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PUTIN: Master statesman with Turkey and Japan – and now Trump

Vladimir Putin has developed close relations with the leaders of Turkey and Japan in spite of continued policy differences and historic difficulties. This is the key to understanding how Putin’s relationship with Donald Trump could develop.

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Over the years, Russia has fought more wars against Turkey than any other country, even more than Poland. Likewise, between 1904 and 1905 Russia fought a war with Japan whose devastating outcome for Russia lead to a destabilising revolution at home. Russia’s relations with Japan did not get much better as the century rolled on. The Soviet Union was on the opposite side of the Second World War vis-a-vis Japan and territorial disputes over the Kuril Islands remain unresolved into the 21st century.

Turkey and Japan’s policies have not suddenly become pro-Russian in recent years. In respect of Turkey, there is a strong case to be made that while Turkish political leadership has moved closer to Russia, Turkey’s policies have if anything become more contrary to Russian interests.

This is why the strong personal relationship between Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as that with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are important case studies if one is to try and ascertain what might become of the relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the leading political figure in Turkey since 2003, first as Prime Minister and then after 2014 as a strong President. During this time he has developed a close relationship with Vladimir Putin, one based on personal respect, something Erdogan seems to have little of for many other leaders.

This did not stop Turkey from shooting down a Russia jet in 2015 when it allegedly strayed into Turkey airspace for seconds although many independent observers note that it was almost certainly in friendly Syria airspace the entire time.

This was a situation that could have realistically led to war, but because of Putin’s patience, it led to Erdogan personally apologising to Russia for the incident after which he called Russia a “friend and strategic partner”. This is even more astounding as it came from a man who remains among the most unapologetic world leaders in recent history.

In many ways, the personal relationship between Putin and Erdogan has grown stronger since then. Even as Turkey continues to back jihadist groups in Syria, the personal relationship between Putin and Erdogan has allowed Russo-Turkish relations to strengthen in many other areas. This close relationship has also helped to draw Turkey closer to Iran. The door which first opened this was Russia inviting both Iran and Turkey to form the Astana Group for peace in Syria.

Likewise, the Kuril Islands dispute between Russia and Japan has long been a barrier to good bilateral relations between Moscow and Tokyo.

However, under Prime Minister Abe who has been in power since 2012 (after a brief period in power from 2006 to 2007), Japan and Russia have agreed to work cooperatively and through dialogue over the dispute with both sides renouncing violence and unilateralism.

Japan still views many issues totally differently from Russia, including the situation on the Korean peninsula, but Abe and Putin’s close personal relationship has led to an unexpected turn for the better in Russo-Japanese relations. Indeed, Abe was among the first world leaders to visit with a newly elected President Trump and he told his American ally that having good relations with Russia and its President is both essential and a desirable thing.

Vladimir Putin is capable of fostering good personal relations with leaders whose official policies often remain at odds with Russian interests, something which is something of a masterful achievement in bilateral diplomacy.

Russia is unique in that it has close allies (China, Belarus), traditional allies and partners (India, Syria, Vietnam, Cuba, Serbia, Palestine, Greece, Cyprus, newly consecrated partners re-established partnerships (Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Venezuela, Philippines) and nations that Russia speaks to with ease in spite of apparent ideological differences (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Germany).

In reality, Russia has only one declared enemy in the world and that happens to be the world’s most violent, unstable, illegitimate and at times comical regime, that in Kiev. This shouldn’t be a surprise as this regime was created for the purpose of being Russia’s enemy.

For all the troubles the EU and US have caused Russia, Russia still refers to them as ‘partners’ and this patience seems to be paying off. Germany and her allies have said no to sanctions from the US which would hurt Russo-German cooperation on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and under Donald Trump, the US is no longer led by a leader with a pathological hatred of Russia as Obama appeared to have.

During the G20, Putin remarked that while US policy has not changed dramatically under the leadership of Donald Trump, that nevertheless, he is a person Putin can work with.

The Russian President stated,

“As regards personal relations, I believe that they have been established. This is how I see it: Mr Trump’s television image is very different from the real person; he is a very down to earth and direct person, and he has an absolutely adequate attitude towards the person he is talking with; he analyses things pretty fast and answers the questions he is asked or new ones that arise in the course of the discussion. So I think that if we build our relations in the vein of our yesterday’s meeting, there are good reasons to believe that we will be able to revive, at least partially, the level of interaction that we need”.

This is official confirmation that because of Donald Trump, the US has been moved from Russia’s basket of disagreeables into something that could realistically approach Russia’s relationship with Erdogan’s Turkey and Abe’s Japan. This is a giant step in a positive direction. Donald Trump offers even more hope because unlike any Turkish or Japanese leader who would necessarily carry some historically anti-Russian baggage, Trump seems not only unmoved by the recent trend of Russophobia, but he seems to admire much about Russia’s conservative outlook, Christian heritage and strong leadership, three things Trump is keen to associate himself with in the US.

Putin once admitted that the “men in black suits” run America, a euphemism for the deep state, but it increasingly seems that Trump will at least sometimes put up a fight with them meaning that there is a small but crucial potential for the US under Trump to become slightly more elevated in terms of relations with Russia vis-a-vis that of Erodgan’s Turkey and Abe’s Japan.

The deep state sees controlling and meddling in Russia’s natural sphere of influence as a crucial American ‘red line’, but Donald Trump seems to see things differently.  Even if Trump remains compromised in this respect for the foreseeable future, the world is still in better shape than it was under Obama, let alone better than it would be under Hillary Clinton whose perverse combination of avarice and fanaticism could have easily covered the world in blood and perhaps also nuclear fallout.

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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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Via RT


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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