Russia: international moves, West responses, Putin's revenge & future 2

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Russia: international moves, West responses, Putin's revenge & future 2

1margd
Editat: gen. 4, 2019, 6:23am

Defying history, Moscow moves to defend Soviet war in Afghanistan
Vladimir Kara-Murza | December 4, 2018

...Last month, Russian lawmakers took another big step in the same direction by approving a draft resolution that seeks to justify the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. The formal vote on the measure — proposed jointly by lawmakers from the United Russia and Communist parties — will be held before the 30th anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet troops on Feb. 15. Hailing the decision, Communist lawmaker Nikolai Kharitonov called it a victory for “historical truth.”

The real historical truth — without quotation marks — was made public with the partial declassification of Soviet archives after 1991. The decision to invade Afghanistan was taken by the Politburo in December 1979; the measure was euphemistically titled “On the situation in ‘A.’ ” The first contingent of the USSR’s 40th Army crossed the Amu Darya River into Afghanistan on Dec. 25. Two days later, the Afghan dictator Hafizullah Amin – whose request for assistance served as the pretext for the invasion — was murdered by Soviet special forces in Tajbeg Palace.

The war lasted for nearly a decade. Among its consequences were 1 million civilian casualties; the rise of Islamist fundamentalist groups (backed by the West as a counterweight to the Soviets); and the collapse of the Soviet economy, which precipitated the end of the Soviet Union, which is now so lamented by both Putin and the Communists. The estimated cost in human lives for the Soviet armed forces was 15,000 dead and 54,000 injured...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2018/12/04/defying-history-moscow-moves-...

ETA_______________________________________________​

Bumblin' Trump got the memo:

Why Is Trump Spouting Russian Propaganda?
David Frum | Jan 3, 2019

...during the president’s monologue defending his decision to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria and 7,000 from Afghanistan, about half the force in that country.

“Russia used to be the Soviet Union...Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia … the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan...The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there."

To appreciate the shock value of Trump’s words, it’s necessary to dust off some Cold War history. Those of us who grew up in the last phases of the Cold War used to know it all by heart, but I admit I had to do a little Googling to refresh my faded memories...(read!)

...Putin-style glorification of the Soviet regime is entering the mind of the president, inspiring his words and—who knows—perhaps shaping his actions. How that propaganda is reaching him—by which channels, via which persons—seems an important if not urgent question. But maybe what happened yesterday does not raise questions. Maybe it inadvertently reveals answers.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/trump-just-endorsed-ussrs-inva...

2mamzel
gen. 4, 2019, 1:52pm

>1 margd: Did you watch Rachel Maddow last night? Very, very interesting. This isn't the first time he threw out a non sequitur that could only have come from a Russian mosquito buzzing in his ear.

Forward to time 18:05

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfO5ihYlCq0

3margd
gen. 4, 2019, 3:04pm

Incredible, isn't it, that we're headed into third year of Trump without an end in sight...
(Maddow is wonderful!)

4margd
gen. 5, 2019, 10:51am

From the National Review:

Trump Keeps Giving Mueller Reasons to Pursue the ‘Collusion’ Probe
Andrew C. McCarthy | January 5, 2019
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/01/mueller-probe-trump-russia-collusion/

5DugsBooks
gen. 5, 2019, 6:33pm

Does the government shutdown take away any funding from Mueller & hamper the process?

6mamzel
gen. 6, 2019, 4:05pm

>5 DugsBooks: Not at all.

The special counsel’s office is “funded from a permanent indefinite appropriation and would be unaffected in the event of a shutdown,” a Justice Department spokesman told The Hill.

https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/422489-mueller-investigation-will-n...

7margd
gen. 8, 2019, 10:18am

One Russian in Four Lacks an Indoor Toilet, One of Many Signs There are Now ‘Four Distinct Russias’
Paul Goble | January 7, 2019)

...only 62.7 percent of the Russian population has the usual accoutrements of modern existence – water in the house, plumbing, heating and gas or electric ranges, Rosstat says, a fact that must seem incredible to those who visit only Moscow or St. Petersburg but a fact of life for those who lives beyond the ring roads of the capitals.

...“a real demographic reformatting of Russia is taking place,” as a result of which everything and everyone is being concentrated within “a radius of 200 kilometers around Moscow.” Russians are leaving everywhere else. Consequently, within this century, we will see the disintegration of Russia.

And what is the most horrible thing about this, (Russian blogger Oleg Borovsky) concludes, is that “those chiefly responsible for this process are located inside of Russia” because “what is taking place in Russia is the result of the absolutely insane, inept and incompetent administration of the country.”...

http://russialist.org/one-russian-in-four-lacks-an-indoor-toilet-one-of-many-sig...

