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For some Western leaders, the Cold War never ended

President Trump played both sides of the Russia game with skill in confronting NATO members, but he knows Russia is no threat.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The “no food on the plates” breakfast talk that President Donald Trump gave is making a lot of news, on The Duran, and everywhere else. His morning smackdown of NATO was unprecedented. The alliance’s decades-long delinquency of member nations to meet their financial obligations has never been addressed so directly by any American president.

Fox News’ Sean Hannity commented extensively on this, as has The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and many others, on the clarity that President Trump is showing by simply telling the NATO member leaders where things stand.

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But on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program, some very interesting elements were brought up that reveal just how strongly embedded the mentality actually is among the American political machine that the Cold War is still going on – even to the place where Russia is still referred to as “The Soviet Union.”

In Rush’s broadcast dated July 11, he referred to the sound-clip of the breakfast talk where President Trump used NATO’s own perceived mission to point out Germany’s inconsistency, both in terms of paying only slightly over half of their required commitment into the alliance fund, as well as doing things that go against that same mission by making a very lucrative deal with the Russian Federation to have natural gas piped in directly to Germany without the pipeline crossing through any other NATO member state, as noted in this excerpt from the transcript of Rush’s program (emphasis added):

The NATO secretary general thought it would help him out to praise Trump for getting all of these NATO nations to up their donations, contributions to their own defense budgets, which is… There aren’t any dues paid to NATO in this sense. The “dues” that Trump talks about, every member nation has to pledge to spend a certain percent on its national defense. We have to pledge to spent 4% of GDP on it. They have to pledge 1 or 2%, depending on the country.

Many of them haven’t been spending any, including Germany, has been spending nothing! And this has been Trump’s big bugaboo. So for the past year and a half Trump’s been on these people to up their own defense spending — i.e., protect yourselves for a little bit here. And Jens Stoltenberg exults to President Trump (impression), “You have done it. We have increased the spending, and it’s all because of your leadership.” So Trump engineers praise, he engineers his leadership being commended, and then this…

TRUMP: We’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries, and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. On top of that, Germany is just paying a little bit over 1%. Whereas the United States in actual numbers is paying 4.2% of a much larger GDP. So I think that’s inappropriate also. Now, this has been going on for decades. This has been brought up by other presidents, but other presidents never did anything about it because I don’t think they understood it or they just didn’t want to get involved. But I have to bring it up because I think it’s very unfair to our country; it’s very unfair to our taxpayers.

RUSH: Now, he’s right. It’s always been given lip service. A lot of presidents have come along and talked about the unfairness. Never did anything about it. Trump, after just having been exalted and praised, then unloads on these people and particularly Germany, and this is what has Christiane Amanpour sniffing the vapors today. John Kerry can barely keep his horse face off the floor, he can’t buy it. Chris Stirewalt at Fox News says Trump is apparently no different than a bird flying over NATO and dropping a bunch of droppings all over these people. They just can’t accept what is happening here!

But the singling out of Germany, this is about a specific pipeline that is called Nord Stream. And what has happened here, is all of Europe has become totally dependent on Russia for natural gas and in some cases, oil. The pipelines to European countries come straight from Russia — some of them through Crimea, other places. What Angela Merkel did was cut a secret, special deal with Putin where she gets a direct pipeline of natural gas right into Germany that does not go through any of the other NATO countries.

She made a sweetheart deal with Putin, excluding other NATO countries, and Trump has called her out on this and is claiming that by doing this, she is putting herself at great disadvantage with Putin in a geopolitical and diplomatic sense because now Germany has become so dependent on Putin. Now, everybody thinks that Trump loves Putin because Putin helped Trump steal the election…

Now, the NordStream pipeline is indeed a project that pipes natural gas from Russia to various European countries. We have reported here on The Duran about this matter from the point of view that it is very practical for European countries to accept such exports from Russia for one very simple reason: Cost (which is a lot less coming through a pipeline from a nearby country) and ease of supply.

Further, we have noted that the US has tried to force NATO members to buy US natural gas at prices that are much higher because of the simple issue of transportation costs. The US after all, is 3000 miles away at minimum, where Russia is just next door.

