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Final thoughts on the Putin-Erdogan summit: a positive step in a complex relationship

The summit achieved all that could be expected given the huge range of issues that separate Turkey and Russia.

Alexander Mercouris

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In the aftermath of Erdogan’s visit to Russia the danger of overly-high expectations is illustrated by an article by the veteran Russia watcher John Helmer. 

In a lengthy discussion of the Putin and Erdogan meeting he portrays a manipulative Erdogan getting essentially all that he wanted from a furious Putin.  In particular he makes much of the fact that the summit produced no actual agreements:

“The official record of the delegation talks, which started at 1 in the afternoon, and ended after three hours, reported no discussion and no agreement on a single Russian political or security priority. The presidential press conference revealed that despite declarations of best intentions, nothing of importance to either side was agreed. The Russian Foreign Ministry has reported nothing on Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s meeting with his counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, hours after it concluded.”

The Russians had however already said before the meeting that no formal agreements were expected.  I said as much in my article discussing what to expect from the summit written before it took place (“The Russians have said that there will be no formal agreements”).  If one looks at what John Helmer was hoping the Russians might get from Erdogan during the summit one can see why:

“The priority is the commitment from Turkey to stop attempts at regime change in Syria, the Russian Caucasus, and the CIS states, including Armenia and Tajikistan. This means the expulsion of Chechen fighters from their havens in Turkey and areas under Turkish control; closure of the Turkish-Syrian border for ISIS and other jihadis; and an end to Turkish support for the Azeri war against Armenia and for Islamic oppositionists in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Crimea.

Another Russian priority – the key to the wars which the Kremlin fought against the Ottomans for more than two centuries — is Turkey’s undertaking not to violate the limits of the treaties governing the straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, and not to allow a permanent NATO naval deployment of Aegis missile systems, targeted against Russia in the Black Sea.

The political corollary is that Russia and Turkey will not allow the US and NATO to establish and arm Turkish forces under a NATO flag on the territory of Cyprus.”

No doubt this is an accurate wish list of what the Russians might want from Turkey in a perfect world.  I cannot however believe that there was a single Russian official who seriously supposed Erdogan would agree to any of this, and especially not in return for a gas pipeline, a nuclear reactor, more Russian tourists, and the lifting of a Russian ban on the import of Turkish vegetables and tomatoes.  There is no evidence that the Russians ever demanded it, precisely because they would have known that Erdogan would never agree to it.

Erdogan is currently very angry with the US and grateful to Russia and his previous record shows that he has no feelings of hostility to Russia.  However it is simply unrealistic to expect him to overturn decades long or even (as in the case of the Straits) centuries long policies in a few short days just to please the Russians.  He would be making his position in Turkey untenable if he did.

That does not mean that the summit meeting was a failure.  Simply because Russia and Turkey have not become allies and remain deeply in conflict on many issues it does not mean that they cannot develop close relations on questions where they have a mutual interest.  The gas pipeline and nuclear reactor projects benefit Russia as they do Turkey, as in a rather different way do the agreements about tourism and vegetable and tomato imports.  To argue otherwise is to say that it is better for Russia to have bad relations with Turkey rather than good ones, which is a view hardly anyone in the Russian government would share.

If the summit meeting is understood in that way then it was a success, paving a possible way for further convergence on other issues including conceivably a free trade agreement and even eventually Syria.

Lastly there is one specific point I do want to make about one particular matter which has been widely discussed about the summit.  This is Putin’s supposedly poor body language which Helmer and others see as a sign that the summit from Putin’s point of view was a failure. 

Studying a leader’s body language is a fully legitimate way to assess the results of a summit. Obama’s and Putin’s bad body language during their meetings is a good sign the two men don’t get on with each other.   However in the case of the meeting with Erdogan there were perfectly understandable reasons why Putin’s body language might be poor which had no connection to the summit itself.

Firstly it is a near certainty that Putin was tired and felt under pressure.  On the previous day he had met with his security advisers early in the morning and had then flown to Baku for a complex and probably difficult meeting with the Presidents of Iran and Azerbaijan.  He then had to fly to St. Petersburg for an even more difficult meeting with Erdogan on the following day whilst somehow also finding the time on the same day to have a probably lengthy telephone conversation with British Prime Theresa May.  Whilst meeting with Erdogan he would have known that on the following day in Moscow he had a scheduled meeting with members of his government to discuss economic and education policy, a scheduled video conference with Prime Minister Modi of India, and a scheduled meeting later that day with President Sargsyan of Armenia, to be followed by another press conference. Throughout all these journeys and meetings he would have needed to be kept informed about the situations in Aleppo and Crimea, with the security crisis in Crimea especially causing him particular worry. 

In light of all this it is not surprising if during his meeting with Erdogan Putin at times looked tired and distracted.  In all the oceans of words said and written about Putin scarcely any mention is ever made about how hard he works. 

Beyond this it would have anyway been politically unwise for Putin to appear too obviously pleased to meet with Erdogan.  The anger in Russia over the SU24 incident has by no means fully abated.  Some of that anger is almost certainly shared by Putin himself.  It might be easy for Erdogan to talk of his “friend Putin”.  It would not be so easy for Putin to talk of his “friend Erdogan” even if he felt inclined to do so, which he almost certainly doesn’t.

All in all, if one puts some of the excessive expectations which preceded the Erdogan – Putin summit to one side, it can be seen that the summit went just about as well as could reasonably be expected, and as was in fact predicted.  The thing to take away from the summit is that Russia and Turkey now have an active political dialogue and burgeoning economic relationship.  It is not a realignment or an alliance, but that was never likely and was never demanded or on offer.  Both Putin and Erdogan are almost certainly pleased with what they have achieved, even if there is still much work to do.