9margd
Editat: gen. 14, 2019, 5:35pm

Robert Reich @RBReich | 11:31 PM - 13 Jan 2019:

The next time you hear Trump claim that he's "tough" on Russia, remember that he has:
--Weakened NATO and the EU
--Given Putin cover on Crimea
--Repeated Kremlin talking points
--Ignored election interference
--Lifted sanctions on key oligarch
--Disregarded US intelligence

ETA____________________________________

Rachel Maddow MSNBC @maddow | 1/14/2019:

Senator Chuck Schumer will force a Senate vote tomorrow on whether or not the Trump Admin should be lifting sanctions on companies associated with Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Dear Colleague Letter (excerpt) below...

"We should not be providing sanctions relief to Vladimir Putin's trusted agent before the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Mr. Deripaska has deep ties to President Putin and the Russian government and possible links to a range of criminal activity."

10margd
gen. 15, 2019, 4:35am

Perhaps Trump Whisperer suggested a spending target that America's NATO allies can't or won't meet as a means of breaking up NATO?
(Then perched in E Germany, Poutine must well recall that Reagan's arms spending was a strategy for ending Cold War and bringing about demise of USSR:
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2004/06/how-reagan-won-the-cold-war.html. )

Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia
Julian E. Barnes and Helene Cooper | Jan. 14, 2019

WASHINGTON — There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.

Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States.

Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/politics/nato-president-trump.html

112wonderY
gen. 15, 2019, 9:21pm

Huh. McConnell's grip seems to be slipping.

Senate Republicans rebuke McConnell, Trump on Russia sanctions resolution

In a remarkable rebuke of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House, eleven Republicans on Tuesday joined with unanimous Democrats to keep alive a resolution opposing the Trump administration's decision to diminish sanctions against Russia.
...
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 57 to 42 against the attempt by McConnell, R-Ky., to table the resolution crafted by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. The Republicans who defied McConnell on the procedural vote were Sens. Joe Kennedy, Susan Collins, Marco Rubio, John Boozman, Tom Cotton, Steve Daines, Cory Gardner, Josh Hawley, Ben Sasse, Martha McSally and Jerry Moran.
...
In the new Congress, the Republican Senate has failed three times to begin debate on a measure backed by McConnell. But the first measure on which the Senate actually was able to begin debate in the new Congress is the one backed by Schumer.

12margd
gen. 16, 2019, 2:42pm

Laura Litvan @LauraLitvan (Bloomberg News) | 10:13 AM - 16 Jan 2019:

NEW: Senate just BLOCKED a Chuck Schumer measure that would prevent the Trump admin from lifting sanctions on three firms linked to Russian oligarch and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska.

The vote in the GOP-led Senate was 57-42, short of the 60 needed to move it to a final vote.
.
.
.
These 11 Republicans voted with Democrats to advance the Schumer resolution related to sanctions on Russian firms

*Boozman
*Collins
*Cotton
*Daines
*Gardner
*Hawley
*Kennedy
*Moran
*McSally
*Rubio
*Sasse

13margd
gen. 17, 2019, 2:48pm

Adam Schiff @RepAdamSchiff | 10:48 AM - 17 Jan 2019:

The House JUST voted 362-53 to disapprove of lifting sanctions on companies tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

The sanctions were imposed last year in response to Russian malign action at home and in Ukraine. Nothing since justifies their removal.

14proximity1
Editat: gen. 18, 2019, 7:56am

"The House JUST voted 362-53 to disapprove of lifting sanctions on companies tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska."

' Unfortunately'--or fortunately, depending on one's point of view--the Congress does not decide such matters. The president does.* So, Trump's sole "vote" "trumps" the 362 votes which express the sentiments of the House.

Not that the sanctions, in this instance, ought to be lifted and not that Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska isn't a scumbag who very well deserves the sanctions. It's just that this is the president's call to make, not that of Congress.

Again, his detractors just can't get over the fact that Trump, not Hillary Clinton, was elected president of the United States.
______________________


Our Elites’ Selective Support for Democracy
_____________________________________
The hypocrisy on daily display in London and Washington of late has become difficult to stomach. | By ANDREW J. BACEVICH • January 17, 2019 |



(Westminster Parliament Building, London Maridav/shutterstock and U.S. Capitol, Washington (Wikimedia Commons))


“The ongoing parallel crises in the United Kingdom and the United States invite us to contemplate unwelcome truths about the nature of politics in the 21st century. In both countries, deep divisions have resulted in paralysis. In both, that paralysis represents something more profound: disagreement over the meaning and proper conduct of contemporary democracy. Yet there is little evidence that elites on either side of the Atlantic understand the actual problem at hand. Hence, the likelihood that it will fester.

