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RT sits down with FM Lavrov to review global challenges of 2017 (WATCH LIVE)

Russian top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, has granted RT an exclusive interview

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(RT) – 25 December 2017

  • 09:13 GMT

    The interview ends, approximately one hour after it started.

  • 09:13 GMT

    As for the reported acoustic attacks on embassy staff, which were used to justify the change of US policy towards Cuba, they apparently have no basis. Otherwise Washington’s reaction would have been harsher, Lavrov suggested.

  • 09:12 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia welcomed the effort to reestablish ties with Cuba under Barack Obama and saw the reopening of the US embassy in Havana as a positive gesture. The fact that the US trade blockade of Cuba, regularly condemned by the majority of UN Assembly members, remains in place is regrettable. The change of US approach in Cuba is yet another example of why some nations do not trust Washington when it offers to scrap its sanctions in exchange for some concessions.

  • 09:08 GMT

    RT: Cuba again and the shift in US policy towards it.

  • 09:08 GMT

    Latin America in general has strong potential for foreign investment and Russia may join forces with China and other BRICS nations for large infrastructure projects in that region, Lavrov said.

  • 09:07 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia is not directly affected by migration in that part of the world and sticks to the principles of humanism, on which Russia bases its attitude to migration in general. He added the US was regrettably reluctant to negotiate universal rules for regulating migration. Latin America did not suffer such an enormous migration crisis as Europe did because it didn’t endure problems like the destruction of Libya, which was a major factor in opening the doors for migrants.

  • 09:04 GMT

    RT: Questions about migration flows in Latin America and Trump’s crackdown on migrants.

  • 09:03 GMT

    Cuba is Russia’s traditional partner, and Moscow is full of optimism about Cuba’s future after the planned elections there.

  • 09:02 GMT

    Mexico, which is among several Latin American nations set to hold elections in 2018, is a good partner for Russia. Moscow is pleased not to be accused of hacking elections in that country, Lavrov joked.

  • 09:02 GMT

    Lavrov: Changes of government in Latin American countries do not usually affect their relations with Russia. But Moscow is concerned about some developments, like the meddling in Venezuela. Russia asks foreign players to stop disrupting the situation there and let Venezuelans sort out their differences.

  • 09:00 GMT

    RT Spanish: How does Russia see the situations in Venezuela and Cuba?

  • 08:59 GMT

    Lavrov: the killing of Saleh may make the Houthis a more radical force in Yemen. But whatever happens in Yemen, only peace talks have a chance of ending violence in the country. International mediators must be neutral and not side with either party to the conflict to help this process. And again, a deescalation of hostility between Iran and the Arab League would help in Yemen too. They must talk and respect each other’s concerns.

    Yemenis inspect damage at the site of a reported Saudi-led coalition air strike, in the northwestern Huthi-held city of Saada on December 20, 2017 © AFP

  • 08:56 GMT

    RT: What will happen in Yemen now following the assassination of ex-president Saleh?

  • 08:56 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia and Egypt have ties on many levels, from nuclear cooperation to military trade. Russia supports Egypt in its fight against extremist forces. Russia sells its weapons to Egypt, shares its experience and otherwise helps. But at the moment Russia has no intention of flying combat missions over Egypt or from bases in Egypt, despite the new legal framework.

  • 08:54 GMT

    RT: Russia and Egypt have signed an agreement on military cooperation. Will Russia be involved in counterterrorism operations in Egypt now?

  • 08:53 GMT

    Lavrov praises the US-led coalition for the work they have done in fighting the terrorists in Syria, but remarked that it took some encouragement. Under the Obama administration the US military in Syria were reluctant to actually target jihadists groups, even ISIS on some occasions. But after Russia got involved in Syria and the change of the US administration, the coalition effort was invigorated, he said.

  • 08:51 GMT

    Russia seeks an inclusive peace settlement in Syria and was not happy that the Geneva talks mostly involved refugees from Syria, who had lived outside the country for many years. Russia pushed for greater representation in Geneva of the leaders of the people actually living in Syria now. This will invigorate the negotiation, Moscow hopes, and allow reform of the Syrian political system in a way that would stand the test of time.

  • 08:48 GMT

    The Syrian peace process is hampered by some opposition groups involved in the Geneva talks, which are seeking to undermine the process by demanding the resignation of President Assad. The group was backed by Saudi Arabia and their demand, which violated their own promises not to push for it, was a big embarrassment for Riyadh, Lavrov said.

