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Arab unity and Russian unity – the Donbass and Kurdistan case study

Peace will not come about through the creation of more states based on ethno-nationalism. Instead, peace will come to both the Arab and Russian worlds through increased political unity which embraces the freedoms of all minorities within a single unified realm.

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Imagine if a new regime formed in Kiev and then said to the Donbass Republics, you can have full cultural, economic, spiritual, linguistic and even immigration autonomy so long as you hold off on the issue of receiving international recognition for your Republics for the time being? One doesn’t actually need to imagine this, because the framework of the Minsk agreements allows for just such a thing. Furthermore, the Minsk agreements are supported by Russia in earnest while members of the so-called “international community” pay lip service to the agreements, albeit while continuing to arm and fund a genocidal Kiev regime.

The reason that the Donbass people voted to form independent republics was because an illegal, unconstitutional and criminal regime seized power in Kiev through force. It was and remains a regime which practices a fascist ideology that Russians and fraternal peoples remember fighting and defeating between 22 June 1941 and 9 May 1945. Russians throughout the world say “never again” to such fascism and this is why protests throughout what is currently Ukraine, broke out in the months after the Kiev coup of February 2014. In the case of Donbass, this resulted in a declaration of independence. In other places, such as Odessa, it resulted in the slaughter of innocent men and women, many of whom were in their teens and early 20s. In effect they were little more than children.

Remembering The Odessa Massacre: 2 May 2014

The situation in Iraq could not be more different. Ever since the late 1990s, even during the rule of President Saddam Hussein, Kurds in Iraq started to enjoy large amounts of legal autonomy. This was further enhanced after 2005. The Kurdish regions of northern Iraq were in a position that can rightly be described as enviable, certainly from the perspective of Donbass. Kurds in northern Iraq had their own economy that was totally de-centralised in respect of its relationship to Baghdad, they had linguistic and cultural autonomy, they issued their own visas and controlled their own international airports, they had surprisingly good relations with their Turkish neighbour and they were spared much of the violence of the brutal Iraqi civil war.

But this was not good enough and against the wishes of the entire international community and in violation of the Iraqi constitution which Baghdad continues to uphold,  Iraqi Kurds voted to secede from Iraq in a referendum that was boycotted by Arabs and Turkomen Iraqis. Making matters worse, Kurdish secessionist began waving flags of Iraq’s historic Israeli enemy throughout the process. In so doing, the Kurdish referendum became a de-facto attack on Arab human rights and the right of the Arab world to survive in peace.

One must also consider the security concerns of both Turkey and Iran which are very real and very pressing. In this sense, Kurdish nationalism is essentially a regional imperialist movement which threatens the territorial integrity of two major Arab states (Syria and Iraq) as well as Turkey and Iran. This is similar to how Albanian regional imperialism threatens the peace and unity of Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Montenegro.

Albania proves that failed states can also be imperial aggressors

Arab Nationalism versus Ethno-nationalism 

The 20th century witnessed the birth of Arab nationalism, a series of movements and political parties which aimed to restore independence and unity in the Arab world after centuries of Ottoman rule, as well as more recent decades of western imperialist occupation and aggression.

Arab nationalists were anti-tribal, progressive and anti-sectarian. Arab nationalists sought to retain the traditional harmony in which Arab Muslims lived with one another as well as with their Christian and Jewish neighbours. Likewise, Arab nationalist parties did not favour discrimination against ethnic minorities. In many cases, Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians welcomed Arab nationalism as a progressive respite against late Ottoman realities that were increasingly ethnocentric and genocidal.

The Armenian Genocide: 102 years later

The progressive realities of Arab nationalism contrast with the aggression of western imperialism, the backwardness of Wahhabism, the settler colonialism of Zionism and the ethno-nationalism of present day Kurdish secessionists.

In this sense, while the Kurds have spun a narrative that they are oppressed freedom fighters, the reality is rather different. Iraqi Kurds are attempting to break apart the unity of the Arab world and in so doing, threatening the survival of what remains of the Arab nationalist ideal. If the Kurds got their way, many Arabs and other minorities such as Turkomen would find themselves becoming refugees in their own country as a result of Kurdish ethno-nationalism. By contrast, in the modern Arab world, Kurds are not threatened. One could say that they are fact, in a privileged position.

