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Putin Meets Lavrov and Shoigu; Responds to US Withdrawal from INF Treaty

Russia responds to the US’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty. Works on counter-measures.

The Duran

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This is the official transcript of the meeting between the Russian President and Russia’s Foreign and Defense Ministers published by the Kremlin’s website.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, please provide an update on the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, and the disarmament dossier in general. What is going on in terms of limitation of offensive arms?

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Mr President,

Regarding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, as you know, it has been in force since 1988. It had an indefinite term. According to the information at our disposal, the United States has been violating the Treaty since 1999, when it started testing combat unmanned aerial vehicles that have the same characteristics as land-based cruise missiles banned by the Treaty.

The United States went on to use ballistic target missiles for testing their missile defence system, and in 2014 they began the deployment in their missile defence system positioning areas in Europe of Mk 41 vertical launching systems. These launchers are fully suitable as they are for Tomahawk intermediate-range attack missiles.

Vladimir Putin: And this is an outright violation of the Treaty.

Sergei Lavrov: This is an outright violation of the Treaty. Launchers of this kind have already been deployed in Romania, and preparations are underway to deploy them in Poland, as well as Japan.

Another matter of concern for us is that only recently, just a year ago, the United States in its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review set the task of developing low-yield nuclear weapons, and it is probable that intermediate-range missiles will serve as a means of delivery for these weapons. It was also announced only recently that this provision of the US nuclear doctrine is beginning to materialise with missiles of this kind entering production.

In October 2018, the United States officially declared its intention to withdraw from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles. We did everything we could to save the Treaty considering its importance in terms of sustaining strategic stability in Europe, as well as globally. The last attempt of this kind was undertaken on January 15, when the US finally agreed to our request for holding consultations in Geneva.

In coordination with the Defence Ministry, we proposed unprecedented transparency measures that went far beyond our obligations under the INF Treaty in order to persuade the US that Russia was not in violation of this essential instrument. However, the US torpedoed these proposals. Instead, the US presented yet another ultimatum. It is obvious that we cannot accept it since it contradicts the INF Treaty in both letter and spirit.

With Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

With Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The US announced that it was suspending its participation in the INF Treaty, launched the official withdrawal from it, and said that it will no longer consider itself restricted by the INF Treaty. As far as we can see, this means that the US will make missiles in addition to engaging in research and development activities that have already been factored into the current budget.

There is no doubt that these developments make things worse overall in the sphere of nuclear disarmament and strategic stability. It all started with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, when the US decided to withdraw from it in 2002, as you know all too well. This was done despite numerous initiatives by the Russian Federation at the UN General Assembly to save the ABM Treaty. The UN General Assembly passed a number of resolutions supporting the ABM Treaty. However, this did not stop the United States from withdrawing from it.

As a partial replacement for the ABM Treaty, the US and Russia signed a joint declaration that same year, 2002, on new strategic relations with a promise to settle all issues related to the so-called third positioning area of the missile-defence system being deployed in Europe at the time. The declaration provided for holding consultations as a way to reach common ground. This did not happen due to the unwillingness of the United States to take up Russia’s concerns in earnest.

In 2007, we made another gesture of good will at your instructions by coming forward with an initiative that consisted of working together to resolve the problems related to US missile defence system’s third positioning area in Europe. Once again, the US backed out of this proposal.

However, at the Russia-NATO Summit in Lisbon in 2010, we once again called for Russia, the US and Europe to work together on a continental missile-defence system. This call was not heeded. Nevertheless, two years later, in 2012, at the NATO Summit in Chicago it was NATO that called for dialogue with Russia on missile defence. However, all this good will boiled down to the US insisting that we simply come to terms with their missile defence approach, despite all the obvious risks and threats to our security posed by this approach.

Let me remind you that in 2013 Russia once again called on the US Department of State to open consultations, and came forward with concrete proposals. There was no reply. And in 2014, the United States brought the dialogue on missile defence to a halt and declared the intention to deploy its positioning areas in Europe and Asia, while also strengthening other systems, including in Alaska and on the east coast.

With Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

With Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Talking about other essential international security and strategic stability instruments, the approach adopted by the United States to performing its commitments under the universal Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons has been a matter of concern for Russia. In fact, despite numerous reminders on our part, the United States commits serious violations of the Treaty in its actions within NATO. The Treaty commits nuclear powers to refrain from transferring the corresponding nuclear technologies.

