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Putin’s stern lecture to the US: you brought it on yourselves by pushing Russia around

In his State of the Nation address Putin criticises US conduct towards Russia, but says he remains open to compromise

Alexander Mercouris

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On 8th February 2018 I wrote an article for The Duran discussing the US military’s recently published Nuclear Posture Review.

I said that this was a deeply pessimistic document, in which the US military admitted that the US’s ‘unipolar moment’ had passed, with the US once again and for the first time since the end of the Cold War facing Great Power challenges, this time from Russia and China, together with a nuclear arms race in which it is losing ground principally to Russia.

I also said in the same article that the Nuclear Posture Review shows that the US is now facing challenges not just from Russia and China – whose aggregate industrial, raw material and population resources are greater than its own – but challenges from lesser powers such as Iran, which threaten to leave its conventional military dangerously overstretched.

The result is that the US faces a looming commitments’ crisis, which is causing it to bring back low yield nuclear weapons to offset its pending inferiority in conventional forces in some theatres.

The result is a dangerous lowering of the nuclear threshold and a rapid deterioration in the US’s geostrategic position, with the US no longer facing a challenge from a single Great Power confined to a specific geographical area (north west Europe) as it did during the Cold War, but facing challenges which this time are truly global.

Lastly, I said that the US military – though lamenting the rapid deterioration of the US’s overall geostrategic position – like the rest of the US leadership, appears to be blind of the extent to which it is the US’s own actions which since the end of the Cold War have provoked the reactions from countries like Russia and China which it is now complaining about.

The result is that instead of the US looking for compromises with Russia and China, it is doubling down on the very same policies that provoked the challenges from Russia and China in the first place.

The second part of President Putin’s State of the Nation address should in fact be understood as a response to the US’s Nuclear Posture Review – Putin specifically alluded to it in his address – whilst also being a stern lecture to the US making precisely these points in an effort to try to get the US to understand where it is going wrong.

The most important section of the second part of President Putin’s address was not in his unveiling of Russia’s various new weapons systems – of which the US was already well-informed – but in his account of how things have got the point where Russia feels that it has no choice but to develop and deploy these weapons.

It is worth setting out this section of President Putin’s address in full

Now, on to the most important defence issue.

I will speak about the newest systems of Russian strategic weapons that we are creating in response to the unilateral withdrawal of the United States of America from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the practical deployment of their missile defence systems both in the US and beyond their national borders.

I would like to make a short journey into the recent past.

Back in 2000, the US announced its withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Russia was categorically against this. We saw the Soviet-US ABM Treaty signed in 1972 as the cornerstone of the international security system. Under this treaty, the parties had the right to deploy ballistic missile defence systems only in one of its regions. Russia deployed these systems around Moscow, and the US around its Grand Forks land-based ICBM base.

Together with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the ABM Treaty not only created an atmosphere of trust but also prevented either party from recklessly using nuclear weapons, which would have endangered humankind, because the limited number of ballistic missile defence systems made the potential aggressor vulnerable to a response strike.

We did our best to dissuade the Americans from withdrawing from the treaty. All in vain. The US pulled out of the treaty in 2002. Even after that we tried to develop constructive dialogue with the Americans. We proposed working together in this area to ease concerns and maintain the atmosphere of trust. At one point, I thought that a compromise was possible, but this was not to be. All our proposals, absolutely all of them, were rejected. And then we said that we would have to improve our modern strike systems to protect our security. In reply, the US said that it is not creating a global BMD system against Russia, which is free to do as it pleases, and that the US will presume that our actions are not spearheaded against the US.

The reasons behind this position are obvious. After the collapse of the USSR, Russia, which was known as the Soviet Union or Soviet Russia abroad, lost 23.8 percent of its national territory, 48.5 percent of its population, 41 of the GDP, 39.4 percent of its industrial potential (nearly half of our potential, I would underscore), as well as 44.6 percent of its military capability due to the division of the Soviet Armed Forces among the former Soviet republics. The military equipment of the Russian army was becoming obsolete, and the Armed Forces were in a sorry state. A civil war was raging in the Caucasus, and US inspectors oversaw the operation of our leading uranium enrichment plants.

For a certain time, the question was not whether we would be able to develop a strategic weapon system – some wondered if our country would even be able to safely store and maintain the nuclear weapons that we inherited after the collapse of the USSR. Russia had outstanding debts, its economy could not function without loans from the IMF and the World Bank; the social sphere was impossible to sustain.

