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Britain’s ultimatum to Russia BACKFIRES, NATO and EU allies reject demands for action on Skripal

British diplomacy fails to unite West in strong action against Russia

Alexander Mercouris

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Donald Trump’s latest tweets saying that the US should aim for better relations with Russia underscores a crucial point about the Skripal case: the British are failing to win the support of their allies that they seem to have expected.

At this point it is necessary to say something about the British diplomatic strategy last week,

On Monday 12th March 2018 British Prime Minister Theresa May gave Russia a 36 hour ultimatum saying that unless it proved itself innocent the British government would deem it guilty of the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal

Here is what Theresa May said to the British House of Commons on 12th March 2018

It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.

This is part of a group of nerve agents known as ‘Novichok’.

Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down; our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so; Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations; the Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Mr. Speaker, there are therefore only two plausible explanations for what happened in Salisbury on the 4th of March.

Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country.

Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.

This afternoon my Rt. Hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has summoned the Russian Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and asked him to explain which of these two possibilities it is — and therefore to account for how this Russian-produced nerve agent could have been deployed in Salisbury against Mr Skripal and his daughter.

My Rt. Hon. Friend has stated to the Ambassador that the Russian Federation must immediately provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok program to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

And he has requested the Russian government’s response by the end of tomorrow…….

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday we will consider in detail the response from the Russian State.

Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom.

(bold italics added)

The last highlighted words are unequivocal.  Unless the Russians admitted to the existence of its Novichok stockpile by midnight British time on 13th March 2018 and provided an explanation for the use of the Novichok chemical agent in the Skripal attack by that same deadline, the British government would conclude that it was the Russian government itself which had carried out the attack.

As I have previously pointed out, this was a transparent attempt to reverse the burden of proof, with Russia being required to prove itself innocent instead of Britain being required to prove Russia guilty.

In the event – and as was to be expected – the Russians denied Theresa May’s claims.  They pointed out that the OPCW had certified that Russia had destroyed all its stocks of chemical weapons.  They categorically denied possessing or stockpiling Novichok agents.  They demanded sight of the evidence upon which Theresa May was making her claims, and insisted on adoption of the procedure set out in Article IX(2) of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  They denied any role in the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal.

Accordingly, and consistent with the logic of her ultimatum, Theresa May on 14th March 2018 went before the House of Commons again and declared Russia guilty of a chemical weapons attack on British territory and of the murder attempt on Sergey and Yulia Skripal

……there were only two plausible explanations.

Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country.

Or conceivably, the Russian government could have lost control of a military-grade nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.

Mr Speaker, it was right to offer Russia the opportunity to provide an explanation.

But their response has demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events.

They have provided no credible explanation that could suggest they lost control of their nerve agent.

No explanation as to how this agent came to be used in the United Kingdom; no explanation as to why Russia has an undeclared chemical weapons programme in contravention of international law.

Instead they have treated the use of a military grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance.

So Mr Speaker, there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter – and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.

This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom.

(bold italics added)

Britain’s subsequent actions followed this logic.

Since it was supposedly “proved” that Russia had carried out a military attack on Britain (“an unlawful use of force….against the United Kingdom”) the British took the matter to the UN Security Council, which is supposed to consider all cases where “an unlawful use of force” is used.

It was at this point that the whole British strategy unravelled.

Firstly, the Russians insisted that the UN Security Council debate be held in public and not in private as the British had originally sought.

The Russians then responded strongly to the British claims, denying them and insisting that proper procedures be followed.

To see what happened next, it is necessary to read through the UN Press Office’s summary of the debate.

Though the British got strong support from Nikki Haley (as was to be expected), the British failed to win unequivocal support for their claim that Russia is guilty from any of the other ambassadors present in the UN Security Council, even from those ambassadors who represent France, Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden, who are Britain’s closest allies.

Instead, in what looks to have been a coordinated position, the ambassadors of Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden followed the lead of the French ambassador whose comments are summarised by the UN Press Office as follows

The United Kingdom Prime Minister had stated that the Russian Federation was responsible.  He expressed full confidence in the United Kingdom investigation to shed light on the use of that chemical weapon.  The perpetrators must be identified and prosecuted, with responses provided to the United Kingdom’s legitimate questions.

(bold italics added)

The sting in the highlighted words has not been widely grasped.  The point however is that earlier on that same day – 14th March 2018 – Theresa May on the expiry of her ultimatum had already pronounced Russia guilty (see above).  Yet here was the French ambassador just a few hours later on the same day saying – along with the ambassadors of Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden – that the question of Russia’s guilt had still not been determined, with Russia being asked to answer Britain’s questions, with no deadline for those answers being demanded of Russia, in the context of an investigation which was still underway.

That this is a completely different position from the one taken earlier on the same day by Theresa May has not been generally reported, a fact which is a testament to the extraordinary and continuing power of the passionately anti-Russian English speaking media.  However it is clear if one reads carefully the words used.

