Category Archives: Russia

Why I quit ‘Russia Today,’ and why it remains necessary

Paula Schmitt (@schmittpaula), author of Eudemonia, writes for +972 Magazine:

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears on state-owned television station Russia Today. (Photo by The Kremlin)‘The first thing I told my father when I accepted a job offer from Russia Today was, “at least I know where their money comes from.” I had no illusions about news outlets – they all have masters, though we can only know a few of them. In the case of RT, everyone knew who the conductor was, and I wanted to play the music. I was very much up to the job of uncovering bad things about America. I was ready to debunk the West, that philosophical province embellished by news corporations, all house-trained to sing in unison the disgrace that is the Other and how perfectly green our astroturf grows.

But as is wont to happen with laws and sausages, I couldn’t stomach the way RT’s news was made.

I hadn’t told many people I was going to work for RT. I didn’t update my LinkedIn profile, or add RT to my Twitter bio. I was cautious and rather embarrassed. But I did believe I could do something good there, probably more so than if I were on CNN or BBC. I had always been a fan of RT. I thought, and still think, it is refreshing, informative, even crucial. People like Abby Martin, Tom Hartman and Max Keiser are helping change the world for the better – I am convinced of that. RT also helps the public get access to specialists who are never consulted by the mainstream media, people who may be even more qualified to speak on specific issues but are completely ignored and erased from debate because they refuse to hum the tune set by Western think-tanks and paid lobbyists. I knew RT had a political agenda, but I expected to get lucky and cover issues where my truth would lie precisely where Russia thought it should. I had seen incredibly good documentaries about the ills of the West, from starvation and illiteracy in America to the corrupting power of Wall Street. Russia and I were on the same page most of the time. I just hoped they wouldn’t ask me to cover Putin’s government. Yes, that’s what I thought, or wanted to think – that Russia and I mostly only disagreed on Russia itself.

The truth, however, is that, much like the U.S., Russia has an interest or a political position on practically every country in the world.’

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Grossly Hypocritical For Egypt, Turkey and Russia to Attend Charlie Hebdo March, says Reporters Without Borders

Louise Ridley reports for The Huffington Post:

Leaders from Egypt, Turkey and Russia are grossly hypocritical for attending today’s Paris march for the journalists murdered at Charlie Hebdo magazine when they continue to persecute journalists in their own countries, according to a journalists’ charity.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) says it is “appalled” that leaders of countries including United Arab Emirates were present. It accused them of trying to “improve their international image” while “spitting on the graves” of the cartoonists and journalists.

[…] RWB secretary-general Christophe Deloire said: “It would be unacceptable if representatives of countries that silence journalists were to take advantage of the current outpouring of emotion to try to improve their international image and then continue their repressive policies when they return home.

“We must not let predators of press freedom spit on the graves of Charlie Hebdo.”’

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2015: The Dangers Ahead

21st-century censorship: Governments around the world are using stealthy strategies to manipulate the media

Philip Bennett and Moises Naim report for Columbia Review of Journalism:

Two beliefs safely inhabit the canon of contemporary thinking about journalism. The first is that the internet is the most powerful force disrupting the news media. The second is that the internet and the communication and information tools it spawned, like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, are shifting power from governments to civil society and to individual bloggers, netizens, or “citizen journalists.”

It is hard to disagree with these two beliefs. Yet they obscure evidence that governments are having as much success as the internet in disrupting independent media and determining the information that reaches society. Moreover, in many poor countries or in those with autocratic regimes, government actions are more important than the internet in defining how information is produced and consumed, and by whom.

Illustrating this point is a curious fact: Censorship is flourishing in the information age. In theory, new technologies make it more difficult, and ultimately impossible, for governments to control the flow of information. Some have argued that the birth of the internet foreshadowed the death of censorship. In 1993, John Gilmore, an internet pioneer, told Time, “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”

Today, many governments are routing around the liberating effects of the internet. Like entrepreneurs, they are relying on innovation and imitation. In countries such as Hungary, Ecuador, Turkey, and Kenya, officials are mimicking autocracies like Russia, Iran, or China by redacting critical news and building state media brands. They are also creating more subtle tools to complement the blunt instruments of attacking journalists.

