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A Russian’s Message to the West: Let’s put aside the Warmongers and talk Peace

General Sir Richard Shirreff’s prediction of war with Russia is an example of false and obsolete Western thinking about Russia which is creating an unnecessary conflict between the West and Russia.

Maxim Shashenkov

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British general Sir Richard Shirreff who between 2011 and 2014 served as the Deputy Supreme NATO allied Commander in Europe suddenly predicts that Russia will start World War III in May 2017 by invading Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

In fact, his book on the inevitable to war with Russia in 2017 was published last week.

In Russian we have a saying – “Всё это было бы смешно, когда бы не было так грустно”, which means ‘This all sounds very funny, if it was not so sad’.

There are lots of Whys to be addressed in regard to the General’s statements and his strategic views. Why would Russia want to invade the Baltics? Why next year? Why Word War III? Why the Baltics and Ukraine? Why at all?

Having lived in Britain for more than 25 years, I am actually Russian British. Russia is my motherland, but Britain is my home.  I and about 250,000 other Russians in Britain would lose massively from any war between Russia and NATO.  We – more than anybody else – want peace, good relations, good business contacts, and mutual respect between Russia and the West. We have a vested interest in good Russian British relations.

I will try to answer those whys from my perspective.

It looks to me that General Sir Richard Shirreff expressed what are his personal views, rather than the official policy line. This is fine. He is retired, and it is his right to express his personal views.

That is the good news.

The bad news is that General Sir Richard Shireff seems absolutely sincere in his analysis and conclusions. He does not make them for publicity, money etc.  He really believes what he is writing.

This is alarming. It reveals a worrying truth: that there is an ‘alarmist’ camp within the top NATO military command, which sees war with Russia as almost inevitable.

That is scary.

In my opinion this whole episode reflects some very worrying realities about NATO’s top generals.

First, there is a generational issue.  They were brought up, trained and taught to fight big conventional wars against the USSR.  They do not know anything else. Russia has simply replaced the USSR in their mental setup. Inertia works. It is psychologically more comfortable to stick to the familiar and confront the ‘old, good, well known enemy’, rather than to think and plan about new security threats to Europe.

Second, they are not well informed and briefed about both the situation on the ground in the Baltics, Ukraine, Russia etc – and, most worryingly – about Russian military strategy and plans. Crimea revealed it well.  The head of US military intelligence was removed soon after it happened. Even the almighty Americans failed to forecast Russian military and strategic moves.

Thirdly, they think that any ethnic clashes in the former Soviet Union can be a reasonable excuse to start Word War III. 

Here I advise my readers to watch the BBC movie about the beginning of war with Russia over the Baltics released a few months ago. In that movi, the British high command appears almost evenly split between those who think Russian actions in the former Soviet Union should be confronted if necessary with nuclear weapons, and those who are strongly against doing so.  It was a pretty realistic movie actually.

One thing is clear: if such a scenario were ever to unfold General Sir Richard Shirreff would be on the side of those who want to strike first.  He openly admits he belongs to the ‘hawkish camp’ of the British strategic establishment.

Let’s start with the basic facts. Let’s talk about the Baltics. Has anyone ever heard or read or watched anything about clashes between ethnic Russians and natives in these three states? Ever?

The short answer is of course no!

There are disagreements on the rights of citizenship, use of the Russian language, Russian World War II memorials, and many other things.  But there is no official political party, no underground movement, no secrets cells which call for joining Russia. None.

I have been to Latvia and Lithuania myself a few times in the past few years. The Russian community there is very smart.  Some/most will use the Baltic States as a platform to move to richer European states (Britain, Germany, France etc).   Some are doing well there. Nobody wants to fight to escape to Russia. It is a Western myth!

The scenario of Russia invading the Baltic states to protect ‘ethnic Russians’ is a grotesque fantasy. Ethnic Russians in the Baltics do not need that, and they laugh when you discuss such scenarios with them.

If there is no there ‘Baltic case’ then  – if you follow General Sir Richard Shirreff’s logic – Russia will nonetheless provoke one to justify its ‘invasion of Europe’.

It is all incredibly naïve!  I do not want to insult military people.  On the contrary I respect them. In any country the military are the pride of the nation.  That is true in Britain, Russia or America.

But why?  Why would Russia invade?

Just read Western official and social media. Almost daily, information gets published on how well the Russian elite has become integrated in Europe. Kids, schools, houses etc. Why does General Sir Richard Shirreff think this same elite plans to provoke World War III when – according to Western sources – they are living so happily and nicely in the West? Why would they want to change that?

What about Vladimir Putin?

