Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

Assessing Lavrov’s visit to Washington

Sergey Lavrov’s trip to Washington confirms progress in reconstructing relations between the US and Russia after the damage done by the Obama administration

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

1,965 Views

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov over the course of his two day visit to Washington gave a lengthy news conference in which he provided some information concerning his talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US President Donald Trump.

Lavrov’s mood at the news conference was upbeat, and this reflects the Russian media’s overall view of the talks.  There is no euphoria and Lavrov himself said that the task of repairing US-Russian relations is a huge one.  However he placed the blame for their present wretched state firmly on the previous Obama administration

We discussed the state of our bilateral relations, which is not encouraging. We are well aware why relations are where they are now. Unfortunately, previous US administration did everything to undermine the foundations of our relations. Now, we have to work almost from the ground up. We perfectly understand that Russian and US citizens want to live in peace and be able to interact normally. I think that the politicians should make sure that all artificial obstacles that lie in our way should be removed.

In this respect Lavrov made a pointed contrast in the differing personalities of the foreign teams of the Trump and Obama administrations

The dialogue between Russia and the US is now free from the ideology that characterised it under the Barack Obama Administration. US President Donald Trump, his Administration, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson  are the kind of people who want to maintain a dialogue not as a means of demonstrating what they can achieve in the area of ideological preferences, but rather as a means of solving particular issues which have great bearing on the nation’s progress, peoples’ well-being and settling conflicts in different areas.

The key difference is that Trump and Tillerson are former businessmen, whereas Obama’s team was made up heavily of lawyers and academics (Obama of course was both).  Unsurprisingly the lawyers and academics are far more ideological than the business people.  There is no doubt which of the two Lavrov prefers.

It is always better for relations when people do business rather than try to promote their ideological preferences or engage in propaganda. This forms the basis for our expectations.

Lavrov admitted that the actual results of the meeting were modest.  Given the early stage of the dialogue between Russia and the Trump administration, it could not be otherwise.

However two interesting facts came out of Lavrov’s visit.

The first is that the concept of de-escalation zones in Syria stems from an idea Tillerson took with him when he came to Moscow in April.  Lavrov was quite clear about this

As to Syria, we first of all focused on the ideas that had been discussed during Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow when he shared his thoughts regarding de-escalation and safety. This was the initiative US President Donald Trump mentioned during his telephone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Secretary of State Tillerson later presented it in more detail in Moscow. The initiative is now being materialised in agreements concluded in Astana, where four de-escalation zones were proposed, including in the south, since the USA is particularly interested in stabilising the situation on Syria’s borders with Jordan and Israel. We are ready to cooperate on the issue…….

Question: You have mentioned Russia’s interest in US involvement in the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria. Can you provide more details on this? Did President Trump or Secretary Tillerson say that the United States would cooperate with Russia, one way or another, to create these zones?

Sergey Lavrov: To begin with, the idea was initiated by US officials – President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. We used the Astana venue to promote its practical implementation. We will welcome any US contribution. This issue must be entrusted to those who are dealing with the situation on the ground professionally, and who have the information. We can facilitate this process both in Astana and in Geneva. We have reached an agreement that we, as active participants in the common efforts towards a Syrian settlement, should maintain these contacts with the other key players, primarily regional countries.

In other words at the very time that Britain’s clownish Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was trying to mobilize the G7 to threaten Russia with sanctions and was calling off his visit to Moscow supposedly in order to make it possible for Tillerson to present to the Russians with an ultimatum demanding they agree to get President Assad to go and commit to pulling their troops out of Syria, Tillerson was actually going to Moscow with a completely different proposal to de-escalate the conflict there.

As to the fate of President Assad, Lavrov made it perfectly clear that the Russian position in relation to him is unchanged

Someone asked me about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In Iraq and Libya, the international community did its utmost to overthrow Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. We can see what this has resulted in. As regards the settlement of the Syrian crisis, let us draw conclusions from our past mistakes and opt not for replacing the leader but for rooting out the evil of terrorism. President Donald Trump has reaffirmed today that the main goal for the United States in Syria is to defeat terrorism. We fully agree on this.

As for Russia quitting Syria, Lavrov was equally clear and rather crisper

We don’t have an exit strategy. All of us must fulfil our agreements, as UN Security Council resolutions say. Agreements must be honoured and terrorism must be rooted out in Syria, which must not become a seat of extremism and instability as it happened in Iraq and Libya.

(bold italics added)

Indeed with hindsight the negotiations between Tillerson and the Russians both in Moscow and Washington have gone so completely differently from what Boris Johnson expected that the unavoidable conclusion has to be that Tillerson decided it would be wiser not to take Boris Johnson into his confidence.  There can be no more withering testimony to the low regard in which Boris Johnson is held than that.

