rebel shelling had destroyed all of its defensible positions, wrote Yuri Butusov, the editor of a Ukrainian military news portal,
“The new and old terminals, the control tower and everything that could serve as a point of defense was destroyed,” he wrote. “And the airport is under direct fire, and the last surviving defenders left the new terminal only today.”
For Ukraine, the airport was laden with symbolic value as the site of the first in a string of military victories last summer that ended in August with a Russian intervention and cease-fire. “Ukrainian soldiers defending the Donetsk airport were compelled to surrender what just a year ago was a wonderful, modern airport,” one volunteer unit, the Azov Battalion, posted on its website. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military, said Ukrainian soldiers still defended some airport is still a battlefield,” he said.
In the city, an angry crowd of Donetsk residents pounced upon a Ukrainian soldier marched by rebel troops to the site of the bus-trolley explosion. People screamed angrily at the soldier as he was held by rebels, some reaching out to slap him across the face, or punch the back of his head. At one point, the crowd surged in so close that the soldier bent over to escape their pokes and punches and was pummeled on his back until the rebels holding him managed to squeeze him through the crowd and into the front seat of a waiting S.U.V.
Pro-Russian separatist leaders and senior Ukrainian government officials were quick to trade accusations over who was responsible for the assault on the bus, with the foreign ministries of Ukraine and Russia issuing nearly identical statements calling for an objective investigation.
A video taken in the aftermath of the early morning explosion showed the bus, which ran from an electrical connection to overhead lines, with its tires flattened, its sides punched in, filled with shards of concrete and stone and all of its windows either shattered or pocked with holes. A burned out car sat in the street nearby, and the building opposite had its front gate smashed and most of its windows blown out. There were conflicting reports of eight to 13 people killed.
In Moscow, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, issued a statement blaming the Ukrainian government and calling the bus attack “a crime against humanity, a rude provocation aimed at undermining the efforts on a peace settlement.” Mr. Lavrov added: “It is becoming obvious that the party of war in Kiev, and its foreign patrons, are not stopped by fatalities. Everything must be done to stop the shelling by Kiev of towns in southeastern Ukraine and to prevent the further pointless casualties among the civilians.”
With both sides equipped with heavy weapons, artillery duels all too often miss by hundreds of yards or more, killing bystanders.
The strike in Donetsk came the day after President Poroshenko, addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, held up a piece of wreckage from another public bus, destroyed in an artillery attack on Jan. 13 near the town of Volnovakha, in which 13 people were killed. In his speech, Mr. Poroshenko said that thousands of regular-duty Russian troops had been moved across the border into eastern Ukraine, escalating the conflict.
Fighting also intensified early Thursday in an area of remote Ukrainian checkpoints and small villages along the northern approach to the rebel stronghold of Luhansk. Ukraine military officials had said they were convinced they were facing regular Russian troops when the engagement began on Tuesday.
Late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, both Checkpoints 29 and 31, north of Luhansk, and the nearby villages of Krymske and Nizhneye were subjected to persistent shelling. This was followed, Thursday afternoon, by what Ukrainian military officials described as a tank assault, which they said their forces were able to repel.
The three days of fighting, though, resulted in widespread damage to the two villages, said Yaroslav Galas, head of the department of communications for the regional administration. Only about 150 residents were left in Krymske, he said, about 10 percent of the usual population, and a huge fire at the local power station, visible for miles around, made it unlikely the village would ever be reinhabited, he said. “You can say the situation there is an emergency,” Mr. Galas said.
Russian diplomat slams "destructive" US stance

A senior Russian diplomat on Friday accused the U.S. administration of taking a "destructive" stance in bilateral relations and warned that Moscow could deal "painful" counterblows. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Secretary of State John Kerry breached "diplomatic ethics" when he told U.S. lawmakers earlier this week that Russian officials had lied to him about support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. Ryabkov added in remarks carried by Russian news agencies that Washington "lacks moral right" to make such judgment.
Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of backing the rebels with troops and weapons. Moscow denies that, and Ryabkov again dismissed the U.S. accusations as "absolutely unfounded" and "unacceptable." He warned that Moscow could retaliate to potential new U.S. sanctions, but wouldn't necessarily make them public. "We are working on them, but it would be wrong to announce them in advance, and, in fact, announce some of them at all," Ryabkov said. "We are leaving all options for ourselves. We have used and, if necessary, will use quite painful countermeasures."
"Our bilateral agenda with the United States has become utterly negative because of the destructive course taken by Washington," Ryabkov said, adding that there are few issues on which Moscow and Washington could still cooperate. He said that the Iranian nuclear talks remained one of those areas and voiced hope that an agreement could be reached before a March 31 deadline.
The U.S. and Iran have reported progress on a deal that would clamp down on Tehran's nuclear activities for at least 10 years but then slowly ease restrictions on programs that could be used to make atomic arms. Ryabkov said the latest round of talks has proven that "a chance for reaching agreement on time far exceed the probability of a failure or a delay." He said that once U.N. sanctions against Iran are lifted, Moscow expects to expand its military and nuclear cooperation with Iran. Russia, which built Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr, signed a deal last November to build two more reactors, which would be possibly followed by another six.

Ukraine's President Is Trapped With His Troops

Two days after the belligerent parties in eastern Ukraine were supposed to suspend fighting, the truce is not holding. The agreement sealed last Thursday has hit the first of several predictable snags: Kiev refuses to recognize that a large number of its troops are encircled near the railroad junction of Debaltseve, and fighting rages on as these troops try to break out. Although both sides are guilty of violating the cease-fire, responsibility for preserving it is now in the hands of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Between Saturday and Sunday, the residents of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine's biggest city, now held by the pro-Russian rebels, experienced their first quiet night in months. It looked as though the fragile cease-fire was for real -- until reports started coming in from Debaltseve. Here's one from photographer Max Avdeev, who was in the area: In another post, Avdeev wrote that several thousand Ukrainian soldiers were surrounded at Debaltseve. "Experts who seriously discuss a cease-fire and all sorts of political factors deserve a good kick," he added. "There's no politics there, just lots of fighting men who are mad and who don't want to stop.
He's probably wrong about that, though: A lot of this is about politics. There are plenty of authoritative Western press reports (here's one from The New York Times and one from The Wall Street Journal), as well as Ukrainian reports citing military sources in the area, confirming that a sizable Ukrainian contingent -- up to 8,000 troops -- has been encircled by separatist forces. (To use military parlance, Ukraine's forces were originally positioned as a salient -- a fragile extension into rebel territory -- but now they are completely surrounded, forced into what Russians call a kotyol, or cauldron.)
The pro-Russian rebels have been talking openly about the encirclement since last week, demanding the Ukrainian troops lay down their weapons and leave Debaltseve.  Yet official Kiev -- meaning Poroshenko and the military command -- have never admitted Ukrainian troops are trapped. Today, Kiev's defense ministry confirms street fighting in Debaltseve and says "bandits" now control part of the town. Yet it still stops short of an admission that thousands of its troops have been cut off.
The matter came up during the cease-fire talks in Minsk, but Poroshenko adamantly denied the problem existed. Coming out of the marathon negotiations, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered military experts to figure out what was going on. Whatever they reported back, and whatever other orders Putin may have given, the Ukrainian troops clearly never ceased in their efforts to fight out of the "cauldron", and the rebels -- possibly aided by Russian soldiers -- remained similarly stubborn in keeping them sealed in.
Both sides have been acting in bad faith. The rebels and their Russian backers demanded an extra two days of fighting before the cease-fire, presumably so they could seal the encirclement, and they now consider the Debaltseve area their legitimate conquest to which the cease-fire terms must apply -- meaning Ukrainian forces must pull back to a mutually agreed upon separation line. Kiev, for its part, has been trying to wriggle out of an embarrassing military defeat that would have symbolic importance for the country's fiercely patriotic electorate. Poroshenko seems to be hoping that the cease-fire's European guarantors will intervene and force Putin to unblock Debaltseve.
So far, that hope has been futile. German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked to Putin and Poroshenko on Sunday and Monday, but they didn't come to any agreement on Debaltseve.
The most obvious way to save the cease-fire would be for Poroshenko to acknowledge the encirclement and save his troops from almost certain death by negotiating their safe passage. Russia and its proxies in the area have signaled that they are willing to stop the fighting once that happens: Things have been relatively peaceful along the rest of the separation line. Once the Debaltseve boil is lanced, the sides can execute the artillery pull-back outlined in the cease-fire agreement, originally scheduled to begin in the early morning hours of Wednesday, but now certain to be delayed. Though there are plenty of other traps in the Minsk agreement, there would be time to deal with them later.
The alternative is harrowing. The Ukrainian troops could keep fighting to get out of Debaltseve, but nothing short of direct intervention by NATO troops could save them from taking the heaviest casualties of the entire campaign. The cease-fire would be shattered, and it would either be renegotiated on even more favorable terms for Putin and the rebels, or the war would escalate with unpredictable consequences for both Russia and Ukraine.
Putin, who in his conversations with Merkel and Poroshenko still maintains the fiction that his country is not a party to the conflict, appears to be prepared for this scenario. With the military advantage on his side, he can afford to press ahead. That may change as the West decides on a response to further escalation, but with the situation on the ground changing hourly, that is not an immediate obstacle for the Russian leader.
Poroshenko's problem is that he cannot be sure Putin will stop even if the Ukrainian troops at Debaltseve surrender, rather than continue on to other strategic areas, including the port city of Mariupol. Then, Ukrainians would hold Poroshenko responsible for caving in and achieving nothing. There is no good way out for the Ukrainian president. All he can do now is try to save his soldiers' lives and hope Putin is satisfied with winning one last military victory in his hybrid war before the conflict is effectively frozen until the end of this year. What happens next turns on whether the Ukrainian leader can stifle his pride and put his political support in jeopardy by taking a plunge into uncertainty.

Saakashvili to the Rescue, or not

Over the past decade Ukraine has undergone a series of economic and political setbacks. The 2004 Orange Revolution quickly turned into a fiasco that ushered in four years of utter cronyism, monopoly consolidation, and geopolitical mismanagement that was excessive even by Ukrainian standards. And now the situation has gone from bad to worse. Kiev is fighting and losing a war in its eastern provinces, facing bankruptcy, a negative growth economy, lacks prudent leadership, and is at present alienating a state that understands Ukraine’s predicament better than most.
Kiev’s appointment of former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili as the head of Ukraine’s newly created International Advisory Council on Reforms has strained Georgian-Ukrainian ties. His task is to create proposals and recommendations for implementing reforms in Ukraine based on leading international practices. Since 2013 Saakashvili has been living in self-imposed exile in the United States. He faces arrest if he returns to Georgia. 
In August of 2014, the Georgian Prosecutor-General’s Office requested an Interpol warrant for Saakashvilii’s arrest. The former president is facing several charges in his home country over his alleged abuse of power, the use of excessive force against protesters, embezzlement, and ordering politically motivated killings. Now that Saakashvili is in Ukraine, Tbilisi has asked for his extradition. Kiev has refused to comply.
Why Petro Poroshenko would name Saakashvili as an advisor when doing so risks antagonizing the only post-Soviet state that unconditionally supports Kiev remains a mystery. Officially Saakashvili will be advising on economic matters, not military, but his presence in Kiev brings more trouble than it is worth because he risks upsetting a friendly country and further stoking Russian fears that the West is determined to create a rabidly Russophobe regime in Ukraine. There is a common thread that connects the new government in Ukraine with that of Saakashvili’s 2004-2013 government: Washington’s war-hawk community. Both the Rose Revolution and the Euromaidan received moral and political support from American liberal interventionists and neoconservatives. Victoria Nuland, the wife of prominent neocon Robert Kagan and the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, openly supported the Maidan protestors in the fall of 2013. For better or worse she remains the face White House policy in Ukraine. Likewise, Kagan was an admirer of Saakashvili’s presidency and remains an advocate of his within Washington policy making circles. He also served as a foreign policy advisor to John McCain during the 2008 election. McCain is a strong proponent of a bellicose American foreign policy and is quite fond of Saakashvili or Misha as he adoringly calls him.
It is an open secret that the U.S. has taken the lead among Western powers in advising and training the Ukrainian government in how to deal with the separatist conflict in the Donbas region as well as with economic, legal, and military reforms. This may explain why Poroshenko decided to hire the former Georgian president, a polarizing figure in his native country and among foreign dignitaries. Saakashvili continues to enjoy cordial relations with leading American think-tanks and policy-makers at the State Department. Just as the events of the Euromaidan were supported overtly and covertly by the West, the 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia, which brought Saakashvili to power, was also backed by Western capitals. Unlike a number of Western European states that are eager to restore some normalcy in relations with Moscow, Washington is not. The 2016 election is right around the corner and no potential presidential candidate or party would like to seem soft on Russia.
If this is yet another State Department recommendation, it is poorly timed and ill-conceived. This seems to be the norm when it comes to Washington’s suggestions for Kiev. Indeed, Victoria Nuland was in Tbilisi on February 17th as part of her South Caucasus tour. When asked about Georgia’s request of Ukraine to extradite Saakashvili, she replied that Ukraine and Georgia “need each other and should support one another in this ‘very important moment’ in their history”. It is true that both countries are at a crossroads and can use all the help they can garner. But appointing Saakashvili as an advisor was a very poor decision. For starters, what sage advice can a man who permanently lost two provinces of his country, yet refuses to admit his mistakes, provide? If Ukrainian officials wish to make smart choices when dealing with their Russian counterparts then the selection of the former Georgian leader – blindly anti-Russia and anti-Putin – is a poor one. More importantly, officials in Tbilisi feel slighted by the Ukrainians, a state they see as a kindred spirit of sorts. Meanwhile the Kremlin has a new example for an old argument it uses in its ongoing negotiations with Georgian diplomats: that the West does not take Georgia’s concerns seriously. Russia’s ultimate goal is to lure Tbilisi away from the West and into the Russian camp, primarily through Georgia’s inclusion into the nascent Eurasian Economic Union. This will be a medium to long term goal and may take years but that is the endgame.
One way to go about reversing Georgia’s Western orientation is to pit the Georgian political establishment against itself. It ought to be noted that it is Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili who is the one pushing for Saakashvili’s extradition, and the investigation of other former high ranking members of the United National Movement Party. In contrast, President Giorgi Margvelashvili comes across as more ambivalent. He claimed that ‘it is Ukraine’s internal matter and a sovereign right’ to appoint Saakashvili. Whereas Garibashvili is keener on re-establishing ties with the Kremlin, Margvelashvili leans toward shoring up existing Euro-Atlantic relations. For well over a year the Georgian President and Prime Minister have faced off over various issues, domestic and foreign. The power struggle between these two men will decide in which geopolitical direction Georgia will go. It will also determine whether Tbilisi takes offense at Kiev’s decision or not, and if so, what repercussions will follow. Although this one event is unlikely to rupture ties between Ukraine and Georgia, it will unnecessarily create tensions between two states that strive for a similar geopolitical outcome.
If Ukrainian officials want to restore order and bring sustained growth to their country they must stop looking toward foreigners to solve their woes and instead begin the process of harnessing the creative energies of the Ukrainian people. Sadly, past performances are often good indicators of future actions thus Ukraine will continue to stumble from one misstep to another – Saakashvili’s appointment being the most recent example.
Vilen Khlgatyan is the Vice Chairman of the Political Developments Research Center (PDRC).

Pro-Moscow rebels capture key Ukrainian town

Reports in Russian media suggest that pro-Russian rebels have taken the railway town of Debaltseve from besieged Ukrainian government forces. The rebels claim that most of the city is now under the control of armed groups loyal to the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic, according to Riga-based online newspaper and news aggregator The article cites Ukrainian journalist Andrew Tsaplienko as saying that the police department and the railway station have been taken.
Independent Russian news service Interfax is reporting that 300 Ukrainian soldiers have given themselves up to become prisoners in the town, citing a representative of the separatist militia. Debaltseve is of central strategic importance to both sides as it is a key railway hub and sits deep in an area that is mostly controlled by the separatists. Its loss would signal a consolidation of the gains made by the rebels against government forces over recent months, that NATO, the US and Europe believe was achieved with Russian assistance.
The official Twitter account of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine has acknowledged that there has been heavy fighting around the town but earlier claimed that Ukrainian forces had been able to hold their positions. The move comes just days since a new ceasefire agreement came into effect in the country. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko ordered his troops to stop firing at 10pm on Saturday local time. However, there have been widespread reports that fighting continued between government forces and pro-Moscow rebels around Debaltseve.
Even as the deal was being signed, Kiev reported that 50 tanks and 40 missile systems were spotted crossing the border into Ukraine from Russia, in what many saw as an effort to shore up the rebel position in disputed areas before the ceasefire came into force. Poroshenko has asked for a comprehensive ceasefire to be respected in order for peace monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to be able to enter the town. Yesterday the European Union increased the number of people and groups targeted under its sanctions regime. A number of militia groups currently participating in the fighting around Debaltseve were included.

