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Putin meets his defence chiefs, Russia prepares response to US Syrian missile strike

President Putin convenes meeting of Russia’s Security Council as Russia resolves to beef up Syrian air defences after US missile strike.

Alexander Mercouris

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Yesterday, within hours of the US missile attack on Syria’s Sharyat air base, President Putin met with Russia’s Security Council to discuss the US attack.

Russia’s Security Council, for those who don’t know, is the highest decision making body of the Russian government.  It meets regularly every week under Putin’s chairmanship, and its remit covers every aspect of Russian policy.  This includes domestic and economic policy as well as foreign and defence policy.

All the most important people who make up Russia’s political leadership – including Prime Minister Medvedev and the speakers of the two houses of Russia’s parliament (the Duma and the Federation Council) – are members, and its membership is not confined to the heads of Russian defence and national security agencies, though of course all of them are members.

I would say in passing that it is one of the major omissions of Western reporting of Russia that the very existence of this key policy making body is barely known and in the Western media is never discussed.

Though the Security Council has regular weekly meetings, it can also meet in emergency session, and the meeting which was held yesterday was precisely that sort of meeting.  The Kremlin – as it invariably does – has provided a brief summary of what was discussed during the meeting, though as always the summary is brief and uninformative

There was a detailed discussion of the situation in Syria in the wake of the US missile strikes. Washington’s actions were again qualified as aggression and a violation of international law.

The meeting participants expressed deep concern about the inevitable negative consequences of this aggressive act on the common efforts to combat terrorism.

The parties said it is highly regrettable that the bilateral Russian-US relations were damaged as a result of the strikes on the Syrian air base.

The meeting also considered various issues related to the Russian Aerospace Forces’ continuing operation to support counterterrorism operations by the Syrian armed forces.

The participants also touched on the current issues on the domestic socioeconomic agenda.

The summary also provided a list of who attended the meeting.  As one might expect of a meeting arranged in haste and intended to discuss a national security and defence issue – the US missile strike on Syria – those present were the heads of Russia’s defence and intelligence agencies.  Apart from Prime Minister Medvedev civilian officials such as Foreign Minister Lavrov and the speakers of the two houses of Russia’s parliament were not present.

There has been some speculation in the West that the US missile strike on Syria will lead to a reappraisal of Russian policy and will give the US more leverage in negotiations over Syria with the Russians.

The Kremlin’s summary of the discussion at Russia’s Security Council suggests that nothing could be further from the truth.  Not only do the Russians qualify the US attack as “aggression and a violation of international law”.  The words “the meeting also considered various issues related to the Russian Aerospace Forces’ continuing operation to support counterterrorism operations by the Syrian armed forces” suggest that far from planning a pull-back the Russians are intent on escalation.  The very first step the Russians took after the Security Council meeting – and which was undoubtedly ordered by it – the closure of the hotline between the US and Russian militaries in Syria – suggests the same thing.

The reason for that decision by the way is that the Russians almost certainly feel that the US used information provided by the Russians through the hotline to determine where Russian military personnel are posted in Syria.  In that way the US was able to strike at Sharyat air base knowing there were either no or very few Russian personnel there.  The Russians would see no reason to ‘help’ the US carry out more air or missile strikes on Syria by providing them with that sort of information in future, and they have now taken the necessary steps to ensure that that information is no longer provided.

Another decision which we know that the Security Council took was to take measures to beef up Syria’s air defence forces.  The Russian military has already announced that this is what is going to happen, and over the next few weeks steps to that effect will start to be taken.

The fundamental mistake Western pundits who press for military escalation by the West in Syria repeatedly make is that they consistently underestimate the other side’s resolve.  Ever since the start of the Syrian conflict every move the Western powers and their Gulf and Turkish allies have made in their campaign to overthrow President Assad’s government has been at least matched by an equivalent and often stronger counter-move, whether taken by the Syrians or by the Syrians’ Russian and Iranian allies.  Those who know the history of the Vietnam war will be familiar with this pattern, and with the Western blindness which leads to it.  In the decades since the Vietnam war ended nothing in that respect seems to have changed.

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Putin, Trump meet in Helsinki for first bilateral summit

The Helsinki summit is the first ever full-fledged meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Their previous encounters were brief talks on the sidelines of the G20 and APEC summits in 2017.

Vladimir Rodzianko

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump are meeting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki for their first bilateral one-on-one meeting.

Trump arrived in the Finland capital a day early, while the jet of Putin, who wrapped up his nation’s hosting of the World Cup Sunday, touched down around 1 p.m. local time and the Russian president’s motorcade whisked him straight to the palace where the two world leaders are meeting.

Trump signed an August 2017 law imposing additional sanctions on Russia. The law bars Trump from easing many sanctions without Congress’ approval, but he can offer some relief without a nod from Congress.

Almost 700 Russian people and companies are under U.S. sanctions. Individuals face limits on their travel and freezes on at least some of their assets, while some top Russian state banks and companies, including oil and gas giants, are effectively barred from getting financing through U.S. banks and markets.

The agenda of the summit hasn’t been officially announced yet, though, the presidents are expected to discuss global crises, such as the Syrian conflict and Ukraine, as well as bilateral relations.

Stay tuned for updates…

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“Foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx): Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails was hacked by foreign actor, and it was not Russia.