In other words, though dressing up their position in supportive language, Britain’s allies were declining to echo what the British were saying: that Russia had already been proved to be guilty of the Skripal attack.

The summary of the debate provided by the UN Press Office shows that the non-aligned states were much more equivocal even than this.

None of their ambassadors said that Russia was guilty whilst Russia got support from its allies: China and Kazakhstan.

The ambassador from Peru made a comment which looks like an implied rebuke of the British.  The UN Press Office summarises his comment as saying that the incident in Salisbury should be

….investigated in the framework of the rule of law and due process, while the parties involved must fully cooperate in an investigation that would determine those responsible and any applicable sanctions.

(bold italics added)

The ambassador of Ethiopia is reported to have spoken in similar terms

He voiced hope that an independent investigation would be conducted, and vetted, on the Salisbury incident, including by holding consultations on the basis of the Chemical Weapons Convention, with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice.  He encouraged good-faith cooperation between United Kingdom and the Russian Federation, which was critical to ensuring that the issue did not get out of hand.  Given the United Kingdom’s justified concern, he hoped all concerned would fully cooperate and that the matter would be handled in a fair manner.

(bold italics added)

The point behind these words is that – as Russia’s formidable ambassador Vasily Nebenzia pointed out, it is Britain not Russia which is not following due process and which is acting outside the rule of law, and which is refusing Russia’s offer to cooperate with the investigation.

Here is how the UN Press Office summarises what Nebenzia said

The United Kingdom ignored the procedures in line with international commitments.  The matter was being dragged into the Council while the real experts were in The Hague, and those experts would not be convinced.  The letter stated that the Russian Federation had something to do with the use of toxic agents in Salisbury.  His country had been given 24 hours to admit that it had committed a crime.  His country did not speak the language of ultimatums, and would not be spoken to in that language….His country had nothing to do with the incident, and the ultimatum from London was something that it could not pay attention to and that he considered null and void.  He expected that the United Kingdom should act in strict adherence to the Convention on Chemical Weapons and would provide samples of the substances for joint investigation, as it was saying that it was Russian in origin.  That was not optional; it was mandatory under the Convention.

I am not privy to Britain’s diplomatic strategy, but I suspect that the British expected much stronger support in the UN Security Council than they got, and expected that their NATO allies at least would simply accept and echo their assertion of Russian guilt.

My guess is that the British plan was to follow this up by presenting a Resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Russia.

After the Russians vetoed the Resolution – as it would of course do – the British intended to call on the support of their NATO allies by invoking Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which reads as follows

Article 5

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

Note how Article 5 uses essentially the same language – “an armed attack” – as Theresa May used in her statements to the House of Commons on 12th and 14th March 2018 – “an unlawful use of force” – and how it envisages an “immediate report to the Security Council” and “measures necessary to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area” until “the Security Council has taken the necessary measures”.

In other words the British referral to the UN Security Council had the purpose of preparing the ground for an emergency NATO summit at which Britain would invoke Article 5.

My guess is that the British planned to get their NATO and EU allies at this summit to impose across the board sanctions on Russia as “necessary measures” for “collective self-defence” pursuant to Article 5 in light of the “unlawful use of force” that they all agreed Russia had carried out against one of their members ie. Britain.

If this is correct – and I am sure it is – then Britain’s allies saw through this British strategy and quietly sidestepped it.

The result is a series of ritual statements which appear to support Britain but which actually do no such thing.

Here is the first of them, a joint statement made by the US, Britain, Germany and France on 15th March 2018

We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom abhor the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, United Kingdom, on March 4, 2018. A British police officer who was also exposed in the attack remains seriously ill, and the lives of many innocent British citizens have been threatened. We express our sympathies to them all, and our admiration for the United Kingdom police and emergency services for their courageous response.

This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War. It is an assault on the United Kingdom’s sovereignty and any such use by a state party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law. It threatens the security of us all.

The United Kingdom thoroughly briefed its allies that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack. We share the United Kingdom’s assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the government of the United Kingdom further underlines Russia’s responsibility. We call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury.

Russia should, in particular, provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok program to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Our concerns are also heightened against the background of a pattern of earlier irresponsible Russian behavior. We call on Russia to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the U.N. Security Council to uphold international peace and security.

Craig Murray has correctly pointed out the careful use in this statement of the formula “a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia” as opposed to a simple and outright statement that the “military grade nerve agent” was “made by Russia“.

However what has so far as I know has up to now gone unnoticed is that the statement actually falls well short of saying that Russia actually carried out the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal.

On the contrary, repeating the formula used by Britain’s Western allies in the UN Security Council on the previous day (see above), it continues to treat the question of Russia’s guilt as undecided, and continues to ask Russia to answer Britain’s questions, without setting any deadline for Russia to do so.

