Category Archives: Russia

What links Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine? US and NATO foreign policy

Chris Nineham writes for Stop The War:

NatoUN agencies and leading charities confirmed over the weekend what many people are thinking and feeling about the state of the world – we are witnessing  an unprecendented  level of global  turmoil and violence. The UN added a series of countries to its extreme crisis list and a senior foreign policy advisor at Oxfam briefed “I haven’t seen anything of this scale before…across the board, the humanitarian community sees this as one of the worst moments we’ve ever had to confront in terms of simultaneous, mostly man-made crises.” This follows a UN announcement a few weeks ago that for the first time since World War II, the number displaced people worldwide exceeded 50 million.

This is the disturbing context in which the leaders of the Western world will be coming to Newport in South Wales for a high-profile NATO summit. The crises in Gaza, Iraq, Eastern Europe and beyond tend to be reported as entirely separate cases with little or no investigation of either wider context or history.  Palestinian representatives – on the few occiasions have been given air time – have argued that the long history of Israeli expansionism backed by Britain and the US is key to comprehending current events. Invariably they have been brusquely brought up to date, told that ‘we are where we are’ and that they should concentrate on finding  solutions. But there is no prospect of solutions to any of these terrible crises without understanding what is driving them.’

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Nabucco: Iran to provide Europe with alternative to Russian gas?

World Bulletin reports:

Iran to provide Europe with alternative to Russian gasAs the Ukraine crisis puts Russia and Europe at odds, leaving Europe with no choice but to search for alternative natural gas resources, Iran looks likely to fulfill Europe’s demand.

Iran’s deputy oil minister Ali Mejidi has indicated that the Nabucco Project, which was presented as an alternative to Russian gas with the potential of fulfilling a large proportion of Europe’s need before being put on hold last year, is now back on track. Speaking to Russian press, Mejidi confirmed that two separate delegations were sent to Europe. “With Nabucco, Iran can provide Europe with gas. We are the best alternative to Russia,” he said.

Mejidi also said that though a number of routes to deliver the gas to Europe were being considered, Turkey was the “right address.” The Nabucco project, which was first presented in 2002, plans to pump gas to Europe via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. The project will also pump 31 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani and Iraqi natural gas to Europe.

Iran Denies Media Reports on $20 billion Oil Deal with Russia

Tasnim News Agency reports:

putin iran‘Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister for International and Trade Affairs denied the recent media reports on a $20-billion oil deal between Tehran and Moscow. Ali Majedi said reports carried by some foreign media about Russia signing a $20- billion agreement to purchase Iranian oil are incorrect. Moscow and Tehran signed a five-year memorandum of understanding on Monday aimed at boosting bilateral economic cooperation.

Later, the Reuters News Agency claimed that it included an oil-for-goods agreement worth up to $20 billion which would see Moscow buy Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods. Meanwhile the White House has said such a deal would raise “serious concerns” and would be inconsistent with the nuclear talks between world powers and Iran.

US Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen on Thursday said Washington may introduce sanctions against Russian companies due to the recently signed oil deal between Moscow and Tehran. Cohen added that Washington had warned Russia against such a deal under the threat of additional US sanctions.’

CIA Intervention in Ukraine Has Been Taking Place for Decades

Editor’s Note: You can also listen to a recent interview with the author of this piece here.

Jeff Kaye writes for The Dissenter:

‘Of all the aspects of the current crisis over the NATO/Russia standoff in Ukraine, the determined intervention into Ukrainian political affairs by the United States has been the least reported, at least until recently. While new reports have appeared concerning CIA Director John Brennan’s mid-April trip to Kiev, and CIA/FBI sending “dozens” of advisers to the Ukrainian security services, very few reports mention that U.S. intervention in Ukraine affairs goes back to the end of World War II. It has hardly let up since then.

The fact of such intervention is not hard to find. Indeed, it’s hard to know where to start in documenting all this, there is so much out there if one is willing to look for it. But the mainstream U.S. press, and their blogger shadows, are ignoring this for the most part. Some exceptions at the larger alternative websites include Jeffrey St. Clair’s Counterpunch and Robert Parry’s Consortium News. Even these latter outlets have almost nothing to say about the approximately 70 year history of U.S. intervention in Ukraine.’

