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Putin breaks the ice with Bolton, “Has the eagle eaten all the olives?” (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 141.

Alex Christoforou

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US national security adviser John Bolton was in Moscow meeting with Russian officials and President Vladimir Putin, for what was sure to be a very comprehensive and contentious couple of days, but in a sign of a possible thaw, in what has become a second cold war, Putin and Bolton traded some good spirited jokes with one another.

Putin commented to Bolton in a meeting on Tuesday…

“As far as I remember, the US coat of arms features a bald eagle that holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in another, which is a symbol of a peace-loving policy.”

“I have a question,” the Russian president continued, “Looks like your eagle has already eaten all the olives; are the arrows all that is left?”

US national security adviser John Bolton, who many reporters signal as the driving force in pushing US President Trump to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, replied…

But I didn’t bring any more olives.

“That’s what I thought,” Putin replied…all in good fun, and a good moment between adversaries who may finally be searching for ways to scale back the tense rhetoric that has defined US-Russia relations over the last decade.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss John Bolton’s trip to Moscow, where despite rocky relations, a Mueller witch-hunt investigation, and a proxy war in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US national security adviser John Bolton joked around a bit, ever so slightly, moving step-by-step towards rapprochement, with a Trump-Putin meeting in Paris.

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Via RT

The Russian president said it would be “very useful” to continue direct talks with Trump, perhaps on the sidelines of an international event such as next month’s anniversary of the WWI armistice in Paris, “if the American side is interested in such contacts, of course.

Trump is “looking forward” to seeing Putin in Paris, Bolton confirmed.

Bolton described his meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu as “very interesting” and “very productive,”without going into details.

The talks presumably touched on the INF Treaty, which Washington has accused Russia of violating. Moscow says the US withdrawal from the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty and stationing of missile defense systems in Poland and Romania, capable of launching INF-prohibited warheads, constitute a violation.

“Technology has changed, strategic reality has changed, and we both have to deal with it,” Bolton told the BBC, describing his talks with Shoigu about the INF.

The Kremlin’s official statement on the meeting with Assistant to the US President for National Security Affairs John Bolton…

Vladimir Putin received in the Kremlin Assistant to the President of the United States of America for National Security Affairs John Bolton.

Taking part in the meeting from the Russian side were Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.

Earlier today, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu met with John Bolton. On October 22, Nikolai Patrushev and Sergei Lavrov also had talks with the Assistant to the US President.

* * *

Beginning of conversation with Assistant to the US President for National Security Affairs John Bolton

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Bolton, colleagues,

We are pleased to see you in Moscow.

At the beginning of our conversation I would like to recall our meeting with the President of the United States in Helsinki. In my view, it was a useful, and at times fairly tough, meeting and conversation which ultimately turned out to be fruitful, in my opinion.

This is why, to be honest, we are sometimes perplexed to see the United States take absolutely unprovoked steps towards Russia that we cannot call friendly. We actually do not even respond to your steps, yet this approach continues.

Despite your efforts trade between our countries – however strange it might seem – continues to grow, 16 percent last year; this year it has already grown by 8 percent. This is small in absolute numbers, very small, of course, however, this is the trend. With a positive balance for the United States, by the way. Mutual investments are also growing with Russian investments in the US economy at twice the US investments in the Russian economy.

It will, of course, be very useful to exchange views on the issues of strategic stability, disarmament issues, and regional conflicts.

We know – and talk a lot – about the unilateral exit of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. We recently heard about the United States’ intention to exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. We know about the Administration’s doubts about prolonging New START and hear about the intention to deploy some elements of the anti-missile defence system in space.

As I recall, there is a bald eagle pictured on the US coat of arms: it holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other as a symbol of peaceful policy: a branch with 13 olives. My question: has your eagle already eaten all the olives leaving only the arrows?

In general, I would like very much to talk with you not only as the Assistant to the US President, but also as a specialist on disarmament and arms control.

And, of course, it would be useful to continue a direct dialogue with the US President, first of all, on the sidelines of the international events that will take place soon, such as the one in Paris. Of course, if the US is interested in such contacts.

Assistant to the President of the United States of America for National Security Affairs John Bolton: Well, thank you very much, Mr President. It is a pleasure to see you again. I appreciate you taking the time to get together and will be pleased to go over all the items on the agenda.

And to begin, as you indicated I think President Trump will look forward to seeing you in Paris, on the sidelines of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. Because despite our differences, which exist because of our different national interests, it is still important to work in areas where there is a possibility of mutual cooperation.

And I had discussions with all of your senior national security advisors in the past two days, and again, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak with you on behalf of President Trump. And hopefully, I’ll have some answers for you, but I didn’t bring any olives.

Vladimir Putin: My thoughts exactly.

(Laughter.)

John Bolton: The olive branch is held in the right talon of the eagle, demonstrating its priority.

Vladimir Putin: If I remember correctly, there is also an inscription: In Varietate Concordia, United in Diversity. This is why, despite different approaches, we can and should look for points of contact.

