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How Vladimir Putin squashed arrogant Macron

Russian President Putin dismissed French President Macron’s claims during Putin’s visit to France that the only hope for Russia is to align with Europe.

Alexander Mercouris

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The Kremlin has published the complete text of the brief but highly illuminating press conference which followed the Macron-Putin summit in Versailles.

I have previously expressed bafflement as to why Macron invited Putin to a summit meeting at all given that the extraordinarily hard line against Russia which he seems intent on following.  The text of the press conference provides the answer, and it shows how delusional and arrogant Europe’s leaders including Macron have become.

It turns out that Macron’s purpose was nothing less than the grandiose one of “educating” Putin on why Russia needs to align itself with Europe in order to ‘modernise’, which means reversing the domestic and foreign policy line it has been following since the crisis of 1998 of pursuing building its own ‘sovereign democracy’ and of aligning with China.

Macron sought to do this by conjuring up the supposed example of Russia’s Westernising tsar, Peter the Great.

That was why Macron invited Putin to a summit in Versailles, which is hosting an expedition commemorating Peter the Great’s visit to France in 1717, and why he opened his news conference with this extraordinary passage

First of all, I would like to thank President Putin for accepting the invitation which I extended to him during our telephone conversation some time after I took office. I invited him to come to this symbolic place, where today we celebrate the 300thanniversary, almost to the day, of Peter the Great’s visit to France. The Russian tsar arrived in France to better understand the secrets of the kingdom, which stunned the world.

During the visit, which lasted several weeks, Peter the Great spent several days at Versailles, which already then represented the pinnacle of arts and technology, and where the ideals professed by Enlightenment figures and the genius of the spirit of that era were already beginning to emerge in the early 18th century. It was in Versailles that Peter the Great met with engineers, writers, and archivists. As we know from history, he returned to Russia some time later with new ideas and beliefs, as well as sketches (which we will see together in a short while), with a great desire to modernise your country. He was elected Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, which was a source of inspiration for him.

Peter the Great is a symbol of the Russia that wanted to become open to Europe and borrow from Europe the things that made it great and strong. We have just talked about this during our discussion. What is particularly important about this story, which is now three centuries old, is the dialogue between Russia and France that never stopped, the dialogue between our intellectuals and our cultures, which sowed the seeds of the friendship that has lasted to this day. This dialogue is marked by our outstanding thinkers, artists and statesmen.

You will see a sketch of the monument to Peter the Great, with which you are familiar, Mr President, since you were born in that beautiful city which is dear to you. This is the statue that became the pride of St Petersburg, your beloved city.

This Russia that is open to Europe, and this Franco-Russian friendship is what I wanted to share with you by inviting you here, to Versailles. This was the basis of our discussion today. This history transcends us and has cemented Franco-Russian friendship.

During the presidential election, France made a sovereign affirmation of its commitment to independence, its European choice and its desire to influence the fate of the world. None of the major challenges these days can be tackled without a dialogue with Russia.

This is exactly why I wanted to discuss together

(bold italics added)

Any other leader would have let his anger at these condescending words show.  Putin instead – showing off his knowledge of Russian history, which is certainly greater than Macron’s – effortlessly brushed them off

I would also like to thank President Macron for inviting me to come to this wonderful corner of France, to Versailles, which I have never visited before. It is definitely an impressive place that speaks of France’s grandeur and its long history, which plays a substantial part in the ties our two countries share. This is reflected in the exhibition we are about to visit, an exhibition marking the 300th anniversary of the visit to France by tsar and reformer Peter I. The ties between Russia and France did not begin with this visit however, but go back much deeper in time.

The educated French public is familiar with Anna of Rus, Queen of France. She was the youngest daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, married Henri I and made a substantial contribution to France’s development as one of the founders of at least two European dynasties, the Bourbons and the Valois. One of these dynasties is on the throne to this day in Spain…..

The exhibition we will visit now presents priceless items from the State Hermitage Museum related to Peter the Great’s visit to France in 1717. As President Macron and I noted, this visit has become a major milestone in the history of our bilateral relations, setting them on a friendly track for many years to come…..

