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Did U.S. and Allies Commit War Crime by Bombing Syria on April 14th?

The US Government and its allies alleged that there had been a chemical weapons attack which the Syrian Government had perpetrated in the town of Douma Syria on April 7th.

Eric Zuesse

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Originally posted at strategic-culture.org:


Bombardment (or other military invasion) of a country that has not invaded nor threatened to invade the attacking country(s) is “aggression” under international law, and is the chief crime that the Nazis were hanged for at Nuremberg after World War II.

The US and its allies have routinely committed aggression, in places such as Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. A particular instance of it, to be discussed here, could be especially prosecutable, because the alleged ‘cause’ for the invasion could turn out to have been a provable lie, an intentional fabrication which had been concocted by the perpetrators so as to ‘justify’ their invasion. This particular instance was the US-and-allied bombing of Syria, by over a hundred missiles, on April 14th.

The concept here is “War of Aggression” in Wikipedia, whose article makes clear that certain types of invasions, such as in boundary-dispute cases, do not constitute a war-crime. That article cites a statement from the Nuremberg Tribunal: “To initiate a war of aggression … is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Lying about the cause for invading is almost invariably an important part of that “accumulated evil.” Hitler was infamous for doing it. Did the US do this on April 14th?

That Wikipedia article refers to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the standing body that possesses the authority to judge such cases. However, the US Government has refused to accept that Court’s authority, and prefers instead to be forced to a military surrender as the earlier fascist powers were, before it will yield to any such court’s authority. They know that that won’t happen, so are brazen in what they now are doing. The US Government rejects international law (except as applied to other countries — especially ones that the US aristocracy wants to conquer, such as Syria, Russia, Iran, and China). Because the US Government has not surrendered, as the earlier Axis powers did in WW II (when the US was a democracy, instead of a dictatorship as it now is), it maintains its freedom to do what the Germans and the Japanese and the Italians did in WW II — to do such things: aggressions. Like the earlier fascists, the US and allied aristocracies invade and expect to win and thus to possess immunity from prosecution for their crimes. Of course, thus far, they have succeeded, even after the blatant lying that had ‘justified’ the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

This does not mean, however, that the US Government will necessarily be free from the international ‘court’ of public opinion, if and when a demonstrable act of aggressive war by the US Government can be clearly and incontrovertibly presented to that ‘court’ (assuming, of course, that the news-media aren’t themselves likewise effectively controlled by the US Government and its allies — or by their aristocrats, who advertise in and own them).

For the international ‘court’ of public opinion to be applicable, a certain modicum of honesty on the press’s part will therefore be essential. The present article is consequently being submitted to all US-and-allied news-media for publication, broadcast, and public discussion, so as to enable the international ‘court’ of public opinion to function, on this matter (since the US Government blocks the ICC from having jurisdiction over it). The international ‘court’ of public opinion will be able to function only if these news-media publish the case that’s presented here. Otherwise, the public just won’t even have a chance. So, here is that case:

THE CASE

The US Government and its allies alleged that there had been a chemical weapons attack which the Syrian Government had perpetrated in the town of Douma Syria on April 7th. The US Government organized a bombardment of the Syrian Government, which occurred seven days later. The US Government did everything it could to prevent the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW, the internationally authorized body which investigates such matters) from inspecting the area, either before or after the US-and-allied bombing. The OPCW wanted to investigate in order to determine whether there had actually been the alleged chemical-weapons attack perpetrated by the Syrian Government, as the US regime and its allies had alleged in order to allegedly justify their April 14th invasion.

Some UN delegates were even afraid that the aggressive US might take “military action” in order to prevent an OPCW investigation there. Syria’s Government headlined on April 10th, “OPCW to send a fact-finding mission to Douma upon request of Syria and Russia”. Pamela Falk of CBS News reported on April 10th, that “Because the US and Russia draft resolutions are unlikely to pass the Security Council, the Russian mission to the UN is planning to introduce a resolution, obtained by CBS News, that supports an OPCW fact-finding mission to Douma.” But events were racing too fast for anything to issue from the UN The US and its allies were determined to invade, and quickly.

On the night of April 10th, RT bannered “Europe air traffic control issues alert over ‘possible air strikes on Syria within 72 hours’”. Infowars headlined on April 11th “REPORT: US SET TO TARGET 70 DIFFERENT SITES IN SYRIA” and reported that, “The United States is planning to target as many as 70 different sites in Syria, including some at which Russian soldiers are stationed, a source close to the Department of Defense has told Infowars. … According to the source, evidence provided by the controversial White Helmets group, which some have linked to jihadist groups in the region, will be used to justify the attack. The source added that Trump wasn’t supposed to tweet about the air strikes. Earlier today, Trump tweeted, ‘Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and smart! You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!’” He was international judge, jury, and executioner, like George W. Bush was regarding Iraq in 2003.

On April 12th, Breitbart News bannered “May Readies UK for Syria Strikes, Defies Strong Public Opposition” and reported: “Theresa May is clearing the way to launch attacks on the Syrian regime, despite multiple polls showing only one in five Brits support missile attacks.”

This would be an invasion by the aristocracies, not by the publics; these invading nations are dictatorships; their publics have no control over their nations’ international relations, none really at all. To call these nations ‘democracies’ is thus to insult democracy. These nations’ respective aristocracies make even such life-and-death decisions — invasions and other international war-crimes — regardless of the desires and interests of their subjects (called ‘citizens’). And they are doing it (like they did against Iraq in 2003, and against Libya in 2011) against a Government and nation that had never invaded nor even threatened to invade any of the invaders. It’s thus clearly “aggressive war.” Even if Syria’s Government had perpetrated a chemical attack in Douma, the invading nations have been invading without even having sought from the UN an authorization to do it. Back in 2003, when the same invaders destroyed Iraq, they at least tried to obtain a UN authorization to invade. When that effort failed, they simply ordered the UN’s weapons-inspectors out, so as not to kill them, too, in their war-crime. But Donald Trump and his allies didn’t even try to get a UN authorization. (And he has treated the OPCW’s investigators with just as much impatience and contempt as G.W. Bush had treated Hans Blix’s in 2003.)

Also on April 12thRussian Television reported, “The first four chemical weapons experts from the OPCW have arrived in Syria on a fact-finding mission (FFM) into the April 7 Douma incident.”

The US had barred at the Security Council any OPCW findings prior to any invasion; but on the day of the US-and-allied invasion, April 14th, the OPCW announced its determination to investigate Douma, notwithstanding the US regime’s opposition to that. The OPCW insisted upon doing their job, maybe even to expose that this invasion had been a war-crime, if that’s what it was. So, the OPCW simply took upon itself to act, to gather evidence.

This investigation had been wanted by Syria and Russia, but the US and its allies tried at the United Nations to block it. Now that the OPCW was in Syria, the US and its allies charged that the Syrian Government didn’t want any such investigation, and was delaying it so as to hide evidence; the Syrian Government responded that it needed some time in order to be able to make Douma safe enough to allow OPCW investigators to work there. Some armed anti-Government fighters still remained inside Douma. The OPCW were waiting for the Government’s go-ahead to enter Douma.

On Wednesday, April 18th, Reuters headlined “Head of chemical weapons watchdog: UN security team was shot at in Douma”, and reported that,

The head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on Wednesday that a UN security team doing reconnaissance in Douma, Syria came under gunfire a day earlier, sources told Reuters.

OPCW Director General Ahmet Üzümcü told a meeting at the organization’s headquarters in The Hague that the security team was forced to withdraw, delaying the arrival of chemical weapons inspectors due to visit the site.

America’s allegations that Syria was overstating the dangers to the OPCW investigators were now clearly lies. It was manifestly the case. The lies from the American side poured like a river, just as usually had been the case — most infamously during the lead-up to the 2003 invasion and destruction of Iraq, which likewise was rushed through on the basis of lies, by the US and its allies.

Also on April 18th, TruePublica bannered “Syrian ‘Rebels’ Used Sarin Nerve Gas Sold By Britain” and reported that the UK Government had “granted licences for the sale of chemical weapons ingredients and components to Syria ten months after the uprising began.” The poorly written text in that news-report failed to make unambiguously clear in its opening, whether these chemicals had been sold to Syria’s Government and/or to the US-UK-backed jihadists who were trying to overthrow it. But both seem to have been the case, and some of these were “donations” and not merely sales; so, at least some of them went to the jihadists whom UK was backing, and weren’t sales to the Syrian Government. (See bottom of page 50 in this document, saying “the revision of the Syria sanctions regime led to some licence revocations in July 2012 for the export of chemicals,” and “the Government is satisfied that no gifting package contravenes its policy,” but the TruePublica report failed to link to any documentation whatsoever, for its vaguely written allegation here, neither to this document nor to anything.) So: the chemical incidents that the US and UK regimes were blaming against Syria’s Government might actually all have been due instead to “chemical” “donations,” by the accusing countries, those foreign invader-regimes, donated to their jihadist allies now in Syria, working in conjunction to provide fake excuses for the US and its allies to invade. Britain might have supplied the terrorists chemical weapons, in this particular instance. Furthermore, on 8 September 2013, London’s Metro newspaper had headlined “British government confirms chemicals were sold to Syria between 2004 and 2010”. And on 7 October 2013, Christof Lehmann’s NSNBC news-site bannered “Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria”. Those were alleged to have been donations of such chemicals to the jihadists. Furthermore, America’s two leading scientists on such matters, Theodore Postol and Richard Lloyd, issued the most-detailed investigation ever of the 21 August 2013 Ghouta chemical attack in Syria that US President Obama was trying to use as a ‘justification’ to invade that nation, and they concluded “the US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT.” Furthermore Robert Parry at his Consortium News reported on 23 December 2013 that “Ake Sellstrom, the head of the United Nations mission investigating chemical weapons use in Syria, agrees that the vector analysis – at the heart of the New York Times’ indictment of the Syrian government for the deadly Aug. 21 Sarin gas attack – doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.” That fact explained why Gareth Porter at Inter Press Service had headlined on 27 August 2013, “In Rush to Strike Syria, US Tried to Derail UN Probe”. As Seymour Hersh reported in the London Review of Books on 19 December 2013, “The White House’s misrepresentation of what it knew about the attack, and when, was matched by its readiness to ignore intelligence that could undermine the narrative.” Obama continued in George W. Bush’s footsteps, though as a candidate he had condemned Bush’s international policies. Trump now was doing the same. The US regime (like in 2003) simply didn’t want the truth to become publicly known. America’s Republican Party aristocrats and their politicians and news-media had blamed Obama for being too soft against Assad for not bombing Syria, but actually Obama was merely less brazen than his successor Donald Trump (financed by Republican Party aristocrats who had financed Bush) has turned out to be. The US and its allies were clearly lying about the Ghouta incident, just like they had done about “Saddam’s WMD.” So, UK firms, and also “US and Saudi Officials,” might have given jihadists such chemicals. What’s especially damning is the “donations,” since those would have been to the jihadists, in order for them to set up “false-flag” attacks (such as they did in Ghouta), to be blamed against Assad. And still today in the US and allied countries the politicians and news-media refer to Obama as having been indecisive instead of a liar on the Ghouta incident, and Assad is unquestioningly presumed to have been to blame for the Ghouta chemical attack, just as the US-and-allied aristocracies want.

