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RT sits down with FM Lavrov to review global challenges of 2017 (WATCH LIVE)

Russian top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, has granted RT an exclusive interview

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(RT) – 25 December 2017

  • 09:13 GMT

    The interview ends, approximately one hour after it started.

  • 09:13 GMT

    As for the reported acoustic attacks on embassy staff, which were used to justify the change of US policy towards Cuba, they apparently have no basis. Otherwise Washington’s reaction would have been harsher, Lavrov suggested.

  • 09:12 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia welcomed the effort to reestablish ties with Cuba under Barack Obama and saw the reopening of the US embassy in Havana as a positive gesture. The fact that the US trade blockade of Cuba, regularly condemned by the majority of UN Assembly members, remains in place is regrettable. The change of US approach in Cuba is yet another example of why some nations do not trust Washington when it offers to scrap its sanctions in exchange for some concessions.

  • 09:08 GMT

    RT: Cuba again and the shift in US policy towards it.

  • 09:08 GMT

    Latin America in general has strong potential for foreign investment and Russia may join forces with China and other BRICS nations for large infrastructure projects in that region, Lavrov said.

  • 09:07 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia is not directly affected by migration in that part of the world and sticks to the principles of humanism, on which Russia bases its attitude to migration in general. He added the US was regrettably reluctant to negotiate universal rules for regulating migration. Latin America did not suffer such an enormous migration crisis as Europe did because it didn’t endure problems like the destruction of Libya, which was a major factor in opening the doors for migrants.

  • 09:04 GMT

    RT: Questions about migration flows in Latin America and Trump’s crackdown on migrants.

  • 09:03 GMT

    Cuba is Russia’s traditional partner, and Moscow is full of optimism about Cuba’s future after the planned elections there.

  • 09:02 GMT

    Mexico, which is among several Latin American nations set to hold elections in 2018, is a good partner for Russia. Moscow is pleased not to be accused of hacking elections in that country, Lavrov joked.

  • 09:02 GMT

    Lavrov: Changes of government in Latin American countries do not usually affect their relations with Russia. But Moscow is concerned about some developments, like the meddling in Venezuela. Russia asks foreign players to stop disrupting the situation there and let Venezuelans sort out their differences.

  • 09:00 GMT

    RT Spanish: How does Russia see the situations in Venezuela and Cuba?

  • 08:59 GMT

    Lavrov: the killing of Saleh may make the Houthis a more radical force in Yemen. But whatever happens in Yemen, only peace talks have a chance of ending violence in the country. International mediators must be neutral and not side with either party to the conflict to help this process. And again, a deescalation of hostility between Iran and the Arab League would help in Yemen too. They must talk and respect each other’s concerns.

    Yemenis inspect damage at the site of a reported Saudi-led coalition air strike, in the northwestern Huthi-held city of Saada on December 20, 2017 © AFP

  • 08:56 GMT

    RT: What will happen in Yemen now following the assassination of ex-president Saleh?

  • 08:56 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia and Egypt have ties on many levels, from nuclear cooperation to military trade. Russia supports Egypt in its fight against extremist forces. Russia sells its weapons to Egypt, shares its experience and otherwise helps. But at the moment Russia has no intention of flying combat missions over Egypt or from bases in Egypt, despite the new legal framework.

  • 08:54 GMT

    RT: Russia and Egypt have signed an agreement on military cooperation. Will Russia be involved in counterterrorism operations in Egypt now?

  • 08:53 GMT

    Lavrov praises the US-led coalition for the work they have done in fighting the terrorists in Syria, but remarked that it took some encouragement. Under the Obama administration the US military in Syria were reluctant to actually target jihadists groups, even ISIS on some occasions. But after Russia got involved in Syria and the change of the US administration, the coalition effort was invigorated, he said.

  • 08:51 GMT

    Russia seeks an inclusive peace settlement in Syria and was not happy that the Geneva talks mostly involved refugees from Syria, who had lived outside the country for many years. Russia pushed for greater representation in Geneva of the leaders of the people actually living in Syria now. This will invigorate the negotiation, Moscow hopes, and allow reform of the Syrian political system in a way that would stand the test of time.

