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A Russian’s view of RussiaGate

Who better to hear from about Russia’s response to RussiaGate than a Russian? We present Alexey Kovalev’s opinion piece with comments.

Seraphim Hanisch

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So, what did Russian people think of the RussiaGate investigation? Some of us here at The Duran live and work in Moscow, but we are usually Americans, and not Russians ourselves. This makes us able to listen and opine, but only as foreigners and not as people that are really, heart and soul, affected by the news and allegations that RussiaGate did to their country.

In other words, it ain’t personal for us, at least not in the same way.

But on March 29th, The New York Times performed a random act of journalistic integrity (though after the fact, as media outlets continue to feign a self-inventory of what drove them to pursue such a poorly verified story to the American public for two years), and they published an op=ed from a Russian citizen.

While it is not possible to say that what is contained here reflects the point of view of all Russians (I know this personally because I talk to so many of them here), it does reflect exactly what its writer, Alexey Kovalev, thinks. We present his thoughts to you here, with some added emphasis. At the end we offer some closing thoughts, but here is Mr. Kovalev’s piece:

Russians weren’t waiting for Robert Mueller’s report with quite the same excitement as Americans.

Russian state media’s coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency has vacillated between breathless adoration, mockery and outrage, but one thing has been consistent: The idea of Russia electing and controlling an American president has always been deemed absurd. Most references to the Mueller inquiry and the Trump-Russia story in state media are preceded by a qualifier: “the so-called Russia investigation,” as the prominent TV host Dmitry Kiselyov puts it.

It’s not just the state media that has rejected the idea that Mr. Trump colluded with Russia. Even liberals and opponents of President Vladimir Putin have been deeply skeptical, pointing out that Russia’s ruling circles are barely competent enough to prop themselves up, let alone manipulate a superpower.

When the news broke last week that Mr. Mueller had finished his report, Moscow’s political and media circles reacted with a mixture of contempt and derision. Far from being a top news story, it was practically forgotten after a few angry comments from state officials. Coverage focused far more on the coming election in Ukraine.

Alexey Pushkov, a former diplomat and a political analyst, tweeted to his 360,000 followers on Tuesday, following the release of Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the report: “The results of Mueller’s investigations are a disgrace to the U.S. and their political elite. It’s now confirmed that all their allegations have been plucked out of thin air. The media have played a shameful role of lie-mongers in a campaign built on lies. The adherents of this conspiracy theory are discredited. Only an idiot can believe them now.”

To the Kremlin and its supporters, Russia is the aggrieved party here, and the government’s consistent denials of interfering in America’s internal affairs have been fully vindicated. Appearing on the Russian talk show “60 Minutes,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, said the ministry was preparing a report to name and shame the “brigade of propagandists” — pointing at, among others, Fareed Zakaria — who tried to tie Mr. Trump to Russia. She added that “apologies are expected.”

These commentaries conveniently focused on the portions of Mr. Barr’s summary of the report that ruled out the Trump team’s coordination with Russian operatives, and they disregarded the fact that the full report has not been released. Other important portions of the report, which reached the unequivocal conclusion — also supported by independent investigations, including in Russian media — that there were, indeed, Russian efforts to influence the 2016 American election, went completely ignored.

But while government officials and state media tell one-sided stories and revel in “I-told-you-sos,” liberal Russians like myself and many of the people I know are less joyous. Online and in private conversations, it becomes clear that whatever the outcome of the Mueller investigation, our relationship with America has changed.

We interrupt Mr. Kovalev’s piece to reaffirm this last point he just said. Observations here on the ground in Moscow with many Russian people show that the relationship with America has changed. I have personally seen my dearest friends here, and my own wife, who is Russian, erupt with anger and bitterness over the treatment that their homeland receives – unjustly, from their American partners.

The fact is that for much of the time since the 2014 Olympics, and especially since the 2016 elections, Russia has been handed what amounts to an excrement sandwich over and over again from the American media and very prominent people within the American government.

Sadly, this includes President Trump himself at times, though he still gives open spaces that the media seems to (thankfully) miss, and President Vladimir Putin’s own relative silence on the latest in the tense relations (about the US, Russia and Venezuela) seems to be a signal that there remain some behind the scenes efforts to at least not escalate matters further.

Still, the bitterness and sense of frustration has caused many Russian people to give up on hopes for a better relationship with the American nation. They are mixed emotionally, because they do not hate Americans, but they often ask me to explain why the US policy decisions are going the way they are going.

