Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Russia’s mendacity defies comprehension at times, exemplified by their comments on Iran at this time – Melnikov is on target. Notably Iran is rejecting publicly Russia’s dictum that they should depart Syria, despite their dependency on Russian support in multiple areas – this regime has even bigger delusions of grandeur than the Muscovy Chekist regime. Shelin nicely articulates one such delusion in Muscovy, while Roshchin points to a deep-seated cause of irrationality in Russia. Roskosmos talking about using recycled SATAN ICBMs again, after losing support from the Ukrainian manufacturer.
In the UK, the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee reports on Russian “dirty money” and the UK’s finance sector’s industrial scale laundering thereof.
SECSTATE Pompeo spells out what is coming for Iran, while Iran plays an escalation game on the EU, making demands to sustain the now collapsing nuke deal – Tehran seems to be under the misapprehension that the EU is motivated by matters other than simple greed in dealing with Iran. Erdogan spreads mayhem in the Balkans.
After Putin says foreign troops should depart when war ends, and Kremlin clarifies that includes Iran and Hezbollah, Islamic Republic says ‘no one can force Iran to do anything’
Last week President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal. Sputnik discussed the implications and the consequences for global companies and especially the ramifications of an already strained relationship between the US and the European Union with Salil Sarkar, journalist and writer based in Paris, France.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has addressed the Heritage Foundation in Washington with a speech regarding a future US strategy towards Iran after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018.
Faced with the prospect of renewed US sanctions, Iran is looking for efforts by Washington’s European allies to keep the 2015 nuclear accord alive.
Extending output cuts deepens its role in global affairs.
Some think the technology that was introduced with Bitcoin has enormous potential. That has a number of countries looking to influence its future.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia may renew launches of the Voevoda (NATO reporting name Satan) intercontinental ballistic missiles to place spacecraft into orbit, a source in the Russian space industry told Sputnik.
The Russian Defense Ministry has disbursed 1.5 trillion rubles ($24 billion) for the state defense order this year, President Vladimir Putin said in his opening remarks at another meeting with the top officials of the Defense Ministry and defense industrial complex enterprises on Thursday. According to the TASS, under these contracts Russia’s armed forces would obtain 160 aircraft, 10 surface ships and 14 space systems. The general purpose forces will acquire 500 missile and artillery systems installed on tanks and other armored vehicles. As before, the most serious attention will be paid to the aerospace forces. In particular, this concerns aircraft and air defense systems and navigation and intelligence equipment.
Paul Goble Staunton, May 20 – When things are going relatively well, many Russians like to say they are the best at everything. When things start to go wrong, they routinely insist that they’re just as good as anyone else. And when ever more failures and crimes make such insistence insupportable, they often begin to say that at least they aren’t as bad as some others. This pattern is most obvious in the case of Russia’s recent defeats in athletic competitions, Moscow commentator Aleksey Melnikov says; but it quite often extends to economics, social and demographic conditions, politics, and international affairs more generally (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B004B0C76A43). As bad as Russian teams do, especially in comparison with the past, he continues, there are always teams that do even worse; and instead of focusing on the problems of their own teams, Russians increasingly direct their attention and that of others to these other teams, thus eliminating any pressure on themselves to improve. This approach of what might be called Russia’s “C students” who like to point out that many are doing even worse than they are even if others are doing better is viewed as patriotic. It is certainly emotionally comforting and means that Russians do not feel any reason to think that they have in any way fallen short, however much they have fallen from past victories. Obviously, such attitudes work to the benefit of a political class that doesn’t want to be forced to make changes and so the regime itself is only to happy to promote rather than discourage such talk. But the long-term impact of such attitudes for Russia’s future will be anything but positive.
