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7 things you need to know about the results of the Trump-Putin meeting

It was a political victory for both Putin and Trump with possibly important short-term geo-political implications.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has given a detailed explanation of what was discussed during the meeting between himself, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Rex Tilleron. The meeting which was supposed to last for 35 minutes went on for 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Here are the main points.

1. Syria

The United States, Russia and Jordan will implement and guarantee a ceasefire in south-western Syria, covering Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida. The ceasefire will coincide with the creation of a new de-escalation zone in the region which will be monitored jointly by Russia, the US and Jordan. The details of this were enshrined in a memorandum on de-escalation zones agreed between Washington, Moscow and Amman.

The ceasefire will formally begin at 12.00 Damascus time on 9 July, 2017.

Lavrov stated that the US has agreed on the importance of respecting Syrian sovereignty and will work for a political solution. The clear implication here is that the US has agreed with Russia not to engage in regime change in Damascus. In other words , Trump more or less told Putin, ‘Assad can and will stay’.

Sergey Lavrov also confirmed that the new ceasefire and de-escalation zone in south western Syria does not replace but compliments the de-escalation zones established in the Astana Memorandum which was signed in May of 2017.

2. Ukraine–Donbass War and Crimean Peninsula 

The Presidents of Russia and the US have agreed to set up a bilateral channel of communication between Moscow and Washington on the continuing war in Donbass and the deteriorating situation in Ukraine.

Meetings will shortly be held in Moscow between the Russian Foreign Ministry and the US envoy for Ukrainian issues who was named today by the US as Washington’s former ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker.

The discussions will work towards implementing the Minsk agreements for a ceasefire in the Donbass war.

Lavrov confirmed that Donald Trump did not offer a unique opinion nor any solutions to the Donbass-Ukraine crisis beyond a commitment to the existing Minsk agreements and the existing Normandy format for peace.

It was also confirmed that Trump and Putin spoke about the Crimean peninsula but no further details were given on this matter.

3. Russiagate and Cyber-security

Sergey Lavrov stated that Donald Trump accepted President Putin’s assurances that Russia played no part in any hacking or meddling in the recent US Presidential election.

Russia and the US will continue to discuss this issue.

Sergey Lavrov conveyed Donald Trump’s assertions that the obsession in the US with Russigate is “bizarre”.

Russia and the US affirmed their commitment to cooperate in cyber-security against terrorism, paedophilia, suicide encouragement and organised crime activities.

4. North Korea 

Sergey Lavrov and Rex Tillerson will be in close communication over the issue of de-escalation on the Korean peninsula.

Russia and the US will also work on the issue within the UN Security Council

5. Russian Ambassadors/property in the US and Russian nationals in US prisons 

Donald Trump has promised to work with Russia to expedite the process of bringing new Russian ambassadors and embassy staff to the United States after Barack Obama kicked them out late in Obama’s final period in power.

The two sides will also work together on the restoration of Russian property in the US seized by the Obama regime.

The two sides will also continue to work on the issue of human rights matters concerning Russian  nationals in US custody including Viktor Bout.

6. Personal relations 

Lavrov refused to call Trump and Putin friends and instead said that, the meeting was a,

“Constructive atmosphere because both Presidents were driven by their national interests. They also both understood that both countries can only do this (cooperate positively) if we search for a balance between the interests of both our countries”.

No future meetings were planned but both sides are committed to the agenda outlined in the meeting.

7. Analysis 

By far the most important result of the meeting was the creation of a de-escalation zone for south west Syria and the accompanying ceasefire.

This represents the second time that Russia has brought a state whose position has been adversarial in respect of the Syrian government into a political peace process that explicitly rejects regime change and seeks to work constructively with Russia.

The last time this happened was when Russia successfully brought Turkey into the Astana peace talks.

Some have speculated that Iran is being jettisoned from the peace process in Syria in favour of the US and America’s ally Jordan, but it is still vastly premature to make such a statement definitively. America’s deteriorating relationship with Turkey over the US support of Kurds in Syria and possibly also Iraq appears not to have been discussed.

However, the fact that the US, Russia and Jordan will be guarantors of the ceasefire in parts of Syria bordering Israel, as opposed to Iran which Israel has no relations with, means that Israel could cease its illegal acts of military aggression against Syria, thus giving the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian partners a better opportunity to rid south western Syrian of al-Qaeda terrorists.

Whereas Putin scored a geo-political victory in bringing America into a peace process that does not involve militant regime change, Donald Trump scored something of a domestic political victory. He can now say that after just a few months in office, he was able to reach an agreement with Russia while Obama failed to achieve anything remotely close to this.

Much like questions over Turkey’s participation in the Astana process, there are no guarantees that America will live up to its obligations or that the de-escalation zone in south west Syria will work. In this sense, as with Astana, the political and geo-political implications are more important than the military implications.

Militarily speaking, Syria with Russian aid is quickly finishing off most terrorist groups west of the Euphrates. Astana did not inhibit this (if anything since the Astana memorandum was signed, this has become expedited) and there is no saying that this new ceasefire will have any negative impact on this. It could have a positive one, especially if it causes Israel to cease its aggression against Syria, however temporarily.