Apparently, our partners got the impression that it was impossible in the foreseeable historical perspective for our country to revive its economy, industry, defence industry and Armed Forces to levels supporting the necessary strategic potential. And if that is the case, there is no point in reckoning with Russia’s opinion, it is necessary to further pursue ultimate unilateral military advantage in order to dictate the terms in every sphere in the future.

Basically, this position, this logic, judging from the realities of that period, is understandable, and we ourselves are to blame. All these years, the entire 15 years since the withdrawal of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, we have consistently tried to reengage the American side in serious discussions, in reaching agreements in the sphere of strategic stability.

We managed to accomplish some of these goals. In 2010, Russia and the US signed the New START treaty, containing measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. However, in light of the plans to build a global anti-ballistic missile system, which are still being carried out today, all agreements signed within the framework of New START are now gradually being devaluated, because while the number of carriers and weapons is being reduced, one of the parties, namely, the US, is permitting constant, uncontrolled growth of the number of anti-ballistic missiles, improving their quality, and creating new missile launching areas. If we do not do something, eventually this will result in the complete devaluation of Russia’s nuclear potential. Meaning that all of our missiles could simply be intercepted.

Despite our numerous protests and pleas, the American machine has been set into motion, the conveyer belt is moving forward. There are new missile defence systems installed in Alaska and California; as a result of NATO’s expansion to the east, two new missile defence areas were created in Western Europe: one has already been created in Romania, while the deployment of the system in Poland is now almost complete. Their range will keep increasing; new launching areas are to be created in Japan and South Korea. The US global missile defence system also includes five cruisers and 30 destroyers, which, as far as we know, have been deployed to regions in close proximity to Russia’s borders. I am not exaggerating in the least; and this work proceeds apace.

These words clearly show that development of the new weapons systems Russia is now deploying are specific responses to two US actions (1) the US’s unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002; and (2) the US’s deployment of anti ballistic missile interceptors in eastern Europe, the Korean Peninsula and on the territory of the United States.

Over and beyond this, President Putin complains that the US simply brushed aside all Russia’s objections about these anti ballistic missile deployments, and simply proceeded with them regardless.

As is the Russian way, President Putin avoided direct criticism of specific US leaders.  However for those familiar with the history, his anger about what the Russians feel was President Obama’s double dealing on the anti ballistic missile question is all too obvious.

When Barack Obama was elected US President in 2008 he told the Russians that he intended to scrap President George W. Bush’s plan to install anti ballistic missile interceptors in eastern Europe.

It was this assurance from Obama which led Putin to believe that a compromise on the issue was possible (“At one point, I thought that a compromise was possible, but this was not to be”).

Moreover on the strength of Obama’s assurance the Russians agreed to his proposal for further deep cuts in their offensive nuclear weapons capability as part of the New START Treaty.

In the event, contrary to Obama’s assurance, the US’s anti ballistic missile deployments in eastern Europe and elsewhere simply went ahead as if the assurance had never been made (“the American machine has been set into motion, the conveyer belt is moving forward”).

The result is that the entire logic behind the New START Treaty has been nullified

……in light of the plans to build a global anti-ballistic missile system, which are still being carried out today, all agreements signed within the framework of New START are now gradually being devaluated, because while the number of carriers and weapons is being reduced, one of the parties, namely, the US, is permitting constant, uncontrolled growth of the number of anti-ballistic missiles, improving their quality, and creating new missile launching areas. If we do not do something, eventually this will result in the complete devaluation of Russia’s nuclear potential. Meaning that all of our missiles could simply be intercepted.

In other words the Russians feel Obama tricked them, and they are furious about it, even if they principally blame themselves for believing him

……we ourselves are to blame.  All these years, the entire 15 years since the withdrawal of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, we have consistently tried to reengage the American side in serious discussions, in reaching agreements in the sphere of strategic stability….In 2010, Russia and the US signed the New START treaty, containing measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms…..

Beyond the question of Obama’s bad faith – the corrosive effect of which should not however be underestimated – there is the hardheaded understanding that it was Russia’s own weakness which invited the US to behave as it did

After the collapse of the USSR, Russia, which was known as the Soviet Union or Soviet Russia abroad, lost 23.8 percent of its national territory, 48.5 percent of its population, 41 of the GDP, 39.4 percent of its industrial potential (nearly half of our potential, I would underscore), as well as 44.6 percent of its military capability due to the division of the Soviet Armed Forces among the former Soviet republics. The military equipment of the Russian army was becoming obsolete, and the Armed Forces were in a sorry state. A civil war was raging in the Caucasus, and US inspectors oversaw the operation of our leading uranium enrichment plants.