Furthermore, with many Arab nationalist governments being the victims of neo-imperialism from the west, Wahhabi terrorism from Saudi Arabia and its allies, in addition to Israel occupation and intimation, one can easily see why Arab states like Iraq have clearly stated their opposition to a further dagger in the heart of the Arab world.

Russian unity 

Like the Arab world, the Russian world has experienced similar attempts by ethno-nationalist movements to destroy the unity of a peoples who traditionally lived peacefully among each other and with ethnic and religious minorities.

The Russian Empire, Soviet Union and Russia Federation were/are all multi-ethnic and multi-cultural states, wherein the Russian majority lived across vast united lands after years of uniting various Slavic and non-Slavic peoples. In the Russian Empire, mosques, churches and other places of worship co-existed. In the Soviet Union, Marxist-Leninism helped people aspire to a new kind of unity and in today’s Russian Federation, all religious and ethnic minorities have wide ranging cultural freedoms, all under the guiding force of the Russian constitution.

Like Kurdish regions of Iraq, Muslim Chechnya enjoys vast socio-economic autonomy under the Russian constitution.

This is not to say that any one system is perfect, but even an imperfect united state is preferable to the pangs and tumult that almost always accompanies violent ethno-nationalist secessionism. In this sense, Yugoslavia is a prime example of a successful, prosperous and peaceful state which was torn apart by largely foreign funded ethno-nationalism.

Western hypocrisy and the right to self-determination

However, like the Arab world after the Sykes-Picot agreement, the post-Soviet map of historic Russian lands have been artificially divided into states which do not correspond to real regional identities.

The problem of political geography 

In an attempt to appease nationalist movements and frankly because many Bolsheviks came to detest the idea of Russian culture, an internal map of Soviet republics was created in the 1920s wherein the local regions or gubernya (губе́рния) were eliminated in favour of states within a state.

Russia’s long history of resilience in the face of invasion and occupation

These Soviet republics did not often conform to the realities of regional identities. Whereas the internal map of the Russian Empire were largely in keeping with local traditions, the proto-nationalism of the Soviet map paved the way for disaster when the unifying ideology of Marxist-Leninism was killed off in 1991.

After 1991, peoples who had shared a fraternal cultural in a united state that nested multi-cultural sub-regions, was replaced by the kind of violent nationalism which tore Europe apart after the First World War, thus setting the stage for the Second World War.

Ukraine, which was perhaps the most artificial of all the Soviet republics, has been the greatest victim of this nationalist tendencies as a minority of people from former Polish regions have declared war upon the Russians of the historical Malorossiya region of the Russian state.

DONETSK: Alexander Zakharchenko declares new state of Malorossiya

In 1916, the secretive Sykes–Picot Agreement which was eventually exposed to the world by the young Soviet press, divided much of the Arab world into nation-states which continues to have the effect of dividing a peoples who like Russians, were once united peacefully among themselves and among the minorities of their wider civilisational realm.

However, while some seek to fight nation-state nationalism with more nation-state nationalism, this has only created problems for both Russians, Arabs and the minorities of each realm.

Freedom and reality  

The world has come to accept that the division of Germany after 1945 was unjust to the German people and likewise, while the political situation remains incredibly difficult, both Seoul and Pyongyang eventually seek the re-unification of the single Korean people.

Likewise, both Russians and Arabs can and should work to peacefully reunite with one another while retaining the political understanding of and compassion towards minorities of each realm which defined the great Russian states of the past as well as the pre-Ottoman Arab caliphates.

While Arab nationalists more or less settled on retaining the post-Sykes-Picot map, in practice, attempts at union and federation were continually made, most recently the Federation of Arab Republics which existed between Libya, Egypt and Syria between 1972 and 1977.

The failure of Arab unity has been due to a persistent combination of western corporate imperialism and military occupation (Iraq, Libya and partly Syria for example), the Zionist settler colonialism in Palestine and the inevitable, but not disastrous problems of political leaders who do not always share the same vision.