John Bolton: That’s very much our intention, though our motto is “E pluribus unum,” “Out of many, one,” so maybe it is something to look forward to there.

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gra gorPeonyam hantsPrometheusKlink Recent comment authors
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A.F.
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A.F.

Ukraine is rapidly approaching the membership in the North Atlantic Alliance.
“Speaking about Ukraine, it advances rapidly in meeting the criteria for NATO membership and increasing the country’s defensive capacity. Ukraine’s military power is strengthening. Several more reforms need to be carried out, namely strengthening civilian control over the army,” Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the Warsaw Security Forum 2018 on Wednesday, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

According to him, Ukraine had to receive the status of a NATO aspirant country.

“It’s not a membership yet, but it’s a clear signal for Russia,” Rasmussen noted

Prometheus
Guest
Prometheus

Rasmussen remains a mouth piece for NATO? Warsaw would have lapped it up, however other NATO countries may not be so keen to have Ukraine on board. The US are naturally pushing for it. Bolton stated: “…our motto is “E pluribus unum,” “Out of many, one,” … Which is interesting considering how similar the encirclement of Russia is to Spykman’s Rimland map. In 1942, Nichols Spykman created a theory which countered Mackinder’s Heartland theory. Spykman stated that Eurasia’s Rimland, the coastal areas, is the key to controlling the World Island. Explanation – The Rimland contains the Heartland. … I interpret… Read more »

AM Hants
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AM Hants

In 1997 the reason Ukraine could not become a member of Nato, as they have never ratified their borders, with Russia, since the fall of the Soviet Union, back in 1991. Ban Ki Moon confirmed that, during an interview, with a news programme, on an UK Government funded TV channel. ‘Ukraine and Russia, in accordance with international law, have not ratified their borders’ – Ban Ki Moon. Nothing has changed, just the stupidity of the leaders, Nato included. The borders are only recognised whilst Ukraine is part of the CIS, which they aim to leave.

Klink
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Klink

The US continues to pummel friends and foes alike in their quest to regain their former position of Top Dog.
A dead horse has never won a race……..

Peony
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Peony

Putin is a smart man, and well educated in world history. During the cold war, he studied the US closely. To confuse the EU motto with the USA motto was a stylized dig, The EU formed as a collective shortly after WWII to protect Europe from Communist threat and adopted the motto Variatae Concordia (United in Diversity) in 2002 while the US adopted E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one) shortly after the Independence of 1776. Putin was acknowledging the chronic problem of illegal immigration and attempts at sowing division in the US, currently highlighted with the 10k strong train… Read more »

gra gor
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gra gor

Crazy eh? Diplomatic ping-pong.

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EXPLOSIVE: Michael Cohen sentencing memo exposes serial liar with nothing to offer Mueller (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 38.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the Michael Cohen sentencing memo which paints the picture of a man who was not as close to Trump as he made it out to be…a serial liar and cheat who leveraged his thin connections to the Trump organization for money and fame.

It was Cohen himself who proudly labelled himself as Trump’s “fixer”. The sentencing memo hints at the fact that even Mueller finds no value to Cohen in relation to the ongoing Trump-Russia witch hunt investigation.

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Via Axios

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have each submitted sentencing memos for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty in two different cases related to his work for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The big picture: The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen serve a range of 51 to 63 months for four crimes — “willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.” Mueller, meanwhile, did not take a position on the length of Cohen’s statement, but said he has made substantial efforts to assist the investigation.

Southern District of New York

Mueller investigation

Michael J. Stern, a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles noted via USA Today

In support of their request that he serve no time in prison, Cohen’s attorneys offered a series of testimonials from friends who described the private Michael Cohen as a “truly caring” man with a “huge heart” who is not only “an upstanding, honorable, salt of the earth man” but also a “selfless caretaker.”

The choirboy portrayed by Cohen’s lawyers stands in sharp opposition to Cohen’s public persona as Trump’s legal bulldog, who once threatened a reporter with: “What I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?”

Prosecutors focused their sentencing memo on Cohen as Mr. Hyde. Not only did they detail Cohen’s illegal activities, which include millions of dollars of fraud, they also recognized the public damage that stemmed from his political crimes — describing Cohen as “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

Rebuffing efforts by Cohen’s attorneys to recast him as a good guy who made a few small mistakes, prosecutors cited texts, statements of witnesses, recordings, documents and other evidence that proved Cohen got ahead by employing a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” The prosecutors attributed Cohen’s crimes to “personal greed,” an effort to “increase his power and influence,” and a desire to maintain his “opulent lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most damning reveal in the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memo is that Cohen refused to fully cooperate. That’s despite his public relations campaign to convince us that he is a new man who will cooperate with any law enforcement authority, at any time, at any place.

As a former federal prosecutor who handled hundreds of plea deals like Cohen’s, I can say it is extremely rare for any credit to be recommended when a defendant decides not to sign a full cooperation deal. The only reason for a refusal would be to hide information. The prosecutors said as much in their sentencing memo: Cohen refused “to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past,” and “further declined” to discuss “other areas of investigative interest.”

 

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Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

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US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

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Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

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