For a certain time, the question was not whether we would be able to develop a strategic weapon system – some wondered if our country would even be able to safely store and maintain the nuclear weapons that we inherited after the collapse of the USSR. Russia had outstanding debts, its economy could not function without loans from the IMF and the World Bank; the social sphere was impossible to sustain.

Apparently, our partners got the impression that it was impossible in the foreseeable historical perspective for our country to revive its economy, industry, defence industry and Armed Forces to levels supporting the necessary strategic potential. And if that is the case, there is no point in reckoning with Russia’s opinion, it is necessary to further pursue ultimate unilateral military advantage in order to dictate the terms in every sphere in the future.

Basically, this position, this logic, judging from the realities of that period, is understandable…..

In other words, the US believed that following Russia’s collapse in the 1990s the US no longer had to take its opinions seriously, and felt that it could proceed with its plans to create an anti ballistic missile system – which it thought would lock in its military superiority over Russia and over all other potential future challengers forever – without taking Russia’s concerns into account.

As to the previous arms control treaties and promises it had given to Russia – such as the one about not expanding NATO into eastern Europe – those could be simply ignored.  The US would ignore the promises and treaties it had made with Russia just as it had previously ignored the promises and treaties it had once made with the Sioux.

Even those most hostile to President Putin should admit that he makes a compelling – indeed unarguable – case.

I would add that the reason for the vehemence of US hostility to him and to Russia is precisely because he and Russia have proved the US so completely wrong.  Contrary to US expectations, Russia is back, and it turns out that its opinions do matter after all.

The result in the US is hysteria (Russiagate) and denial (“Russia is a declining power/corrupt kleptocracy/mafia petro-state/gas station/doesn’t make anything”).

In fact the US’s treatment of Russia following the Cold War is a textbook case of how international relations should not be conducted.

The idea that a Great Power like Russia with its strong sense of history, its cohesive identity, its vast territory, and its boundless resources, could simply be trampled over indefinitely and treated as a defeated country when it had never been defeated, was staggeringly foolish and reckless, and a guarantee of future trouble.

If nothing else it disastrously misjudged the sense of pride and honour which forms such a strong part of Russian national identity.

Bismarck – a strong Russophile, who spoke Russian and knew Russia well – put it best

Do not expect that by taking advantage of any time of Russian weakness you will receive dividends forever.  The Russians always come for their money and when they do, do not think you can rely on any agreements you have during their time of weakness cheated or extorted from them.  They are not worth the paper they are written on.  Therefore with the Russians, play fair or not at all.

Since the end of the Cold War the US has not played fair with Russia.

It broke its promise to Russia not to extend NATO into eastern Europe.  It has even extended NATO into former Russian territory – the Baltic States – and is trying to extend NATO further into Georgia and Ukraine.

It also tried – and failed – to micromanage Russian domestic politics in its own interests, blaming Putin for its failure and calling him a dictator because of it.

It reneged on a key disarmament treaty – the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty – and compounded the offence by pretending for years that its anti ballistic missile programme was pitched against Iran (which has no nuclear weapons or intercontinental ballistic missiles) and not against Russia, as it obviously was (that pretence has now – without apology or explanation – been abandoned).

It then tricked the Russians into agreeing deep cuts in their offensive nuclear forces by pretending to them that the anti ballistic missile programme was being scrapped even as it was proceeding apace.

The result is a total collapse of trust, and its product is the new weapons systems President Putin has just unveiled.

These weapon systems have been discussed previously in open sources, and will have come as no surprise to the Pentagon.  However they explain the deep pessimism of the Nuclear Posture Review, with its lament that the US is losing its technological lead.

This is because – as US defence analysts admit – the new Russian weapons negate the effectiveness of the anti ballistic system in which the US has in place of offensive nuclear weapons systems invested so much.

Here is what Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and a supporter of the US anti ballistic missile programme, has told CNBC

They didn’t sneak up on us.  This is kind of the state of play for the missile threat and missile defence challenge of the day.  Congress has already highlighted the Russia threat, and — guess what — Vladimir Putin today is confirming the rightness of that diagnosis.

[Still, Karako said, the weapons Putin described render NATO’s mostly U.S.-led missile defence systems useless].

Unfortunately, we are kind of behind the curve in terms of our cruise missile defense capabilities. This is why — I’m a broken record on this — this is why we have to open the aperture and look at the full spectrum of missile threat challenge. It’s not just about ballistic missiles anymore.