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Surprise, Surprise! Another Brett Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Allegation! (Video)

Democrats will use this Social Justice tactic on every nomination and election.

The Duran

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Via Stefan Molyneux


Surprise, Surprise! Fresh off the spineless Republicans delaying the confirmation vote for Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh – the Judge has been accused of yet another sexual assault claim of questionable authenticity. Apparently during the 1983-84 academic school year, Kavanaugh ‘exposed himself’ to classmate Deborah Ramirez while she was heavily intoxicated – or so she thinks so, despite admitted gaps in her memory and no additional eyewitnesses.

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White House Releases Late Night Push Back to New Yorker Hit on Kavanaugh

Ramirez recalls “a penis being in front of my face,” and that despite being incredibly drunk, someone encouraging her to “kiss it.”

The Duran

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Via The Gateway Pundit


The White House released a late night response to the New Yorker hit piece by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in which a Yale classmate alleged, without eyewitness corroboration, that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her face at a drunken college dorm party decades ago. Kavanaugh issued a statement denying the accusation.

Latest Kavanaugh accuser, Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez.

The White House statement highlights multiple details from the article that undermine the accusation.

Reporters have posted a copy to Twitter, one of them CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.

Full image and text posted below.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ALLEGATIONS MADE IN THE NEW YORKER ARTICLE ON JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH

“This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name—and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building—against these last-minute allegations.” – Judge Brett Kavanaugh

The accuser, Deborah Ramirez, admits in The New Yorker’s piece that there were “significant gaps” in her memories about the event. 

  • “She was at first hesitant to speak publicly, partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident.”
  • “Ramirez acknowledged that there are significant gaps in her memories of the evening…”

By The New Yorker’s own admission, Ramirez was reluctant to speak with certainty on the allegation. 

  • “In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty.”

It took six days of “assessing her memories” for Ramirez to say she recalled Kavanaugh committing the alleged incident, and that came only after consulting with an attorney provided by the Democrats. 

  • “After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections…”
  • “Senate aides from Ramirez’s home state of Colorado alerted a lawyer, Stanley Garnett, a former Democratic district attorney in Boulder, who currently represents her.”

The New Yorker admits it has not confirmed through eyewitnesses Kavanaugh was even present at the party and other students who knew Kavanaugh said they never heard of the incident. 

  • The New Yorker has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party.”
  • “In a statement, two of those male classmates who Ramirez alleged were involved in the incident, the wife of a third male student she said was involved, and three other classmates, Dino Ewing, Louisa Garry, and Dan Murphy, disputed Ramirez’s account of events…”
  • “We were the people closest to Brett Kavanaugh during his first year at Yale. He was a roommate to some of us, and we spent a great deal of time with him, including in the dorm where this incident allegedly took place.”
  • “Some of us were also friends with Debbie Ramirez during and after her time at Yale. We can say with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it—and we did not.”

Further, those classmates said that the allegations in the story would be completely out of character for Kavanaugh.  

  • “The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett.”

A former student who was best friends with Ramirez said she never told her about the incident despite how close they were. 

  • “The former friend who was married to the male classmate alleged to be involved, and who signed the statement, said of Ramirez, ‘This is a woman I was best friends with. We shared intimate details of our lives. And I was never told this story by her, or by anyone else. It never came up. I didn’t see it; I never heard of it happening.’”

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US Will Be “Defenseless” Against New Russian Nuclear Sub Equipped With Hypersonic Missiles

The hypersonic nuclear submarine is not the only super-weapon that Russia is preparing to add to its arsenal.

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Via Zerohedge


The Soviet-era arms race between the US and Russia is officially back on.

To wit, Moscow is reportedly building a fleet of nuclear submarines armed with hypersonic ICBMs capable of delivering a nuclear payload ten times larger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, according to CNBC, which cited a US intelligence report on the new weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted at six new super weapons during a speech back in March where he also revealed that Russia is working on a nuclear missile capable of evading NATO’s ring of ABM defenses.

The new Borei II submarine, also known as the Borei-A, is a fourth-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine that will reportedly join the Russian Navy’s Northern and Pacific Fleets once it’s completed in 2024, according to the report. Each sub can carry up to 20 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles, which can deliver a nuclear payload of 100 to 150 kilotons. The sub will be the first new Russian sub developed in the post-Soviet era.

What’s worse is that, as of now, the US doesn’t possess adequate defenses to protect against Bulava missiles.

What’s more, unlike a traditional missile, which carries one warhead, the Bulava missile is capable of carrying up to 10 nuclear and hypersonic weapons on its tip. That means one Borei II submarine could potentially launch 200 hypersonic weapons, a threat the U.S. is currently unable to defend against.

A hypersonic weapon can travel at Mach 5 or higher, which is at least five times faster than the speed of sound. This means that a hypersonic threat can travel about one mile per second.

Back in March, Putin showed a digital representation of how one of Russia’s new weapons could evade ABM defenses by traveling high into the stratosphere. The Russian president also criticized the US and NATO for forcing Russia to resort to these weapons. He also dared any of Russia’s geopolitical rivals to call the country weak.

“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: You have failed to contain Russia,” Putin said during his March national address.

A hypersonic weapon can travel at Mach five or faster, which means it is five times faster than the speed of sound, traveling at about one mile per second.

And the new sub isn’t the only super-weapon that Russia is preparing to add to its arsenal. Of the six weapons Putin unveiled at his speech earlier this year, CNBC reported that two of them will be ready for war by 2020.

“We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us,” Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, following Putin’s comments.

With this in mind, perhaps Democrats in Congress can stop complaining about the ostensibly friendly relationship between President Trump and Putin and also stop agitating against Trump’s plans to allocate more money to the military.

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