The Russians are hardy people, and they are honestly quite used to their country being assailed and assaulted. But they are people too, and it is discouraging and maddening for them to see their amazing efforts to show who they really are as a nation (pro-life, pro-Christian, pro-traditional values) be simply blocked and ignored by the West.

Mr. Kovalev continues:

We’ve seen anti-Russian xenophobia spread into the American mainstream. Etched in our minds are comments like the one James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, made in an interview when he said that Russians are “almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever.”

“To those of us who paid attention to American media and politics over the past two years, it quickly became clear that too many in the United States know nothing about our country.

This climate hasn’t just offended us; it’s making our ability to communicate and share experiences with Americans more difficult. Take the example of Leonid Volkov, an opposition political operative who went to the United States last year as part of the Yale World Fellows program. In a blog post he wrote while there, he described his frustration while trying to monitor the midterm elections to gain insight for his own campaigns in Russia. The very idea of a Russian volunteering for an American political campaign is today so toxic, Mr. Volkov wrote, that he had to abandon his plan.

In the atmosphere where “contacts with Russians” has become cause for suspicion, every bank transaction and visa application faces extra scrutiny. I’ve heard from people I know about how exchange programs, conferences and businesses are suffering.

To those of us who paid attention to American media and politics over the past two years, it quickly became clear that too many in the United States know nothing about our country. Ominous images of onion-shaped domes taking over the White House baffled us; St. Basil’s Cathedral is not part of the Kremlin complex and has no political connotation. The ubiquity of hammers and sickles in visuals accompanying Trump-Russia reports seemed likewise absurd. Our country hasn’t been Communist for about 30 years.

We have few illusions about our own government, its dirty dealings abroad or our own toxic media. But we expected better of America.

Oleg Kashin, a prominent Russian journalist, wrote in a 2017 op-ed essay that “every time a Russian television network or pro-Kremlin newspaper reaches a new low, it was once commonplace among independent thinkers to say that the Western media giants never allowed themselves such mistakes.” That’s much harder to do now.

The end of the Mueller investigation and the conclusion that the Trump campaign didn’t collude with Russia may allow Washington and Moscow to begin to try to fix diplomatic and business relations. I’d be glad to see that. But my perception of the United States’ politics and media might have suffered irreparable damage as a result of #Russiagate, and I’m afraid that’s the case for many people like me. Robert Mueller can’t fix that.

It is truly remarkable that The New York Times ran this piece at all. Perhaps it was part of their mea culpa to try to save face after two solid years of deliberate false reporting designed to remove President Trump from office.

It is unlikely that we will ever get an honest admission. But Mr. Kovalev’s words are certainly honest from his point of view, and his thoughts and perceptions are a solid match for what we personally observe in Moscow and elsewhere in the Russian Federation. As an American, it is difficult to feel proud of what our country’s media and political elíte has done here.

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john vieira
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Fascinating how an attempt to deflect the Wikileaks, which coincidentally have NEVER been debunked, by the administration led, with the help and manipulation of a corrupted sold out mainstream fake media, to two years of extreme “bovine excreta” that anyone with a 1/4 brain SHOULD have realized before it even gained the traction it did…wonder what will happen in the future if another attempt is made to “unseat” an American president by the “deep state” as the censorship gnomes of social media have allied themselves with the MSM to deliver the “one” narrative???

Bob Valdez
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Bob Valdez

Well spoken.

Cudwieser
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Cudwieser

In short Russia never gave a shit about russiagate as it was typical US blow and bluster that ran old rhetoric and changed nothing so many thousand miles away…assuming a few Russian didn’t occasionally jest about the funny Americans.

Bill
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Bill

Assertions of Trump-Russia collusion in the 2016 election treated the American people as mindless idiots once no proof was offered or required. It all meant the further dumbing down of Americans.

Isabella
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Isabella

Curious about these “dirty dealings abroad” that the Russian Government gets up to, according to this writer.
Any chance he could list some, give us details and evidence for veracity?

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Peace on Korean Peninsula within reach, if only Trump can remove Pompeo & Bolton (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 152.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the results of the Putin-Kim summit in Vladivostok, Russia, aimed at boosting bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries, as well as working to contribute to a final peace settlement on the Korean peninsula.

Putin’s meeting with Kim may prove to be a pivotal diplomatic moment, as North Korea continues to work towards normalizing ties with the U.S. amidst ongoing denuclearization talks with the Trump White House.

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Via the BBC…

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un needs international security guarantees if he is to end his nuclear programme.