Paul Goble Staunton, May 19 – Despite all the talk in Moscow about a breakthrough and new confidence because of rising oil prices, the Russian economy has been falling ever further behind the advanced economies of the world and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, according to Rosbalt commentator Sergey Shelin. The ordinary Russian has to be suspicious about any talk of a breakthrough because the officials suggesting that is possible are the same ones who brought Russia to its current stagnation, a state that has left the country ever further behind the advanced economies and that these officials have no idea how to change (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2018/05/18/1704137.html). One example of this inability surfaced this week when some in the government pushed for a sweeping counter-sanctions bill in the Duma and then Russian business leaders had to intervene against it, likely with the support of some others in the Presidential Administration but hardly an indication of a well-developed program. The backing down in this case was justified in terms of maintaining Russia’s economic growth. “But just what growth” is anyone talking about. In the first quarter of 2018, the economy had grown only 1.3 percent over the same period a year ago. And “this is even worse than was the case in 2017” when the figure was 1.5 percent, Shelin says. These figures are truly anemic compared to the worldwide tempo of economic growth over the same period of 3.5 percent. Only Japan and Italy did as poorly as Russia, and only Brazil among the major economies did worse, with an increase of only 0.7 percent. Now the economics ministry “which makes promises” is lowering the projected rate for this year. And as always, it blames the past: “the not very good situation in the economy at the start of this year.” Ordinary Russians, polls show, have reached the same conclusion. After a brief uptick in optimism between October 2017 and March 2018, “the share of pessimists has again been increasing.” Also ever more pessimistic about Russia are Western financial institutions. According to Shelin, “slow, even notable economic growth is completely compatible with the fundamental principles of Putinomics as long, of course, as this system does not begin to harm itself by the imposition of all kinds of counter-sanctions which will hit not only Voronezh but even the hierarchy itself.” But the possibility of having a breakthrough that would allow Russia to catch up and surpass the Western economies is another matter altogether, the Moscow analyst says. Between 2015 and 2017, Russia’s GDP fell by 0.9 percent, while the world’s GDP rose by 10.2 percent. And even the top five economies, of which Russia is not one, did quite well. Russia’s problems in this regard can’t be clamed on the Soviet past or on its involvement in Syria, Shelin says. In Kazakhstan, for example, GDP grew by 5.7 percent. Meanwhile, “Poland, the largest of our dependent east European states showed us an example: its GDP grew 10.7 percent.” Nonetheless, no one in Moscow is talking about copying Poland’s approach. And other participants in the Syrian war, Shelin continues, did far better than Russia over the same period. Turkey’s GDP grew 15.1 percent, Iran’s 14.6 percent, Israel’s 10 percent, and Saudi Arabia’s 6 percent. Thus, all talk about an economic “miracle” is misplaced. Russia has been growing more slowly than other countries similarly situated and will continue to do so. “This lag has deep roots,” the analyst says. “It is built into our entire system as are regularly repeated promises to carry out an economic miracle,” even though somehow that never happens.
Paul Goble Staunton, May 20 – Vladimir Putin’s driving a truck across the Kerch Bridge, Aleksey Roshchin says, highlighted both the secret of the Kremlin leader’s popularity and the failure of his opponents to understand that reality, a failure that precludes their ability to cut into his support let alone challenge his leadership. “For the population of Russia,” the sociologist says, “one of the most important criteria is that the tsar not be in any way like an intellectual.” Consequently, Putin wins by portraying himself as “a real man” who is ready to act the way those in the most masculine professions do (newizv.ru/comment/aleksey-roschin/19-05-2018/muzhik-v-chem-sekret-populyarnosti-putina). Liberal Russian liberal bloggers, Roshchin continues, utterly fail to get this. They are laughing about Putin as a truckdriver, failing to understand that their jokes do not undermine Putin but instead strengthen him among the population which has always viewed intellectuals with suspicion and contempt anyway. Russians view “’intells’” as incapable of doing the most ordinary things and certainly incapable of doing anything that challenges the rules, he says. The two political figures Russians view as archetypical intellectuals are Mikhail Gorbachev and Yegor Gaidar, neither of whom is approved by “more than one percent” of the people. Boris Yeltsin, in contrast, won more support, Roshchin says, precisely because he was not an intellectual in any way. And Putin has done the same as has been highlighted with the Kerch Bridge and his driving the truck across it. Unlike intellectuals, Russians believe, Putin wasn’t afraid in this case or others “afraid to violate the rules.” That willingness to violate rules, the sociologist says, is a quality that anyone who wants to be a politician in Russia must have. It is an indication that Russia is “a wild country, but here there isn’t another one,” the sociologist continues. “Putin and Yeltsin, each in his own way and each successfully brought to the masses the image of THE REAL MAN. Russians love them and forgive them for a lot. Everything else being equal, the real man will always defeat the Intell, and no support from progressive society will help.” The real man can be defeated by only one figure, a saint who could “stop the Kamaz with his own body.” But at the present time, Roshchin says, none of them are visible in Russia “even on the horizon.”