7 Reasons the U.S. Should Stay Out of the Ukraine-Russia Fight

The ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia appears to be holding, after Kiev's forces lost ground in a recent spate of fighting. Fortune could yet smile upon Ukraine, but as long as Russia is determined not to let the separatists fail, the former's efforts likely will be for naught. Only a negotiated settlement, no matter how unsatisfying, offers the possibility of a stable resolution of the ongoing conflict. Indeed, the alternative may be the collapse of the Ukrainian state and long-term confrontation between the West and Russia, at great cost to all sides.
Agreeing to a compromise might be as hard for Washington as Kiev. The latter has more to lose, but U.S. policymakers have come to believe that they have been anointed to govern the entire Earth. However, while the U.S. and Europe can weaken Russia's economy and target Moscow's elite, they are not willing to risk military conflict with a nuclear-armed power, nor should they.
Ukraine's most fervent advocates assume anyone not ready to commit self-immolation on Kiev's behalf must be a Russian asset left over from Soviet times. However, Washington policymakers should put America's interests before those of other nations, in which case there's no justification for jumping into the Ukraine-Russia imbroglio.
There are at least a baker's dozen good reasons for the U.S. to avoid the fight. I recently covered the first six elsewhere: Ukraine isn't important geographically; Russia matters to America more than Ukraine does; blame is widely shared for Ukraine's travails; Washington never guaranteed Ukraine's security; Vladimir Putin is not Hitler, and Russia is not Nazi Germany (or Stalin's Soviet Union); and there's no genocide. But these are just the start. Seven more complete the baker's dozen.
1) Russia isn't Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya.
Americans have come to expect quick, easy, almost costless victories. The Pentagon hasn't had a tough time defeating another government since Vietnam. It is the aftermath that has been difficult, an important reason that Washington didn't try to occupy Libya. While the Obama administration has resisted proposals for military confrontation with Moscow, a gaggle of ivory tower warriors has pushed to arm Ukraine, bring Kiev into NATO, and station U.S. men and planes in Ukraine. These steps could lead to war.
However, Russia would be no pushover. The U.S., especially in alliance with Europe, should be able to defeat any nation in full-scale combat. However, Moscow has improved its conventional forces since their mixed performance in the 2008 war with Georgia. Russia has an air defense system that would preclude America's usual costless control of the skies. Worse, Moscow has a full range of nuclear weapons. It could respond to allied conventional superiority with use of tactical nukes. It's one thing to play military chicken with an impoverished third-world nation. It's quite another to challenge a nuclear-armed state.
2) Moscow has more at stake in Ukraine than the West has and will act accordingly.
America's war-happy chattering classes often assume that but one harsh word from Washington will cause other nations to beat a swift retreat. If only President Barack Obama would "exercise leadership" and "demonstrate resolve," Vladimir Putin would admit he was wrong, abandon Ukrainian separatists, disgorge Crimea, and go into exile in Siberia.
In fact, the status of Ukraine matters far more to Moscow than to Washington. America has no interests of comparable strength regarding Ukraine. Imagine if the Soviet Union had proposed bringing Mexico into the Warsaw Pact after having helped oust a democratically elected government allied with America. Washington's reaction would have been swift, strong, and exceedingly hostile.
Since Russia has far more at stake in Ukraine's orientation, the former will devote far greater resources and take far greater risks than will the allies. Ukraine is a minor economic and security issue for Europe and of marginal concern for America. That's why no allied government is prepared to take military action in Ukraine. In fact, Kiev can expect only limited financial transfers along with financial sanctions against Russia. In contrast, the Putin government has accepted financial losses, economic isolation, human casualties, and political hostility.
3) Alliances should enhance U.S. security, not provide foreign charity.
In 2008 NATO first agreed in principle to bring Ukraine into the alliance. Several European nations remain opposed, but Ukraine's most fervent advocates continue pushing to include Kiev. Last month Ukraine's Rada repealed the law barring membership, and President Petro Poroshenko advocated joining.
It's impossible to blame Kiev for wanting the West to protect it. But it makes no sense for the allies to do so. Indeed, Washington has played the sucker throughout NATO's expansion. Adding new nations did not make America more secure. Rather, the U.S. treated its premier military alliance like international charity, bringing in nations that amount to security black holes. Washington paid to upgrade small militaries with minimal capabilities while promising to protect new members from threats irrelevant to America.
Adding Ukraine (and Georgia) would be even more dangerous. Both have been at war with Russia. Both have had irresponsible political leadership. Both have an incentive to entangle the globe's superpower in their territorial disputes. Bringing them into NATO would dramatically degrade U.S. security by transforming minor conflicts irrelevant to Washington into potential military disputes between America and Russia.
4) Security guarantees and alliance commitments often spread, rather than deter, conflict.
NATO advocates presume that membership would dissuade Russia from taking military action. Alas, deterrence often fails. History is replete with examples of alliances that did not stop conflict. And when deterrence fails, alliances become transmission belts of war. The worst war in human history, World War II, began despite defense promises made to Poland by France and Great Britain in an attempt to forestall a German invasion. World War I provided an even more dramatic example of alliances expanding rather than restricting conflict. An assassination in Sarajevo, Bosnia, spread war to most of Europe as well as to parts of Asia and North America. In many cases contending parties either discount the likelihood of countries acting on their promises or believe the stakes warrant risking war. Both likely apply to Russia in Ukraine.
5) U.S. foreign policy should be based on the interests of America, not on those of other nations.
Perhaps the greatest distortion to U.S. foreign policy comes from ethnic lobbying. There's nothing wrong with having affection for one's ancestral homeland. But there's a lot wrong in designing U.S. foreign policy to benefit another nation rather than America, such as pushing Washington to risk war on behalf of Kiev. Doing so clearly is not in the interests of America or Americans.
Of course, advocates of Ukraine are not the only offenders. Lots of ethnic Americans seem to forget who their government is supposed to represent. Descendants of Eastern Europeans were among the most fervent advocates of NATO expansion. For a half century the voting clout of Cuban Americans in Florida held U.S. policy toward Havana hostage. There is no worse political cat fight than between Greek and Turkish Americans. Ethnic Koreans express horror at proposals to shift responsibility for South Korea's defense to Seoul. There are several other examples. Ukrainian Americans are only the latest to urge Washington to risk war for their friends, family, and heritage.
Some advocates for Kiev argue that Ukraine deserves support since France helped the American colonists win their independence during the American Revolution. Of course it makes sense for Kiev to ask for U.S. support, just as it made sense for the American colonies to request aid from Paris. But a request does not require a yes. France intervened in the American Revolution because Paris believed it was in France's interests to weaken Britain by splitting off one of its most important colonies. Going to war with Moscow would offer Americans no similar benefit. Indeed, France's aid to America pulled a weak monarchy into a much larger global conflict -- which Paris lost. That further weakened the monarchy, hastening the French Revolution. France might have avoided that horror had it not intervened on America's behalf!
6) It's Europe's turn to act.
If Ukraine matters geopolitically, it is to Europe. If anyone should be providing subsidies and weapons to Kiev, it is Europe. If anyone should be offering military guarantees to Ukraine, it is Europe. If anyone should be introducing forces into Ukraine, it is Europe. If anyone should be bolstering Europe's military defenses, it is Europe.
But Europe can't seem to be bothered. Just three European countries meet NATO's suggested level of military spending, 2 percent of GDP. Even Poland, demanding "reassurance" in the face of potential Russian aggression, fell short of that anemic level last year. The Baltic states are even worse: Among the three, only Estonia hits 2 percent.
Nor is anyone else in Europe much interested in doing anything more, even for NATO states. When Poland and the Baltics insisted that other members station troops in their nations, Germany, the Cold War border state protected for decades by American, British, and other personnel, said, "Nein!" Other NATO members continue to shrink their militaries. Ukraine poses a crisis, the Europeans say, but, as always, the U.S. is supposed to do any military heavy lifting.
7) A negotiated settlement is the only solution.
Ukrainians insist that Ukraine must be free to decide its own future. Yes, after the Second Coming, when the lion has lain down with the lamb. After people representing all the world's religions, ethnic groups, political philosophies, races, and everything else have joined together to sing "Kumbaya" around a global bonfire. After men and women again live in the Garden of Eden.
The world is an unfair place, and many people are stuck in bad neighborhoods. Weaker parties must make accommodations as necessary. During the Cold War Finland maintained its domestic liberties by not antagonizing the Soviet Union. Taiwan lives in the shadow of an ever-more-powerful China. Qatar abandoned its independent foreign policy under pressure from its Gulf neighbors. Small Caribbean and European nations are bullied by America and the European Union on tax matters.
The world is similarly unfair to Ukraine today. America and Europe will not go to war on Kiev's behalf. Ukrainians must recognize their limitations in deciding what to do. Military victory is unlikely. On their own, the separatists would lose to Ukraine's central government. But Moscow will not allow Ukraine to defeat its allies. In fact, in December President Poroshenko admitted, "There's no military solution in Donbas," since his nation lacked the resources to win. Even more so, Kiev will not recover Crimea -- militarily, at least.
Stalemate is no solution either. Ukraine faces economic crisis. Government expenditures are up, revenues are down, and foreign investment is on hold. The economy has tanked. Ukraine needs to reform and rebuild, which will be difficult as long as the crisis persists.
Kiev can't afford the war, which is costing $10 million a day. This year Kiev faces a $15-billion financing gap. Moody's warned of a possible debt default. Some economists worry about hyperinflation. The head of Ukraine's central bank spoke of a "full-blown financial crisis." Famed currency speculator George Soros argued that Kiev needed at least $50 billion in support. But neither America nor Europe is going to come up with anything close to that -- they currently have offered about $4 billion total.
The allies hope that sanctions will force Russia to concede. Before Christmas Congress approved a new round of penalties without debate. The West's sanctions have been painful for Moscow, especially combined with the fall in energy prices. Still, Putin won't be retreating voluntarily. His term runs until 2018, and no one, in or out of government, appears able to challenge him.
Massive public discontent could spark a popular revolution. However, foreign sanctions cause people to rally around their governments more often than they cause people to abandon their governments. As of December Putin's popularity remained at 85 percent, with the majority of Russians opining that their country was on the right track. If Putin's support starts to fall as the economy continues its downward slide, pressure on Putin to act will rise. However, he is not likely to yield to the West, which would be catastrophic politically. It's more likely that he would tighten authoritarian controls at home to stifle opposition activists and strike overseas to revive nationalist sentiments.
An extended conflict would continue to spread economic pain well beyond Russia, especially as European economies continue to stall. Some European states already are lobbying to lift or moderate sanctions. In early January French President François Hollande called for dropping the penalties. In December the Czech Republic's finance minister, Andrej Babiš, complained, "It brings nothing, these sanctions. They will only have a negative impact."
Perhaps even worse than sanctions that do not force Moscow to its knees would be those that do. The prospect of Weimar Russia should cause Ukrainians and their friends in the West to be careful what they wish for. Europe especially has much at stake in Russia economically. Worse, there is little reason to expect a Russia in crisis to be democratic and docile. Greater nationalism at home and adventurism abroad would be more likely. Western-style liberals would not be the natural beneficiaries of an implosion at home.
With no one prepared to yield, prospects increase for a "frozen conflict" involving Ukraine and ethnic-Russian separatists. Worse is unending confrontation between America/Europe and Russia. Who gains from a Ukraine that's bankrupt and divided? Who benefits from a Europe that's bleeding economically and a Russia that's responding sullenly? What of the future if the U.S. and Russia are increasingly at economic, political, and military odds? Warned Henry Kissinger, "[A] resumption of the Cold War would be a historic tragedy."
A modus vivendi won't be easy, but it is essential. Ukrainians could say no, but they should do so in realization that they would be acting on their own. Their destiny is in their hands, but they cannot expect everyone else to back a destructive outcome.
America and Europe should initiate discussions with Moscow, using sanctions as a negotiating tool rather than an endless penalty. A ceasefire should be policed by international monitors. Russia should acknowledge Ukraine's sovereignty and end military support for the rebels. Kiev should halt military operations and formalize further devolution of power on the Donbas. Ukraine should declare its military neutrality, endorsed by the West. Russia should accept Kiev's economic orientation both west and east.
Of course, Moscow also could say no. However, such an agreement would meet Putin's security concerns and halt Russia's economic slide. He is an authoritarian, not a fool. And if a diplomatic resolution is impossible, it is better to find out now than to do so only after suffering through an extended Cold War lite.
The Ukraine-Russia conflict is an unnecessary tragedy. But the only ending in something other than disaster is likely to come through negotiation. That might not satisfy any of the parties, but it likely is better than the alternative for all of them. Thankfully the ongoing battle doesn't much threaten America. But the U.S. still would benefit from peace between the two, as would the Ukrainian people, in particular. Instead of acting as a belligerent party, Washington should focus on shaping a diplomatic solution. Doing so won't be easy, but the Obama administration should make the attempt.

Moscow protesters strike out against Ukraine and the West

For the thousands of Russians gathered near Red Square on Saturday, Maidan — the square in Kiev synonymous with pro-European protests last year — is nothing to celebrate. "Maidan is a festival of death ... Maidan is the smile of the American ambassador who, sitting in his penthouse, is happy to see how brother is killing brother ... Maidan is the concentration of everything anti-Russian ... Maidan is the embryo of Goebbels," the organizers of Russia's new Anti-Maidan movement shouted from the stage.
Demonstrators vowed that last year's protests in Kiev — centered in the Maidan square which ultimately forced Ukaine's pro-Russian president to flee on Feb. 21 — would never be repeated in Russia.  "Maidan" is the Ukrainian word for "square" and in common usage refers to Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square).  The protesters in Moscow were an assortment of ultranationalist bikers, pensioners, war veterans, members of student organizations and activists from other pro-Kremlin groups. Many of them waved Russian flags, others bore banners that said "Die, America!" or "U$A, Stop the War!"  Police said that 35,000 people attended, though those numbers were impossible to verify independently.
In the year since Ukraine's transformation, anti-Western sentiment in Russia has spiked, largely over what many perceive as the West's hand in fomenting the protests in Kiev in order to gain a foothold of control near Russia.
"The United States is the world's biggest terrorist. ... We believe we can rise up again if they leave us alone, but they are always trying to teach us how to live," said 65-year-old Nina Kishkova, a retired teacher who was at the protest with her friend. Another Maidan "will never win in Russia. I will bring the ammunition myself."
According to a poll conducted this month by the independent Levada Center, 81 percent of Russians feel negatively about the United States — the highest figure since the early 1990s — and 71 percent feel negatively about the European Union. The number of Russians who dubbed relations between Russia and the U.S. as that of "enemies" leapt from 4 percent in January 2014 to 42 percent. The poll has a margin of error of about 3 percentage points.
"There has been no empire in history that did the kind of things to its colonies that America does to the world today," said Alexander Zaldostanov, the leader of the pro-Kremlin Night Wolves biker gang widely known by his nickname, the Surgeon.
The anti-Western sentiment, sparked by the West's wholehearted backing of the protests in Kiev, has only deepened as the U.S. and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia for annexing the Ukrainian region of Crimea and for supporting the separatists fighting in east Ukraine.
"There's nothing new about anti-Western sentiments in Russian society, the thing was to bring them to the fore," said Maria Lipman, an independent analyst. "People have said for a long time that the West is there to do harm to Russia. ... Now this sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy because now the West is always discussing how to punish Russia so that it will hurt more."

European Warn Washington: Arming Kiev Will Backfire

European defense officials warned on Friday that arming Ukraine in its fight against pro-Russian separatists would only inflame the conflict, but were told by NATO's top soldier, an American general, that the West should consider using "all tools" if diplomacy with Moscow wasn't working.The debate at the Munich Security Conference highlighted an emerging rift between Europe and Washington over how to confront Russian President Vladmir Putin as Moscow-backed rebels make territorial gains in eastern Ukraine.

President Barack Obama is under pressure from some in Congress to provide Kiev with lethal weapons. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen voiced Europe's misgivings about this strategy: "Are we sure we would be improving the situation for the people in Ukraine by delivering weapons? Are we really sure that Ukraine can win against the Russian military machine?"

"And would this not be an excuse for Russia to intervene openly in the conflict?" asked the German minister. Britain also fears that sending weapons could "escalate the conflict", her British counterpart Michael Fallon told the conference.

As they spoke, Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande held talks in Moscow with Putin to try to end the conflict in Ukraine that has killed more than 5,000 people and driven Russia's relations with the West to new lows. Their initiative was partly prompted by the debate about arming Kiev.

NATO's top military commander, Gen. Philip Breedlove, gave the strongest indication so far that he is - as the New York Times reported this week - among the U.S. officials who favor providing defensive arms and equipment to Ukraine's military. The West has tried using diplomatic and economic measures to put pressure on Putin, he said. "But if what is being done is not producing what you want to gain from the conversation, then maybe all tools in the tool bag should be used and conventional means should not be outwardly discounted," Breedlove added.

Germany's von der Leyen questioned the strategic sense of providing weapons to Kiev when the separatists were so well-supplied by the Russians. "The support with arms from Russia to the separatists is potentially unlimited," she said. "And do we really count on being able to provide as many arms to the Ukrainian army that they could potential conquer the other side?"
Europe Throws Ukraine Under the Bus

The battle for Debaltseve is over. On February 18, Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, ordered his troops to withdraw from the city in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. The soldiers hadn’t a chance of winning. They were easily outnumbered by pro-Russian forces, whom Moscow has supported throughout the conflict. As the Ukrainian soldiers made their way out of the bombed city, the ceasefire accord reached in Minsk on February 12 was in tatters.
Repeated calls by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to implement the ceasefire have gone nowhere. Diplomacy has failed. What is more, Europeans have not grasped the implications of Ukraine losing its territorial integrity.
European leaders can wring their hands. They can threaten to ratchet up the sanctions they have imposed against Russia. But the damage has been done ever since March 2014, when Putin annexed Crimea. Through its weak response to Russian aggression, the E.U. has discarded the rules of the post–Cold War era. Even the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, in which Western and Communist bloc leaders pledged to respect the inviolability of borders, has been torn up. Europe is entering a new and dangerous era for which it is completely unprepared.
When it comes to facing real threats on their Eastern borders—meaning from Russia—European leaders still cling to the idea of soft power. Yet at the same time, several governments have joined the U.S.-led coalition to fight the terrorist threat coming from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Ursula von der Leyen, the German defense minister, who is overseeing a new white paper that refers to Russia as a threat, tried to explain the difference in approach between Russian aggression and jihadism. Speaking at the February 6–8 Munich Security Conference, von der Leyen said diplomacy could not work with the Islamic State because there was no one with whom to negotiate. Therefore, force was a viable option. That, she said, was not the case with Russia: there, the West had a negotiating partner.
Not any more, it seems. The failure of the latest ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine shows the futility of talking to the Russian president. Some European leaders would beg to differ. The fulsome ways in which some leaders deal with Putin are shameful. They make a mockery of European unity and the appalling suffering of civilians in eastern Ukraine.
Viktor Orbán, the prime minister of Hungary, who feted Putin on February 18, is willing to make his country even more dependent on Russian energy by agreeing to Russian loans to build a new nuclear reactor near the central Hungarian town of Paks. That dependence carries a high price in the form of political interference. So far, Orbán has backed E.U. sanctions against Russia and NATO’s new reassurance role in Eastern and Central Europe. But that continuing support cannot be taken for granted.
Other European leaders, who seem to forget that a war is being waged on the E.U.’s borders, have no qualms either in dealing with Putin. Nicos Anastasiades, the president of Cyprus, is scheduled to visit Moscow on February 25. For many years, Cyprus has been providing Russian oligarchs with a safe haven for their riches.
Alexis Tsipras, the newly elected prime minister of Greece, has nonchalantly implied that he could turn to Russia for financial assistance if his talks with E.U. finance ministers over amending the terms of Greece’s bailout program fail. And don’t forget Miloš Zeman, the president of the Czech Republic, who is known for his pro-Russian stance. With leaders like these, it’s a wonder that the E.U. ever managed to push through its sanctions.
But there is a wider issue at stake: the Europeans’ unwillingness to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity has set a precedent. Some would say that Russia tested the E.U.’s resolve in 2008 after its short invasion of Georgia. Then, the response by the E.U. and by the West in general was weak. And as Russia over the past year began chiseling away at parts of eastern Ukraine, in November 2014 the Kremlin signed a security pact with the self-declared republic of Abkhazia, which Russia prized away from Georgia during the 2008 war.
With the fall of Debaltseve, Poroshenko had no option but to call on the United Nations and the E.U. to send peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine. Whatever the response to that request, the record of peacekeepers is to consolidate facts on the ground, not to undo them. That could suit Putin. Poroshenko’s call also confirms how the E.U. and the United States failed to give the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sufficient personnel and support to monitor either the September 2014 Minsk Protocol or the February 2015 ceasefire agreement. Pro-Russian separatists have done everything possible to hinder the OSCE monitors.
That aside, Europeans’ unwillingness to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity is due to more than the reluctance of most E.U. governments to provide Ukraine with weapons. Apart from the endless arguments over whether sending arms would encourage Putin to escalate or de-escalate the war, this unwillingness also stems from the fact that most European governments do not believe Ukraine’s territorial integrity matters that much to their own security.
For most Europeans, the war in Ukraine—unlike the Islamic State—does not pose a threat to their way of life and their values. Yet the war has already called into question Europe’s values and the principle of inviolable borders. What European leader would deny that?
Judy Dempsey is a nonresident senior associate at Carnegie Europe and author of The Merkel Phenomenon (Das Phänomen Merkel, Körber-Stiftung Edition, 2013). This article first appeared on the Carnegie Europe website.


Russia, South Ossetia step toward annexation

Georgia condemned on Thursday the signing of a border agreement between its breakaway region of South Ossetia and Russia, accusing Moscow of moving closer to annexing a territory it supported in a five-day conflict in 2008. Georgia, which has ambitions to join NATO, and Russia fought that war over South Ossetia and another separatist region, Abkhazia. After it ended, Moscow recognized both regions as independent countries.
 Moscow went further by signing a "strategic partnership" agreement with Abkhazia last November, seven months after annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and throwing its weight behind separatists battling in eastern Ukraine. Russia says it wants to sign a similar document to integrate its security forces and military with South Ossetia's, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signed a preliminary agreement with his counterpart in the separatist region on Wednesday.
 "It's yet another action directed against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and an attempt to artificially redraw internationally recognized borders," the Georgian foreign ministry said. The foreign ministry in Moscow had no immediate comment on the remarks. Abkhazia and South Ossetia survive on financial support from Russia, and Moscow has promised not to cut aid for Abkhazia this year. Lavrov also said on Wednesday that Russia would "take measures to prevent the negative effect of attempts to drag Tbilisi into NATO."
 Georgia, a South Caucasus country crossed by pipelines that carry Caspian oil and gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, said on Thursday that Russia was a threat to stability in the region and had no influence on the process of Georgia's integration into NATO. Tbilisi's government has long hoped to join the military alliance, and NATO has agreed in principle that it should one day become a member and plans to open a training center in Georgia by the end of the year. Analysts say the integration process has been delayed by member countries' reluctance to further provoke Russia.
John McCain: ‘I’m Ashamed Of My Country, I’m Ashamed Of My President, I’m Ashamed Of Myself’

Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain said something on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday about the U.S.’s handling of the ongoing standoff between Russia and Ukraine that surprised host Bob Schieffer. “I’m ashamed of my country, I’m ashamed of my president and I’m ashamed of myself that I haven’t done more to help these people,” McCain said. “It is really, really heartbreaking.”
McCain was expressing his frustration with how the U.S. and major European powers like France and Germany have failed to stop Russian president Vladimir Putin’s advance on Ukraine. “I believe that German chancellor and president of France legitimized for the first time in 70 years the dismemberment of a country in Europe. It’s shameful. Vladimir Putin has not paid any price,” McCain said.
McCain supports providing weapons to Ukraine to help fight against the Russians and pro-Russian separatists. The Ukranians “are not asking for American boots on the ground, but merely weapons to defend themselves against the Russian onslaught,” McCain said. “Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine not to be part of Europe, and he is succeeding in doing so,” McCain continued, adding “this is really a dark chapter in the history of our alliance.”
Schieffer circled back to McCain’s comments about being ashamed because of the U.S.’s failure to intervene, expressing just how surprised he was to hear the Republican say that. “I’ll say this, senator, I’ve known you for a long, long time, interviewed you many, many times, and I’ve never heard you say I’m ashamed of my country, which you just said,” said Shieffer. “And I’m ashamed of myself,” McCain responded.
"Borders in Europe are inviolable"
Serbia, as the OSCE chair, "should use its traditionally good relations with Russia to help resolve the crisis in Ukraine," says a German politician. However, Gernot Erler, special representative of the German federal government for the OSCE chairmanship in 2016, added that Serbia "should not act as a mediator between Russia and the European Union."
In an interview published by Belgrade-based daily Politika on Monday, Erler said that it was important that even partners with whom the Russian Federation was maintaining a special relationship should send it the message that the norms and values of international law and the OSCE had to be respected.