As a result, the internet’s promise of open access to independent and diverse sources of information is a reality mostly for the minority of humanity living in mature democracies.’

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War with Isis: The West is wrong again in its fight against terror

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

Islamic State (Isis) will remain at the centre of the escalating crisis in the Middle East this year as it was in 2014. The territories it conquered in a series of lightning campaigns last summer remain almost entirely under its control, even though it has lost some towns to the Kurds and Shia militias in recent weeks.

United States air strikes in Iraq from 8 August and Syria from 23 September may have slowed up Isis advances and inflicted heavy casualties on its forces in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. But Isis has its own state machinery and is conscripting tens of thousands of fighters to replace casualties, enabling it to fight on multiple fronts from Jalawla on Iraq’s border with Iran to the outskirts of Aleppo in Syria.

In western Syria, Isis is a growing power as the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad loses its advantage of fighting a fragmented opposition, that is now uniting under the leadership of Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda.

Yet it is only a year ago that President Obama dismissed the importance of Isis, comparing it to a junior university basketball team.’

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France, Germany concerned about Russia sanctions policy

EurActiv reports:

‘Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on 22 December he had invited the leaders of Russia, France and Germany to talks in an attempt to restore peace to Kyiv’s eastern territories.

But, asked about the planned summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said, “I can’t say yet if and when such a meeting will take place. Such a meeting only makes sense if we can make real progress.”

“We have a very clear idea of what constitutes real progress. This would be first and foremost achieving the full implementation of the Minsk peace accord and a genuine and lasting ceasefire, a contact line between areas controlled by Ukraine and rebels, and a withdrawal of heavy weaponry. Such things must be prepared in advance,” he said.

In an interview with France Inter radio, French President François Hollande struck a more optimistic note: “I will go to Astana on 15 January on one condition, which is that there should be a possibility of making new progress. If it’s just to meet and talk without making any actual advances then there’s no point. But I think there will be progress.”‘

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Russia’s “Startling” Proposal To Europe: Dump The US, Join The Eurasian Economic Union

Zero Hedge reports:

‘Slowly but surely Europe is figuring out that as a result of the western economic and financial blockade of Russian, it is Europe itself that is suffering the most. And while Germany was first to acknowledge this late in 2014 when its economy swooned and is now on the verge of a recession, now others are catching on. Case in point: the former head of the European Commission, and Italy’s former Prime Minister, Romano Prodi who told Messaggero newspaper that the “weaker Russian economy is extremely unprofitable for Italy.”

The other details from Prodi’s statement:

Lowered prices in the international energy markets have positive aspects for the Italian consumers, who pay less for the fuel, but the effect will be only short-term. In the long-term however the weaker economic situation in countries producing energy resources, caused by lower oil and gas prices, mostly in Russia, is extremely unprofitable for Italy, he said.

The lowering of the oil and gas prices in combination with the sanctions, pushed by the Ukrainian crisis, will drop the Russian GPD by five percent per annum, and thus it will cause cutting of the Italian export by about 50%,”Prodi said.

“Setting aside the uselessness or imminence of the sanctions, one should highlight a clear skew: regardless of the rouble rate against dollar, which is lower by almost a half, the American export to Russia is growing, while the export from Europe is shrinking.”

In other words, just as slowly, the world is starting to grasp the bottom line: it is not the financial exposure to Russia, or the threat of financial contagion should Russia suffer a major recession or worse: it is something far simpler that will lead to the biggest harm for Europe’s countries. The lack of trade.

Because while central banks can monetize everything, leading to an unprecedented asset bubble which if only for the time being boosts investor and consumer confidence, they can’t print trade – that all important driver of growth in a globalized world long before central banks were set to monetize over $1 trillion in bonds each and every year to mask the fact that the world is deep in a global depression.

Which is why we read the following report written in yesterday’s Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten with great interest because it goes right to the bottom line. In it Russia has a not so modest proposal to Europe: dump trade with the US, whose call for Russian “costs” has cost you another year of declining economic growth, and instead join the Eurasian Economic Union!’