The problem with modern Russian unity is likewise that the great western powers have armed and funded ethnic minorities in historic Russian lands in order to encircle the Russian Federation and magnify the crisis of Russian refugees.

Russians: the refugees the world prefers to forget

The solution in both cases is not more micro-states, failed states and disputed territories, but more unity, more cooperation and more federation between existing states.

In Donbass, the goal of the anti-fascists is to eventually live in a confederate union between Malorossiya, Belarus and the Russian Federation. Others among the anti-fascist movement advocate for full immersion within the Russian Federation. The position of Moscow is to implement the Minsk agreements, restore constitutional rule in Kiev and live as separate states but with restored fraternal agreements, which prior to 2014 allowed for a common economic area which included freedom of movement with de-facto cultural and religious freedoms for all. In many ways the Eurasian Economic Union, Commonwealth of Independent States and the potential inherent in China’s multi-national One Belt–One Road, will allow Moscow to create a reunion of Russian and fraternal peoples, without needed to engage in the often tricky word of formally redrawing regional maps.

While many scholars focus on the differences between Ba’athism and Nasserism or between the Malorossiya plan and the Minsk agreements, the reality is that while the means differ, the desired end result is much the same, unity among peoples with or without having to redraw specific political borders.

Conclusion

Europe has been the most divided region of the world over the last 2,000 years. Countless small wars fought between sects and later nations stand out against the comparative placidity in the Arab caliphates, the Russian Empire, Soviet Union and pre-19th century Ottoman Empire.

And yet in spite of this, Europe, which incidentally also produced the most aggressive imperialist states in modern history, has formed a European Union which does not legally erase borders, but does create a single unified realm. While problems with the EU dominate the headlines, this again obscures the fact that most Europeans are happy to live in a single free trading area and are happy to have the right to travel across borders as if in a single state.

If a deeply divided Europe can unite, why cannot a formerly united Russian and Arab world reunite? The answer is that they can and that they must. Modern Arabism does not threaten Kurds, not least based on the models of autonomy in Iraq and full citizen rights in Syria. However, Kurdish secessionists like Israeli settler colonists do threaten Arab unity. The solution for the Arab world and the Russian world is therefore the same. Fewer states, not more, and the embrace of pan-nationalisms over ethno-nationalism.

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Skripal and Khashoggi: A Tale of Two Disappearances

Two disappearances, and two different responses.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Two disappearances, and two very different responses from Western governments, which illustrates their rank hypocrisy.

When former Russian spy Sergei Skripal went missing in England earlier this year, there was almost immediate punitive action by the British government and its NATO allies against Moscow. By contrast, Western governments are straining with restraint towards Saudi Arabia over the more shocking and provable case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The outcry by Western governments and media over the Skripal affair was deafening and resulted in Britain, the US and some 28 other countries expelling dozens of Russian diplomats on the back of unsubstantiated British allegations that the Kremlin tried to assassinate an exiled spy with a deadly nerve agent. The Trump administration has further tightened sanctions citing the Skripal incident.

London’s case against Moscow has been marked by wild speculation and ropey innuendo. No verifiable evidence of what actually happened to Sergei Skripal (67) and his daughter Yulia has been presented by the British authorities. Their claim that President Vladimir Putin sanctioned a hit squad armed with nerve poison relies on sheer conjecture.

All we know for sure is that the Skripals have been disappeared from public contact by the British authorities for more than seven months, since the mysterious incident of alleged poisoning in Salisbury on March 4.

Russian authorities and family relatives have been steadfastly refused any contact by London with the Skripal pair, despite more than 60 official requests from Moscow in accordance with international law and in spite of the fact that Yulia is a citizen of the Russian Federation with consular rights.

It is an outrage that based on such thin ice of “evidence”, the British have built an edifice of censure against Moscow, rallying an international campaign of further sanctions and diplomatic expulsions.

Now contrast that strenuous reaction, indeed hyper over-reaction, with how Britain, the US, France, Canada and other Western governments are ever-so slowly responding to Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case.