"It implies reiterating unequivocal support to the principle of inviolability of existing borders in Europe and non-use of force as a means of settling disputes between countries," said Erler.

He added, however, that he did not believe the idea that Serbia could be a mediator between Russia and the European Union was good. Serbia is already in the process of negotiations and wants to become a member of the European Union, which means that it accepts the EU’s foreign policy. It is just the thing that Belgrade should do. But it does not mean Serbia should act as an intermediary between the EU and any third parties, Erler observed.

He pointed out that the US has sent a clear message that it has not yet been decided if a “green light” will be given for the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. And that is good. We in the European Union agree that this conflict cannot be resolved by military means. We will therefore not falter in our efforts to find a diplomatic solution, said Erler. In support of this, Erler pointed out that the German chancellor and foreign minister had been unequivocally opposed to deliveries of weapons to Ukraine.

Speaking about the further course of the Ukrainian crisis, Erler noted that more than 5,000 people had been killed in the armed conflict so far, but there was a 12-point ceasefire agreement, the Minsk Protocol, signed by the parties to the conflict on September 5, 2014, that had to be pursued. Only when we succeed in having the weapons silenced can all parties start talks on a sustainable political solution, Erler concluded.

Russia accuses US of bringing 'chaos' to Middle East

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States on Monday of plunging the Middle East into chaos and fueling the rise of extremists because of its drive to dominate the world. Lavrov leveled the fierce criticism of Washington's policies at a special UN Security Council debate on maintaining international peace and security. The foreign minister cited the US-led air strikes in Syria, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2011 military intervention in Libya as examples of "violations of the fundamental principles of the United Nations."

"All of this is the result of attempts to dominate global affairs, to rule over all, everywhere, to use military force unilaterally to push one's interests," Lavrov told the 15-member council. "These have plunged the Middle East and North Africa into instability and chaos, and to a large extent have created a breeding ground in which extremists thrive," he said.
Russia and the United States have been at loggerheads over the war in Syria, with Moscow supporting President Bashar al-Assad and opposing US air strikes against Islamic State targets. Lavrov did not mention the United States by name, but his remarks made clear he was targeting the US administration. The foreign minister spoke of "unsavory methods" being used such as "regime change" and "open support for the unconstitutional state coup in Ukraine a year ago."
Russia has repeatedly accused the United States and its western allies of having engineered the ouster of pro-Kremlin Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych, which triggered the separatist upheaval in Crimea and east Ukraine.

Lavrov said the Security Council was either used as a body to "rubber stamp" decisions made in Washington or was sidelined altogether from its primary role of maintaining peace and security. "Do we really want to see the Security Council as an effective instrument for peace and security or are we ready to turn it into an area for propagandistic confrontation," he asked. The foreign minister spoke to the council as Ukraine accused pro-Russia rebels of massing forces near the port city of Mariupol despite a ceasefire agreement reached between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany.


Nemtsov Murder: Anti-Putin False Flag!

As if on cue, the murder yesterday of Boris Nemtsov, a Washington-funded Russian “opposition politician” with a tiny following, has become a major news item for the American presstitute media. The presstitutes have responded as if orchestrated by a conductor with insinuations of Putin’s responsibility and the death of democracy in Russia. Stephen Lendman who watches these matters closely notes that clearly Nemtsov is worth more to Washington dead than alive.
Nemtsov Murder: Anti-Putin False Flag!
by Stephen Lendman
Overnight Friday, opposition politician/Putin antagonist Boris Nemtsov was shot and killed in central Moscow. Tass said he was “shot dead (by) four shots from a handgun from a car passing by him…” He was RPR-Parnas party co-chair, a Yaroslavi Oblast regional parliament member, and Solidarnost co-founder/co-chair – modeled after CIA-financed anti-communist Lech Walesa’s Polish Solidarnosc.
In the 1990s, he held various government posts – including first deputy prime minister and deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin.  He served in Russia’s lower house State Duma and upper house Federation Council. He ignored clear US responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions. He lied calling Donbass “Vladimir Putin’s war.” Before Washington’s coup, he said “(w)e support Ukraine’s course toward European integration…By supporting Ukraine, we support ourselves.”
Along with Aleksey Navalny, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Ryzhkov, and other Putin opponents, he had close Western ties. He got State Department funding through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). It wages war on democracy worldwide. It advances US interests. Its board of directors includes a rogue’s gallery of neocon extremists. In 2009, Nemtsov and Kasparov met personally with Obama. They discussed anti-Putin tactics – regime change by any other name.
Nemtsov’s killing was strategically timed – ahead of Sunday’s Vesna (Russian Spring anti-government) opposition march. I’ll now be a Nemtsov memorial rally – turning an anti-Putin/pro-Western opportunist/convenient stooge into an unjustifiable martyr. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “Putin has stressed that this brutal murder has all (the) signs of a contract murder and is extremely provocative.”
“The president has expressed his deep condolences to the family of tragically deceased Nemtsov.” Serial-killer/unindicted war criminal Obama “condemn(ed) (his) brutal murder.” He ludicrously called him “a tireless advocate for his country, seeking for his fellow Russian citizens the rights to which all people are entitled.”  “I admired Nemtsov’s courageous dedication to the struggle against corruption in Russia and appreciated his willingness to share his candid views with me when we met in Moscow in 2009.” “(T)he Russian people…have lost one of the most dedicated and eloquent defenders of their rights.”
John Kerry made similar duplicitous comments. Mikhail Gorbachev called his killing “an attempt to complicate the situation in the country, even to destabilize it by ratcheting up tensions between the government and the opposition.” Nemtsov was a Western financed self-serving opportunist. His killing has all the earmarks of a US-staged false flag. Cui bono remains most important. Clearly Putin had nothing to gain. Rogue US elements have lots to benefit from trying to destabilize Russia. If Putin wanted Nemtsov dead, it’s inconceivable he’d order a Mafia-style contract killing. An “unfortunate” plane or car crash would have been more likely. Perhaps cleverly poisoning him the way Obama murdered Chavez and Sharon killed Arafat.
Gunning him down in central Moscow automatically rules out Kremlin involvement. His demise has all the earmarks of a CIA-staged false flag. Expect no evidence whatever surfacing suggesting Putin’s involvement. Nemtsov’s martyrdom is much more valuable to Washington than using him alive as an impotent opposition figure. Despite challenging economic conditions, Putin’s approval rating exceeds 85%. Nemtsov’s party has less than 5%. He was no popular favorite. Most Russians disliked him.
Expect his hyped martyrdom to be fully exploited in the West. Does Washington plan more political assassinations to heighten the Nemtsov effect? Expect Sunday’s march to be nothing more than another US failed attempt to enlist anti-Putin support. Russians aren’t stupid. They know how Washington operates. How it vilifies their government. How neocon lunatics in charge are capable of anything.
They know Washington bears full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions. How Putin goes all-out trying to resolve them diplomatically. Obama wants war, not peace. He wants destabilizing regime change in Russia – perhaps by nuclear war if other methods fail. Killing Nemtsov changes nothing. Expect Western anti-Putin propaganda to fall flat after a few days of suggesting his involvement. The New York Times practically accused him of murder calling Nemtsov’s killing “the highest-profile assassination in Russia during (his) tenure.” His death occurred “just days before he was to lead (an anti-Putin) rally to protest the war in Ukraine.” The Times absurdly claimed “doors are now closing on the vision of a pluralistic political system of the type (Nemtsov) said he wanted for Russia.”
It quoted discredited (on corruption charges) Putin opposition figure Gennady Gudkov saying “(t)hey have started to kill ‘enemies of the people.’ Mr. Nemtsov is dead. Who is next?” The Times called him a “dashing, handsome young politician..often touted as an heir apparent to (Boris) Yeltsin.” Neocon Washington Post editors called his murder “another dark sign for Russia.” They flat-out lied saying he “was a courageous Russian politician who never gave up on the dream that the country could make the transition from dictatorship to liberal democracy.”
They tried turning a nobody into a political icon. Ludicrously claiming he “be(came) one of the most enduring political figures of the post-Soviet era.” Disgracefully saying “he was by no means the first Putin opponent to be murdered in brazen fashion.” Practically accusing Putin of ordering his killing. Claiming he’s “unwilling to tolerate opposition of any kind.” Ignoring his overwhelming popularity. His opposition does a good job of rendering itself irrelevant. Neocon Wall Street Journal editors proved true to form. They outrageously said “(i)n the gangster state that is Vladimir Putin’s Russia, we may never learn who shot Boris Nemtsov in Moscow late Friday night.”
They absurdly claimed “he might have steered Russia toward a decent future had he been given a chance.” “Instead, he was fated to become a courageous voice for democracy and human rights who risked his life to alert an indifferent West to the dangers of doing business with the man in the Kremlin.”
Journal and like-minded editorials and commentaries repeated one Big Lie after another. Irresponsible Putin bashing substitutes for honest reporting and analysis. Nemtsov’s killing is Washington’s latest attempt to destabilize Russia. It’s part of its longstanding regime change strategy. It bears repeating. Russians are too smart to fall for thinly veiled US schemes.  Their overwhelming support for Putin shows flat rejection of what Washington neocons have in mind for their country. 

Putin’s Power Projection: It’s All About Energy and the Black Sea
What is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s grand strategy? It may get lost in the headlines about the murder of an opposition leader just outside the Kremlin walls and the grinding horrors of the Ukraine war, but from the shores of the Black Sea here in Georgia the outlines are painfully obvious. While the world’s attention has focused on eastern Ukraine over the last year, the Kremlin has been maneuvering to take something far more valuable than the war-torn sliver of outdated industrial territory known as Donbass around Luhansk and Donetsk.
There is a reason Putin has not agreed to annex parts of eastern Ukraine. It has nothing to do with sanctions, oil or respect for any country’s territorial sovereignty. Russia simply does not want to take on the long-term economic burden of the Donbass region and its people. Tearing up a country by sending in troops and weapons is far less expensive than putting one (and its broken economy) back together. Eastern Ukraine was not financially solvent (without cheap Russian fuel) to begin with. Annexation of this region, as many analysts have written, never was Putin’s intention. And he could care less about the actual welfare those Ukrainian “Russians” who believe they are fighting in his name.
So the war in Ukraine will end exactly where it began: Crimea. Control of the Crimean Peninsula probably was the strategic goal of the Kremlin even before its tool, President Viktor Yanukovych, fled his ridiculous mansion. The war in the East has provided a convenient theater for Russia at relatively little cost. Yet convincing the world that Russia is a “mighty” international bogeyman—inspiring extremist right- and left-wing movements in neighborhoods near you—has only been a perk for Putin.
Control of Crimea wasn’t actually the end goal of the larger strategy. The objective all along has been control of the Black Sea region and the ability to monopolize energy supplies sent to Europe via that corridor. It seems so simple now. Unfortunately we’re not talking in hypotheticals: the missiles already are in place and the oil pumps are primed.
Russia’s recent economic maneuvers in the Black Sea region have been largely overlooked. Last month my colleagues at Georgian Journal, where I have been acting as a managing editor, ran a revealing article headlined “Rosneft Deal Jeopardizes Georgia’s Strategic Energy Transit Corridor”.
In a baffling move, the Georgian government allowed 49 percent of its locally owned oil terminal in Poti—one of the few in the entire country—to be sold directly to Rosneft, Russia’s largest state-owned oil company. While owner David Iakobashvili, a murky figure who reportedly made a ton of cash off the deal, gloated at the World Economic Forum in Davos, boasting about the investment the deal would bring to Georgia, the rest of Tbilisi’s normally intractable and politically combustible political culture remained oddly silent.
As financial analyst Thomas Kapp put it in the journal article, “Monopolies do not stop at 49 percent. In exchange for a small amount of Russian investment, the Georgian government is allowing Russia to avoid Western sanctions by bringing fuel directly through Georgia in a move that will permanently result in Georgia’s national strategic detriment. Meanwhile, the Georgian government is talking about land plots for NATO training centers and making copious political claims about Western integration. The problem here is that actions speak louder than words. The irony is that those sanctions Georgia is now helping Russia circumvent were intended to protect countries like Ukraine and Georgia from Russian occupation and aggression. What’s even more unfortunate is that those ‘strategic partners’ of Georgia, like Germany and the Baltic states for instance, are paying a very heavy financial and political price to push those sanctions through.”
The Rosneft deal isn’t just about Georgia, says Kapp: “The oil behemoth has its eye on the entire trans-Caucasus region. Armenia, specifically, depends heavily on imports through Georgia’s Poti terminal, which is owned by Petrocas. Georgia is uniquely positioned to be a significant and influential energy corridor, not just a consumer.” The acquisition is extremely alarming and the Georgian government, supposedly a staunch US ally, at best seems to be capitulating.
This deal brings the fighting in Eastern Ukraine full circle and explains how an eventual land bridge to Crimea is Putin’s long-term goal. He will slowly and methodically make his way there in between the ceasefires. Putin has the entire Black Sea to gain. This is why the Kremlin is seeking not just economic dominance of the Black Sea corridor and energy transit routes but also military dominance as well.
Last week NATO Commander and Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove raised further concerns about the “transformation” of the Crimean peninsula and the anti-air and anti-surface missile systems being deployed to the peninsula. According to Breedlove, “These weapon systems — from air defense systems that reach nearly half of the Black Sea to surface attack systems that reach almost all of the Black Sea area — have made the platform of Crimea a great platform for power projection into this area.” According to USNI News, Iskander mobile ballistic missile systems (NATO code name: SS-26 Stone) have been moved into Crimea. “The missiles are capable of being redirected in flight and could strike a moving ship.”
In essence the balance of power in the Black Sea has been tipping since the “little green men” first moved into the Crimean Peninsula. “Additionally,” says USNI News, “Russian signals intelligence ships have reportedly shadowed U.S. and NATO ships in the Black Sea and could reasonably provide highly accurate targeting information to land based missile systems.” Any country on the Black Sea is now a target along with any vessel deployed there. Putin has kept his eyes on the prize, the Black Sea. What the rest of the world is doing, alas, is anybody’s guess.

Berlin and Paris look East: How close are we to a Common Economic Space?

The Eurasian Economic Union is a reality that may end up costing the US its “perch” in Eurasia’s western periphery as a Common Economic Space is formed. Former US national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski averred the following in 1997: “But if the middle space rebuffs the West, becomes an assertive single entity, and either gains control over the South or forms an alliance with the major Eastern actor, then America’s primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically. The same would be the case if the two major Eastern players were somehow to unite.”
This was a clear warning to the elites in the Washington Beltway and Wall Street. Camouflaged behind thinly veiled liberal and academic jargon, what Dr. Brzezinski was saying is that if the Russian Federation and the post-Soviet space manage to repulse or push back Western domination—meaning some combination of US and European Union tutelage —and manage to reorganize themselves within some type of confederacy or supranational bloc, either gaining influence in the Middle East and Central Asia or forms an alliance with China that Washington’s influence in Eurasia would be finished.
Everything that Brzezinski warned Washington to prevent is in motion. The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)—simply called the Eurasian Union—has been formed by Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. Kyrgyzstan will be acceding into the Eurasian Union as an EEU member, and Tajikistan is considering joining it too. The Kremlin and the EEU are actively looking for new partners too. Countries outside the post-Soviet space, such as Syria, are even interested in joining the EEU and the Russian-led bloc has already signed an important trade agreement with the Arab juggernaut Egypt. In Southeast Asia, negotiations with Hanoi have also been completed and Vietnam is scheduled next to sign an agreement with the EEU sometime in 2015.
The “Middle Space” is clearly resurgent. Turkey is looking towards a Eurasian alternative. The Turk Stream natural gas pipeline deal between Ankara and Moscow has put Washington and the European Commission on alert. Following the energy and trade agreements with Turkey, Russia renewed its military ties with Iran and has subsequently offered Tehran the Antey-2500—Tehran alongside Moscow was a key player that prevented an open Pentagon war from being launched on Syria in 2013. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and his Iranian counterpart, Brigadier-General Dehghan, publicly signed agreements in Iran to renew Russo-Iranian military cooperation on January 20, 2015. From Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria to Yemen and Iraq, Russian influence is growing in the Middle East (i.e. “the South”).
 In Latin America, from Argentina and Brazil to Nicaragua and Venezuela, Russian also influence is rising. The Latin American regional tour last year by Russian President Vladimir Putin and one this year by Shoigu have both included military cooperation talks and led to speculation about the erection of a network of Russian signals, naval and air bases in the area. Moreover, the increase in Russian influence and Washington’s declining weight inside Latin America have both been factors for Washington’s rapprochement with the Cubans. Moscow’s influence was present even on the eve of a historic visit to Cuba by a delegation from the US Congress when the Russian naval ship Viktor Leonov, an intelligence and signals vessel, docked in Havana on January 20, 2015.
Both the “Middle Space” and the “Middle Kingdom” (Zhongguo/China) joined forces long ago. This happened before the formation of the EEU or the EuroMaidan coup in Ukraine. Moscow and part of the post-Soviet space began building an alliance with China (i.e. “the major Eastern actor”) at the bilateral or multilateral levels in the late-1990s. This has begun blossoming. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which was formed out of the Shanghai Five in 2001, is proof of this. The mega Sino-Russian natural gas deal is merely the fruits of this alliance and the coming together of the “Middle Space” and the “Middle Kingdom.” 
Preventing Eurasian integration: Attempts to cordon the “Middle Space”
Without Russia, Europe is incomplete by any means or calculation. The Russia Federation is in both demographic and territorial terms the largest European country. There is no question about it either that Moscow is a major political, socioeconomic and cultural force in European affairs that cannot be overlooked from the Baltic Sea to the Balkans and the Black Sea.
Economically, Russia is an important export and import market for the EU and its members. This is why the EU is suffering from the US-engineered economic sanctions that have been imposed against Russia as a form of economic warfare. It is in the context of Russia’s economic importance to the economies of the EU that US Vice-President Joseph Biden candidly even admitted during a lecture at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University that Washington had to pressure the EU into accepting the anti-Russian sanctions regime on October 2, 2014.
Brzezinski’s warning has another angle to it too, which involves Washington’s EU and NATO partners. “Finally, any ejection of America by its Western partners from its perch on the western periphery would automatically spell the end of America’s participation in the game on the Eurasian chessboard, even though that would probably also mean the eventual subordination of the western extremity to a revived player occupying the middle space,” he warns. What the former US official means is that if the US-aligned major European powers (i.e. France and Germany, or the EU collectively) reject Washington’s influence (maybe even withdraw from NATO), the US would lose its western perch in Eurasia. Brzezinski warns that an assertive Russia—probably alongside its Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) allies—would instead replace US influence.
The reason that unity in the post-Soviet space and any political and economic convergences between the EU and the “Middle Space” are a threat to Washington can be analyzed by using the standpoint and lexicon of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Under 32 Smolenskaya-Sennaya Square’s framework, Eurasia is partitioned into three zones or regions: the Euro-Atlantic (western periphery), Euro-Asia (central area), and the Asia-Pacific (eastern periphery).Hence, the explanation for the term “Middle Space” used by Brzezinski to describe the post-Soviet space.
In organic terms, it is the central Euro-Asia region that can unite and integrate both the western and eastern Eurasian peripheries. Russia and the EEU want to ultimately establish a free trade zone encompassing the entire EU and EEU — a “Common Economic Space.” In the words of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the EEU “is designed to serve as an effective link between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.” It is Russia and the EEUacting as a bridge between the twoEurasian peripheries that threatens Washington’s plans to integrate the Euro-Atlantic and Asia-Pacific zones with itself.
The Common Economic space vs. the TTIP and the TPP
The US wants to be the center of gravity in Eurasia. It fears that the EU could eventually gravitate towards the “Middle Space” and integrate with Russia and the EEU. The tensions that Washington is deliberately stoking in Europe are an attempt to estrange the EU from Moscow as a means of allowing the continuation of US empire-building in Eurasia — this is Washington’s version of a modern “Great Game.” Even Brzezinski’s warning about the resurgence of the “Middle Space” (i.e., Russia and the post-Soviet space) is about the area unifying to become “an assertive single entity” and not even an “aggressive” entity that is a military threat to world peace.
Washington wants the western periphery (Euro-Atlantic) and eastern periphery (Asia-Pacific) to integrate with it through the Trans-Atlantic and Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The EEU and any thoughts of a Common Economic Space are a threat to the consolidation and merger of these regions with the US. This is why the US cannot tolerate an independent and assertive “Middle Space” or, for that matter, an independent and assertive “Middle Kingdom.” This is why both Russia and China are being demonized and targeted: Moscow is being target via the instability the US has helped author in Ukraine (as well as through a new wave of Russophobia) whereas Beijing is being targeted through Washington’s so-called military “Pivot to Asia.” This has taken place while the US has destabilized the Middle East (i.e. the South).
While Brussels had its own reasons for accelerating TTIP negotiations with Washington, US fears of Eurasian integration hastened the sense of urgency Washington felt in concluding TTIP negotiations to solidify its influence over the EU. The sanctions (economic warfare) against the Russian economy, the drop in energy prices prompted by the flooding of oil markets, and the drop in the value of the Russian ruble are part of this Rubik’s Cube too.
The Common Economic Space is an aspiration for a Eurasian-wide trade zone. As an ambition Moscow and its EEU partners see the Common Economic Space as a framework to gradually incorporate other Eurasian regions together. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Nebenzya confirmed all this to the Tass news agency in an interview published on December 31, 2014. Nebenzya told Tass that Moscow views the long-term goal of EU-EEU cooperation “as the basis of a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific” in Eurasia.
Not only would any trade agreement between the EU and the EEU be the basis for the Common Economic Space, it would be the embryo for a broader Eurasian-wide trade zone that has the potential to include the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). A compartmentalized supranational bloc could emerge.
From a Russian perspective, instead of prioritizing the TTIP with the US, it makes more sense for the EU to look at creating the framework for cooperation with the EEU. This sentiment has been reflected by Moscow’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, who told the EU Observer in an interview published on January 2 that Moscow wanted to start contacts between the EU and EEU as soon as possible and that the EU sanctions on Russia should not prevent dialogue and contact between the two blocs. “We might think of a free trade zone encompassing all of the interested parties in Eurasia,” Ambassador Chizhov explained as he described the “Russia-led bloc as a better partner for the EU than the US” during the interview. As Chizhov rhetorically asks, the question that the EU needs to think over is thus: “Do you believe it is wise to spend so much political energy on a free trade zone with the USA while you have more natural partners at your side, closer to home?”
Is the EU waking up?
Ambassador Chizov’s question has not fallen on deaf ears. The same questions are being asked in various EU capitals. The leaders of EU powers are realizing that the US is instigating a conflict with the Russians that Washington wants them to fight and waste resources on that would weaken the EU and Moscow to Washington’s benefit. Smaller EU powers have been vocal about this while the larger ones have been slower in realizing it.
Greece refused to fall in line when the EU released a statement blaming Russia for the eruption of the fighting in the East Ukrainian city of Mariupol on January 24, 2015. Athens refused to blame Moscow and complained that the EU acted undemocratically by not even following its own procedures by asking for the consent of all members before releasing a statement on behalf of the collective. Instead of confrontation with Russia, the Greek government wants closer ties with Moscow.
President Putin’s February 2015 visit to Budapest ruffled feathers in the EU and US. Hungary has been vocal in itsopposition to the EU sanctions against Russia. This has outraged some in the Washington Beltway and European Commission. A diplomatic row even started between Budapest and Washington when US Senator John McCain called Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban a “neo-fascist dictator” because Hungary refused to cut ties with Russia in 2014.
While there has been speculation that Hungary is being used as the “good cop” to bargain with Moscow, the US has even gone as far as banning members of the Hungarian government from entering US territory on October 20, 2014. Although the EU would react collectively if any country slapped diplomatic sanctions on one of its members, Brussels effectively did not respond to Washington. Cypriot Present Nicos Anastasiades has joined the revolt against Brussels and Washington by visiting Moscow on February 25, 2015. Nicosia and Moscow even signed an agreement allowing the Russian Navy to use Cypriot ports.
Germany and France—once mocked as “old Europe” by Pentagon honcho Donald Rumsfeld— are having second thoughts too. Franco-German differences with the US emerged at the Munich Security Conference at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel when German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuffed members of the US and British delegations about a military solution for Ukraine. In this context, Paris and Berlin rehashed the Kremlin’s original peace proposal for East Ukraine and began diplomatic talks in Moscow. Merkel casually also mentioned she supported a Common Economic Space too: a sign of things to come?
Russia ready to repel any nuke strike, retaliate – missile forces command chief

Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces are ready to react to any nuclear strike even if it is lightning fast, SMF Central Command chief said. A retaliatory strike would take place in all circumstances, “without hesitation,” he added. “If there’s a challenge to repel a lightning-fast nuclear in any given conditions – it will be done in fixed time, that’s dead true,” the Strategic Missile Forces Central Command’s chief, Major-General Andrey Burbin, told Russian News Service on Saturday.
 Russia’s strategic missile forces are positioned geographically in such a way that no global strike can knock them out completely, Burbin said. In case an order is given to carry out a nuclear strike, Russian nuclear weapons operators will fulfill it, he added.“There would be no hesitation, the task would be executed,” he said.
The unavoidability of a retaliatory nuclear strike from Russia is also guaranteed by the fully automatic and constantly modernized ‘Perimeter’ system, also known as “Dead hand.”The system collects data from various sources, such as radioactivity and seismic sensors scattered throughout Russia, by scanning radio frequencies and communication activities.
If pooled data indicates that Russia has suffered a nuclear strike, the system launches special missiles that travel through national airspace, sending launch signals to all surviving strategic nuclear missile complexes. In this case a retaliatory missile strike is launched without human input. Burbin also told RSN that rearmament of the Strategic Missile Forces is ongoing as planned and by 2020 up to 98 percent of Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces will be armed with brand new weapons.
Nationwide war games of Strategic Nuclear Missile Forces were conducted in February, with 30 missile regiments training in 12 regions of Russia. Missilemen performed ultimate combat operational readiness, counteraction to subversive groups and perfected defenses against airborne precision weapons. On any given day, over 6,000 servicemen are maintaining the operational readiness of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces.
 U.S. Assistant Secretary Nuland Arrives in Armenia

The U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland arrived in Yerevan on February 18 following a short visit to Baku, Azerbaijan. Nuland, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills paid a visit to the Genocide Memorial Complex, the memorial to honor the 1.5 victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. During her visit she will meet with senior government officials, civil society groups and youth representatives to discuss strengthening bilateral political and economic ties.
Following her visit to the memorial, U.S. Assistant Secretary Nuland had a meeting with Armenia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Edward Nalbandyan. In a press statement released by Nalbandyan’s office, the interlocutors spoke about deepening bilateral relations in different spheres. They both were satisfied with their cooperation in the field of international and regional security issues, peacekeeping operations, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the fight against terrorism. Nuland expressed gratitude for Armenia’s active participation in peacekeeping missions.
U.S. Assistant Secretary Nuland also said she was pleased by Armenia’s steps in achieving democracy, strengthening civil society and reform in the economy. They spoke about developing Armenian-American trade possibilities and encouraging investment in Armenia. Both Nalbandyan and Nuland agreed that all possible efforts must be put into place to ensure the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. While in Baku, Victoria Nuland had said that the United States is very much concerned with the recent upsurge in tension and violence along the Nagorno Karabakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact.
Czechs open center for civil society activists from ex-Soviet countries

An international center to support activists in former Soviet Union countries who face pressure from their governments is to open in the Czech capital Prague. The Prague Civil Society Center is being launched at a time of severe tensions between the West and Russia after the annexation of Crimea last year and fighting in eastern Ukraine. It plans to organize training and workshops for activists from Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, plus Russia and Central Asia.
"We are establishing a new center because civil society in the region has tremendous potential, yet it is under growing pressure, especially in some of the countries," the center's director, Rostislav Valvoda, said in a statement.
It will promote the values of openness, tolerance, rule of law, and human rights and dignity. It will not seek to replace governments, he said. The center is being set up by a Czech humanitarian organization, People in Need, and co-financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Swedish and Czech governments, and two private U.S. foundations.
Russia says the West used its influence to support what it sees as the illegal overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovich in Ukraine a year ago. Moscow has also tightened conditions for foreign and domestic non-governmental organizations. Prague already hosts Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which made its name broadcasting into Russia and its communist allies during the Cold War and is funded by the U.S. Congress.
Money talks through NGOs

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)are becoming ever-more significant on the international scene. Non-profit and generally non-taxed organizations, ostensibly with educational, charitable, human rights and environmental and othergoals and activities, do studies, issue reports,hold meetings and conferences and lobby governments and international organizations.It is often believed that these NGOs are either naïve, or driven by ideology, or both, and they have oftenbeen accused of being one-sided in their studies and publications, carefully choosing data that supports their positions and ignoring contrarydata. Nevertheless, they continue to exert substantial influence over many areas of public debate, often because they provide ammunition to government officials and bureaucrats, as well as to candidates and political parties supposedly comingfrom "objective" sources.Recently, however, a more serious charge is being leveled at some of these NGOs--namely, that their activities on behalf of certain causes are bought and paid for by interested parties. Martin Indyk, former US negotiator for the still-born Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" inthe Obama Administration, was forced to resign when it was revealed that his organization, the highly-respected and influential Brooking Institution, had received very significant funding from the government of Qatar, whichseemed to explain the infamous meeting that Secretary of State Kerry had in Paris with the foreign ministers of Qatar and Turkey, whom heproposed act as"objective"intermediaries between the two sides.In the past few weeks it has transpired that several respected environmental NGOs, such as the Sierra Club, one of the largest and most respected, had been receiving millions of dollars from various Bermuda-based companies and funds, the ultimate source of which was non-other than the government of Russia. The purpose of this support was to increase public and government opposition to fracking technologies, which have resulted in substantial competition to those countries dependent on oil and gas revenues, such as Russia. The curious failure for yearsof the Obama Administration to approve the oil pipeline from Western Canada to heavy-oil refineries in Texas, despite two favorable environmental impact reports from the State Department, may be traced to the influence of environmental NGOs, the activities of which are, in turn, financed by Russia.The financier George Soros has been funding Jewish organizations opposed to the current government of Israel, such as J Street and others, in an attempt to assure the defeat of Prime Minister Netanyahu in the impending election. The lessons to be learned from these and other examples are, first: take all studies, reports and allegations with a large grain of salt until confirmed by alternative and non-related sources, especially when it comes to "scientific" evidence that it may turn out is not so much scientific as purchased. Secondly, all NGOs should be forced not only to reveal funding sources, but to identify who or what is behind some benign-sounding funders, such as "Earth-Friendly Fund of the Cayman Islands" (or whatever).A final note on other, related,Russian activities outside the motherland. In addition to the flexing of military muscle in Ukraine and Georgia, as well as overflights, naval exercises and other actions, as well as the cyber attack some years ago on Estonia, Russia under Putin has been developing a huge, sophisticated externalpropaganda campaign. Examples of such uses of "soft" power in the Western Hemisphere have recently been detailed in think-tank reports, but by far the most significant target of these activities is Europe, and especially with reference to the parties of the extreme left and right, which are increasing exponentially in coverage and significance. One such party just came to power in Greece, and several otherelections are scheduled elsewhere in Europe this year and next, including in such major countries as Great Britain, Spain and France. In the last, the extreme-right Front National partywas the recipient of funding from a bank associated with the Russian government.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft at The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC, and teaches at the Center for National Security Studies and Geostrategy, University of Haifa.
Do Certain NGOs Play the Role of a ‘Trojan Horse’ in Armenia?
In an August 28 article titled “Could a Euromaidan happen on Yerevan’s Republic Square?,” Vestnik Kavkaza magazine wrote: “After the events of the last decade in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, experts have started serious talks about color revolutions in the South Caucasus.” Some analysts claim that the neo-cons in the West are angling certain opposition media outlets, some NGOs and certain political operatives to “open a new anti-Russian front in the Transcaucasus.”
Vestnik Kavkaza further wrote: “The term ‘democracy’ in Armenia has long been exploited for information wars. For quite a while, Washington has been hesitating whether to support President Serzh Sargsyan or put bets on the opposition. After the victory of Sargsyan in early presidential polls, it seemed that the power was in the hands of a politician loyal to Moscow. However, it is hard to say that Armenia has a pure pro-Russian position. Sargsyan himself is trying to gain the support of both Russia and the U.S.”
According to the Center for World Journalism and Research, the work of non-governmental organizations in Armenia has reached “a grand scale in recent years.” The Justice Ministry has registered thousands of NGOs. The magazine also noted: “After the collapse of the USSR, the Armenian Assembly of America, a structure related to the State Department … has been in the avant-garde of American influence in Armenia.”
The article pointed out the fact that millions of dollars have been dumped in Armenia to fund the activities of NGOs that are loyal to western donors’ agenda. “Open Society Institute, a Soros Fund founded in Armenia in 1997, has already spent over $24 million in Armenia.  … The Investigative Journalists got $187,400, the Asparez Journalist Club got $58,650, and the Independent Network of Journalists got $83,200 for creating a negative image of Russian-Armenian cooperation.”
Back in 2012, I wrote: “Not all NGOs in Armenia are completely devoted to their stated missions. Some of them have raised several ‘red flags’ because of their activities. They may have been set-up to pursue hidden agendas that are detrimental to Armenia’s national security. … Given the fact that sizable segments of the Armenian society continue to be politically illiterate they can be easily influenced and misguided by individuals or non-governmental organizations that may present themselves as ‘well-meaning’ but in reality they can pursue hidden goals. They may sound very empathetic towards the general populace, yet they care less about Armenia and its future. They publicly discuss burning issues and gain political mileage, yet their main intention is not democracy as they claim to be.”
I further underlined: “Can Armenia mitigate the negative impact of certain NGOs that play the role of Trojan horses from within? It can and it should. Armenia Should Emulate Russia in Qualifying Foreign-Funded NGOs as ‘foreign agents.’ … It would be strongly effective if all NGOs whether engaged in political activities or humanitarian endeavors be required to publicly present every year the sources of their income and itemize their expenditures. Transparency at NGO level can be utilized as a great example to follow.”
A few years ago, in an interview with the REGNUM News Agency titled, “LOOK OUT! ETHNIC ESPIONAGE,” Igor Muradyan, a widely recognized expert on the politics of the Caucasus region, stressed: “First of all, you should take into account the continuing political struggle in Armenia and view the stance of the Armenian Assembly of America also in this light. I don’t think that ethnic NGOs enjoy full independence in the US, but the point is that the Armenian Assembly of America is more than dependent. Even more, the Assembly is functionally dependent. The Assembly directors and employees don’t just look down on Armenia’s political class and leaders; they look down on them with disdain.”
He elaborated: “In 2001 the Assembly’s board decreed ‘to fight Armenian nationalism.’ This implies suppression of any instance of patriotism, especially over the Karabakh problem and Armenian-Turkish relations. … Gathering information on the state of the armed forces of Armenia, including armaments, information on senior officers, on the import of military hardware (invoice numbers, payment terms, transportation routes), receiving analytical notes on the fighting capacity of the Armenian army, information and assessment of typical conflicts inside the military command, the concerns and plans of different groups in the military circles; gathering information on the leaders and activists of political parties, the mass media and political leaders of Armenia, including economic interests, ties with foreign countries.”
He concluded: “Of certain interest is the impression I got personally from such contacts. Strange but true: Assembly representatives get openly malicious and bilious over the fact that the Armenian armed forces are highly capable of discharging many combat operations on their own. Would they be more comfortable if the army of their ‘historical homeland’ had other characteristics and was like the armies of some other states? Altogether incompetent, the Assembly representatives were as much annoyed to know that Armenia is not a perishing country and is successfully developing economically.”
Many Armenia-based NGOs are well-organized and genuinely transparent, and continue making transformational contributions to Armenia’s present and future. Armenian society can achieve optimum results through social, political, spiritual and economic activism. There is no question that civil society in Armenia is in need of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). However, some NGOs can prove to be a curse if they are not regulated properly and their activities watched closely.
A Distorted Media Mirror

When Armenian attained independence, many Diasporan-Armenian organizations and experienced journalists moved to Yerevan to "liberate" the bland Soviet-style news media and restore its original mission. The newspapers, radio and TV broadcasting improved dramatically, in terms of formatting design, news gathering, reporting and above all, commenting freely. This much was a patriotic contribution, which Diaspora Armenians brought to Armenia. But in a parallel rush, major powers introduced their own outlets, of course, to serve their own political interests. While the newspapers owned and operated by Armenian organizations have encountered funding challenges -- consequently suffering in quality -- foreign-funded news outlets flourish and are run professionally. George Orwell's Big Brother is omnipresent globally, tending its business and has not spared Armenia. Open Society Foundation, Radio Liberty and other agencies operate freely in Armenia and common sense will dictate that they don't care about the well being of the Armenian people nor the problems facing Armenia. They have recruited professional journalists, writers and commentators to toot their own horn. For example, the Open Society Forum could feign to promote democracy in Europe and in Third World countries but in the end, it serves a greater political design. The Open Society Forum is the brainchild of billionaire George Soros, who escaped tyranny in Hungary and made a fortune in the US. During the Bush-Cheney Administration, he demonstrably confronted the US administration in its foreign policy objectives. But in the meantime, his organization trained some youth and sent them to Ukraine and Georgia -- and certainly to other parts of the world -- to organize the Orange Revolution and the Rose Revolution, a feat that the US military power could not have achieved so easily. Mr. Soros is entitled to use his money to spread his ideas around the world but he is not entitled to play with the destiny of the Armenian people who have suffered so much from major power rivalries, in their history. The writers and commentators of these agencies may be sitting in Yerevan and Karabagh, but the brain may be on the remote control in Prague or in Washington. The controlled news media does not operate in isolation -- and no matter what lofty ideal it claims to pursue -- it is part and parcel of the overall strategy of a major power.  We can easily make the connection with all the well-oiled religious sects, which penetrate like rodents in the fabric of the society in Armenia to decimate and to disorient the population. One treacherous act is to brainwash the youth to refuse to bear arms under the guise of conscientious objection, when Armenia is at war with its neighbors -- not of its own choosing. To cite a salient example, trading Armenia's security against NATO's objectives in the Caucasus we may refer to an article in, an outlet funded by Open Society Forum. The article is entitled "Serious Geopolitical Prospect for Javakhk," under the byline of Hakob Badalyan, a prominent political commentator. Javakhk is an Armenian-populated region of Georgia. Historically it has changed hands between Georgia and Armenia. Currently more than half of the region is populated by Armenians; in cities like Akhatsikhe and Ninotsminda, Armenians account for 94.3 percent and 95.8 percent, respectively. The region was deliberately mismanaged and left economically depressed by Tbilisi authorities to force Armenians out of the area, fearful that Armenians would one day ask for autonomy or independence. Until 2007, the city of Akhalkalak was home to a Russian military base, which provided jobs and security for Armenians in the region. Moscow precipitously moved out the base, before even its deadline in the treaty, leaving the Armenians to the mercy of the hostile Georgian government. Tbilisi's harassment and Russia's reckless move satisfied, to a certain measure, the Georgian goal of the government, as many destitute Armenians migrated to Russia for jobs and for security. Russia went to war with Georgia to give independence to South Ossetia and Abkhazia while the destinies of Javakhk and Ajaria were left in the hands of the Tbilisi government. President Saakashvili jailed human rights activist Vahakn Chakhalian and implemented policies to force the people out or to assimilate them under the guise of teaching them the Georgian language. Despite a punishing war with Russia and despite a regime change, the new government in Tbilisi is looking for NATO presence on its territory, if not outright membership. Armenians have enjoyed the "benefits" of having a NATO member in the Turkish border and now this writer is hailing a NATO move into the heartland of Armenians in Javakhk, as he writes: "NATO may empower itself with new tools of cooperation with non-member countries like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. And it may mean that the North Atlantic Alliance will receive a possibility or prospect for being present in Georgia, though the latter is not a member. In this respect, Georgian military base in Akhalkalak has strategic importance because it is close to the Russian base in Armenia, is located in a place where Russian provocation against Georgia are probable, close to the conflict area of Artsakh which is one of the potential places of destabilization of the region." First NATO's interference on the Southern Russian underbelly is the most flagrant provocation, and also, the writer should know better that even Washington blamed Saakashvili for the provocation, which triggered the 2008 war. In a shortsighted conclusion, the writer jubilantly welcomes NATO's extension in the region as a "stabilizing factor," exactly at the moment when the defense ministers of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey had been meeting in Nakhichevan to plan war games and tighten the noose around Armenia at NATO's behest. The conclusion is more ludicrous than the article itself as it states, "It would be interesting to observe the reactions of Russia, Javakhk and Armenia to the Georgian military base, who will torpedo the process full of prospects for regional balance for the sake of security of Armenia, Artsakh and Javakhk and what the force will be." This concept fits in and complements the recent proposal by Ambassador James Warlick to introduce US Peacekeeping forces in Karabagh. Adding insult to injury, the Open Society Forum has a hypocritical disclaimed at the bottom of the article, which reads, "The opinions and analyses expressed in these sections are those of the authors and are not approved by OSF-Armenia or its Board." When Open Society Forum cuts the payroll check of the writer, at least it is disingenuous to make such claims. Hagop Badalian is a better-qualified writer. He deserves a more dignified job than peddling NATO wares in Armenia through a distorted media mirror.
Source:  Methods and goals of anti-Russian media in Armenia

It's no secret that the Armenian media space contains pro-Western, anti-Russian mass media. There are two ways to spread anti-Russian information, and the aforementioned media are divided into two categories. The first category includes the mass media which openly, strictly and even thoughtlessly criticize all things connected with Russia. That is why they are not taken seriously even in Armenia, and their work is like a proverb – the dog’s barking is for the wind to carry. The second category of the mass media treats its mission more seriously and is very dangerous. In such media projects, criticism of Russia is added to criticism of the native government, criminal stories and the gutter press. If we exclude the gutter press aspect, the Armenian radio “Freedom” belongs to the second category.

