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Duterte welcomes Russian Naval ships to Philippines as military cooperation pact is signed

Philippines and Russia continue to expand their bilateral partnership, thanks to the initiative of President Rodrigo Duterte.

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has welcomed a flotilla of Russian Naval ships to Manila as a formal military cooperation pact is signed between the two countries.

Duterte personally toured the Russian destroyer Admiral Panteleyev as Philippines received a free shipment of weapons from Russia, including 5,000 Kalashnikov riffles and military vehicles.

CONFIRMED: Russia begins shipment of Kalashnikov rifles to Philippines

Duterte has hailed new fruitful relations with Russia, something which encapsulates his policy goals of expanding Philippines’ relations with countries in the wider so-called ‘global east’.

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu has travelled to Manila as part of the third large Russian military contingent to visit Philippines since Duterte took office in the summer of 2016.

Shoigu later met with the Philippine Secretary of National Defense, Delfin Lorenzana where the two signed a military agreement to expand “research, production support, as well as the possible exchange of experts and training of personnel for joint programs”.

Shoigu welcomed the new cooperative agreement, stating,

“The leaders of our states have outlined the strategic priorities of bilateral cooperation. Active work is being conducted today to implement the agreements reached, including to further strengthen ties in the defence sphere”.

With Philippines marking the defeat of the ISIS-Maute Group whose initial attack on Marawi came while President Duterte was in Moscow for meetings with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia looks forward to further military cooperation with Philippines at a time when Philippine troops are celebrating their victory over a violent terrorist insurgency.

The newfound relationship between Moscow and Manila, represents a two-way street in terms of new partnerships. Russia’s long-term goal is to expand its commercial and security presence in South East Asia, beyond its traditional ally in Vietnam. Russia has been engaged in free trade deal discussions with countries as varied as Indonesia and Thailand. For Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte represents a new-era in which the one time US colony is firmly breaking free of a post-colonial past and initiating new partnerships with major regional players including China in East Asia and Russia in Eurasia.

Duterte has frequently praised Russia for not attaching an ideological component nor making demands on Philippine sovereignty during sovereign business transactions. This open attitude is one of the many points of attraction between the two countries.

Of the major planks of Duterte’s wide ranging political programme are the concepts of prosperity through security against both terrorism and the drug crime which feeds terrorism, expanded economic partnerships throughout Asia and beyond, a more equitable distribution of Philippines’ wealth and fairer regional political representation.

Today’s successful meeting with Russian military leaders is a further sign that vast powers are more willing than ever to engage in Philippines with Duterte at the helm.

As I previously wrote, on Philippine Independence Day:

“Today, Philippines celebrates 199 years of independence from Spain, but it was during that fateful year of 1898 that the country switched one colonial master for another.

The Spanish-American war saw Philippines along with Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico come under US control. However, it was Philippines that gave the United States the most to worry about. It was during the Philippine-America war of 1899-1902 that was America’s first experience in fighting a colonial insurgency. It would be the first of many.  Simultaneous to this, a separate rebellion broke out among Philippine Moros, the Muslim population of the country. This was something that both the US and later independent Philippine governments had to face.

Although Philippines became fully independent in 1946, it was a kind of independence that perversely relied on a deeply dependant relationship on America which by the end of the 1940s was a world-leading economic and military super-power.

Today, Philippines has a strongly independent President who has spoken openly and clearly of his desire not to be treated like a colony any longer. President Rodrigo Duterte has pursued a foreign policy independent of US edicts and one which disregards the neo-clonial attitude of US funded NGOs.

Duterte is now having to face down an ISIS insurgency on the southern island of Mindanao and the city of Marawi in particular. ISIS coalesced during Duterte’s Presidency not because Duterte wanted war with Moros but because he wanted peace.

Duterte had promised a new federal structure for the country and barring that, promised autonomy for Mindanao, where Duterte himself was born and for years was mayor of the city of Davao.

ISIS also knew that if Duterte was successful in crushing the violent drugs trade in Philippines, they would be deprived of a major source of revenue, generated from the cultivation, sale and trafficking of drugs.

Duterte has pledged to fight all of these threats but many in Philippines are not giving him the support nor the credit he deserves.

Many opposition figures, particularly those in the Philippine Liberal Party have questioned his decision to declare martial law in Mindanao. Even more concerning is a recent statement by the Philippine Department of Tourism which stated that it is Duterte’s declaration of martial law that has seen tourism to Mindanao decline. Logic would dictate that the presence of ISIS is the reason tourism has declined, but there is increasingly little logic among Duterte’s opponents who are keen to retain their position as post-colonial elites who care more for their own wealth and prestige than for the people of their country.

Now, Duterte is facing yet another problem, the very real threat of a soft military power struggle against his Presidency. After initial reports that the Philippine government requested US assistance in fighting ISIS, a request confirmed by the United States, President Duterte has stated that no such request originated from himself or his colleagues.