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Red Cross: Russian aid convoy held up at Ukrainian border by lack of security guarantees

Alexander Roslyakov reports for The Associated Press:

‘Hundreds of trucks in a Russian aid convoy waited Saturday near the Ukrainian border as complicated procedures dragged on for allowing them into eastern Ukraine to help civilians suffering amid fighting between Ukrainian forces and separatists.

The main holdup was a lack of security guarantees from all sides in the conflict, said the International Committee of the Red Cross, which would have responsibility for distributing the aid.

Ukrainian officials are concerned that the mission, including around 200 trucks, could be a guise for Russia to send in equipment for the rebels, whom Kiev and Western countries claim are backed by Moscow. But Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement under which the trucks could enter with Red Cross accompaniment if Ukrainian border guards and customs agents approve the cargo.’

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Stephen Cohen: The New Cold War and the Necessity of Patriotic Heresy

Stephen Cohen recently addressed the US-Russia Forum in Washington, DC:

Obama and Putin‘We meet today during the worst and potentially most dangerous American-Russian confrontation in many decades, probably since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The Ukrainian civil war, precipitated by the unlawful change of government in Kiev in February, is already growing into a proxy US-Russian war. The seemingly unthinkable is becoming imaginable: an actual war between NATO, led by the United States, and post-Soviet Russia.

Certainly, we are already in a new cold war, which escalating sanctions will only deepen and institutionalize, one potentially more dangerous than its US-Soviet predecessor the world barely survived. This is so for several reasons:

—The epicenter of the new cold war is not in Berlin but on Russia’s borders, in Ukraine, a region absolutely essential in Moscow’s view to its national security and even to its civilization. This means that the kinds of miscalculations, mishaps and provocations the world witnessed decades ago will be even more fraught with danger. (The mysterious shoot down of a Malaysian jetliner over eastern Ukraine in July was an ominous example.)

—An even graver risk is that the new cold war may tempt the use of nuclear weapons in a way the US-Soviet one did not. I have in mind the argument made by some Moscow military strategists that if directly threatened by NATO’s superior conventional forces, Russia may resort to its much larger arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons. (The ongoing US-NATO encirclement of Russia with bases, as well as land and sea-based missile defense, only increases this possibility.)

—Yet another risk factor is that the new cold war lacks the mutually restraining rules that developed during the forty-year cold war, especially after the Cuban missile crisis. Indeed, highly charged suspicions, resentments, misconceptions and misinformation both in Washington and Moscow may make such mutual restraints even more difficult. The same is true of the surreal demonization of Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin—a kind of personal vilification without any real precedent in the past, at least after Stalin’s death. (Henry Kissinger has pointed out that the “demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.” I think it is worse: an abdication of real analysis and rational policy-making.)

—Finally, the new cold war may be more perilous because, also unlike during its forty-year predecessor, there is no effective American opposition—not in the administration, Congress, establishment media, universities, think tanks, or in society.’

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Court orders Russia to pay $50 billion for seizing Yukos assets

Megan Davies, Jack Stubbs and Thomas Escritt report for Reuters:

‘An international arbitration court ruled on Monday that Russia must pay $50 billion for expropriating the assets of Yukos, the former oil giant whose ex-owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky fell foul of the Kremlin. Finding that Russian authorities had subjected Yukos to politically-motivated attacks, the panel made an award to a group of former Yukos shareholders that equates to more than half the entire fund Moscow has set aside to cover budget holes.

Russia, whose economy is on the brink of recession, said it would appeal the ruling by the Dutch-based panel, which judges private business disputes. It also said the “politically biased decision” was based on “current events” – an apparent reference to Moscow’s dispute with the West over Ukraine. Independent lawyers said it would be difficult to enforce the award to shareholders in the GML group, who had claimed $114 billion to recover money they lost when the Kremlin seized Yukos a decade ago.’

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Poll: Putin’s Approval Rating Soars to 87%

The Moscow Times reports:

President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has reached a record high of 87 percent, according to the results of a survey published Wednesday by the independent Levada Center pollster. In May, Putin enjoyed an approval rating of 83 percent, its highest since 2008, according to major U.S. pollster Gallup.

Putin’s popularity at home has skyrocketed against a backdrop of increased diplomatic isolation connected with the crisis in Ukraine, where the West claims that the Kremlin’s aggressive policies continue to destabilize the nation and inflict casualties. His latest popularity boost comes on the heels of yet another round of EU and U.S. sanctions against Russian officials.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s approval rating sits at 71 percent, the Levada poll revealed. Sixty-six percent of respondents also said they believe Russia is “moving in the right direction.” The poll was conducted from Aug. 1 to 4, among 1,600 adults across 134 Russian cities.’