Finally, on April 21st of 2018, the Syrian Government announced that Douma was sufficiently safe for the OPCW inspectors to be able to investigate, and the OPCW entered there, and began its work.

On April 22nd, RT headlined “‘Whole story was staged’: Germany’s ZDF reporter says Douma incident was false flag attack” and reported that “‘People told us in a very convincing manner that this whole story was staged,’ Uli Gack, a reporter with the German ZDF public broadcaster, said (referring to the alleged Douma chemical attack) while he spoke live on ZDF Heute (‘Today’) show on Saturday.” He had entered along with the OPCW investigators.

The OPCW receives funding from the US Government and so has never yet made public their findings regarding Douma. On 5 November 2013, Reuters reported that “The United States has been the biggest contributor to the OPCW’s fund for the Syria mission, with Britain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland also contributing.” Obviously, if the OPCW findings indicate that this alleged event wasn’t really a chemical attack by the Syrian Government but instead was staged by the anti-Government fighters who are supported by the US Government, or otherwise was not planned by the Syrian Government, then the US and its allied Governments (UK, and France) who bombed Syrian Government facilities on April 14th are war-criminals, irrespective of whether they can be prosecuted for that, or for anything else. They’re then just international gangsters, but will be known to be that by an honest OPCW report. So, the US has done everything possible to block it.

Since the OPCW has refused, even as of this late date, to make public its findings, that ZDF Heute news-report, from their reporter who accompanied the OPCW investigators, is perhaps the only independent evidence yet available regarding whether the US-and-allied bombing-campaign on April 14th was a war-crime. (Of course, also, no US or British or French ‘news’ medium has done any follow-up report regarding whether their Government is a war-criminal on this.)

The journalist in that April 20th ZDF report speaks German very fast there, and no translation-option is provided in the video. Furthermore, the video will be gone entirely, after a year (“Video available until 20.04.2019, 19:00”) even in its spoken-only, German-only, version, and so my written news-report and translation here won’t merely make the ZDF report’s contents available to English-speaking audiences for the first time, but it will also provide these contents in a permanent form, which can be included in the various web archives, which that video is not. (Videos are often not archivable. They unfortunately have this severe problem, as historical evidence.)

It’s a two-minute and 29 second video. Here is the video (for as long as it’s still online).

In it, ZDF’s reporter Uli Gack said: “IS [Islamic State] had created the attack. The place was a commando post for the Islamists who had installed chlorine containers and were waiting that this place, highly interesting for the Syrian airforce, would be bombarded, which happened, and the chlorine containers were bombarded. People say that several provocations of this type had happened in Douma. During one of these so-called exercises by the IS, people had been exposed to the gas, which was filmed and then shown as proof for the April 7 attack. I cannot put my hand into the fire for this, but there seems truth in the stories.”

Interviewer (also from ZDF, which is a German Government channel, and Germany is allied with the US and therefore supports US propaganda against Syria’s Government) then asks: “So, why would Assad or the Russians hinder the examinations of the facts?”

Gack: “The terrain under places like Homs is like Swiss cheese, everywhere cells appear from the underground and it is dangerous for the examiners. At least, this could be true. The traces of the gas are disappearing slowly and it may be impossible to know who is responsible.”

On May 4th, the OPCW announced that their collection of evidence regarding the Douma incident was now over, the analysis of it would require “three to four weeks,” and “At this time, it is not possible to give a timeframe for when the Douma report will be issued to States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention,” meaning that they were struggling to find a way to present an honest report which wouldn’t hurt their employer, OPCW.

The OPCW reported on July 24th, that “The Secretariat has verified the destruction of all 27 chemical weapons production facilities (CWPFs) declared by the Syrian Arab Republic.”

On September 6th, the UN reported that, “IZUMI NAKAMITSU, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, updating the Council on the implementation of resolution 2118 (2013) on the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme, said that the Technical Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had verified the destruction of all 27 chemical weapons production facilities declared by that country.” This announcement was made at that time because the jihadists in Syria’s most-densely pro-jihadist province, Idlib, the American Government’s allies there, had been documented by the Syrian and Russian Governments to have prepared in Idlib yet another assembly of chemicals to be ready to be spread by a Syrian and Russian bombing campaign, which had been planned by Syria and its ally Russia, in order to exterminate the jihadists in Idlib. So, clearly, any further banned chemicals on Syrian territory would be from the US and its allies, not from Syria and its allies. This crucial fact has not been reported to the American people by American ‘news’ media. The US regime still harbors hopes of sparking a chemical release in Syria that they can blame against Syria’s Government as an excuse to bomb it further — to commit still more aggressions against Syria.

On September 24th, the OPCW reported that, “The FFM [Fact-Finding Mission] continues to collect and analyse information with regard to the alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon in Douma and will provide a final report on its findings in due course.” Presumably, the OPCW wants to find a way to phrase their report so that the US Government and its allies won’t discontinue funding the OPCW. Perhaps by the time it is finally issued, the ‘news’ media won’t need to give it more than a perfunctory and extremely brief ‘news’ report, with a dull headline. (If even that.) After all: On May 4th, the OPCW had announced that their collection of evidence regarding the Douma incident was over, and the analysis of it would require “three to four weeks,” so that the analysis was completed by around June 1st — and yet it hasn’t been made public.

This is like a repeat of what the US regime and its allies had done to Iraq in 2003, regarding “Saddam’s WMD” that didn’t exist — invasion on the basis of lies about “weapons of mass destruction” — as if the US regime isn’t itself the world’s worst producers of such things and users of them, too: “pots calling the kettle black” and then invading that kettle. The UN is terrifically exercised about eliminating chemical-and biological weapons stockpiles from weak countries such as Iraq and Syria, but what about eliminating them from the world’s most powerful countries, which are even storing ebola virus for military use (or at least the US and UK Governments are)? What about that? Nothing. There’s no International Criminal Court to judge these leaders, who really are international war-criminals, even if OPCW ends up saying that Assad had been a domestic war-criminal. To be an international war-criminal is vastly more heinous, and there can be no reasonable doubt that the leaders of the US alliance are that.

In the international court of public opinion, today’s fascist powers could yet be internationally responded-to by consumer boycotts of their mega-corporate brands (whose owners control those fascist governments), and by other means. Furthermore, there exists the possibility of international economic sanctions against such fascist regimes, which kill millions and endanger the whole world. And, also, why are politicians in the US-allied nations being re-elected by the publics there? Certainly those voters don’t want to be controlled by the US regime’s stooges, as now is the case there. An exposure of the US regime as being an international fascist dictatorship could produce real results, even if the US regime continues stiffing the International Criminal Court. Whether the OPCW will risk doing this — calling out the US alliance’s lie on this occasion — is the question. But, for the sake of world peace, they ought to do it, not cave to their funders. Otherwise, how much longer will this decades-long string, of invasions by the US and its allies (such as of Iraq 2003, Libya 2011, and Syria and Yemen now), continue? If the ICC cannot prosecute America’s Presidents, then what use is it, really? So, all that is left here is an honest OPCW — if it is honest — and honest news-media (if they too will be honest).

What is at stake here could be whether fascist control of the world will be stopped, at all — ever.

A typical example of the depth of the enormously profitable corruption in the US, by which millions of Americans get routinely destroyed in order to expand yet further the wealth of America’s billionaires, the aristocrats, is summarily described here and here. This documentary, which is only summarized there, demonstrates that not only the people in the invaded countries are being destroyed by these aristocrats. Fascism is bad for everyone except the very few people who are enriched (enormously) by it, the super-rich who stand behind it, and who control it.

PS: 

What is the historical and ideological source of this fascism, which is now gripping the world? On 10 July 2018, I headlined at The Saker, “Vladimir Putin’s Basic Disagreement with The West” and attributed the source of the US-UK alliance to the UK magnate, Cecil Rhodes, late in the 1800s. He saw that in order for the British Empire to continue expanding, it would need to do so in alliance with the then-emerging US empire — a tight alliance between these two aristocracies — and that it should include also Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In 1877, he wrote: “I contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. I contend that every acre added to our territory means the birth of more of the English race who otherwise would not be brought into existence. Added to this, the absorption of the greater portion of the world under our rule simply means the end of all wars.” He rationalized: further conquest by this ‘race’ would be the only path to permanent peace. The concept of ‘national security’, then, means, to them, expanding this particular empire, until it rules the entire planet. That’s their goal. That’s their ‘Paradise’. As I document also there, the American billionaire George Soros carries on today in Rhodes’s footsteps, to expand the US-UK empire. But the idea is not his; it is Rhodes’s. And today it has come to be based on two specific mechanisms. The US dollar as the world’s reserve currency is one bastion of this neo-Rhodes-ian system. The City of London’s constituting the bastion of the half of the world’s privately-owned wealth (most of the global aristocracy’s wealth) that’s hidden in offshore locations, where there is complete secrecy and non-accountability to any government, is the other half of this Rhodes-ian Paradise. It’s actually a global aristocratic gangland. That’s the reality of the Rhodes-ian system, which is today’s fascist Axis.

Here are three Snowden-released confidential documents that are typical as being Rhodes-ian:

One document, dated 12 November 2004, is headed “TOP SECRET” and to be sent “TO USA AUS CAN GBR NZL” or to the entire core Rhodes empire, and it related that “From 4 – 6 October, Lt Gen Hayden and GCHQ [Government Communications Headquarters, in Cheltenham, England] Director David Pepper co-chaired the annual NSA-GCHQ Joint Management Review (JMR) at Chevening House. The fine Palladian house, the country residence of the UK Foreign Secretary, dates back to 1630. It is set in 27 acres of gardens, within an estate of 3,000 acres, and is located 23 miles south of London, in the Kent countryside.” It said “that NSA and GCHQ must work hard to keep one another apprised and well connected throughout (actually one of NSA’s Special US Liaison Officer, London’s key responsibilities); A validation of the common cause that joins our two nations.”