  • 08:46 GMT

    Russia believes that deescalating violence in the greater Middle East is possible if the enmity between Saudi Arabia and Iran is curbed, the minister added. As for the US, Moscow is angry that Washington fails to stick to its own promises. Rex Tillerson used to say that the only US interest in Syria was to defeat ISIS, but now they want to stay to oversee a political transition, possibly with the condition of ousting President Bashar Assad. This is the same approach that Russia endured with NATO enlargement: The initial promise was that it would not happen, as was recently confirmed by archive documents, but the result was the opposite, he said.

  • 08:41 GMT

    The US is working on ways to shield some jihadist forces from being quashed, Lavrov added. Some American experts want a policy, that would support extremist forces operating in so-called dictator states, on a presumption that their extremism is caused by the policies of such governments. The idea is that with a government declared dictatorial by the US gone the extremism would no longer exists.

  • 08:38 GMT

    Lavrov: The people actually fighting on the ground are mostly willing to end hostilities, negotiate with the government and return to peaceful life. The de-escalation zones project backed by Russia, Turkey and Iran is based to a great degree on this choice of the rebel forces. There are remaining Islamist forces, including the Al-Nusra Front which the US-led coalition is unwilling to fight against, which are against peace. Apparently the US has plans for those terrorists, perceiving them as a force that could topple the Syrian government.

  • 08:36 GMT

    RT: Are we closer to finally ending the war in Syria?

  • 08:35 GMT

    Washington, Russia believes, wants to strangle North Korea until it submits. Moscow will not back such an approach and will continue to seek a way to integrate North Korea into the world community, not isolate it.

  • 08:34 GMT

    The US position on the Iranian nuclear deal does not help with North Korea, Lavrov added. By undermining the Iranian deal Washington sending a signal to Pyongyang: whatever denuclearization deal you may strike with us may be scrapped by another administration.

  • 08:33 GMT

    Lavrov: no sane person would push the situation into an actual war. But even when nobody wants a war, an arms race always results in a risk of human error leading to an unwanted escalation.

    The minister adds he feels obliged to describe how the US actually makes its diplomacy over the Korean crisis. In September, they signaled to Moscow that they would not stage military exercises and that Pyongyang should not be worried until at least next spring. But then the US launched an “emergency exercise,” with North Korea ignored. And yet another exercise was held later, one of unprecedented scale which did make Pyongyang react.

    FILE PHOTO: A general view shows a drill by North Korean Korean People’s Army (KPA) artillery units © KCNA / Reuters

    Lavrov says the Americans are trying to cover up their actions with legalities, saying they break no rules when conducting military exercises in the region. But diplomacy is not an area where such tricks work, he added. He reiterated Russia’s call, which China also supports, to freeze all exercises by the US and its allies and all new tests by North Korea to deescalate the tension.

  • 08:26 GMT

Q. North Korea. How great is the probability of open military conflict on the peninsula and what does the US want to achieve by its belligerent rhetoric?

  • 08:26 GMT

    Lavrov says rules should not be applied selectively as was the case with RT’s forced registration as a foreign agent in the US. Singling out this channel was a breach of the fair play principle as is the persecution of RT in France and the UK, he said. The minister said Moscow’s retaliatory move to allow foreign media to be designated foreign agents in Russia is based on a set of criteria, not arbitrary decisions. But refraining from restricting the media would be much better for all countries.

  • 08:23 GMT

    RT asks about the pressure it faces in America over the alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 election.

  • 08:22 GMT

    Russia’s approach to integration projects is based on inclusiveness and flexibility. It is like allowing people to lay down paths on a fresh lawn before paving those paths as they see fit.

  • 08:20 GMT

    As for a new set of rules, they will grow organically as the world transforms, Lavrov believes. The process should be allowed to evolve in a flexible way, not with some strict parameters embedded. Such an approach tanked the TTP trade agreement, which the Obama administration pushed for and which was scrapped by Trump.

  • 08:18 GMT

    A global financial reform that would account for new centers of economic growth and the dwindling role of the dollar is what drives the transition, Lavrov says. He says the G20 format is likely to be the driving force of the reform, with roughly half of the group sharing Russia’s goal of decentralizing world finances.

  • 08:16 GMT

    Lavrov gives credit to his legendary predecessor Evgeny Primakov for envisioning a multipolar world. He was the one who invigorated Russia’s ties with India and China, from which what is now known as BRICS came to be.

