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Russia and Uzbekistan edge closer

Friendly meeting in Samarkand between Russian President Putin and Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev points to a closer relationship.

Alexander Mercouris

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Russia’s President Putin rounded off another trip of frenetic diplomacy with a stop-over in Uzbekistan’s historic former capital Samarkand on his way back to Moscow from the G20 summit in Hangzhou.

Putin’s visit to Samarkand came after confirmation of the death of Uzbekistan’s longstanding leader Islam Karimov

Putin’s visit obviously was not just a courtesy call, though he was careful to observe the proprieties by giving personal condolences to Karimov’s family – a highly important symbolic step that will draw favourable notice in a conservative and traditional society like Uzbekistan.

Putin’s main purpose will however have been to establish contacts with the new Uzbek leadership and to try to ascertain as much as he can about their policies and about the future of Uzbekistan’s relations with Russia.

Putin seems to have achieved his purpose.  Whilst in Samarkand with Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev who, following his appointment as Chairman of the Commission set up to arrange Karimov’s funeral, is now widely expected to succeed Karimov.  Indeed the very fact it was Mirziyoyev who met Putin in Samarkand – representing Uzbekistan in a meeting with the President of Russia – is the strongest possible sign to date that he is indeed Karimov’s successor.

Equally important from Putin’s point of view was what Mirziyoyev had to say about Uzbekistan’s relations with Russia.  In what look like carefully chosen words, after thanking Putin for the medical help Russia provided to try to save Karimov, he described Uzbekistan’s relations with Russia in these words

“Your visit today conveys a great deal to us, and we are grateful to you for this. You are standing by us as a real friend…..We can say now that Uzbekistan has always considered and will always consider its relationship with Russia as a strategic partnership and Russia as an allied country.”

(Bold italics added)

The words “strategic partnership” have increasingly become a euphemism in international relations for “alliance”.  Mirziyoyev however went a step further by referring in the same sentence to Russia as an “allied country”.

Both Putin and Mirziyoyev of course know that at various times since Uzbekistan achieved independence and whilst Karimov was President relations between Uzbekistan and Russia absolutely could not be described in that way.  On the contrary there were periods when relations between Uzbekistan and Russia were quite tense, with Uzbekistan tilting strongly towards the US, hosting a US military base, and joining US sponsored anti-Russian regional groupings such as GUUAM.

In the later stages of Karimov’s life relations between Uzbekistan and Russia became much warmer – a fact Putin indirectly alluded to when he said

“Islam Karimov and I have established a very good personal relationship, a trusting relationship, especially in recent years….Indeed, Islam Karimov has laid a very solid foundation for relations between our countries, and built a strategic partnership.  He clearly implied he saw developing relations with Russia as the best course of action for Uzbekistan and its people to achieve their full potential, an attitude we have always appreciated.”

(Bold italics added)

Putin here was also alluding to a key factor which lay behind the warming of relations between Uzbekistan and Russia in the final years of Karimov’s rule.  Not only did Russia – in contrast to the US – provide solid political support to Karimov in the face of challenges from his regime, but Karimov gradually came to realise that good relations with Russia – and China – are critical for Uzbekistan’s economic development.

Uzbekistan’s key economic problem is that its principal export – cotton – is insufficient to cover its import needs.  It has therefore felt obliged to operate a highly controlled economy with tight import and currency controls to sustain its balance of payments.  Uzbekistan with its large population however needs a growing economy to provide jobs for its people, a fact which even the most self-interested elite understands is essential to maintain stability.

Despite its problems Uzbekistan is however potentially a rick country.  What it needs is heavy investment to turn its economy round, and close reciprocal trading arrangements with its key trading partners.

In this part of the world that investment and those arrangements can only realistically come and be reached by agreement with the two great Eurasian powers – Russia and China – whether through remittances from Uzbek guest workers in Russia, or direct investment via such institutions as the ones the Russians and the Chinese are busy setting up via the Eurasian Union and the Silk Road project.

It is no coincidence that Uzbekistan’s economy began to grow at a higher sustained rate (its annual growth rate in recent years has been as high as 7%) as soon as it began to move closer to Russia and China.

As Uzbekistan’s Prime Minister – and therefore as the official with overall responsibility for the economy – Mirziyoyev will know all this, but just to make sure Putin gently reminded him

“He (Karimov) clearly implied he saw developing relations with Russia as the best course of action for Uzbekistan and its people to achieve their full potential, an attitude we have always appreciated. 

