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Paul Merrell

Russia ready to switch off Visa & Mastercard ahead of tougher US sanctions - RT Busines... - 0 views

  • Moscow faces prospects of harsher sanctions this coming January as the US Congress is set to discuss a new package of anti-Russian penalties. The Russian central bank has warned the country’s lenders over potential risks. The regulator has recommended that Russian financial institutions take the necessary preventive steps in case their partner-banks are forced to stop providing connection to services by the world’s two most used payment systems – Visa and Mastercard, reports Russian business daily Vedomosti.
  • The Central Bank of Russia advises that Russian banks should look for an alternative sponsor that will be able substitute a current provider of Visa and MasterCard services, seal a maintenance service contract and test an opportunity of integrating.
  • In response to sanctions Russia has developed its own national payment system. The Mir payment system was introduced in 2015 after clients of several Russian banks were temporarily unable to use Visa and Mastercard due to US sanctions. Customers found bank issued credit cards linked to Visa and Mastercard systems no longer worked. The country issued 37 million Mir cards as of June 2018.
Paul Merrell

230,000 "Jihadists" in 70 Countries: Since 9/11 the Number of Al Qaeda Affiliated Terro... - 1 views

  • Despite Washington’s extremely costly worldwide ‘War on Terror’, nearly four times as many Sunni Islamic militants are operating around the world today as on September 11, 2001, a new study has found. As many as 230,000 jihadists are spread across 70 countries, with the largest concentrations of terrorists located in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington DC think tank. The shocking reported spike in the number of Sunni jihadists worldwide raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the US-led Global War on Terrorism, which was launched in the wake of the deadly attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Paul Merrell

Russia liquidates nearly all its holdings of US debt & invests money in gold - RT Busin... - 0 views

  • The Central Bank of Russia has continued getting rid of US Treasury bonds in August. The share of Russian investments in American debt is getting close to zero. Russian investments in US securities as of August have fallen to just $14 billion. Back in 2011, Russia was one of the largest holders of US debt with a $180 billion investment.The reason is not only about politics and US sanctions against Russia, a broker at Otkritie bank Timur Nigmatullin told RIA Novosti. The US Federal Reserve is hiking interest rates, which makes American bonds cheaper, he said. “Russia has almost dropped out of the list of holders of US government debt, being the 54th largest holder.”
  • “A further sale of US Treasury bonds by Russia will most likely be compensated by buying gold and opening short-term deposits at banks,” he said. The share of precious metals in the country's foreign reserves has reached a record 18 percent, closely approaching the share of dollar investments.The largest investors in US debt, China and Japan, have also cut their holdings. Chinese holdings of US sovereign debt dropped to $1.165 trillion in August, from $1.171 trillion in July, marking the third consecutive month of declines. Japan has slashed its holdings of US securities to $1.029 trillion in August, the lowest since October 2011.
  • India and Turkey have followed Russia's lead. Turkey has dropped out of the top-30 list of holders of American debt, while India has been liquidating its investment for five consecutive months to $140 billion in August.
Paul Merrell

Venezuela drops US dollar, will use euro for international transactions - RT World News - 0 views

  • Venezuela is abandoning the US dollar, with all future transactions on the Venezuelan exchange market to be made in euro, Tareck El Aissami, the country's Vice President for Economy, announced. The sanctions, recently introduced by Washington against Caracas, “block the possibility of continuing to trade using the US dollar on the Venezuelan exchange market," El Aissami said, adding that the American restrictions were “illegal and against international law.” 
  • The American “financial blockade” of Venezuela affects both the country’s public and private sectors, including pharmacy and agriculture, and shows “just how far the imperialism can go in its madness,” the vice president said.Venezuela’s floating exchange rate system, Dicom, “will be operating in euro, yuan or any other convertible currency and will allow the foreign exchange market to use any other convertible currency," El Aissami said.The vice president added that all private banks in Venezuela are obliged to participate in the Dicom bidding system.The government is going to sell 2 billion euros between November and December to allow the public to purchase the European currency “at a real, non-speculative rate,” he said.
Paul Merrell

How Russia plans to disentangle its economy from US dollar - RT Business News - 0 views