Despite these provisions, NATO engages in so-called joint nuclear missions whereby the United States together with five NATO countries where US nuclear weapons are deployed conduct nuclear weapons drills with countries that are not part of the five nuclear-weapons states. This is a direct violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Another treaty that had a special role in removing the threat of nuclear war, or, to be more precise, whose preparation was a source of hope for addressing these threats, was the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty [CTBT]. The United States did not ratify it even though doing so was among Barack Obama’s campaign promises when he ran for president.

Right now, this instrument is completely off the radar, since the United States has lost all interest in any consultations on joining this Treaty. Being a party to the CTBT and acting in good faith, Russia holds special events at the UN General Assembly every year in order to promote the Treaty and mobilise public opinion in favour of its entry into force, which requires the United States to join it, among other things.

Apart from the INF Treaty, there is the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty [START] that remains in force. It is also essential for preserving at least some measure of strategic stability and global parity. It is also under threat, since its effective functioning has come into question after the recent move by the United States to remove from accountability under the treaty 56 submarine based Trident launchers and 41 heavy bombers by declaring them converted into nun-nuclear.

This is possible under the treaty, but the other party has the right to make sure that once converted these weapons cannot be reconverted back into nuclear arsenals.

Vladimir Putin: An inspection has to be carried out.

Sergei Lavrov: Yes, an inspection. And there have to be technical means to persuade us that these systems cannot be reconverted and returned into the nuclear arsenal.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

We have been holding talks since 2015 to make sure that the United States complies with its obligations on this matter. So far, there have been no results. The technical solutions we have been offered so far cannot persuade us that more than 1,200 warheads, which is an enormous amount, cannot be returned to the nuclear arsenal. Unfortunately, repeated proposals by Russia to launch talks on extending the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty beyond 2021, when its first term is set to expire, have fallen on deaf ears in the United States. All we hear is that the decision on the New START has yet to be taken.

All in all, the situation is quite alarming. Let me reiterate that the decision taken by the United States on the INF Treaty is of course a matter of serious concern for the entire world, especially for Europe. Nevertheless, the Europeans followed in the footsteps of the United States with all NATO members speaking out in explicit support of the position adopted by the United States to refrain from any discussions on mutual concerns. All we hear are groundless ultimatums requiring us to take unilateral measures without any evidence to support unfounded accusations.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Mr Shoigu, what is the Defence Ministry’s view on the current situation? And what do you propose in this regard?

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: Mr President, it is obvious to us, despite the murky language that we hear, that apart from openly conducting research and development on the production of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles, there have been actual violations of the INF Treaty, and this has been going on for several years. To put it simply, the United States has started producing missiles of this kind.

In this connection, we have the following proposals regarding retaliatory measures.

First, we propose launching in the coming months research and development, as well as development and engineering with a view to creating land-based modifications of the sea-based Kalibr launching systems.

Second, we propose launching research and development, followed by development and engineering to create land-based launchers for hypersonic intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

We ask you to support these proposals.

Vladimir Putin: I agree. This is what we will do. Our response will be symmetrical. Our US partners announced that they are suspending their participation in the INF Treaty, and we are suspending it too. They said that they are engaged in research, development and design work, and we will do the same.

I agree with the Defence Ministry’s proposals to create a land-based version of the Kalibr launchers and work on a new project to develop a land-based hypersonic intermediate-range missile.

At the same time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we must not and will not let ourselves be drawn into an expensive arms race. I wanted to ask you, would it be possible to finance these initiatives using the existing budget allocations to the Defence Ministry for 2019 and the following years?

Sergei Shoigu: Mr President, we closely studied this matter, and will propose adjustments to the 2019 budget in order to be able to carry out these initiatives within the limits set by the state armaments programme and the defence procurement orders for 2019 without going over budget.

With Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

With Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Vladimir Putin: This should not entail any increases in the Defence Ministry’s budget.

Sergei Shoigu: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: Good.

In this connection, there is one more thing I wanted to ask you. Every six months we hold meetings in Sochi to discuss the implementation of the state defence order with the commanders of the Armed Forces and the defence sector representatives.

Starting this year, I propose modifying this format. I want to see how efforts to deploy our systems are progressing. This refers to the Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile, the Peresvet combat laser weapon, which has already been delivered to the army, and the Avangard system, which is now in serial production, having completed the test phase. I want to see how the production of the Sarmat missile is advancing alongside preparations for placing it on combat duty.