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Armenia Joins Russia-Led Eurasian Economic Union

The Moscow Times reports:

‘Armenia officially joined the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) on Friday, banding together with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus in a Moscow-led project meant to counterbalance the European Union.

As part of a deal signed last October, Armenia will have limited representation in the organization until the end of 2015. Three Armenian members will share one vote in the union’s governing body, the Eurasian Economic Commission, TASS news agency reported Friday.

Kyrgyzstan is also set to join the union on May 1.’

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What Are U.S. Objectives In Weakening Russia’s Economy? Interview with Larry Wilkerson

Editor’s Note: Larry Wilkerson is a retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Rebuilding the Obama-Putin Trust

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern writes for Consortium News:

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.‘The year 2015 will surely mark a watershed in relations between the United States and Russia, one way or the other. However, whether tensions increase – to war-by-proxy in Ukraine or an even wider war – or whether they subside depends mostly on President Barack Obama.

Key to answering this question is a second one: Is Obama smart enough and strong enough to rein in Secretary of State John Kerry, the neocons and “liberal interventionists” running the State Department and to stand up to the chicken hawks in Congress, most of whom feel free to flirt with war because they know nothing of it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, by contrast, experienced the effects of war at an early age. He was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) eight years after the vicious siege by the German army ended. Michael Walzer, in his War Against Civilians, notes, “More people died in the 900-day siege of Leningrad than in the infernos of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki taken together.”’

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Dangerous Escalation: US Backs Putin Into a Corner

James Carden wrote over the Christmas period for The National Interest:

[…] Given Russia’s rapidly deteriorating economic situation, it would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that the confrontation between Russia and the West could be entering a dangerous escalatory spiral. This is worrisome because we actually know little about the dynamics of escalation and what we do know is rather alarming. One hundred years on historians are still puzzling over how and why exactly the First World War went from a diplomatic crisis to a full-scale shooting war.

Perhaps even more relevant is the case of U.S.-Japanese relations in the run up to Pearl Harbor. The U.S., having unilaterally imposed an oil embargo on Japan (at that time 70% of Japan’s oil came from the U.S.) left it – so its leadership believed – little choice but to launch an attack on the US, wagering, incorrectly as it turned out, that the US would have little stomach for a war in the Pacific.

Fast forward to today and we see a similar dynamic at play: Russia, shunned by the West, its economy in peril, its population solidly behind its leadership, now has even less of a motive to come to some sort of terms with Kiev and its Western patrons.’

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U.S. Bolsters Missile-Defense Presence in Japan

Brendan McGarry reports for DoD Buzz:

U.S. Bolsters Missile-Defense Presence in JapanThe U.S. is bolstering its ability to intercept ballistic missiles fired from North Korea with the deployment of another missile-defense radar in central Japan.

In a joint announcement on Friday, the U.S. and Japanese governments said a second so-called Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system, or AN/TPY-2, made by Raytheon Co. has been installed on the island nation.

The announcement follows discussions last year between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe involving deployment of the technology that drew opposition from China.’

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Non-Dollar Trading Is Killing the Petrodollar — And the Foundation of US-Saudi Policy in the Middle East

Former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke writes for The Huffington Post:

‘A profound transformation of the global monetary system is underway. It is being driven by a perfect storm: the need for Russia and Iran to escape Western sanctions, the low interest rate policy of the U.S. Federal Reserve to keep the American economy afloat and the increasing demand for Middle East oil by China.

The implications of this transformation are immense for U.S. policy in the Middle East which, for 50 years, has been founded on a partnership with Saudi Arabia.’

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U.S. Tech Firms Face Showdown With Russian Censors

Sam Schechner And Gregory White report for the Wall Street Journal:

‘[…] Until now, companies have often complied with Russia’s legal orders to remove content, rather than risk a government blackout. But the firms have become more wary as the government has given itself new powers to regulate the Internet. And the very public nature of this episode leaves the U.S. tech companies facing a dilemma.

On one hand, cooperation with governments like Russia’s risks damaging their reputation among users, and goes against the libertarian values of Silicon Valley. But U.S. Internet firms need to expand in large markets to meet the growth expectations that have raised their valuations to stratospheric levels.