The Armenian media – Azatutyun – is financed directly, but unofficially, by the American embassy in Armenia. And the consequences are clear. The edition works solidly, steps are highly coordinated, and information is well-thought through. Almost all the correspondents of “Freedom” go to various conferences on one and the same day and ask one and the same question. Usually the question touches on Russia’s activities or reaction to a certain problem which often has nothing in common with Armenia. It means the edition fulfills a clear plan which hasn’t been developed by it. “Freedom” floods the Armenian media space with false information to promote an atmosphere of mistrust of Russia and all its projects in the region.

After Serge Sargsyan’s statement on intention to join the Eurasian projects of Moscow, the activity of the aforementioned media had improved. Most of the anti-Russian articles and reports are absurd. For example, the authors state that a possible Armenian-Azerbaijani military conflict will be beneficial for Russia. Information on Moscow’s plans to “give away Karabakh” can be seen in publications of the mass media in the last 20 years. In January 2014 there was information that a group came from Russia and jabbed residents of Yerevan with HIV-contaminated syringes. “We don’t comment on rubbish,” the police of Armenia told Vestnik Kavkaza.

Now the radio is very concerned about the situation surrounding the status of the Armenian language and violations of the country's Language Law. Among such violations, according to Freedom radio, is the fact that a number of Russian-language international conferences are being held in Armenia. According to the law, all public events should be held with simultaneous translation into Armenian. The radio station's official website is now full of anti-Russian comments concerning this topic provided by various experts. The same is happening on air. 

The radio has also paid special attention to the Rossiya Segodnya's chief executive Dmitry Kiselyov's remarks made in the Armenian parliament. Kiselyov and Armenian lawmakers who were taking part in the event, are still being stigmatized and accused of all possible and impossible transgressions. This also promotes an atmosphere of distrust and fear. 

The last event, which caused an immediate reaction in the pro-Western media, was the Armenian president's visit to Georgia. It's quite clear that the massive Russian Railways' project launched in the region is unfavorable to the United States. That is why such media could not hide their delight when the president failed to reach an agreement with the Georgian authorities. According to such authors, there is now no chance that the railway connection between Georgia and Abkhazia can be resumed since Georgia agreed to join the European customs space. It seems like no comment is necessary.
Source: Methods and goals of anti-Russian media in Armenia | Vestnik Kavkaza
Non-Governmental Organizations in Armenia

During the Soviet era in Armenia, there were virtually no non-governmental organizations (NGOs). After the devastating earthquake of December 1988 and during the years of the war in Artsakh (Karabagh), NGOs began to form and were heavily involved with relief and humanitarian efforts. The government of Armenia was unable to cope with the dire situation resulting from the earthquake and the war, and therefore had to accept the active participation of civil society organizations (CSOs). 

Alongside humanitarian aid, major international organizations and NGOs started contributing to the development of the local non-government sector. Major Armenian organizations from the diaspora also provided humanitarian aid and contributed greatly to the reconstruction process. The focus of these new NGOs was on refugees, women, children, the elderly, and the disabled, but their activities were somewhat limited. Their inability to meet the growing demand for emergency services and operations, for example, was due to a lack of local NGO skills, knowledge, and capabilities, and the absence of an appropriate legal framework. This period can be considered the first stage in the formation of local NGOs.

Even though most of the NGOs were located in Yerevan, local NGOs began emerging in the marzes (provinces), too, and implementing projects in education, health, culture, community development, and income generation. In 1997, the number of local NGOs passed 500. By 2001, data from the state register showed that 2,585 NGOs were officially registered. In 2010, the state register reported 45 international NGOs and 5,700 local NGOs. However, out of the total number of local NGOs registered, only 15 percent can be considered operational; most in that percentage are small outfits that are not active, and some have vague and obscure missions. The following are the mission statements of a few such NGOs:

–The main goal of the organization is to participate actively in the social and legal life of the country in order to promote a free and safe life for the youth.
–The main goals of the organization are to develop art and psychology and to form civil society.
–To organize and collect all the recipes of Armenian national cuisine and publish it. To participate in international contests, seminars, and meetings.
Table 1 presents a list of operational NGOs and their fields of activities, although not all are necessarily active.Table 1

International NGOs can be classified under the same categories as local NGOs, but have two additional categories—(1) infrastructure development and construction, and (2) capacity building and technical assistance for local CSOs, self-governing bodies, and community councils. A survey conducted by World Learning revealed that in the 1990’s, 70 percent of NGO leaders were women. However, by 2001, 58 percent of NGO leaders were men, and by 2009, the percentage of male NGO leaders had increased to 63. The shift might have occurred as men came to view NGOs as a job opportunity and a means to further their careers. Yet, while in 2004, approximately 75 international NGOs were operating in Armenia, that number has since decreased. The reason for this decline may be the stable economic growth seen in Armenia in 2006 and 2007.

Government involvement
The gradual increase in the number of international NGOs in Armenia and the corresponding need to regulate the activities of all types of CSOs led to the Armenian government adopting its first Law on Civil Society Organizations in 1996. The law encouraged international NGOs to shift their activities from emergency response to development, the protection of human rights, and enhancing the capacity of local NGOs. The law states that Armenia recognizes the crucial role of NGOs in the development of civil society and aims to promote the establishment of NGOs as legal entities. The government has also passed decrees, regulations, memorandums, and agreements related to cooperation with NGOs, and formed institutional bodies and units on community and national levels. 

When interacting with society, NGOs in Armenia, in comparison to NGOs in the Armenian Diaspora, use an informal and less structured process for volunteering. NGOs in Armenia also have greater issues with volunteer mismanagement; sporadic volunteer recruitment; lack of skills assessment, orientation, and training for volunteers; and recognizing volunteer contributions. Engaging volunteers in long-term regular commitments, instead of ad hoc projects, could better utilize this important resource.
Because voluntarism for society was not a common practice during the Soviet era, there is a need to widely publicize the value of volunteerism to get more people interested. Presently this important human resource is underutilized by NGOs in Armenia. NGOs should realize the expectations of the volunteer in order to retain their involvement and commitment over time. A non-profit organization with a strong and committed volunteer base is also more likely to attract new funds.
Democratic governance 
The internal democratic governance of NGOs in Armenia is another issue that needs to be addressed. NGOs have developed written policies for democratic governance, but often do not follow these policies. They hold elections to select their internal leadership, yet the rotation rate of such leadership is low. Typically, the founders of NGOs hold their positions for a long time, which affects the formation of an independent Board of Directors. 
While most Armenian NGOs have bylaws and constitutions that outline their governance mechanisms, it sometimes seems as though these mechanisms are developed only to get the required permits and to attract new funds, rather than from a genuine interest in democratic management. Members are also often excluded from decision-making processes. Unless NGOs embrace democratic procedures into their regular operations, they will not be able to establish a credible reputation in the community. 
Funding sources 
Financial sustainability is one of the main challenges that local NGOs in Armenia face. It is this challenge that limits their capacity for impact and distorts the image of civil society as a financially dependent sector. It is necessary to diversify funding sources by fostering partnerships with a full variety of potential funders, whether they are individuals, corporations, or governments. NGOs in Armenia undertake fundraising activities through various events, exhibitions, concerts, and other activities. However, the majority of NGOs have difficulty with fundraising because they lack experience in fundraising methods, basic marketing, and financial management skills. 
The activities of Armenian NGOs are heavily reliant on external funding. Some donor organizations work directly with NGOs, while others operate on a bilateral or multilateral basis. The Armenian Diaspora also assists the local NGO sector by allocating funds or providing in-kind assistance. Many NGOs believe that if donor organizations leave Armenia, the scope of their activities will be curtailed and they will become non-operational due to a lack of funding. The Civil Society Fund is one of several programs supported by the World Bank, which has provided grants since 1999 to NGOs and other CSOs in Armenia. The grants support activities related to civic engagement, and focuses on empowering people who have been excluded from society’s decision-making processes. The individual grants are between $8,000 and $10,000. 
Today’s unfavorable legislative framework related to donations to non-profit organizations does not provide the NGO sector with an opportunity to acquire alternative financing. Therefore, limited and unsustainable funding from donors and the government make the NGO sector more dependent, which in turns affects their independence and sustainability. Furthermore, the Armenian business sector does not invest in NGO development. (If it does, the investment is limited to a one-time project or event-based charitable contributions.) Often NGOs are forced to accept funding for projects that are not in line with their mission, values, or principles; the project requirements are often determined by the donor’s agenda, and this greatly affects credibility of the organization. Armenia’s state budget allocates some funds for NGOs on a competitive basis. 
Lack of transparency and accountability is another issue facing NGOs, which generally do not produce and disseminate annual reports and financial statements. The majority of NGOs claim that their financial information is publicly available; yet, on closer inspection, it becomes clear that they rarely report to their beneficiaries when it comes to the finances and the quality of their work. The majority of Armenian NGOs think that the preparation of reports requires additional financial expenditure. Reporting of finances and activities would improve the public’s perception of NGOs. 
One of the underlying causes of civil society’s weak effect on policy and social issues is that NGOs have failed to extend their outreach and rally greater support and higher levels of citizen participation in their activities. Long-term financial insecurity stands as another hindrance to the number of CSO’s in Armenia. NGOs have relied solely or predominantly on international donor funding, without diversifying their income sources or developing a long-term strategy to change this situation. As a result, the instability of work in the NGO sector has not attracted young specialists. 
Increasing the professional skills of CSOs through trainings and staff development could help strengthen the level of organizational development and achievement. What is critical is focusing on staff retention, as well as establishing a culture of information sharing and knowledge transfer. Fragmentation and competition among NGOs occur frequently, resulting in an ineffective system for Armenian CSOs. Because of limited coordination among NGOs, the sector lacks updated information and a database of NGOs. This creates an inadequate picture of these organizations and, consequently, gives people a poor perception of NGOs. This also affects the ability of NGOs to influence the decision-making process in the public sphere. 
Some issues facing civil society include a short-term approach, lack of strategic thinking, clustering around pro-government or opposition groups, and poor organizational capacity. In order to increase citizen participation and sponsorship, NGOs must realize that they should be deriving their legitimacy from society, as they depend on popular support. Increased transparency and accountability are vital to support this action. This includes reporting to beneficiaries just as they do to funders, and presenting an inclusive account of all aspects of their activities. Improvements in these fields will contribute to increased levels of trust with the civil society sector and the broader society, and will foster increased citizen participation. 

Who Needs a Maidan in Armenia Today?

The Orange Revolution and the Rose Revolution brought regime changes in Ukraine and Georgia, respectively, but Armenia was spared during both cases and maintained its stability throughout those stormy periods. But rumors, forecasts and political analyses always pointed to the possibility of a color revolution in Armenia as well. President Serge Sargisian’s administration weathered successfully the tides of unrest fomented by the opposition, and taking the initiative, it also deflated the opposition. Levon Ter-Petrosian’s National Congress Party, which fed on the popular discontent, could not use its ammunition to the fullest. Therefore, although the opposition was cut to size and contained, popular discontent remained as a latent force for any future politician to explore and explode. The economy continued in stagnation, emigration reached dangerous proportions and Armenia’s dependence on Russia compromised its sovereignty. It seemed that those social and political problems had not eroded the power of the ruling elite. But recent developments indicate that challenges are on their way and the administration is under constant pressure. Those pressures yield result when coupled with outside factors.

In recent days, dramatic changes have taken place in Armenia’s domestic political landscape. But to view and analyze the developments within the context of internal political life may be too simplistic and inconclusive. Currently, Russia is under siege because of the turmoil in Ukraine; Moscow blames the US and the West for NATO creeping closer and closer to Russian borders and the West’s countercharge is that Moscow is fomenting turmoil in former Soviet Republics. No matter where the truth stands, ensuing problems will impact Armenia as well, since the country is so integrated with Russia socially, economically, politically and militarily. On February 12, 2015, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee held hearings on US-Azerbaijan relations. Testimony was given by Dr. Svante E. Cornell, director of Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

Outlining the US policy regarding the region, Dr. Cornell’s recommendation was to overlook Azerbaijan’s human rights abuses and base US policy on more pragmatic aspects, namely oil and regional security. Further broadening the focus, the director stated: “The task of countering [President Vladimir] Putin’s Russian imperialism goes beyond Ukraine and requires a firm strategy to bolster the states on Russia’s periphery, and especially to maintain the crucial east-west corridor to Central Asia open. But the Caucasus and Central Asia include fully one half of secular Muslim majority states in the world… Thus the Caucasus (and Central Asia) should be seen as bulwarks against both Moscow and the Islamic radicalism of the Middle East.”

The implication is that since Russia has its hands full in a border war in next-door Ukraine, it would be helpful for West’s containment policy to trigger another flashpoint on Russia’s periphery, and Armenia is one of those peripheral states. It is no surprise, therefore, that as soon as the Serge Sargisian-Gagik Tsaroukian controversy broke out, news outlets financed and directed by Western countries unanimously took a very critical position vis-à-vis the president’s statements. It was indeed a political bombshell which President Sargisian lobbed at the oligarch, who is the head of the Prosperous Armenia Party. He portrayed Tsaroukian as “evil” and incompetent in Armenia’s political life. This development was in the making for a long time. Mr. Tsaroukian is the titular head of the Prosperous Armenia Party, but actually, the party was founded by the former president, Robert Kocharian, and has been manipulated constantly by him in the background.
Sargisian’s Republican Party and the Prosperous Armenia Party formed the ruling coalition initially, with the understanding that the Putin-style transition would be implemented in Armenia, with Sargisian serving out his term and paving the way for a Kocharian’s return. Relations began souring when the plan did not work the way it was supposed to; Sargisian did not relinquish the reins of power and the coalition began to splinter. For a long time, Levon Ter-Petrosian courted Tsaroukian to no avail. Now that Tsaroukian has become a target of the president’s criticism threw the gauntlet and rallied the opposition parties around him and called for a nationwide rally on February 20, calling for he president’s resignation. Prosperous Armenia joined the Armenian National Congress and Raffi Hovannisian’s Heritage Party to use all means, including “civil disobedience” to bring down Mr. Sargisian. The rally will prove to be a litmus test of the opposition’s power.
Politics in Armenia are the mirror-image of those in Russia. Putin jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovski, who had opposed him politically, usurped his assets worth over $10 billion and let him leave the country almost penniless after 20 years of incarceration. The same tactics are replayed in Armenia now. Tsaroukian was removed from the National Security Council, he was stripped of his presidency of the National Sports Agency and now the president has sent a formal letter to the speaker of parliament, Galust Sahakian, to take away Mr. Tsaroukian’s protection as a member of parliament. Meanwhile, all of his businesses have been investigated for potential tax evasion. Thus far, Mr. Tsaroukian has conducted his businesses in Armenia, employing some 20,000 people, now all of a sudden, he has become a suspect upon a fallout with the president. The current administration has been able to destroy more sophisticated oligarchs, like Khacahdour Soukiasyan, who left the country with his huge capital, instead doing business in Europe and the Gulf states, to the detriment of Armenia’s economy.

But despite his macho image, Mr. Tsaroukian thus far is behaving smartly. It is apparent that he is being coached by much more experienced political minds in the opposition. For example, in his response to the president’s criticism, he said that he is not a politician in the classic sense, but that he wishes to help his people. Tsaroukian has crossed the Rubicon and with his help, the opposition will fight the administration with renewed vigor. Observers and the general public are stunned at this conflict taking place at this time, which may lead to a new Maidan which, Mr. Tsaroukian, has said he has avoided thus far. Why is the president so emboldened when the country’s problem persist? Emigration is continuing on a dangerous scale, the economy is staggering and above all, the border with Azerbaijan is again becoming a war zone.
The president’s domestic challenges are coupled with a foreign relations challenge, when he suddenly decided to withdraw the Protocols from the Parliament’s agenda. He took the last initiative the moment Mr. Davutolgu had adopted a more conciliatory tone toward Armenia. The Turkish prime minister reiterated his previous offer of relinquishing one region in Karabagh to open the border with Armenia. It is a different matter that the offer would not be a starter because the give and take are not equivalent. Swapping territory for lifting the blockade could prove to be an illusion, because the borders can be closed at will any time, but land could be taken “only by blood,” as noted Turkish dictator Kenan Evren.

This crisis is ill-timed, when the entire diaspora will be converging to Armenia, too for the centennial commemoration of the Genocide. Not only the diaspora, but also many dignitaries like President Francois Hollande and others will arrive at a crisis-ridden country. We do not want to see another Maidan reenacted. But who needed this crisis at this time?
ArmeniaNow: Outside influence seen in Armenian politics amid RPA-PAP standoff

Armenia’s opposition trio is going to hold an “urgent all-national rally” on February 20 to discuss further steps of its struggle with the people. The need for such steps emerged after President Serzh Sargsyan called Gagik Tsarukyan, the leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party, a key member of the trio, a ‘pseudo-political phenomenon”. Before that Tsarukyan practically put forward an ultimatum to the authorities. And then to the statement of Sargsyan, Tsarukyan responded with a call for a “nationwide mobilization” to oust the current administration.

In connection with this situation there are assumptions being made in Armenia that the current political crisis and the possible shocks may be ‘inspired’ from outside. In particular, some think that the current leadership of Armenia has decided to return to more active relations with the West “to the detriment” of its relations with Russia. And Moscow has opted for a change of government.