Several days ago, you reported to me on the completion of a key stage in testing the Poseidon multipurpose strategic unmanned underwater vehicle. We have to look at how these efforts are advancing.

We are aware of the plans by some countries to deploy weapons in outer space. I want to hear a report on how this threat can be neutralised.

There is another important topic I wanted to raise with both the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry.

For many years, we have been calling on numerous occasions for holding meaningful disarmament talks on almost all aspects of this matter. In recent years, we have seen that our partners have not been supportive of our initiatives. On the contrary, they always find pretexts to further dismantle the existing international security architecture.

In this connection, I would like to highlight the following considerations, and I expect the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry to use them as guidance. All our proposals in this area remain on the table just as before. We are open to negotiations. At the same time, I ask both ministries not to initiate talks on these matters in the future. I suggest that we wait until our partners are ready to engage in equal and meaningful dialogue on this subject that is essential for us, as well as for our partners and the entire world.

Another important consideration I would like to share with the senior officials of both ministries. We proceed from the premise that Russia will not deploy intermediate-range or shorter-range weapons, if we develop weapons of this kind, neither in Europe nor anywhere else until US weapons of this kind are deployed to the corresponding regions of the world.

I ask the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry to closely monitor developments and promptly submit proposals on ways to respond.

<…>

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Pelosi attempted a coup? Some very peculiar signs point to this

Conspiracy theories are usually bunk; this one may be, too. However, the Pelosi story offers a remarkable amount of compelling information.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Conspiracy theories often abound about many different topics. The seven people that run the world. The Illuminati. UFO’s. Secret government antigravity and other “black projects.” President Trump as the secret agent of Vladimir Putin. Chemtrails. DARPA. All these and many others form the basis for many interesting theories and stories, even movies that are considered “documentaries.” But few such tales have aroused as much apparently serious attention as the new one concerning Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

It is an easily visible fact that she does not agree with the policy ideas of President Trump. It is also easily evident that she thinks she can overrule the President’s wishes to break the decades-long silent conspiracy over open borders with Mexico, and to build a substantial barrier along that border.

It could also be easily inferred from both vocal and body language that she does not personally like Mr. Trump either, and at the very least considers his presence in the White House as an anomaly, as something that went wrong in “the plan.”

But what about the idea of her arranging an assassination attempt against the President?

This is the focus of a new conspiracy theory that has gained some partial reporting even in mainstream news media outlets. The most popular video presently on YouTube about this has well over 568,000 views (gained in nine days) at the time of this writing. The narrator makes a wise comment as a possible disclaimer:

For several days, the following theory has been making its way around the internet. I found it difficult to completely dismiss, when I first came across it. It’s been in the back of my mind ever since. A comprehensive time-line was made available yesterday. The evidence provided with the time-line, although circumstantial, renders it impossible for me to continue ignoring what I am about to share with you.

Here is how the conspiracy goes, in brief:

  • January 3: Mrs. Pelosi invites President Trump to deliver the State of the Union, setting the date at January 29, 2019
  • January 16: Mrs. Pelosi asks the President to postpone the address, or deliver it in writing. This was taken as a sign that the Democrats were afraid of being called out for the presently occurring partial government shutdown.
  • However, she also asserted that there was a security risk for the Capitol because the Secret Service and the Dept of Homeland Security were both not getting paid for their services during the shutdown. She said this without actually checking if it were true with these agencies.
  • January 16, 11:25am – Kirsten Nielssen, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security soon affirmed that both agencies were fully ready to support the needs of the SOTU
  • January 16: 21-year old Hasher Taheb was arrested on the charge of planning an attack against the White House on January 17th, using among other things an AT-4, an anti-tank weapon. This story got next to zero media attention, further the Atlanta Journal-Constitution downplays the abilities of this young man to carry out his plan, despite significant efforts he made.
  • January 17th: Nancy Pelosi adjusts her “delay” stance on the SOTU to say it should not be given because the workers in the departments are not getting paid. (All of Congress is getting paid, Democrats vacationed in Puerto Rico, Pelosi went to Hawaii, and President Trump stayed at the White House over the Christmas break, except when he left to visit the troops.)

This is where it gets really hairy, though.