This despite the fact that Theresa May’s deadline for Russia to answer these questions had by then already passed, so that she had already declared Russia guilty.

On 19th March 2018 the EU issued its own statement which proved to be even weaker and more equivocal than the statement issued by the US, Britain, Germany and France on 15th March 2018.  Its full text is as follows

The European Union strongly condemns the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, UK on 4 March 2018, that also left a police officer seriously ill. The lives of many citizens were threatened by this reckless and illegal act. The European Union takes extremely seriously the UK Government’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible.

The European Union is shocked at the offensive use of any military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, for the first time on European soil in over 70 years. The use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is completely unacceptable and constitutes a security threat to us all. Any such use is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, a breach of international law and undermines the rules-based international order. The EU welcomes the commitment of the UK to work closely with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in supporting the investigation into the attack. The Union calls on Russia to address urgently the questions raised by the UK and the international community and to provide immediate, full and complete disclosure of its Novichok programme to the OPCW.

The European Union expresses its unqualified solidarity with the UK and its support, including for the UK’s efforts to bring those responsible for this crime to justice.

The EU will remain closely focussed on this issue and its implications.

Once again we see the formula identified by Craig Murray – “a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia” – instead of “a military-grade nerve agent, made by Russia“.

However the sting in this statement is again contained in the following words

The Union calls on Russia to address urgently the questions raised by the UK and the international community and to provide immediate, full and complete disclosure of its Novichok programme to the OPCW

Once again Theresa May’s ultimatum of 12th March 2018 is treated as if it had never been made.

There is no statement of Russia’s guilt, despite Theresa May having already declared Russia guilty on 14th March 2018.

Instead the Russians are asked to cooperate with the OPCW – whose investigation of the type of chemical agent used in the attack the Russians were the first to insist upon – by making a full disclosure about the Novichok programme to the OPCW – something which the Russians have always said they are prepared to do.

Note that though the statement demands “immediate disclosure” it too sets no actual deadline, whilst it ignores the fact that Theresa May’s deadline has already passed.

It also speaks of a “Russia’s Novichok programme” as opposed to “Novichok stockpiles in Russia”, leaving open the possibility that – as the Russians say – no such Novichok stockpiles in Russia exist.

Britain’s Western allies have in the meantime made it absolutely clear that they do not consider that the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal is such a one as to merit Britain invoking Article 5.

Even Boris Johnson, Britain’s buffoonish Foreign Secretary who presumably devised its diplomatic strategy, now accepts – to his obvious disappointment and frustration – that Article 5 is not going to be invoked

Mr Johnson said that Russia had skilfully chosen a series of targets just beneath the level at which Nato’s Article 5 would be triggered. Article 5 commits member states to consider an armed attack on one to be against them all.

As to what Britain’s core allies really think of the whole Skripal affair, that is shown by the fulsome way they have all rushed to congratulate Vladimir Putin following his recent re-election.

This is how the Kremlin summarises the call from US President Trump

Donald Trump congratulated Vladimir Putin on his victory in the presidential election. The leaders spoke in favour of developing practical cooperation in various areas, including efforts to ensure strategic stability and combat international terrorism, with particular emphasis on the importance of coordinated efforts to curb an arms race.

The exchange on economic cooperation revealed an interest in bolstering it. Energy was discussed separately.

The problem of Syria was discussed, as was the internal crisis in Ukraine. There was recognition on both sides of the need to make rapid strides toward achieving settlements.

Satisfaction was expressed with the limited reduction of tensions around the Korean Peninsula. The expediency of continuing consistent efforts to resolve the situation by peaceful, diplomatic means was underscored.

It was agreed to develop further bilateral contacts in light of the changes in leadership at the US Department of State. The possibility of organising a top-level meeting received special attention.

On the whole, the conversation was constructive and businesslike, with a focus on overcoming the accumulated problems in Russian-American relations.

Note that there is no reference here to the Skripal attack here at all, a fact which echoes Donald Trump’s total silence about the Skripal attack in his twitter feed, which is the place where he expresses those things on his mind.

Instead what we have from Donald Trump on his twitter feed is more restatements of his long standing wish for good relations with Russia

More words of congratulation for Putin came from President Macron of France.  Here is how the Kremlin summarises those

Emmanuel Macron congratulated Vladimir Putin on winning the presidential election and spoke in favour of continuing joint work aimed at the further expansion of multifaceted Russian-French cooperation, in particular, between civil societies, as part of the Trianon Dialogue.

The Syrian settlement within the context of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2401 and the Ukraine crisis were discussed extensively, given the importance of complying with the Minsk agreements.

The incident in Salisbury was also touched on. Russia focused on the unsubstantiated nature of the charges brought against it and reiterated its willingness to conduct a joint investigation into the incident.

It was agreed to continue exchanging views on the issues raised during the conversation at various levels.