President Trump suggested in his talk that it would be possible for Europe to get it from the US for a lower cost than from Russia. He also posed the notion of a belligerent Russia under President Vladimir Putin which would seem to be quite the shock, especially as he plans to have a summit meeting with the same President Putin in just four days from now.

However, Mr. Trump appears to be using all this to make a very salient point – that NATO is irrelevant on several levels, and it is an extremely expensive irrelevant effort.

How expensive it actually is may be a shock. Sean Hannity reported on his program that the US spends about $709 billion as its committment to the alliance.

Independent checks on that amount bear this out:

We first consulted NATO’s latest budget report for 2017. (A report with projected 2018 defense spending was released after Trump’s initial comment, but this doesn’t change the facts surrounding the claim.) The 2017 numbers show defense spending data of all member countries from 2010 to 2016 and 2017 estimates.

By NATO’s count, total defense spending of all NATO members stood at about $957 billion in 2017. The United States’ share was about $686 billion. Do the math, and the percentage of U.S. spending is about 72 percent. (We don’t know the source for the  90 percent number.)

But what do these numbers mean? The spending doesn’t represent money spent on behalf of NATO, nor for NATO. They’re the total defense budgets of NATO members. For 2017, the defense spending of all NATO members totaled about $957 billion.

As an important note, the spending attributed is the spending of the total defense budget of any given nation, and the amount of this that is reserved specifically for the NATO alliance is not given. However, the United States spends far more on defense than any other nation in the world, and it pays a higher percentage of its own GDP (here shown as 3.5% in contrast to President Trump’s claim of 4.2%) and that percentage is still far higher than the nearest next paying member, Greece, with 2.27% of its GDP so involved.

Germany, the most powerful and wealthy member state of NATO in Europe, pays only about 1.24% of its GDP for NATO, well under the guideline of two percent.

The aforementioned 2018 NATO report also shows the USA solidly in the lead for this year:

President Trump has thrown the problem into sharp relief. NATO came into existence to defend Europe against a perceived expansionist Soviet threat. That threat no longer exists. The only actions that are being tagged as “threat” are the issues surrounding the EuroMaidan uprising in the Ukraine,  and the Crimean referendum that resulted from the coup in Ukraine’s government, where the Crimean citizens voted vastly in favor of reunification with the Russian Federation.

But this leads to the second point that Rush Limbaugh rather inadvertently exposed. That is the perception common among many members of the American leadership that Russia is not free of the fetters of Communism. Rush Limbaugh himself regularly takes issue with President Putin’s stated regret over the demise of the Soviet Union, a remark which was largely taken out of context.

Rush’s transcript for July 11 shows this the most clearly (emphasis added):

Bill Richardson. Grab audio sound bite No. 10. Former ambassador to the United Nations (for, I think, the Clintons) and former governor of New Mexico. He was on CNN this morning, and the infobabe anchorette Poppy Harlow said, “The president says this, Governor, as he heads to Russia and a Monday sit down with Putin. Does he have a point? Is this a smart strategy, what Trump is doing with NATO?”

RICHARDSON: It’s very… I believe very questionable strategy. Uh, NATO is very important to the United States. Germany’s the strongest partner we have in NATO. I don’t understand the president’s tactics. I think he wants to get leverage over Germany on trade, on tariffs. But the important message here is — is one of saying to Russia, “Look, uh, you’re the most important relationship for us and Europe.” This is not — should not be the case —

HARLOW: Mmm-hmm.

RICHARDS: — that NATO is diminished by some of the president’s remarks.

HARLOW: Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm.

RICHARDS: So I’m — I’m — I’m very troubled by this attitude and this effort to basically (snickers) undermine NATO.

RUSH: See, who is undermining NATO? This is why these people have it ass-backwards. Pardon my French. NATO is undermining NATO! That’s what all this is about. Trump’s not undermining anything. Trump’s simply calling it out. Do we have time for the next Richardson bite? We do. Cram it in there right now.

RICHARDSON: It doesn’t have a basis in fact. Uh, NATO countries host 28 American military bases. There are 40,000 American troop… Uh, European troops in Afghanistan. They help us — NATO helps us against radical Islamic countries, against Soviet [sic] expansionism. Uh, they are very much a part of the most important security alliance since the Cold War that America has.

The Soviet Union ended 27 years ago. Twenty-seven years is a very long time not to change one’s perception. 