Such guarantees would need to be offered within a multinational framework, he added, following talks near Vladivostok in Russia’s far east.

Mr Kim praised the summit as a “very meaningful one-on-one exchange”.

Mr Putin said North Korea’s leader was “fairly open” and had “talked freely on all issues that were on the agenda”.

The meeting followed the breakdown of talks between the US and North Korea in February, when Mr Kim met US President Donald Trump in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

Those talks reportedly stalled over North Korea’s demand for full economic sanctions relief in return for some denuclearisation commitments – a deal the US was not willing to make.

Speaking after the talks on Thursday, Mr Putin said he wanted to see full denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

But he said this could only be achieved through respect for international law.

“We need to restore the power of international law, to return to a state where international law, not the law of the strongest, determines the situation in the world,” he said.

Mr Kim greeted Russian officials warmly when he arrived in Russia on Wednesday.

The North Korean leader was entertained by a brass band in Vladivostok before he got inside a car flanked by bodyguards, who – in now familiar scenes – jogged alongside the vehicle as it departed.

What do we know about the summit?

According to the Russian presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin believes the six-party talks on North Korea, which are currently stalled, are the only efficient way of addressing the issue of nuclear weapons on the peninsula.

Those talks, which began in 2003, involve the two Koreas as well as China, Japan, Russia and the US.

“There are no other efficient international mechanisms at the moment,” Mr Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

“But, on the other hand, efforts are being made by other countries. Here all efforts merit support as long as they really aim at de-nuclearisation and resolving the problem of the two Koreas.”

What do both sides want?

This visit is being widely viewed as an opportunity for North Korea to show it has powerful allies following the breakdown of the talks with the US in February.

The country has blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the collapse of the Hanoi summit. Earlier this month North Korea demanded that Mr Pompeo be removed from nuclear talks, accusing him of “talking nonsense” and asking for someone “more careful” to replace him.

The summit is also an opportunity for Pyongyang to show that its economic future does not depend solely on the US. Mr Kim may try to put pressure on Moscow to ease sanctions.

Analysts say the summit is an opportunity for Russia to show that it is an important player on the Korean peninsula.

President Putin has been eager to meet the North Korean leader for quite some time. Yet amid the two Trump-Kim summits, the Kremlin has been somewhat sidelined.

Russia, like the US and China, is uncomfortable with North Korea being a nuclear state.

How close are Russia and North Korea?

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union (of which Russia is the main successor state) maintained close military and trade links with its communist ally, North Korea, for ideological and strategic reasons.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, trade links with post-communist Russia shrank and North Korea leaned towards China as its main ally.

Under President Putin, Russia recovered economically and in 2014 he wrote off most of North Korea’s Soviet-era debt in a major goodwill gesture.

While it is arguable how much leverage Russia has with the North today, the communist state still regards it as one of the least hostile foreign powers.

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Putin meets Kim for the first time (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at the historic meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.

The meeting marks the first ever summit between the two leaders.

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Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via RT…

Leaders of Russia and North Korea sat down for a historic summit in Vladivostok, expressing hope it will revive the peace process in the Korean Peninsula and talks on normalizing relations with the US.

The summit on Russky Island, just off Vladivostok, started a little late because President Vladimir Putin’s flight was delayed. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had made the trip by train, arriving on Wednesday.

In brief public remarks before the talks, the two leaders expressed hope the summit will help move forward the reconciliation process in the Korean Peninsula. Putin welcomed Kim’s contributions to “normalizing relations” with the US and opening a dialogue with South Korea.

Kim said he hoped the Vladivostok summit would be a “milestone” in the talks about denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but also build upon “traditionally friendly ties” between Russia and North Korea.

The North Korean leader also made a point of thanking Putin for flying all the way to Vladivostok for the meeting. The Far East Russian city is only 129 kilometers from the border with North Korea.

The historic summit takes place less than two months after Kim’s second summit with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi fell apart without a breakthrough on denuclearization. The US rejected North Korea’s request for partial sanctions relief in return for moves to dismantle nuclear and missile programs; Washington insists on full disarmament before any sanctions are removed.

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the main subject of the Kim-Putin summit, but there will also be talks about bilateral relations, trade, and humanitarian aid. The first one-on-one meeting is scheduled to last about an hour, followed by further consultations involving other government officials.

Following the summit, Putin is scheduled to visit China.

 

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Kim And Putin: Changing The State Of The Board In Korea

The future of Korea could be decided by these two men today.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


Today is a big day for Korea. The first face-to-face summit of Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un takes place.