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Russia signs decree requiring ID for access to public WiFi

Reuters reports:

Russia further tightened its control of the Internet on Friday, requiring people using public Wifi hotspots provide identification, a policy that prompted anger from bloggers and confusion among telecom operators on how it would work. The decree, signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on July 31 but published online on Friday, also requires companies to declare who is using their web networks. The legislation caught many in the industry by surprise and companies said it was not clear how it would be enforced.

A flurry of new laws regulating Russia’s once freewheeling Internet has been condemned by President Vladimir Putin’s critics as a crackdown on dissent, after the websites of two of his prominent foes were blocked this year. Putin, who alarmed industry leaders in April by saying the Internet is “a CIA project”, says the laws are needed to fight “extremism” and “terrorism”… A pro-Kremlin lawmaker said the measure was needed to prevent Cold War-style propaganda attacks against Russia.

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John Pilger talks Gaza, Ukraine & Western media bias

The Russian ‘hack of the century’ doesn’t add up

Russell Brandom writes for The Verge:

‘Yesterday, The New York Times dropped an exclusive account of what reporter Nicole Perlroth called “the biggest hack ever.” By the numbers it certainly held up: 1.2 billion accounts, covering 500 million unique email addresses over 420,000 websites. The data had been captured by a Russian hacker group called CyberVor, and revealed by Hold Security. But as the smoke clears, the hack seems to be less of a criminal masterwork than the article might have you believe.

The biggest problem, as Forbes‘s Kashmir Hill and The Wall Street Journal‘s Danny Yadron have noted, is that Hold Security is already capitalizing on the panic, charging a $120-per-year subscription to anyone who wants to check if their name and password are on the list. Hold says it’s just trying to recoup expenses, but there’s something unseemly about stoking fears of cybercrime and then asking concerned citizens to pay up. It also gives Hold a clear incentive to lie to reporters about how large and significant the finding is.’

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Russia grants Snowden three-year residence permit

From AFP:

‘Fugitive US intelligence operative Edward Snowden has been granted a three-year residence permit in Russia, his Russian lawyer said at a press conference Thursday.

“The request was accepted and accordingly Edward Snowden was given a three-year residence permit” which allows him to move about freely and travel abroad, lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told journalists.

“In the future Edward will have to decide whether to continue to live in Russia and become a citizen or to return to the United States,” Kucherena added.’

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Russia sanctions: Who will be hurt the most?

From BBC News:

Russian flag with President Putin's face ‘They are the toughest sanctions imposed on Russia since the Cold War, but who will they hurt the most? The EU’s latest sanctions package comes amid anger over the Kremlin’s support for Ukrainian rebels, who stand accused of shooting down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet and killing 298 people.

The measures include an arms embargo, restrictions on offshore energy exploration and curbs on Russian banks trading in European markets. The sanctions are intended to strangle the Russian economy and convince President Vladimir Putin to abandon his support for the separatists in Ukraine.

Russia’s economy is relatively small, about the same size as Italy, but its energy resources are vast. Russia’s exports are almost all raw materials and about 60% of these are energy products. The EU takes more than 45% of Russia’s exports. Less than 3% of the EU’s exports go to Russia.

So could it be that in trying to inflict economic pain on Russia, the EU will merely end up harming itself?’

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Ukraine Crisis Reminds Americans Why NATO Should Not Expand

Doug Bandow writes for Forbes:

‘[...] Efforts to expand NATO are strikingly misguided.  Traditional military alliances were created to advance a nation’s security.  They were not intended to act as clubs for international business, associations for shared values, or tools for political integration.  Military alliances were supposed to prevent and win wars.  During the Cold War the U.S. established the alliance to protect the war-ravaged European states from America’s hegemonic adversary, the Soviet Union, and its satellite-allies.

The end of the Cold War eliminated the reason for creating NATO.  America’s dangerous global enemy had disappeared while Washington’s prosperous and populous allies had recovered economically and developed internationally.  The U.S. no longer needed to protect Europe.

However, alliance advocates acted like nothing had changed and proposed new justifications for the old organization, such as promoting student exchanges, fighting the drug trade, and encouraging environmental protection.  None of these dubious suggestions won much support, however, so member governments turned NATO into a mechanism to integrate Central and Eastern European states.  This task should have been left to the European Union, but Washington wanted to “lead” even when America was not directly concerned.  The alliance expanded up to the borders of Russia, the shrunken successor state to the Soviet Union.’