  • Nancy Pelosi planned a trip during the shutdown to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan, together with her entire family, a group of seven other Congressional delegates, and according to the Marshall Report and other rampant reports, 93 other people, family members of both Mrs. Pelosi and the other delegates, a claim that has no corroboration anywhere else we can find at this time. This trip was scheduled for January 17th, the same day that Hasher was planning to attack the White House.
  • However even the idea of Representative Pelosi going to Afghanistan is a surprise. An early report on the Rush Limbaugh program noted that she has never gone there in the history of the entire US involvement, so why now?
  • Further, the trip was set to visit NATO leaders in Europe.
  • President Trump canceled her trip, but then quietly sent his own wife, Melania and young son Barron, to Florida by government transport.
  • The letter canceling the trip was released at 2pm on January 17th. Mrs. Pelosi and Co. were scheduled to depart D.C. at 3pm that day (January 17th)
  • Further, Mrs. Pelosi tried to hand-pick the crew for the trip. This was denied as well but it adds to the mystery. Was it really because of their “great service?”
  • The plan for the trip was initiated around Christmas. In Afghanistan, government staffers were not thrilled about the upcoming trip. Foreign Service officers were working for two weeks without pay.
  • Nancy Pelosi made a public reply that the stop in Brussels was to meet with NATO leaders to assure them of the ironclad nature of the US alignment with them. However on December 3rd, Mike Pompeo met with NATO heads as well. What would Pelosi possibly have to say?
  • While Pelosi denied she was traveling to Egypt, the itinerary of the flight said otherwise. Incidentally, again, Mike Pompeo had just been to Egypt 10 days prior.
  • January 18: Pelosi tries again to fly commercial to these same places, but has to cancel the trip, and accuses the White House of “leaking her commercial flight plans.” What commercial flights go to Afghanistan with US government officials?
  • January 18: President Trump announces that he plans to make a major announcement Saturday to be broadcast live from the White House.
  • The strangest incident yet: From Donna Brazile, this tweet:

Archived copy of this not yet located…

  • This seems to be very strange. We are looking for an archived copy of this tweet, but have not yet located it.

Is this code for an assassination attempt? MLK was, and “hope” is part of the mantra for Barack Obama during his own campaign.

  • January 18: Pelosi and Co. spotted at Reagan Airport
  • Last in our list (though the attached video describes still more), when the Air Force bus carrying the delegation was brought back from the airport on the 17th, it reportedly circled several times before stopping and letting everyone out. This raises its own set of questions, namely “why?”

And this last is even weirder: Snopes.com is widely understood to be a leftist “fact checker” site, but often some of the conspiracy theory debunking it does is pretty accurate. They checked into the allegation that 93 family members were to go on this trip (to Afghanistan!) and could not prove it one way or the other. In fact, this is what they said:

We requested comment from all seven Congressional members of the cancelled delegation: House Speaker Pelosi and U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff, Susan Davis, Eliot Engel, Elaine Luria, Stephen Lynch and Mark Takano. We did not receive a response from any of them.

This seems to be very telling. If there was no story, it probably would have taken all of about ten seconds to say so.

More information is offered in these video clips:

and

The conspiracy theory is that an attempt to bolster Deep State alliances was attempted. The timing of the alleged attacker, the possibility of several high-ranking US Congressional members, plus the Speaker of the House to be out of the US at the time of the attack, is spooky. Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker of the House, is third in line of succession. If the President and Vice President were killed or seriously incapacitated, she would become President.

So, is this a hokey conspiracy theory, just dreamed up by Trump supporters who are aggravated by Mrs. Pelosi’s stubbornness?

Let us hope so. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer together have successfully managed to hold the US government still and more importantly, they have been somewhat effective in at least delaying the President from getting the border wall built.

Remember that this wall’s completion will absolutely cut illegal border traffic. While that border traffic has been dropping since 2000’s high point of 1.6 million apprehended, 2018 still had some 470,000 illegals caught by the Border Patrol and ICE, which is the size of a large American city. On Wednesday, a huge drug seizure was accomplished at the US-Mexico border, with a haul of Fentanyl so large that it could have killed some 57 million people.

Closing the border with the wall will probably not stop all illegals. But it will stop the vast majority of them, and it may make the problem of illegal border crossings manageable while a better solution is found. But this will also aggravate interests in both political parties, for this is why the border has never been closed. Many people profit from cheap labor.

However, Mr. Trump is not a politician. He is a populist leader, and as we have already seen, he means to keep his word to his supporters, and it definitely appears that he does not care a fig for sweeping this matter under the carpet.