Another document, dated 19 November 2004, is likewise headed “TOP SECRET” and to be sent “TO USA AUS CAN GBR NZL.” It’s headlined “Leaders Peer into the Future, See Global System.” It said: “Last week, SIGINT leaders flew in from around the world to attend the annual SIGINT Site Commanders Operational Review here at Fort Meade. This year’s SCOR conference focused on how we are to govern the global SIGINT network in the 21st century. It went very well.”

Another document, dated 24 November 2004, is likewise headed “TOP SECRET” and to be sent “TO USA AUS CAN GBR NZL.” It’s headlined “Finding the Achilles’ Heel.” It said: “JWAC [Joint Warfare Analysis Center] provides the combatant commands, Joint Staff, and other customers with effects-based precision targeting options for selected networks and nodes in order to carry out the national security and military strategies of the United States during peace, crisis, and war.” It discussed “Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. As we continue the Global War on Terrorism, new opportunities are identified and analytic partnerships are formed.”

Tim Shorrock at Salon wrote on 10 June 2013:

“The largest concentration of cyber power on the planet is the intersection of the Baltimore Parkway and Maryland Route 32,” says Michael V. Hayden, who oversaw the privatization effort as NSA director from 1999 to 2005. He was referring not to the NSA itself but to the business park about a mile down the road from the giant black edifice that houses NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. There, all of NSA’s major contractors, from Booz to SAIC to Northrop Grumman, carry out their surveillance and intelligence work for the agency.

So: Lt. Gen. Hayden in London on 12 November was preparing what would be presented at Ft. Meade on 19 November to America’s SIGINT from around the world. Then, on 24 November, JWAC was discussing “effects-based precision targeting options” that the entire SIGINT would adopt, after that meeting which Hayden had had 12 days earlier at the luxurious and private country residence of the UK Foreign Secretary. This “TOP SECRET” meeting seems to have been an instance of close coordination between US and UK. No announcement was ever made regarding what was said or agreed-to at any of those top-secret meetings.

But, above all: Why were only the Rhodes circle of nations’ leaders (“TO USA AUS CAN GBR NZL”) included in these “TOP SECRET” US Government communications? Why not also French? Why not also Israeli? Why not also Saudi? Why not also Japanese? Etc.? (In other words: why not all other aristocracies that are allied with America’s aristocracy.) None of those countries were allowed to participate in these crucial and secret meetings.

Is “the special relationship” the core of the US empire? Is that what it basically is? If so, it’s what Rhodes wanted. And it certainly isn’t democracy, not anywhere. It’s privatized government, in the hands of the US and UK aristocracies, which control the generals and the weapons-making firms whose boards the generals join after their ‘public’ service. This is an entity that’s independent of any treaty the US Government has. It stands above any of America’s treaties. And, yet, this alliance never faced the US Constitution’s requirements in order to be able to become a treaty obligation or right with any foreign nation. The US Government has — to put this matter in clear terms — been taken over by international gangsters, US and foreign, who work closely together, via agents everywhere, answerable ultimately only to the US and UK aristocracies, and beyond any laws at all, entirely unConstitutional.

It is fascist, and it is trying to expand — they’re more like Adolf Hitler, than like Francisco Franco. It’s aggressive war, to control the world. It’s clearly war-criminal.

That’s what the OPCW is now facing.

To understand it more fully, I recommend especially two videos:

——

The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire (Documentary)

Operation Gladio – Full 1992 documentary BBC

What they show is the basic history that all students, everywhere, should know before they head off to college, so that they can understand the broader context in which their professors are functioning. And that’s the context I described in my “Vladimir Putin’s Basic Disagreement with The West”.

Here is an operation by the Rhodes-ians, under the leadership of US President Barack Obama:

Here is an act of partisan resistance against those nazis, today.

These wars are on in many places. One shouldn’t have to be targets that the new nazis are trying to kill, before one becomes knowledgeable about whom they are, and what they really stand for. Any nation’s politicians who support the new nazism are enemies of the people whom they had promised to represent. For example, this is the real reason why America’s NSA actually isn’t recording just the metadata on every phone call to or from every phone in America, but is also recording every phone-conversation, in blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution; and not only Trump’s appointee to the US Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh lies to endorse it, but also his colleague on the US DC Circuit Appeals Court, Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland did. They actually don’t care about the US Constitution; they just pay “lip service” to it. This is how these gangsters-in-suits run the country. Obviously, there is bipartisan support, by America’s aristocrats, for establishing a total-surveillance government. Whereas Garland refused to say why he voted for it, Kavanaugh said his reason was that “national security” overrides the US Constitution. And, now, he is on the Supreme Court, which interprets the US Constitution. He’s normal there, not unusual. He’s not the basic problem; the aristocracy that he serves is the basic problem.

Will the OPCW stand up against it? Or will it instead serve its masters? Blaming the invaded Government is so much safer than blaming the invaded ones, especially for an authority that’s being paid by the invading ones.

But, if the OPCW won’t do it, who will? Who even can? And, what kind of world would that then leave us with?

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Vince Dhimos
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Who can? Putin can.

Smokingeagle
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Smokingeagle

Something I fail to understand is why we the great unwashed accept our western governments’ cooked-up “reasons” for bombing sovereign nations, killing and injuring hundreds of thousands to millions of people, destroying their cities and national heritage sites, generating tides of refugees, and wrecking their economies. Some democratically-elected leader or other is accused of gassing a few dozen citizens and suddenly the US takes it upon itself to exact severe punishment by bombing and killing tens of thousands more people in the process than it accused the elected leader of having killed. Of course, “incidents” such as gassing are staged… Read more »

FlorianGeyer
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FlorianGeyer

@ SmokingEagle

Humans for many millennia have been enthralled by Cults, religious and political. People the world over have fought and died for the benefit of the cult , whilst the cult leaders take the spoils.

Gone are the days when cult leaders fought in battle, today they sit in their ‘towers’ and watch others bleed.

John Nolan
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John Nolan

Spot on comment! Sadly the idiocy being described is a condemnation of the state of mind of Amazian citizens, Auzlazian, Englandishi,and we realize that we, the supposedly culturally advanced, humane nations are, in fact, the most perverted, insane, psychotic mass murderers the world has ever known! Why do the citizens of these nations not stand up and tell their governments to stop playing the war games, which are only about profits for multi-national, privately owned corporations, mostly owned by the Rothschilds, Chump, Sputin, etc., to further their wealth, their power, and too hell with we poor citizens! When will people… Read more »

Rick Oliver
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Rick Oliver

A big YES , War crimes have been committed , so is the UN going to take the Western Alliance to task ? Not on your Nelly !!! They were complacent , helping them out at every opportunity !!! So maybe the UN needs to be sacked as well , then start all over again but never ever to be run by Global Puppets again ! I can see it`s time for the biggest change away from the corruptions of the West and time the ordinary folk took the planet back to be run properly !!!

Shaun Ramewe
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Shaun Ramewe

The lists of sick lies and heinous crimes the coward-pervert pro-terrorist war-criminal ZioYanks and their devilish cohorts have sneakily committed in Syria alone are too long and disgusting to register.

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Vladimir Putin: 2019 State Of The Union Address To Russia’s Federal Assembly (Full Text)

In 2019 State of the Union Address Russian President Putin outlines massive investment programme to upgrade Russia’s heath and education services and its scientific and communications infrastructure.

The Duran

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This is the official translation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s State of the Union Address to Russia’s Federal Assembly as first published by the Kremlin’s website.

Members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, citizens of Russia,

Today’s Address is primarily devoted to matters of domestic social and economic development. I would like to focus on the objectives set forth in the May 2018 Executive Order and detailed in the national projects. Their content and the targets they set are a reflection of the demands and expectations of Russia’s citizens. People are at the core of the national projects, which are designed to bring about a new quality of life for all generations. This can only be achieved by generating momentum in Russia’s development.

These are long-term objectives that we have set for ourselves. However, work to achieve these strategic goals has to begin today. Time is always in short supply, as I have already said on numerous occasions, and you all know this all too well. There is simply no time for getting up to speed or making any adjustments. All in all, I believe that we have already completed the stage of articulating objectives and outlining tools for achieving our goals. Departing from the targets that were outlined would be unacceptable. It is true that these are challenging objectives. That being said, lowering the requirements for specific targets or watering them down is not an option. As I have already said, these are formidable challenges that require us to undertake major efforts. However, they are in step with the scale and pace of global change. It is our duty to keep pushing ahead and gaining momentum.

If someone prefers to work in the business as usual mode, without challenges, avoiding initiative or responsibility, they had better leave immediately. I already hear that some things are “impossible,” “too difficult,” “the standards are too high,” and “it will not work.” With such an attitude, you had better stay away.

Besides, you cannot fool the people. They are acutely aware of hypocrisy, lack of respect or any injustice. They have little interest in red tape and bureaucratic routine. It is important for people to see what is really being done and the impact it has on their lives and the lives of their families. And not sometime in the future, but now. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past decades and wait for communism to arrive. We have to change the situation for the better now.

Therefore, the work of the executive branch at all levels should be coordinated, meaningful and energetic. The Government of Russia must set the tone.

At the same time, I would like to emphasise and repeat: our development projects are not federal and even less so agency-based. They are national. Their results must be visible in each region of the Federation, in every municipality. It is here, on the ground, that the majority of specific tasks is implemented.

Allow me to underscore: thanks to years of common work and the results achieved, we can now direct and concentrate enormous financial resources – at least enormous for our country – on development goals. These resources have not come as a rainfall. We have not borrowed them. These funds have been earned by millions of our citizens – by the entire country. They need to be applied to increase the wealth of Russia and the wellbeing of Russian families.

Very soon, this year people should feel real changes for the better. It is on the basis of their opinion and assessments at the beginning of next year that we will evaluate the first results of our work on the national projects. And we will draw the appropriate conclusions about the work quality and performance at all levels of executive power.