Here we do see a mention of the Skripal attack, with Putin however restating Russia’s position and reiterating Russia’s willingness “to conduct a joint investigation”.
We are not told what Macron said in reply.  However he apparently “agreed to continue exchanging views on the issues raised during the conversation”.
What Macron really thinks about the Skripal affair is shown by what his spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said shortly after Britain announced it was expelling 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation for the Skripal attacK
We don’t do fantasy politics. Once the elements are proven, then the time will come for decisions to be made.
The cruellest blow of all has however come from German Chancellor Angela Merkel – the person the British were counting on to rally European support behind them – who instead has sent a fulsome telegram congratulating Putin on his victory

Dear Mr. President, with all my heart I congratulate you on your next reelection Russian president.

Today, it is vitally important to continue dialogue and maintain relations between our countries and nations. With this in mind, we should take efforts for constructive work on major bilateral and international problems to find proper solutions. I wish you success in your work to resolve the tasks facing you

Note that there is no reference here to the Skripal attack either.

Britain’s anger at the fulsome letter of congratulation sent to Putin by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is in my opinion a mask for British dismay at the telegram sent to Putin by Merkel.

In truth Juncker’s words of congratulations to Putin were fulsome enough

However Merkel is a far more powerful and important person than Juncker.  The British dare not criticise her, so they are taking out their anger by criticising Juncker instead.

All the indications are that the same pattern will continue at the EU Council meeting today.

There will be what superficially looks like strong statement of support for the British.  When examined closely it will turn out that the statement however actually says less than it seems to, with even the BBC admitting that

EU countries were not united in “being willing to point their finger at Russia” or taking further steps, such as expelling diplomats.

As for concrete measures against Russia, already it seems that the British are scaling down their demands.

Suggestions that Nord Stream 2 be cancelled have apparently already been rebuffed.  The BBC quotes British officials saying the following

……..a senior Whitehall official said Russia had “shown itself to be a strategic enemy not a strategic partner”.

The official stressed that the UK’s response to the Salisbury attack had been carefully calibrated to remain within the law, and that the UK was “not looking for some big confrontation with Russia or regime change”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the UK’s Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “very important to stand up” to Russia over the attack, but the UK must “continue to engage” with the country.

He added: “We continue to engage with Russia because we seek a position where Russia does abide by internal rules and norms [and] where Russia is a grown-up player on the world stage abiding by the international approaches, for instance not using chemical weapons.”

That Britain is “not looking for some big confrontation with Russia” after all the fire and thunder of last week will have come as a surprise to many people.

In truth what those words show is that the “big confrontation with Russia” has already happened, and that the British have lost it.

Quite simply their allies don’t want it, and for that reason it isn’t going to happen.

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Ukraine President Poroshenko moves to steal Russian Orthodox Church property

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 84.

Dmitry Babich

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The press service of the Patriarch of All Russias announced that the first person in the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, will visit Istanbul on August 31, 2018, for a “very important talk” with his colleague, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

All Russia and all of Ukraine will be watching this meeting with their hearts beating. Bartholomew, even though not playing in the Orthodox world the same role as the Pope plays in the Catholic one, is in a “make or break” position now. Bartholomew has been asked by the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to separate the Ukrainian “sister church” from the Moscow Patriarchate. The problem is that Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox believers belonged to the same church since Russia’s baptism in 988 AD, which makes it more than 1000 years. (Kirill is traditionally called the Patriarch of All Russias, meaning the White Russia, i.e. Belarus, and Small Russia, i.e. Ukraine.)

The head of the un-recognized pro-Poroshenko “alternative” Ukrainian church, Filaret Denisenko, said that Bartholomew’s agreement will mean an immediate confiscation of all the temples, chapels and monasteries in the country from the “pro-Moscow” church to the newly formed Unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which president Poroshenko announced would be founded right after getting Bartholomew’s eventual permission. Bartholomew’s response is awaited in September, so the visit of the Russian Patriarch to Bartholomew’s office in Istanbul has an urgent character. In Ukraine, several deputies warned of “bloody consequences” if the buildings of prayer start to be taken away from the traditional church.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Political Analyst with Sputnik International, Dmitry Babich, discuss the move by Ukraine President Poroshenko to divide the Russian Orthodox Church and execute a massive land grab against the Russian Church that would be historic in size and scope.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.


TURMOIL AROUND THE ANNIVERSARY

In The end of July 2018, on the eve of the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Kievan Rus, an Eastern Slavic proto-state, on whose territory the three modern states of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are located today, the events of that long past epoch were suddenly echoed by some very modern pains. The authorities in Kiev, the site of baptism performed by prince Vladimir in 988 AD and currently the capital of Ukraine, spread fears among believers. Fears unheard of since Christianity was de facto “rehabilitated” in the former Soviet Union during the celebrations of the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism – under Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988.