Paul Goble Staunton, May 21 – Vladimir Putin now finds himself in a paradoxical situation, Vladimir Sokratilin says. The more he strengthens the power vertical and gives the siloviki ever greater influence over events, the weaker it and he becomes, as the failure of the August 1991 coup showed. Many are overread poll results showing that 90 percent of Russians aren’t ready to take part in protests, the sociologist points out. In fact, the share that is prepared to do so will rise to 100 percent as happened in Volokolamsk and Kemerovo if an event provides a focus for popular discontent (gorod-812.ru/chem-bolshe-putin-ukreplyaet-vlast-tem-slabee-ona-stanovitsya/). At present, he says, “the situation is stable” in the absence of such triggers, “people live quietly, but the level of social tension is dangerously high.” If conditions deteriorate slowly, people won’t go into the streets; but if something like a fire or an accident happens, then they will because they see no other way to press their causes, Sokratilin continues. “If in society there are mechanisms which allow for the resolution of such conflicts, then a social explosion won’t occur,” he says. But over the past decade, in the name of building the power vertical, Putin has destroyed most of those mechanism and any popular belief that they can be effective in resolving problems. Instead, Russians see a system where it isn’t open politics that decides outcomes but the struggle of clans behind the scenes each of which seeks to use or is very much part of the siloviki. The latter, of course, “have their own interests;” and it is significant that the work siloviki has followed sputnik into international discourse. The rise of the siloviki has occurred, the sociologist argues, because Putin has destroyed democratic procedures and the separation of powers and “what is most important” has created a situation in which officials don’t have to take public opinion into account but rather have to concern themselves only with interested siloviki. There is yet another shortcoming in Putin’s system: “no serious official however much he may want to can involve himself with the development of the sector he is responsible for because he is forced to spend all his time on repulsing hostile attacks and conducting his own” as a condition of remaining in power. This is a big change from a decade of so ago. In 2008, mayors were still elected in most places. Consequently, when Kondopoga happened, no one ever raised the possibility of resolving it by the use of force. Officials thought first and foremost “about how to conduct a propaganda campaign, as it was called.” But today in Volokolamsk, Russian officials turn to force first, not seeing any need to pay attention to the views of the population. Indeed, Sokratilin says, “officials are no longer concerned about a feedback loop with the population; they are worried only about their own positions in the system of power.” Apologists for this new system “justly say that the people of Russia has never lived as well as it does not,” the sociologist continues. “That is true. But at the same time, the sense of injustice in the organization of the life of society and the alienation of the powers in public consciousness is very strong.” When the powers that be think first of all about applying force against those who do protest, that has another consequence which may prove fatal: The application of limited amounts of force “fight only the most intellectual and well-disposed part” of those protesting. And that means that “the more radical part” remains. “Force, unfortunately, gives rise to force,” Sokratilin points out. And as the events at the end of Soviet times show, when the population starts to blame the siloviki for the use of force, the siloviki will begin to calculate whether they should follow orders to suppress the population, knowing they are certain to be blamed and even sold out by the political types. “In the USSR, there was also a harsh power vertical and an uncompromising under the rug struggle among the siloviki of that time. When the political elite used the army as in Tbilisi, the army got blamed. And that meant that in August 1991, commanders were much more reluctant to be used against the population. “What can we expect under contemporary conditions? The suppression of mass risings – this carries with it big risks.” If passers-by are wounded or killed, the situation can easily get dangerously out of hand. Many discount this because they do not feel Russians have experienced “the last drop” of oppression. But that is a mistake, Sokratilin says, because in fact the appropriate model is one in which the pressure of social tensions is such, that any massive protest that would lead the Kremlin to use force in a massive way could touch off a far greater social and thus political explosion than anyone expects. What this trigger will be is impossible to say, just as it was impossible just months ago to predict the rise of protests in Volokolamsk.
The City is being used as “a base for the corrupt assets” of President Putin’s allies, MPs claim.
The British government should impose sweeping sanctions on oligarchs and officials close to Vladimir Putin and apply punitive laws to counter the “full spectrum of the offensive measures” being used by Russia, a report by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has demanded. “The use of London as a base for the corrupt assets of Kremlin-connected individuals is now clearly linked to a wider Russian strategy and has implications for our national security: combating it should be a major UK foreign policy priority,” claim the MPs.
Government must stop money laundering by ‘kleptocrats and rights abusers’, which is helping Putin subvert international rules
London is being used as a “base for the corrupt assets” of individuals linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, the U.K.’s foreign affairs committee said in a report published Monday.
“Dirty” Russian money is undermining Britain’s efforts to stand up to the Kremlin and supports President Vladimir Putin’s campaign “to subvert the international rules-based system,” a parliamen…
The U.K. should seek European Union action to bar Russian sovereign debt from clearing houses and work with allies to stop companies whose owners have links to President Vladimir Putin from listing on global stock markets, according to a committee of lawmakers in London.