Colleagues,

Let me now share some specifics on our objectives. I will begin with the key objective of preserving our nation, which means providing all-around support to families.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. Photo: TASS

Family, childbirth, procreation and respect for the elderly have always served as a powerful moral framework for Russia and its multi-ethnic people. We have been doing everything in our power to strengthen family values and are committed to doing so in the future. In fact, our future is at stake. This is a task shared by the state, civil society, religious organisations, political parties and the media.

Russia has entered an extremely challenging period in terms of demographics. As you know, the birth rate is declining. As I have already said, this is caused by purely objective reasons, which have to do with the immense human losses and birth dearth experienced by our country in the 20th century, during the Great Patriotic War and the dramatic years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This does not mean, however, that we must accept this situation or come to terms with it. Definitely, not.

We succeeded in overcoming the negative demographic trends in the early 2000s, when our country faced extreme challenges. This seemed to be an impossible challenge at the time. Nevertheless, we succeeded, and I strongly believe that we can do it again by returning to natural population growth by late 2023 – early 2024.

Today, I wanted to talk about a new package of measures that has already been prepared to support families.

First, it is important that having children and bringing them up do not put families at the risk of poverty or undermine their wellbeing. As you know, we have already provided for the payment of subsidies for the first two children until they reach 18 months. Benefits for the first child are paid from the federal budget, and families can use the maternity capital subsidy for obtaining benefits for their second child. The size of the subsidy depends on the regional subsistence level for a child. It may vary from 8,000 rubles in Belgorod Region, for example, to 22,000 rubles in Chukotka Autonomous Area, with the national average of over 11,000 rubles a month per child. Currently these allocations are reserved to families whose income does not exceed the subsistence wage multiplied by 1.5 per person. It is time that we make the next step.

Starting January 1, 2020, I propose raising the bar to two subsistence wages per family member. This is what people have requested and these requests come directly into the Executive Office. This measure will increase the number of families entitled to additional benefits by almost 50 percent. Some 70 percent of families with one or two children will be able to benefit from help from the Government.

Second. At present, carers looking after children with disabilities and people disabled since childhood receive an allowance of only 5,500 rubles. I suggest increasing this to 10,000 rubles, starting July 1. Of course, I understand that it is still a small amount. However, it will be an additional measure of support for families with a child who needs special care.

Third. The income of Russian families must, of course, increase. This is a serious task that requires a comprehensive solution. I will speak about this in greater detail later. But we need direct measures. First of all, the tax burden on families needs to be relieved. The approach should be very simple: the more children there are, the lower the tax. I propose increasing federal tax relief on real estate for families with many children. I also propose lifting taxes on 5 square metres in a flat and 7 square metres in a house per each child.

What does this mean? If, for example, right now, 20 square metres in a flat are not subject to tax, the new measure will mean that for a family with three children, an extra 15 square metres will not be subject to tax. Regarding plots of land that belong to families with many children, I propose that 600 square metres should be exempt from tax, and this means most plots of land will be free from taxation. Let me remind you that this benefit is already available to pensioners and people of pre-retirement age. Of course, in many Russian regions there are local tax benefits on land and property for large families. However, the benefit being imposed at the federal level guarantees that it will be available everywhere in the country. I want to ask regional officials to propose additional tax measures to support families with children.

Fourth, the Government and the Central Bank need to consistently maintain the policy to lower mortgage rates to 9 percent, and then to 8 percent or below, as stipulated in the May 2018 Executive Order. At the same time, special measures of support should be provided for families with children, of course. As a reminder, last year, a preferential mortgage programme was launched for families that have had their second or subsequent child. The rate for them is 6 percent. Anything higher is subsidised by the state. However, only 4,500 families have used the benefit.

The question is why. It means that people are somehow dissatisfied with the proposed conditions. But it is also clear why. A family making a decision to buy housing certainly makes plans for a long or at least medium term, a lasting investment. But with this programme, they take out a loan, start paying the instalments, and the grace period ends. The interest is actually subsidised only for the first 3 or 5 years. I propose extending the benefit for the entire term of the mortgage loan.

Yes, of course, it will require additional funding, and the cost will be rather high: 7.6 billion rubles in 2019, 21.7 billion rubles in 2020, and 30.6 billion rubles in 2021. But the programme is estimated to reach as many as 600,000 families. We certainly need to find the money. We know where to get it. We have it, and we just need to use it in the areas that are of major importance to us.

And one more direct action solution. Considering the sustainability and stability of the macroeconomic situation in the country and the growth of the state’s revenues, I consider it possible to introduce another measure of support for families having a third and subsequent children. I suggest paying 450,000 rubles directly from the federal budget to cover this sum from their mortgage. Importantly, I propose backdating this payment starting January 1, 2019, recalculating it and allocating relevant sums in this year’s budget.

Let us see what we have. If we add this sum to the maternity capital, which can also be used for mortgage payments, we will get over 900,000 rubles. In many regions, this is a substantial part of the cost of a flat. I would like to draw the attention of the Government and the State Duma to this issue. If need be, the budget will have to be adjusted accordingly. An additional 26.2 billion rubles will be required for this in 2019. The relevant figures for 2020 and 2021 are 28.6 billion rubles and 30.1 billion rubles, respectively. These are huge funds but they should be allocated and used in what I have already described as a very important area.

It is necessary to give families an opportunity not only to buy ready-made housing but also to build their own housing on their land. I would like to ask the Government to draft in cooperation with the Central Bank convenient and, most importantly, affordable financial instruments for supporting private housing construction because it is not covered by mortgage loans today.

And, last but not least, the tax on land must be fair. Obviously, the cadastral or market value of a land plot can change but tax rates must not go up and down unpredictably like roller coaster rides. We have already limited to 10 percent the annual growth of the tax rates for residential property. I suggest establishing the same limit for land plots.

Moving on, today, when construction companies build social facilities and transfer them to the state or municipalities, they have to pay profit tax and VAT. We need to relieve construction companies of this burden (including our innovations in the construction sector). This will serve as an impetus for the comprehensive development of cities and townships, ensuring that families have everything they need near their homes: clinics, schools and sports facilities. By doing this, we will enable parents to work, study, live happily and enjoy parenthood.

We have come close to guaranteeing universal access to kindergartens, but by the end of 2021, we will have to resolve the problem with nurseries by enabling them to accept 270,000 more children, including in the private sector, with 90,000 places to be created as early as this year. The federal and regional budgets should allocate 147 billion rubles for this purpose, over a three-year period. Let me add that enrolling in a nursery group, kindergarten, getting subsidies, benefits or the tax deductions that I have already mentioned and, I hope, that we will come up with, together with you, all this should happen without any additional applications, excessive paperwork or having to visit various social services. By the end of 2020, all the key government services must be provided in a proactive format where a person will only need to send in a request for a service that he or she needs, and the system will take care of all the rest independently and automatically.

I would like to emphasise that the package of measures to support families proposed today is not an exhaustive list of initiatives. It sets the priorities. Considering the challenges posed by the state of Russia’s demographics, we will continue to channel more and more resources into this area. I ask all of you, colleagues, including both the Government and the Federal Assembly, to think about it and suggest solutions.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Colleagues, solving our demographic problems, increasing life expectancy and reducing mortality rates are directly related to eradicating poverty. Allow me to remind you that in 2000, there were more than 40 million people living below the poverty line. Now there are about 19 million, but this is still too many, too many. However, there was a time when their number dropped to 15 million, and now it has grown a little again. We must certainly focus our attention on this — on combating poverty.

Furthermore, there are even more people facing serious financial problems than those officially living below the poverty line. They are forced to cut spending on such essentials as clothes, medicines and even food. Those most often faced with poverty are large or single parent families, families with members with disabilities, as well as single pensioners and people who cannot find a good job, a well-paid job because there are no openings or they lack qualifications.

There are many reasons for poverty, not only in our country, but also in the world, but it always literally crushes a person, dimming their life prospects. The state must help people, help them out of difficult life situations. The experience of some of our regions shows that it is possible to work effectively for this. I will name these regions: Kaluga, Ulyanovsk, Tomsk, Vologda, and Nizhny Novgorod Regions, and a number of other regions of Russia. Their experience shows that so-called social contracts can be a working mechanism of such support.

How does it work and what is this all about? The state helps people find jobs and improve their skills. The state provides financial resources to families to run a household farm or to start a small business, and by the way, these are substantial resources of tens of thousands of rubles. Let me emphasise that support programmes will be tailored to meet the needs of every specific applicant. The allocation of these resources creates some obligations for the recipients: they have to go through training, find a job in the given field and provide a steady income for their family and children. Mechanisms of this kind are in place around the world and are very effective. Social contracts can change the lives of those who really want to do it.

It is estimated that more than 9 million people will be able to benefit from these support measures over a five-year period. I instruct the Government to assist the regions that are proactive in introducing social contracts and work with them on co-financing mechanisms.

Moving on, there are currently many people and families taking out loans for various purposes, including consumer loans. Of course, borrowers have to be aware of their obligations and refrain from assuming an excessive burden. That being said, anything can happen: people can lose their job or become ill. In this case, the last thing is to force people into a corner, and it is also pointless in economic terms. Additional legal guarantees are needed to protect people. I propose introducing mortgage payment holidays, as we have recently discussed in Kazan, to enable people who lose their income to suspend mortgage payments. They must get a chance to keep their home, if it is the only property they own, and postpone loan payments. This is not an easy task, and we have to understand how this can be done so as not to harm financial institutions while supporting the people. This can be done, however.

I also ask the Bank of Russia and law enforcement agencies to put things right without delay in the microlending segment and protect people from fraud or extortion by dishonest lenders.

Let me emphasise that as we seek to overcome poverty and develop the social security net, we need to reach every family in need and understand the problems it faces. It should not be possible to refuse assistance simply because the life circumstances a person is facing are slightly inconsistent with the criteria set by a programme.

And, of course, it is necessary to be scrupulous and attentive to every detail. By way of example, and this is not a very good example for our work, I would like to say the following: pensions were adjusted for inflation under the pension reform this year. But if a pensioner’s income exceeded the subsistence rate, the social payments were no longer made at the same level. They were either cancelled altogether or reduced. As a result, the pensions were not increased at all, or the increases were much less than a pensioner expected. So many people feel cheated with good reason. Probably, many people in this hall understand what this is all about. We made payments from the regional or federal budget to achieve the subsistence level. We made adjustments for inflation and the cost of living either matched or exceeded it. So these payments were discontinued and that was it.