  • 08:48 GMT

    The Syrian peace process is hampered by some opposition groups involved in the Geneva talks, which are seeking to undermine the process by demanding the resignation of President Assad. The group was backed by Saudi Arabia and their demand, which violated their own promises not to push for it, was a big embarrassment for Riyadh, Lavrov said.

  • 08:46 GMT

    Russia believes that deescalating violence in the greater Middle East is possible if the enmity between Saudi Arabia and Iran is curbed, the minister added. As for the US, Moscow is angry that Washington fails to stick to its own promises. Rex Tillerson used to say that the only US interest in Syria was to defeat ISIS, but now they want to stay to oversee a political transition, possibly with the condition of ousting President Bashar Assad. This is the same approach that Russia endured with NATO enlargement: The initial promise was that it would not happen, as was recently confirmed by archive documents, but the result was the opposite, he said.

  • 08:41 GMT

    The US is working on ways to shield some jihadist forces from being quashed, Lavrov added. Some American experts want a policy, that would support extremist forces operating in so-called dictator states, on a presumption that their extremism is caused by the policies of such governments. The idea is that with a government declared dictatorial by the US gone the extremism would no longer exists.

  • 08:38 GMT

    Lavrov: The people actually fighting on the ground are mostly willing to end hostilities, negotiate with the government and return to peaceful life. The de-escalation zones project backed by Russia, Turkey and Iran is based to a great degree on this choice of the rebel forces. There are remaining Islamist forces, including the Al-Nusra Front which the US-led coalition is unwilling to fight against, which are against peace. Apparently the US has plans for those terrorists, perceiving them as a force that could topple the Syrian government.

  • 08:36 GMT

    RT: Are we closer to finally ending the war in Syria?

  • 08:35 GMT

    Washington, Russia believes, wants to strangle North Korea until it submits. Moscow will not back such an approach and will continue to seek a way to integrate North Korea into the world community, not isolate it.

  • 08:34 GMT

    The US position on the Iranian nuclear deal does not help with North Korea, Lavrov added. By undermining the Iranian deal Washington sending a signal to Pyongyang: whatever denuclearization deal you may strike with us may be scrapped by another administration.

  • 08:33 GMT

    Lavrov: no sane person would push the situation into an actual war. But even when nobody wants a war, an arms race always results in a risk of human error leading to an unwanted escalation.

    The minister adds he feels obliged to describe how the US actually makes its diplomacy over the Korean crisis. In September, they signaled to Moscow that they would not stage military exercises and that Pyongyang should not be worried until at least next spring. But then the US launched an “emergency exercise,” with North Korea ignored. And yet another exercise was held later, one of unprecedented scale which did make Pyongyang react.

    FILE PHOTO: A general view shows a drill by North Korean Korean People’s Army (KPA) artillery units © KCNA / Reuters

    Lavrov says the Americans are trying to cover up their actions with legalities, saying they break no rules when conducting military exercises in the region. But diplomacy is not an area where such tricks work, he added. He reiterated Russia’s call, which China also supports, to freeze all exercises by the US and its allies and all new tests by North Korea to deescalate the tension.

  • 08:26 GMT

Q. North Korea. How great is the probability of open military conflict on the peninsula and what does the US want to achieve by its belligerent rhetoric?

  • 08:26 GMT

    Lavrov says rules should not be applied selectively as was the case with RT’s forced registration as a foreign agent in the US. Singling out this channel was a breach of the fair play principle as is the persecution of RT in France and the UK, he said. The minister said Moscow’s retaliatory move to allow foreign media to be designated foreign agents in Russia is based on a set of criteria, not arbitrary decisions. But refraining from restricting the media would be much better for all countries.

  • 08:23 GMT

    RT asks about the pressure it faces in America over the alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 election.