The most interesting thing about this is that regardless of anyone’s political opinion or bias about who is what, Mr. Trump’s point still stands: The NATO alliance is undercutting itself and its stated purpose by making deals with the national entity it is supposed to be defending itself against. It is further in a state of not meeting up to its own financial commitment to its own security, and purposely or tacitly imposing an inappropriately large financial burden on four or five of its member nations. Trump is expressing clearly that the US no longer wishes to play along with this. It is unnecessary for American taxpayers to pay the bills of others.

Regardless of opinion, this is certainly a real set of problems that must be addressed.

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Maria Butina, her crime: A love of the NRA and being Russian (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has communicated to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Russian national Maria Butina must be set free and allowed to return to Russia, after she was arrested by US officials on dubious spy charges.

Lavrov said that the US should immediately release the Russian gun activist, who is being held in the US on espionage charges, after a phone conversation with his US counterpart.

Lavrov called the charges levied against Butina “fabricated.”

In his conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, “Lavrov stressed that the actions of the US authorities that arrested Russian citizen Butina on fabricated charges are unacceptable.”

In an official statement the Russian Foreign Ministry called for her “immediate release.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the oddly timed, out of the blue arrest of Maria Butina, who is being held by US authorities for what they claim to be a violation of the FARA act.

In reality Maria Butina’s crime is much more troubling than simply failing to register as a foreign agent.

Maria made the double mistake of being in the United States of America as a Russian citizens who loves guns, at a time when racism and bigotry against Russians and NRA supporters is surpassing McCarthyite levels.

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Via RT

The Foreign minister raised the issue during phone conversations that were made at the request of the US and aimed at “further normalization of the US-Russian relations” following the summit between the US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, as well as the situation in Syria.

The 29-year-old Russian student and a gun activist was arrested in the US about a week ago and charged with acting as a foreign agent without registering her activities with the authorities. Butina has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On July 16, a DC Federal Court rejected Butina’s bail plea and ordered her to be placed in custody pending trial over fears that she could flee or contact Russian intelligence officials. Her lawyer says the trial is being politicized and Russian embassy staff were only allowed to visit her in jail on Thursday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called Butina’s arrest politically motivated, adding that it could have been aimed at disrupting the Helsinki summit between Putin and Trump. On Thursday, the ministry also launched a campaign hashtagged #FreeMariaButina on Twitter to raise awareness of her case.

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Ugly breakup at FBI: Lisa Page throws ex-lover, Peter Strzok, under the bus (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 60.

Alex Christoforou

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While Peter Strzok’s testimony put a face on the deceptive and secretive Deep State, GOP lawmakers who were present at Lisa Page’s closed-door deposition said they learned a lot of new information from the ex-FBI lawyer, and ex-lover of Peter Strzok.

Lisa Page confirmed to GOP lawmakers that the text messages sent between her and her lover Strzok “meant exactly what they said,” contrary to Strzok’s testimony.

According to The Gateway Pundit, one damning text message in particular sent from Strzok on May 19th, 2017, just two days after Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, intrigued investigators and the public alike.

“There’s no big there there,” Strzok texted.

According to investigative reporter, John Solomon, Lisa Page confirmed that text from Peter Strzok did indeed refer to the Trump-Russia case.

Strzok knew it was a nothing-burger yet he forged ahead.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou, RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle, and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how Peter Strzok’s testimony has undoubtedly contradicted Lisa Page’s cooperative deposition, as the ex-FBI lawyer is preparing to save herself, while throwing her ex-lover under the bus.

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Via The Epoch Times

Representatives John Ratcliffe and Louie Gohmert of Texas recently shared their observations of the closed-door testimony of former high-ranking FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which concluded on July 16.

One of the major questions regarding the testimony was whether it would match the one given by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.

But while Ratcliffe said he found a mismatch, Gohmert wouldn’t go so far.

Page and Strzok played major roles in the investigations on both 2016 presidential candidates: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. During the same period, Page and Strzok had an affair and exchanged thousands of text messages expressing a strong bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton.

“When I questioned Lisa Page on Friday about the anti-Trump text messages that were sent between herself and Peter Strzok, there were significant differences in her testimony and Strzok’s as it relates to what she thought some of these text messages meant,” Ratcliffe said in a July 16 tweet, shortly before the second round of questioning.