It was necessary to take into account all the nuances but this was left undone, and of course, this should not be allowed to happen. This injustice, and it is certainly an injustice, should be sorted immediately. Starting this year, adjustments of pensions and monthly payments should by all means be above the subsistence rate of pensioners that is established every year. In other words, the state should first bring pensions to the subsistence level and only after that make adjustments in pensions and monthly payments. Payments for the first months of this year must be recalculated and people should be paid the money due to them that they have not received.

I would like to emphasise that all those who work in the social sphere or join the government or municipal services in order to help people resolve their urgent problems, must meet the highest professional standards. I believe by and large this is the case. Of course, this is a very complicated job. We all understand that working with people every day, from morning until night, is indeed difficult. But if you have this job you should realise that it is no less important to understand people, to know what they feel, empathise, share their worries and concerns and never permit yourself arrogant attitudes or a lack of respect for people, either in word or deed. I would like you to always remember this.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. Photo: TASS

Colleagues,

The next important subject is healthcare. I know that, on the one hand, its current state seems to be improving, and medical treatment is becoming more accessible. Nevertheless, many people are not satisfied. It is easy to understand the reasons for this. As a rule, people judge the healthcare system by its primary component, that is, outpatient clinics and paramedic stations. People voice complaints with regard to their work. Quite often, they have to wait many days to see a specialist, and it is impossible to quickly undergo the required tests free of charge. People in remote communities are even having trouble getting appointments with medical personnel. Yes, the number of paramedic stations and mobile medical units continues to increase, but people in areas where there are no such facilities care nothing about the overall statistics.

I want to emphasise that medical treatment should become accessible for everyone by the end of 2020 in all populated areas across Russia without exception and for all citizens, regardless of their place of residence. For your information, an additional 1,590 outpatient clinics and paramedic stations are to be built or renovated in 2019–2020, and I hope that this will be accomplished.

Today, a number of regions are implementing the Thrifty Outpatient Clinic project. As a result, the waiting time to get an appointment and see a doctor is reduced three or four times over, on the average. I have visited such outpatient clinics, and they are operating very well. Much better conditions are created for people with disabilities and for parents with children. Unfortunately, there are very few such outpatient clinics so far; they are rather an exception than the rule all across the nation.

Considering the best regional practices , and, I repeat, there are such practices, I hereby instruct the Government to approve the high standards of thrifty outpatient clinics by the end of the year and their certification regulations. Next year, you have to team up with the regions to introduce mechanisms incentivising managers and medical personnel to improve the quality of their work. First of all, we have to completely convert all paediatric outpatient clinics to new standards already in 2021. Please note that the sign “Thrifty Outpatient Clinic” is not what counts. Most importantly, people should at long last perceive the state’s respectful and truly considerate attitude towards their health.

Improving IT penetration in healthcare will make it more accessible. Online links between medical institutions, pharmacies, doctors and patients must be streamlined over the next three years. Let me add that social security medical assessment boards must be finally included into this digital network in order to free elderly people, people with disabilities and families with children from waiting lists and the need to produce various certificates that are often useless.

Primary care is understaffed. To address this matter, comprehensive efforts to develop medical education should be accompanied by initiatives that produce immediate results. In this connection, I propose removing age restrictions for the Country Doctor programme so that professionals over the age of 50 can also receive a one-time payment when moving to a rural area or a small city: 1,000,000 rubles for doctors and 500,000 rubles for paramedics.

The most complex surgery is currently performed not only at federal, but also at regional clinics and centres using the most advanced equipment. At the same time, patient recovery is also critical. We have never had a system of this kind, but we have to start with something. A lot has to be done in this area. Let us begin by creating at least two world-class recovery facilities for children, just as we did with perinatal centres, and proceed from there.

In my last year’s Address, I proposed a programme for fighting cancer. At least 1 trillion roubles will be allocated to this effect over the next six years. This is about providing timely, effective and accessible treatment, using advanced technologies that are effective in most cases and enable people to overcome this dangerous disease. Today, the leukaemia recovery rate for children exceeds 80 percent, and for certain types of cancer, more than 90 percent of patients recover. Not that long ago, in the mid-1990s, this disease was almost untreatable and only 10–20 percent of children could be saved. Russia lacked both the technology and capabilities at the time. In many cases, the only option was to turn to foreign clinics. Those who could afford it did so.

We were aware of how tragic this situation was, which prompted us to focus on improving cancer treatment for children, developing oncohaematology, using the capabilities offered by our research institutions, the healthcare system, and worked proactively with our foreign partners (some doctors simply moved from Germany to Moscow, and spent a lot of time here, and probably still do), which yielded results.

We will continue working to overhaul the system of cancer care. Early detection is of crucial importance. In fact, we have revived the system of health screening and regular medical check-ups. These have to include cancer screening. It has to be made obligatory. People must have the opportunity to make appointments remotely, to choose a suitable time for visiting an outpatient clinic, including in the evening or at the weekend, so that the check-up can be carried out without any additional formalities.

Next, over the next few years we must create a number of new areas combining healthcare with social services. Thus, we must overhaul the system of assistance for people who need long-term help at medical facilities or at home, adjust this system to the needs of specific families and individuals, support people with their everyday needs by assigning district nurses or carers, or training relatives in medical or other necessary skills. The application of these recipient-oriented principles of assistance began last year in Volgograd, Kostroma, Novgorod, Pskov, Ryazan and Tula regions. We must introduce them throughout the country within a timeframe of four years.

Palliative care is a matter of not only medical but also of social, public and moral concern. According to the available information, some 800,000 people need this assistance, and volunteers have told me that the figure is around one million. As you know, in January I visited a children’s hospice in St Petersburg, where we discussed this matter. I know that yesterday the State Duma adopted in the second reading amendments to the legislation on palliative care. I would like work on this law to be completed as soon as possible. We will then monitor its application so we can promptly make amendments, taking into account the opinions of volunteers, whom I have mentioned, doctors, carers, members of the public and religious associations and benefactors, that is, everyone who have long been providing heartfelt palliative care.

Colleagues, people have increasingly high demands on environmental safety issues. Perhaps, the most painful topic is municipal waste. If you remember, it came up for the first time during one of my Direct Lines. Yes, we have probably neglected the waste disposal problems for maybe a hundred years, which means we have never paid attention to them. Many landfills are overfilled because waste has been accumulating there for decades. The landfills have turned into real mountains of garbage near residential areas.

By the way, I am also interested to know how you issued permits for the construction of residential neighbourhoods next to these dumps and landfills. Didn’t you think of that? You should have. I urge the representatives of the authorities at all levels: pretending that nothing is happening, turning away, brushing aside people’s needs is absolutely unacceptable. These issues are difficult, of course, but difficult issues must also be addressed.

Before the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Before the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

This year, the regions began adopting a new system of solid municipal waste management. However, if the only change is a rise in rubbish clearance prices – well, this is not real work; it is a sham. People need to see what they are paying for and what real changes are happening. It is necessary to restore order in this area, to get rid of shady businesses that do not bear any responsibility and only get super-profits dumping trash at random sites.

We need to build a civilised and safe system of waste treatment, recycling and disposal. Surprisingly, a year ago I personally had to interfere on some matters. I had to talk to the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office several times. You know, surprisingly, I would like to say it again, almost nothing moved forward until I gave an order to station a guard there and not to let anyone in. This is the only way it works, because these shady companies, the so-called fly-by-nights, they just make quick profits and shut down their so-called business.

I ask the Russian Popular Front to ensure effective public control here, including reliance on public environmental inspectors. Their signals regarding any violations must be considered by the authorities, who must adopt specific measures. In the next two years, 30 large problem landfills within city boundaries must be closed and rehabilitated, and in six years, all the rest. At the same time, it is necessary to increase the share of waste treatment from today’s 8–9 percent to 60, so as not to accumulate new millions of tonnes of trash.

It is necessary to introduce stricter environmental requirements when it comes to utility services and energy and transport enterprises. In part, I am urging businesses to play a more active role in natural gas motor fuel projects, and invest in the formation of a network of fuelling stations and fuel systems using liquefied natural gas. We have enough of it, more than any other country. Indeed, this is a complicated and costly project but it should be carried out because it will produce results not only for businesses but for the people as well.

A positive effect from the industry’s transfer to the best affordable technologies and strict environmental standards should be felt by residents of major industrial centres of the country, primarily the 12 cities I mentioned in the 2018 Address. These places should be finally removed from the zone of real environmental disaster. Over a period of the next six years, the amount of polluting emissions in the air should be reduced there by no less than 20 percent.

To prevent anyone from the temptation of dodging the implementation of this job, it is necessary to strictly monitor industrial and other companies responsible for this, to map out the specific steps they should take to minimise environmental damage, and to register all this in a law on emission quotas. I know all too well what this is all about. I know that fairly influential lobbyists are trying to impede this draft law as much as they can. I know their arguments very well too: the need to preserve jobs and a complicated economic situation.

But this cannot go on endlessly in this manner. It must not. Let me recall that in making such decisions we should be guided by the interests of the people of Russia rather than corporate interests or interests of some individuals. Colleagues, please pass this law during the spring session.

Finding solutions for environmental problems is the job of our researchers and people in industry. Each of us is responsible for this. I am urging young people, among others, to take a more active part in this work. We must hand over to the future generations an environmentally safe country and preserve Russia’s natural potential as well as its specially protected areas. This year new national parks will open in the republics of Daghestan, Komi and Sakha (Yakutia), Altai Territory and Chelyabinsk Region. However, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that many specially protected areas do not yet have precise borders and their regulations are not observed.

I have instructed the Ministry of Natural Resources to conduct a detailed audit. All sanctuaries must be registered in the cadastre. It is also necessary to adopt a law according to which only environmental tourism can take place in nature reserves, without any withdrawal of territories, wood cutting or major construction work. Naturally, it is necessary to take into account the interests of the locals but these issues should be resolved in a package.

Colleagues, the number of students from small towns and remote areas studying at the best Moscow and regional universities is increasing. According to international assessments, our elementary, middle and high school students demonstrate good results in the humanities and hard sciences. We can see it ourselves, based on the results of contests and various student competitions. All this is an indicator of qualitative changes in our school education.

However, despite all these achievements, we must not overlook the obvious problems in this crucial area. The share of schools with modern study conditions has increased from 12 percent in 2000 (only 12 percent) to 85 percent in 2018. But even today, some 200,000 children still go to schools where there is no proper heating, water supply and sewage system. Yes, it is less than 1.5 percent of all schoolchildren, but when their parents see these conditions, any words about justice and equal opportunities only irritate them. I want to draw the attention of the heads of the regions where poorly equipped schools still exist. This problem can be completely resolved within two years. We can do it. I know that the Government is thinking about it and making certain decisions. I am asking you to support the regions that lack their own resources.