Alex Christoforou

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A stunning revelation that hardly anyone in the mainstream media is covering.

Fox News gave Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) the opportunity to explain what was going on during his questioning of Peter Strzok, when the the Texas Congressman stated that a “foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Aside from this segment on Fox News, this story is not getting any coverage, and we know why. It destroys the entire ‘Russia hacked Hillary’ narrative.

Gohmert states that this evidence is irrefutable and shows that a foreign actor, not connected to Russia in any way, intercepted and distributed Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails.

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Via Zerohedge

As we sift through the ashes of Thursday’s dumpster-fire Congressional hearing with still employed FBI agent Peter Strzok, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller plucked out a key exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) and Strzok which revealed a yet-unknown bombshell about the Clinton email case.

Nearly all of Hillary Clinton’s emails on her homebrew server went to a foreign entity that isn’t Russia. When this was discovered by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), IG Chuck McCullough sent his investigator Frank Ruckner and an attorney to notify Strzok along with three other people about the “anomaly.”

Four separate attempts were also made to notify DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to brief him on the massive security breach, however Horowitz “never returned the call.” Recall that Horowitz concluded last month that despite Strzok’s extreme bias towards Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump – none of it translated to Strzok’s work at the FBI.

In other words; Strzok, while investigating Clinton’s email server, completely ignored the fact that most of Clinton’s emails were sent to a foreign entity – while IG Horowitz simply didn’t want to know about it.

Daily Caller reports…

The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found an “anomaly on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through their private server, and when they had done the forensic analysis, they found that her emails, every single one except four, over 30,000, were going to an address that was not on the distribution list,” Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said during a hearing with FBI official Peter Strzok.

Gohmert continued..

“It was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia.”

Strzok admitted to meeting with Ruckner but said he couldn’t remember the “specific” content of their discussion.

“The forensic examination was done by the ICIG and they can document that,” Gohmert said, “but you were given that information and you did nothing with it.”

According to Zerohedge “Mr. Horowitz got a call four times from someone wanting to brief him about this, and he never returned the call,” Gohmert said – and Horowitz wouldn’t return the call.

And while Peter Strzok couldn’t remember the specifics of his meeting with the IG about the giant “foreign entity” bombshell, he texted this to his mistress Lisa Page when the IG discovered the “(C)” classification on several of Clinton’s emails – something the FBI overlooked:

“Holy cow … if the FBI missed this, what else was missed? … Remind me to tell you to flag for Andy [redacted] emails we (actually ICIG) found that have portion marks (C) on a couple of paras. DoJ was Very Concerned about this.”

Via Zerohedge

In November of 2017, IG McCullough – an Obama appointee – revealed to Fox News that he received pushback when he tried to tell former DNI James Clapper about the foreign entity which had Clinton’s emails and other anomalies.

Instead of being embraced for trying to expose an illegal act, seven senators including Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) wrote a letter accusing him of politicizing the issue.

“It’s absolutely irrelevant whether something is marked classified, it is the character of the information,” he said. Fox News reports…

McCullough said that from that point forward, he received only criticism and an “adversarial posture” from Congress when he tried to rectify the situation.

“I expected to be embraced and protected,” he said, adding that a Hill staffer “chided” him for failing to consider the “political consequences” of the information he was blowing the whistle on.

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Donald Trump plays good cop and bad cop with a weak Theresa May (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 55.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK was momentous, not for its substance, but rather for its sheer entertainment value.

Trump started his trip to the United Kingdom blasting Theresa May for her inability to negotiate a proper Brexit deal with the EU.  Trump ended his visit holding hands with the UK Prime Minister during a press conference where the most ‘special relationship’ between the two allies was once again reaffirmed.

Protests saw giant Trump “baby balloons” fly over London’s city center, as Trump played was his own good cop and bad cop to the UK PM, outside London at the Chequers…often times leaving May’s head spinning.

Even as Trump has left London, he remains front and center in the mind of Theresa May, who has now stated that Trump advised her to “sue” the European Union to resolve the tense negotiations over Brexit.

Trump had mentioned to reporters on Friday at a joint press conference with Theresa May that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal.”

Asked Sunday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show what that suggestion was, May: “He told me I should sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them.” May added…

“What the president also said at that press conference was `Don’t walk away. Don’t walk away from the negotiations. Then you’re stuck.”‘

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris summarize what was a state visit like no other, as Trump trolled the UK PM from beginning to end, and left London knowing that he got the better of a weakened British Prime Minister, who may not survive in office past next week.

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Via CNBC

It wasn’t exactly clear what Trump meant. The revelation came after explosive and undiplomatic remarks Trump made this week about May’s leadership — especially her handling of the Brexit negotiations — as he made his first official visit to Britain.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper published Thursday — just as May was hosting Trump at a lavish black-tie dinner — Trump said the British leader’s approach likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. He said he had told May how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”

He also praised May’s rival, Boris Johnson, who quit last week as foreign secretary to protest May’s Brexit plans. Trump claimed Johnson would make a “great prime minister.”

The comments shocked many in Britain — even May’s opponents — and threatened to undermine May’s already fragile hold on power. Her Conservative government is deeply split between supporters of a clean break with the EU and those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain’s biggest trading partner.

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