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U.S. Backs NATO Proposal For Russia Threat Response

Pentagon wants to send military trainers to Ukraine

Kristina Wong reports for The Hill:

‘The Pentagon announced Friday that the U.S. wants to send troops to train Ukrainian forces next year as the country faces continued aggression from pro-Russia separatists.

According to the plan, which must be approved by Congress, soldiers stationed in Europe or from the California National Guard would train and equip four companies and one tactical headquarters of the Ukrainian national guard.

The effort would help “build their capacity for internal defense,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby. The training would take place inside Ukraine at an international peacekeeping and security center, he said.’

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Snowden’s temporary asylum status in Russia expires

‘Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s asylum in Russia is set to expire Thursday, and his future remains in question as the country considers his renewal request. Fearing a return to the US would result in imprisonment and a sham trial, Snowden’s supporters argue the only way he would consider returning to his home country is if the government drops the espionage charges against him.’ (RT America)

Why Is Washington Risking War With Russia?

Katrina vanden Heuvel and Stephen F. Cohen write for The Nation:

‘As The Nation has warned repeatedly, the unthinkable may now be rapidly unfolding in Ukraine: not just the new Cold War already under way but an actual war between US-led NATO and Russia. The epicenter is Ukraine’s eastern territory, known as the Donbass, a large industrial region heavily populated by Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens and closely tied to its giant neighbor by decades of economic, political, cultural and family relations.

The shoot-down of Malaysian jetliner MH17 on July 17 should have compelled the US-backed government in Kiev to declare a prolonged cease-fire in its land and air attacks on nearby cities in order to honor the 298 victims, give international investigators safe access to the crash site, and begin peace talks. Instead, Kiev, with Washington’s backing, immediately intensified its attacks on those residential areas, vowing to “liberate” them from pro-Russian “terrorists,” as it brands resisters in eastern Ukraine, killing more innocent people. In response, Moscow is reportedly preparing to send heavy weapons to the “self-defenders” of the Donbass.

Now, according to a story in The New York Times of July 27, the White House may give Kiev sensitive intelligence information enabling it to pinpoint and destroy such Russian equipment, thereby, the Times article also suggests, risking “escalation with Russia.” To promote this major escalation, the Obama administration is alleging, without firm evidence, that Russia is already “firing artillery from its territory into Ukraine.” Virtually unreported, however, is repeated Ukrainian shelling of Russia’s own territory, which killed a resident on July 13.

In fact, Kiev has been Washington’s military proxy against Russia and its “compatriots” in eastern Ukraine for months. Since the political crisis began, Secretary of State John Kerry, CIA Director John Brennan and Vice President Joseph Biden (twice) have been in Kiev, followed by “senior US defense officials,” American military equipment and financial aid. Still more, a top US Defense Department official informed a Senate committee that the department’s “advisers” are now “embedded” in the Ukrainian defense ministry.’

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Latin America’s military is making a comeback

Simeon Tegel reports for The Global Post:

‘It was a momentous day for Latin America: On March 11, 1990, Augusto Pinochet, the region’s last military dictator, finally handed power to an elected civilian president. Since then, democracy has put down roots in the Americas to such an extent that few expect a repeat of the bloody coups that frequently punctuated the region’s history.

But now, across Latin America, the military is flexing its muscles once again and taking on more central roles in society, including in ways that experts warn are posing subtler risks to constitutional rule.

The most obvious way is the armed forces’ increasingly upfront participation in crime fighting, with the public, media and politicians demanding a “mano dura,” or firm hand, against rampant street violence and ruthless drug cartels.’

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Former US intelligence officers warn President Obama on US actions against Russia

In a memorandum to President Obama, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) which includes the likes of William Binney and Ray McGovern, warn about the dangers of further escalation between the U.S. and Russia over the situation in Ukraine:

‘U.S.-Russian intensions are building in a precarious way over Ukraine, and we are far from certain that your advisers fully appreciate the danger of escalation. The New York Times and other media outlets are treating sensitive issues in dispute as flat-fact, taking their cue from U.S. government sources. Twelve days after the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, your administration still has issued no coordinated intelligence assessment summarizing what evidence exists to determine who was responsible – much less to convincingly support repeated claims that the plane was downed by a Russian-supplied missile in the hands of Ukrainian separatists. Your administration has not showed any satellite imagery showing that the separatists had such weaponry, and there are several other “dogs that have not barked.” Washington’s credibility, and your own, will continue to erode, should you be unwilling – or unable – to present more tangible evidence behind administration claims. In what follows, we put this in the perspective of former intelligence professionals with a cumulative total of 260 years in various parts of U.S. intelligence.’