Britain’s Foreign Affairs Committee released a report today (May 21) detailing how the UK has been a major beneficiary of Russian money since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and that cash is hidden in British assets and laundered through financial institutions in London. “The scale of damage that this ‘dirty money’ can…
Britain’s media regulator says it has opened three new investigations into broadcasts made by the state-sponsored news channel RT in April and May.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveils what happens now after President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed Monday to levy an “unprecedented” level of sanctions to bring Iran to heel after the U.S. announced it was withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear accord.
The US will aim to “crush” Iran with economic and military pressure unless it changes its behavior in the Middle East, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday.
The Trump administration escalated its demands on Iran, putting Tehran on notice that any new nuclear deal would require it to stop enriching all uranium and halt its support for militant groups in the region.
Pompeo said the sanctions would come if the regime does not comply with a list of U.S. demands intended to bolster non-proliferation measures.
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The top US diplomat says Iran will be “battling to keep its economy alive” after sanctions take effect.
Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, is expected to call on European countries to help ramp up economic pressure on Iran as he outlines America’s ‘Plan B’ to the nuclear deal.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to announce a new U.S. strategy for dealing with Iran in his first major address since taking over the job last month.
Mike Pompeo outlines a new strategy for dealing with Iran following Trump’s withdrawal from 2015 nuclear pact.
RT Published on May 21, 2018 Tehran will struggle to ‘keep its economy alive’ if it does not comply with a list of 12 US demands, including Iranian withdrawal from Syria, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed on Monday. READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/95ps
Tehran has said Europe’s attempts to save the 2015 nuclear deal are insufficient. Iran sees a particular problem with European companies halting investment in the country.
Foreign Minister Zarif says EU must keep European companies from withdrawing investments in Iran
European leaders have been scrambling to save the Iranian nuclear deal after the Donald Trump administration announced its withdrawal on May 8.
Iranian foreign minister says the bloc must take ‘more practical strides’ to preserve landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Iran’s foreign minister said Sunday that the European Union (EU) isn’t doing enough to make the nuclear deal worthwhile to Tehran in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal.
Iran’s state TV is reporting that the country’s foreign minister has urged the European Union to go beyond political support for its landmark nuclear deal and increase investment in Iran.
An Iranian MP said that the Islamic Republic Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the nuclear deal as a quot;dying patient,quot; after US
Iran promised to uphold the pact curbing its nuclear activities if the EU can offset renewed U.S. sanctions, senior officials said, advocating an approach that would widen a deepening schism between Washington and Brussels.
India News: NEW DELHI: A US law, which imposes sanctions on Russia and Iran, is proving to be a stumbling block for India as it tries to strengthen its military p.
The Washington Post reports that European leaders are vexed with President Trump. Sorely vexed. Our European partners feel that Trump “delight[s] in smashing transatlantic bonds.” The situation is so dire that, according to Josef Janning of the European Council on Foreign Relations, the post-World War ties that provided the basis for Western strength and peace for 70-plus years are probably gone forever. The end of the Trump presidency won’t restore the alliance, Europeans fear. Rather, “the blend of unilateralism, nationalism, and protectionism Trump embodies may be the new American normal.” But what actual policies and controversies support this European pessimism? The Post’s article, by Griff Witte and Michael Birnbaum, cites three. First, and apparently foremost, is Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Second, Witte and Birnbaum point to “the bloodshed in the Gaza strip,” referring to it as a “Trump-ignited brushfire.” Americans had no role in the Gaza bloodshed, so I assume the Post and the European leaders it speaks for mean the decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. In reality, the Gaza bloodshed was not caused by this decision, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that it was. Does the transatlantic alliance really depend on America’s willingness to abide by what it considers a terrible nuclear deal and to keep its embassy in Israel outside that nation’s capital? These aren’t transatlantic issues (though, to be sure, Europeans want desperately to make money in Iran).
With relations between the U.S. and the European Union at their lowest ebb in 70 years, European leaders are ramping up the rhetoric. But there are risks in raising the rhetorical stakes.
A Russian aircraft maker is looking to do business with Iranian airlines after the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear proliferation deal, Puget Sound Business Journal reports.
Turkey’s president has arrived in the Bosnian capital to address supporters living in Europe, ahead of snap elections in his country.
President turns to Bosnia to rally expatriates after several EU countries ban Turkish campaigning on their soil.