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How will Russia and Iran respond to the US challenge in the Caspian Sea?

As the US intrudes itself into the strategically important Caspian region, how will Russia and Iran respond?

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On May 5 2018 Kazakhstan ratified an agreement with the US for the transit of US military cargo and possibly even troops (under the euphemism of ‘advisors’ or ‘engineers’) to Afghanistan via the Caspian Sea route.

The ostensible reason is that the US’s long established supply lines to Afghanistan via Pakistan are now ‘under threat’.  However, as is often the case nowadays, the reality is rather more complicated.

Just five months before the agreement was reached, in December 2017, purportedly at the instigation of the businessman Anatolie Stati who is involved in a longstanding legal dispute with the Kazakh authorities, the Bank of New York Mellon froze $22.6 billion of funds belonging to Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund.

The May transit agreement between Kazakhstan and the US which followed shows that, as we say in Russia, ‘the subject (in this case Kazakhstan) got the message.’

This little piece of economic pressure shows that what is involved is more than just a logistical arrangement for a war in Afghanistan which the US anyway seems keen – presumably for its own reasons – to perpetuate indefinitely.

The effect of the agreement is that the US now has a presence in the two east Caspian ports of Aktau and Kuryk.  Though this has been done ostensibly in order to transfer US supplies to Afghanistan, in reality it gives the US for the first time a military presence in the Caspian Sea, which until then had been exclusively an ‘inner lake’ of the countries which surround it.

The two Caspian Sea states which are the most affected are Russia and Iran, the two Caspian Sea ‘giants’ which between them account for by far the greater share of the combined GDP of the Caspian Sea littoral states.  Not coincidentally they are the two Caspian Sea littoral states with the worst relations with Washington.

In the case of Russia there is a particular military dimension to the arrival of a US military presence in the Caspian Sea, in that Russia’s Caspian Sea flotilla has launched cruise missile strikes on Jihadi fighters engaged in the war in Syria.

This revelation of the great strategic importance of Russia’s Caspian Sea flotilla has seriously alarmed Washington, and has given the US a particular reason for wanting to establish a military presence in the Caspian Sea, from where it can keep track of Russia’s Caspian Sea flotilla, and potentially even in time pose a challenge to it.

In the case of Iran, a US military presence in the Caspian Sea creates a new potential US military threat to Iran from the north, balancing the US threat to Iran from the south provided by the large US naval presence in the Persian Gulf and the US military bases located there.

So the big question is how will the two ‘Caspian giants’ – Russia and Iran – respond to this challenge?  Will they work together to confront it, as they have worked together successfully to confront the joint challenge they have faced in Syria?

Will they in fact forge a strategic partnership with each other to confront the potential threat in the Caspian Sea that they both now face, possibly along the lines of the partnership which exists between the US and Britain?

I ask this question because the current reality is very different.  So far from Russia and Iran working closely together on anything, the wheels of their cooperation on the contrary are clogged up with bureaucratic mud.

Anyone who has ever tried to make a bank transfer from Russia to Iran will know exactly what I mean.  Moreover if you want to fly to Tehran from say the Urals – perhaps from the Yekaterinburg industrial region — you will find that you have to add a whole day to your journey because you have to transit through Moscow.

It is just as bad on the other side. Tabriz international airport in Iran offers direct flights to Batumi, Tbilisi and Yerevan, but not to Krasnodar, southern Russia’s economic capital with a population of three quarters of a million people, notwithstanding that it should take no more than an hour and a half’s flight to get there.

Last but not the least, whilst there is a trans-Caspian cargo ferryboat between Astrakhan in Russia and Bandar-e Anzali in Iran, did you ever hear of a passenger one?  Hardly, because none exists.

There is an old Russian saying that every problem has its first name, patronymic and surname.  In the case of the total lack of even basic economic coordination between Moscow and Tehran it’s not actually difficult to see what this problem is.

Quite simply, some people in authority in both countries (we won’t say who they are) see their potential Caspian Sea partner as at best an unimportant “second order” friend, and perhaps in some cases even as a potential enemy.

Russia and Iran can – if they have the will – together with their partners form a common market of 250 million people.

That would provide them with the best – perhaps the only – security there is against the sanctions, restrictions, threats and incantations which, regular as clockwork, come from the West’s self-proclaimed guardians of “freedom, democracy and human rights”.

The alternative is to allow the Caspian Sea to become a Sea of Troubles, with the West’s “humanitarian missiles” certain to follow close behind.

With the US now establishing a presence in the Caspian Sea the time for Russia and Iran to start seriously working together is now.

