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World Court refuses Ukraine’s request for ‘terrorism’ ruling against Russia

International Court of Justice refuses to make anti-terrorism ruling against Russia, clearing way for Russia to enforce $3 billion Judgment it obtained against Ukraine in London High Court.

Alexander Mercouris

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Ukraine has suffered another blow in the web of legal cases in which it is now involved with Russia.

Following the decision of the High Court in London to grant Russia summary Judgment in the case Russia is bringing against Ukraine for repayment of the $3 billion loan Ukraine owes Russia, the International Court of Justice in The Hague has today declined to grant even on a provisional basis the main part of the relief Ukraine was seeking in the case it has brought against Russia.

As I have discussed previously, Ukraine’s case in the International Court of Justice was almost certainly brought in order to try to offset the financial effect of the Judgment of the High Court in London.  However the case Ukraine brought to the International Court of Justice did not make any claims against Russia based based what have been the most contentious issues between Ukraine and Russia in recent years.   The International Court of Justice noted this fact (rather sourly) in the short Judgment it handed down today

The Court is fully aware of the context in which the present case has been brought before it, in particular the fighting taking place in large parts of eastern Ukraine and the destruction, on 17 July 2014, of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 while it was flying over Ukrainian territory en route between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur, which have claimed a large number of lives. Nevertheless, the case before the Court is limited in scope. In respect of the events in the eastern part of its territory, Ukraine has brought proceedings only under the ICSFT. With regard to the events in Crimea, Ukraine’s claim is based solely upon CERD, and the Court is not called upon, as Ukraine expressly recognized, to rule upon any issue other than allegations of racial discrimination made by the latter.

As I have explained previously, the reason Ukraine did not bring any claim to the International Court of Justice in relation to Crimea’s secession and subsequent re-unification with Russia is because it knows it would almost certainly lose, as the International Court of Justice has said previously in its Advisory Opinion on Kosovo that such a unilateral act of secession is not contrary to international law.

As for the other major issue between Ukraine and Russia – the conflict in the Donbass – Ukraine will be very unhappy to read this passage in the Judgment the International Court of Justice handed down today

Moreover, the Court reminds the Parties that the Security Council, in its resolution 2202 (2015), endorsed the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements”, adopted and signed in Minsk on 12 February 2015. The Court expects the Parties, through individual and joint efforts, to work for the full implementation of this “Package of Measures” in order to achieve a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

It is a widely overlooked fact that following the agreement of the Minsk Agreement in February 2015, Russia presented a Resolution to the UN Security Council, which the UN Security Council adopted unanimously, which required implementation of the Minsk Agreement as a matter of international law.  Ukraine has not abided by the Minsk Agreement despite this, and in its Judgment today the International Court of Justice is clearly saying that before it brings any claim concerning the Donbass or eastern Ukraine it must do so.

The key part of the Judgment is however this passage in which the International Court of Justice rejected Ukraine’s claim for preliminary relief on the grounds that Russia is colluding in acts of terrorism by the people Ukraine calls “the separatists” in eastern Ukraine.  This is what the Judgment says

The Court observes that the acts to which Ukraine refers have given rise to the death and injury of a large number of civilians. However, in order to determine whether the rights for which Ukraine seeks protection are at least plausible, it is necessary to ascertain whether there are sufficient reasons for considering that the elements set out in Article 2, such as intention and knowledge, as well as the element of purpose, are present. The Court is of the view that, at this stage of the proceedings, Ukraine has not put before it evidence which affords a sufficient basis to find it plausible that these elements are present. Therefore, it concludes that the conditions required for the indication of provisional measures in respect of the rights alleged by Ukraine on the basis of the ICSFT are not met.

The only thing the International Court of Justice was prepared to do was instruct Russia “to refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to conserve its representative institutions” – including via the pro-Ukrainian Meijlis – and to teach the Ukrainian language to those who wish to learn it.  The Russians will say that they are already doing both, the International Court of Justice has imposed no fine on Russia, and the Russians will simply shrug their shoulders and carry on as they are doing now.

I should say that the decision of the International Court of Justice to make these orders reflects the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the findings of various bodies of the UN Secretariat and of the OSCE, as its Judgment makes clear

Based on the information before it at this juncture, the Court is of the opinion that Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians in Crimea appear to remain vulnerable. In this regard, the Court takes note of recent reports by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning the human rights situation in Ukraine, and of the report of the OSCE Human Rights Assessment Mission on Crimea. The Court considers that these reports show, prima facie, that there have been limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatars to choose their representative institutions, and restrictions in terms of the availability of Ukrainian-language education in Crimean schools. The Court concludes from this that there is an imminent risk that the acts, as set out above, could lead to irreparable prejudice to the rights invoked by Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly complained about the bias of these bodies and about their findings.  However the International Court of Justice is in no position to go behind them and in light of them it could not make orders different from the ones it has made.