When in 2006 we started providing internet connections to schools, the technology was completely different. You know, it seemed like a real breakthrough. And it was indeed a breakthrough at the time. Right now, this technology seems ancient, and we have new tasks to resolve. By the end of 2021, all Russian schools must have a high-speed internet connection rather than just a connection. Let me remind you that in 2006, when schools were being hooked up to the internet, the recommended speed was 128 kbps. Now we need 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps, which is at least 400 times higher. This will help our kids to gain access to lessons and lectures by prominent teachers, to contests and Olympiads; it will allow them to significantly expand their capabilities and get involved in online projects with their fellow students from other regions and countries. The content of educational programmes must also change. The national standards and programmes must reflect the priorities of the country’s science and technology development, while the federal lists of recommended textbooks must include the best of the best books.

Of course, human resources are the most important issue. I have already spoken today about expanding the Country Doctor programme. I propose starting a similar programme for education, the Country Teacher. Teachers who decide to move to smaller towns and villages will receive a one-time payment of one million rubles.

We must work consistently to strengthen the common environment of education and culture. The culture and education centres in Kaliningrad, Kemerovo, Vladivostok and Sevastopol will open no later than in 2023. Our leading museums and theatres will be represented there, and branches of art schools will start working there already next year. The demand for a rich cultural environment is very high, primarily in the regions, where a great number of talented and committed people are working.

I propose greatly expanding assistance to local cultural initiatives, that is, projects dealing with local history, crafts and the preservation of the historical heritage of our peoples. For example, additional allocations can be made towards this from the Presidential Grants Fund. In addition, we will allocate over 17 billion rubles within the Culture national project for the construction and renovation of rural culture clubs and over 6 billion rubles for supporting culture centres in Russia’s small towns.

I would like to remind you that medical and educational institutions are exempt from profit tax, but only until January 1, 2020. I propose making this incentive of unlimited duration and also extending it to the regional and municipal museums, theatres and libraries. By the way, this will allow them to save some 4 billion rubles, which they will invest in development or will use to raise salaries. And lastly, this measure will encourage private investment in local cultural establishments.

Colleagues, I would like the heads of regions to ensure that salaries in education, healthcare, culture and other public sectors are kept on a par with the average wage in the given region’s economy. Colleagues, this is very important. I keep talking about this at all my meetings. We must not lower this standard. At the same time, the average wage in the economy must grow. Over 40 million people who work in the public and defence sectors and are non-working pensioners receive fixed payments. These payments must grow together with the inflation at the least. I ask the Government to take this into account.

More than 70 million people work in manufacturing, agriculture or the services or are small business owners. The state of Russia’s economy has a direct bearing on their income, wellbeing and confidence in the future. The primary tool for achieving steady wage increases is to promote quality employment and free enterprise, qualified, well-paid jobs in all regions, including both traditional and new sectors. High economic growth rates are essential. This is the only way to overcome poverty and ensure steady and perceptible increases in income. This is the key to success. As soon as in 2021, Russia’s economic growth rate must exceed 3 percent and stay above the global average afterwards. This objective should not be discarded.

The Government and the Central Bank are once again tasked with complying with the target inflation rate. I have already said this, and we knew that this would happen when we put aside financial resources for the national projects. This was an expected outcome, and now we need to make sure that the situation gets back to normal. We can do this. As I said, the Government and the Central Bank must ensure that the inflation targets are met and create a favourable macroeconomic environment for facilitating growth in general. We have a strong financial safety cushion.

I have something positive to share with you. For the first time ever, our reserves fully cover not only the sovereign debt, which is quite small, but also private borrowings. These funds are at work, and investment of the National Welfare Fund generates budget revenue. Therefore, I would like to address those of our colleagues who constantly criticise the Government, its financial and economic ministries and ask where the money went and where we invested it. We set a target to reach a certain level, after which we can use these funds, although cautiously so as not to cause any macroeconomic disturbances. We are about to reach this level, and are beginning to do it. The proceeds from these investments go to the federal budget. In 2018, proceeds from investing the National Welfare Fund in the amount of 70.5 billion rubles were added to the budget.

To achieve high growth rates, it is also necessary to resolve systemic problems in the economy. I will highlight four priorities here.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

The first one is faster growth in labour productivity, primarily based on new technologies and digitalisation; the development of competitive industries and, as a result, an increase in non-primary exports by more than 50 percent in six years.

The second one is to improve the business climate and the quality of national jurisdiction, so that no one moves their operations to other jurisdictions, to ensure that everything is reliable and runs like clockwork. Growth in investment should increase by 6–7 percent in 2020. Achieving this level will be one of the key criteria for evaluating the Government’s work.

The third priority is removing infrastructural constraints for economic development and for unlocking the potential of our regions.

And the fourth thing is training modern personnel, of course, and creating powerful scientific and technological foundations.

Now I would like to expand on our specific tasks in these fields.

A colossal guaranteed demand for industrial and high-tech products is being formed in Russia, I can say this without any exaggeration. So the words I would like to use – we are faced with historical opportunities for a qualitative growth of Russian business, mechanical engineering and machine-tool making, microelectronics, IT-industry, and other industries. The national projects alone include – just think of it – 6 trillion rubles worth of procurement plans for medical and construction equipment, instruments, telecommunications systems, and systems for housing and public utilities. And these resources should work here in Russia.

So I am urging the Government, the regions, the representatives of state-owned companies I see here in this room – you certainly want to buy all the most modern equipment and as inexpensively as possible. Naturally, everyone wants to be and should be competitive, but wherever possible, you need to rely on our producers, on domestic ones. We must find them, and even work together with them. Of course, there must be a competitive environment, but we already have the tools to support Russian manufacturers. We must not forget about these tools, and use them.

I would like to emphasise that access to state contracts must be equal (at least for our own, for national companies), and the orders should go to those who prove their sustainability with hard work and results, with willingness to change, to introduce advanced technology and increase labour productivity, and offer the best competitive products.

As concerns the defence industry, we must use our current capacities for diversification, to expand civil production. Colleagues understand what I am talking about here. There are certain targets for each year. And they must be achieved, no matter what.

And of course, now is the time for more daring initiatives, for creating businesses and production companies, for promoting new products and services. This wave of technological development allows companies to grow and win markets very quickly. There are already examples of successful companies, innovative companies. We need many more of them, including in such fields as artificial intelligence, Big Data, the Internet of Things and robotics.

I am instructing the Government to create the most comfortable conditions for private investment in technological startups and to involve development institutions in their support. I am asking members of parliament to promptly pass the laws that are most crucial for creating the legal framework of the new digital economy, laws that will allow to close civil deals and raise funds using digital technology, to develop e-commerce and services. The entire Russian legislation must be geared up to reflect the new technological reality. These laws must not restrict the development of innovative and promising industries but push this development forward.

The most crucial indicator of a business’s efficiency and competitiveness lies in expanding export and entering external markets. The success of our agricultural industry is, of course, a good example of such development. Our agricultural export increased by 19.4 percent in 2018 reaching $25.8 billion. In 2024, we must reach $45 billion. Incidentally, we are not only one of the largest wheat exporters (last year we exported 44 million tonnes). We have at least one more significant achievement. Thanks to the developments of Russian researchers we are no longer dependent on other countries for wheat seeds. Experts will confirm how critically important this is. Russia must have the entire range of its own advanced agricultural technology, which must be available not only to large but also to small farms. This is literally a matter of national security and successful competition in the growing food markets.

Improving the quality of life for those who work in rural areas is a key long-term factor of the agricultural industry’s steady growth. I would like to point out to the Government that as soon as this year, they must approve a new development programme for rural territories that must be enforced as of January 1, 2020.

One more thing. I think everybody will agree that our massive natural resources constitute our natural advantage. They need to be used for increasing the production of organic produce. I am instructing the Government to create a protected brand for clean products, a brand that will guarantee safety of the technology used and win the reputation of high quality both on the domestic and foreign markets. Trust me, it will be extremely popular abroad. There is hardly anything clean left there.

Colleagues, to achieve the ambitious goals facing the country, we must rid the system of everything that restricts freedom of enterprise and business initiative. Honest businesses should not face the risk of criminal or administrative prosecution. I have already noted this matter in one of my Addresses, and I have cited the relevant figures. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved much.

Today, almost half of all cases (45 percent) opened against entrepreneurs do not get to trial. What does this mean? This means that they were opened in a slipshod manner or under some unclear pretext. And what does this mean in practice? As a result, 130 jobs are lost on average every time a business closes down as result of an investigation. Let us think about this figure; this is becoming a major economic problem.

The business community points to a number of legislative and law enforcement problems. I agree that we need to closely analyse the criteria under which all employees of a company can be considered to be part of a group that is guilty of collusion just through the fact of working for that company. To be honest, this is complete nonsense, but, unfortunately, it happens time and again. And this leads to a stricter detention during the investigation and a more substantial penalty later on. Additionally, we need to strictly limit the grounds for extending the term of detention during the investigation of so-called economic criminal cases. Today, this sometimes happens without any grounds, simply because the investigators had no time to conduct the required expert checks or as a result of delays in the investigation.

We have discussed this matter with the Prosecutor General and the President of the Supreme Court. This is what happens: a person is kept behind bars, and he has not been summoned for questioning for several months. The prosecutor wants to know why he had not been questioned, and they tell him that the investigator was on holiday. Of course, investigators, especially those at the Interior Ministry, handle a tidal wave of criminal cases, and we need to do something about that, we need to take a closer look at this matter. Perhaps we should set aside additional resources and increase the number of investigators. Nevertheless, how can this be explained? A person is kept behind bars while the investigator has left on holiday and has not questioned him for several months. This should not happen, we need to sort this out. I ask the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General’s Office to analyse all these problems once again and to submit their proposals.

I suggest that our business associations and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives create a special digital platform – in fact, they themselves have advanced this initiative – which entrepreneurs will use to make public any instances of pressure on business and to demand a formal court hearing.

I urge the heads of law enforcement agencies not to be wary of this. This initiative will serve as an additional support, so that senior officials at these agencies will promptly receive the objective information they need to make decisions, at least at the departmental level. I ask the Government and the business community to discuss the technological solutions and the legal framework for implementing this initiative, and the law enforcement agencies – the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security Service, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigative Committee – to coordinate regulations for working with the entrepreneurs’ complaints, including deadlines. This platform must start working, at least in pilot mode, by the end of the year.