In other words reneging on the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty, cheating the Russians, and investing hundreds of billions of dollars in the anti ballistic missile, has achieved for the US the worst possible outcome.

It has antagonised the Russians and made the US’s military position worse than it was previously

Karako’s response to Russian weapons which he admits have rendered the US’s anti ballistic missile system useless is however all of a piece with the response to the deterioration of the US’s geostrategic position which can be found in the US military’s Nuclear Posture Review.

It is not to rethink the strategy, which is resulting in such disastrous outcomes, but to double down upon it by searching for new ways to counter the new Russian weapons.

That this will lead to a further spiral in the arms race, as the Russians – and the Chinese – counter whatever countermeasures the US puts in place apparently does not concern Karako or anyone else in the military leadership of the US.

This is so even though the US Nuclear Posture Review essentially admits that the only result of a renewed arms race will be a further deterioration of the US’s geostrategic position.

As for the only rational alternative: coming to terms with the Russians so as to bring the new arms race to a stop before it properly gets underway, that option is of course ruled out

Congress has already highlighted the Russia threat, and — guess what — Vladimir Putin today is confirming the rightness of that diagnosis.

This is a tragedy because a small window of opportunity for a rapprochement with Russia still exists.

Despite his obvious anger and disillusion, President Putin made clear in his State of the Nation address that he remains in Russian terms a relative moderate ie. someone who is still willing despite all that has happened to come to terms with the US

There is no need to create more threats to the world. Instead, let us sit down at the negotiating table and devise together a new and relevant system of international security and sustainable development for human civilisation. We have been saying this all along. All these proposals are still valid. Russia is ready for this.

Our policies will never be based on claims to exceptionalism. We protect our interests and respect the interests of other countries. We observe international law and believe in the inviolable central role of the UN. These are the principles and approaches that allow us to build strong, friendly and equal relations with the absolute majority of countries…..

Russia is widely involved in international organisations. With our partners, we are advancing such associations and groups as the CSTO, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS. We are promoting a positive agenda at the UN, G20 and APEC. We are interested in normal and constructive cooperation with the United States and the European Union. We hope that common sense will prevail and our partners will opt for honest and equal work together.

(bold italics added)

From personal experience I can say that far from all Russians share these relatively moderate views, and the number of Russians who doubt that any agreement with the US is possible is growing by the day.

The US should not assume that once President Putin is gone whoever succeeds him will be more accommodating to the US than he is.  On the contrary my experience is that the opposite is more likely to be true.

However a small window of opportunity for a rapprochement remains.  Given Russia’s growing power, the only rational course is to use such time as is left to make the best use of it before it finally closes.

In the 2016 election the American people by electing Donald Trump showed that they are willing to give it a try.  It is not the American people but the US political and military elite who remain resistant.

I will finish again with Bismarck, who is arguably the single most successful European leader of the modern age, being the only European leader who in his lifetime can be said to have achieved all that he set out to do

The secret of politics?  Make a good treaty with Russia.

One wonders what has to happen before the US can bring itself to heed that advice.

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Mueller indictment of Russian GRUs 100 percent political theater (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 56.

Alex Christoforou

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United States Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein admitted there was no collusion between these supposed Russian GRU agents and any Americans.  That is momentous.  It means that even Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein are admitting that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to leak the DNC/Podesta emails.

Mueller claims that Wikileaks got the DNC/Podesta emails from Guccifer 2.0 (the online persona supposedly created by the 12 GRU officers Mueller has indicted) but says nothing about Wikileaks having any knowledge that Guccifer 2.0 had anything to do with Russia.

Of course this indictment will never be tested in Court. For all we know Mueller has combined information about how the DNC/Podesta computers were hacked with names of certain officers known to work for certain departments of the GRU to give the impression of a much stronger case against them than he really has.

The key point is that even on his indictment it is now clear that there was NO collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to leak the DNC/Podesta emails, which calls into question why this investigation is continuing.

Remember that the key bite behind this indictment is the collusion allegation.  With this indictment and with Rosenstein’s words at his news conference, Mueller and Rosenstein have come closer than ever before to admitting that no collusion took place.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris summarize the real motivation an meaning behind Robert Mueller’s Russian GRU indictment. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile during the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down with Deep State shill, Fox News’ Chris Wallace for an exclusive interview, where Wallace theatrically proceeded to confront the Russian President with a copy of Robert Mueller’s ridiculous indictment of Russian military officials for the hack of the DNC.