As an argument to substantiate this version some cite the fact that President Sargsyan made a loud statement on the day the new US ambassador Richard Mills arrived in Armenia. During their meeting Sargsyan reportedly discussed the preparation of a framework trade and investment agreement between the United States and Armenia. Armenia cannot conclude such an agreement without the consent of the members of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union. At the same time, in the economic situation like today’s only such an agreement can become a salvation for Armenia.
Interestingly, commenting on the political situation and the tough speech by Sargsyan Ambassador Mills noted that he himself was from the state of Louisiana, where it is normal for politicians to use such language. He also said that if President Sargsyan ordered a probe into allegations of Tsarukyan’s tax evasion and possible involvement in other crimes, then this probe must be conducted strictly in accordance with the law.
As for ‘Moscow’s hand’, analyst Modest Kolerov, the chief editor of the Regnum news agency who stands close to the Kremlin, answering the question of the 168 Zham newspaper on whether Tsarukyan can get support of the Kremlin, said: “No, he cannot. If the matter concerns a respected politician, philanthropist, businessman, there can be no problems. But if a person is forming an opposition, he must clearly and specifically say what alternative he offers with his personality. We do not have a clear answer to this question.”
A few days before Sargsyan’s speech a PAP delegation headed by Tsarukyan was in Moscow. During the meeting with the leadership of the State Duma committee for the Eurasian Union Tsarukyan said that by joining the Russian-led trade bloc Armenia has made its “civilizational choice”, and that he personally is for the development and strengthening of relations with Russia.
If Sargsyan is really going to ask the West for help, then the pro-Russian orientation of Tsarukyan could become an “alternative” for Russia. And then Moscow will have some reasons to back the PAP leader. However, media and social networks are also considering another version of intensification of opposition groups in early 2015.
On April 24, Armenia is going to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which promises to be an important geopolitical event. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has openly declared that his country is doing everything to ‘neutralize’ the impact of events in Yerevan. And some in Armenia and Karabakh considering what is happening in Armenia in the context of the Turkish plans. In particular, it concerns the activation of a hardline opposition group known as Founding Parliament, which has announced protests and, in fact, the beginning of a revolution on April 24. It is difficult to say whether Founding Parliament is connected with the Tsarukyan party.
Pentagon spent millions studying how to influence social mediaThe Pentagon’s research lab has funded dozens of studies concerning the use of social media, the Guardian reported on Tuesday, raising further questions about what kind of data is of interest to governments around the globe. Just days after a report published by researchers at Facebook revealed that users of the social media site had been manipulated for science, Ben Quinn and James Ball at the Guardian wrote this week that DARPA — the Pentagon-run Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — has in one way or another funded several studies recently that set out to explore that social networking site, as well as users of Twitter, Pinterest, Kickstarter and others. The journalists’ report stems from a list of publications that went live on DARPA’s site late last month concerning its Social Media in Strategic Communications, or SMISC, program.
“The general goal of the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program is to develop a new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base,” a statement there reads. “Through the program, DARPA seeks to develop tools to support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information.”
From there, visitors to the site can view any of dozens of studies from researchers at the likes of the University of Southern California, IBM or Georgia Tech Research Institute who have relied either fully or partially on Pentagon money to conduct social media studies.
According to the journalists, the projects funded by the federal agency run the gamut of social media and include a number of studies sure to raise a few eyebrows. Formed in 1958, DARPA has been instrumental in the Pentagon's development of drones, robotics and even the internet.
“While some elements of the multi-million dollar project might raise a wry smile – research has included analysis of the tweets of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, in an attempt to understand influence on Twitter – others have resulted in the buildup of massive datasets of tweets and additional types social media posts,” the Guardian reported.
“The project list includes a study of how activists with the Occupy movement used Twitter as well as a range of research on tracking internet memes and some about understanding how influence behavior (liking, following, retweeting) happens on a range of popular social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, Kickstarter, Digg and Reddit.”
Responding to the Guardian’s request for comment, DARPA defended the lengthy list of social media studies.
“Social media is changing the way people inform themselves, share ideas, and organize themselves into interest groups, including some that aim to harm the United States,” the Guardian quotes an agency spokesperson as saying. “DARPA supports academic research that seeks to understand some of these dynamics through analyses of publicly available discussions conducted on social media platforms.”
Revelations concerning DARPA’s role in these studies comes only days after the researchers involved in the controversial Facebook report publically apologized for manipulating the posts that appeared on users’ news feeds to see how emotions can carry across the web.
“The goal of all of our research at Facebook is to learn how to provide a better service,” Facebook staffer and researcher Adam Kramer wrote.
On the Pentagon’s part, DARPA told the Guardian that the studies it has funded are essential to US defense interests.
Source: Revealed: Pentagon spent millions studying how to influence social media
Russian Ambassador Kovalenko Again Warns Armenia About the Dangers of Adopting Western Values

Armenia will put its national security and independence at serious risk unless rejects “Western values” to fully align itself with Russia, a former Russian ambassador in Yerevan warned on Tuesday. Vyacheslav Kovalenko claimed that failure to make a “final” geopolitical choice in favor of Russia could thrust the country into the kind of crisis that has plagued Ukraine since the overthrow of a pro-Russian government in Kiev.
“Armenia must make a choice because in order for the economy of a small country like Armenia to develop, it has to integrate, it has to join some integration structures,” Kovalenko told Armenian journalists in a video conference from Moscow. “And the choice here is stark. I think the situation will develop in such a way that we will require Armenia to make that choice. “Armenia can’t endlessly balance [between rival foreign powers] in this complicated international situation. So a lot depends on Armenia’s historical choice: the future of the country, the future of the Armenian people and the future of Armenians in general.”
“Will Armenia remain an independent state with its own national policy, national interests and identity respected around the world?” continued the diplomat who headed the Russian mission in Yerevan until March 2013. “Will it embrace instead the Western values which … will exist as long as Western powers continue their aggressive policies?” Echoing the official Russian line, Kovalenko claimed that the spread of those values was responsible for the Ukraine crisis. “It is very important that what is now happening in Ukraine, where such [conflicting] relationships have emerged between various segments of the population, is not repeated [in Armenia,]” he said. “I think that the Armenians, who are one of the most ancient peoples in the world and outlived other peoples that are now non-existent, now live on thanks to right choices which they have always made at critical historical moments. Now is such a critical historical moment in which the Armenians must make a final choice for themselves.”
The ex-envoy, whose current status is not clear, did not clarify whether the Armenian government should only join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) or go further and freeze or downgrade relations with the West. President Serzh Sarkisian has sought to deepen those ties even after unexpectedly deciding to make Armenia part of the EEU in August 2013. That decision is widely believed to have been the result of strong Russian pressure exerted on Sarkisian. The latter had previously planned to sign a far-reaching Association Agreement with the European Union. Kovalenko exposed the Russian pressure in an interview published in July 2013. “By embracing European values, Armenia, it appears, could step onto a slippery path,” he warned.
The 68-year-old diplomat has had no official position in the Russian diplomatic ever since the end of his four-year tour of duty in Armenia. Still, in an indication of his lingering links with the Russian establishment, he accompanied Dmitry Kiselyov, Russia’s most famous TV journalist close to the Kremlin, on a trip to Yerevan in June 2014. Kiselyov caused an uproar during that visit when he said that the Russian language must be granted an official status in Armenia. Kovalenko backed those calls rejected by the Armenian leadership.

Chilingarov, Kiselev pay floral tribute to family slain in Gyumri

Legendary polar explorer and Hero of the Soviet Union and Russia Arthur Cghilingarov, who is also a statesman and political activist, and Dmitry Kiselev, Russia Today International News Agency CEO, paid today floral tribute to the family killed in Gyumri, Novosti-Armenia reports referring to RIA Novosti. Six members of the family were killed in shooting on January 12 and a six-month baby was wounded and died one week later in a hospital. Valery Permyakov, a Russian conscript soldier suspected of committing this crime, is now in custody pending trial.   He has confessed his guilt.
«Dmitry Kiselev and I could not fail to visit Gyumri while in Armenia and express our sorrow and sympathy,» Chilingarov said. «A horrible tragedy. No mercy to the monster who has committed this crime!»   Chilingarov said a lesson should be learned from this tragedy to prevent repetition. «We, representatives of Russia, should stress that we mourn these deaths with Armenia. I understand that we are fraternal nations and we need more frequent meetings, since we know how Armenians treat Russians and how Russians treat Armenians and these relations should be supported at all levels...» Kiselev, on his side, said that what happened in Gyumri made him restless.
«I have many Armenian friends,» he said. «On behalf of the Griboyedov Club I have founded, I say that everybody was overtaken by indignation, especially given our ties and friendship. Russians are especially hard pressed, since additional burden is laid upon us... Feeling of protest and wish to distance ourselves from the perpetrator of this crime come over us, since Permyakov is Russian, but, as it is known, there is a black sheep in every fold.» Kiselev said that tension in Russian-Armenian relations emerged as a result of certain manipulations and people wanting reap fruits from grief are found everywhere. «Somebody finds an outlet for own energy, somebody maybe earns money from this and somebody is unhappy about strong ties between Russia and Armenia,» he said adding that Armenians and Russians should stand or fall together.
Speaking about some fears that the investigation is running slowly, Kiselev said such crimes are not investigated in one or two months and there is no need to spur anybody. «I understand that emotionally it would be better to clear up everything as soon as possible, but we don't like mob rule,» he said. «That is why we should be patient and consider this period as mourning time and refrain from hurling accusations.» Kiselev said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a very careful inquiry.

Source: polar explorer and Hero of the Soviet Union and Russia Arthur Cghilingarov, who is also a statesman and political activist, and Dmitry Kiselev, Russia Today International News Agency CEO, paid today floral tribute to the family killed in Gyumri, Novosti-Armenia reports referring to RIA Novosti. 

Six members of the family were killed in shooting on January 12 and a six-month baby was wounded and died one week later in a hospital. Valery Permyakov, a Russian conscript soldier suspected of committing this crime, is now in custody pending trial. 
He has confessed his guilt. «Dmitry Kiselev and I could not fail to visit Gyumri while in Armenia and express our sorrow and sympathy,» Chilingarov said. «A horrible tragedy. No mercy to the monster who has committed this crime!» 
Chilingarov said a lesson should be learned from this tragedy to prevent repetition. 
«We, representatives of Russia, should stress that we mourn these deaths with Armenia. I understand that we are fraternal nations and we need more frequent meetings, since we know how Armenians treat Russians and how Russians treat Armenians and these relations should be supported at all levels...» 
Kiselev, on his side, said that what happened in Gyumri made him restless. «I have many Armenian friends,» he said. «On behalf of the Griboyedov Club I have founded, I say that everybody was overtaken by indignation, especially given our ties and friendship. Russians are especially hard pressed, since additional burden is laid upon us... Feeling of protest and wish to distance ourselves from the perpetrator of this crime come over us, since Permyakov is Russian, but, as it is known, there is a black sheep in every fold.» 
Kiselev said that tension in Russian-Armenian relations emerged as a result of certain manipulations and people wanting reap fruits from grief are found everywhere. 
«Somebody finds an outlet for own energy, somebody maybe earns money from this and somebody is unhappy about strong ties between Russia and Armenia,» he said adding that Armenians and Russians should stand or fall together. 
Speaking about some fears that the investigation is running slowly, Kiselev said such crimes are not investigated in one or two months and there is no need to spur anybody. 
«I understand that emotionally it would be better to clear up everything as soon as possible, but we don't like mob rule,» he said. «That is why we should be patient and consider this period as mourning time and refrain from hurling accusations.» 
Kiselev said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a very careful inquiry.- See more at:
Kostantin Kosachev: 350 Armenian NGOs Spreading Propaganda Against EEU

A senior member of the Russian legislature has reminded Armenia of the Ukrainian experience, stressing that having a large number of non-governmental organizations advocating integration with the European Union is “unacceptable”.
At a press conference in Moscow on Thursday, Konstantin Kosachev, who heads the International Affairs Committee at the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, at the same time expressed a hope that Armenia will “manage to avoid Ukraine’s experience of facing a choice” between Eurasian and European integrations.
Two years ago Armenia was on track to sign an association agreement with the European Union as part of the Eastern Partnership Program that also involved Ukraine and four other former Soviet nations. But in September 2013 under apparent pressure from Moscow authorities in Yerevan made a U-turn opting instead for integration with the Russian-led customs union.
Ukraine persisted with its European integration policy, ousting President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, but Russia responded by annexing its southernmost peninsula of Crimea and later also backed separatist movements in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which led to deadly hostilities between Ukraine’s government forces and pro-Russian rebels. The Russian senator, however, insisted that it is the “either-or” demands of the EU that cripple countries like Ukraine.
“The position of ‘either you are with us or with them’ has already destroyed or almost destroyed Ukraine and could destroy any other country if the question is raised consistently and in a straightforward manner,” said Kosachev, stressing that having 350 NGOs “working against Eurasian integration and in favor of Armenia’s closer ties with the European Union is unacceptable”.
Remarkably, speaking about Russia-Azerbaijan relations, Kosachev said that in the Caucasus region Azerbaijan is Moscow’s “most important economic and political partner”, while Armenia, which joined the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union this year, according to the Russian senator, is Moscow’s “closest” partner. Kosachev expressed his gratitude to Baku for its “very caring attitude” towards the Russian language and ethnic Russians who live in Azerbaijan.
“Of course, Azerbaijan has other partners and its palette of choices is much broader than that of Armenia and Georgia, but I see no insurmountable obstacle for the successful development of Russian-Azerbaijani relations,” said Kosachev, as quoted by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency.
At the press conference the Russian senator also spoke about Russo-Georgian relations. He said that seeing how the Russia-Azerbaijan and Russia-Armenia relations are developing, Georgia begins to understand that by moving away from Russia it “misses out on benefits and opportunities”.

Пол Крейг Робертс: В Армении планируется переворот, идентичный украинскому

Цель финансируемых Америкой НКО в Армении — иметь группы, которые могут быть выведены на улицу для протестов, и политиков, которые будут служить Вашингтону, заявил в интервью Ереванскому геополитическому клубу американский экономист, политический и экономический обозреватель Пол Крейг Робертс.
«Они будут работать так же, как на Украине, потому что они хорошо оплачиваются. Таким образом, у вас планируется переворот, идентичный тому, который произошел на Украине в прошлом году. А это даст Вашингтону еще одну базу в стране, которая была частью СССР. И многие обманутые люди присоединятся к армянским НКО, сотрудничающим с Викторией Нуланд. Цель — разорвать политические и экономические отношения с Россией. Когда они нанесут удар, зависит от того, какие они изыщут возможности. Это то, что случилось в Грузии в 2003 году, „революция роз“. Это тоже был переворот, организованный НКО, финансируемыми вашингтонскими политиками, которые и вывели людей на улицы. Так работает Вашингтон, и его цели — Армения, Киргизия и, возможно, Казахстан, Узбекистан. Такие перевороты, которые они называют демократическими революциями, будут организованы во всех странах, которые были частью СССР», — отметил Крейг Робертс.
В то же время он считает, что мишенью данных НКО является институт семьи и национальные традиции в общем. «Если Вашингтону удастся сделать в Армении переворот, как на Украине, следующим шагом будет атака на армянскую семью, легитимизация гомосексуализма, освобождение детей от родительского контроля, переосмысление отношений между родителями и детьми. Армения будет просто разрушена и станет вассальным государством Америки. Это реальная угроза для Армении. США пытаются выставить себя как прекрасную страну, символизирующую свободу и доброту. И они работают с людьми, все еще находящимися под впечатлением 70-летнего коммунистического (тоталитарного) строя СССР, а таких людей очень легко ввести в заблуждение», — отметил американский обозреватель.

Министр обороны Армении: надеюсь, что Россия умерит «оружейную одержимость» Азербайджана: Интервью