After nearly two weeks since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the Saudi regime is this week finally admitting he was killed on their premises – albeit, they claim, in a “botched interrogation”.

Turkish and American intelligence had earlier claimed that Khashoggi was tortured and murdered on the Saudi premises by a 15-member hit squad sent from Riyadh.

Even more grisly, it is claimed that Khashoggi’s body was hacked up with a bone saw by the killers, his remains secreted out of the consulate building in boxes, and flown back to Saudi Arabia on board two private jets connected to the Saudi royal family.

What’s more, the Turks and Americans claim that the whole barbaric plot to murder Khashoggi was on the orders of senior Saudi rulers, implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The latest twist out of Riyadh, is an attempt to scapegoat “rogue killers” and whitewash the House of Saudi from culpability.

The fact that 59-year-old Khashoggi was a legal US resident and a columnist for the Washington Post has no doubt given his case such prominent coverage in Western news media. Thousands of other victims of Saudi vengeance are routinely ignored in the West.

Nevertheless, despite the horrific and damning case against the Saudi monarchy, the response from the Trump administration, Britain and others has been abject.

President Trump has blustered that there “will be severe consequences” for the Saudi regime if it is proven culpable in the murder of Khashoggi. Trump quickly qualified, however, saying that billion-dollar arms deals with the oil-rich kingdom will not be cancelled. Now Trump appears to be joining in a cover-up by spinning the story that the Khashoggi killing was done by “rogue killers”.

Britain, France and Germany this week issued a joint statement calling for “a credible investigation” into the disappearance. But other than “tough-sounding” rhetoric, none of the European states have indicated any specific sanctions, such as weapons contracts being revoked or diplomatic expulsions.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “concerned” by the gruesome claims about Khashoggi’s killing, but he reiterated that Ottawa would not be scrapping a $15 billion sale of combat vehicles to Riyadh.

The Saudi rulers have even threatened retaliatory measures if sanctions are imposed by Western governments.

Saudi denials of official culpability seem to be a brazen flouting of all reason and circumstantial evidence that Khashoggi was indeed murdered in the consulate building on senior Saudi orders.

This week a glitzy international investor conference in Saudi Arabia is being boycotted by top business figures, including the World Bank chief, Jim Yong Kim, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Britain’s venture capitalist Richard Branson. Global firms like Ford and Uber have pulled out, as have various media sponsors, such as CNN, the New York Times and Financial Times. Withdrawal from the event was in response to the Khashoggi affair.

A growing bipartisan chorus of US Senators, including Bob Corker, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Chris Murphy, have called for the cancellation of American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as for an overhaul of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Still, Trump has rebuffed calls for punitive response. He has said that American jobs and profits depend on the Saudi weapons market. Some 20 per cent of all US arms sales are estimated to go to the House of Saud.

The New York Times this week headlined: “In Trump’s Saudi Bargain, the Bottom Line Proudly Stands Out”.

The Trump White House will be represented at the investment conference in Saudi Arabia this week – dubbed “Davos in the Desert” by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He said he was attending in spite of the grave allegations against the Saudi rulers.

Surely the point here is the unseemly indulgence by Western governments of Saudi Arabia and its so-called “reforming” Crown Prince. It is remarkable how much credulity Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and others are affording the Saudi despots who, most likely, have been caught redhanded in a barbarous murder.

Yet, when it comes to Russia and outlandish, unproven claims that the Kremlin carried out a bizarre poison-assassination plot, all these same Western governments abandon all reason and decorum to pile sanctions on Russia based on lurid, hollow speculation. The blatant hypocrisy demolishes any pretense of integrity or principle.

Here is another connection between the Skripal and Khashoggi affairs. The Saudis no doubt took note of the way Britain’s rulers have shown absolute disregard and contempt for international law in their de facto abduction of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. If the British can get away with that gross violation, then the Saudis probably thought that nobody would care too much if they disappeared Jamal Khashoggi.

Grotesquely, the way things are shaping up in terms of hypocritical lack of action by the Americans, British and others towards the Saudi despots, the latter might just get away with murder. Not so Russia. The Russians are not allowed to get away with even an absurd fantasy.

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

The Duran

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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