    Yevgeny Primakov © Aleksey Nikolskyi / Sputnik

  • 08:14 GMT

    Question. The vision of a multipolar world seems to be shaping now, but still lacks a framework of rules. What will Russia’s place be in it?

  • 08:13 GMT

    The interview starts. Three RT correspondents are taking part in the interview – Daniel Hawkins from RT English, Spanish correspondent Aliana Nieves and Sargon Hadaya from RT Arabic.

  • 08:12 GMT

    RT has a lot of issues to ask Sergey Lavrov about, with Russia’s ongoing feud with the US arguably the most important. A shy hope for reengagement under the Trump administration has been buried under the “Russiagate” narrative in America.

  • 08:05 GMT

    It is 11:00 a.m. in Moscow. Minister Lavrov is about to join RT for an interview.

  • 07:02 GMT

    Lavrov is one of the longest-serving members of the Russian cabinet with decades of experience under his belt. Considering the many crises the Russian diplomatic corps has faced, his job in 2017 was quite difficult.

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Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

Neocons make the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

The Duran

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Authored by Erik D’Amato via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:


If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury.

With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation.But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable…

To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

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At Age 70, Time To Rethink NATO

The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”

So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.

NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.

And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.

The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.

Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.

Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.

In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.

The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.

As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers — West Germany, France, Britain, Italy. Twelve nations agreed that an attack on one would be treated as an attack on them all.

Cross the Elbe and you are at war with us, including the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal, Stalin was, in effect, told. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned to Europe to send the message that America was serious.

Crucial to the alliance was the Yalta line dividing Europe agreed to by Stalin, FDR and Churchill at the 1945 Crimean summit on the Black Sea.

U.S. presidents, even when monstrous outrages were committed in Soviet-occupied Europe, did not cross this line into the Soviet sphere.

Truman did not send armored units up the highway to Berlin. He launched an airlift to break the Berlin blockade. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian rebels in 1956. JFK confined his rage at the building of the Berlin Wall to the rhetorical: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

LBJ did nothing to help the Czechs when, before the Democratic convention in 1968, Leonid Brezhnev sent Warsaw Pact tank armies to crush the Prague Spring.

When the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa was crushed in Gdansk, Reagan sent copy and printing machines. At the Berlin Wall in 1988, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Reagan never threatened to tear it down himself.

But beginning in 1989, the Wall was torn down, Germany was united, the Red Army went home, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the USSR broke apart into 15 nations, and Leninism expired in its birthplace.

As the threat that had led to NATO disappeared, many argued that the alliance created to deal with that threat should be allowed to fade away, and a free and prosperous Europe should now provide for its own defense.

It was not to be. The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

This, said Kennan, would “inflame the nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations.” Kennan was proven right.

America is now burdened with the duty to defend Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic, even as we face a far greater threat in China, with an economy and population 10 times that of Russia.

And we must do this with a defense budget that is not half the share of the federal budget or the GDP that Eisenhower and Kennedy had.

Trump is president today because the American people concluded that our foreign policy elite, with their endless interventions where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled, had bled and virtually bankrupted us, while kicking away all of the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Halfway into Trump’s term, the question is whether he is going to just talk about halting Cold War II with Russia, about demanding that Europe pay for its own defense, and about bringing the troops home — or whether he is going to act upon his convictions.

Our foreign policy establishment is determined to prevent Trump from carrying out his mandate. And if he means to carry out his agenda, he had best get on with it.

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Photos of new Iskander base near Ukrainian border creates media hype

But research into the photos and cross-checking of news reports reveals only the standard anti-Russian narrative that has gone on for years.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News obtained satellite photos that claim that Russia has recently installed new Iskander missile batteries, one of them “near” to the Ukrainian border. However, what the Fox article does not say is left for the reader to discover: that in regards to Ukraine, these missiles are probably not that significant, unless the missiles are much longer range than reported:

The intelligence report provided to Fox by Imagesat International showed the new deployment in Krasnodar, 270 miles from the Ukrainian border. In the images is visible what appears to be an Iskander compound, with a few bunkers and another compound of hangars. There is a second new installation that was discovered by satellite photos, but this one is much farther to the east, in the region relatively near to Ulan-Ude, a city relatively close to the Mongolian border.

Both Ukraine and Mongolia are nations that have good relations with the West, but Mongolia has good relations with both its immediate neighbors, Russia and China, and in fact participated with both countries in the massive Vostok-2018 military war-games earlier this year.