  • 08:22 GMT

    Russia’s approach to integration projects is based on inclusiveness and flexibility. It is like allowing people to lay down paths on a fresh lawn before paving those paths as they see fit.

  • 08:20 GMT

    As for a new set of rules, they will grow organically as the world transforms, Lavrov believes. The process should be allowed to evolve in a flexible way, not with some strict parameters embedded. Such an approach tanked the TTP trade agreement, which the Obama administration pushed for and which was scrapped by Trump.

  • 08:18 GMT

    A global financial reform that would account for new centers of economic growth and the dwindling role of the dollar is what drives the transition, Lavrov says. He says the G20 format is likely to be the driving force of the reform, with roughly half of the group sharing Russia’s goal of decentralizing world finances.

  • 08:16 GMT

    Lavrov gives credit to his legendary predecessor Evgeny Primakov for envisioning a multipolar world. He was the one who invigorated Russia’s ties with India and China, from which what is now known as BRICS came to be.

    Yevgeny Primakov © Aleksey Nikolskyi / Sputnik

  • 08:14 GMT

    Question. The vision of a multipolar world seems to be shaping now, but still lacks a framework of rules. What will Russia’s place be in it?

  • 08:13 GMT

    The interview starts. Three RT correspondents are taking part in the interview – Daniel Hawkins from RT English, Spanish correspondent Aliana Nieves and Sargon Hadaya from RT Arabic.

  • 08:12 GMT

    RT has a lot of issues to ask Sergey Lavrov about, with Russia’s ongoing feud with the US arguably the most important. A shy hope for reengagement under the Trump administration has been buried under the “Russiagate” narrative in America.

  • 08:05 GMT

    It is 11:00 a.m. in Moscow. Minister Lavrov is about to join RT for an interview.

  • 07:02 GMT

    Lavrov is one of the longest-serving members of the Russian cabinet with decades of experience under his belt. Considering the many crises the Russian diplomatic corps has faced, his job in 2017 was quite difficult.

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Photos of swastika on Ukrainian mall stairway creates a stir [Video]

Ukrainian nationalist press in damage-control mode to explain away the Nazi sign, but they forgot the name of the street the mall is on.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the aspects of news about Ukraine that does not make it past the gatekeepers of the American and Western news media is how a significant contingent of Ukrainian nationalists have espoused a sense of reverence for Nazis. The idea that this could even happen anywhere in the world in an open manner makes the claim seem too absurd to be taken seriously. Gone are the days when the Nazi swastika adorned streets and buildings in Europe. Right?

Well, maybe, wrong.

This was seen in Kyiv’s Gorodok (or Horodok, if you insist) Gallery, a shopping center in that city, located on Bandera Avenue.

The pro-nationalist news service UNIAN wasted no time going to press with their explanation of this incident, which admittedly may be accurate:

Children and teenagers who participated in the All-Ukrainian break dance festival held in the Kyiv-based Gorodok Gallery shopping mall were shocked to see a swastika image projected onto an LED staircase.

The mall administration apologized to visitors, explaining saying that their computer system had apparently been hacked.

“The administration and staff have no relation to whatever was projected onto the LED-staircase, and in no way does it support such [an] act. Now we are actively searching for those involved in the attack,” it said in a statement.

According to Gorodok Gallery’s administrative office, it was not the first time a cyber breach took place.

As reported earlier, Ukraine is believed to be a testing ground for cyberattacks, many of which are launched from Russia. Hackers have earlier targeted critical energy infrastructure, state institutions, banks, and large businesses.

This time, it appears, hackers aimed to feed the Kremlin’s narrative of “Nazis in power in Ukraine” and create a relevant hype-driving viral story for Russian media to spread it worldwide.

The Gorodok Gallery also apologized on its Facebook page and said that this was a result of hacking.

But what about the street that the mall is on? From the self-same Facebook page, this is what we see:


To translate, for those who do not read Ukrainian or Russian, the address says the following:

23 Steven Bandera Prospekt, Kyiv, Ukraine 04073

This street was formerly called “Moscow Avenue.” Big change, as we shall see.

