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In their 70th telephone call of 2016 Lavrov warns Kerry on Syria and misusing the Security Council

In their 70th telephone conversation of the year Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov warns Kerry against arming Jihadis in Syria and, in the aftermath of the vote on Resolution 2334, of using the UN Security Council to embarrass and undermine Donald Trump.

Alexander Mercouris

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On Tuesday 27th December 2016 Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State Kerry had their 70th telephone conversation of 2016.

That means that Lavrov and Kerry have spoken to each other by telephone most weeks and sometimes more than once a week throughout the year.  This is on top of the seemingly endless number of times they have met with each other.

It is difficult to imagine a more intense degree of interaction between the two senior diplomats of two rival powers.

It is also impossible to imagine a more sterile interaction, one more barren of achievement.

Though Lavrov and Kerry have spoken to each other so often, and though they have engaged in hours and days of negotiations with each other throughout 2016, the only two agreements they ever reached – both over Syria, the first in February and the second in September – both immediately unravelled.

At one level the intensity of interaction between Lavrov and Kerry shows again the nonsense of US President Obama’s boast that he has isolated Russia and turned it into a pariah state.  So far from that being the case, the most active diplomat engaging with the Russians throughout 2016 was no less a person than his own Secretary of State!

That all this frantic diplomatic activity has achieved precisely nothing, so that Obama leaves the Presidency with all the issues between the US and Russia unresolved and with relations between the two countries as bad as they have ever been, is also ultimately US President Obama’s fault.  He has repeatedly sent Kerry to talk to Lavrov without making clear the extent of Kerry’s mandate, and without giving Kerry the clear instructions and the unqualified backing that any high-level negotiator in Kerry’s position needs.

The result is that more often than not when Kerry did meet Lavrov the proposals he took with him were completely unrealistic and obviously unacceptable to the Russians.   On the rare occasions when he did achieve agreement, the agreement had to be renegotiated all over again with the hardliners in the Washington bureaucracy as soon as he returned home.  Since Kerry never had Obama’s unqualified backing it was inevitable this would happen, since by definition any agreement he reached which was acceptable to Moscow was bound to be unacceptable to the hardliners in Washington.  Needless to say that all but guaranteed that in the absence of Obama’s unqualified backing whatever agreements Kerry brought back with him to Washington immediately unravelled.

In saying this the point must also be made that in pitting themselves against Lavrov Obama and Kerry found themselves up against the most skilled and accomplished diplomat in the world today.  Moreover unlike Kerry, who has never enjoyed Obama’s complete confidence, Lavrov has Putin’s unqualified support and confidence.  Though the record of their meetings shows that Putin and Lavrov meet rarely, they obviously coordinate closely with each other, with Lavrov getting from Putin clear instructions, and Putin in return getting from Lavrov clear advice.

The result is that though Lavrov went into every negotiation with Kerry knowing exactly what he wanted, the same never seemed to be true of Kerry.  Instead one always got the impression of a Secretary of State who was making it up as he went along, and who could never in the end deliver.

The result is that eastern Aleppo has been lost whereas with a better strategy it might have been saved, the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo have been comprehensively defeated where they might have been withdrawn intact, and the US now finds itself at risk of being entirely excluded from the negotiations to settle the conflict in Syria, with the Russians, the Turks and the Iranians talking directly to each other without the US.

Though neither Obama nor Kerry have been prepared publicly to face up to the fact, it is a record of unrelieved failure and defeat.  Unsurprisingly it has provoked a flood of critical and sometimes angry commentary in the Western media, with much finger pointing and recrimination, but little in the way of clear thinking and proper answers.

As to the subject of their latest telephone conversation, the Russian Foreign Ministry has provided a detailed report, which is being summarised by TASS.

On Syria Lavrov was in schoolmasterly form, lecturing Kerry on the inadmissibility of supplying arms to the Jihadis, and pointedly reminding him that the focus of negotiations has now moved to the tripartite format involving Russia, Turkey and Syria, from which the US is excluded

The parties discussed the ways to settle the Syrian crisis in the light of the agreements reached at the recent trilateral meeting between the Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers, aimed at ensuring ceasefire across Syria and stepping up the war on terror.  Lavrov pointed out that if Washington eased restrictions on arming Syrian rebels, so that portable air defence systems could be provided to them, tensions may increase as well as the death toll.

On bilateral relations Lavrov pointedly reminded Kerry that it was the US not Russia which was responsible for the downturn in relations between the two countries, and which bears responsibility for the consequences.

Touching on bilateral relations, the Russian minister once again stressed the inadmissibility of the Barack Obama administration’s course to further undermine the basics of normal cooperation between Russia and the United States.

It was Lavrov’s comments to Kerry about US misuse of the UN Security Council in the context of the Arab-Israeli dispute which are by far however the most interesting

The two top diplomats exchanged views on the situation in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement and around it. Lavrov stressed the necessity of creating conditions for direct talks between the leaders of Israel and Palestine and warned against bringing US’ domestic agenda into the work of the Middle East Quartet and the United Nations Security Council. He stressed that attempts to use these formats in bickering between the Democrats and Republicans are harmful,

(bold italics added)

Yesterday in an article for The Duran I pointed out that Resolution 2334, which the Obama administration allowed to pass through the UN Security Council and which it almost certainly itself engineered, and which has reaffirmed the Occupied Territory status of east Jerusalem, was actually targeted at Donald Trump, and was not an attempt to advance the cause of Middle East peace but was rather an attempt by Barack Obama to embarrass Donald Trump and to tie his hands in his future dealings with Israel.