He furthermore stated  that,

“…our soldiers are pro-American, that I cannot deny”.

He further stated that he only found out that American forces had agreed to ‘assist’ Philippines from the same Reuters report cited in breaking reports from The Duran.

It is a deeply dangerous scenario if military commanders in Philippines are acting unilaterally, without the permission let alone consent of their President.

It is imperative that at this time of crisis, Philippine law makers and ordinary people alike support their President. The very independence celebrated on the 12th of June is better represented by Duterte than any previous Philippine leader in the modern age.

President Rodrigo Duterte wants for his people that which a subservient post-colonial/neo-colonial attitude could never possibly achieve: dignity.

Duterte is the last best hope for the Philippine people and the Philippine nation. He is, simply put, the best President that the country has ever had and may have for some time.

Duterte understands not only the modern realities of his country but the modern realities of a multi-polar world. It is not realistic in the 21st century for an East Asian country to continue to act as a post-colonial satellite of declining American power. It is essential for Philippines to develop and cultivate new regional partnerships, especially with China, a super-power which is far closer to Philippines than the United States.

Rodrigo Duterte understands that while building new  bridges, one must not burn the old. His apparently good relationship with Donald Trump is evidence of the fact that Duterte means what he says when he states he is still wiling to work with America on important issues, only from a position of mutual-respect rather than that of a slave to a master.

President Duterte is a man uniquely moved by a patriotic purpose and uniquely guided by the hand of destiny. If his plans are embraced, Philippines stands the real chance to enter into a new, more peaceful and more prosperous age. If Duterte is rejected, the Philippine people will have rejected their best chance at achieving true independence in every sense: political, military, economic and even spiritual.

On this day, one must celebrate not only achievements of the Philippine past but the prospects of a better Philippine future, a future which Duterte can guide the country towards better than any of his rivals”.

PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE DAY: Duterte is the best President in the country’s history

Today’s events further solidify Duterte as a President who has brought meaningful change to Philippines that will have positive effects for decades to come.

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Maria Butina, her crime: A love of the NRA and being Russian (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has communicated to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Russian national Maria Butina must be set free and allowed to return to Russia, after she was arrested by US officials on dubious spy charges.

Lavrov said that the US should immediately release the Russian gun activist, who is being held in the US on espionage charges, after a phone conversation with his US counterpart.

Lavrov called the charges levied against Butina “fabricated.”

In his conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, “Lavrov stressed that the actions of the US authorities that arrested Russian citizen Butina on fabricated charges are unacceptable.”

In an official statement the Russian Foreign Ministry called for her “immediate release.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the oddly timed, out of the blue arrest of Maria Butina, who is being held by US authorities for what they claim to be a violation of the FARA act.

In reality Maria Butina’s crime is much more troubling than simply failing to register as a foreign agent.

Maria made the double mistake of being in the United States of America as a Russian citizens who loves guns, at a time when racism and bigotry against Russians and NRA supporters is surpassing McCarthyite levels.

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Via RT

The Foreign minister raised the issue during phone conversations that were made at the request of the US and aimed at “further normalization of the US-Russian relations” following the summit between the US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, as well as the situation in Syria.

The 29-year-old Russian student and a gun activist was arrested in the US about a week ago and charged with acting as a foreign agent without registering her activities with the authorities. Butina has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On July 16, a DC Federal Court rejected Butina’s bail plea and ordered her to be placed in custody pending trial over fears that she could flee or contact Russian intelligence officials. Her lawyer says the trial is being politicized and Russian embassy staff were only allowed to visit her in jail on Thursday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called Butina’s arrest politically motivated, adding that it could have been aimed at disrupting the Helsinki summit between Putin and Trump. On Thursday, the ministry also launched a campaign hashtagged #FreeMariaButina on Twitter to raise awareness of her case.

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Ugly breakup at FBI: Lisa Page throws ex-lover, Peter Strzok, under the bus (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 60.

Alex Christoforou

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While Peter Strzok’s testimony put a face on the deceptive and secretive Deep State, GOP lawmakers who were present at Lisa Page’s closed-door deposition said they learned a lot of new information from the ex-FBI lawyer, and ex-lover of Peter Strzok.

Lisa Page confirmed to GOP lawmakers that the text messages sent between her and her lover Strzok “meant exactly what they said,” contrary to Strzok’s testimony.

According to The Gateway Pundit, one damning text message in particular sent from Strzok on May 19th, 2017, just two days after Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, intrigued investigators and the public alike.

“There’s no big there there,” Strzok texted.

According to investigative reporter, John Solomon, Lisa Page confirmed that text from Peter Strzok did indeed refer to the Trump-Russia case.