Putin rightly brushed off the silly indictment.

Via Business Insider

“Mr. President, one of the issues that is standing in the way of more progress, as you know, are the allegations of Russian interference in the US election,” Wallace said to Putin. “You have repeatedly said, and you said again today, that this was not the action of the Russian state, that if it was anything it was patriotic Russian individuals.”

Wallace referred to Mueller’s indictment of Russian intelligence officers on Friday, in which his team named 12 members of the military intelligence unit GRU for conspiring to infiltrate computers that contained election-related software.

Wallace held the stack of papers in full view of Putin: “I have here the indictment that was presented on Friday from the special counsel, Robert Mueller,” Wallace said.

As Wallace continued explaining the contents of the indictment, Putin let out a laugh.

“And they talk specifically about Units 26165 and 74455, they say — you smiled,” Wallace said. “Let me finish.”

Wallace gestured towards Putin with the indictment and asked if he wanted to read its contents: “May I give this to you to look at, sir?”

After a brief pause, Putin gestured for Wallace to drop the documents on a nearby table. The Russian president then went on to deny all of the allegations made by Mueller and the US intelligence community.

“Russia, as a state, has never interfered with the internal affairs of the United States, let alone its elections,” Putin said. “Do you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced the United States and influenced the choice of millions of Americans?”

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Vladimir Putin just made an unexpected offer to Robert Mueller

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump responded to Mueller’s Russiagate indictments.

Eric Zuesse

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In the July 16th joint press conference between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the question arose of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials for allegedly having engineered the theft of computer files from the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Here is that part of the press conference, in a question that was addressed to both Presidents (and I boldface here the key end part of Putin’s presentation, and then I proceed to link to two articles which link to the evidence — the actual documents — that Putin is referring to in his response):

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REPORTER (Jeff Mason from Reuters): For President Putin if I could follow up as well. Why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election given the evidence that US Intelligence agencies have provided? Will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a US Grand jury.

TRUMP: Well I’m going to let the president [meaning Putin] answer the second part of that question.

As you know, the concept of that came up perhaps a little before, but it came out as a reason why the Democrats lost an election, which frankly, they should have been able to win, because the electoral college is much more advantageous for Democrats, as you know, than it is to Republicans. [That allegation from Trump is unsupported, and could well be false.] We won the electoral college by a lot. 306 to 223, I believe. [It was actually 304 to 227.] That was a well-fought battle. We did a great job.

Frankly, I’m going to let the president speak to the second part of your question. But, just to say it one time again and I say it all the time, there was no collusion. I didn’t know the president. There was nobody to collude with. There was no collusion with the campaign. Every time you hear all of these 12 and 14 — it’s stuff that has nothing to do — and frankly, they admit, these are not people involved in the campaign. But to the average reader out there, they are saying, well maybe that does. It doesn’t. Even the people involved, some perhaps told mis-stories. In one case the FBI said there was no lie. There was no lie. Somebody else said there was. We ran a brilliant campaign. And that’s why I’m president. Thank you.

PUTIN: As to who is to be believed, who is not to be believed: you can trust no one. Where did you get this idea that President Trump trusts me or I trust him? He defends the interests of the United States of America and I do defend the interests of the Russian Federation. We do have interests that are common. We are looking for points of contact.

There are issues where our postures diverge and we are looking for ways to reconcile our differences, how to make our effort more meaningful. We should not proceed from the immediate political interests that guide certain political powers in our countries. We should be guided by facts. Could you name a single fact that would definitively prove the collusion? This is utter nonsense — just like the president recently mentioned. Yes, the public at large in the United States had a certain perceived opinion of the candidates during the campaign. But there’s nothing particularly extraordinary about it. That’s the normal thing.

President Trump, when he was a candidate, he mentioned the need to restore the Russia/US relationship, and it’s clear that certain parts of American society felt sympathetic about it and different people could express their sympathy in different ways. Isn’t that natural? Isn’t it natural to be sympathetic towards a person who is willing to restore the relationship with our country, who wants to work with us?

We heard the accusations about it. As far as I know, this company hired American lawyers and the accusations doesn’t have a fighting chance in the American courts. There’s no evidence when it comes to the actual facts. So we have to be guided by facts, not by rumors.

Now, let’s get back to the issue of this 12 alleged intelligence officers of Russia. I don’t know the full extent of the situation. But President Trump mentioned this issue. I will look into it.