“Page gave us new information that Strzok either wouldn’t or couldn’t, confirming some of the concerns we had about these investigations and the people involved in running them,” he wrote.

On July 17, Ratcliffe expanded on his further statements about Page’s testimony. Radcliffe told Fox News…

“There are differences in their testimony.”

“In many cases, she admits that the text messages mean exactly what they say, as opposed to agent Strzok, who thinks that we’ve all misinterpreted his own words on any text message that might be negative.”

Via The Epoch Times

In one of the texts, Strzok vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president. In another, the two discussed having an “insurance policy” in the “unlikely” event that Trump would win the election.

Strzok, who gave a closed-door testimony on June 27 and a public one on July 12, said the first message meant he and the American people would stop Trump. The second, he said previously, meant he wanted to pursue the Russia investigation aggressively, in case Trump won.

GOP lawmakers were furious with Strzok’s attitude and unwillingness to answer questions. In a scathing monologue, Gohmert even linked Strzok’s credibility to the fact that he was unfaithful to his wife.

President Donald Trump repeatedly called Strzok’s testimony a “disgrace.”

The lawmakers said Page was comparatively more cooperative.

“There were times the FBI lawyers would be reaching to the button to mute her comment, and she would answer before they could mute her comment,” Gohmert told Fox News.

He said Page didn’t contradict Strzok “so much,” but “has given us insights into who was involved in what.”

“I think she’ll be a good witness,” he said.

Page ditched her first testimony appointment on July 11, prompting GOP lawmakers to threaten her with contempt of Congress. She then agreed to appear on July 13, which gave her the opportunity to review Strzok’s public testimony before giving hers.

The lawmakers are probing the FBI’s and Justice Department’s decisions before the election, suspecting they were influenced by political considerations.

Texts between Strzok and Page suggest that the FBI initiated an offensive counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign as early as December 2015.

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Russia makes MASSIVE progress on its ‘super-weapons’

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle moves into serial production, nuclear-engine powered cruise missile tests continue, and more as Russia continues to outdo all Western military tech

Seraphim Hanisch

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On July 19th and 20th, The Russian Defense Ministry announced several milestones of progress in its advanced weapons systems programs. These programs were revealed to the world in March of this year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the State of the Russian Federation speech.

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While at first the Western onlookers did not believe the amazing announcements of hypersonic weapons and nuclear-powered cruise missiles with unlimited range, subsequent releases and concurrent observation by the American military experts has shown these developments to be as real as Mr. Putin claimed they are.

TASS, the Russian News Agency, released information on these weapons systems in separate reports:

Kinzhal

The Kinzhal hypersonic missile:

Squadrons of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles should enter combat duty in the Black Sea region and at other Russian fleets and flotillas, said Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva magazine.

Besides, a squadron (between 12 and 16 aircraft) of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles entered combat duty in the Caspian Sea region in April.

“I think at least one squadron of those complexes should be deployed at any fleet, in other words – at all regions where we have fleets and flotillas. We need to deploy them in the regions of the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Northern Fleet. The Pacific region also should not be forgotten,” Murakhovsky said.

He said that such systems can become a “good instrument” against not only vessels equipped with high-precision weapons, but also for countering carrier attack groups.

“We know how expensive a carrier attack group can be. By employing this asymmetric method, which is unbelievably cheap in comparison with building a carrier attack group, we can neutralize this threat almost completely,” the expert said.

Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile trials:

The Burevestnik is an entirely new cruise missile, powered by a nuclear engine. This gives the missile unlimited range. In theory, such a missile could be launched at a target and spend days or weeks in hidden flight using advanced guidance systems, and then close on its target at the optimal time to assure destruction of that target with maximum surprise. The TASS piece goes on to say:

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia was preparing to test upgraded test prototypes of the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile with an unlimited range.

According to the expert, it is highly likely that the prototype of the missile “has already made a flight.”

“Clearly, it was something like the pop-up trials of Sarmat – a launch without the nuclear-powered engine, in other words, with an ordinary missile booster, conducted in order to assess the possibility of a launch, aerodynamics and the operability of the entire system in general,” [Murakhovsky] said.

Further reporting from TASS had this to add about the Burevestnik program:

Russia is getting ready for flight tests of the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile, an official at the Defense Ministry told reporters on Thursday.

