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Russia to retain relations with Kiev following Crimean incident

In comments to Russia’s Security Council, Russia’s President Putin says Russia will not sever diplomatic relations with Kiev. However security both in Crimea and Donbass is being beefed up and to EU dismay the Russians are putting the Minsk II process on hold.

Alexander Mercouris

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In comments to Russia’s Security Council that have been released today Russia’s President Putin confirmed that Russia is not intending to cut off diplomatic relations with Kiev. 

Putin has also appointed Dmitry Livanov, a former education minister, as Presidential envoy to Ukraine on trade and economic relations.  This appointment implies that the Russians do not expect ambassadorial relations with Kiev to be re-established any time soon.

Ever since the recent Crimean incident tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been high with the Ukrainians and their media allies in the West talking up the possibility of a Russian attack on Ukraine to the greatest extent that they can. 

A classic example of the genre was provided by this article in The Financial Times, filled with uncorroborated reports of Russian troop movements and feverish speculations about why Russia might be about to launch an invasion of Ukraine, which fails to mention the reasons for the sudden deterioration in relations between Moscow and Kiev – the Crimean incident and the attempted murder of LPR chief Igor Plotnitsky – in a single place.

This despite the fact that as even this convoluted article by the staunchly neocon and pro-Kiev Atlantic Council admits that in light of the capture of Yevgeny Panov there is no doubt that the Crimean incident really took place.

“Because of the arrest of Panov, it has become clear that the Armyansk incident was not invented by the FSB, as many have claimed online, though details provided are difficult to verify.”

To be clear, the Crimean incident is the only act of violence perpetrated by Ukraine and Russia against each other this summer, and the perpetrators were the Ukrainians not the Russians. 

The Western media does the Western public no service by floating wild speculations about the possible motives for the Russian reaction – when those are entirely obvious – instead of examining the reasons the Ukrainians acted in the reckless and dangerous way that they did.

The Russians have already said how they intend to react to this incident, and there is no secret about it. 

Firstly, they are beefing up security in Crimea, along the border with which the Ukrainians have also placed their troops on high alert.  Secondly, it is likely that the militias of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics are being reinforced.  That is what some of the troop movements reported by The Financial Times are probably about.  Given the ongoing fighting there and the fact that the Ukrainian army has been placed on high alert in the same area, following the Crimean incident and the attempted murder of Plotnitsky that too looks like a basic precaution.

The Russians have also made their political response clear.  They have called off the Normandy Four meeting which was due to take place at the G20 summit in September.  There are also reports that they are now also on the brink of giving the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics the green light to hold elections, even though this has not been agreed by Kiev.

These last two steps have exposed the bluff behind the West’s sanctions policy. 

The EU linked the lifting of sanctions to the full implementation of the Minsk II agreement.  If the Russians now walk away from the Minsk II agreement process, the EU will lose the pretext it has left itself to lift the sanctions.  It will then be stuck with the sanctions, notwithstanding that they have obviously failed and that the Russians have shown that they don’t ultimately care about them, despite the sanctions’ growing unpopularity across Europe.

This is most definitely a situation the Europeans do not want to find themselves in, though it is one their own foolish actions have landed them into.  The Germans especially seem to be pulling out the stops so that it does not happen.  With the Russians still very angry and Putin reported to be saying that Russia’s “partners” (ie. the US and EU) have acted to exacerbate the situation in Ukraine they will find it hard going.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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