So far, I can say the following. Things that are off the top of my head. We have an existing agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, an existing treaty that dates back to 1999. The mutual assistance on criminal cases. This treaty is in full effect. It works quite efficiently. On average, we initiate about 100, 150 criminal cases upon request from foreign states.

For instance, the last year, there was one extradition case upon the request sent by the United States. This treaty has specific legal procedures we can offer. The appropriate commission headed by Special Attorney Mueller, he can use this treaty as a solid foundation and send a formal, official request to us so that we could interrogate, hold questioning of these individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes. Our enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States. Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step. We can actually permit representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller, we can let them into the country. They can be present at questioning.

In this case, there’s another condition. This kind of effort should be mutual one. Then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate. They would question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States whom we believe have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia. And we have to request the presence of our law enforcement.

For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes. Neither in Russia nor in the United States. Yet, the money escapes the country. They were transferred to the United States. They sent huge amount of money, $400 million as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton. [He presents no evidence to back up that $400 million claim.] Well, that’s their personal case. It might have been legal, the contribution itself. But the way the money was earned was illegal. We have solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers guided these transactions. [This allegation, too, is merely an unsupported assertion here.] So we have an interest of questioning them. That could be a first step. We can also extend it. There are many options. They all can be found in an appropriate legal framework.

REPORTER (Jeff Mason from Reuters): Did you direct any of your officials to help him [Trump] do that [find those ‘options’]?

PUTIN: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the US/Russia relationship back to normal.

The evidence regarding that entire matter, of Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act, can be seen in the links and the other evidences that are presented in two articles that I published on that very subject, earlier this year. One, titled “Private Investigations Find America’s Magnitsky Act to Be Based on Frauds”, summarizes the independently done private investigations into the evidence that is publicly available online regarding Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act. The Magnitsky Act was the basis for the first set of economic sanctions against Russia, and were instituted in 2012; so, this concerns the start of the restoration of the Cold War (without the communism etc. that were allegedly the basis of Cold War I).

The other article, “Russiagate-Trump Gets Solved by Giant of American Investigative Journalism”, provides further details in the evidence, and connects both the Magnitsky Act and Bill Browder to the reason why, on 9 June 2016, the Russian lawyer Nataliya Veselnitskaya, met privately at Trump Tower, with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner — the reason was specifically in order to inform them about the documentation on this case, so that Trump, if elected, would be aware of the contents of those documents. She had used the promise of dirt on Hillary so as to enable Trump, who effectively became the Republican nominee on 26 May 2016, to learn about the actual documents in this crucial case.

The Russian government has been legally pursuing Mr. Browder, for years, on charges that he evaded paying $232 million taxes that were due to the Russian government. These private investigations into this matter — regarding whether or not the Magnitsky Act was based on fraudulent grounds — have all found that Mr. Browder has clearly falsified and misrepresented the actual documents, which are linked to in those two articles I wrote. These might be the very same documents that she was presenting on June 9th.

So: this is a matter of importance not only to the validity (or not) of the Magnitsky Act economic sanctions against Russia, but to the Russiagate accusations regarding U.S. President Donald Trump. In my two articles, the general public can click right through to the evidence on the Magnitsky case.

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US media losing its mind over Trump-Putin summit

The media’s mania over Trump’s Helsinki performance and the so-called Russia-gate scandal reached new depths on Monday

Joe Lauria

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The media’s mania over Trump’s Helsinki performance and the so-called Russia-gate scandal reached new depths on Monday

This article was first published by Consortium News and is republished with their permission.

The reaction of the U.S. establishment media and several political leaders to President Donald Trump’s press conference after his summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday has been stunning.

Writing in The Atlantic, James Fallows said:

“There are exactly two possible explanations for the shameful performance the world witnessed on Monday, from a serving American president.

Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests—maybe witting, maybe unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes. Whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.

Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not  realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that the American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.

Conscious tool. Useful idiot. Those are the choices, though both are possibly true, so that the main question is the proportions … never before have I seen an American president consistently, repeatedly, publicly, and shockingly advance the interests of another country over those of his own government and people.”

As soon as the press conference ended CNN cut to its panel with these words from TV personality Anderson Cooper: “You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader, surely, that I’ve ever seen.”