In any event it is now clear that for the first time since the start of the Syrian crisis the US and Russia are genuinely starting to coordinate their positions in Syria, though it is far too early to say that they are actually working together.  The difference between the negotiations the Russians are having with Tillerson and the abortive negotiations they had previously with Tillerson’s predecessor Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry, is that Tillerson unlike Kerry seems to have the President’s unequivocal support backing.  Whether this will be enough to lead to a peace settlement in Syria remains to be seen.

The other interesting fact that came out of Lavrov’s visit is that the Russians seem to have genuine hopes of regaining possession of the diplomatic premises the Obama administration seized in its last days under the pretext of the Russiagate scandal.  This is what Lavrov had to say about that

Sanctions are a unilateral action against us, and so resolving that is not our problem.

The issue of state property holds a special place in our talks. Property rights are affirmed by legal documents issued in the USA. The Obama Administration in its last days in power resorted to petty actions against both our property and our diplomats who were ordered to leave the United States within twenty-four hours. Everyone, in particular the Trump Administration, is aware that those actions were illegal. When those decisions were announced, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin said that we are completely entitled to respond reciprocally. The US side knows what that would look like. Yet we are not going to follow those who are trying to destroy our relations. Our US colleagues know about our stance. I hope we will be able to resolve the situation without our relations deteriorating.

The Russians must know that at the present time, with the Russiagate scandal still on fire, it is politically impossible for the Trump administration to return this property irrespective of whether or not its seizure by the Obama administration was illegal.  It is difficult to avoid the impression that the Russians are bringing this issue up in order to emphasize the utter falsity of the claims of interference in the US election which have been made against them, and as a marker that they will want this property returned when the falsity of these charges is finally proved.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

Published

on

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

The Myth of Western Democracy

British prime minister May has turned Brexit into subservience to the EU.

Paul Craig Roberts

Published

on

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts:


How does the West get away with its pretense of being an alliance of great democracies in which government is the servant of the people?

Nowhere in the West, except possibly Hungary and Austria, does government serve the people.

Who do the Western governments serve? Washington serves Israel, the military/security complex, Wall Street, the big banks, and the fossil fuel corporations.

The entirety of the rest of the West serves Washington.

Nowhere in the West do the people count. The American working class, betrayed by the Democrats who sent their jobs to Asia, elected Donald Trump and the American people were promptly dismissed by the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as “the Trump deplorables.”

The Democrats, like the Republicans, serve power, not the people.

In Europe we see the squashing of democracy everywhere.

British prime minister May has turned Brexit into subservience to the EU. She has betrayed the British people and has not yet been hung off of a lamp post, which shows how acceptance the British people are of betrayal. The British people have learned that they do not count. They are as a nothing.

The Greeks voted for a leftwing government that promised to protect them from the EU, IMF, and big banks, but promptly sold them out with austerity agreements that destroyed what remained of Greek sovereignty and Greek living standards. Today the EU has reduced Greece to a Third World country.

The French have been in the streets in revolt for weeks against the French president who serves everyone except the French people.

There are currently massive protests in Brussels, Belgium, with half the government also resigning in protest against the government signing a pact that will replace the Belgian people with migrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The corrupt and despicable governments who signed this pact represent foreigners and George Soros’ money, not their own citizens.

Why are citizens so powerless that their governments can elevate the interest of foreigners far above the interests of citizens?

There are a number of reasons. The main one is that the people are disarmed and are propagandized to accept violence from the state against them, but not to deliver violence in return against the governments’ illegal use of force against citizens.

In short, until the conquered peoples of Europe kill the police, who serve the ruling elite and delight in inflicting brutality against those whose taxes pay their salaries, take the weapons from the police, and kill the corrupt politicians who have sold them out, the peoples of Europe will remain a conquered and oppressed peoples.

Some time past Chris Hedges, one of the remaining real journalists, made it clear that without violent revolution to excise the tumor of government superiority over the people, freedom throughout the West is dead as a doornail.

The question before us is whether the Western peoples are too brainwashed, too firmly locked in The Matrix, to exhausted to stand up and defend their freedom. Resistance is happening in France and Belgium, but the government that sold out Greece hasn’t been hung off of lamp posts. Americans are so brainwashed that they think Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Venezuela are their enemies when it is perfectly clear that their Enemy is “their” government in Washington.

Except for my American readers, Americans are locked in The Matrix. And they will kill in order to stay in The Matrix, where the controlled explanations are reassuring. Anyone who looks to Washington for leadership is an idiot.

Washington is a master of propaganda. Washington’s propaganda has even infected the Russian government, which from all reports stupidly believes that accommodation to Washington is the secret that will make Russia successful.

It is a foolish government that relies on agreements with Washington.

What it comes down to is this: If acceptance of provocations avoids war, that is the correct policy, but if acceptance of provocations encourages more provocations until war is unavoidable, then a more robust response to provocations is the correct policy. A more robust response introduces caution into the process, whereas acceptance of provocations encourages the aggressor.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending