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As Jihadi resistance crumbles in Aleppo, Western powers play diplomatic games

Western powers demand ceasefire in Aleppo to save Jihadis even as Jihadi resistance crumbles.

Alexander Mercouris

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As is commonly the case in attrition war, the end in Aleppo is coming quickly. 

Throughout the last 12 hours reports have been pouring in of more and more formerly Al-Qaeda held districts of eastern Aleppo falling to the Syrian army.

“The Syrian army troops and Hezbollah resistance fighters managed to take control of al-Jadideh district and immediately moved in several directions to beat terrorists back from their positions in al-Kelaseh, Bab al-Maqam, al-Fardos and Karm al-Deada districts after fortifying their positions in vast areas of al-Salehin district.

The terrorists have so far lost over 40 districts and neighbourhoods in Eastern Aleppo and are now in control of only very few districts stretching over an area 7 sq/km or less than 10 percent of what was once their territory for 5 years until this last Summer.

If the Syrian government forces manage to seize back Karm al-Deada, al-Fardos and al-Kelaseh districts, the terrorists who are in Sheikh Saeed district will come under the Syrian army’s full siege from the Northern and Eastern directions and this region will fall as well,” a battlefield source explained on Wednesday evening.

The source went on to say that the Syrian government troops are likely to be faced with some tough resistance in Sheikh Saeed district which is considered the Southern gate of Aleppo city in the South-East.

The clashes are still underway at the Regional Power Company of Sheikh Saeed in the Eastern part of this vital district.

The army units also started a new front in the region after winning back Bab an-Nayrab and advanced towards al-Asliyeh district from Western Bab an-Nayrab and advanced towards Bab al-Maqam district from al-Salehin square.

The latest reports coming from Northwestern Syria said on Wednesday evening that terrorists are still on the run and surrender districts in Southeastern Aleppo without serious resistance as the army’s swift advances have gathered even more pace.

Army units seized back Ma’adi district and its surrounding areas South of Aleppo’s historical citadel after they recaptured Bab an-Nayrab region.

The army also won back al-Qasiliah and Jbb al-Quebeh districts Southeast of the citadel.

War is now underway further in the South near the rims of the city in al-Salehin district, where the army has already captured the Eastern neighbourhoods. The terrorists have reportedly taken shelter in the Western parts of the vast district after they escaped from the Old Aleppo quarter that has the Citadel of Aleppo at its centre.

An army colonel said estimates show that al-Salehin district will fall to the government troops in the next few hours.

The Syrian forces also took control of Bab al-Nasr, al-Khandaq road, al-Hamidiyeh, Nour Eddin al-Zanki Street and al-Mashatiyeh in Southeastern Aleppo.

Earlier today, field sources disclosed that the Syrian Army troops and popular forces were in control of at least 85 percent of Eastern Aleppo districts, hitting hard the positions of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists in the few remaining districts still under their control.”

The pace of events is so fast that even the Russian military is having difficulty keeping up.  The Russian military’s Reconciliation Centre at Russia’s Khmeimim air base in Syria issued a few hours ago the following statement

“In the past 24 hours, on December 7, the Syrian army liberated 15 districts of eastern Aleppo from militants.  Hence, 50 districts of the city’s eastern part are now under control of the Syrian authorities, which makes about 70% of the territory earlier controlled by militants.”

At the time this statement was issued (roughly 20:00 hours UTC on 7th December 2016) it was already out of date.  By that time the Syrian army was in reality in control of at least 85% of the former Al-Qaeda controlled pocket of eastern Aleppo (see the Fars report above) – not 70% – with many Jihadi fighters surrendering (many more than the 66 separately claimed by the Russian military) and with the remaining Jihadi fighters still resisting being driven ever deeper into what is left of their pocket.   

The Syrian army’s objective according to Fars is to bottle the remaining Jihadis up into a single district where it will be easier to round them up.

These dramatic events would not however be complete were they not accompanied by an element of farce.

Over the course of the day the Al-Qaeda led command of the remaining Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo has asked the Syrian military for a 5 day ceasefire to evacuate civilians and wounded fighters and to allow humanitarian aid to get through.  The request has been accompanied by a request that the wounded fighters be sent to Turkey rather than Idlib. Importantly it makes no reference to the remaining Jihadi fighters leaving eastern Aleppo – the consistent Russian demand since the summer – with the implication being that they will be left to stay where they are.

This request unsurprisingly has been backed by the Western powers and by the UN Secretariat.  Indeed it purports to be a Jihadi response to a four point plan for a ceasefire put forward by the humanitarian agencies of the UN Secretariat. 

In reality there is no doubt the UN Secretariat, Western governments, and the Idlib based Al-Qaeda command of the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo, have been coordinating their moves with each throughout the day.

Recent events on the ground in Aleppo have however rendered this all meaningless.  The statement the Western governments published a few hours ago is in fact one of the most preposterous documents anyone has published over the course of the whole Syrian war.

In order to get a proper feel of this statement, and since the text of this statement is not easy to find on the Internet, I reproduce it here in full:

“A humanitarian disaster is taking place before our very eyes. Some 200,000 civilians, including many children, in eastern Aleppo are cut off from food and medicine supplies. Aleppo is being subjected to daily bombings and artillery attacks by the Syrian regime, supported by Russia and Iran. Hospitals and schools have not been spared. Rather, they appear to be the targets of attack in an attempt to wear people down. The images of dying children are heart breaking. We condemn the actions of the Syrian regime and its foreign backers, especially Russia, for their obstruction of humanitarian aid, and strongly condemn the Syrian regime’s attacks that have devastated civilians and medical facilities and use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons.

The urgent need now is for an immediate ceasefire to allow the United Nations to get humanitarian assistance to people in eastern Aleppo and to provide humanitarian relief to those who have fled eastern Aleppo. The opposition have agreed the UN’s four point plan for Aleppo. The regime needs to agree to the plan too. We call on the Syrian regime to do this urgently to alleviate the dire situation in Aleppo; and call on Russia and Iran to use their influence to help make this happen.

We urge all parties in Syria to adhere to international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions. UN SG Ban Ki-moon has spoken about war crimes being committed in Syria. There must not be impunity for those responsible. We call on the UN to investigate respective reports and gather evidence to hold the perpetrators of war crimes to account. We are ready to consider additional restrictive measures against individuals and entities that act for or on behalf of the Syrian regime.

At the same time, Russia is blocking the UN Security Council, which is therefore unable to do its work and put an end to the atrocities. The regime’s refusal to engage in a serious political process also highlights the unwillingness of both Russia and Iran to work for a political solution despite their assurances to the contrary. We support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy de Mistura to resume the political process through negotiations. Only a political settlement can bring peace for people in Syria.”

This bizarre statement – signed by six leaders of whom three (Obama, Hollande and Renzi) are about to leave office and are therefore in no position to act on the threats they make in it – was presumably largely drafted some days ago, before the collapse of Jihadi resistance in eastern Aleppo rendered it meaningless. 

It therefore assumes a situation which no longer exists.  It talks about a humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo as if the siege of the Jihadi held districts were still ongoing.  In reality the siege of most of these districts has ended because they are back in the hands of the Syrian army, and soon all of them will be.  As the Syrians and the Russians are pointing out, that means that it is now possible to achieve humanitarian access to these districts without needing the Jihadis to agree to a ceasefire in order to do it.

The Jihadi and UN proposal for a 5 day ceasefire would undoubtedly have been accepted by the Syrian government and by the Russians had it been made a week ago. 

Today with Jihadi resistance probably no more than hours away from total collapse, it is too obviously intended to break the momentum of the Syrian army’s advance and to staunch the flow of surrenders and desertions from the Jihadis’ ranks to be acceptable either to the Syrian government or to the Russians.  Not surprisingly therefore both have rejected it. 

Reports confirm that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told US Secretary of State Kerry as much when they met a few hours ago in Hamburg.  In what must have been for Kerry a particularly cruel and humiliating moment, TASS reports Lavrov threw Kerry’s 2nd December 2016 proposal – that all Jihadi fighters leave eastern Aleppo – back into Kerry’s face, telling him that Russia is still prepared to accept it, hours after the US backtracked on it.  Of course with Jihadi resistance in Aleppo collapsing even this proposal is all but meaningless now.

What these latest diplomatic moves in fact show is the delusional world in which Western governments now live in in relation to anything that touches on the Syrian conflict. 

If Western governments were really concerned to end the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo they would not be calling for a ceasefire.  They would be calling on the remaining Jihadis still fighting in Aleppo – whose continued resistance is now useless – to surrender and immediately leave the city so that humanitarian aid can be sent there without further hindrance.

That however is something Western governments – still obsessed by fantasies of regime change, and still trapped by the false propaganda narrative they have woven together over the last few months – cannot bring themselves to do.

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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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From McCain to Brennan, Deep State soft coup against Trump picks up steam (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 59.

Alex Christoforou

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After Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, the Deep State smells blood, and is moving quickly to depose of US President Donald Trump.

Government officials and mainstream media puppets from left and right are condemning the US President over his press conference with Vladimir Putin.

Leading the charge are the usual Deep State, suspects, starting with John McCain and ending with the man many believe is behind the entire Trump-Russia collusion hoax, former Obama CIA boss John Brennan.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou examine the soft coup aimed at removing US President Trump by the November 2018 midterms. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Independent

Conservative John McCain, who is facing a rare and terminal brain cancer, unleashed a damning statement against Mr Trump’s conference with Mr Putin, describing it as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” he said.

“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realise his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbours, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.”

The conservative senator’s comments arrived after the US president declined to name Russia as the adversary behind coordinated attacks on the 2016 presidential election.

While discussing whether he thought Russia was behind hacks against the 2016 election — as the US intelligence community has determined —the president said: “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

“Dan Coats [the US Director of National Intelligence] said its Russia. President Putin says its not Russia,” said Mr Trump. “I don’t know why it would be…..I have confidence in both parties. President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

That set off a wave of condemnations from Democrats and Republicans alike.

“President Trump’s press conference with Putin was an embarrassing spectacle,” Bernie Sanders wrote in a tweet. “Rather than make clear that interference in our elections is unacceptable, Trump instead accepted Putin’s denials and cast doubt on the conclusions of our intelligence community. This is not normal.”

Jeff Flake, one of the only frequent Republican critics of Mr Trump in Congress, said the conference was “shameful” in a statement he posted across social media.

“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” he said. “This is shameful.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan released a statement calling for Mr Trump’s impeachment and describing his comments as “treasonous”.

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours,'” Mr Brennan wrote on Twitter. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Elizabeth Warren also slammed the president for failing to hold Mr Putin accountable, writing on Twitter: “Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable – not rewarded.”

“Disgraceful,” she concluded.

However, Mr Trump’s typical roster of critics weren’t the only legislators rebuking his bizarre denials of US intelligence. Lindsey Graham also criticised Mr Trump’s performance, adding that his denial of US intelligence will “be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves”.

“Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections,” he said.

The Republican senator added a suggestion to Mr Trump: review the soccer ball Mr Putin gave to him as a gift for “listening devices” and “never allow it in the White House.”

Thomas Pickering, a regarded statesman and the former US ambassador to Russia, told MSNBC that he was in utter disbelief after the press conference was held on Monday.

“It’s a breathtaking denial of something that clearly is so obviously true,” he said. ”it represents the epitome of President Trump’s effort at self-promotion over the notion of defending the national interest of the United States.”

Mark Warner, a Virginia senator, also suggested Mr Trump committed a clear violation of his responsibilities as president.

Mr Trump committed “a breach of his duty to defend our country against its adversaries,” Mr Warner said. ”If the President cannot defend the United States and its interests in public, how can we trust him to stand up for our country in private?”

Meanwhile the latest Deep State leak, via the NYT, claims that US President Trump was told by Obama holdovers that Putin was involved in cyberattacks during the 2016 election. US intelligence told Trump this information days before the inauguration.

Via The Gateway Pundit

The same liberal hacks who illegally leaked this information want Americans to trust them as they continue to destroy this duly elected president.

President Trump on Wednesday told CBS anchor Jeff Glor that he has no confidence in the tainted intelligence by far left hacks Clapper, Brennan and Comey.

And, once again, the timing of this leak is not an accident.

Liberals are outraged that President Trump refused to chest bump Putin in Helsinki.

The deep state leaked this information to pile on the Republican president.

The New York Times reported…

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

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Russia ranks HIGHER than Switzerland in these areas of doing business

Some curious things happened with several businesspeople who attended World Cup events in Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

One of them was a distinctly renewed interest in doing business inside the country, and another was the realization to what extent perceptions have been tainted by media and political rhetoric directed against any real or imagined nastiness attributed to Russia these days.

These past few weeks have been invaluable, at the very least by affording a clear picture of Russia through which almost all anxiety-ridden preconceptions were illuminated and dispelled. More disturbing was the fact that the several businesspeople I was dealing with were furious. They were livid for being played for fools, and felt victimized by the dismally untrue picture painted about Russia and Russians in their home countries, both by their own politicians and the press.

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Most felt that they have been personally sanctioned by their own countries, betrayed through lack of clear unbiased information enabling them to participate and profit from Russia opportunities these past three growth years in spite of “sanctions”.

The door to doing good business in Russia has been and is open, and has been opening wider year after year. That is not just “highly likely”, but fact. Consistently improving structures, means and methods to conduct business in Russia sustainably, transparently and profitably are now part of the country’s DNA. It is a process, which has been worked on in the west for more than a century, and one, which Russia has only started these past 18 years.

True, there are sanctions, counter-sanctions, and regulations governing them that must be studied carefully. However if you are not a bank or doing business with those persons deemed worthy of being blacklisted by some countries “sanctions list”, in reality there are no obstacles that cannot be positively addressed and legally overcome despite the choir of political nay-sayers.

READ MORE: Russia just dumped $80 BILLION in US debt

The days of quickly turning over Russia opportunities into short-term cash are rapidly fading, they are a throwback to the 1990’s. Today the major and open opportunities are in the areas for Foreign Direct Investments. The nature of FDI is long term to make regularly recurring sustainable returns on investment.

Long term, Russia always was and increasingly confirms that it is a vibrant and attractive market. There is a significant consumer market with spending power, a well-educated workforce, a wealth of resources and the list goes on. The economic obstacles encountered have largely been imposed from without, and not from the dynamics and energies of the Russian economy itself.

Eventually sanctions will end, although the timeline is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile business continues, and any long-term engagement within Russia by establishing a working presence will yield both short and long-term investment rewards. These will only be amplified when the sanctions regimes are removed. In any event, these aspects are long-term investment decisions and one of the criteria in any risk assessment.

For some added perspective, Russia is ranked by the Financial Times as the No.2 country in Europe in terms of capital investments into Europe. It has a 2017 market share of 9% (US$ 15.9 billion) and includes 203 business projects. This is 2% higher than 2016 and better that 2014/2015 when sanctions were imposed.

Another item of perspective is the Country Risk Premium. All investors consider this when calculating the scope for long-term return on investments. What may surprise some is that Russia is no longer ranked as a very high-risk country. For comparisons sake: The risk premium for Germany is zero (no extra risk), the risk premium for Italy is 2.19%, and for Russia, it is 2.54%. When compared to politically popular investment destinations like Ukraine the risk premium is 10.4%  – food for thought. Bottom line is that the risks of investing in Russia are a smidge higher than investing in Italy.

Russia is ranked 35 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The ranking of Russia improved to 35 in 2017 from 40 in 2016 and from 124 in 2010. It may also surprise some to learn that as concerns protecting the rights of minority investors, paying taxes, registering property and some other aspects of the World Bank comparisons, Russia comes out better than Switzerland (See: Rankings).

From operational standpoints, establishing an invested presence in Russia does not mean one must adopt Russian managerial methods or practices. The advantages for established foreign companies is that their management culture is readily applied and absorbed by a smart and willing workforce, enabling a seamless integration given the right training and tools.

The trend towards the ultimate globalization of business despite trade wars, tariffs, sanctions and counter-sanctions is clear. The internet of the planet, the blockchain and speed of information exchange makes it so whether we wish it or not. Personally, I hope that political globalization remains stillborn as geopolitics has a historical mandate to tinker with and play havoc with international trade.

Russia occupies a key strategic position between Europe and Asia. The “west” (US/Europe) have long had at times rather turbulent relationships with China. At the same time the Chinese are quite active investors in both the US and Europe, and western companies are often struggling to understand how to deal with China.

The answer to this conundrum is Russia: this is where East and West will ultimately come together with Russia playing a pivotal role in the relations between the west and China. At the end of the day, and taking the strategic long-term economic view, is what both Chinese and Western companies are investing in when they open their activities in Russia.

If long-term commitment and investment in Russia were simply a matter of transferring funds then I would not be bothering with this opinion article. Without a doubt, there are structural issues with investing in Russia. A still evolving and sometimes unclear rule of law, difficulties obtaining finance for investments directed towards Russia, the unique language and culture of business in the country. Nevertheless, companies that have an understanding and vision of global strategy will manage with these issues and have the means to mitigate them.

Money and other invested resources do not and should not play politics; any investment case when evaluated on objective financial criteria will reveal its fit, or lack of, within a company’s global strategic business objectives. The objective criteria for Russia over any long term horizon is both convincing and strong. This has been repeated by all of the businesspeople I have met with these past few weeks. Without doubt we shall see some new companies coming into the Russian market and objectively exploring the gains their playing fair business football here will yield.

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