Monday, February 20, 2017

Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin dies day before turning 65

Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin dies day before turning 65

Vitaly Churkin, who served as Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations since 2006, "died suddenly" in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced.
Churkin would have turned 65 on Tuesday. 
The announcement "of the untimely passing away of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin this morning" was met with shock when it was delivered during a session at the UN headquarters.
"He was a dear colleague of all of us, a deeply committed diplomat of his country and one of the finest people we have known," a UN official who delivered the news to her colleagues said.

Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin dies (SPECIAL COVERAGE)

Vitaly Churkin, who served as Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations since 2006, "died suddenly" in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced.


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Sunday, February 19, 2017

‘America wants empire and for Europeans to remain subservient’

‘America wants empire and for Europeans to remain subservient’

‘America wants empire and for Europeans to remain subservient’
The US spends more on its military than the next seven nations combined. Russian military spending is a fraction of US spending. The US spends an enormous amount on the military to maintain its empire, says Daniel McAdams, executive director, Ron Paul Peace Institute.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Friday met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the sidelines of the annualMunich Security Conference. Although both admitted the need for dialogue, the mood at the table was palpably tense.
NATO's expansion has led to an unprecedented level of tension over the last 30 years in Europe," Lavrov told the Munich conference. 
Statements made by Western politicians at the Munich Security Conference indicate that the Cold War is not over yet, he said.
They say that all wars begin in the minds of people, and by this logic, that’s where they are supposed to come to an end. However, this hasn’t been the case with the Cold War yet, [at least] judging by some speeches of politicians in Europe and in the US, including statements that were made yesterday and today at the beginning of our conference,the Russian Foreign Minister noted.
Meanwhile, there is also dissonance among Western leaders, including the issue of NATO expenses, as the Trump administration calls on European members to pay their bills to the 28-member defense bloc and boost defense spending.
RT: Can this split that we see happening among the US, the European Union and Russia deepen? What can we read into the situation at this time? 
Daniel McAdams: I think it is all very healthy because everyone is going to have their bluff called. The Europeans are screaming about ‘Russian aggression’ and how they must do something about Russian aggression. Obviously if they felt threatened they would spend more of their own money defending themselves, as any normal person would have if they felt threatened.
The US on the other hand wants to essentially have an empire, but wants the Europeans to be subservient, and President Trump wants to do the impossible which is to spend a trillion dollars a year on the military; a trillion dollars a year on infrastructure, and however much on an upgraded nuclear arsenal – it is absolutely impossible. So heads are going to clash, and it is a very good thing because it might bring us to reassessing what are our defense objectives, rather than what are the US military empire’s objectives.  
RT: Do you think Donald Trump will take a harder line than his predecessors on getting other states to pay up? What is he going to do? 
DM: There is a fundamental clash, as I said earlier. And there will be one between [Jean-Claude] Juncker and Trump. And I welcome it; I’ll pop the popcorn to see that. I think it is very helpful to have these clashes. The US spends more on its military than the next seven nations combined. The Russian military spending, I think, is one-seventh or one-tenth of the US spending. So the fact of the matter is the US spends an enormous amount on the military to maintain its empire. It cannot continue. The Europeans are not going to spend the two percent that’s required. What is going to happen next? Trump is sending mixed signals. He sent [James] Mattis over to play the tough guy – to say the US is all in for NATO, but you’ve got to pay up. The Europeans are not going to pay up. So we’ll see who blinks first.     
RT: Europe says it doesn't need to increase its spending on NATO, so why are some member states demanding more protection? 
DM: They want protection, but they want it for free. And they want to provoke Russia by putting troops on Russia’s border, and then complaining about Russian aggression. Well, they can’t have it both ways. They are going to have to make a decision. Are going to have to change their foreign policy? I think it would be best if all nations spent less on the military. I would like to see the US spend instead of four percent, two percent or less.
Figure out what our real needs are, and spend according to our needs, rather than the demands of the military industrial complex, which frankly is what NATO is all about. It is about selling US weapons overseas; forcing US weapons down the throats of countries that can’t afford to buy them to enrich people in Washington. 