He is a pragmatist, above all.  He wants Russia to become part of Europe, but as one of the leading states of Europe, not as a subordinate part of a Greater Europe.  As part of a group of states that include Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The Kremlin opposes people like General Sir Richard Shirreff because all Russians understand that we do not need more dividing lines in Europe. 

As for the West, it should give Russia the time and space it needs to reform itself.

This after all was given to other European nations.  France is one example.  It underwent a major transition from the 1940s to the 1960s. Nobody however at that time accused Paris of being non-European or non-Western despite France’s huge, tragic and bloody wars in North Africa and Indochina.  Certainly there was lots of criticism, internal and external.  But it never degenerated into an existential conflict. Nobody ever accused Paris of being non-Western because it was pursuing a colonial foreign policy.

Nations are like people. They grow up. Russians are simply a younger and more unique nation.  However they are a European nation, repeating many familiar patterns of the European nation-building process. The fact Russia is doing many things a hundred years later than say France or Britain means nothing.  That is a trifling period in terms of historical time.

The biggest problem complicating Moscow’s interaction with the West is the very ahistorical approach being taken by the Western side. The fact that big imperial nations like France or Britain with decades of decolonisation history behind them still attack Russia for its ‘imperial policy’ is very sad.  The lesson should be: Study your own History!  To repeat, one hundred years is nothing in terms of historical time.

Why then did General Sir Richard Shirreff make such a statement and write such a book?

I can see only two reasons:

1.     Ministry of Defence vested interest/ corporate loyalty. 

General Sir Richard Shirreff is a hugely respected part of the British military establishment.  He has to protect his ‘corporate interest’, his system. Its only reason for existence is the ‘Russian Threat’ so he plays it up.

In reality we all understand that there is no such threat. The threat to Britain comes from Islamist extremism and uncontrolled immigration. The two are interlinked. Uncontrolled immigration breeds more terrorism.

What does that mean? It means that more money should be given to the Police, MI5 and MI6.  They are the ones who are fighting the terror threat, not the Ministry of Defence.  The Ministry of Defence tried to do so in Iraq and Afghanistan under US stewardship and failed.

Unfortunately what is happening is that the Ministry of Defence is competing with the security services for money from the British budget so it is stirring up the mythical ‘Russian threat’ as the only way it can get it.  For its part I am sure MI6 is laughing silently to itself at General Sir Richard Shirreff’s absurd analysis and his forecast of war next year with Russia.

2.     Mentality and age.  Britain’s and NATO’s top brass are old.  They cannot properly assess where we – Europe, the West, Russia, indeed the world at large – are at the moment. 

That is sad and worry but let us pay our respects to great military leaders like General Sir Richard Shirreff.  They are trying to defend British interests even if they are doing it in completely the wrong way.  It’s not their fault that their time is long past and they should be put out quietly to pasture.

Having said all this, let’s put all this nonsense behind us and work together to avoid war. I know for a fact Russia has ZERO plans to attack the West. Russia is simply defending its own turf. If what you want is peace the answer is very simple: Don’t bring NATO closer to Russia.

Maxim Shashenkov is a senior banking professional with more than 20 years experience.

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US Sanctions Foster Emergence of Multipolar World

US sanctions negatively affect the economies of the targeted countries, but they also push the nations hit by them to move closer to each other.

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Authored by Arkady Savitsky via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Russia, Iran, China, and now Turkey are in the same boat, as all have become the target of US sanctions. But none of those nations has bowed under the pressure. Russia had foreseen the developments in advance and took timely measures to protect itself. The Turkish national currency, the lira, is plummeting now that Washington has introduced sanctions as well as tariffs on steel and aluminum, in an attempt to compel Ankara to turn over a detained American pastor. Turkish President Erdogan said it was time for Turkey to seek “new friends,” and Turkey is planning to issue yuan-denominated bonds to diversify its foreign borrowing instruments. On Aug. 11, President Erdogan said Turkey was ready to begin using local currencies in its trade with Russia, China, Iran, Ukraine, and the EU nations of the eurozone.

The recent BRICS summit reaffirmed Ankara’s commitment to the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) that is geared toward de-dollarizing its member states’ economies, and the agreement to quickly launch a Local Currency Bond Fund gives that policy teeth. Turkey has also expressed its desire to join BRICS.

Ankara is gradually moving toward membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). It has been accepted as a dialog partner of that organization. Last year Turkey became a dialog partner with ASEAN. On Aug. 1, the first ASEAN-Turkey Trilateral Ministerial Meeting was held in Singapore, bringing together Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt ÇavuşoğluASEAN Secretary General Dato Lim Jock Hoi, and Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is serving as the 2018 ASEAN term chairman. The event took place under the auspices of the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that attracted foreign ministers and top diplomats from 30 countries.