We know the media hates the President, and spends much of its time in a mindless rage over his existence.

The real question is, probably, therefore, this:

How many assassination attempts have been tried against President Trump? The second video says 12. Why do we not know about them?

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Ukrainian SBU searches home and office of Kirill Vyshinsky’s attorney

Anti-Russia scapegoating continues, this journalist suffering imprisonment for his opinions, unlike Ukrainian reporters in Russia.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS reported on January 17 that investigators from the office of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General are presently searching the home and office of Andrei Domansky, attorney of the RIA Novosti (Ukraine) news outlet’s chief editor, Kirill Vyshinsky. This is an extension of the Ukrainian SBU’s “investigation” into RIA Novosti Ukraine staff, who are presently accused of high treason against the government of Ukraine. The SBU claimed that Moscow was using a network of “media structures” to carry out a “hybrid war” against Kyiv.

Kirill Vyshinsky was arrested on May 15, 2018 as part of the investigation. The SBU charged Mr. Vyshinsky based on a number of his articles regarding the rejoining of Crimea to the Russian Federation in 2014. He has been held in jail ever since, though initially his jail time was just supposed to be 60 days. It got extended and he is still in jail. An earlier report from TASS gives details:

On May 15, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) carried out a large-scale operation against RIA Novosti Ukraine staff members, accusing them of high treason. The news agency’s Editor-in-chief Kirill Vyshinsky was taken into custody.The journalist was then transferred to the city of Kherson, where a city court arrested him for 60 days. His arrest was later extended until November 4.

The charges against Vyshinsky are particularly based on a number of articles dedicated to the 2014 events in Crimea. If found guilty, the journalist may face up to 15 years, but he pleaded not guilty.

Vyshinsky, originally a Ukrainian national, obtained Russian citizenship as well in 2015. But on June 1st after his arrest, he addressed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko from the courtroom, renouncing his Ukrainian citizenship and saying he considered himself to be only a Russian national. He also addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking for legal assistance in his release.

“I appeal [for help] to [Ukrainian] President [Petro] Poroshenko, whom I know personally and with whom we have done several good deeds,” he said. “I declare my withdrawal from my Ukrainian citizenship — from this moment I consider myself only a citizen of Russia.”

Vyshinsky also called for an “immediate” end to what he called the “persecution” of his family members and friends and appealed to Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner Lyudmila Denysova to take note of his case.

“What is happening here and with me now is a gross violation of human rights,” he said.

He said his arrest is a “political order” and suggested that he was arrested in order to use him in a swap with Moscow for a Ukrainian being held in Russia.

His attorney, Andrei Domansky, is presently also in Kherson, located in south central Ukraine. On January 17th, Mr. Domansky posted this update on Facebook about his current situation:

“The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office has decided to search my home and office, as well as the home of my assistant, while I am away in Kherson, studying the case files and waiting for a court hearing of the request to extend Kirill Vyshinsky’s arrest.”

Charges against Vyshinsky are related to a number of the journalist’s articles dedicated to the 2014 re-entry of Crimea into the Russian Federation. Vyshinsky presently is on record with a not guilty plea.

One of the interesting connections that has no doubt brought the wrath of the Poroshenko regíme down on Mr. Vyshinsky is his commentary about the autocephaly issue in Ukraine, currently resulting in a “union and rehabilitation” of Ukrainian schismatics into a “national Ukrainian church”, which goes by the name “The Orthodox Church in Ukraine.”

Most of the statements surrounding this church have been about throwing off Russian control and glorifying Ukraine. In this video clip below, Vyshinsky discusses the matter of autocephaly. While the whole clip is given here, and while we recommend viewing all of it, the comments regarding the autocephaly begin at [4:44] in the video.

In the video Mr. Vyshinsky makes it abundantly clear (with written records) that he was in effect, arrested out of the blue, for doing nothing but fielding opinions. Some opinions his publication printed were pro Poroshenko – West and some not. But he makes it clear that these opinions were those of the people who stated them. He notes with great detail how this happened. He absolutely criticizes the authorities in Ukraine for restricting freedom of the press.

Petro Poroshenko’s Ukraine resembles the United States in that it is a tempest in a teapot. In the US’ case, it is about a mad establishment government against a reformer president. In Ukraine it is about a whole government gone mad against Russia, and for no clearly understandable set of reasons. Both situations are insane and likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

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