You have just recalled that during my last visit to Tashkent, he invited me to see the monument to Alexander Pushkin, to lay flowers. He spoke in detail about when and how he made the decision to move that monument, and why it should be there – so that people could come and sense the bond between our cultures, our peoples, our common history. We cherish it, and we certainly hope that all that was started by President Islam Karimov will be continued.

For our part, we will make every effort to continue along the path of our mutual development, to support the people of Uzbekistan, the Uzbek leadership; you can count on us in full measure as the most reliable friends.”

(Bold italics added)

The warm exchanges between Putin and Mirziyoyev suggest that there is a clear understanding on both sides, and that the Uzbek leadership will indeed henceforth give priority to relations with Russia and ultimately China.

If so then the ambivalences of the Karimov era may be past, in which case it is possible and perhaps even likely that Uzbekistan will gradually move towards integrating itself with the Eurasian institutions such as the Eurasian Union from which up till now it has held aloof.

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Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

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Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

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New Satellite Images Reveal Aftermath Of Israeli Strikes On Syria; Putin Accepts Offer to Probe Downed Jet

The images reveal the extent of destruction in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport.

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Via Zerohedge


An Israeli satellite imaging company has released satellite photographs that reveal the extent of Monday night’s attack on multiple locations inside Syria.

ImageSat International released them as part of an intelligence report on a series of Israeli air strikes which lasted for over an hour and resulted in Syrian missile defense accidentally downing a Russian surveillance plane that had 15 personnel on board.

The images reveal the extent of destruction on one location struck early in attack in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport. On Tuesday Israel owned up to carrying out the attack in a rare admission.

Syrian official SANA news agency reported ten people injured in the attacks carried out of military targets near three major cities in Syria’s north.

The Times of Israel, which first reported the release of the new satellite images, underscores the rarity of Israeli strikes happening that far north and along the coast, dangerously near Russian positions:

The attack near Latakia was especially unusual because the port city is located near a Russian military base, the Khmeimim Air Force base. The base is home to Russian jet planes and an S-400 aerial defense system. According to Arab media reports, Israel has rarely struck that area since the Russians arrived there.

The Russian S-400 system was reportedly active during the attack, but it’s difficult to confirm or assess the extent to which Russian missiles responded during the strikes.

Three of the released satellite images show what’s described as an “ammunition warehouse” that appears to have been completely destroyed.

The IDF has stated their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” This statement came after the IDF expressed “sorrow” for the deaths of Russian airmen, but also said responsibility lies with the “Assad regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident while offering to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report — something which Putin agreed to.

According to Russia’s RT News, “Major-General Amikam Norkin will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, and will present the situation report on the incident, including the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event and the pre-mission information the Israeli military was so reluctant to share in advance.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry condemned the “provocative actions by Israel as hostile” and said Russia reserves “the right to an adequate response” while Putin has described the downing of the Il-20 recon plane as likely the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” and downplayed the idea of a deliberate provocation, in contradiction of the initial statement issued by his own defense ministry.

Pro-government Syrians have reportedly expressed frustration this week that Russia hasn’t done more to respond militarily to Israeli aggression; however, it appears Putin may be sidestepping yet another trap as it’s looking increasingly likely that Israel’s aims are precisely geared toward provoking a response in order to allow its western allies to join a broader attack on Damascus that could result in regime change.

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“Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes

A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”

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Via Zerohedge


A university professor in Sweden is under investigation for “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” and that genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone,” reports Academic Rights Watch.

For his transgression, Germund Hesslow – a professor of neuroscience at Lund University – who holds dual PhDs in philosophy and neurophysiology, may lose his job – telling RT that a “full investigation” has been ordered, and that there “have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all.”

“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” Hesslow said.

Hesslow was ordered to attend a meeting by Christer Larsson, chairman of the program board for medical education, after a female student complained that Hesslow had a “personal anti-feminist agenda.” He was asked to distance himself from two specific comments; that gay women have a “male sexual orientation” and that the sexual orientation of transsexuals is “a matter of definition.”

The student’s complaint reads in part (translated):

I have also heard from senior lecturers that Germund Hesslow at the last lecture expressed himself transfobically. In response to a question of transexuallism, he said something like “sex change is a fly”. Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to transfobin, but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people. Transpersonals already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university’s equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated? –Academic Rights Watch

After being admonished, Hesslow refused to distance himself from his comments, saying that he had “done enough” already and didn’t have to explain and defend his choice of words.

At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow said in a written reply to Larsson.

He also rejected the accusation that he had a political agenda – stating that his only agenda was to let scientific factnot new social conventions, dictate how he teaches his courses.

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