Strzok knew it was a nothing-burger yet he forged ahead.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou, RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle, and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how Peter Strzok’s testimony has undoubtedly contradicted Lisa Page’s cooperative deposition, as the ex-FBI lawyer is preparing to save herself, while throwing her ex-lover under the bus.

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Via The Epoch Times

Representatives John Ratcliffe and Louie Gohmert of Texas recently shared their observations of the closed-door testimony of former high-ranking FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which concluded on July 16.

One of the major questions regarding the testimony was whether it would match the one given by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.

But while Ratcliffe said he found a mismatch, Gohmert wouldn’t go so far.

Page and Strzok played major roles in the investigations on both 2016 presidential candidates: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. During the same period, Page and Strzok had an affair and exchanged thousands of text messages expressing a strong bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton.

“When I questioned Lisa Page on Friday about the anti-Trump text messages that were sent between herself and Peter Strzok, there were significant differences in her testimony and Strzok’s as it relates to what she thought some of these text messages meant,” Ratcliffe said in a July 16 tweet, shortly before the second round of questioning.

“Page gave us new information that Strzok either wouldn’t or couldn’t, confirming some of the concerns we had about these investigations and the people involved in running them,” he wrote.

On July 17, Ratcliffe expanded on his further statements about Page’s testimony. Radcliffe told Fox News…

“There are differences in their testimony.”

“In many cases, she admits that the text messages mean exactly what they say, as opposed to agent Strzok, who thinks that we’ve all misinterpreted his own words on any text message that might be negative.”

Via The Epoch Times

In one of the texts, Strzok vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president. In another, the two discussed having an “insurance policy” in the “unlikely” event that Trump would win the election.

Strzok, who gave a closed-door testimony on June 27 and a public one on July 12, said the first message meant he and the American people would stop Trump. The second, he said previously, meant he wanted to pursue the Russia investigation aggressively, in case Trump won.

GOP lawmakers were furious with Strzok’s attitude and unwillingness to answer questions. In a scathing monologue, Gohmert even linked Strzok’s credibility to the fact that he was unfaithful to his wife.

President Donald Trump repeatedly called Strzok’s testimony a “disgrace.”

The lawmakers said Page was comparatively more cooperative.

“There were times the FBI lawyers would be reaching to the button to mute her comment, and she would answer before they could mute her comment,” Gohmert told Fox News.

He said Page didn’t contradict Strzok “so much,” but “has given us insights into who was involved in what.”

“I think she’ll be a good witness,” he said.

Page ditched her first testimony appointment on July 11, prompting GOP lawmakers to threaten her with contempt of Congress. She then agreed to appear on July 13, which gave her the opportunity to review Strzok’s public testimony before giving hers.

The lawmakers are probing the FBI’s and Justice Department’s decisions before the election, suspecting they were influenced by political considerations.

Texts between Strzok and Page suggest that the FBI initiated an offensive counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign as early as December 2015.

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Russia makes MASSIVE progress on its ‘super-weapons’

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle moves into serial production, nuclear-engine powered cruise missile tests continue, and more as Russia continues to outdo all Western military tech

Seraphim Hanisch

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On July 19th and 20th, The Russian Defense Ministry announced several milestones of progress in its advanced weapons systems programs. These programs were revealed to the world in March of this year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the State of the Russian Federation speech.

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While at first the Western onlookers did not believe the amazing announcements of hypersonic weapons and nuclear-powered cruise missiles with unlimited range, subsequent releases and concurrent observation by the American military experts has shown these developments to be as real as Mr. Putin claimed they are.

TASS, the Russian News Agency, released information on these weapons systems in separate reports:

Kinzhal

The Kinzhal hypersonic missile:

Squadrons of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles should enter combat duty in the Black Sea region and at other Russian fleets and flotillas, said Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva magazine.

Besides, a squadron (between 12 and 16 aircraft) of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles entered combat duty in the Caspian Sea region in April.

“I think at least one squadron of those complexes should be deployed at any fleet, in other words – at all regions where we have fleets and flotillas. We need to deploy them in the regions of the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Northern Fleet. The Pacific region also should not be forgotten,” Murakhovsky said.

He said that such systems can become a “good instrument” against not only vessels equipped with high-precision weapons, but also for countering carrier attack groups.

“We know how expensive a carrier attack group can be. By employing this asymmetric method, which is unbelievably cheap in comparison with building a carrier attack group, we can neutralize this threat almost completely,” the expert said.

Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile trials:

The Burevestnik is an entirely new cruise missile, powered by a nuclear engine. This gives the missile unlimited range. In theory, such a missile could be launched at a target and spend days or weeks in hidden flight using advanced guidance systems, and then close on its target at the optimal time to assure destruction of that target with maximum surprise. The TASS piece goes on to say:

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia was preparing to test upgraded test prototypes of the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile with an unlimited range.