NATO bill collector cometh

John Wight, political commentator, author 
RT: They can’t decide on many issues at the Munich Security conference. Where do you expect this split to go? Is it going to get worse?   
John Wight: I think it will go worse. Mr. Juncker’s extraordinarily bullish response may well be based on his belief, a belief shared by many, that Donald Trump’s presidency is not destined to last. Given the unprecedented hostility that he is facing in Washington from all sectors from the political establishment, the deep state, the media, Juncker has a point. Of course this two percent threshold was agreed at the NATO Summit in 2014, and as of now only five of NATO’s 28 members- states are meeting this threshold, those being the US, the UK, Poland, Greece and Estonia. So Donald Trump has a point: If they want to maintain this military alliance that they start footing the bill, rather than relying on Washington to do so. 

'Deadlock': Donbass Blockade Risks Plunging Ukraine into Energy Collapse

Independence Square in Kiev

'Deadlock': Donbass Blockade Risks Plunging Ukraine into Energy Collapse

© Sputnik/ Vitaliy Belousov
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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed an order on neutralizing threats to the country’s energy sector. According to Russian journalist and expert Leonid Khazanov, Ukraine risks plunging into an energy collapse.

On Friday, Poroshenko enacted a decree earlier adopted by the National Security and Defense Council on diversification of coal supplies sources and creating reserves of power generating coal.
In addition, the Council also decided to tighten control over the products’ movement in the region of Donbass.
It also tasked the government with developing measures to neutralize threats to Ukraine’s energy security and imposing a ban on anthracite exports from Ukraine. The government is also in charge of rebuilding transportation infrastructure damaged during a military operation in Donbass.
In late December 2016, a so-called Ukrainian volunteer fighters group declared a trade and economic blockade of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR). According to the group, any trade operations with the self-proclaimed republics are illegal.
The blockade resulted in disruptions in anthracite shipments from Donbass territories which are not controlled by Kiev and forced the government to introduce a state of emergency in the energy sector.
On Monday, Energy Minister Ihor Nasalyk said that the country's reserves of coal for energy-generating power plants may be depleted in up to 45 days if the blockade is not lifted.
Russian journalist and industrial expert Leonid Khazanov stressed that the measures Kiev is taking are insufficient to resolve the energy conundrum.
"Ukraine risks plunging in to an energy catastrophe, with all that it implies for people and the Ukrainian industrial sector. But if they [the government] had wanted to fight radicals they would have taken real measures, not just a decree. It seems that President Poroshenko has no control over the situation on railways or he fears an escalation," Khazanov told Radio Sputnik.
The expert noted that Kiev could compensate for the coal shortage with supplies from Russia and other countries. However, Ukraine lacks financial resources and the West is unlikely to come to help in this situation.
"The question now is where to buy coal. One option is supplies from Russia. Other variants include other foreign markets, but they are more expensive than shipments from Donbass or Russia," Khazanov pointed out.
He also underscored that if Ukraine decides to find other foreign suppliers not all of them will agree to work with Kiev due to its financial difficulties.
"Ukraine doesn’t have money to afford such shipments. They could ask for help from the International Monetary Fund or the United States. But I don’t think they would give money. Western politicians are pragmatic. What can Poroshenko give in exchange? His loyalty [to the West] is not enough," Khazanov said.
According to him, the situation in the Ukrainian energy sector is a "deadlock."
"Maybe Kiev should initiate dialogue with Donbass or ask help from Russia. But Kiev-Moscow ties are very tense now. As I see, Ukraine is nearing a deadlock," he concluded.


At midday on Friday 5 February, 2016 Julian Assange, John Jones QC, Melinda Taylor, Jennifer Robinson and Baltasar Garzon will be speaking at a press conference at the Frontline Club on the decision made by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on the Assange case.


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