Next, the Government has proposed overhauling the regulatory framework. This is good, and we must give all-round support to this. However, I believe that this is not enough. We must take even more radical steps. Indeed, let us draw the line and suspend all the existing regulatory laws and departmental regional orders, letters and instructions as of January 1, 2021. In the two years until then, we must update the regulatory laws together with the business community, retaining only those documents that satisfy current requirements and shelving the rest.

When we discussed this issue, many of our colleagues said honestly that they were terrified. Yes, this is scary, but the problem does exist. It will not be an easy job. The files are really thick in some areas and departments. They have been piling up for decades since the Soviet era, or even “as far back as Ochakov and the Crimean war.” [The quote is from Alexander Griboyedov’s Woe from Wit written in 1824.] I am not referring to the year 2014, of course. (Laughter) Some of these documents go back to the time of Alexander Griboyedov or even before him. So much has been written and regulated. But frankly, I doubt that even the personnel of these agencies know everything that is written in these documents. Hence, we must complete their analysis within two years. There is nothing to fear. We must roll up our sleeves and do it, keeping or updating only the documents we really need to properly organise our activities.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Colleagues, infrastructure upgrades need to be accelerated using state-of-the-art technology. This is essential for enhancing a country’s connectivity, and especially for Russia, the world’s largest country with its vast territory. This is essential for strengthening statehood, unleashing the country’s potential and driving national economic growth.

This year, the railway section of the Crimean Bridge will be launched, and will become a powerful impetus. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the construction and railway workers. We saw that a bypass railway was built near Krasnodar alongside an approach railway to this junction from the Caucasus coast. As I have said, trains will begin using the Crimean Bridge in 2019, creating a powerful development driver for Crimea and Sevastopol.

In addition to this, the expressway linking Moscow and St Petersburg is expected to be completed, creating new business opportunities and jobs for people living in Novgorod, Tver, Leningrad and Moscow regions.

More than 60 airports will benefit from upgrades over the next six years, including international airports in Khabarovsk, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

In 2025, the throughput capacity of the Baikal-Amur Mainline and Trans-Siberian Railway will grow 1.5 times, reaching 210 million tonnes, which is very important for the development of Siberia and Russia’s Far East.

Let me reiterate that key indicators related to social and economic development and quality of life in all Russia’s Far Eastern regions are expected to exceed the national average. This is a national cause, and a major priority of our efforts to promote Eastern Siberia and the Far East as strategic territories. All agencies have to constantly keep this in mind.

In September, we will have a meeting in Vladivostok to discuss what each of the federal agencies has done and intends to undertake for the Far East. All the plans for building and upgrading roads, railways, sea ports, air service and communications must prioritise regional development, including promoting these regions as travel destinations.

There is enormous interest in Russia, our culture, nature and historical monuments. Taking into consideration the success of the World Cup, I propose making greater use of e-visas and thinking more broadly about how to streamline visa processing for tourists coming to Russia.

Next. This year we must adopt a master plan for developing the infrastructure of a digital economy, including telecommunications networks, as well as data storage and processing capacities. Here we need to look ahead as well. The task for the next few years is to provide universal access to high-speed internet and start using 5G communications networks.

To achieve a revolution in communications, navigation and systems for remote sensing of the Earth, we must dramatically increase the capabilities of our satellite group. Russia has unique technology for this, but such tasks require a fundamental upgrade of the entire space industry. I am instructing Roscosmos and the Moscow Government to establish a National Space Centre. My colleagues came to me and told me about it. This is a good project is designed to unite relevant organisations, design bureaus and prototype production facilities, and to support scientific research and the training of personnel.

We are seeing that global competition is increasingly shifting to science, technology and education. Just recently, it seemed inconceivable that Russia could make not just a breakthrough but also a high-tech breakthrough in defence. This was difficult, complex work. Much had to be restored or started from scratch It was necessary to break new ground and find bold, unique solutions. Nevertheless, this was done. It was done by our engineers, workers and scientists, including very young people that grew up with these projects. Let me repeat that I know all the details of this large-scale effort and I am completely justified in saying, for instance, that the development of the Avangard strategic hypersonic glide vehicle is tantamount to the launching of the world’s first artificial satellite. And not just in terms of enhancing the country’s defence capability and security, although this is the primary goal, but in influencing the consolidation of our scientific potential and the development of unique technological assets.

At one time, the nuclear defence project gave the country nuclear power. The construction of a missile shield that started with the launch of the world’s first artificial satellite allowed the country to begin peaceful space exploration. Today, we need to use the personnel, knowledge, competences and materials we have acquired from developing the next generation of weapons to produce the same kind of results for civilian applications.

We have yet to implement new ambitious scientific and technological programmes. An Executive Order on genetic research has already been signed, and I propose launching a similar large-scale programme at the national level on artificial intelligence. In the middle of the next decade, we should be among the leaders in these science and technology areas, which, of course, will determine the future of the world and the future of Russia.

To implement such projects, we need to accelerate the development of an advanced scientific infrastructure. Incidentally, the reactor PIK, a mega-science class research unit was recently launched in Leningrad Region. Over the next 20 years, it will be one of the world’s most powerful sources for neutron research, enabling scientists to conduct unique research in physics, biology, and chemistry, and to develop new drugs, diagnostic tools, and new materials.

For the first time in decades, Russian shipyards will break ground for several modern research vessels capable of working in all strategic areas, including the Arctic seas and the Antarctic, exploring the shelf and the natural resources of the World Ocean.

To promote powerful technological development, we need to build a modern research and development model. This is why we are setting up research and education centres in the regions that will integrate all levels of education with the potential of research facilities and business. Within three years, centres like this should be established in 15 regions in the Russian Federation, the first five this year. Three of them – in Tyumen and Belgorod Regions and Perm Territory – are close to completion and are to open this year.

We need specialists capable of working at advanced production facilities, developing and applying breakthrough technology solutions. Therefore, we need to ensure a broad introduction of updated curricula at all levels of professional education, to organise personnel training for the industries that are still being formed.

At the end of August, Russia will host the WorldSkills world championships – so let us wish our team success. Their success is significant for increasing the prestige of the skilled labor occupation. Relying on the WorldSkills movement experience, we will accelerate the modernisation of secondary vocational education, which includes installing modern equipment at more than 2,000 shops in colleges and technical schools by 2022.

Passion for a future career and creativity is formed at a young age. In the next three years, thanks to the development of children’s technology parks, quantoriums and education centres for computer skills, natural sciences and the humanities, around one million new spots in extracurricular education programmes will be created. All children must have access.

The Sirius educational centre in Sochi is becoming a true constellation. The plan was for centres supporting gifted children, based on its model, to open in all regions by 2024. But our colleagues said they can finish this work early, within two years. Such proactive efforts deserve praise.

I think every national project has reserves for increasing the pace. I expect that our companies and the business community will get involved in such projects as Ticket to the Future that provides school pupils in their sixth year and above with the opportunity to discover their career interests and intern at actual companies, research centres and other places.

I want to speak directly to our young people. Your talents, energy and creative abilities are among Russia’s strongest competitive advantages. We understand and greatly value this. We have created an entire system of projects and personal growth competitions in which every young person, from school to university age, can show what they are made of. These include ProeKTOriYA, My First BusinessI Am A ProfessionalRussian Leaders and many others. I want to stress that all this is being created for young people to take advantage of these opportunities. I urge you to take a chance and use them, be bold, realise your dreams and plans, do something of value for yourself, your family and your country.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Colleagues, Russia has been and always will be a sovereign and independent state. This is a given. It will either be that, or will simply cease to exist. We must clearly understand this. Without sovereignty, Russia cannot be a state. Some countries can do this, but not Russia.

Building relations with Russia means working together to find solutions to the most complex matters instead of trying to impose solutions. We make no secret of our foreign policy priorities. These include strengthening trust, countering global threats, promoting cooperation in the economy and trade, education, culture, science and technology, as well as facilitating people-to-people contact. These tenets underpin our work within the UN, the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as within the Group of 20, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

We believe in the importance of promoting closer cooperation within the Union State of Russia and Belarus, including close foreign policy and economic coordination. Together with our integration partners within the Eurasian Economic Union, we will continue creating common markets and outreach efforts. This includes implementing the decisions to coordinate the activities of the EAEU with China’s Belt and Road initiative on the way to a greater Eurasian partnership.

Russia’s equal and mutually beneficial relations with China currently serve as an important factor of stability in international affairs and in terms of Eurasian security, offering a model of productive economic cooperation. Russia attaches importance to realising the potential of the special privileged strategic partnership with India. We will continue to promote political dialogue and economic cooperation with Japan. Russia stands ready to work with Japan on finding mutually acceptable terms for signing a peace treaty. We intend to promote deeper ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

We also hope that the European Union and the major European countries will finally take actual steps to put political and economic relations with Russia back on track. People in these countries are looking forward to cooperation with Russia, which includes corporations, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, and European businesses in general. It goes without saying that this would serve our common interests.

The unilateral withdrawal of the USA from the INF Treaty is the most urgent and most discussed issue in Russian-American relations. This is why I am compelled to talk about it in more detail. Indeed, serious changes have taken place in the world since the Treaty was signed in 1987. Many countries have developed and continue to develop these weapons, but not Russia or the USA – we have limited ourselves in this respect, of our own free will. Understandably, this state of affairs raises questions. Our American partners should have just said so honestly rather than make far-fetched accusations against Russia to justify their unilateral withdrawal from the Treaty.

It would have been better if they had done what they did in 2002 when they walked away from the ABM Treaty and did so openly and honestly. Whether that was good or bad is another matter. I think it was bad, but they did it and that is that. They should have done the same thing this time, too. What are they doing in reality? First, they violate everything, then they look for excuses and appoint a guilty party. But they are also mobilising their satellites that are cautious but still make noises in support of the USA. At first, the Americans began developing and using medium-range missiles, calling them discretionary “target missiles” for missile defence. Then they began deploying Mk-41 universal launch systems that can make offensive combat use of Tomahawk medium-range cruise missiles possible.