  • The Russian Finance Ministry has announced a plan to wean the country of dollar dependence. It is expected to be a long and painful process. RT has asked analysts to explain how this could be done. According to the plan published this week, Russia seeks to de-dollarize the economy by 2024. The program is long and complicated, but its key point is that Russian exporters who use rubles instead of dollars would get huge taxation benefits including quicker VAT returns and other stimulus to ditch the greenback.
  • But there are also other ways to strengthen the role of the ruble in Russia. “It is necessary to gradually switch to such a system of international payments, which implies payment in rubles for Russia’s best and most popular goods on the world market like oil, gas and arms exclusively,” Andrey Perekalsky, analyst at financial institute FinIst, told RT.Russia should also unite with China and the European Union in creating a payment channel that can’t be controlled by the United States. The alternative to the SWIFT interbank settlement network that could bypass Iranian sanctions could be seen as a first step in that direction, the analyst notes.
Paul Merrell

MoA - Scientists Raise Alarm Over U.S. Bio-Weapon Programs - 0 views

  • Recent evidence about deadly tests of biological substances in Tbilisi, Georgia raised alarm about U.S. biological weapon research in foreign countries. European scientist are extremely concerned about a dubious research program, financed by the Pentagon, that seems designed to spread diseases to crops, animals and people abroad. The creation of such weapons and of special ways to distribute them is prohibited under national and international law. The U.S. is running biological weapon research across the globe: Bio warfare scientists using diplomatic cover test man-made viruses at Pentagon bio laboratories in 25 countries across the world. These US bio-laboratories are funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) under a $ 2.1 billion military program– Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP), and are located in former Soviet Union countries such as Georgia and Ukraine, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa. Until the mid nineteen-seventies the U.S. military tested biological warfare weapons on U.S. people, sometimes over large areas and on specific races. After a Congress investigation revealed the wide ranging program such testing was moved abroad. Private companies use U.S. government controlled laboratories in foreign countries for secret biological research under contract of the U.S. military, the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. Last month the Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva reported of one of these U.S. controlled bio-laboratories: The US Embassy to Tbilisi transports frozen human blood and pathogens as diplomatic carg
Paul Merrell

EU finally stands up to US 'bullying' over Iran sanctions | Asia Times - 0 views

  • By Pepe Escobar September 30, 2018 4:36 PM (UTC+8) Share Tweet Linkedin Print Email Share 0 Comment 0 History may one day rule this was the fateful geopolitical moment when the European Union clinched its PhD on foreign policy. Last week, EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, announced at the UN a “special purpose vehicle” (SPV) to deal with the Trump administration’s sanctions on Iran after the US unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA,  also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
  • Mogherini crucially emphasized, “in practical terms, this will mean that EU member states will set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran and this will allow European companies to continue to trade with Iran in accordance with European Union law and could be open to other partners in the world.” The SPV, which according to Mogherini “is aimed at keeping trade with Tehran flowing while the US sanctions are in place,” could be in effect before the second stage of US sanctions begin in early November. This single initiative means Brussels is attempting to position itself as a serious geopolitical player, openly defying the US and essentially nullifying the Iran demonization campaign launched by the White House, CIA and State Department.
  • It may have taken a few months, but the EU-3 have finally realized what Moscow and Beijing already knew: any business with Iran – which is in the interest of all players – must bypass the US dollar. So now we come to a situation where the EU-3 will set up a multinational, state-backed, financial mechanism to help European companies conduct business with Iran in euros – and thus away from US financial enforcers. In parallel, we will have Russia and China doing business with Iran in rubles and yuan.
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  • And in a total symbiotic way, the SPV opens another path for Russia and China as well. After all, the SPV mechanism will bypass the Belgium-based SWIFT financial network, on which the US interferes at will. SPV may become the preferred post-SWIFT mechanism, allowing for even more cross-border business across Eurasia and expanding to the Global South.
  • The game reveals its complexity when we consider that Iran has been the catalyst for the EU to finally stand up to the US – and potentially get closer to Russia and China. What we see emerging is the contours of a possible cross-Eurasia alliance, in multiple fronts, between Russia-China-Iran – the three key nodes of Eurasia integration – and the EU-3. It’s a game worthy of a Persian chess master: involving energy wars, the balance of power in Southwest Asia, the absolute power of the US-controlled global financial system and the status of the US dollar – bolstered by the petrodollar – as the global reserve currency.
Paul Merrell