In respect of Donbass, it is clear that Donald Trump has few concerns about this conflict which realistically means that he will be less likely to placate the fascist regime in Kiev than his predecessor Barack Obama was. Beyond this, there were really no startling or new developments on this issue.

Finally, on the Russian hacking allegations, it is clear that Donald Trump believes Vladimir Putin more than he believes members of the Democratic party, some Republicans and the US mainstream media. This should not come as a surprise based on previous statements by Trump.

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Russia ranks HIGHER than Switzerland in these areas of doing business

Some curious things happened with several businesspeople who attended World Cup events in Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

One of them was a distinctly renewed interest in doing business inside the country, and another was the realization to what extent perceptions have been tainted by media and political rhetoric directed against any real or imagined nastiness attributed to Russia these days.

These past few weeks have been invaluable, at the very least by affording a clear picture of Russia through which almost all anxiety-ridden preconceptions were illuminated and dispelled. More disturbing was the fact that the several businesspeople I was dealing with were furious. They were livid for being played for fools, and felt victimized by the dismally untrue picture painted about Russia and Russians in their home countries, both by their own politicians and the press.

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Most felt that they have been personally sanctioned by their own countries, betrayed through lack of clear unbiased information enabling them to participate and profit from Russia opportunities these past three growth years in spite of “sanctions”.

The door to doing good business in Russia has been and is open, and has been opening wider year after year. That is not just “highly likely”, but fact. Consistently improving structures, means and methods to conduct business in Russia sustainably, transparently and profitably are now part of the country’s DNA. It is a process, which has been worked on in the west for more than a century, and one, which Russia has only started these past 18 years.

True, there are sanctions, counter-sanctions, and regulations governing them that must be studied carefully. However if you are not a bank or doing business with those persons deemed worthy of being blacklisted by some countries “sanctions list”, in reality there are no obstacles that cannot be positively addressed and legally overcome despite the choir of political nay-sayers.

READ MORE: Russia just dumped $80 BILLION in US debt

The days of quickly turning over Russia opportunities into short-term cash are rapidly fading, they are a throwback to the 1990’s. Today the major and open opportunities are in the areas for Foreign Direct Investments. The nature of FDI is long term to make regularly recurring sustainable returns on investment.

Long term, Russia always was and increasingly confirms that it is a vibrant and attractive market. There is a significant consumer market with spending power, a well-educated workforce, a wealth of resources and the list goes on. The economic obstacles encountered have largely been imposed from without, and not from the dynamics and energies of the Russian economy itself.

Eventually sanctions will end, although the timeline is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile business continues, and any long-term engagement within Russia by establishing a working presence will yield both short and long-term investment rewards. These will only be amplified when the sanctions regimes are removed. In any event, these aspects are long-term investment decisions and one of the criteria in any risk assessment.

For some added perspective, Russia is ranked by the Financial Times as the No.2 country in Europe in terms of capital investments into Europe. It has a 2017 market share of 9% (US$ 15.9 billion) and includes 203 business projects. This is 2% higher than 2016 and better that 2014/2015 when sanctions were imposed.

Another item of perspective is the Country Risk Premium. All investors consider this when calculating the scope for long-term return on investments. What may surprise some is that Russia is no longer ranked as a very high-risk country. For comparisons sake: The risk premium for Germany is zero (no extra risk), the risk premium for Italy is 2.19%, and for Russia, it is 2.54%. When compared to politically popular investment destinations like Ukraine the risk premium is 10.4%  – food for thought. Bottom line is that the risks of investing in Russia are a smidge higher than investing in Italy.

Russia is ranked 35 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The ranking of Russia improved to 35 in 2017 from 40 in 2016 and from 124 in 2010. It may also surprise some to learn that as concerns protecting the rights of minority investors, paying taxes, registering property and some other aspects of the World Bank comparisons, Russia comes out better than Switzerland (See: Rankings).

From operational standpoints, establishing an invested presence in Russia does not mean one must adopt Russian managerial methods or practices. The advantages for established foreign companies is that their management culture is readily applied and absorbed by a smart and willing workforce, enabling a seamless integration given the right training and tools.

The trend towards the ultimate globalization of business despite trade wars, tariffs, sanctions and counter-sanctions is clear. The internet of the planet, the blockchain and speed of information exchange makes it so whether we wish it or not. Personally, I hope that political globalization remains stillborn as geopolitics has a historical mandate to tinker with and play havoc with international trade.

Russia occupies a key strategic position between Europe and Asia. The “west” (US/Europe) have long had at times rather turbulent relationships with China. At the same time the Chinese are quite active investors in both the US and Europe, and western companies are often struggling to understand how to deal with China.

The answer to this conundrum is Russia: this is where East and West will ultimately come together with Russia playing a pivotal role in the relations between the west and China. At the end of the day, and taking the strategic long-term economic view, is what both Chinese and Western companies are investing in when they open their activities in Russia.