The author is an international correspondent for Russia’s largest circulation newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda

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AM HantscolumtomAndrew OrrTommy Jensen Recent comment authors
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AM Hants
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AM Hants

I thought the Caspian was off limits, to those who do not border the Sea, owing to keeping it secure?

colum
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colum

[Cough] Cough] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twt2YPXprgo

Go to 1:30 in the vid

tom
Guest
tom

“On May 5 2018 Kazakhstan ratified an agreement with the US for the transit of US military cargo and possibly even troops (under the euphemism of ‘advisors’ or ‘engineers’) to Afghanistan via the Caspian Sea route”.

Why would the Kazakh government do that?

“The ostensible reason is that the US’s long established supply lines to Afghanistan via Pakistan are now ‘under threat’”.

And that is the Kazakh government and people’s problem why?

Methinks I spy money at work again…

tom
Guest
tom

Asian governments need to arrive at a formal understanding that anyone helping the USA to establish military bases – or giving it any potential military help of any kind – on or near the continent of Asia will feel the strong and effective disapproval of all its Asian neighbours.

Just as a householder who encourages armed and murderous drug dealers to enter his street should be told, in no uncertain terms, that either the intruders go – or he goes too.

Andrew Orr
Guest
Andrew Orr

How will Borat respond?

Tommy Jensen
Guest
Tommy Jensen

Guess Israel is making the leverage again. Russia wants to be friends with Israel, thereforethey cant be too close friends with Iran. Thus friendship with Iran become a strategic issue of interests.: Dragging out S-300 deal “to please our Western partners”, dragging out S-300 to Syria which would strenghten Syria-Iran axis “to please our Western partners”, keeping UNSC sanctions against Iran “to please our Western partners”. Iran has to rebalance these Russian interests and try to vector toward China and EU instead. Finally both Russia and Iran are betting and riding on too many horses and their pants crack, because… Read more »

fredd
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fredd

to transfer US supplies to Afghanistan
and how will the US get these supplies in to Kazakhstan?
because it borders into russia and china and is landlocked except the Caspian Sea

wwinsti
Guest
wwinsti

Iran/Russia need to get over their differences fast, if not, you’ll wind up with another US base between both countries, bristling with antennas, listening stations, and probably an X-ban radar. Hate to frame it this way, but 22 billion is a low price to buy out the Kazakhs.

Ugh...
Guest
Ugh...

The cancer spreads

pooi-hoong chan
Guest
pooi-hoong chan

US not only ptactise military terrorism, it also engage in financial terrorism by freezing USD 22 billion of Kazahkstan sovereign wealth fund.

HappyCynic
Guest
HappyCynic

The lesson Kazakhstan learned from this is not to keep US dollars on deposit in the US. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kazakhstan started buying gold. Russia clearly understands this, and doesn’t keep much money in US banks and reduced it’s holdings of US Treasury bills by 50% recently. Russia is also likely to stop keeping money in the EU (look at they way EU countries are trying to cheat Russia – Yukos and Ukraine being prime examples). Gold is a much safer way to store value. Then the question becomes how Russia will get payment for the gas and… Read more »

andyoldlabour
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andyoldlabour

This article is confusing me slightly.
The Caspian is totally landlocked (the only real inlet being the mighty Volga River), a brown water sea/lake.
Kazakhstan is home to the largest and oldest space centre on the planet, the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Russia has a couple of naval bases in the Caspian, which hosts a number of guided missile corvettes/frigates.
I am still confused as to how the US can rock up with military without being challenged?

Nexusfast123
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Nexusfast123

Maybe Russia, Iran and China start to make life in Afghanistan really uncomfortable for the US.

Essene Gnostic
Guest
Essene Gnostic

This is all a Freemasonic charade.

Bessarabyn
Guest
Bessarabyn

Spot on ! Thanks !

normski1
Guest
normski1

As the Caspian Sea is land locked, Russia and Iran have nothing to worry about as the USA cannot station any of it’s war ships in the Caspian Sea. At best, all the USA can do is lease transport ships from a “friendly” country – the Caspian Sea is Russia’s and Iran’s play ground!.

Guy
Guest
Guy

If the banks can freeze funds owned by other nations that easily then every nation in the world should pay special attention to what they are doing investing with Western/US banks.
This is typical modus operendi for the Amerikans .maybe soon they will be begging for foreign investment given the way that the US is alienating everyone with their sanctions and the immanent collapse of the
US $.