Similar tensions played out this year in Turkey, where the government demanded the removal of content on Twitter and YouTube that alleged government corruption. Twitter and YouTube resisted some of the requests, leading the government to temporarily block them across the country.’

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FIFA to publish ‘appropriate’ version of Michael Garcia’s World Cup report

Owen Gibson reports for The Guardian:

Michael GarciaFifa’s executive committee has unanimously agreed to publish Michael Garcia’s investigation into the controversial bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, but only in an “appropriate form” and not until ongoing investigations against individuals have been resolved.

However, Fifa president Sepp Blatter also immediately slammed the door permanently on any question of a revote for the controversial 2018 tournament in Russia or the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“We will not revisit the 2018 and 2022 vote and a report by independent, external legal experts supports the view that there are no legal grounds to revoke the executive committee’s decision on the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups,” he said following a meeting of the Fifa executive committee in Marrakech.

Around half the 22 voting members of the Fifa executive committee who voted in December 2010 have since left the organisation, many with a cloud of corruption allegations trailing in their wake.

Blatter said work was already underway on drawing up a new framework for World Cup bidding process.’

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White House Brags Sanctions Put Russia On ‘Brink of Collapse’

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Confirming that they intend to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia, White House officials are seeking to claim “credit” for Russia’s recent economic woes, bragging that they have put Russia on the brink of an economic collapse.

Russia’s current economic problems center around weakness in the ruble. Russia’s central bank raised interest rates yesterday to try to stave off further inflation, but the weakness continued in today’s trading.

Wilson Center scholar Matthew Rojansky defended the sanctions, saying the logic behind them is to damage the Russian economy so much that it “starts hurting the Russian public’s ability to buy food or heat homes,” forcing Putin to act in the face of the crisis.

Russia’s economy is far from pushing the average citizen to the brink of starvation, however, though a new round of sanctions at this point makes it clear that is indeed the US goal.’

Putin Accuses West Of Trying To Sideline Russia

Hollwood Style Promo Released For Putin Speech

Putin Likens Crimea Takeover To A Bear Guarding Its Territory

China’s building a new Silk Road to Europe, and it’s leaving America behind

Pepe Escobar writes for Tom Dispatch:

‘[…] The Yiwu-Madrid route across Eurasia represents the beginning of a set of game-changing developments. It will be an efficient logistics channel of incredible length. It will represent geopolitics with a human touch, knitting together small traders and huge markets across a vast landmass. It’s already a graphic example of Eurasian integration on the go. And most of all, it’s the first building block on China’s “New Silk Road,” conceivably the project of the new century and undoubtedly the greatest trade story in the world for the next decade.

Go west, young Han. One day, if everything happens according to plan (and according to the dreams of China’s leaders), all this will be yours—via high-speed rail, no less. The trip from China to Europe will be a two-day affair, not the 21 days of the present moment. In fact, as that freight train left Yiwu, the D8602 bullet train was leaving Urumqi in Xinjiang Province, heading for Hami in China’s far west. That’s the first high-speed railway built in Xinjiang, and more like it will be coming soon across China at what is likely to prove dizzying speed.

Today, 90% of the global container trade still travels by ocean, and that’s what Beijing plans to change. Its embryonic, still relatively slow New Silk Road represents its first breakthrough in what is bound to be an overland trans-continental container trade revolution.

And with it will go a basket of future “win-win” deals, including lower transportation costs, the expansion of Chinese construction companies ever further into the Central Asian “stans,” as well as into Europe, an easier and faster way to move uranium and rare metals from Central Asia elsewhere, and the opening of myriad new markets harboring hundreds of millions of people.

So if Washington is intent on “pivoting to Asia,” China has its own plan in mind. Think of it as a pirouette to Europe across Eurasia.’

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Russia Rejects South Steam Pipeline Through Europe: Interview with Michael Hudson

Editor’s Note: Michael Hudson is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and a former Wall Street analyst. He is the author of several books including he ‘Bubble and Beyond and Finance Capitalism and its Discontents.’