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US accuses Russia of violating 1987 nuclear treaty based on tests in 2008

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘In a move that seems timed more or less entirely to add to tensions with Russia, the Obama Administration has announced that it sent a letter to Russia accusing them of violating the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

The issue is a fairly old one, centering on tests Russia did of cruise missiles back in 2008. In January of this year, the US finally informed NATO that they were “conducting a review” of the tests, and it was only today that they finally decided the six-year-old tests were a “violation.”’

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MH17: Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta prints front-page asking Netherlands for ‘forgiveness’

Heather Saul reports for The Independent:

‘The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta has dedicated its front page today [25th July] to an apology to the Netherlands for the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash, in which 193 Dutch citizens were killed.  The poignant cover features the headline “Forgive us, Netherlands”, written in Dutch as “Vergeef ons, Nederlands” and translated into Russian below. The image, occupying the whole of the page, shows a procession of hearses carrying the coffins of victims. The picture was taken as the first bodies recovered from the crash site were transported to a military barracks in Holland on Wednesday for identification after a solemn ceremony at Eindhoven Airport.

Novaya Gazeta was established by Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, who used money he received from him his 1990 Nobel Prize to part fund the publication in 1993. The publication is part-owned by Alexander Lebedev, whose son Evgeny owns The Independent. The liberal opposition newspaper is highly regarded for its investigative journalism and critical coverage of Russian politics. Four of its journalists have been murdered since 2001 including Anna Politkovskaya, a virulent critic of the government and high-profile human rights activist who was shot dead in 2006.’

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Russia 2018: Major challenges for next World Cup hosts

Rafael Saakov writes for BBC News:

‘After what was largely considered to be a successful World Cup in Brazil, international attention now turns to the next hosts, Russia. Whether current political tensions between Russia and the West will have any bearing on the staging of the tournament remains to be seen.

What does seem assured is that the 2018 World Cup is set to top Brazil 2014 as the most expensive in history, with Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko saying the budget for the tournament could total $40bn, having earlier estimated it at $19bn. The estimated cost of the stadiums alone in Brazil, in comparison, was in the region of $4bn.

Critics in Russia point to the fact that the minimum capacity for World Cup venues is 45,000, while the average attendance for the Russian Premier League is 11,500. “Stadiums have a function, but they must not just lie empty,” says Nikolay Levshits, a Moscow-based campaigner and activist.’

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Sanctions against Russia spark AK-47 buying frenzy in US

RT reports:

Cindy Sparr boxes up an AK-47 style rifle after selling it at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Scott Olson)‘Russian-made firearms are reportedly flying off the shelves of American gun stores after the United States Treasury Department announced sanctions last week against the maker of the popular AK-47 rifle.

Kalashnikov Concern, the company responsible for the eponymous gas-operated 7.62 caliber assault rifle known largely around the world as the AK-47, is among the latest Russian-owned entities to be blacklisted by the US government following last Wednesday’s announcement that several Russian banks, energy firms and weapons makers were being targeted by new sanctions.’

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Gaspipe Diplomacy: How Ukraine Set Off a New U.S.-Russian Energy Fight

Sylvia Todorova writes for WhoWhatWhy:

South Stream pipeline’s planned route through the heart of Europe‘Now that all eyes are on Ukraine and the potential of a bigger war looms, there’s never been a more important time to understand what is at stake. The real reasons surrounding a conflict are often buried under the headlines and rhetoric. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that, behind the scenes, oil and natural gas are driving a big piece of the U.S. response to Russian involvement in Ukraine. If you want to understand where the rubber meets the geopolitical road in the Ukraine war, you need to learn about the 1,480-mile South Stream natural gas pipeline.