According to the expert, it is highly likely that the prototype of the missile “has already made a flight.”

“Clearly, it was something like the pop-up trials of Sarmat – a launch without the nuclear-powered engine, in other words, with an ordinary missile booster, conducted in order to assess the possibility of a launch, aerodynamics and the operability of the entire system in general,” [Murakhovsky] said.

Further reporting from TASS had this to add about the Burevestnik program:

Russia is getting ready for flight tests of the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile, an official at the Defense Ministry told reporters on Thursday.

“The missile’s component makeup is being improved based on clarified requirements, while ground tests continue and preparations are being made for experimental flight tests of the improved missile,” the official said.

According to the Defense Ministry, “work on an unlimited-range missile is going according to plan.”

“In the meantime, launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon – a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear powered missile,” the ministry official noted.

[The head] of the 12th Central Research Institute at Russia’s Defense Ministry Sergey Pertsev, in turn, said that the tests of the new cruise missile equipped with a small nuclear power unit had confirmed the accuracy of the technical decisions that Russian researchers, engineers and designers had made. In addition, the tests enabled the researchers “to receive valuable experimental data necessary for specifying a number of requirements.”

“A low-flying and low-observable cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and capability to bypass interception lines is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems,” the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

A further use of the nuclear engine technology is also expected in the Poseidon underwater drone, Mr. Murakhovsky stated that separate systems for the craft have been successfully tested. He further noted that the next task is to design the entire layout, build a test model and begin testing the whole platform.

The Avangard Hypersonic Missile

While the Kinzhal is a Mach-10 capable hypersonic system that can be launched from a fighter, the Avangard is a Mach-20 capable system that has intercontinental reach. There is almost no footage of this system released to the public, but the concept videos show how the system works. TASS reports this status:

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force is preparing a position area for accepting the Avangard hypersonic missile system for service as part of the efforts to strengthen the country’s military security, the Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

“The Russian defense industry has completed developing the Avangard missile system with the principally new armament – the gliding cruise warhead. Industrial enterprises have switched to its serial production,” the Defense Ministry said.

“A set of organizational and technical measures is underway in the position area of the Dombarovsky large unit of the Strategic Missile Force to accept the Avangard missile system for operation,” it added.

The development of new strategic weapon systems “is aimed at increasing Russia’s defense capability and preventing any aggression against our country and its allies,” the Defense Ministry stressed.

The infrastructural facilities of the large unit’s position area have already been prepared for the missile system’s operation, the ministry said.

“The position area has been prepared in geodesic and engineering terms to accommodate the missile system. Work is underway to build new and reconstruct old facilities to provide for the operation and the combat use of the system. Technical and utility supply lines are being modernized and electric power, communications and command and control cables are being laid. Work has been arranged to train personnel and prepare armament, military and special hardware,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Deputy Commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force for Armament Sergei Poroskun has said that the Avangard hypersonic missile system features combat capabilities that “make it possible to reliably breach any anti-missile defenses.”

The Okhotnik attack drone

The Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone is now being viewed as a prototype for Russia’s “sixth-generation” fighter plane. TASS describes this in more detail:

According to [a defense industry] official, although the sixth generation fighter jet project “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known.”

“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, Okhotnik will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”

“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.

TASS was unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Another defense industry source earlier told TASS that the prototype of Okhotnik (Hunter) was ready and would start test flights this year.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour.

Peresvet laser weapons systems

TASS reported that the Russian military forces are now training for the use of the Peresvet combat laser system:

Russian Aerospace Force has accepted for service the laser complexes Peresvet and the military are now taking drills that involve the novel combat technologies, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“The Peresvet laser complexes have been placed at sites of permanent deployment,” the report said. “Active efforts to make them fully operational are underway.”

“To ensure their proper functioning, the necessary infrastructures and specialized facilities for housing the complexes and duty crews have been built,” the ministry said.

The crews assigned to the Peresvets have taken upgrader courses at the Alexander Mozhaisky Military-Space Academy in St Petersburg.

The Russian military strategy of “asymmetric response.”

The overall defense strategy is termed an “asymmetric response”, and Mr. Murakhovsky explained the principle in this way:

“This is an asymmetric response, in which new classes of weapons are created, instead of new types within the framework of the existing systems. Other states are not expected to have anything of this kind [in the near future],” he said.

The expert described this response as “quite an efficient one, all the more so because it requires no additional investment – all the works are being carried out within the framework of the state procurement program.”

He added that unlike the Soviet Union, Russia avoids being dragged into a direct arms race and searches for cutting-edge solutions instead of simply increasing the number of weapons.

“The development of counter-weapons to those arms [may be possible] in distant future, but it does not mean that they can be created at all,” Murakhovsky added.

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