The heads of Ukrainian transportation companies said in their many conversations with Ukrainian priests that they got “recommendations” from the authorities not to provide buses at the request of  peripheral parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UPTsMP in the local abbreviation). The aim of the authorities was to prevent UPTsMP from busing the believers into Kiev and holding a mass march there. Since UPTsMP openly condemns the ongoing civil war in Ukraine, refusing to call it a “Russian aggression” and retaining the word “Moscow” in its name, the authorities’ concerns are easy to explain. They were afraid that the march could be seen as a sign of the believers’ opposition to certain policies of the ruling regime in Ukraine. Namely, the policies aimed at total cut of ties to Moscow, advocated by the ruling regime in Ukraine.

PROBLEMS OF TRANSPORTATION

“We called dozens of various [transportation] companies and everywhere we heard total refusal. In the end, one of the heads of these companies confessed: they were unofficially prohibited to transport the believers to Kiev under threat of a physical violence,” the official site of the Ukrainian church quoted archpriest Oleg Dominsky as saying. Dominsky represented the Ovruch diocese of UPTsMP. https://ria.ru/religion/20180726/1525416709.html

Ovruch is located in the north-west of Ukraine, a few hundreds of miles away from Kiev. Similar complaints came from the Odessa, Nezhin and Chernovtsy regions of Ukraine. The metropolitan of the Ovruch diocese Vissarion said in an interview to the Kiev-based Ukrainian television channel  112UA: “Not only the transportation companies, but even simple believers face obstacles [on their way to Kiev]. People are… intimidated, some of them face threats of having problems with their jobs,” Vissarion said on 112UA channel. https://ria.ru/religion/20180726/1525416709.html

“SEPARATISTS” IN THE MAJORITY

However, on July 27, the UPTsMP’s  march in honor of the 1030th anniversary did take place, with about 250 thousand people attending it, according to the church’s own estimates. The deputy of Ukraine’s interior minister, Sergei Yarovoi, came with a much more modest estimate, telling the journalists that “about 20 thousand people took part” in the march of the church which the pro-government Ukrainian nationalist organizations often accuse of being “a pro-Moscow group of separatists in priests’ attire.”

Why was the Ukrainian government so much against the march commemorating something that happened 1030 years ago? “It had been clear long before the anniversary that this march would reveal the spiritual bonds between Ukrainians and Russians, since prince Vladimir during the baptism did not make any difference between these two nations. So, the authorities tried to prevent the march, while giving maximum support to an alternative event, organized by the so called Ukrainian church of Kiev Patriarchate, which is loyal to the authorities and calls the war in Ukraine a ‘Russian aggression,” said Vladimir Sinelnikov, the Ukrainian-born correspondent of the Russian Vesti FM radio station in Kiev. https://radiovesti.ru/brand/61178/episode/1860284/

According to Sinelnikov and several Ukrainian media outlets, the authorities are giving a clear preference to an “alternative” Ukrainian Orthodox church, the so called Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate (UPTs KP), not recognized by any of the world’s Orthodox Patriarchates. This so called “church” is headed by “patriarch” Filaret Denisenko, an excommunicated former member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church who founded UPTsKP on the basis of Ukrainian nationalism and total rejection of any “spiritual communion” with Russia in 1992.

APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION

“We know that participants in the march organized by citizen Denisenko and his followers were bused in to Kiev by none other than the local administrations and other government bodies,” said Alexander Shchipkov, deputy head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s department for relations with society and media. “However, experience shows that excommunicated Denisenko and his so called church never attain the same numbers of supporters as the canonical Ukrainian church, which is officially a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church, sharing its apostolic tradition and many hundreds of years of history. For every true believer, this is more important than the government’s graces.”

According to historical records, Kievan Rus was officially baptized by prince Vladimir in the tenth century AD with the support and participation of the Greek Church in Constantinople, then the official church of the East Roman Empire, later referred to by historians as Byzantine. (In reality, the Byzantine emperors and their subjects called themselves Romans and considered their empire the same state as the legendary Roman empire of Julius Caesar. It is from Caesar that the word “tsar” emerged in the Russian language to designate the monarch, while Roman history became the root of the theory of “Moscow as the third Rome,” which presumed Moscow’s succession to the imperial city of Rome and its previous successor of Constantinople, the second Rome, that fell to Turkish hands in the fifteenth century.)

The first Orthodox bishops and metropolitans in Russia were Greeks from Constantinople, who got their “apostolic succession” from Christ’s own disciples, which visited Rome and Greece on many occasions, starting the tradition of “ordaining” new bishops and priests, which lasts to this day. Today, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are in fact celebrating the 1030th anniversary of this unbroken tradition.