In conclusion, if Ukraine was hoping to get preliminary relief from the International Court of Justice that would offset the effect of the Judgment of the High Court in London, then it has failed.

On 4th April 2017 the IMF disbursed $1 billion despite the High Court Judgment.  The Judgment is not however yet in force because of the stay upon it granted by the High Court pending Ukraine’s appeal.  If Ukraine loses the appeal – as is overwhelmingly likely – and the stay is lifted, Ukraine will be formally in default unless it pay its debt to Russia.  When that happens, with the International Court of Justice refusing to provide Ukraine with relief, the IMF will have to decide whether it can continue to support Ukraine contrary to its own rules, and Russia will have to decide what it will do if the IMF does.

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Rod Rosenstein resigns from his post before President Trump can fire him

Rosenstein’s comments about secretly recording the President backfire, and resignation may throw the Mueller Russiagate probe into question.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Washington Times broke the story that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigned from his post. He submitted his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly.  At present the breaking story says the following:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is out at the Department of Justice.

Axios reported that Mr. Rosenstein verbally resigned to White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly, but CNN said that he is expecting to be fired.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, declined to comment on the reports.

Mr. Rosenstein’s departure immediately throws Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe into chaos.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, leaving Mr. Rosenstein in charge.

President Trump mulled firing the No. 2 at the Department of Justice over the weekend.

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This report came after Fox News reported that the Deputy AG was summoned to the White House. Fox reported a little more detail:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is heading to the White House expecting to be fired, sources tell Fox News, in the wake of a report that he suggested wearing a wire against President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office last year.

This is a developing story, however one major factor that comes under consideration is the fate of Robert Mueller and his Russiagate investigation, which was authorized by Rosenstein. CNBC had this to say in their piece:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is resigning Monday, according to Axios, which cited a source familiar with the matter.

NBC News’ Pete Williams, however, reported that Rosenstein would not resign of his own accord, and that he will only depart if the White House fired him. He will refuse to resign if asked to do so, Williams added.

Rosenstein was at the White House when Williams reported this on the air. However, President Donald Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Bloomberg later reported that the White House accepted Rosenstein’s resignation, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein’s expected resignation will immediately raise questions about the fate of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Rosenstein’s job security was called into question after The New York Times reported last week that the No. 2 DOJ official had discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump, and had also talked about surreptitiously recording the president.

Rosenstein oversees the special counsel investigation, and has appointed Mueller to run the Russia probe last year, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the report.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Axios’ report. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiry.

Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller’s inquiry, which also is focused on possible collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign.

He has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and has repeatedly vented frustration about Sessions’ recusal, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment by Rosenstein.

Rosenstein’s expected departure comes on the heels of a guilty plea by Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to conspiracy charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine, which predates his role on the campaign.

As part of the investigation, Mueller’s team has been locked in an ongoing back-and-forth with Trump’s legal team over an in-person interview with the president.

Trump’s lawyers, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have signaled that Trump is unwilling to sit for an interview, calling it a “perjury trap” and setting up a potential challenge for Mueller to subpoena the president.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

 

 

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European Council crushes Theresa May’s soft Brexit dream (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May hoped that the European Council was ready to see things her way, in terms of proceeding with a soft Brexit, which was essentially no Brexit at all…at least not the hard Brexit that was voted on in a democratic referendum approximately two years ago.

Much to May’s surprise, European Council President Donald Tusk delivered a death blow verdict for May’s Brexit, noting that EU leaders are in full agreement that Chequers plan for Brexit “will not work” because “it risks undermining the single market.”

Without a miracle compromise springing up come during the October summit, the UK will drift into the March 29, 2019 deadline without a deal and out of the European Union…which was initially what was voted for way back in 2016, leaving everyone asking, what the hell was May doing wasting Britain’s time and resources for two years, so as to return back to the hard Brexit terms she was charged with carrying forward after the 2016 referendum?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss what was a disastrous EU summit in Salzburg for UK PM Theresa May, in what looks to be the final nail in May’s tenure as UK Prime Minister, as a hard Brexit now seems all but certain.

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Via Zerohedge

Tusk was speaking at the end of an EU summit in Salzburg, where the leaders of the 27 remaining states in the bloc were discussing Brexit. He said that while there were “positive elements” in May’s Chequers plan, a deal that puts the single market at risk cannot be accepted.

“Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market,” Tusk said. He also said that he could not “exclude” the possibility that the UK could exit the EU in March with no deal.

May has been urging her European counterparts to accept her controversial Chequers plan which has split both the Conservative party and the broader UK population after it was thrashed out back in July. However, despite the painfully-slow negotiation process, which appears to have made little headway with just a few months left, the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29 2019 – with or without an exit deal.

The main sticking point that has emerged, and left May and the EU at loggerheads, has been how to avoid new checks on the Irish border. May has claimed that her proposals were the “only serious, credible” way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. She said during a press conference after the Salzburg meeting that she would not accept the EU’s “backstop” plan to avoid a Northern Ireland hard border. She said the UK would shortly be bringing forward its own proposals.

May also said that there was “a lot of hard work to be done,” adding that the UK was also preparing for the eventuality of having to leave the EU without a deal. Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the “moment of truth” for reaching a deal, and that “if the conditions are there” another summit would be held in November to “formalize” it.

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Russia makes HUGE strides in drone technology

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The US and Israel are universally recognized leaders in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Thousands of American and Israeli UAVs are operating across the world daily.

The US military has recently successfully tested an air-to-air missile to turn its MQ-9 Reaper drone into an effective long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance unmanned spy aircraft capable of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air missions. This is a major breakthrough. It’s not a secret that Russia has been lagging behind in UAV development. Now its seems to be going to change with tangible progress made to narrow the gap.

Very few nations boast drones capable of high-altitude long endurance (HALE) missions. Russia is to enter the club of the chosen. In late 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry awarded a HALE UAV contract to the Kazan-based Simonov design bureau.

This month, Russian Zvezda military news TV channel showed a video (below) of Altair (Altius) heavy drone prototype aircraft number “03”, going through its first flight test.

Propelled by two RED A03/V12 500hp high fuel efficiency diesel engines, each producing a capacity of 500 hp on takeoff, the 5-ton heavy vehicle with a wingspan of 28.5 meters boasts a maximum altitude of 12km and a range of 10,000km at a cruising speed of 150-250km/h.

Wingspan: about 30 meters. Maximum speed: up to 950 km/h. Flight endurance: 48 hours. Payload: two tons, which allows the creation of a strike version. The vehicle is able to autonomously take off and land or be guided by an operator from the ground.

The UAV can carry the usual range of optical and thermal sensors as well as synthetic-aperture ground-surveillance radar with the resolution of .1 meter at the range of 35km and 1 meter at the range of 125km. The communications equipment allows real-time data exchange.

Russia’s UAV program currently underway includes the development of a range of large, small, and mid-sized drones. The Orion-E medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV was unveiled at the MAKS 2017 air show. Its developer, Kronstadt Technologies, claims it could be modified for strike missions. The one-ton drone is going through testing now. The Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing.

It can fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payload of up to 200 kg to include a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras. The drone can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 m. Its range is 250 km.

The Sukhoi design bureau is currently developing the Okhotnik (Hunter) strike drone with a range of about 3,500km. The drone made its maiden flight this year. In its current capacity, it has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection.

The Kazan-based Eniks Design Bureau is working on the small T-16 weaponized aerial vehicle able to carry 6 kg of payload.

The new Russian Korsar (Corsair) tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be upgraded to receive an electronic warfare system. Its operational range will be increased from 150km to 250km. The drone was revealed at Victory Day military parade along with the Korsar unmanned combat helicopter version.

The rotary wing drone lacks the speed and altitude of the fixed wing variant, but has a great advantage of being able to operate without landing strips and can be sea-based. Both drones can carry guided and unguided munitions. The fixed-wing version can be armed with Ataka 9M120 missiles.

The first Russian helicopter-type unmanned aerial vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells was presented at the Army-2018 international forum. With the horizontal cruising speed of the drone up to 60 kph, the unmanned chopper can stay in the air at least 2.5 hours to conduct reconnaissance operations. Its payload is up to 5 kg.

Last November, the Kalashnikov Concern reported that it would start production of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying up to several tons of cargo and operating for several days at a time without needing to recharge.

All in all, the Russian military operate 1,900 drones on a daily basis. The multi-purpose Orlan-10 with a range of 600km has become a working horse that no military operation, including combat actions in Syria, can be conducted without. Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov,
the head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development, Russian drones performed over 23,000 flights, lasting 140,000 hours in total.

Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027 puts the creation of armed UAVs at the top of priorities’ list. Looks like the effort begins to pay off. Russia is well on the way to become second to none in UAV capability.

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Via Strategic Culture

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