Dr. Ronald Cutburth
Guest
Dr. Ronald Cutburth

There ya go again. Russia smashes ISIS from the Caspian sea and makes it the IN place to be. Those that don’t have ships there are simply out of style. Russia will charge them a huge fee to pass through Russian territory to get there. Russia will need to inspect their ships and make them pay the new Tariff in gold. No?

ghifarix@gmail.com
Guest

When a nation /enemy is destined to be destroyed it is always brought closer to its fate……Let the foolish Yankee spread their wings, after time they won’t be in a position to negotiate or escape it’s inevitable demise. How else you’d put down a giant but getting closer to it? In this case let the giant close in, therein lie its fate.

PapaGuns
Guest
PapaGuns

https://eadaily.com/en/news/2018/04/25/kazakhstan-opens-caspian-sea-for-usa

sovereign countries are no longer allowed to make treaties? who knew?

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Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel

Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

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New Satellite Images Reveal Aftermath Of Israeli Strikes On Syria; Putin Accepts Offer to Probe Downed Jet

The images reveal the extent of destruction in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport.

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Via Zerohedge


An Israeli satellite imaging company has released satellite photographs that reveal the extent of Monday night’s attack on multiple locations inside Syria.

ImageSat International released them as part of an intelligence report on a series of Israeli air strikes which lasted for over an hour and resulted in Syrian missile defense accidentally downing a Russian surveillance plane that had 15 personnel on board.

The images reveal the extent of destruction on one location struck early in attack in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport. On Tuesday Israel owned up to carrying out the attack in a rare admission.

Syrian official SANA news agency reported ten people injured in the attacks carried out of military targets near three major cities in Syria’s north.

The Times of Israel, which first reported the release of the new satellite images, underscores the rarity of Israeli strikes happening that far north and along the coast, dangerously near Russian positions:

The attack near Latakia was especially unusual because the port city is located near a Russian military base, the Khmeimim Air Force base. The base is home to Russian jet planes and an S-400 aerial defense system. According to Arab media reports, Israel has rarely struck that area since the Russians arrived there.

The Russian S-400 system was reportedly active during the attack, but it’s difficult to confirm or assess the extent to which Russian missiles responded during the strikes.

Three of the released satellite images show what’s described as an “ammunition warehouse” that appears to have been completely destroyed.

The IDF has stated their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” This statement came after the IDF expressed “sorrow” for the deaths of Russian airmen, but also said responsibility lies with the “Assad regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident while offering to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report — something which Putin agreed to.

According to Russia’s RT News, “Major-General Amikam Norkin will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, and will present the situation report on the incident, including the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event and the pre-mission information the Israeli military was so reluctant to share in advance.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry condemned the “provocative actions by Israel as hostile” and said Russia reserves “the right to an adequate response” while Putin has described the downing of the Il-20 recon plane as likely the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” and downplayed the idea of a deliberate provocation, in contradiction of the initial statement issued by his own defense ministry.

Pro-government Syrians have reportedly expressed frustration this week that Russia hasn’t done more to respond militarily to Israeli aggression; however, it appears Putin may be sidestepping yet another trap as it’s looking increasingly likely that Israel’s aims are precisely geared toward provoking a response in order to allow its western allies to join a broader attack on Damascus that could result in regime change.

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“Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes

A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”

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Via Zerohedge


A university professor in Sweden is under investigation for “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” and that genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone,” reports Academic Rights Watch.

For his transgression, Germund Hesslow – a professor of neuroscience at Lund University – who holds dual PhDs in philosophy and neurophysiology, may lose his job – telling RT that a “full investigation” has been ordered, and that there “have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all.”

“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” Hesslow said.

Hesslow was ordered to attend a meeting by Christer Larsson, chairman of the program board for medical education, after a female student complained that Hesslow had a “personal anti-feminist agenda.” He was asked to distance himself from two specific comments; that gay women have a “male sexual orientation” and that the sexual orientation of transsexuals is “a matter of definition.”

The student’s complaint reads in part (translated):

I have also heard from senior lecturers that Germund Hesslow at the last lecture expressed himself transfobically. In response to a question of transexuallism, he said something like “sex change is a fly”. Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to transfobin, but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people. Transpersonals already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university’s equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated? –Academic Rights Watch

After being admonished, Hesslow refused to distance himself from his comments, saying that he had “done enough” already and didn’t have to explain and defend his choice of words.

At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow said in a written reply to Larsson.

He also rejected the accusation that he had a political agenda – stating that his only agenda was to let scientific factnot new social conventions, dictate how he teaches his courses.

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