I would like to thank the President once again for his invitation. He mentioned that Peter the Great spent several weeks in France, but as we know, everything in the diplomatic world is built on the basis of reciprocity. I would also like to invite the President to visit Russia. I hope he will be able to spend several weeks in Moscow.

(bold italics added)

In other words the starting point of Russian history – and of Russia’s interactions with Europe – is not the reign of Peter the Great, and Russia does not simply learn from the West – as an inferior civilisation learns from a superior one  – but has had an equal and mutually beneficial millennially long interaction with it, whilst successful bilateral relations today depend not on some sort of ‘teacher-pupil’ relationship, but on reciprocity: on taking into account the other side’s interests.

Putin made the same point rather more sharply in an interview he gave to the French newspaper Le Figaro.

It is true that President Macron invited me to take part in the opening of the exhibition. However, let me tell you straight away that the relations between Russia and France have a much longer history and much deeper roots, as the French President and I both mentioned on several occasions today. In fact, the younger daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, one of Russia’s Grand Princesses, Anna came here in the 11th century to marry King Henry I of France.

She was actually called Anna of Rus, Queen of France. Her son Philip I of France was the founder of two European royal houses, the Valois and the Bourbons, and the latter rules in Spain to this day.

This goes to say that the roots of our relations go much deeper, although over the last 300 years they did pick up momentum. This is true. I very much hope that today’s event, the exhibition and my talks with President Macron will give a new impetus to these relations……

As I have said to my French colleague and our French friends today, Peter the Great was above all a reformer, a man who not only implemented the best and the most up-to-date practices, but also was undoubtedly a patriot, who fought to secure for Russia the place it deserved in international affairs.

But above all, he was committed to reforming his country, making it modern, resilient and forward-looking. He succeeded in many, if not all of his undertakings. He focused on research, education, culture, military affairs and statehood, leaving an immense legacy that Russia has been relying on to this day, let alone the fact that he founded my hometown, St Petersburg, which was the capital of Russia for many years.

(bold italics added)

In other words, not only did Russian history and Russia’s interactions with Europe not begin with Peter the Great, but Peter the Great was like Putin first and foremost a Russian patriot all of whose actions were focused on making Russia strong so that it could better defend its national interests.

As well as putting Macron firmly in place about Peter the Great and Russian history, Putin during the press conference in his usual mischievous way gently ridiculed the suggestion that France is in any position to impose its own unilateral ‘red lines’ in Syria, as Macron purported to do

France of course is making its contribution to the fight against terrorism in Syria as part of the US-led international coalition. We do not know how much independence France has when it comes to operational matters because these are agreements between allies and we are not privy to that.

(bold italics added)

There has recently been some heart searching in Europe that by sticking to its tough policy Europe risks “losing” Russia.  Angela Merkel’s recent visit to Russia was it seems intended in part to calm these concerns.  Macron’s invitation to Putin also appears to have been motivated by these same concerns.  This is how the Financial Times reported them and explained the purpose behind Macron’s invitation to Putin

Mr Macron is now keen to reset the relationship with Moscow aides say. “There have been missed opportunities with Russia in the recent past, on Syria notably. The idea is to keep Russia close to Europe,” an adviser to Mr Macron said before the meeting.

The problem is that though Macron seems to realise the importance of restoring relations with Russia, he brings with him no new ideas of how to do it.  Conjuring up the misunderstood ghost of Peter the Great whilst refusing to address Russia’s concerns and whilst giving Russia stern lectures about Ukraine, Syria and the rights of gays in Chechnya, is certainly not the way.

The trouble is that despite the hammering that what is sometimes called the “European idea” has recently suffered because of Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and the electoral gains in France of Marine Le Pen, the European political establishment remains in denial about the diminishing attractiveness of “Europe” be it to Russia, Turkey or anyone else.  The result is that they continue to overplay their hand, as Macron has just done with Putin.