Lavrov’s comments to Kerry show that the Russians think the same thing, and find it every bit as objectionable as I do.  Why else would Lavrov be warning the Obama administration through Kerry against bringing “the US’s domestic agenda into the work of ……the United Nations Security Council” whilst scolding them for using “these formats in bickering between the Democrats and the Republicans” which is “harmful”?

Kerry is reported to be depressed at the way Lavrov has comprehensively bested him in the many hours of negotiations that have taken place between them.  As a US official representing a US administration which still remains committed to the doctrine of US Exceptionalism, he must also find lectures of the sort he has just received from Lavrov utterly infuriating.  It is however the mismanagement of foreign policy by the Obama administration, of which as Secretary of State Kerry was an important part, that has brought him to the point where he has to listen to these lectures.

Suffice to say that the fact that Kerry soon won’t have to speak to Lavrov again, and won’t have to fear being bested by Lavrov again or having to listen to any more of Lavrov’s lectures, might be the one thing that makes him look forward to his coming retirement.

 

 

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Tape recorded evidence of Clinton-Ukraine meddling in US election surfaces (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a look at new evidence to surface from Ukraine that exposes a plot by the US Embassy in Kiev and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to leak Paul Manafort’s corrupt dealings in the country, all for the benefit of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Via Zerohedge


Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has launched an investigation into the head of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly attempting to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump during the 2016 US election by releasing damaging information about a “black ledger” of illegal business dealings by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Hill’s John Solomon, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko

“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko said last week, according to The Hill

Lutsenko is probing a claim from a member of the Ukrainian parliament that the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, attempted to the benefit of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

A State Department spokesman told Hill.TV that officials aware of news reports regarding Sytnyk. –The Hill

“According to the member of parliament of Ukraine, he got the court decision that the NABU official conducted an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” said Lutsenko, speaking with The Hill’s John Solomon about the anti-corruption bureau chief, Artem Sytnyk.

“It means that we think Mr. Sytnyk, the NABU director, officially talked about criminal investigation with Mr. [Paul] Manafort, and at the same time, Mr. Sytnyk stressed that in such a way, he wanted to assist the campaign of Ms. Clinton,” Lutsenko continued.

Solomon asked Lutsenko about reports that a member of Ukraine’s parliament obtained a tape of the current head of the NABU saying that he was attempting to help Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, as well as connections that helped release the black-ledger files that exposed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort‘s wrongdoing in Ukraine.

“This member of parliament even attached the audio tape where several men, one of which had a voice similar to the voice of Mr. Sytnyk, discussed the matter.” –The Hill

What The Hill doesn’t mention is that Sytnyk released Manafort’s Black Book with Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko – discussed in great length by former Breitbart investigator Lee Stranahan, who has been closely monitoring this case.

Serhiy Leshchenko

T]he main spokesman for these accusations was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian politician and journalist who works closely with both top Hillary Clinton donors George Soros and Victor Pinchuk, as well as to the US Embassy in Kyiv.

James Comey should be asked about this source that Leshchenko would not identify. Was the source someone connected to US government, either the State Department or the Department of Justice?

The New York Times should also explain why they didn’t mention that Leshchenko had direct connections to two of Hillary Clinton biggest financial backers. Victor Pinchuk, the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation at a staggering $8.6 million also happened to have paid for Leshchenko’s expenses to go to international conferences. George Soros, whose also founded the International Renaissance Foundationthat worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s State Department in Ukraine, also contributed at least $8 million to Hillary affiliated super PACs in the 2016 campaign cycle. –Lee Stranahan via Medium

Meanwhile, according to former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, Leshchenko was a source for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.

“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation. –Daily Caller

Also absent from The Hill report is the fact that Leshchenko was convicted in December by a Kiev court of interfering in the 2016 US election.

A Kyiv court said that a Ukrainian lawmaker and a top anticorruption official’s decision in 2016 to publish documents linked to President Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman amounted to interference in the U.S. presidential election.

The December 11 finding came in response to a complaint filed by another Ukrainian lawmaker, who alleged that Serhiy Leshchenko and Artem Sytnyk illegally released the documents in August 2016, showing payments by a Ukrainian political party to Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The documents, excerpts from a secret ledger of payments by the Party of Regions, led to Manafort being fired by Trump’s election campaign.

The Kyiv court said that the documents published by Leshchenko and Sytnyk were part of an ongoing pretrial investigation in Ukraine into the operations of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. The party’s head had been President Viktor Yanukovych until he fled the country amid mass protests two years earlier.

-RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty (funded by the US govt.).

So while Lutsenko – Solomon’s guest and Ukrainian Prosecutor is currently going after Artem Sytnyk, it should be noted that Leshchenko was already found to have meddled in the 2016 US election.

Watch:

Meanwhile, you can also check out Stranahan’s take on Leshchenko being left out of the loop.

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‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.

RT

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Via RT


Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

The Duran

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Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-arms/germany-not-satisfied-with-readiness-of-submarines-some-aircraft-idUSKBN1QS1G7) the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

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