US F-35 Fighter Jet Totaled in Crash Just One Day After Combat Debut - 0 views

  • BEAUFORT, SOUTH CAROLINA — According to several reports citing U.S. military sources, the Lockheed Martin-manufactured F-35 jet – the most expensive U.S. fighter jet ever and the most expensive weapon system in the world – crashed spectacularly on Friday, just one day after its first-ever successful airstrike, resulting in the “total loss” of the aircraft. The crashed plane, each of which costs U.S. taxpayers more than $100 million, was a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B and had taken off from a training squadron at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina. The pilot safely ejected from the plane prior to the crash and there were no civilian injuries. The crash is thehttps://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/f-35-crashes-for-the-first-time-in-the-jets-17-year-history-pilot-ejects-safely/2018/09/28/9faaeff4-c341-11e8-8f06-009b39c3f6dd_story.html?utm_term=.7d86665442e
  • The military has yet to say what caused the crash, give any details about the pilot, or recount what occurred immediately prior to the crash. Despite the lack of details, the incident has led some to worry that the crash may indicate a wider, systemic problem with the aircraft, which could lead to the potential grounding of the entire F-35 fleet.
  • Notably, the incident comes after the U.S. military used the plane for the first time in a U.S. airstrike, which was conducted in Afghanistan last Thursday against a “fixed Taliban target.”
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  • Yet, the recent crash of the F-35 jet has brought renewed scrutiny to the program, which has long been controversial not only for its high cost but for long-standing concerns about the jet’s effectiveness in combat. Indeed, the F-35 jet program has been called one of the most egregious cases of government waste in regards to defense spending, ever. Furthermore, despite having been on the workbench for decades (its development began in 1992), the U.S.’ F-35 fleet is still not ready, though some F-35s were deployed abroad in 2015. However, the plane had never been used by the U.S. military for a combat mission until last Thursday. Worse still, the Pentagon has admitted that the jets won’t have a chance in a real combat situation and a recent test run saw the jetshttp://w
Paul Merrell

Video: The New Iron Curtain. "The Russian Menace" - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Ce... - 0 views

  • Latvia is presently building a metal fence, 90 kilometres long and 2.5 metres high, along its frontier with Russia. It will be finished before the end of the year, and will be extended in 2019 along more than 190 kilometres of the frontier, for a planned cost of 17 million Euros. A similar 135 kilometre fence is being built by Lithuania along its frontier with the Russian territory of Kaliningrad. Estonia has announced the impending construction of a wall, also along the frontier with Russia, 110 kilometres long and also 2.5 metres high. Planned cost – more than 70 million Euros, for which the Estonian government intends to ask for finance from the European Union.
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    The Iron Wall goes back up. But who is building it this time?
Paul Merrell

Robots and artificial intelligence will take over HALF of all tasks in the workplace by... - 0 views

  • More than half of all tasks in the workplace tasks will be carried out by machines by 2025.That's according to the World Economic Forum, which predicts that AI and robots will kill off 75 million jobs worldwide by 2022.The Swiss nonprofit also claims as many as 133 million new jobs will be created by machines in that time frame.Humans will have to revamp skills to keep pace with the 'seismic shift' in how we work with machines, it said.
  • The research foresees robots swiftly replacing humans in the accounting, client management, industrial, postal and secretarial sectors.Jobs that require 'human skills' such as sales, marketing and customer service should see demand increase meanwhile, along with e-commerce and social media.
Paul Merrell

Are Trump Sanctions Backfiring? Iran's Oil Revenues Are Soaring - 0 views

  • Despite the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign targeting the Iranian economy, Iran’s crude oil and oil product revenues jumped a surprising 60 percent from March 21 to July 23. In addition, figures provided by Iran’s Central Bank show that Iran’s revenues from oil sales soared by 84.2 percent over that same period, setting a new record. The increased revenues seem to have resulted from a jump in oil prices this year as well as Iran’s high oil export volume during part of that period. Notably, the increased revenues were reported despite the United States’ announcement in May that it would sanction those purchasing Iranian oil starting in early November, with the ultimate goal of reducing Iranian oil sales to zero in order to place pressure on the Ira
  • Further dashing U.S. hopes of crushing Iranian oil exports have been recent announcements from Iran’s top two customers, China and India, that they would continue to import Iranian crude despite the looming threat of U.S. sanctions. India, along with some other countries, has sought “waivers” from Washington that would allow them to continue to import Iranian oil and avoid retaliation from the U.S. for a certain period of time. In addition, the European Union, which had previously joined the U.S. in targeting Iranian oil exports in 2012, has shown its unwillingness to follow Washington’s lead this time around, openlyhttps://www.mintpressnews.com/rejecting-iran-sanctions-european-union-bans-european-companies-from-
  • Another indication that efforts to curb Iranian oil exports are backfiring for the Trump administration is the jump in oil prices that has resulted from concerns about the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports. The increase in oil prices is likely to be felt domestically in the U.S., the world’s largest consumer of oil, potentially posing a political risk to Trump and his fellow Republicans ahead of the November 6 midterm elections.  In addition, further oil price increases could trigger a slowdown in domestic or global economic growth, which could further complicate the U.S.’ Iran policy and Trump’s domestic political situation.
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  • While the Trump administration may have assumed that U.S. oil producers – and the U.S. economy in general — would benefit from the elimination of Iranian oil exports, the growing rejection of the impending U.S. sanctions by other countries shows that these nations are unwilling to pay for more expensive American oil or even Saudi oil, preferring less expensive Iranian oil despite potential future consequences. Furthermore, efforts to increase U.S. crude production have fallen short of government expectations, further complicating the U.S.’ efforts to offset an increase in oil prices resulting from Iranian oil sanctions.
Paul Merrell