Take this extraordinary comment of Michel Duclos, director of Académie Diplomatique Internationale and a former diplomat at the French embassy in Moscow, as reported by the Financial Times

Putin thought he would have an ally in Washington, which has proved not to be the case. At the beginning of the year he thought he would have a friend in the Elysée, and this has not been the case either.  Now everybody is talking about China. He desperately needs to patch things up with Europe, and he has an opportunity with Macron.

(bold italics added)

This is utterly delusional, fantasising that Russia sees China as a threat rather than an ally and is therefore obliged “to patch things up with Europe” on Europe’s (ie. Merkel’s and Macron’s) terms.  Coming shortly after the One Belt, One Road conference in Beijing, and shortly before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia, such a comment is beyond bizarre, and shows how parochial thinking in Europe has become.

As for Putin, whilst his meeting with Macron can hardly have satisfied him, it did at least provide him with an opportunity to see to some unfinished business.

At the peak last autumn of the West’s public relations campaign against Russia for its alleged bombing of Aleppo Putin cancelled a visit he was due to make to Paris to attend the opening of a Russian cultural centre.  Macron’s invitation now enabled Putin to visit the centre.

Putin is said to have cancelled his visit to France in the autumn because he expected a boorish reception from the French, with President Hollande refusing to meet with him.  He has now visited the centre whilst in France as an honoured guest, after having been received in Versailles by President Macron.

Putin must have savoured the moment, all the more so as the reversal shows where the real power in the world now lies.

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Trump Weighs In On The Single Worst Mistake In American History

Trump hits Bush: Invading Iraq ‘the single worst decision ever made’.

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Via Zerohedge


In a wide ranging interview with The Hill on Tuesday conducted in the Oval Office, President Trump was asked to give his take on the biggest mistake in American history.

Considering just how open-ended a question that is, it’s perhaps surprising that he merely went back less than a couple decades into the Bush presidency, though Trump’s base will certainly welcome it as it hearkens back to his “America First” foreign policy vision of the campaign trail.

“The worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country: going into the Middle East, by President Bush,” the president during his interview with Hill.TV.

“Obama may have gotten them (U.S. soldiers) out wrong, but going in is to me the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country,” he said.

Trump explained the reasoning behind this choice, and why it wasn’t something like the civil war or another defining and devastating event reaching far into American History.

“Because we spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, ‘oh gee, let’s not do it. Seven trillion, and millions of lives — you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives,” the president explained.

Some scholars and humanitarian groups estimate that over one million Iraqis were killed in the US invasion and occupation of Iraq starting in 2003. A 2008 Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll, for example, found that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war.

“To me it’s the worst single mistake made in the history of our country. Civil war you can understand. Civil war, civil war. That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East, and that was just, that was a bad day for this country, I will tell you.”

Various estimates on the Iraq war’s cost have put the total taxpayer bill as low as near $2 trillion, but none dispute that it is in the multiple trillions, and estimates will vary widely depending on if veteran care is factored into it.

The comments echo things Trump said on the campaign trail in 2016. For example during one of his first major foreign policy speeches then candidate Trump said, “I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary, and I mean absolutely necessary, and will only do so if we have a plan for victory with a capital V.” And referencing the famous quote of John Quincy Adams, he said during the same speech, “The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies.”

He had previously shocked pundits for being the first Republican nominee for president to trash George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq, and has more recently likened it to “throwing a big fat brick into a hornet’s nest”.

All of this is a hopeful sign considering the extremely heightened and dangerous tensions over Syria this week, and given Trump seems to have vacillated between “bringing the troops home” and getting more involved. On Monday Trump hinted that a decision on the U.S. role in Syria is coming soon.

Commenting on the over 2,000 troops now in Syria ostensibly as part of the “anti-ISIL” coalition campaign, Trump indicated this mission could end soon: “We’re very close to being finished with that job,” he said. He followed with: “And then we’re going to make a determination as to what we’re going to do.”

We consider it a hopeful and a good sign that Trump is possibly revisiting his “America First” foreign policy pledges by identifying the Iraq War as the worst mistake in US history.

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Brett Kavanaugh eleventh hour smear begins to fall apart (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Trump is urging the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh to testify and be heard.