I am talking about this and using my time and yours because we have to respond to the accusations that are leveled at us. But having done everything I have just described, the Americans openly and blatantly ignored the provisions envisaged by articles 4 and 6 of the INF Treaty. According to Item 1, Article VI (I am quoting): “Each Party shall eliminate all intermediate-range missiles and the launchers of such missiles… so that… no such missiles, launchers… shall be possessed by either party.” Paragraph 1 of Article VI provides that (and I quote) “upon entry into force of the Treaty and thereafter, neither Party may produce or flight-test any intermediate-range missile, or produce any stages or launchers of such missiles.” End of quote.

Using medium-range target missiles and deploying launchers in Romania and Poland that are fit for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, the US has openly violated these clauses of the Treaty. They did this some time ago. These launchers are already stationed in Romania and nothing happens. It seems that nothing is happening. This is even strange. This is not at all strange for us, but people should be able to see and understand it.

How are we evaluating the situation in this context? I have already said this and I want to repeat: Russia does not intend – this is very important, I am repeating this on purpose – Russia does not intend to deploy such missiles in Europe first. If they really are built and delivered to the European continent, and the United States has plans for this, at least we have not heard otherwise, it will dramatically exacerbate the international security situation, and create a serious threat to Russia, because some of these missiles can reach Moscow in just 10–12 minutes. This is a very serious threat to us. In this case, we will be forced, I would like to emphasise this, we will be forced to respond with mirror or asymmetric actions. What does this mean?

I am saying this directly and openly now, so that no one can blame us later, so that it will be clear to everyone in advance what is being said here. Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapons that can be used not only in the areas we are directly threatened from, but also in areas that contain decision-making centres for the missile systems threatening us.

What is important in this regard? There is some new information. These weapons will fully correspond to the threats directed against Russia in their technical specifications, including flight times to these decision-making centres.

We know how to do this and will implement these plans immediately, as soon as the threats to us become real. I do not think we need any further, irresponsible exacerbation of the current international situation. We do not want this.

What would I like to add? Our American colleagues have already tried to gain absolute military superiority with their global missile defence project. They need to stop deluding themselves. Our response will always be efficient and effective.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

The work on promising prototypes and weapon systems that I spoke about in my Address last year continues as scheduled and without disruptions. We have launched serial production of the Avangard system, which I have already mentioned today. As planned, this year, the first regiment of the Strategic Missile Troops will be equipped with Avangard. The Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental missile of unprecedented power is undergoing a series of tests. The Peresvet laser weapon and the aviation systems equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles proved their unique characteristics during test and combat alert missions while the personnel learned how to operate them. Next December, all the Peresvet missiles supplied to the Armed Forces will be put on standby alert. We will continue expanding the infrastructure for the MiG-31 interceptors carrying Kinzhal missiles. The Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile of unlimited range and the Poseidon nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle of unlimited range are successfully undergoing tests.

In this context, I would like to make an important statement. We did not announce it before, but today we can say that as soon as this spring the first nuclear-powered submarine carrying this unmanned vehicle will be launched. The work is going as planned.

Today I also think I can officially inform you about another promising innovation. As you may remember, last time I said we had more to show but it was a little early for that. So I will reveal little by little what else we have up our sleeves. Another promising innovation, which is successfully being developed according to plan, is Tsirkon, a hypersonic missile that can reach speeds of approximately Mach 9 and strike a target more than 1,000 km away both under water and on the ground. It can be launched from water, from surface vessels and from submarines, including those that were developed and built for carrying Kalibr high-precision missiles, which means it comes at no additional cost for us.

On a related note, I want to highlight that for the defence of Russia’s national interests, two or three years ahead of the schedule set by the state arms programme, the Russian Navy will receive seven new multipurpose submarines, and construction will begin on five surface vessels designed for the open ocean. Sixteen more vessels of this class will enter service in the Russian Navy by 2027.

To conclude, on the unilateral withdrawal by the USA from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, here is what I would like to say. The US policy toward Russia in recent years can hardly be called friendly. Russia’s legitimate interests are being ignored, there is constant anti-Russia campaigning, and more and more sanctions, which are illegal in terms of international law, are imposed without any reason whatsoever. Let me emphasise that we did nothing to provoke these sanctions. The international security architecture that took shape over the past decades is being completely and unilaterally dismantled, all while referring to Russia as almost the main threat to the USA.

Let me say outright that this is not true. Russia wants to have sound, equal and friendly relations with the USA. Russia is not threatening anyone, and all we do in terms of security is simply a response, which means that our actions are defensive. We are not interested in confrontation and we do not want it, especially with a global power like the United States of America. However, it seems that our partners fail to notice the depth and pace of change around the world and where it is headed. They continue with their destructive and clearly misguided policy. This hardly meets the interests of the USA itself. But this is not for us to decide.

We can see that we are dealing with proactive and talented people, but within the elite, there are also many people who have excessive faith in their exceptionalism and supremacy over the rest of the world. Of course, it is their right to think what they want. But can they count? Probably they can. So let them calculate the range and speed of our future arms systems. This is all we are asking: just do the maths first and take decisions that create additional serious threats to our country afterwards. It goes without saying that these decisions will prompt Russia to respond in order to ensure its security in a reliable and unconditional manner.

I have already said this, and I will repeat that we are ready to engage in disarmament talks, but we will not knock on a locked door anymore. We will wait until our partners are ready and become aware of the need for dialogue on this matter.

We continue developing our Armed Forces and improving the intensity and quality of combat training, in part, using the experience we gained in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria. Much experience was gained by practically all the commanders of the Ground Forces, by covert operations forces and military police, warship crews, army, tactical, and strategic and military transport aviation.

I would like to emphasise again that we need peace for sustainable long-term development. Our efforts to enhance our defence capability are for only one purpose: to ensure the security of this country and our citizens so that nobody would even consider pressuring us, or launching an aggression against us.

Colleagues, we are facing ambitious goals. We are approaching solutions in a systematic and consistent way, building a model of socio-economic development that will allow us to ensure the best conditions for the self-fulfillment of our people and, hence, provide befitting answers to the challenges of a rapidly changing world, and preserve Russia as a civilisation with its own identity, rooted in centuries-long traditions and the culture of our people, our values and customs. Naturally, we will only be able to achieve our goals by pooling our efforts, together in a united society, if all of us, all citizens of Russia, are willing to succeed in specific endeavours.

Such solidarity in striving for change is always the deliberate choice of the people themselves. They make this choice when they understand that national development depends on them, on the results of their labour, when a desire to be needed and useful enjoys support, when everyone finds a job by vocation one is happy with, and most importantly, when there is justice and a vast space for freedom and equal opportunity for work, study, initiative and innovation.

These parameters for development breakthroughs cannot be translated into figures or indicators, but it is these things – a unified society, people being involved in the affairs of their country, and a common confidence in our power – that play the main role in reaching success. And we will achieve this success by any means necessary.

Thank you for your attention.

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Trump’s speech in Miami plays up anti-socialism, as Bolton focuses on Venezuela regime change (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 180.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Trump’s recent speech in Miami, Florida, where the US President condemned Venezuela’s socialist government and called on military command within the Latin American country to defect over to the Juan Guaido camp.

Venezuela’a elected president Maduro dismissed Trump’s remarks as an “almost Nazi-style” speech.

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Via Washington Times

Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, is rejecting President Donald Trump’s call for a new day in Venezuela and comparing the tone of the American president’s speech in Miami to that of a Nazi.

Trump said Monday that the U.S. stands behind opposition leader Juan Guaido and condemns Maduro and his government’s socialist policies. Trump pleaded with Venezuela’s military to support Guaido and warned of dire consequences for standing with Maduro.

Maduro responded to Trump in comments broadcast on state television. He accused the U.S. president of speaking in an “almost Nazi-style” and lashed out at Trump for thinking he can deliver orders to Venezuela’s military.

Maduro said, “Who is the commander of the armed forces, Donald Trump from Miami?” and added, “They think they’re the owners of the country.”

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First Venezuela, now Nicaragua? Bolton says Ortega’s days ‘numbered’ & people ‘will soon be free’

The Central American nation has been rocked by unrest since April last year, with protesters demanding the resignation of Sandinista party leader Ortega.

RT

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Via RT…


US President Donald Trump’s top foreign policy advisor John Bolton appears dead set on resuming his decades-long stand-off with Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, hinting that Washington-backed regime change may be in the offing.

“The Ortega regime has sentenced three farm leaders to 550 years in prison for their roles in protests in 2018, where Ortega’s police forces reportedly killed 300 activists. As President Trump said Monday, Ortega’s days are numbered and the Nicaraguan people will soon be free,” the national security advisor to the US president tweeted on Wednesday.

The leaders of anti-Ortega protests were given jail terms this week, after they were implicated in the deaths of four policemen and a teacher during a shootout last July.

The Central American nation has been rocked by unrest since April last year, with protesters demanding the resignation of Sandinista party leader Ortega, who has been president since 2007, and convincingly won another five-year term in 2016.

The US has repeatedly backed the uprising against the left-wing government, and last November Bolton made a keynote speech calling for the “crumbling” of what he called the “Troika of Tyranny” – Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba – saying the states represented a “a sordid cradle of communism in the Western hemisphere.”

On Monday, Trump name-checked the same three countries, saying their “great potential” would be unlocked with the collapse of socialism. To expedite the process, Congress last year imposed financial measures that would make it difficult for the economically-stricken Nicaragua to obtain international loans, as well as slapping sanctions on top officials in Managua.

Revenge served ice-cold

Bolton’s history with Ortega goes back to the 1980s. Just as now, Ortega was the leader of Nicaragua, first as he spearheaded the revolution in 1979, and when he was elected president in 1985.

The Ronald Reagan administration spent significant financial resources backing the right-wing Contra rebels during the civil war, which lasted nearly the entire decade.

Bolton, at that time a legal specialist, held a number of senior positions in the Reagan White House, and was more than a witness to its shadowy CIA-aided schemes to bypass a Democrat-run Congress ban on helping the opposition militants.

He reportedly played a crucial part in hobbling both the scope of the Iran-Contra investigation and an inquiry into drug- and gun-running militants, who were enabled by Washington.

 

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We have run out of red ink

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After he returned to prominence under George W. Bush in yet another chapter of an unsinkable career, Bolton failed to dislodge Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, the Sandinistas, or Cuba’s Fidel Castro (at one point, he accused Havana of developing biological weapons, without solid evidence). But as a man who with permission from Donald Trump now seems to be steering US foreign policy on dozens of key issues, Bolton has more resources than ever before to settle his lifelong ideological grudges.

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