If long-term commitment and investment in Russia were simply a matter of transferring funds then I would not be bothering with this opinion article. Without a doubt, there are structural issues with investing in Russia. A still evolving and sometimes unclear rule of law, difficulties obtaining finance for investments directed towards Russia, the unique language and culture of business in the country. Nevertheless, companies that have an understanding and vision of global strategy will manage with these issues and have the means to mitigate them.

Money and other invested resources do not and should not play politics; any investment case when evaluated on objective financial criteria will reveal its fit, or lack of, within a company’s global strategic business objectives. The objective criteria for Russia over any long term horizon is both convincing and strong. This has been repeated by all of the businesspeople I have met with these past few weeks. Without doubt we shall see some new companies coming into the Russian market and objectively exploring the gains their playing fair business football here will yield.

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Media meltdown hits stupid levels as Trump and Putin hold first summit (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 58.

Alex Christoforou

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It was, and still remains a media meltdown of epic proportions as that dastardly ‘traitor’ US President Donald Trump decided to meet with that ‘thug’ Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Of course these are the simplistic and moronic epitaphs that are now universally being thrown around on everything from Morning Joe to Fox and Friends.

Mainstream media shills, and even intelligent alternative news political commentators, are all towing the same line, “thug” and “traitor”, while no one has given much thought to the policy and geo-political realities that have brought these two leaders together in Helsinki.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou provide some real news analysis of the historic Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, without the stupid ‘thug’ and ‘traitor’ monikers carelessly being thrown around by the tools that occupy much of the mainstream media. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

And if you though that one summit between Putin and Trump was more than enough to send the media into code level red meltdown, POTUS Trump is now hinting (maybe trolling) at a second Putin summit.

Via Zerohedge

And cue another ‘meltdown’ in 3…2…1…

While arguments continue over whether the Helsinki Summit was a success (end of Cold War 2.0) or not (most treasonous president ever), President Trump is convinced “The Summit was a great success,” and hints that there will be a second summit soon, where they will address: “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”

However, we suspect what will ‘trigger’ the liberal media to melt down is his use of the Stalin-esque term “enemy of the people” to describe the Fake News Media once again…

 

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While US seeks to up the ante on pressure on the DPRK, Russia proposes easing sanctions

These proposals show the dichotomy between the philosophy of US and Russian foreign policy

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The United States last week accused the DPRK of violating refined petroleum caps imposed as a part of UN nuclear sanctions dating back to 2006, and is therefore submitting a proposal to cut all petroleum product sales to North Korea.

The Trump administration is keen on not only preserving pressure on North Korea over its nuclear arms development, but in increasing that pressure even as DPRK Chairman, Kim Jong-Un, is serially meeting with world leaders in a bid to secure North Korea’s security and potential nuclear disarmament, a major move that could deescalate tensions in the region, end the war with the South, and ease global apprehensions about the North’s nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, Russia is proposing to the UNSC sanctions relief in some form due to the North’s expressed commitment to nuclear disarmament in the light of recent developments.

Reuters reports:

MOSCOW/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia’s envoy to North Korea said on Wednesday it would be logical to raise the question of easing sanctions on North Korea with the United Nations Security Council, as the United States pushes for a halt to refined petroleum exports to Pyongyang.

“The positive change on the Korean peninsula is now obvious,” said the ambassador, Alexander Matsegora, according to the RIA news agency, adding that Russia was ready to help modernize North Korea’s energy system if sanctions were lifted and if Pyongyang can find funding for the modernization.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

China tried late last month to get the Security Council to issue a statement praising the June 12 Singapore meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and expressing its “willingness to adjust the measures on the DPRK in light of the DPRK’s compliance with the resolutions.”

North Korea’s official name is Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

But the United States blocked the statement on June 28 given “ongoing and very sensitive talks between the United States and the DPRK at this time,” diplomats said. The same day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the importance of sanctions enforcement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to informally brief U.N. Security Council envoys along with South Korea and Japan on Friday.

Diplomats say they expect Pompeo to stress the need to maintain pressure on North Korea during his briefing on Friday.

In a tweet on Wednesday Trump said he elicited a promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin to help negotiate with North Korea but did not say how. He also said: “There is no rush, the sanctions remain!”

The United States accused North Korea last week of breaching a U.N. sanctions cap on refined petroleum by making illicit transfers between ships at sea and demanded an immediate end to all sales of the fuel.

The United States submitted the complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, which is due to decide by Thursday whether it will tell all U.N. member states to halt all transfers of refined petroleum to Pyongyang.

Such decisions are made by consensus and some diplomats said they expected China or Russia to delay or block the move.

When asked on June 13 about whether sanctions should be loosened, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We should be thinking about steps in that direction because inevitably there is progress on the track that should be reciprocal, that should be a two-way street. The other side should see encouragement to go forward.”

The proposals of both the United States and Russia are likely to be vetoed by each other, resulting no real changes, but what it displays is the foreign policy positions of both nuclear powers towards the relative position of the DPRK and its rhetorical move towards denuclearization. The US demonstrates that its campaign of increased pressure on the North is necessary to accomplishing the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula, while Russia’s philosophy on the matter is to show a mutual willingness to follow through on verbal commitment with a real show of action towards an improved relationship, mirroring on the ground what is happening in politics.

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