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Italian leading parties condemn expulsion of Russian diplomats, advocate better ties with Russia

It’s not often that something occurs in the west to help restore my faith in humanity, but today, something has

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Leading Italian political parties have each issued statements in condemnation of Italy’s present government in its decision to follow Britain in expelling Russian diplomats as a countermeasure over allegations of Russia’s use of banned chemical weapons in assassination attempt on ex double spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter.

Given that the accusations were made before an investigation had even been conducted, and which ongoing investigations have been recently turning up a lack of evidence tracing back to Russia, it’s needless to say that such accusations were premature and inappropriate, let alone the countermeasures taken by the British government and the massive amount of anti-Russian media coverage in recent weeks.

The Northern League, Forza Italia, and Brothers of Italy, none of which were able to secure enough of a majority in the March Italian primaries to secure the election, as they continue to battle the Democratic Party for control of the Italian government, have each issued declarations that the Democrats have made a “stupid decision” in choosing to cast out Russian diplomats and play along with sanctions against Russia as both a ridiculous political blunder and a damaging economic move, as the Italian economy suffers from their implementation. Sputnik reports:

The coalition of center-right and right-wing parties, who won the majority in the new Italian government, lambasted the decision of the outbound Cabinet to expel Russian diplomats amid political uncertainty

The anti-immigrant eurosceptic Lega Nord as well as the center-right Forza Italia and Brothers of Italy parties have condemned the decision of the outgoing government to follow the UK lead and get in a diplomatic row with Russia. According to them, the step can possibly entail grave consequences for the new ministers.

Headache For New Government

“The outgoing government should deal with the routine questions, while the expulsion of diplomats is a serious step. They act like they are a fully functioning government without any limits. But they are supported by the parties, which have only 20 percent representation in the newly elected Parliament, and they have no right to act like this,” an MP of Forza Italia, Lucio Malan, told Sputnik.

He was outraged that the government hadn’t consulted the parties, which gained the parliamentarian majority in the recent elections.

“They should have explained us that this is what the NATO demands. But they didn’t tell us about it, we learned it from the TV news. Nobody has consulted with us. This is unacceptable. Especially, when we speak about the strategy. They say that Russia is behind the assassination, which is alarming for us. But we need the information about the plausible facts . We should acquire the understanding of political consequences of this step,” he told Sputnik.

He also pointed out that Italy strives for good relations with Russia, saying that a sanction policy is fruitless, as it can harm the Italian economy without bringing the international community “not an inch closer” to resolving such problems as the Ukrainian conflict.

“When the EU discusses the sanctions against Moscow we should recognize their goal and the possible results,” Malan said.

“Stupid Decision!”

The Lega Nord representative in the regional parliament of Veneto, Stefano Valdegamberi, named the solidarity with London over the Skripal case “a stupid decision.”

“We need to release Russia from sanctions and look for new ways of cooperation. This was a stupid decision to express solidarity with London, which gave no solid evidence, just suspicions without fact base. Italy followed the UK without confirmation of the accusations. I hope this is the last mistake the government has made. I would like to see the next Cabinet to change the course, to build as good relations with Russia as they once used to be. This is what the people of Italy demanded in the elections,” Valdegamberi told Sputnik.

A former member of the European Parliament, Giulietto Chiesa, predicted that we wouldn’t find out the truth about the Salisbury’s incident for a long time. In his article for Sputnik he compared the events in March 2018 with a story from September 1957, when the US and the UK wanted to destabilize the situation in the Middle East, precisely in Syria, according to the recently de-classified documents. He reproached Italy for following the UK’s lead.

“The Parliament doesn’t function, the government doesn’t exist in fact, as they resign, but the foreign minister still endorses the expulsion of Russian diplomats,” pointed out Chiesa.

Italy’s March parliamentary election resulted in the anti-establishment M5S securing more than 32 percent of the vote. The center-right coalition, consisting of the anti-immigrant eurosceptic Lega Nord of Matteo Salvini, center-right Forza Italia, run by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Brothers of Italy, got 37 percent of the vote. The ruling Democratic Party won slightly over 20 percent of the vote.

With no party getting an absolute majority, concerns have been raised that Italian President Sergio Mattarella will struggle with appointing a new prime minister and forming a new cabinet.

Expulsions over Skripal case

Italy expelled two Russian diplomats following the UK call. More than 25 countries, including most EU member states, as well as the US, Canada and Australia, followed suit.

Russia has responded with symmetric measures, expelling the diplomats of the involved states.

On March 4, Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury, UK and are currently being treated for exposure to what the British government believes to be the A-234 nerve agent. The UK has claimed that the substance was developed in the Soviet Union and has accused Russia of orchestrating the attack. Russia has strongly rejected the accusations and offered assistance in the investigation. However, Moscow’s requests for samples of the chemical substance used to poison Skripal have been denied.

Later the chief of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, Gary Aitkenhead, told SkyNews that the lab had identified the nerve agent used against Skripal as Novichok, but could not prove it was made in Russia or determine its country of origin.

At least Italy can boast politicians who have the ability to think about the interests of Italy for once, instead of simply mindlessly following whatever trends appear to be popular in America. In this case, America has contracted a severe case of russophobia and then it spread to Europe, not entirely by imposition, but by Europe’s own desire to emulate the accolade of the West by taking up whatever America is doing. The UK is doing a fantastic job of this so far, although it appears that the chickens are coming home to roost for their present attempt, the Skripal poisoning case.

Italy can at least say that they aren’t trying to pin a particular set of crimes on the Russians in order to justify taking up its hostile attitude, as it appears to be the mentality of the current ruling party, which might not have that much longer to enact its fantasies. Italy can boast a brighter outlook in some measure with the knowledge that it can establish stronger international relations and thereby benefit its own people and economy, rather than taking up silly accusations and using them as a pretext to copy its neighbors in order to fit in and look cool with everyone else who is doing it, to their own detriment. It’s not often that something occurs in the west to help restore my faith in humanity, but today, something has.

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

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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

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Via Zerohedge


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serhiy Leshchenko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch:

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

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

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

RT

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Via RT


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

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

The Duran

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Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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