UNWANTED SEPARATION

“The strength of the Russian Orthodox Church and its Ukrainian sister UPTs MP lies in the apostolic succession, which the current Ukrainian government can neither provide nor imitate,” Moscow Patriarchate’s Shchipkov said. “The state cannot “create” a church, nor should it aspire to do it. But this is exactly what the Ukrainian authorities are trying to do, urging the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to merge with Denisenko’s entity and asking from the ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople an autocephalous status for this new “united” Ukrainian church of their own invention.” In April this year, Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko and the country’s parliament did ask the Istanbul-based Patriarch Bartholomew to give “patriarch” Denisenko and his church an “autocephalous” status, thus breaking the more than 1000 years old link to Russia. Bartholomew is still considering that request. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate protested, saying that it did not empower Poroshenko and Rada to ask Constantinople for any special new status for it. “This initiative is an abuse of power, an interference of state into church affairs,” the Church’s statement said. http://news.church.ua/2018/04/21/zayavlenie-ovcs-ukrainskoj-pravoslavnoj-cerkvi-po-povodu-obrashheniya-prezidenta-ukrainy-k-vselenskomu-patriarxu-varfolomeyu-otnositelno-predostavleniya-tomosa-ob-avtokefalii-pravoslavnoj-cerkvi-v-ukr/?lang=ru

SPIRITUAL LINK

However, besides a purely religious significance, today’s anniversary has an important humanitarian element, which goes far beyond the sphere of religion alone. Joint celebration of the Eastern Slavs’ baptism provides an enduring spiritual link between tens of millions of people, who in the 1990s suddenly became divided by newly emerged borders. Ukraine again gives the most vivid – and dramatic – example of this.

After the Maidan revolution in Ukraine in 2014 and the subsequent crackdown by the new authorities on all things Russian in that country, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UPTsMP) remained the only public organization in Ukraine which still legally has the word “Moscow” in its name. For millions of Ukrainian citizens, ethnic Russians or not, any kind of legal linkage to Russia is valuable and important. Besides the Cyrillic alphabet, which was given to both Russians and Ukrainians by the saintly teachers Cyril and Method in the 9th century, there are few non-Internet links that remain between the two countries. Already in the beginning of its rule in 2014, the new regime in Kiev terminated air flights between the two countries and banished Russian television and radio from Ukraine’s cable networks. Constant attempts to shut down the Russian embassy and to introduce a visa regime or just to close the borders are made from the Ukrainian side.

CHURCH SUCCEEDS WHERE GORBACHEV FAILS

But why does the church endure where diplomacy does not?

In the period of collapse of the Soviet Union as a successor to the Russian empire, which culminated in the country’s dissolution in 1991, the Russian church proved to be much wiser and more flexible than the Soviet state. It succeeded where the last president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev failed.

“Russian Orthodox Church then gave its “periphery” so much autonomy, that this prevented the collapse of the whole structure. The unified state might collapse in tears, but the church did not follow it. It remained alive and did not give up its right to cater to believers on all sides of the newly emerged borders,” explains Yevgeny Nikiforov, the head of the Orthodox-oriented radio station Radonezh and a specialist in Russian church’s history.

Even before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moscow Patriarchate allowed the sister churches in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova to have their own budgets, to appoint their own bishops and to run all of their “earthly” activities (education, production of church items, etc.) without consulting anyone in Moscow. In return, the Russian Orthodox Church remained in “eucharistic union” with them, with representatives of these churches participating in the election of the Russian Patriarch of ROC. But what is most important, all believers in these countries and Russia can satisfy their religious needs on equal footing in any of these sister churches.

PATRIARCH IN DREAM OF KIEV

After his election in 2009, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill became much more active than his predecessors in propagating the idea of the “Russian world,” a free spiritual community of the individuals sharing Christian Orthodox values, anchored in Russian culture and having some knowledge (not necessarily proficiency) of the Russian language.

The tragic wars in Georgia and Ukraine in 2008 and 2014, when Christian Orthodox believers killed each other on both sides of the fronts, led to innumerable losses for both the church and its Orthodox parishioners. Dozens of Orthodox priests had to emigrate from Ukraine to Russia because of accusations of being “Moscow stooges.” But this suffering did not shatter the belief of Patriarch Kirill in the feasibility of Russian world and its benign nature.

For Kirill, there is a personal side to these conflicts: the tradition to celebrate the anniversaries of Prince Vladimir’s Baptism of Rus in Kiev, established by Kirill’s predecessors back in 2008, can no longer be continued because of the Ukrainian government’s negative stance towards him personally.

“The Patriarch feels very badly about the fact that the Ukrainian authorities do not let him visit Kiev, the cradle of Russian Orthodoxy,” explained Vladimir Legoyda, ROC’s representative in the Holy Synod’s department on public affairs. “For many centuries, this is the first time that the head of the Russian orthodox Church is facing such a constraint on his movement. But the Patriarch is sure that sooner or later such a visit will be possible again. We don’t support any sides in Ukraine’s war. We just want this war to end as soon as possible.”