David Gergen, who for years has gotten away with portraying himself on TV as an impartial political sage, then told CNN viewers:

“I’ve never heard an American President talk that way buy I think it is especially true that when he’s with someone like Putin, who is a thug, a world-class thug, that he sides with him again and again against his own country’s interests of his own institutions that he runs, that he’s in charge of the federal government , he’s in charge of these intelligence agencies, and he basically dismisses them and retreats into this, we’ve heard it before, but on the international stage to talk about Hillary Clinton’s computer server …”

“It’s embarrassing,” interjected Cooper.

“It’s embarrassing,” agreed Gergen.

Cooper: “Most disgraceful performance by a US president.”

White House correspondent Jim Acosta, ostensibly an objective reporter, then gave his opinion: “I think that sums it up nicely. This is the president of the United States essentially taking the word of the Russian president…over his own intelligence community. It was astonishing, just astonishing to be in the room with the U.S. president and the Russian president on this critical question of election interference, and to retreat back to these talking points about DNC servers and Hillary Clinton’s emails when he had a chance right there in front of the world to tell Vladimir Putin to stay the HELL out of American democracy, and he didn’t do it.”

In other words Trump should just shut up and not question a questionable indictment, which Acosta, like nearly all the media, treat as a conviction.

The Media’s Handlers

The media’s handlers were even worse than their assets. Former CIA director John Brennan tweeted: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors,.’ 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???”

Here’s where the Republican Patriots are, Brennan: “That’s how a press conference sounds when an Asset stands next to his Handler,” former RNC Chairman Michael Steele tweeted.

Representative Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president, said on Twitter: “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia. Russia poses a grave threat to our national security.”

All these were reactions to Trump expressing skepticism about the U.S. indictment on Friday of 12 Russian intelligence agents for allegedly interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election while he was standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the press conference following their summit meeting in Helsinki.

“I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia, Trump said. “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

The indictments, which are only unproven accusations, formally accused 12 members of the GRU, Russian military intelligence, of stealing Democratic Party emails in a hacking operation and giving the materials to WikiLeaks to publish in order to damage the candidacy of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. The indictments were announced on Friday, three days before the summit, with the clear intention of getting Trump to cancel it. He ignored cries from the media and Congress to do so.

Over the weekend Michael Smerconish on CNN actually said the indictments proved that Russia had committed a “terrorist attack” against the United States. This is in line with many pundits who are comparing this indictment, that will most likely never produce any evidence, to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. The danger inherent in that thinking is clear.

Putin said the allegations are “utter nonsense, just like [Trump] recently mentioned.” He added: “The final conclusion in this kind of dispute can only be delivered by a trial, by the court. Not by the executive, by the law enforcement.” He could have added not by the media.

Trump reasonably questioned why the FBI never examined the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee to see whether there was a hack and who may have done it. Instead a private company, CrowdStrike, hired by the Democratic Party studied the server and within a day blamed Russia on very dubious grounds.

“Why haven’t they taken the server?” Trump asked. “Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server and what is the server saying?”

But being a poor communicator, Trump then mentioned Clinton’s missing emails, allowing the media to conflate the two different servers, and be easily dismissed as Gergen did.

At the press conference, Putin offered to allow American investigators from the team of special counsel Robert Mueller, who put the indictment together, to travel to Russia and take part in interviews with the 12 accused Russian agents. He also offered to set up a joint cyber-security group to examine the evidence and asked that in return Russia be allowed to question persons of interest to Moscow in the United States.

“Let’s discuss the specific issues and not use the Russia and U.S. relationship as a loose change for this internal political struggle,” Putin said.

On CNN, Christiane Amanpour called Putin’s clear offer “obfuscation.”

Even if Trump agreed to this reasonable proposal it seems highly unlikely that his Justice Department will go along with it. Examination of whatever evidence they have to back up the indictment is not what the DOJ is after. As I wrote about the indictments in detail on Friday:

“The extremely remote possibility of convictions were not what Mueller was apparently after, but rather the public perception of Russia’s guilt resulting from fevered media coverage of what are after all only accusations, presented as though it is established fact. Once that impression is settled into the public consciousness, Mueller’s mission would appear to be accomplished.”

Still No ‘Collusion’

The summit begins. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The indictments did not include any members of Trump’s campaign team for “colluding” with the alleged Russian hacking effort, which has been a core allegation throughout the two years of the so-called Russia-gate scandal. Those allegations are routinely reported in U.S. media as established fact, though there is still no evidence of collusion.

Trump emphasised that point in the press conference. “There was no collusion at all,” he said forcefully. “Everybody knows it.”