Iran, Iraq Stop Dollar-Based Trade | Al Bawaba - 1 views

  • "Dollar-based trade between Iran and Iraq has stopped and most exchanges are made in euro, rial and dinar," Al-e Eshaq said on Saturday.
Paul Merrell

Syria Delivers Evidence to UN Showing Peparations for False Flag Chemical Attack in Idlib - 0 views

  • During a speech delivered on Tuesday to the United Nations Security Council, Syria’s Permanent UN Representative Bashir al-Jaafari claimed to have provided information to the council that was evidence that armed opposition groups, including Al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, were gearing up to use chemical weapons against civilians in the Syrian province of Idlib in an effort to frame the Syrian government for the attack. Jaafari’s warning comes as Syria and its allies are preparing for a major military offensive that would target the rebel-held Idlib province, which even mainstream Western outlets admit is dominated by terrorist groups and their affiliates. Speaking to the council, Jaafari stated:
  • I put in your hands documented information on the preparations taken by Jabhat al-Nusra [al-Nusra Front] terrorist organization and the affiliated groups to use the chemical weapons against civilians in Idlib province to accuse the Syrian Arab Army and to justify any aggression that might be launched on Syria.” He added that eight canisters of chlorine had been transported to Halouz village in Idlib. The evidence Jaafari provided to the Security Council regarding an imminent “false flag” attack has not been made public. Jaafari’s mention of chlorine gas being transported into Idlib follows similar warnings from Russia’s Defense Ministry, which warned in a statement on Tuesday that “a large supply of poisonous [chemical] agents has been brought to the city of Saraqib on two trucks from the village of Afs” and that the deadly cargo has been “accompanied by eight members of the White Helmets organization” and received by two high-ranking Ahrar al-Sham commanders. Ahrar al-Sham has long been a battlefield ally of al-Nusra Front and The New York
  • Warnings from Syria’s UN representative and the Russian military follow hawkish statements recently made by members of the Trump administration, particularly National Security Advisor John Bolton, who stated last Wednesday that the U.S. would respond “very strongly” if the Syrian government is accused of chemical weapons use in Idlib. Bolton, speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, also boasted of the U.S.’ past responses to alleged Syrian government involvement in chemical weapons attacks on Syrian civilians this April and in April of last year.
Paul Merrell

Syria Delivers Evidence to UN Showing Peparations for False Flag Chemical Attack in Idlib - 0 views

  • During a speech delivered on Tuesday to the United Nations Security Council, Syria’s Permanent UN Representative Bashir al-Jaafari claimed to have provided information to the council that was evidence that armed opposition groups, including Al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, were gearing up to use chemical weapons against civilians in the Syrian province of Idlib in an effort to frame the Syrian government for the attack. Jaafari’s warning comes as Syria and its allies are preparing for a major military offensive that would target the rebel-held Idlib province, which even mainstream Western outlets admit is dominated by terrorist groups and their affiliates. Speaking to the council, Jaafari stated:
  • put in your hands documented information on the preparations taken by Jabhat al-Nusra [al-Nusra Front] terrorist organization and the affiliated groups to use the chemical weapons against civilians in Idlib province to accuse the Syrian Arab Army and to justify any aggression that might be launched on Syria.” He added that eight canisters of chlorine had been transported to Halouz village in Idlib. The evidence Jaafari provided to the Security Council regarding an imminent “false flag” attack has not been made public. Jaafari’s mention of chlorine gas being transported into Idlib follows similar warnings from Russia’s Defense Ministry, which warned in a statement on Tuesday that “a large supply of poisonous [chemical] agents has been brought to the city of Saraqib on two trucks from the village of Afs” and that the deadly cargo has been “accompanied by eight members of the White Helmets organization” and received by two high-ranking Ahrar al-Sham commanders.
Paul Merrell