Fox News provided these photos of the Iskander emplacement near Krasnodar:

Imagesat International

Fox annotated this photo in this way:

Near the launcher, there is a transloader vehicle which enables quick reloading of the missiles into the launcher. One of the bunker’s door is open, and another reloading vehicle is seen exiting from it.

[Fox:] The Iskander ballistic missile has a range up to 310 miles, and can carry both unconventional as well as nuclear warheads, putting most of America’s NATO allies at risk. The second deployment is near the border with Mongolia, in Ulan-Ude in Sothern Russia, where there are four launchers and another reloading vehicle.

[Fox:] Earlier this week, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said authorities of the former Soviet republic are being “controlled” by the West, warning it stands to lose its independence and identity as a consequence. “The continuation of such policy by the Kiev authorities can contribute to the loss of Ukraine’s statehood,” Mr Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This situation was placed by Fox in context with the Kerch Strait incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four crew and soldiers were fired upon by Russian coast guard ships as they manuevered in the Kerch Strait without permission from Russian authorities based in Crimea. There are many indications that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, to create a sensational incident, possibly to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. After the incident, the President blustered and set ten provinces in Ukraine under martial law for 30 days, insisting to the world, and especially to the United States, that Russia was “preparing to invade” his country.

Russia expressed no such sentiment in any way, but they are holding the soldiers until the end of January. However, on January 17th, a Moscow court extended the detention of eight of these captured Ukrainian sailors despite protests from Kyiv and Washington.

In addition to the tensions in Ukraine, the other significant point of disagreement between the Russian Federation and the US is the US’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia sees this treaty as extremely important, but the US point of view expressed by John Bolton, National Security Adviser, is that the treaty is useless because it does not include any other parties that have intermediate range nukes or the capability for them, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. This is an unsolved problem, and it is possible that the moves of the Iskander batteries is a subtle warning from the Russians that they really would rather the US stay in the treaty.

Discussions on this matter at public levels between the Russian government and the US have been very difficult because of the fierce anti-Russia and anti-Trump campaigns in the media and political establishments of the United States. President Putin and President Trump have both expressed the desire to meet, but complications like the Kerch Strait Incident conveniently arise, and have repeatedly disrupted the attempts for these two leaders to meet.

Where Fox News appears to get it wrong shows in a few places:

First, the known range for Iskander missiles maxes at about 310 miles. The placement of the battery near Krasnodar is 270 miles from the eastern Ukrainian border, but the eastern part of Ukraine is Russian-friendly and two provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, are breakaway provinces acting as independent republics. The battery appears to be no threat to Kyiv or to that part of Ukraine which is aligned with the West. Although the missiles could reach into US ally Georgia, Krasnodar is 376 miles from Tbilisi, and so again it seems that there is no significant target for these missiles. (This is assuming the location given is accurate.)

Second, the location shown in the photo is (44,47,29.440N at 39,13,04.754E). The date on the “Krasnodar” photo is January 17, 2019. However, a photo of the region taken July 24, 2018 reveals a different layout. It takes a moment or two to study this, but there is not much of an exact match here:

Third, Fox News reported of “further Russian troops deployment and S-400 Surface to air missile days after the escalation started, hinting Russia might have orchestrated the naval incident.”

It may be true that Russia deployed weapons to this base area in Crimea, but this is now Russian territory. S-400s can be used offensively, but their primary purpose is defensive. Troops on the Crimean Peninsula, especially at this location far to the north of the area, are not in a position strategically to invade Kherson Oblast (a pushback would probably corner such forces on the Crimean peninsula with nowhere to go except the Black Sea). However, this does look like a possible defense installation should Ukraine’s forces try to invade or bomb Crimea.

Fox has this wrong, but it is no great surprise, because the American stance about Ukraine and Russia is similar – Russia can do no right, and Ukraine can do no wrong. Fox News is not monolithic on this point of view, of course, with anchors and journalists such as Tucker Carlson, who seem willing to acknowledge the US propaganda about the region. However, there are a lot of hawks as well. While photos in the articles about the S-400s and the Russian troops are accurately located, it does appear that the one about Iskanders is not, and that the folks behind this original article are guessing that the photos will not be questioned. After all, no one in the US knows where anything is in Russia and Ukraine, anyway, right?

That there is an issue here is likely. But is it appears that there is strong evidence that it is opposite what Fox reported here, it leaves much to be questioned.

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