Trump said he wants to hear from Christine Blasey Ford, noting that it would be “unfortunate” if she does not testify before a Senate committee. Trump told reporters Wednesday as he left the White House to view hurricane damage in North Carolina…

“If she doesn’t show up, that would be unfortunate.”

“If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that would be very interesting.”

From Trump’s lips to God’s ear…Blasey Ford came out to issue a statement essentially saying that she will not testify to Congress, either in an open or closed door session.

Furthermore it appears that Ford will not even allow Senate investigators to fly to California and obtain her statement from the comfort of her own home (as Senator Grassley has offered to do).

Ford is demanding an FBI investigation into an allegation with no date, time or place attached to it. 

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the dangerous game of identity politics being played by the establishment, Democrat left, and their mainstream media minions.

The premise that a four decades old accusation is all that is needed to destroy a person’s entire life, threatens to tear down the most basic foundational values adhered to from within the US Constitution, and propel the United States of America towards a fascist state where censorship, citizen surveillance, and evidence free accusations are used to keep the establishment left in power and the American population cowered in fear.

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According to Zerohedge, Democrats’ Hail Mary play to stymie the confirmation of Trump SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh is beginning to fizzle out. As angry Dems demanded that a Monday hearing on the allegations against Kavanaugh be delayed until the FBI has a chance to investigate, turncoat Republicans (on whom the Dems had been depending for votes) instead withdrew their support and fell in line after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley declared that he would not honor Democrats’ request. Grassley revealed his intention to stand firm late Tuesday after lawyers for Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey, who is claiming that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her 35 years ago when the two were 17-year-old high school students, said their client wouldn’t be wiling to appear at Monday’s hearing.

According to the HillGrassley said Tuesday that there was “no reason” to delay the hearing now that Republicans have invited both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, his accuser, to testify publicly. However, while Ford’s attorneys have insisted that their client has taken a polygraph test and “deserves to be heard”, Ford has bizarrely insisted that the FBI should have an opportunity to investigate her claims before she appears before the committee in order to spare her the “trauma” of confronting her alleged assailant.

Ford’s lawyers conveyed her request in the form of a letter sent to the committee, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.

Senator Grassley said he would refuse this request as several Republicans who had appeared to be on the cusp of defecting said they wouldn’t support further delays should Ford prove unwilling to testify.

Via the Hill…

“Republicans extended a hand in good faith. If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote,” said GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), who was one of the first Republicans to call for the Judiciary Committee to hit pause on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Sunday.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) told reporters earlier Tuesday that Ford’s lack of response to the committee about testifying was “puzzling.”

And GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, who had threatened to vote against Kavanaugh if Ford wasn’t given the chance to be heard, told CNN that he expected the committee to move on if she doesn’t appear.

“I think we’ll have to move to the markup,” he told CNN. “I hope she does (appear). I think she needs to be heard.”

Via Zerohedge…

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegations and insisted he didn’t attend the party where the physical assault allegedly took place. Patrick Smyth, a fellow former Georgetown Prep student whom Ford alleges was also in attendance during the party issued a statement via his lawyer standing up for Kavanaugh. And in a separate letter to Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, not only does Smyth repudiate Ford’s allegations, but he adds that he doesn’t remember this party even taking place.

Of course, Feinstein – who admitted last night that she couldn’t say for certain that Ford’s story is entirely truthful – sat on Ford’s allegations for three months before referring them to the FBI and sharing them with other lawmakers (who purportedly “leaked” it to the press). President Trump on Tuesday said that he “feels sorry” for Kavanaugh, adding that he doesn’t want to “play into [Democrats] hands”, presumably by giving them more time to drag out the confirmation process.

“They should have done this a long time ago, three months ago, not now. But they did it now. So I don’t want to play into their hands,” Trump said.

Without the support of their Republican allies, Democrats will lack the votes on the committee to hold up the nomination past Monday. Though bizarrely, Kavanaugh himself hasn’t said yet whether he would or wouldn’t testify, which begs the question: If neither Kavanaugh nor Ford appear at the hearing, what exactly will lawmakers discuss?

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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