"Thank God This Is Happening": Russia Says Time Has Come To Ditch The Dollar | Zero Hedge - 0 views

  • With the US unveiling a new set of sanctions against Russia on Friday, Moscow said it would definitely respond to Washington’s latest sanctions and, in particular, it is accelerating efforts to abandon the American currency in trade transactions, said Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. "The time has come when we need to go from words to actions, and get rid of the dollar as a means of mutual settlements, and look for other alternatives," he said in an interview with International Affairs magazine, quoted by RT. "Thank God, this is happening, and we will speed up this work,” Ryabkov said, explaining the move would come in addition to other “retaliatory measures” as a response to a growing list of US sanctions. Previously, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said that a growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar as a medium in global oil trades and other transactions. “There is a common understanding that we need to move towards the use of national currencies in our settlements. There is a need for this, as well as the wish of the parties,” Novak said.
  • According to the minister, it concerns both Turkey and Iran, with more countries likely to join the growing dedollarization wave. “We are considering an option of payment in national currencies with them. This requires certain adjustments in the financial, economic, and banking sectors” to accomplish. Last week, we reported that the Kremlin was interested in trading with Ankara using the Russian ruble and the Turkish lira. India has also vowed to pay for Iranian oil in rupees. Meanwhile, the world’s second-largest economy and Washington's trade war nemesis, China, has been taking steps to challenge the greenback's dominance with the launch of an oil futures contract backed by Chinese currency, the petro-yuan. China and Iran have already agreed to stop using the dollar in global trade as China has ramped up purchases of Iranian oil in defiance of US sanctions.
Paul Merrell

Europe Is Working On Alternative To SWIFT For "Financial Independence" From The US | Ze... - 0 views

  • n the aftermath of a report that Germany was working on a global payment system that is independent of the US and SWIFT, on Monday Germany and France said they’re working on financing solutions to sidestep U.S. sanctions against countries such as Iran, including a possible role for central banks, Bloomberg reported.
  • Maas said Europe has started work on creating a system for money transfers that will be autonomous from the currently prevailing Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).
  • "That won’t be easy, but we have already started to do that," Maas said at the annual Ambassadors Conference in Berlin on Monday, as quoted by RIA Novosti. "We are studying proposals for payment channels and systems, more independent from SWIFT, and for creating European monetary fund." Maas also announced plans to reveal a new foreign policy strategy towards the US. “We have to react and strengthen Europe’s autonomy and sovereignty in trade, economic and finance policy,” Maas said in a speech in Berlin. "It’s high time to recalibrate the Transatlantic Partnership – rationally, critically, and even self-critically," the FM added. Maas echoed his comments from last week when he called for European autonomy to be strengthened by creating payment channels that are independent of the United States, establishing a ‘European Monetary Fund’.
Paul Merrell

US Intel Officials Made Secret Trip To Damascus For Talks With Assad Advisor | Zero Hedge - 0 views

  • euters has confirmed a bombshell report which first surfaced Tuesday in Lebanese media saying that a high level delegation of US intelligence officials made a secret visit to Damascus in June to meet with President Bashar al-Assad's most trusted senior advisor, Ali Mamlouk, who serves as Syria's top security chief.  The meeting, which took place near Damascus international airport, was first revealed by the Lebanese daily al-Akhbar, which reported it as lasting up to four hours and part of an ongoing secret back-channel dialogue. Such talks are unprecedented for the fact that the two countries haven't had such direct dealings since near the start of the conflict in 2011, and the United States and its allies have bombed Syrian government forces and locations multiple times over the past years. 
  • The Al-Akhbar report provided the following details regarding US demands, according to an English translation provided by Syriana Analysis: The American side made a clear and specific offer: The United States is ready to withdraw its troops completely from Syrian territory, including the Al-Tanf and Eastern Euphrates according to security arrangements supervised by the Russian and Syrian armies. In exchange for three US demands: First, Iran’s full withdrawal from the Syrian south. Second, to obtain written guarantees that give US companies a share of the oil sector in the regions of eastern Syria. Third, the Syrian side to provide the Americans with full data of the terrorist groups and their members, including the numbers of foreign fighter deaths of these groups and those who survived, and those may return to Western countries, considering that the terrorist threat is intercontinental. And what we can get, serve the international security And the Syrian delegation's response according to Reuters was as follows: "Mamlouk said Damascus would not cooperate with Washington on security issues until they had normalized ties and he also demanded a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, al-Akhbar reported."
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    Uhhh ... I thought we were supposed to be there to fight ISIL?
Paul Merrell