Speaking to a convention of the world’s Orthodox churches’ representatives in Moscow on July 27, Patriarch Kirill denounced the attempts to divide and subdue the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, he condemned its discrimination and the attempts to disown it of its most famous  Pochayiv monastery and Kiev-Pechersk one. “For our church, Kiev is the same kind of a holy place as Jerusalem is for Christians of all creeds or Kosovo is for the Serb Orthodox church,” Kirill explained. He also asked the Ukrainian authorities not to “cut away” the Ukrainian church from the Moscow Patriarchate.

But will the official Kiev hear the Patriarch?  It may not, but after all, the link between the Russian and Ukrainian believers is really not of an earthly nature. And what God has tied together, will the governments be able to severe? Every true believer knows the answer to this question.

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Judicial Watch Calls for Re-Opening of Hillary Email Investigation After More Classified Info Found

Judicial Watching is calling for a re-opening of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails after finding more classified information on the former Secretary of State’s non-“state.gov” email system.

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Authored by Joseph Jankowski via PlanetFreeWill.com,


On Thursday, the watchdog revealed that it had received two batches, 184 pages and 45 pagesof newly uncovered emails belonging to Hillary Clinton from the U.S. Department of State sent and received over her unsecured server.

The emails were uncovered by a FOIA lawsuit filed on May 6, 2015, after the State Department failed to respond to a March 4, 2015 FOIA request seeking all emails sent or received by Clinton in her official capacity as Secretary of State, as well as all emails by other State Department employees to Clinton regarding her non-“state.gov” email address.

Judicial Watch broke down what they found:

  • On June 7, 2011, Clinton received classified information on her non-secure email account from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which Blair also forwarded to Jake Sullivan, about Blair’s Middle East negotiations with Israel, the Palestinians and the French
  • On January 26, 2010, Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan sent classified information via his unsecure Blackberry to Huma Abedin’s State Department email account that he’d earlier sent to Clinton’s and Abedin’s non-secure @clintonemail.com email accounts about U.K. negotiations with Northern Ireland.
  • On October 28, 2010, Clinton exchanges information with her friend Marty Torrey – a congressional aide – who asks Clinton in an email if she would advise that Torrey meet with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Clinton responds through her non-secure email account approving the meeting and notes that she is emailing him from Hanoi, Vietnam.
  • An email chain dated April 8, 2010, which contains a memo from Sid Blumenthal to Hillary Clinton related to the change of government in Kyrgyzstan, contains information classified “confidential” and is redacted as “foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.” Blumenthal urges Clinton to “develop relations” with the new government in Kyrgyzstan.

These emails caused Judicial Watch founder Tom Fitton to call for the Department of Justice to re-open the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time in office.

“These emails were undercovered from the emails that Hillary Clinton tried to delete or otherwise hide from the American people,” Fitton said in a video posted Thursday. “These new emails once again show why the Clinton email investigation needs to be re-opened by the Justice Department.”

The batch of emails also disclosed a January 26, 2010, email to Hillary Clinton’s private server from her deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan, that is classified “confidential” and contains a “call sheet” that Clinton received prior to a call with Northern Ireland political leaders.

Interesting, but not surprising, is also an email that shows a meeting scheduled between Hillary Clinton and leftwing billionaire George Soros.

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Doug Casey on Social Media: “Facebook enshrines stupidity”

“Just as Myspace was displaced by Facebook, I predict Facebook 2.0 will come along and replace Facebook.”

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Authored by Joel Bowman via InternationalMan.com:


Joel Bowman: G’day, Doug. Thanks for speaking with us today.

Doug Casey: No problem, Joel. It’s a pleasure to hear your Australian accent come across the ether from Mexico.

Joel: Let’s dive right in. A week or two ago, Facebook registered the largest single day loss for any one company in stock market history – roughly $122 billion. CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost around $15 billion himself, as much as the annual GDP of several resource-rich, West African nations.

Looking back to 2000, during the go-go days of the dot.com boom, Intel and Microsoft both registered staggering single-day losses, too… $90 billion and $80 billion, respectively. And we know what happened next in that case…

So, investors want to know… is past prologue? What’s next for Silicon Valley’s tech darlings?

Doug: Talking about losing multiple billions in a single day, it’s really a sign of the times. I remember when the only billionaires in the world were Howard Hughes, John Paul Getty and John Beresford Tipton– the mythical billionaire on a 1950’s-era show called “The Millionaire.”

These days, however, it seems everyone’s a billionaire. In fact, there are several thousand billionaires roaming the planet today, with new ones being minted almost every day.

Of course, much of this so-called wealth is just paper. It’s not real. In fact, it’s pretty clear to me that we’re in a stock market bubble. Which is being driven by the bond market hyper-bubble. And that, in turn, is fueling a real estate bubble, which I believe is just now beginning to deflate in major cities around the world.

None of this augurs well for the stock market. You’ve got bubbles all over the place. Except in the resource market. That’s the one place that hasn’t inflated. In fact, it’s been going down since it’s last peak in 2011.