At the same time the 2nd annual Belt and Road Forum kicks off in Beijing.

This meeting between Putin and Kim has been in the works for a while but rumors of it only surfaced last week. But don’t let the idea that this was put together at the last minute fool you.

It wasn’t.

The future of Korea could be decided by these two men today.

I know that sounds bold. But hear me out.

And while no one seems to think this meeting is important or that anything of substance will come from it I do. It is exactly the kind of surprise that Putin loves to spring on the world without notice and by doing so change the board state of geopolitics.

  • Russia’s entrance into Syria in 2015, two days after Putin’s historic speech at the U.N. General Assembly
  • 2018’s State of the Union address where he announced hypersonic missiles, embarrassing the U.S. Militiary-Industrial Complex which accelerated the Bolton Doctrine of subjugating the world
  • Flying 2 TU-160 nuclear-armed bombers to Venezuela, creating panic in D.C. leading to the ham-fisted regime change operations there.
  • Nationalization of Yukos.
  • The operation to secure Crimea from U.S. invasion by marines aboard the U.S.S Donald Cook during the Ukrainian uprising against Viktor Yanukovich.

Both Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping are angry at the breakdown of the talks in Hanoi back in February. It was clear that everyone expected that meeting to be a rubber stamp on a deal already agreed to by all parties involved.

In fact the two meetings between Kim and Trump were only possible because Trump convinced them of his sincerity to resolve the ‘denuclearization’ of North Korea which would clear a path to rapid reunification.

It’s why they went along with the U.S.’s increased sanctions on North Korea as administered through the U.N. in 2017.

That John Bolton and Mike Pompeo destroyed those talks and Trump was unwilling or unable (who cares at this point, frankly, useless piece of crap that he is) to stop them embarrassed and betrayed them.

They are now done with Trump.

He’ll get nothing from either of them or Kim until Trump can prove he’s in charge of his administration, which he, clearly, is not.

And they will be moving forward with their own agenda for security and Asian economic integration. So I don’t think the timing of this meeting with that of the Belt and Road Forum is an accident.

And that means moving forward on solving the Korea problem without Trump.

It is clear from the rhetoric of Putin’s top diplomat, the irreplaceable Sergei Lavrov, that Russia’s patience is over. They are no longer interested in what Trump wants and they will now treat the U.S. as a threat, having upped their military stance towards the U.S. to that of “Threat.”

If Bolton wants anything from Russia at this point he best be prepared to start a war or piss off.

This is also why Russia took the gloves off with Ukraine in the run up to the Presidential elections, cutting off energy and machinery exports with Ukraine.

To put paid Putin’s growing impatience with U.S. policies, he just issued the order to allow residents of Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics to apply for Russian passports.

This will send Bolton into apoplexy. Angela Merkel of Germany will be none too pleased either. Putin is now playing hardball after years of unfailing politeness.

It’s also why Lavrov finalized arms and port deals all over the Middle East in recent weeks, including those with Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and India.

Bolton, Pompeo and Pence are ideologues. Trump is a typical Baby Boomer, who lives in a bubble of his own design and believes in an America that never existed.

None of them truly understand the fires they are stoking and simply believe in the Manifest Destiny of the U.S. to rule the world over a dim and barbaric world.

Putin, Xi, Rouhani in Iran and Kim in North Korea are pragmatic men. They understand the realities they live in. This is why I see Putin willing tomorrow to sit down with Kim and flaunt the U.N. sanctions and begin the investment process into North Korea that should have begun last year.

Putin would not be making these moves if he didn’t feel that Bolton was all bark and no bite when it came to actual war with Russia. He also knows that Germany needs him more than he needs Germany so despite the feet-dragging and rhetoric Nordstream 2 will go forward.

Trade is expanding between them despite the continued sanctions.

Putin may be willing to cut a deal with President-elect Zelensky on gas transit later in the year but only if the shelling of the LPR and DPR stops and he guarantees no more incidents in the Sea of Azov. This would also mollify Merkel a bit and make it easier for her politically to get Nordstream 2 over the finish line.

There are moments in history when people go too far. Bolton and Pompeo went too far in Hanoi. He will pay the price now. Putin and Kim will likely agree to something in Vladivostok that no one is expecting and won’t look like much at first.

But the reality is this summit itself marks a turning point in this story that will end with the U.S. being, in Trump’s transactional parlance, a “price taker” since it has so thoroughly failed at being a “price maker.”

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