“The missile’s component makeup is being improved based on clarified requirements, while ground tests continue and preparations are being made for experimental flight tests of the improved missile,” the official said.

According to the Defense Ministry, “work on an unlimited-range missile is going according to plan.”

“In the meantime, launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon – a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear powered missile,” the ministry official noted.

[The head] of the 12th Central Research Institute at Russia’s Defense Ministry Sergey Pertsev, in turn, said that the tests of the new cruise missile equipped with a small nuclear power unit had confirmed the accuracy of the technical decisions that Russian researchers, engineers and designers had made. In addition, the tests enabled the researchers “to receive valuable experimental data necessary for specifying a number of requirements.”

“A low-flying and low-observable cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and capability to bypass interception lines is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems,” the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

A further use of the nuclear engine technology is also expected in the Poseidon underwater drone, Mr. Murakhovsky stated that separate systems for the craft have been successfully tested. He further noted that the next task is to design the entire layout, build a test model and begin testing the whole platform.

The Avangard Hypersonic Missile

While the Kinzhal is a Mach-10 capable hypersonic system that can be launched from a fighter, the Avangard is a Mach-20 capable system that has intercontinental reach. There is almost no footage of this system released to the public, but the concept videos show how the system works. TASS reports this status:

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force is preparing a position area for accepting the Avangard hypersonic missile system for service as part of the efforts to strengthen the country’s military security, the Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

“The Russian defense industry has completed developing the Avangard missile system with the principally new armament – the gliding cruise warhead. Industrial enterprises have switched to its serial production,” the Defense Ministry said.

“A set of organizational and technical measures is underway in the position area of the Dombarovsky large unit of the Strategic Missile Force to accept the Avangard missile system for operation,” it added.

The development of new strategic weapon systems “is aimed at increasing Russia’s defense capability and preventing any aggression against our country and its allies,” the Defense Ministry stressed.

The infrastructural facilities of the large unit’s position area have already been prepared for the missile system’s operation, the ministry said.

“The position area has been prepared in geodesic and engineering terms to accommodate the missile system. Work is underway to build new and reconstruct old facilities to provide for the operation and the combat use of the system. Technical and utility supply lines are being modernized and electric power, communications and command and control cables are being laid. Work has been arranged to train personnel and prepare armament, military and special hardware,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Deputy Commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force for Armament Sergei Poroskun has said that the Avangard hypersonic missile system features combat capabilities that “make it possible to reliably breach any anti-missile defenses.”

The Okhotnik attack drone

The Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone is now being viewed as a prototype for Russia’s “sixth-generation” fighter plane. TASS describes this in more detail:

According to [a defense industry] official, although the sixth generation fighter jet project “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known.”

“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, Okhotnik will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”

“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.

TASS was unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Another defense industry source earlier told TASS that the prototype of Okhotnik (Hunter) was ready and would start test flights this year.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour.

Peresvet laser weapons systems

TASS reported that the Russian military forces are now training for the use of the Peresvet combat laser system:

Russian Aerospace Force has accepted for service the laser complexes Peresvet and the military are now taking drills that involve the novel combat technologies, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“The Peresvet laser complexes have been placed at sites of permanent deployment,” the report said. “Active efforts to make them fully operational are underway.”

“To ensure their proper functioning, the necessary infrastructures and specialized facilities for housing the complexes and duty crews have been built,” the ministry said.

The crews assigned to the Peresvets have taken upgrader courses at the Alexander Mozhaisky Military-Space Academy in St Petersburg.

The Russian military strategy of “asymmetric response.”

The overall defense strategy is termed an “asymmetric response”, and Mr. Murakhovsky explained the principle in this way:

“This is an asymmetric response, in which new classes of weapons are created, instead of new types within the framework of the existing systems. Other states are not expected to have anything of this kind [in the near future],” he said.

The expert described this response as “quite an efficient one, all the more so because it requires no additional investment – all the works are being carried out within the framework of the state procurement program.”

He added that unlike the Soviet Union, Russia avoids being dragged into a direct arms race and searches for cutting-edge solutions instead of simply increasing the number of weapons.

“The development of counter-weapons to those arms [may be possible] in distant future, but it does not mean that they can be created at all,” Murakhovsky added.

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