Ankara is mulling over a free-trade area (FTA) agreement with the Eurasian Union. This cooperation between Ankara and the EAEU has a promising future.

Meanwhile, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has provided a $3.6-billion loan package for the Turkish energy and transportation sector. Turkey and China have recently announced an expansion of their military ties. As one can see, Turkey is inexorably pivoting from the West to the East.

Russia has a special role to play in this process. The US Congress has prohibited the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey because of the risk associated with Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 air-defense system. In response, Turkey is contemplating a purchase of Russian warplanes. Ankara prefers Russian weapons over the ones offered by NATO states. As President Erdogan put it, “Before it is too late, Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives.”

On Aug. 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan discussed the prospects for boosting economic cooperation. Both nations are parties to the ambitious Turkish Stream natural-gas pipeline project. Ideas for ways to join forces in response to the US offensive were also on the agenda during the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Turkey, Aug. 13-14, although Syria was in the spotlight of the talks. One mustn’t forget that Russia was the first country to be visited by the Turkish president after the failed 2016 coup.

As a result of some tough times resulting from US sanctions, Iran is redoubling its efforts at building foreign relationships. Under US pressure, European companies are leaving Iran, with China gradually filling the void. Now that US and European airspace companies are moving their business ventures out of Iran, this presents a good opportunity for Russian aircraft, such as the MS-21 or IL-96-400M. The Russian automaker GAZ Group is ready to supply Iran with commercial vehicles and light trucks powered by 5th generation engines.

Tehran is an observer state in the SCO, and it is to become an essential hub for the Chinese Belt Road Initiative (BRI). On June 25, a freight train arrived in the Iranian city of Bandar-e Anzali, a port on the Caspian Sea, having passed through the China-Kazakhstan-Iran transportation corridor and entering the Anzali Free Zone that connects China to both the Kazakh port of Aktau and to Iran, thus creating a new trade link to the outside world. This gives a boost to the BRI. On Aug. 12, the five littoral states (the Caspian Five) signed the Caspian Sea Convention — the fruit of 22 years of difficult negotiations. This opens up new opportunities for Iran and other countries of the region as well as the BRI. The idea to form a new economic forum was floated at the Caspian Five summit.

China and Russia back the idea of Iran’s full-fledged SCO membership. In May Tehran signed an interim FTA agreement with the EAEU. Greater EAEU-BRI integration under the stewardship of the SCO is also on the horizon.

According to the Daily Express, Iran could band together with Russia and China in an anti-US alliance. Iran may also get an observer status in the CSTO. Iran-Turkey trade has recently revived, and that bilateral relationship includes burgeoning military cooperation.

Nothing can be viewed in just black and white, and every coin has two sides. The US sanctions do negatively affect the economies and finances of the targeted countries, but in the long run, they will also push the nations hit by them to move closer to each other, thus encouraging the emergence of the multipolar world the US is trying so hard to resist.

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It’s Official: ‘Britain’s Democracy Now At Risk’

It’s not just campaigners saying it any more: democracy is officially at risk, according to parliament’s own digital, culture, media and sport committee.

The Duran

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Via True Publica, authored by Jessica Garland – Electoral Reform Society:


Britain’s main campaign rules were drawn up in the late 1990s, before social media and online campaigning really existed. This has left the door wide open to disinformation, dodgy donations and foreign interference in elections.

There is a real need to close the loopholes when it comes to the online Wild West.

Yet in this year’s elections, it was legitimate voters who were asked to identify themselves, not those funnelling millions into political campaigns through trusts, or those spreading fake news.

The government trialled mandatory voter ID in five council areas in May. In these five pilot areas alone about 350 people were turned away from polling stations for not having their papers with them — and they didn’t return. In other words, they were denied their vote.

Yet last year, out of more than 45 million votes cast across the country, there were just 28 allegations of personation (pretending to be someone else at the polling station), the type of fraud voter ID is meant to tackle.

Despite the loss of 350 votes, the pilots were branded a success by the government. Yet the 28 allegations of fraud (and just one conviction) are considered such a dire threat that the government is willing to risk disenfranchising many more legitimate voters to try to address it. The numbers simply don’t add up.

Indeed, the fact-checking website FullFact noted that in the Gosport pilot, 0.4 per cent of voters did not vote because of ID issues. That’s a greater percentage than the winning margin in at least 14 constituencies in the last election. Putting up barriers to democratic engagement can have a big impact. In fact, it can swing an election.

In the run-up to the pilots, the Electoral Reform Society and other campaigners warned that the policy risked disenfranchising the most marginalised groups in society.

The Windrush scandal highlights exactly the sort of problems that introducing stricter forms of identity could cause: millions of people lack the required documentation. It’s one of the reasons why organisations such as the Runnymede Trust are concerned about these plans.