Steven Bandera got his birthday designated as a national holiday in Ukraine last December. He is known in Ukraine’s history for one thing. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The street where the shopping mall is located is named for Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who briefly collaborated with Nazi Germany in its fight against Russia.

His troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews.

Several Israeli papers picked this bit of news up, and of course, the reasons are understandable. However, for the West, it appears possible that this news event will largely go unnoticed, even by that great nation that is often called “Israel’s proxy”, the United States.

This is probably because for certain people in the US, there is a sense of desperation to mask the nature of events that are happening in Ukraine.

The usual fare of mainstream news for the West probably consists of things like “Putin’s military seizes innocent Ukrainian sailors in Kerch incident” or, “Ukraine’s Orthodox Church declared fully independent by Patriarch of Constantinople” (not that too many Americans know what a Constantinople even is, anyway), but the overriding narrative for the American people about this country is “Ukraine are the good guys, and Russia are the bad guys,” and this will not be pushed aside, even to accommodate the logical grievance of Israel to this incident.

If this article gets to Western papers at all, it will be the UNIAN line they adhere to, that evil pro-Russia hackers caused this stairway to have a swastika to provoke the idea that Ukraine somehow supports Naziism.

But UNIAN neglected to mention that the street name was recently changed to Stephan Bandera (in 2016), and no one appears to have hacked this. Nor does UNIAN talk about the Azov fighters that openly espoused much of the Nazi ideology. For nationalist Ukrainians, this is all for the greater good of getting rid of all things Russia.

A further sad fact about this is the near impossibility of getting assuredly honest and neutral information about this and other similar happenings. Both Ukrainian nationalists and Russian media agencies have dogs in the race, so to speak. They are both personally connected to these events. However, the Russian media cannot be discounted here, because they do offer a witness and perspective, probably the closest to any objective look at what is going on in Ukraine. We include a video of a “torchlight march” that took place in 2017 that featured such hypernationalist activity, which is not reported in the West.

More such reports are available, but this one seemed the best one to summarize the character of what is going on in the country.

While we do not know the motive and identities of whoever programmed the swastika, it cannot really be stated that this was just a random publicity stunt in a country that has no relationship with Nazi veneration.

The street the mall is on bears witness to that.

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Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

Putin: If US deploys mid-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to respond.

RT

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Via RT…


If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,”he said.

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Russia’s Lukoil Halts Oil Swaps In Venezuela After U.S. Sanctions

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades.

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Via Oilprice.com


Litasco, the international trading arm of Russia’s second-biggest oil producer Lukoil, stopped its oil swaps deals with Venezuela immediately after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and state oil firm PDVSA, Lukoil’s chief executive Vagit Alekperov said at an investment forum in Russia.

Russia, which stands by Nicolas Maduro in the ongoing Venezuelan political crisis, has vowed to defend its interests in Venezuela—including oil interests—within the international law using “all mechanisms available to us.”

Because of Moscow’s support for Maduro, the international community and market analysts are closely watching the relationship of Russian oil companies with Venezuela.

“Litasco does not work with Venezuela. Before the restrictions were imposed, Litasco had operations to deliver oil products and to sell oil. There were swap operations. Today there are none, since the sanctions were imposed,” Lukoil’s Alekperov said at the Russian Investment Forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Another Russian oil producer, Gazprom Neft, however, does not see major risks for its oil business in Venezuela, the company’s chief executive officer Alexander Dyukov said at the same event.

Gazprom Neft has not supplied and does not supply oil products to Venezuela needed to dilute the thick heavy Venezuelan oil, Dyukov said, noting that the Latin American country hadn’t approached Gazprom Neft for possible supply of oil products for diluents.

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades. Analysts expect that a shortage of diluents could accelerate beginning this month the already steadily declining Venezuelan oil production and exports.

Venezuela’s crude oil production plunged by another 59,000 bpd from December 2018 to stand at just 1.106 million bpd in January 2019, OPEC’s secondary sources figures showed in the cartel’s closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) this week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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