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Iran, Russia, Turkey issue joint statement following peace talks in Astana

Moscow versus Washington: Who is upholding multilateralism?

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Representatives from Iran, Russia, and Turkey met at the Kazakh capital of Astana for peace talks relative to the Syrian conflict and have released a joint statement.

The three parties are also the guarantors of the ceasefire agreement in Syria, arguing that only a political, non military, solution can resolve the conflict and result in a stable outcome.

Tasnim News Agency reports:

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran, Russia, and Turkey, as guarantors of the observance of the ceasefire regime in Syria, issued a joint statement on Tuesday following the Arab country’s peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

In the joint statement, representatives of Iran, Russia, and Turkey reiterated that there is no military solution to the protracted crisis in Syria and that only a political process can resolve it.

The three countries also reaffirmed their commitment to the independence and territorial integrity of Syria.

Following is the full text of the joint statement:

Joint Statement by Iran, Russia, and Turkey on the International Meeting on Syria in Astana

(14-15 May 2018)

The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey as guarantors of the observance of the ceasefire regime in the Syrian Arab Republic:

1. Reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria. Highlighted that these principles should be universally respected and any action that might violate them and undermine achievements of the Astana format should be avoided.

2. Emphasized the importance of the implementation of the Memorandum on the creation of the de-escalation areas in the Syrian Arab Republic of 4 May 2017 and other agreements reached within the framework of the Astana format. Took stock of the developments of the situation on the ground a year after signing the Memorandum.

3. Underlined the key role that the de-escalation areas play in maintaining the ceasefire regime, reducing the level of violence and stabilizing the overall situation in Syria and highlighted that the creation of these areas is a temporary measure that under no circumstances undermines the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria.

4. Underscored the need to encourage efforts that help all Syrians to restore normal and peaceful life and to this end to ensure rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, to deliver necessary medical aid and humanitarian assistance and to create conditions for safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their original places of residence as well as free movement of local population.

5. Reaffirmed their determination to fight terrorism in Syria in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL as designated by the UN Security Council.

6. Welcomed the convening of the second meeting of the Working Group on the release of detainees/abductees and handover of the bodies as well as the identification of missing persons by three Guarantors` representatives with the participation of the UN and ICRC experts. Took note of the Working Group`s progress report and reaffirmed the necessity to continue joint efforts aimed at building confidence between the conflicting parties in Syria. Agreed to hold the next meeting of the Working Group in Ankara in June 2018.

7. Guided by the provisions of the UN Security Council resolution 2254, reaffirmed their determination to continue joint efforts aimed at advancing the process of the political settlement, through facilitating the implementation of the recommendations of the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi. In this regard agreed to hold joint consultations of their high-level representatives with the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria as well as with Syrian parties in order to create conditions to facilitate the beginning of the Constitutional Committee`s work in Geneva as soon as possible and to carry out such meetings on a regular basis.

8. Expressed their sincere gratitude to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev and the Kazakh authorities for hosting in Astana the 9th high-level International Meeting on Syria.

9. Decided to hold the next high-level International Meeting on Syria in Sochi in July 2018.

Astana, 15 May 2018

With upcoming meetings to take place in roughly two months, can the condition on the ground in Syria make it that long, with the US in the midst of creating a sort of ‘Arab coalition’ including the Saudis and other Gulf States allies, who are hostile to the ruling regime in Syria, and to the prevailing religious perspectives amongst Syrians, and who have been actively involved in the Yemen conflict, which has thus far resulted in many various war crimes/crimes against humanity? And yet, this ‘Arab coalition’ is supposed to help support a peaceful, political process aimed at restoring peace and stability to the Syrian people? Since when?

Meanwhile, this bit of joint political work acts as yet another fashion in which Russia is demonstrating that it is capable of exercising a working relationship with Tehran, instead of branding it as a threat and immediately and unilaterally undertaking actions to the detriment of both nations, unlike some on the other side of the pond.

Russia is demonstrating, proving by its actions and diplomacy, that it not only can, and is willing, but is currently working with Iran and upholding its agreements, and therefore can be trusted to go on doing so going into the future. Here, then, Europe, plunged into the discomfiture of choosing who and how to work with going forward, has the examples of Washington and Moscow to look to as they work through this on who is amenable and who isn’t.

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Tape recorded evidence of Clinton-Ukraine meddling in US election surfaces (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a look at new evidence to surface from Ukraine that exposes a plot by the US Embassy in Kiev and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to leak Paul Manafort’s corrupt dealings in the country, all for the benefit of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Via Zerohedge


Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has launched an investigation into the head of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly attempting to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump during the 2016 US election by releasing damaging information about a “black ledger” of illegal business dealings by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Hill’s John Solomon, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko

“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko said last week, according to The Hill

Lutsenko is probing a claim from a member of the Ukrainian parliament that the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, attempted to the benefit of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

A State Department spokesman told Hill.TV that officials aware of news reports regarding Sytnyk. –The Hill

“According to the member of parliament of Ukraine, he got the court decision that the NABU official conducted an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” said Lutsenko, speaking with The Hill’s John Solomon about the anti-corruption bureau chief, Artem Sytnyk.

“It means that we think Mr. Sytnyk, the NABU director, officially talked about criminal investigation with Mr. [Paul] Manafort, and at the same time, Mr. Sytnyk stressed that in such a way, he wanted to assist the campaign of Ms. Clinton,” Lutsenko continued.

Solomon asked Lutsenko about reports that a member of Ukraine’s parliament obtained a tape of the current head of the NABU saying that he was attempting to help Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, as well as connections that helped release the black-ledger files that exposed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort‘s wrongdoing in Ukraine.

“This member of parliament even attached the audio tape where several men, one of which had a voice similar to the voice of Mr. Sytnyk, discussed the matter.” –The Hill

What The Hill doesn’t mention is that Sytnyk released Manafort’s Black Book with Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko – discussed in great length by former Breitbart investigator Lee Stranahan, who has been closely monitoring this case.

Serhiy Leshchenko

T]he main spokesman for these accusations was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian politician and journalist who works closely with both top Hillary Clinton donors George Soros and Victor Pinchuk, as well as to the US Embassy in Kyiv.

James Comey should be asked about this source that Leshchenko would not identify. Was the source someone connected to US government, either the State Department or the Department of Justice?

The New York Times should also explain why they didn’t mention that Leshchenko had direct connections to two of Hillary Clinton biggest financial backers. Victor Pinchuk, the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation at a staggering $8.6 million also happened to have paid for Leshchenko’s expenses to go to international conferences. George Soros, whose also founded the International Renaissance Foundationthat worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s State Department in Ukraine, also contributed at least $8 million to Hillary affiliated super PACs in the 2016 campaign cycle. –Lee Stranahan via Medium

Meanwhile, according to former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, Leshchenko was a source for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.

“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation. –Daily Caller

Also absent from The Hill report is the fact that Leshchenko was convicted in December by a Kiev court of interfering in the 2016 US election.

A Kyiv court said that a Ukrainian lawmaker and a top anticorruption official’s decision in 2016 to publish documents linked to President Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman amounted to interference in the U.S. presidential election.

The December 11 finding came in response to a complaint filed by another Ukrainian lawmaker, who alleged that Serhiy Leshchenko and Artem Sytnyk illegally released the documents in August 2016, showing payments by a Ukrainian political party to Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The documents, excerpts from a secret ledger of payments by the Party of Regions, led to Manafort being fired by Trump’s election campaign.

The Kyiv court said that the documents published by Leshchenko and Sytnyk were part of an ongoing pretrial investigation in Ukraine into the operations of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. The party’s head had been President Viktor Yanukovych until he fled the country amid mass protests two years earlier.

-RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty (funded by the US govt.).

So while Lutsenko – Solomon’s guest and Ukrainian Prosecutor is currently going after Artem Sytnyk, it should be noted that Leshchenko was already found to have meddled in the 2016 US election.

Watch:

Meanwhile, you can also check out Stranahan’s take on Leshchenko being left out of the loop.

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‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.

RT

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Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

The Duran

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Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-arms/germany-not-satisfied-with-readiness-of-submarines-some-aircraft-idUSKBN1QS1G7) the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

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