Интервью ИА REGNUM с министром обороны Республики Армения, военным деятелем Армении и НКР, генерал-полковником Сейраном Мушеговичем Оганяном.
ИА REGNUM: Сейран Мушегович, как Вы считаете, каковы перспективы Армении в ЕАЭС? Повлияет ли вступление в этот экономический союз на военно-техническое сотрудничество между Россией и Арменией?
В оценке перспектив Армении в ЕАЭС меня по долгу службы в первую очередь интересует то, как вступление в эту организацию отразится на оборонной составляющей безопасности Республики Армения. Ведь не секрет, что экономика является одним из основополагающих инструментов национальной мощи любого государства. С одной стороны, вступление Армении в ЕАЭС не может многого прибавить в армяно-российское военно-техническое сотрудничество, которое и так налажено, функционирует в рамках межгосударственных и межправительственных договоров, с другой стороны, оно сможет внести свою вескую лепту в военно-экономическое и военно-промышленное сотрудничество между двумя странами. Обоюдное упрощение таможенных процедур не только позволит предприятиям ВПК Армении ввозить различного рода сырье и материалы, используемые в оборонной отрасли, но также создаст благоприятные возможности для выхода отечественной продукции на евразийский рынок.
ИА REGNUM: РФ поставляет Азербайджану наступательное вооружение на миллиарды долларов. Как Вы оцениваете эту ситуацию? Предпринимаются ли какие-либо шаги для препятствования этой ситуации?
Этот вопрос является очень деликатным для нас. С одной стороны, мы понимаем, что у любого суверенного государства есть незыблемое право торговать оружием, но полагаем также, что интересы и опасения стратегического партнера также должны быть учтены. Надеюсь, что наши российские партнеры неустанно следят за развитием военно-технического сотрудничества с Азербайджаном и стараются в меру умерить, если позволите, «оружейную одержимость» нашего соседа.
ИА REGNUM: Как Вы оцениваете боеспособность ВС Армении по сравнению с армиями соседних стран?
Не мне афишировать боеспособность ВС Армении. Это хорошо знают наши вероятные противники, которые знакомы с нашей боеспособностью не понаслышке и время от времени получают поучительные уроки от нас. Способность усмирить периодические «всплески бравады» вероятного противника на линии соприкосновения и нанесение ему превосходящего урона является достаточным показателем нашей боеспособности по части высокой боевой выучки, морально-волевых качеств, дисциплины и военно-технической оснащенности. Кстати, подготовленность наших вооруженных сил к ведению боевых действий и успешному выполнению боевых задач является самым действенным залогом сохранения относительного перемирия последних 20 с лишним лет.
ИА REGNUM: Учитывая резко участившиеся в 2014 и начале 2015 года случаи нарушения режима прекращения огня между Арменией, Нагорным Карабахом и Азербайджаном, как Вы оцениваете вероятность возобновления полномасштабных боевых действий?
Вероятность возобновления полномасштабных военных действий нельзя сбрасывать со счетов до тех пор, пока стороны конфликта не достигли окончательного мирного урегулирования. Армянская сторона неустанно соблюдала условия прекращения огня, вступившие в силу еще в 1994 г. после подписания соответствующего соглашения. Резко участившиеся летом 2014 года и продолжающиеся в этом году с теми же темпами случаи нарушения режима прекращения огня, конечно, настораживают. Особенно возмутительным является применение противником новой «псевдотактики», когда в ноябре прошлого года сбивают вертолет, выполняющий учебно-тренировочный полет, а летом прошлого и в начале этого года ведут прицельный огонь по мирным населенным пунктам, применяя тяжелое вооружение. Не гнушаются также стрелять из снайперской винтовки по мирным жителям в собственных домах. В сложившейся ситуации единственным проверенным средством для противодействия агрессивным выходкам противника является ведение с нашей стороны ответных, иногда даже превентивных операций. Могут ли наши действия угомонить противника, вернуть его в конструктивное русло, или еще более приблизят нас к полномасштабным боевым действиям? Этого, наверное, не знает никто. Однако, точно могу сказать, что в таком экзистенциальном конфликте, как наш с Азербайджаном, мы должны демонстрировать способность «дать сдачи», потому что, перефразирую неувядаемое изречение Фукидида из «Милосского диалога» — «… справедливые требования оспариваются только при равенстве сил, в противном случае более сильный делает все, что по праву ему дано, а слабый вынужден сносить все то, что ему предначертано».
ИА REGNUM: Как Вы считаете: вступит ли РФ в войну на стороне Армении и Нагорного Карабаха, если Азербайджан начнет полномасштабные военные действия?
Россия является стратегическим партнером Армении, и у нее, естественно, есть юридически закрепленные обязательства по содействию военной безопасности нашей страны. Более того, Россия и Армения являются членами-соучредителями ОДКБ, соответственно, имеют взаимные обязательства по коллективной безопасности и в формате многосторонних отношений. Генеральные штабы обоих государств уже не один год проводят оперативное планирование по совместным действиям на случай военной агрессии против Армении. В целом при начале войны против Армении Россия будет следовать своим обязательствам, расписанным в положениях Договора о дружбе, сотрудничестве и взаимной помощи между Республикой Армения и Российской Федерацией от 29.08.1997 года, Договора между Республикой Армения и Российской Федерацией о российской военной базе на территории Республики Армения от 16 марта 1995 года и Договора о коллективной безопасности от 15 мая 1992 года. Мы же со своей стороны как непосредственно в Армении, так и в НКР, в первую очередь полагаемся на боеготовность Вооруженных сил РА и Армии обороны как на наиболее действенный фактор сдерживания начала военных действий и нанесения противнику поражения, если система сдерживания окажется неадекватной.
ИА REGNUM: Сохраняется ли паритет между ВС Армении, Армии обороны НКР и ВС Азербайджана, обладающими огромным военным бюджетом?
Паритет понятие растяжимое и может рассматриваться как в количественных, так и в качественных аспектах. Конечно, в количественном отношении совокупные показатели ВС Армении и Армии Обороны НКР уступают показателям ВС Азербайджана, и здесь роль играют как экономические, так и демографические факторы. Однако далеко не факт, что количество будет иметь решающее значение в возможной войне. Это обусловлено как развитием способов, форм и средств ведения военных действий, так и пространственным ограничением театра военных действий. Способность выявить «центр тяжести» противника, быстро сориентироваться в обстановке, принять решение и решительно сосредоточить усилия для крушения этого основного источника моральной и физической силы и воли к борьбе — вот что будет более весомым аргументом, чем численность личного состава, вооружения и боевой техники. Конечно, будут сказываться количественные показатели ВВТ (вооружения и военной техники — прим. ИА REGNUM), однако, слава Богу, наш боевой арсенал тоже не будет подарком для противника. Однако, кроме всего вышесказанного, самую большую роль будет играть личный состав, в равной степени как его боевое мастерство, так и морально-психологические и волевые качества. Ведь как говорил Наполеон: «На войне три четверти успеха зависит от личностных характеристик и взаимоотношений. Совокупность живой силы и техники составляет всего лишь одну четверть». И в этом отношении никакой огромный военный бюджет не способен обеспечить такую идеологическую и психологическую накачку для несправедливой войны, который смог бы конкурировать с прирождённой доблестью и осознанной самоотверженностью для правого дела.
ИА REGNUM: Как Вы оцениваете вероятность открытия железнодорожного сообщения между РФ и Арменией через Абхазию? Что может получить Армения при таком сценарии?
Позвольте воздержаться от неблагодарного дела — оценки вероятности в щекотливом политическом вопросе с переплетением стратегических интересов региональных, да и не только, игроков. Если же все-таки железная дорога откроется, то это обеспечит экономическую выгоду как для Армении с Россией, так и для Грузии. Главное, чтобы взаимные экономические и общественные интересы восторжествовали над политическими предубеждениями и обидами.
ИА REGNUM: Планирует ли Армения модернизировать свои военно-воздушные силы и усилить их новыми летательными аппаратами?
Военная авиация, как, впрочем, и ПВО, остается одной из важнейших составляющих обороноспособности государства. Хотя теория генерала Джулио Дуэ о том, что одно лишь господство в воздухе, сопровождаемое ударами по государственным и экономическим центрам противника, может привести к победе в войне, оказалась, «мягко говоря», преувеличенной. Развитие этого вида вооруженных сил остается одним из приоритетов строительства ВС Армении. До того момента, когда мы станем в количественном и качественном отношении полнокровными обладателями ВВС, стараемся восполнить нехватку в авиационном компоненте приобретением беспилотных аппаратов, в том числе отечественной разработки и производства. И, конечно, не собираемся сбавить обороты в совершенствовании нашей системы ПВО, так что, если можно так образно выразиться: хотя сами не так уж много летаем, но и другим летать не даем.
ИА REGNUM: Имеются ли планы совместного производства вооружения с Российской Федерацией?
В рамках реализации положений «Меморандума о взаимопонимании между Министерством обороны Республики Армения и Федеральной службой по военно-техническому сотрудничеству Российской Федерации», в настоящее время на территории нашей страны действуют совместные предприятия по техническому обслуживанию и сервисному обеспечению автотехники марок УАЗ и КамАЗ. Помимо этого, в октябре 2014 г. в Армении открылось представительство концерна «Калашников», которое в сотрудничестве с ООО «Аспар» занимается сервисным обслуживанием служебного и охотничьего стрелкового вооружения. В рамках вышеуказанного Меморандума военно-промышленные подразделения военных ведомств обеих стран прорабатывают возможности создания новых совместных предприятий.
ИА REGNUM: Проводятся ли мероприятия по усилению контроля на линии соприкосновения между Арменией, Нагорным Карабахом и Азербайджаном?
Мероприятия по усилению контроля являются постоянным процессом как на линии соприкосновения между Армией обороны НКР и Вооруженными силами Азербайджана, так и на армяно-азербайджанской границе. Конечно, резкое обострение ситуации и участившиеся случаи нарушения режима прекращения огня требуют от нас принятия дополнительных пассивных и активных мер по укреплению переднего края.
ИА REGNUM: Известно о том, что Армения создала совместное с Польшей военное предприятие, которое на данный момент занимается выпуском обмундирования, маскировочных приспособлений, макетов техники (для обмана противника) и т.п. Годом ранее в СМИ появилась информация о возможной модернизации танков Т-72 армянской армии совместно с Польшей. Правдивы ли были эти слухи?
Речь идет о совместном армяно-польском предприятии «Любава-Армения», открытие которого состоялось 14октября 2014 г. Предприятие функционирует на производственных площадках станкостроительного завода, расположенного в г. Чаренцаван, и занимается производством указанного Вами оборудования и других приспособлений по защите личного состава. В то же время слухи о планах модернизации танков Т-72 данным предприятием не соответствуют действительности. Просто не тот профиль, не та технологическая база. Если будут такие намерения, то в первую очередь обратимся к нашим российским коллегам, как к «первоисточнику» создания данного образца вооружения.
ИА REGNUM: Будут ли ВВС Армении продолжать приграничные полеты после печального инцидента с вертолетом Ми-24?
Для нас полеты авиации, в том числе с огибанием переднего края, не являются самоцелью или методом демонстрации силы. Они являются составной частью комплекса мероприятий по наблюдению и контролю над нашими рубежами как вдоль государственной границы между Арменией и Азербайджаном, так и на линии соприкосновения на карабахском участке. Это касается как повседневного боевого дежурства, так и проведения учений любых масштабов. Прошлогодний инцидент с нашим вертолетом ни в коей мере не повлияет на наши намерения продолжить выполнения тех задач, которые направлены на поддержание обороноспособности Республики Армения и НКР.
ИА REGNUM: Имеются ли экспортные перспективы у изделий, произведенных армянским ВПК, таких как БПЛА, оптические системы, стрелковое вооружение и т.п.? Имеются ли какие-либо предложения из-за границы?
Всем известно, что арсенал ВС Республики Армения в основном включает в себя изделия зарубежного производства. Но это никак не означает, что в Армении нет возможностей и предпосылок производства вооружения, военной и специальной техники и военно-технического имущества, и в целом — расширения номенклатуры изготавливаемой продукции. Не составляют исключения беспилотные летательные аппараты, для создания которых у нас работает довольно налаженная технологическая и конструкторская цепочка, начиная с ОКР (опытно-конструкторские работы — прим. ИА REGNUM) — и заканчивая ограниченным, для наших нужд, производством. В настоящее время, в эпоху высоких технологий и быстрого распространения идей, маленьким странам очень трудно удивить кого-то какими-то совсем новыми изысканиями в области вооружений. А «прорывные» решения остаются прерогативой более развитых в экономическом отношении держав. В этих условиях мы делаем основной акцент на создание кооперативных отношений, где научный потенциал армянских ученых и конструкторов будет синергетически сочетаться с производственным потенциалом наших партнеров. То же самое касается стрелкового вооружения и оптических средств, где мы остаемся открытыми для любых предложений по совместной реализации проектов, направленных на модернизацию и создание новых образцов.
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THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sun, 03/01/2015 - 17:51
Dear friends,
The blog "Vineyard of the Saker" has now moved to a new location:

 (please update your bookmarks!!)

The blog here will not be deleted, but will be "frozen" and kept as on online archive.  This will also be an emergency backup blog in the unlikely event that something bad should happen to the blog at the new location.

To contact me please write to, or

The Saker

Blogs of the Saker Community:

French Saker:
Russian Saker:
German Saker:
Oceania Saker:
Latin American Saker:
Italian Saker:

Our Brothers in Arms:

Colonel Cassad in English:
Russia Insider:
Vox Populi Evo:

Other good information sources in English:

Russia Today:
Sputnik News:
Novorussia Today:
Voice of Sevastopol:
TASS Russia News Agency:
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Great Lakes Ice Cover 2015 almost 87%. Thousands of Record Cold Temps broken

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sun, 03/01/2015 - 16:31
 UPDATED Great Lakes info -Updating Great Lakes Ice Cover 2015- Passes 88 percent mark!

Previous to post below -Great Lakes ice cover SURPASS 2014's almost-record year?

I am aware it's been chilly in Britain- Ireland, Scotland, Spain and elsewhere too- If anyone wants to share please do
Great Lakes up to 86.8% Ice CoverThe Great Lakes are now up to 86.8% ice cover.  There’s still a good deal of open water on Lakes Michigan and Ontario.  As of early Sat. morning, the ice cover on the  individual lakes is as follows:  Lake Michigan 67.3%, Lake Superior 94.9%, Lake Huron 95.3%, Lake Erie 96%, Lake Ontario 57.1%

Aerial view of Lake Huron shows near-historic ice cover with a ribbon of open water Alabama got a foot of snow on February 25/2015

Snow covers Texas Ranger Ballfield

"This month will be NYC’s coldest February in 81 yrs, and one of the Top 10 coldest months ever! " 
My Neck of the Woods- Baby it's cold outside 

Snow, Ice Lead to Hundreds of Accidents in Texas Whiteout conditions and icy roadways created a travel nightmare across Texas
Frozen Waves in Nantucket:
 The unusually cold winter of Massachusetts produced an incredible phenomenon 100 miles southeast of Boston on the island of Nantucket recently: frozen waves, or, as some are describing them, Slurpee waves.
Why am I mentioning this fact?!  Ocean water, being salty, requires colder temperatures to freeze!
'Ocean water freezes just like freshwater, but at lower temperatures. Fresh water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit but seawater freezes at about 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit , because of the salt in it.
 Cold Records Broken

This weekend broke several records for cold temperatures across Ontario.

Barrie hit -30 Monday morning, the coldest February 16th ever registered for the city.
The former record of -26.5 Celsius was set back in 1987.

In Muskoka -35.4 is also a record, one degree colder than the old record set in 1963.

Wiarton hit -34.3, breaking a record of -25.6 set just last year.

Windsor, Waterloo, London and Welland also hit record cold temperatures on Monday.
UPDATE: February was the coldest month on record for Quebec, parts of Ontario

 MT @JayScotland: Low temp records smashed this AM across Golden Horseshoe. Hamilton, Welland broke records from 1870s 

NOAA – 2634 Low Max Records Broken or tied From 2015-02-19 to 2015-02-252634 Low Max Records Broken or tied From 2015-02-19 to 2015-02-25 according to the NOAA. (That is 15% of all the measurements for that period) Ice conditions causing concern for Great Lakes shipping industry The freighter Arthur M. Anderson is caught in ice near Conneaut, Ohio, on Feb. 19. Icebreaking vessels from the U.S. and Canadian coast guards worked to free the AndersonGreat Lakes Ice Cover Nearing 1979 RecordFrom earlier today- The global warming slowdown is real — but that’s no reason to question climate science ?? Oh, yes it is!
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The global warming slowdown is real — but that’s no reason to question climate science ??

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sun, 03/01/2015 - 15:45
That's a headline from the Washington Post- and it is an obvious, blatant appeal to authority.
 I despise appeal to authority sooo much!

An appeal to authority is an argument from the fact that a person judged to be an authority affirms a proposition to the claim that the proposition is true.
Appeals to authority are always deductively fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is guaranteed to be true.Since we are all aware that 'authority' can be corrupted, tainted, influenced, bought and just plain mistaken we all know that any appeal to authority should always be questioned and validated to ones own satisfaction
Let's talk about the fact that there has been and continues to be NO WARMING!
The AGW pushers created an agenda and passed it off as science  and it was wrong. Very wrong and that tells us all that YES there are many valid reason to question the climate science!

‘Ever since, climate scientists have been trying to explain why the world has seen a somewhat slower rate of warming in recent years — and publishing multiple papers on the topic.”We haven’t had a slower rate of warming- We have had no discernable warming- Period!
Even this hottest 2014 on record is total nonsense! “Nasa climate scientists: We said 2014 was the warmest year on record... but we're only 38% sure we were right “

What the hell!
“The Nasa climate scientists who claimed 2014 set a new record for global warmth last night admitted they were only 38 per cent sure this was true.

In a press release on Friday, Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) claimed its analysis of world temperatures showed ‘2014 was the warmest year on record’.

The claim made headlines around the world, but yesterday it emerged that GISS’s analysis – based on readings from more than 3,000 measuring stations worldwide – is subject to a margin of error. Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all.  NASA admits that their data is subject to a margin of error that makes it far from certain that 2014 set a record at all!
That didn't stop all the big oil corporate bankster war mongering media from jumping on board and spinning that fallacy!
"Yet the Nasa press release failed to mention this, as well as the fact that the alleged ‘record’ amounted to an increase over 2010, the previous ‘warmest year’, of just two-hundredths of a degree – or 0.02C. The margin of error is said by scientists to be approximately 0.1C – several times as much.”So- 2014 the hottest year on record- Not bloody likely!

That fact doesn't bother Michael Mann one single bit- He runs with the lie
“Our findings do support the notion that the pause is likely to end,” says Mann. “And perhaps 2014 does herald that at some level.” It was, after all, the hottest year on record. It wasn't the hottest year on record. NASA is only 38 percent sure that that is an accurate assessment and even if that info was correct the difference is two- hundredths of a degree!

Michael Mann is a spin doctor not a scientist, that much is obvious!

Recall when the IPCC claimed the sun was not a factor in the earth’s climate?

 Yes, the IPCC  told us the SUN- had nothing to do with climate- Then they decided the SUN could play a role in the climate... I roll my eyes. How or why did the IPCC choose to ignore the giver of light, warmth and life to this planet? Simple answer- The Sun or any natural factors were not in their mandate!
Link #1:
“Until now, the IPCC has argued that the Sun is all-but-irrelevant to global warming, consistent with the IPCC’s very mandate, which dismisses the Sun as a major factor worthy of investigation”Link #2
“The aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to:[6]
  • Human-induced climate change,
  • The impacts of human-induced climate change,
  • Options for adaptation and mitigation.

Once the IPCC excluded the sun, ocean currents, volcanoes etc., they and their scientific spin doctors were free to spin AGW lies to their hearts content and they did! Oh yes, they did! 

However the Earth herself has showed the IPCC and the climate scientists for the agenda pushers they are

And suddenly the sun might just play a role (WP)
“Other researchers, meanwhile, have cited other forms of natural variability to help explain the so-called pause, such as an uptick in volcanic eruptions, whose atmospheric plumes can lead to a cooling effect by scattering sunlight away from the planet.”Oh, my it might be cooling because volcanic activity is blocking out the sunlight that warms us

Plenty of reasons in my frozen world to question what is and has obviously been cooked science to promote an agenda.
Categories: Blogroll feed

Lab Test Confirm: Child gets measles from vaccine!

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 15:44
The measles hype over the past month or so has just been over the moon. Unbelievable. Of course the medical mafia has had their minions out in full force to hype up the fear. One story that caught my eye was a case of measles in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada. A child who had received one dose of  the vaccine but came down with measles. Medical mafia media was spinning the news along the lines of ‘caught the measles because he had not received 2nd dose”
I was participatory on a medical mafia media site and pointed out the very likely, very real possibility that this child got measles from the vaccine.
And man oh man, did I hit that nail squarely on the head!

Background: February 23/15 Case of Measles reported in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada 
The media started hyping the fear right out of the gates
‘Officials with the Algoma Public Health Unit say people who went to the emergency room in Elliot Lake earlier this month may have been exposed to the measles.

A child in that community has tested positive and was taken to the emergency room on more than one occasion.”Present day:
Pay particular attention to the way this incident is being spun

“It said test results confirm that the measles virus isolated from the child are from the vaccine strain of the virus.

It adds the child had been immunized against measles, but was not contagious to others”But hip hip hurray there is no evidence of wild measles circulating
  On Friday, Feb 27, the health unit received the test results to confirm “there is no evidence of wild-type measles virus circulating in Elliot Lake.”
 But there is evidence of the vaccine strain of measles circulating! 

Recapping! The sick child tested positive for the vaccine strain of the virus. The child exhibits measles symptoms. And here is why I am suggesting this child contracted vaccine strain measles most likely  from another recent vaccine recipient
“The (symptomatic)  child was immunized in the fall, making the chances very low that test would show the vaccine virus still present.” But, the child did test positive for the vaccine strain though that should not have happened.
And the child exhibited symptoms of measles !

The infected child did attend daycare "and also attends a local daycare". So it is quite probable this sick child was exposed to the vaccine version of this virus at the daycare. Which implies that the vaccine version of the measles virus is circulating and making others sick-

We have witnessed this exact scenario, vaccine version of measles virus circulating, in the case involving Angry mom &her manipulative screed.- The only person who could have exposed the child she used as a prop in her rant, was a fully vaccinated male, who most probably, most sensibly got measles from the vaccine!

Two posts covering that topic
  • Angry Mom from GTA" get's it wrong. Really wrong! ID the logical fallacies  York Region confirms one adult has tested positive for measles- ONE vaccinated individual.
  • Jennifer Hibben-White "Angry Mom"- Conflict of Interests & Promoting a For Profit Agenda  Another of several issues with her "angry mom" post was the FACT that the lone individual, the person cited by her, as the one who exposed her child, was FULLY VACCINATED!  How could she rail against those she calls "anti-vaxxers" in that circumstance? A vaccinated individual can excrete the measles virus up to 28 days after receiving the vaccine. The medical mafia and their assorted partners in crime do not want the general population to be aware of this fact- Nonetheless that is the fact in the matter


    "Excretion of small amounts of the live attenuated rubella virus from the nose or throat has occurred in the majority of susceptible individiuals 7 to 28 days after vaccination"
Categories: Blogroll feed

Good news out of Russia - even the "non-system" opposition refuses to blame the Kremlin

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 14:38
Honestly, I never thought the day would come where I would have anything good to say about the Russian "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" opposition but apparently this day has come today. To my surprise, all the leaders of this opposition have so far made very moderate and reasonable statement and all those which I have heard have apparently dismissed the notion that the Kremlin was behind the murder. Now this might be self-evident for most of us, but for the Russian "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" opposition this is quite a change of tone.  Many have even said that this murder was a "provocation" (which in this context means "false flag"!) to destabilize Russia and create a crisis.  Even Irina Khakamada, normally a real crackpot, has said that this was either a "provocation" or the action of a small group of extremists.

Maybe they are aware that the Russian public will not "buy" it, maybe MH17 was too clearly a false flag, or maybe they simply had a momentary moment of decency, but as far as I know nobody pointed the finger at Putin (okay, somebody somewhere probably did, I am just not aware of it).  Again, this is quite remarkable.

Everybody, pro and anti Kremlin, agree that it is absolutely essential that this crime be solved.  Since I personally believe that this was a US/UK organized false flag, I fully expect that somebody will be found and, as we say in Russian, that the "(trail) end will end in the water" meaning that there will be no proof of western involvement.  If fact, even if the FSB *does* come across such proof, the Russians will most likely not make it public but use it behind the scenes.  As for those who organized it, they also need somebody to get caught because if nobody ever gets caught, then this looks way too professional, but if a small cell of, say,  rabid anti-Semitic nationalists, does get caught, then that exculpates all other possible suspects.  Considering that the crime happened 200m away from the Kremlin, and that the city center is laced with cameras, I fully expect an arrest in the next 48 hours, a week max.

The bottom line is that in Russia this false flag is already a clear failure, not even the notorious Russian "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" opposition wants to touch this thing.  This is very good news indeed.  In the West, of course, this is a different story, the AngloZionist will use that to a max, no doubt here at all.

The Saker

PS: while we are discussing false flags, I often get the question of why Putin does not say that 9/11 was in inside job even though he must know.  Well, of course he knows, but ask yourself a simple question: why would he say anything?  What would Russia gain from doing this?  This would only further demonize him, and Russia, in the eyes of those who believe the official fairy tale and it would do nothing at all for Putin or Russia.  As for the fact - they are all out in the open, and have been for a long time, just as the JFK murder or Gladio, 7/7, the Bologna railway station bombing, Charlie-Hebdo and all the rest of them.  It is simply not Putin's job to share info with the western public, his job is to serve the Russian people.  Finally, though I personally doubt it, there is some possibility that some Russian security services were involved in the Moscow apartment bombings on 1999 so Putin might want to tread carefully here lest the US retaliates by revealing what they know.

This blog will CLOSE for comments on March 1st. The new one has the popular threaded comments and faster moderation:  
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Nemtsov murder: Putin warned about exactly this type of "false flag" two years ago

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 01:17
Already in February 2012 (two years ago!) Putin was warning Russians about exactly the kind of false flag which we just saw happening with the murder of Nemtsov.  See for yourself:

Note: the Russian word "provocatsiia" is often translated as "provocation" which is not incorrect as long as you are aware that in Russian "provocation" can mean "false flag", as it does in this context.  Putin is clearly warning about a false flag "sacrifice".