Getting back to Facebook, I hope it goes bankrupt. I hate it as an institution. I hate what it does. I don’t like its policies. I don’t like its management. I don’t like the fact that it’s causing people to destroy whatever privacy they have left. While turning their brains to mush sending out selfies all day.

Joel: You’ve put a lot on the table there, Doug. Let’s unpack a bit of that, starting with the general tendency toward cerebral rot…

Many younger readers may not remember this, but there actually existed a time before everybody knew everything, when people had to read books and discuss them, engage in healthy debate and rigorous dialectic in order to learn and develop intellectually.

Now that everyone apparently has plenty of time to Instagram their kale salads and “like” one and other’s cat pictures, are we to assume mankind has finally reached the End of Learning…some new Age of Enlightenment?

Or might Facebook and its (anti)social media cousins represent – in addition to the potential fallout for investors – another, hidden cost to society?

Doug: Perhaps humanity is bifurcating into the Morlocks and the Eloi at this point. It’s true that people used to go to libraries. But even the Library of Congress has only a tiny fraction the world’s data available; libraries are quaint and delightful, but they’re dinosaurs.

All the knowledge in the world is now at our fingertips on the Internet. The Internet is one of the greatest inventions in history, on a par with moveable type and the Gutenburg printing press. A few people are using it to educate and better themselves—but relatively few.

Most people just use it for trivial amusement, as you mentioned. Facebook adds very little value to the equation. In fact, I can’t see that it does much that’s productive. It’s basically a vehicle for gossip and watching cat videos.

Joel: And it’s less than that. Aside from the general degradation of public discourse, social media also represents a kind of unalterable historical record of bad jokes and regrettable moments, accessible to anyone who may wish to besmirch one’s character or skittle one’s reputation.

We’ve all said things we wish we hadn’t. To err is to be human, after all. What do you make of a world in which everyone’s worst moments are readily available to everyone else – including potential enemies – at the click of a mouse?

Doug: Facebook enshrines stupidity. A heavy Facebook user is, in effect, saying: “Look at me! I’m a thoughtless person who doesn’t have anything better to do with his time”. That’s on top of the fact that users are exposing their thoughts, actions, and whereabouts to the NSA, the FBI, the CIA and any of a hundred other nefarious agencies. In fact, there are credible allegations that Facebook, along with Google and Amazon, are willing tools of these intelligence agencies. No good can come of being a Facebookista.

But that’s about whether you should use Facebook. Whether you should own Facebook stock is a different question. Even after the recent selloff, Facebook still has a market cap of about $500 billion, which impresses me as a lot for a chat site cum advertising vehicle. Especially one where most of its growth is behind it. A lot of users are getting hip to the fact they’re not customers, they’re the product.

Facebook was a clever innovation ten years ago. But you know, there’s an old saying in the stock market: High Tech, Big Wreck!

Just as Myspace was displaced by Facebook, I predict Facebook 2.0 will come along and replace Facebook. My understanding is that kids now see Facebook as something used by old people– people over 21 years of age. So if it’s going nowhere with the younger generation, where’s it’s future? Maybe it picks up a billion new users in the Third World. Ultimately, what’s that worth?

Facebook may not be a terminal short sale, but I certainly won’t be putting any of my own money into the stock.

Joel: Assuming you’re correct and Facebook 2.0 does displace the current market leader, are you hopeful that such a platform may serve to promote a heightened level of discourse? Perhaps people might find their way into “phyles,” that is, subgroups based on commonly shared values that actually have real world meaning?

Doug: I hope that, in a year or two, International Man itself grows into a community of likeminded people with above average I.Q.s, libertarian values, and real world experience. IM might, itself, even branch off to become its own kind of Facebook. A private version.

I know there’s a lot of talk about regulating FB, or breaking it up. That’s a bad idea; the government should have zero to do with business in general—and areas related to free speech in particular. I’m disgusted by the fact FB has kicked Alex Jones and others off their platform. But they have a right to do so, as a private company. Although, on the other hand, they’re almost a creature of the State.

But that’s not an excuse for the government to “step in”. What will happen is that a newer, better Facebook lookalike—or a dozen of them—will replace them. FB will self-destruct. It’s a non-problem.

To be frank, you and I don’t really have that much in common with most of the 7.3 billion people on this planet. In fact, while I like many individual humans, I despise humanity in general. The more people you put together in a group, the more they act like chimpanzees. Big groups force down the lowest common denominator.

There’s some cause for optimism, but only on a person-to-person basis. I prefer the company of people who value free minds and free markets—and I suspect most people who are reading this now feel the same way.

Joel: That’s probably a very good note to end this conversation on, Doug. Thanks, as always, for taking the time.

Doug: Meanwhile, we’ll look for something with the potential of Facebook in 2008… and stay away from Facebook today.

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