Russia Deploys Fleet Off Syria - Says U.S. Preparing for Possible Attack - 0 views

  • The Russian Ministry of Defence said on Monday it had noticed Washington was building up its military forces in the Middle East in preparation for what Moscow feared was a possible strike on Syrian government forces, Russian news agencies reported. Major-General Igor Konashenkov was quoted by agencies as saying that the USS Ross, a guided-missile destroyer, had entered the Mediterranean on Aug. 25 armed with 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of hitting any target in Syria.
  • Up to 13 Russian warships have crossed the Bosphorus toward Syria so far this week as tensions between the U.S. and Syria continue to rise, according to ship spotters based in the Bosphorus Strait. Now in Med Sea: CG Marshal Ustinov DDG Severomorsk DDG Yaroslav Mudryy FFG Admiral Grigorovich FFG Admiral Essen FFL Pytlivyy FSG Vyshniy Volochek FSG Grad Sviyazhsk FSG Velikiy Ustyug LST Orsk LST Nikolay Fil'chenkov MS Turbinist MS Valentin Pikul SS Kolpino SS Velikiy Novgorod — Capt(N) (@Capt_Navy) August 25, 2018 Russia ramping up its presence in the eastern Med for the conclusion of #Syria campaign: Rejoining Russian Navy’s Mediterranean deployment after 85 days, #ВМФ Project1135M #ЧФ BSF Krivak II frigate Pytlivy 868 transited Bosphorus towards Med en route to #Tartus. pic.twitter.com/56XWIWstKK — Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) August 24, 2018 The deployment of the Russian fleet comes as the U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to strike the Syrian Army ahead of the long-awaited battle of Idlib. Syria, Turkey, Russia and U.S. are about to square off in the northern Syria city with millions of civilians in the crosshairs.
Paul Merrell

US plans to use fake chemical weapons attack to strike Syria - Russian MoD - RT World News - 0 views

  • The US may have plans to use a fake chemical attack in Syria to hit government forces with airstrikes, the Russian Defense Ministry has said. Washington is already building up strike capability in the Middle East, it said. The warning comes a day after the Russian military said it had information about a looming provocation in Syria’s Idlib governorate, which would involve a staged chemical weapons attack. The US earlier warned it would respond to a chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces with retaliatory strikes, which would be stronger than those conducted by the US, the UK and France in April.
  • In a statement published on Monday, the Russian MoD said it noted the deployment to the Mediterranean last weekend of the missile destroyer USS Ross carrying 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles on board. It came after a similar move of the USS The Sullivans to the Persian Gulf and the rebasing of a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber to an air base in Qatar. The Russian ministry said the “preparations are the latest evidence of the US intention to use the” expected provocation.The statement reiterated that the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham militant group, previously known as Al-Nusra Front, was preparing a staged chlorine attack in a city in Idlib. It alleged that a group of jihadists, trained in the handling of chemical weapons by the British private military contractor Olive Group, has already arrived in Jisr al-Shughur. The group will “stage decontamination of victims of a staged chemical weapons attack posing as members of the notorious White Helmets group,” the ministry claimed.“The implementation of this provocation, which is being conducted with the assistance of the British intelligence services, is meant to serve as the latest pretext for the US, Britain and France to deliver a missile strike against state and economic facilities in Syria,” said General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry.On August 22, US National Security Advisor John Bolton stated that “if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons, we will respond very strongly and they really ought to think about this a long time.”
Paul Merrell

How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking to the World - Mother Jones - 0 views

  • a crucial but little-known dimension of Clinton’s diplomatic legacy. Under her leadership, the State Department worked closely with energy companies to spread fracking around the globe—part of a broader push to fight climate change, boost global energy supply, and undercut the power of adversaries such as Russia that use their energy resources as a cudgel. But environmental groups fear that exporting fracking, which has been linked to drinking-water contamination and earthquakes at home, could wreak havoc in countries with scant environmental regulation. And according to interviews, diplomatic cables, and other documents obtained by Mother Jones, American officials—some with deep ties to industry—also helped US firms clinch potentially lucrative shale concessions overseas, raising troubling questions about whose interests the program actually serves.
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