A Cold War Is On Between The West and Russia

A.G. Noorani writes for DAWN:

‘A Cold war is on between the West and Russia in right earnest. Its immediate cause is, of course, the Ukraine. But Prof John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, and one of the few dissenters in the US, points out in Foreign Affairs that “the taproot of the trouble is Nato enlargement”.

The West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 aggravated the situation. “For President Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elec­ted and pro-Russian president — which he rightly labeled a ‘coup’ — was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a Nato naval base.” He began working to destabilise Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.

This provoked a slew of unprecedented sanctions on individuals; tensions mounted as charges were traded.

Ukraine is not a Nato member, and is not covered under its umbrella, but it has expressed interest in joining. Three other former Soviet republics have joined the alliance since the end of the Cold War, as well as the former Warsaw Pact states of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Jack Matlock, former US ambassador to the then USSR is a scholar, who prizes objectivity over the claims of ‘patriotism’.

He said emphatically that “If there had been no possibility of Ukraine ever becoming part of Nato, and therefore Sevastopol becoming a Nato base, Russia would not have invaded Crimea. It is as simple as that. Why don’t we understand that other countries are sensitive about military bases from potential rivals not only coming up to their borders, but taking land which they have historically considered theirs?”’

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Gorbachev calls for U.S.-Russia summit to defrost ties

Alexei Anishchuk reports for Reuters:

‘Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev called on Wednesday for a U.S.-Russia summit to be convened to prevent a deep freeze in Moscow’s relations with the West over the Ukraine crisis.

Gorbachev, whose policy of “perestroika” (restructuring) played a role in ending the Cold War, warned of potentially dire consequences if tensions were not reduced.

“This is extremely dangerous, with tensions as high as they are now. We may not live through these days: someone could lose their nerve,” he wrote in a commentary entitled “To unfreeze relations” for government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

“I suggest the leaders of Russia and the United States think about holding a summit with a broad agenda, without preliminary conditions,” he wrote. “One needn’t be afraid of ‘losing face’, that someone will gain a propaganda victory: this should all belong to the past. One needs to think about the future.”‘

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Father of the internet tells Russia’s Putin: Internet is not a ‘CIA project’

Guy Faulconbridge reports for Reuters:

The inventor of the World Wide Web said on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was incorrect when he alleged the Internet was a project created by U.S. spies in the Central Intelligence Agency.

Putin, a former KGB spy who does not use email, has said he will not restrict Internet access for Russians, but in April he stoked concerns that the Kremlin might seek to crackdown by saying the Internet was born out of a “CIA project”.

“The Internet is not a CIA creation,” Tim Berners-Lee, a London-born computer scientist who invented the Web in 1989 – the year that the Berlin Wall collapsed – told Reuters when asked about Putin’s CIA comment.

Berners-Lee said the Internet was invented with the help of U.S. state funding, but was spread by academics.’

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Going Underground Interview with Seymour Hersh

Editor’s Note: The interview with investigative journalist Seymour Hersh begins at 2:56

The Most Dangerous Time in Russian-US Relations Since the Cuban Missile Crisis: Interview w/ Prof. Stephen F. Cohen

Editor’s Note: Stephen Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and he is a contributing editor to The Nation. He is also the author of ‘Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War‘. You can find more interviews and articles by Professor Cohen here.

 

 

Former Soviet Soldiers Still Haunt Afghanistan — and American Forces There

Murtaza Hussain writes for The Intercept:

‘The strange odyssey of Irek Hamidullan has taken him from the former Soviet Army, to the Taliban, and now to a U.S. federal courtroom in Virginia. Hamidullan, who U.S. officials describe as a “Russian veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan” is believed to have stayed in the country after the war and joined the Taliban. He is accused of taking part in a 2009 attack on an Afghan and U.S. army border post in Khost Province. Incarcerated at Bagram ever since, Hamidullan is now the latest detainee to be put on trial in the criminal court system. He faces potential life imprisonment in the U.S. as a result of his activities in Afghanistan.