On this point corporate media has been more deluded than normal as they clutch for straws to prove the collusion theory. As one example of many across the media with the same theme, a New York Times story on Friday, headlined, “Trump Invited the Russians to Hack Clinton. Were They Listening?,” said Russia may have absurdly responded to Trump’s call at 10:30 a.m. on July 27, 2016 to hack Clinton’s private email server because it was “on or about” that day that Russia allegedly first made an attempt to hack Clinton’s personal emails, according to the indictment, which makes no connection between the two events.

If Russia is indeed guilty of remotely hacking the emails it would have had no evident need of assistance from anyone on the Trump team, let alone a public call from Trump on national TV to commence the operation.

More importantly, as Twitter handle “Representative Press” pointed out: “Trump’s July 27, 2016 call to find the missing 30,000 emails could not be a ‘call to hack Clinton’s server’ because at that point it was no longer online. Long before Trump’s statement, Clinton had already turned over her email server to the U.S. Department of Justice.” Either the indictment was talking about different servers or it is being intentionally misleading when it says “on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office.”

This crucial fact alone, that Clinton had turned over the server in 2015 so that no hack was possible, makes it impossible that Trump’s TV call could be seen as collusion. Only a desperate person would see it otherwise.

But there is a simple explanation why establishment journalists are in unison in their dominant Russian narrative: it is career suicide to question it.

As Samuel Johnson said as far back as 1745: “The greatest part of mankind have no other reason for their opinions than that they are in fashion …since vanity and credulity cooperate in its favour.”

Importance of US-Russia Relations

Trump said the unproven allegation of collusion “as had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe.”

The American president said the U.S. has been “foolish” not to attempt dialogue with Russia before, to cooperate on a range of issues.

“As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct,” Trump said. “Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia forwards the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world. I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.”

This main reason for summits between Russian and American leaders was also ignored: to use diplomacy to reduce dangerous tensions. “I really think the world wants to see us get along,” Trump said. “We are the two great nuclear powers. We have 90 percent of the nuclear. And that’s not a good thing, it’s a bad thing.”

Preventing good relations between the two countries appears to be the heart of the matter for U.S. intelligence and their media assets. So Trump was vilified for even trying.

Ignoring the Rest of the Story

Obsessed as they are with the “interference” story, the media virtually ignored the other crucial issues that came up at the summit, such as the Middle East.

Trump sort of thanked Russia for its efforts to defeat ISIS. “When you look at all of the progress that’s been made in certain sections with the eradication of ISIS, about 98 percent, 99 percent there, and other things that have taken place that we have done and that, frankly, Russia has helped us with in certain respects,” he said.

Trump here is falsely taking credit, as he has before, for defeating ISIS with only some “help” from Russia. In Iraq the U.S. led the way against ISIS coordinating the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces. But in the separate war against ISIS in Syria, Russia, the Syrian Arab Army, Kurdish forces, Iranian troops and Hizbullah militias were almost entirely responsible for ISIS’ defeat.

A grand deal? (Photo: Sputnik)

Also on Syria, Trump appeared to endorse what is being reported as a deal between Russia and Israel in which Israel would accept Bashar al-Assad remaining as Syrian president, while Russia would work on Iran to get it to remove its forces away from the northern Golan Heights, which Israel illegally considers its border with Syria.

After a meeting in Moscow last week with Putin, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he accepted Assad remaining in power.

“President Putin also is helping Israel,” Trump said at the press conference. “We both spoke with Bibi Netanyahu. They would like to do certain things with respect to Syria, having to do with the safety of Israel. In that respect, we absolutely would like to work in order to help Israel. Israel will be working with us. So both countries would work jointly.”

Trump also said that the U.S. and Russian militaries were coordinating in Syria, but he did not go as far as saying that they had agreed to fight together there, which has been a longstanding proposal of Putin’s dating back to September 2015, just before Moscow intervened militarily in the country.

“Our militaries have gotten along probably better than our political leaders for years,” Trump said. “Our militaries do get along very well. They do coordinate in Syria and other places.”

Trump said Russia and the U.S. should cooperate in humanitarian assistance in Syria.

“If we can do something to help the people of Syria get back into some form of shelter and on a humanitarian basis…that’s what the word was, a humanitarian basis,” he said. “I think both of us would be very interested in doing that.”

Putin said he had agreed on Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron on a joint effort with Europe to deliver humanitarian aid. “On our behalf, we will provide military cargo aircraft to deliver humanitarian cargo. Today, I brought up this issue with President Trump. I think there’s plenty of things to look into,” Putin said.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

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