The Electoral Commission has now published a report on the ID trials, which concludes that “there is not yet enough evidence to fully address concerns” on this front.

The small number of pilots, and a lack of diversity, meant that sample sizes were too small to conclude anything about how the scheme would affect various demographic groups. Nor can the pilots tell us about the likely impact of voter ID in a general election, where the strain on polling staff would be far greater and a much broader cross-section of electors turns out to vote.

The Electoral Reform Society, alongside 22 organisations, campaigners and academics, has now called on the constitution minister to halt moves to impose this policy. The signatories span a huge cross-section of society, including representatives of groups that could be disproportionately impacted by voter ID, from Age UK to Liberty and from the British Youth Council to the Salvation Army and the LGBT Foundation.

Voters know what our democratic priorities should be: ensuring that elections are free from the influence of big donors. Having a secure electoral register. Providing balanced media coverage. Transparency online.

We may be little wiser as a result of the government’s voter ID trials. Yet we do know where the real dangers lie in our politics.

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Corrupt Robert Mueller’s despicable Paul Manafort trial nears end (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 79.

Alex Christoforou

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Paul Manafort’s legal team rested its case on Tuesday without calling a single witness. This sets the stage for closing arguments before the judge hands the case to jurors for a verdict.

Manafort’s defense opted to call no witnesses, choosing instead to rely on the team’s cross-examination of government witnesses including a very devious Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime deputy, and several accountants, bookkeepers and bankers who had financial dealings with Manafort.

Closing arguments are expected on Wednesday. Jurors may begin deliberating shortly after receiving their final instructions from judge Ellis.

Manafort case has nothing to do with Mueller’s ‘Trump-Russia collusion witch-hunt’ as the former DC lobbyist is accused of defrauding banks to secure loans and hiding overseas bank accounts and income from U.S. tax authorities.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a defense motion to acquit Manafort on the charges because prosecutors hadn’t proved their case.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the circus trial of Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, and how crooked cop Robert Mueller is using all his power to lean on Manafort, so as to conjure up something illegal against US President Donald Trump.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via Zerohedge

Prosecutors allege he dodged taxes on millions of dollars made from his work for a Ukrainian political party, then lied to obtain bank loans when cash stopped flowing from the project.

The courtroom was sealed for around two hours Tuesday morning for an unknown reason, reopening around 11:30 a.m. with Manafort arriving around 10 minutes later.

The decision to rest their case without calling any witnesses follows a denial by Judge T.S. Ellis III to acquit Manafort after his lawyers tried to argue that the special counsel had failed to prove its case at the federal trial.

The court session began at approximately 11:45 a.m.:

“Good afternoon,” began defense attorney Richard Westling, who corrected himself and said, “Good morning.”

“I’m as surprised as you are,” Judge Ellis responded.

Ellis then heard brief argument from both sides on the defense’s motion for acquittal, focusing primarily on four counts related to Federal Savings Bank.

Federal Savings Bank was aware of the status of Paul Manafort’s finances,” Westling argued. “They came to the loans with an intent of doing business with Mr. Manafort.”

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye fired back, saying that that even if bank chairman Steve Calk overlooked Manafort’s financial woes, it would still be a crime to submit fraudulent documents to obtain the loans.

“Steve Calk is not the bank,” Asonye argued, adding that while Caulk may have “had a different motive” — a job with the Trump administration — “I’m not really sure there’s evidence he knew the documents were false.”

Ellis sided with prosecutors.

The defense makes a significant argument about materiality, but in the end, I think materiality is an issue for the jury,” he said, adding. “That is true for all the other counts… those are all jury issues.”

Once that exchange was over, Manafort’s team was afforded the opportunity to present their case, to which lead attorney Kevin Downing replied “The defense rests.

Ellis then began to question Manafort to ensure he was aware of the ramifications of that decision, to which the former Trump aide confirmed that he did not wish to take the witness stand.

Manafort, in a dark suit and white shirt, stood at the lectern from which his attorneys have questioned witnesses, staring up at the judge. Ellis told Manafort he had a right to testify, though if he chose not to, the judge would tell jurors to draw no inference from that. – WaPo

Ellis asked Manafort four questions – his amplified voice booming through the courtroom:

Had Manafort discussed the decision with his attorney?

“I have, your honor,” Manafort responded, his voice clear.

Was he satisfied with their advice?

“I am, your honor,” Manafort replied.

Had he decided whether he would testify?

“I have decided,” Manafort said.

“Do you wish to testify?” Ellis finally asked.

“No, sir,” Manafort responded.

And with that, Manafort returned to his seat.

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