The pipeline is core to the larger battle being fought over Europe between Moscow and Washington. It may even have been a motivation behind Russia’s annexation of Crimea. And if there’s a crack in the unified front between the U.S. and Europe over Russia’s role in Ukraine, South Stream is it. Why does South Stream matter? It’s a $21.6 billion project to connect Russia’s gas reserves—the world’s largest—to Europe’s markets.  Europe relies on Russia for about 30 percent of its natural gas. Any delays in finishing the pipeline—scheduled for completion in 2018—can only help Russia’s competitors in the international energy business.  And one player gearing up to challenge Russia in the European energy market is the United States.

This year, the United States became the largest producer of natural gas and oil hydrocarbons in the world, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. There’s solid evidence that the U.S. is seeking both commercial advantage and political influence by gaining a foothold in Europe’s oil and gas markets. The evidence comes, in part, from the targets the Obama administration has chosen to punish for Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula. All of this raises the question of how much the confrontation in the Ukraine is about who gets to sell natural gas (and later oil) to one of the world’s biggest energy consumers: Europe.’

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Russia Sues McDonald’s, Questioning Quality of the Food

The New York Times reports:

‘The McDonald’s cheeseburger will have its day in court. Russia’s consumer protection agency has filed a claim accusing the restaurant chain of violating government nutritional and safety codes in a number of its burger and ice cream products, a Moscow court announced Friday.

The suit could temporarily ban the production and sale of the chain’s ice cream, milkshakes, cheeseburgers, and Filet-o-Fish and chicken sandwiches, said Yekaterina Korotova, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court, where the case will be heard.

“We have identified violations which put the product quality and safety of the entire McDonald’s chain in doubt,” Anna Popova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s consumer protection agency, said in statements reported by the Interfax news agency.’

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General Dempsey: We’re Pulling Out Our Cold War Military Plans Over Ukraine

Jon Queally writes for Common Dreams:

‘Hours after the U.S. State Department on Thursday claimed (though failed to describe) new evidence that Russia’s military was both increasing the flow of arms to rebel fighters in eastern Ukraine and firing artillery at Ukrainian Army positions across its border, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey elevated the  rhetoric against Russian President Vladimir Putin and directly invoked the idea that a new Cold War-like posture is now being taken by the U.S. military.

Speaking from the Aspen Security Forum, a defense industry conference in Colorado, Dempsey said Pentagon planners are now looking at military options “we haven’t had to look at for 20 years” and warned that Putin—who he characterized as escalating the crisis inside Ukraine—“may actually light a fire” he cannot control. And not just in Ukraine or eastern Europe, Dempsey said, but globally.

Drawing a dramatic historic comparison, Dempsey equated Putin’s alleged involvement in eastern Ukraine to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland in 1939: “It does change the situation. You’ve got a Russian government that has made a conscious decision to use its military force inside another sovereign nation to achieve its objectives. It’s the first time since 1939 or so that that’s been the case,” Dempsey said. “They clearly are on a path to assert themselves differently not just in Eastern Europe, but Europe in the main, and towards the United States.”’

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U.S. invents reports of Russia attacking Ukrainian bases

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘Apparently still laying the groundwork for their own planned military intervention, the US government has invented a narrative of massive Russian artillery strikes against Ukrainian military bases along the border. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf introduced the story to the press at today’s briefing, claiming that the US has secret evidence from “human intelligence information” that the attacks are taking place. The Pentagon concurred, saying such attacks have been going on “for several days.”

During the past several days, there has not been a single report out of Ukraine of an artillery strike against any of their military bases, anywhere in the country. The last such incident was two weeks ago, when rebels fired a BM-21 grad at a military base. And this is Ukraine we’re talking about, which comes up with its own dubious stories of Russian attacks on a near daily basis. If Russia was carrying out concerted shelling against Ukrainian military targets, Ukraine would be harping on about it constantly. They aren’t even alleging anything close to that is happening.’

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With 100,000+ displaced, why is U.S. ignoring Ukraine’s civil war? Interview with Katrina vanden Heuvel

Russia offers 3.9m roubles for ‘research to identify users of Tor’

Alec Luhn reports for The Guardian:

Russia‘s interior ministry has offered up to 3.9m roubles (£65,000) for research on identifying the users of the anonymous browsing network Tor, raising questions of online freedom amid a broader crackdown on the Russian internet.

The interior ministry’s special technology and communications group published a tender earlier this month on the government procurement website offering the sum for “research work, Tor cipher”.

Before changes to the tender were published on Friday, numerous news outlets reported that it originally sought “research work on the possibility to obtain technical information about users (user equipment) of the anonymous network Tor”.’

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