It may sound strange to hear that former Soviet soldiers are still living and fighting in Afghanistan decades after that war ended and the Soviet Union itself ceased to exist, but Hamidullan is only one of many Russians who ended up staying around after the occupation. At the outset of the American invasion in 2001, U.S. officials estimated that somewhere between 300 to 500 former Soviet troops were still living in Afghanistan. Some of these were soldiers who defected due to ethnic ties or sympathy with Afghan mujahideen, while others were former prisoners who converted to Islam and ended up integrating into Afghan society.

Unlike Hamidullan, most of the Russian Afghans (of whom we know) went on to live normal lives in the country and remained largely aloof from conflict during the years of the American occupation.’

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The Risk of Misreading Russia’s Intent

Former CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar writes for Consortium News:

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a crowd on May 9, 2014, celebrating the 69th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Crimean port city of  Sevastopol from the Nazis. (Russian government photo)‘Much of the discourse over the past year about responding to Russian moves in Ukraine has been couched in terms of the need to stop aggressive expansionism in its tracks. Hillary Clinton has even invoked the old familiar analogy to Nazi expansionism in likening some of the Russian actions to what Germany was doing in the 1930s.

With or without the Nazi analogy, a commonly expressed concept is that not acting firmly enough to stop Russian expansionism in Ukraine would invite still further expansion.

Underlying such arguments are certain assumptions about wider Russian intentions. If Vladimir Putin and anyone else advising him on policy toward Ukraine see their moves there as steps in a larger expansionist strategy, then the concept of stopping the expansion in its tracks is probably valid. But if Russian objectives are instead focused on narrower goals and especially concerns more specific to Ukraine, the concept can be more damaging than useful.

As long as historical comparisons are being invoked, one possibly instructive comparison is with an earlier episode involving application of military force by Russia or the Soviet Union along its periphery. This episode provides a closer correspondence than pre-war Nazi maneuvers, but it is still distant enough to provide some perspective and a sense of the consequences. It is the Soviet armed intervention in Afghanistan, which occurred 35 years ago as of this December.’

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Mikhail Gorbachev Blames American ‘Triumphalism’ For Bringing About A New Cold War

Paul Vale reports for The Huffington Post:

‘Mikhail Gorbachev has blamed America for bringing about a new Cold War, warning that “militarists” are pushing Europe to the brink of conflict by building fences around his country.

Speaking to the Russian state-owned news agency Tass on Monday, the 83-year-old former Soviet President said that “triumphalism” emanating from Washington had led to rising tensions between East and West, though he added there was still time to resolve the growing dispute before it led to direct conflict.

Reported by The Telegraph, Gorbachev said: “Now there are once again signs of a Cold War.” “This process can and must be stopped. After all, we did it in the 1980s. We opted for de-escalation, for reunification [of Germany]. And back then it was a lot tougher than now. So we could do it again.”

Gorbachev warned that building “fences” around Russia would only increase tensions. “Even Germany which after reunification presented itself very well and called for renovation is now just on the brink of a split [from Russia],” he said. “And now nothing takes place without the presence and a push from America.”‘

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Cold War II Begins? U.S. House Passes Resolution 758 in a Rare Show of Bipartisanship

Esther Tanquintic-Misa reports for the International Business Times:

‘The United States has effectively pushed the button of the 21st century Cold War era. On Thursday, its House of Representatives passed Resolution 758, a decree telling the U.S., Europe and its’ allies to “aggressively keep the pressure” on Russia and its President Vladimir Putin until such measures “change his behaviour.”

On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama claimed Mr Putin is “isolating Russia completely internationally” and knows the Russian leader is not going to “suddenly change his mind-set … which is part of the reason why we’re going to continue to maintain that pressure.” As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia not to isolate itself during a meeting of the 57 members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the northern Swiss city of Basel, Resolution 758 had called for the reinforcement of NATO and the sale of U.S. natural gas to Europe, alluding away from Russian energy exports.

The resolution has likewise effectively given the government of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko the go signal to launch military actions against the “separatists” in Eastern Ukraine. Resolution 758 has called on the U.S. President to “provide the Government of Ukraine with defense articles, services and training required to effectively defend its territory and sovereignty.”‘

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