This video was emergency-translated by one of our "brother in arms", Tatzhit, to whom I am most grateful for this ultra-rapid translation.

As for the "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" opposition it has already announced that it will convert the planned protest into a memorial rally.

We will keep you posted.

The Saker
This blog will CLOSE for comments on March 1st. The new one has the popular threaded comments and faster moderation: 
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DPR PM Zakharchenko presser 27/02/15 Economical and political future of DPR

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 23:49
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The Murder of Boris Nemtsov. A 'Spring' in the Air? Cui Bono?- UPDATED!

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 20:21
Cui Bono? Who benefits from this killing?- Hat tip to my hubby, all my personal biases aside, I think he is correct.- Updated list of likely reasons..

Likely reasons for the killing at this time

*This killing took place to create the conditions needed to promote the dissent necessary, for the usual  suspects -NATO nations and their plot to create yet another destabilization project

*This killing took place to sow the seeds of a western backed Russian spring! Cue the protests. Cue the ‘human rights’ NGO’s making the western media rounds.Hell, even cue the pussy riot skanks!

*A spring or colour revolution always needs a ‘mascot’ and this looks to me like mascot creation! We should be seeing signs printed with the face of this man on them very soon, being carried, of course by western bought & paid for protestors! The signs will include some English wording enabling the western media to promote the agenda and draw in the western media audience.

*This man was always a tool of bankers &war mongers. His death, at this time, benefits Western or Atlantacists interests.

*Boris Nemstov was to old to be the front person for a colour/spring revolution. This type of revolution is ALWAYS presented as beginning with disenfranchised youth- Alexei Navalny is clearly better suited to this role

 "Prior to Alexey Navalny's emergence, he was one of the West's favourite personalities in the Russian political life, not only while in opposition but also in power"WSJ-The Murder of Boris Nemtsov- Another Putin opponent is killed by unknown assailants.

I'm italicizing and highlighting the manipulative language and other interesting bits
In the gangster state that is Vladimir Putin ’s Russia, we may never learn who shot dead Boris Nemtsov in Moscow late Friday night, much less why. The longtime opposition leader had once been Russia’s deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, and he might have steered Russia toward a decent future had he been given a chance. Instead, he was fated to become a courageous voice for democracy and human rights (MASCOT!) who risked his life to alert an indifferent West to the dangers of doing business with the man in the Kremlin.A file picture dated 08 April 2012 shows Leader of People's Freedom party Boris Nemtsov (C) taking part in a protest against president-elect Vladimir Putinon at the Red square in Moscow, Moscow. The "People's Freedom Party'? As if ? That should appeal to the gullible western audience! Freedom always means fascism
"Some of those warnings appeared in these pages. In March 2012, he and fellow opposition leader Garry Kasparov warned against President Obama’s “reset” with Russia, urging that the Administration replace the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik amendment with the Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on Russian officials guilty of human-rights violations.Nemtsov was also not afraid of criticizing Mr. Putin by name, noting in that same op-ed that he “is not the legitimate leader of Russia” given the ballot stuffing that went into his 2012 election. For his honesty he was repeatedly arrested and jailed by the Russian government. He was also the rare Russian willing to speak up for Ukraine’s democracy movement. “By supporting Ukraine,” he said in December 2013, “we also support ourselves.”How often have we all read this same type of language being used, words that bring new life to old memes, promoted by the war mongering media- you can interchange Putin with any western targeted leader. It is exactly the same Modus Operandi
With his murder, Nemtsov’s name now joins that of other opponents of Mr. Putin who have met violent deaths or otherwise been brutalized by his regime: journalist Anna Politkovskaya, human-rights researcher Natalya Estemirova, opposition leader Alexei Navalny. One day their names will be celebrated in Russia, long after Mr. Putin is gone."Flashback to 1997-
This article was originally published in March of 1997. Mr. Nemtsov was shot dead in Moscow on Friday.
In the most significant shuffle in years, President Boris Yeltsin has recruited one of Russia's top young reformers for his revamped cabinet, signalling a greater pro-Western and pro-market direction for the Russian government.
Boris Nemstov and the Western stooge drunkard YeltsinBoris Nemtsov, 37, the governor of Nizhny Novgorod region east of Moscow, who became the darling of Western bankers for his aggressive privatization program, was appointed yesterday to Mr. Yeltsin's cabinet as a first deputy prime minister.The "Darling of Western Bankers"
Mr. Nemtsov and another reformer, Anatoly Chubais, 41, will be the highest-ranking lieutenants to Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin in the overhauled cabinet. They will have a clear mandate to push ahead with the much-promised market reforms that have bogged down in a swamp of bureaucratic resistance and corruption in recent years.Mr. Nemtsov has been assigned the daunting task of restructuring Russia's powerful monopolies and reforming the housing and social sectors to make them targeted to the neediest people.Restructuring powerful monopolies? To the benefit of certain ( Jewish) Oligarchs and their banker backers - Flashback to December 2010: Mikhail Khodorkovsky & Platon Lebedev found guilty of embezzlement
"In 2003, when Khodorkovsky was arrested, he signed over all his shares in Yukos, to one Jacob Rothschild, of the Rothschild banker and Oil family. If all the top Yukos managers were unable to carry out the role, Lord Rothschild would take over, the company official told Kommersant on condition of anonymity" But  of course.... "Boris Nemtsov, 52, is one of Russia's veteran liberal politicians. He was born in Sochi on the Black Sea, to Jewish parents, and studied radiophysics in the industrial city of Nizhny Novgorod" Explains the 'darling of western bankers' description- 
 In 2004 he supported Ukraine's Orange Revolution and became an economic adviser for Viktor Yushchenko,.....This puts Boris Nemstov firmly in bed with Boris Berezovsky

The boyish-looking English-speaking governor, who impressed Western financiers by pioneering the privatization of farmland and shops in his region, told reporters that Mr. Yeltsin has promised him "complete carte blanche" to push ahead with reforms.That was confirmed by Mr. Yeltsin himself. "Two young men -- you and Anatoly Chubais -- create a fresh young team in the government, from scratch," the President told Mr. Nemtsov in a meeting shown on Russian television yesterday. "No one [else] has been appointed yet. All candidates to the government will be agreed with the two first deputy premiers. I will not accept anything without you."Mr Nemstov & Chubais were clearly running the show and Yeltsin absolutely knew that! Hence the no one appointed without the approval of Nemstov and Chubais and no decisions with out their approval, either!
Later in the day, Mr. Yeltsin unveiled a slimmer new cabinet, with several other reformers promoted and old-guard bureaucrats demoted. A close ally of Mr. Chubais, the privatization chief Alfred Kokh, was named one of the six deputy prime ministers.
At least five of the eight highest-ranking members of the new cabinet are reformers. Only one, interior minister Anatoly Kulikov, is considered a conservative.
Mr. Nemtsov promised the new cabinet would introduce sweeping reforms. "Dramatic changes are needed," he told reporters yesterday.Indeed, the Yeltsin government could be "doomed" if it fails to produce significant improvements in the next few months, Mr. Nemtsov warned.The darling of Western bankers warns that the Yeltsin government is "doomed" if it failed to produce significant improvements...- Who was in charge?
He endorsed the Kremlin's decision to streamline the government and reduce the number of ministries. The ministry of industry, in particular, should be eliminated because it "damages the economy" by lobbying for the interests of "certain financial and industrial groups," he said. The new cabinet, unlike previous ones, is expected to mesh together in a clearly reformist direction. Mr. Chubais and Mr. Nemtsov have worked closely together in the past, and their joint ascendancy in the new cabinet should reduce the costly internal feuding that has weakened the government.
In a further strengthening of the young reformers, Mr. Chubais has been given the job of finance minister, in addition to his duties as the supervisor of economic reform.Another new deputy premier is Oleg Sysuyev, the reformist mayor of the city of Samara. The Kremlin's decision to recruit Mr. Nemtsov and Mr. Sysuyev for the new cabinet is a signal of the growing power of the Russian regions, which have successfully pushed for the devolution of Moscow's authority in recent years. Mr. Yeltsin praised the regional roots of his newest lieutenant yesterday. "You are not from Moscow, not from a soiled pack of cards," he told Mr. Nemtsov. As a condition of accepting the cabinet job, Mr. Nemtsov obtained a guarantee that he can remain as the governor of Nizhny Novgorod region for another two years. He will commute between Moscow and his home region, splitting his time between the two jobs.
Mr. Nemtsov has built his career on his sense of pragmatism and populism. Despite the painful cost of market reforms, he has maintained a high ranking in the opinion polls in his home region. Yesterday, he demonstrated his well-tuned political antennae by making a populist pledge to get rid of the cabinet's foreign limousines."It is high time to stop riding in Mercedes and Rolls Royces," he told Russian television. "All officials should switch to home-produced cars. This will be one of our first decisions."
Perhaps not by coincidence, a factory in Mr. Nemtsov's home region is a leading producer of Russian limousines, and it would probably benefit from any decision to switch to domestic cars.
Mr. Nemtsov portrayed the planned reforms as an essential step to "restore order" in Russia. He vowed to remain honest, despite the pressures of Moscow politics. "I will not tell lies, I will not take bribes, and I will not steal," he said.
Three years ago, Mr. Yeltsin predicted Mr. Nemtsov would become the Russian president some day. The Russian media have described him as a "born politician." But his new cabinet post could be "suicidal" for his career, Mr. Nemtsov said yesterday. "I've written off my political future," he said.Yeltsin- the drunken western puppet, didn't choose the man that man he pronounced would be the Russian President- Clearly Nemstov was foisted on Yeltsin!
The crucial question for the new cabinet is whether it can resist the pressure of the industrial lobbies. The previous finance minister, Alexander Livshits, was often defeated by those lobbies when he tried to reduce subsidies and tax exemptions. "He didn't have enough power to oppose sectoral interests," said Andrei Kortunov, a political analyst in Moscow. "He was an outsider and he lacked the stature and the financial connections."
Mr. Nemtsov, for his part, has been overrated by his Western fans, but he could still produce some improvement in the government, Mr. Kortunov said. "I'm cautiously optimistic. There are new people, fresh blood, and they could give another push to reform. It's substantial -- it's more important than other changes in previous years."
The cabinet shuffle is the latest sign of Mr. Yeltsin's new energy and vigour. In another token of his feisty mood yesterday, he lashed out at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, accusing it of trying to establish a "cordon" around Russia's borders.
"I'm not worried that NATO will attack, Russia would simply hit back," he said yesterday, just three days before a summit meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Helsinki. "What I am afraid of is that blockade, a blockade of Russia by the West, which we cannot allow."
Mr. Yeltsin also complained NATO is preparing for military exercises in the Black Sea, near Crimea, a region which was traditionally within Moscow's sphere of influence.
But on a conciliatory note, Mr. Yeltsin suggested Russia could reduce its nuclear arsenal in a new START-3 disarmament treaty, as long as the United States makes the same cuts. The media is pushing this story as if it was Putin himself, that pulled the trigger. But the fact is, from all my reading, there is zero proof of Putin being connected, having knowledge of or benefiting from the death of this man.

Nemstov shot on bridge There is no doubt that this crime was carefully planned. The location and timing of the killing indicated that as well. The investigation found out that Boris Nemtsov was going with his female friend to his apartment, which is located close to the murder scene. The organizers and the executers apparently knew his route,” Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigative Committee, told journalists.Be Aware! - The media is attempting to link this to alleged threats from Islamists. Relating to the Charlie Hebdo incident-
"Nemtsov had received threats in connection with his position on the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris last month"
RT is reporting 
'Later in the day, the car allegedly used in the attack was discovered not far from the scene of the crime. Russian media reported that it had Ingushetian license plates"
Ingushetia-  This should tie into the radical Islam theme quite well
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Breaking news: FALSE FLAG IN MOSCOW!

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 18:05
Boris Nemtsov has been shot dead in Moscow.  He was one of the most charismatic leaders of the "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" opposition in Russia (please understand that in the Russian context "liberal" and "democratic" means pro-US or even CIA-run, while "non-system" means too small to even get a single deputy in the Duma).  He was shot just a few days before the announced demonstration of the very same "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" opposition scheduled for March 1st. 

Nemtsov with YushchenkoAs I have already explained many times on this blog, the "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" opposition in Russia has a popular support somewhere in the range of 5% (max). In other words, it is politically *dead* (for a detailed explanation, please read "From Napoleon to Adolf Hitler to Conchita Wurst").  In the hopes of getting a higher number of people to the streets the "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system"opposition allied itself with the ultra-nationalists (usually useful idiots for the CIA) and the homosexual activists (also useful idiots for the CIA).  Apparently, this was not enough.

And now, in *perfect* timing, Nemtsov is murdered.

We all know the reaction of the AngloZionists and their propaganda machine.  It will be exactly the same as for MH-17: Putin the Murderer!!! Democracy Shot!! Freedom Killed!! etc. etc. etc. etc.

There is no doubt in my mind at all that either this is a fantastically unlikely but always possible case of really bad luck for Putin and Nemtsov was shot by some nutcase or mugged, or this was a absolutely prototypical western false flag: you take a spent politician who has no credibility left with anyone with an IQ over 70, and you turn him into an instant "martyr for freedom, democracy, human right and civilization".

By the way if, as I believe, this is a false flag, I expect it to be a stunning success in the West and a total flop in Russia: by now, Russians already can smell that kind of setup a mile away and after MH-17 everybody was expecting a false flag.  So, if anything, it will only increase the hostility of Russians towards the West and rally them around Putin.  In the Empire, however, this will be huge, better than Politkovskaya or Litvinenko combined.  A "Nemtsov" prize will be created, a Nemtov statue will be place somewhere (in Warsaw?), the US Congress will pass a "Nemtsov law" and the usual combo package of "democratic hagiography" will be whipped-up.

What worries me most is that the Russian security services did not see this one coming and let it happen.  This is a major failure for the FSB which will now have a lot at stake to find out who did it.  I expect them to find a fall-guy, a patsy, who will have no provable contacts with any western services and who, ideally, might even have some contacts with the Russian services (like Andrei Lugovoi).

As for the "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" - it will probably re-brand the upcoming protests as a "tribute to Nemtsov" thereby getting more people into the streets.

There are folks in Langley tonight who got a promotion.

The Saker
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As any other form of warfare, information warfare also needs funding. Please help.

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 10:45
Dear friends,

In the recent weeks the donations have fallen to almost *zero* even though the combined readership between the two blogs is comfortably over 50'000 a day.  Please help me to continue putting as many hours of work each day into the old and new blog and bring you the same quantity and quality of information and analyses.  As any other form of warfare, information warfare also needs funding.  Please help.

Thank you,

The Saker
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27.02.2015 Novorossian State-Building Report. Ukraine Today

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 10:31
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M. Khazin, “Relevant notes on Greece”

THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 10:16

Translated by Mikhael

A brief overview of post-election situation in Greece. This is a translation of the Russian version, there is also a published Greek translation

There is a new government in Greece. A left-wing government that has a rather complicated relationship with the “sacred right of private ownership”, particularly when it comes to Greek sovereign debt. In other words, it is leaning towards triggering a full blown debt crisis in the EU (and possibly impacting the entire world). But, as we have been taught back in 2008, a crisis doesn’t just bring problems, it also unveils new opportunities. That’s why it is important to have a more in-depth understanding of Greek politics, in particular to be able to recognize who will benefit from these new opportunities. To be able to analyze the situation correctly, it is necessary to explain one very important point crucial to understanding the events that are unfolding in the EU today.

Debt accumulation was a “reaganomics” instrument used to stimulate consumer demand, first in the USA and then, starting in 1981, across the entire world. In particular, by year 2008, the average household debt in the USA increased more than twofold when compared to 1980 (from 60-65% of available income to over 130%). The situation is a little better in the EU, but in Europe state budgets were used to stimulate consumer demand, resulting in higher national debts. The USA is quickly catching up in that department.

These debts were serviced using refinancing, supported by gradual decrease in borrowing costs (the minimum interest rate set by the Federal Reserve has gone from 19% in 1980 to just about 0% in 2008). Today it is impossible to repay these debts even with zero percent interest rate on refinancing without sharply declining the standard of living for general population. A twofold decline in the EU and the USA would be necessary. But that is unacceptable, which means that these debts need to be somehow liquidated. Either written off or dealt with at the cost of high inflation rates.

I will say this once again: it is impossible to pay off the debt that has been accumulated within the world economy, it simply does not generate financial flows on a scale required for this task. For example, the real average wage in the USA has not changed since 1950’s. All the increased spending happens at the cost of increased household and national debt, and declining savings. This problem must be solved, or it will resolve on its own – through a major economic crisis.

And this problem is already being dealt with. The first experiment was the restructuring of banks in Cyprus. It tested depositors’ reaction to the banks’ refusal to return their funds (or, rather, part of the funds). The experiment was a success – disgruntled depositors have not been able to win a single court case so far. It is possible that some of them were able to settle their claims informally, but such information is not openly available.

However, there is also the problem of national debt, which, in many ways, is a lot more complex as it is no longer about disgruntled ordinary households who can’t really hold the banks responsible, but instead it is going to affect major banks and financial institutions. For this very reason, any actions related to national debt need to be thoroughly planned and tested to avoid any risk. And this is where it would be fitting to recall a phrase from an old comedy: “the most dangerous experiments involve the least valuable members of the crew”.

Note this – when Haider got into Austrian government, Austria was ostracized in EU. A similar reaction could be observed when Jean-Marie Le Pen took part in the final round of presidential elections in France. These were classic right-wing politicians who would be considered mainstream in 1950’s. What about now? Left-wing party wins elections in Greece (with right-wing joining the ruling coalition), but we see no reaction from the EU political establishment, they are silent.

There is also another interesting circumstance. World debt accumulation was made possible by US dollar emission. This emission was supposed to be backed up by new assets, but, since 1990’s, when all former Soviet assets were finally “digested”, nothing new of any considerable value emerged in the world. Therefore, the usual mechanisms of redistribution of the emitted currency no longer work – this is another aspect of falling household incomes in most countries across the world. This brings us to an important question: how can the US be forced to share with the rest of the world?

“Old” elites, who benefited from emission income redistribution for many years, cannot do it – this must be done by new political figures who are currently part of opposition elites. There are minor exceptions such as Hungary. This small (for now?) country in Eastern Europe openly used blackmail when it gave its government control over the central bank. This decision was later revoked, but it is nearly impossible to get the full details of the deal through media resources. Greece has now become the second country in the EU where opposition elites came to power.

I suspect that this particular country will be “the least valuable member of the crew” which will be used to test mechanisms for writing off national debt. Hungary would not be a good choice for this – the government has too much support and its position looks pretty solid. It would be very hard for the EU to force its policies in Hungary.

Let’s reiterate the main point: there is a very high probability that EU leadership wants to use Greece as a “guinea pig” to test national debt write off mechanisms. Greece will get all the “cuts and bruises”, while the rest of the EU will get invaluable experience in minimizing negative consequences of an operation that will eventually have to take place in every country across the world. The main objective of the new Greek government is to get the highest possible compensation for participating in this “experiment”.

I will not be giving advices to the new Greek government – forewarned is forearmed. Especially considering that I do not specialize in politics, I am an economist. But it is necessary to take into account certain developments which might end up being very important. First of all – since opposition elites in the EU will be gaining more and more strength, there is no need to be worried about serious, on the edge of blackmail, confrontation scenarios. They will find their way into world politics one way or another, if not tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow.

Secondly, it is important to understand that the EU (and the world) does not care about Greek national debt, it just needs to test new mechanisms. And after this task is accomplished, the reaction to future attempts to write off or restructure national debt might be a lot tougher. That’s why the solution must be found on the largest possible scale, no need to run small-scale experiments.

Thirdly, EU leadership will try to control the situation by applying pressure on the government “from below”. In other words – various social protests will be organized whenever it will appear that the new Greek government is not “behaving”. And it must be ready for such developments.

Fourthly, there is just not that much time left. Various market indicators are suggesting that US markets have reached critical points in terms of overheating and a considerable correction is imminent. And if it begins, mostly likely there will no longer be enough time for complex operations.

In conclusion, it can be noted that the new Greek government has some very interesting political tools that doubtfulness should be used to improve the economic situation in the country. But they should be used with utmost caution to get maximum benefits and avoid potential dangers.
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The article was translated into Greek:
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