“In a nominal sense, their immediate problem centers on Brexit—how, or even whether, to honor the results of a 2016 national referendum in which a majority of voting Britons signaled their wish to leave the European Union. In a nominal sense, our immediate problem is a government shutdown. Yet overshadowing that shutdown is a persistent unwillingness to accept as legitimate the results of the 2016 presidential election in which Americans voted for Donald Trump in numbers sufficient to give him a majority in the Electoral College.

“In both, the outcome of what was a manifestly democratic process confounded elite expectations. What happened wasn’t supposed to happen. In a few short months, the onward march towards a multicultural society and an integrated global order, with well-refined products of a carefully vetted and suitably diverse meritocracy pulling the strings, had been stopped in its tracks.”

“Whether the imagined utopia of a dominant Great Britain prior to 1914 or a dominant America after 1945 ever actually existed is beside the point. In 2016, large numbers of citizens in both countries concluded that the solution to their complaints was to be found in reasserting national independence, with Britain breaking free of the EU and the United States severing entanglements that have cost plenty without delivering discernible benefits.

“When similar assertions of the popular will occurred in other countries—the protesters flooding Tiananmen Square in 1989, the crowds in Red Square that helped defeat the attempted putsch of August 1991, the 2011 uprising known as the Arab Spring—British and American elites cheered. At such moments, they are all-in for democracy. Yet when the exercise of democracy at home yields outcomes likely to affect their interests adversely, they sing a different tune.

“Politics is always fraught with hypocrisy. Yet the hypocrisy on daily display in London and Washington of late has become difficult to stomach. This is especially so when it emanates from quarters that otherwise do not hesitate to chastise other governments for failing to honor democratic principles.

“In a recent op-ed denouncing Brexit, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote, “A democracy that cannot change its mind is not a democracy.” Let’s unpack that. What Cohen really means is this: when a democracy comes to a decision of which I disapprove, there’s always room for a do-over, yet when decisions win my approval, they become permanent and irreversible. So just because Americans elected a president who promised to withdraw from NATO and overturn Roe v. Wade doesn’t mean that such possibilities qualify as worthy of consideration. NATO membership is forever. So, too, are abortion rights.

“It is no doubt true that the United Kingdom and the United States are democracies, with the people allowed some say. But to be more precise, they are curated democracies, with members of an unelected elite policing the boundaries of acceptable opinion and excluding heretics. Members of this elite are, by their own estimation, guardians of truth and good sense. They know what is best.” …


(emphasis in bold-face added)

RELATED ARTICLES:


"What Made the Brexit Revolution" |
Britain’s elites would never have left the EU without pressure from the working class.
By DAVID A. COWAN • March 29, 2017



"How Democracy is Losing the World" |
By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN • December 11, 2018, 12:01 AM


___________________________________________

*



(Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports)

Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions |
February 4, 2014 – May 10, 2018 (R43311)



... ...

Authority to Waive or Lift Economic Sanctions

The ability to impose or ease economic sanctions with some nimbleness and responsiveness to changing events is key to effective use of the tool in furtherance of national security or foreign policy objectives. Historically, both the President and Congress have recognized this essential requirement and have worked together to provide the President substantial flexibility. In the collection of laws that are the statutory basis for the U.S. economic sanctions regime on Iran, the President retains, in varying degrees, the authority to tighten and relax restrictions.

The President has the authority to impose a wide range of economic sanctions under the National Emergencies Act (NEA) and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA)—the authority on which sanctions-initiating executive orders are most often based.19 Using these statutes, the President maintains that Iran poses an "unusual and extraordinary threat, which has its source in whole or substantial part outside the United States, to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States…."20 On March 15, 1995, President William Clinton declared that Iran's proliferation activities posed a threat to the United States that constituted a national emergency; this declaration has been renewed annually since 1995, as required by statute, and is the basis for subsequent executive orders that have expanded restrictions on economic relations with Iran.21 If or when President Trump restores the provisions of the executive orders that President Obama had revoked to implement the U.S. responsibilities under the JCPOA (see Table 4), he is likely to cite the 1995 national emergency as the legal basis for his actions.

In the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA; P.L. 111-195, as amended; 22 U.S.C. 8501 et seq.),22 Congress grants to the President the authority to terminate most of the sanctions imposed on Iran in that act as well as those provided for in the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-158; 22 U.S.C. 8701 et seq.), and Iran Freedom and Counter-proliferation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-239; 22 U.S.C. 8801 et seq.). Before terminating these sanctions, however, the President must certify that the government of Iran has ceased its engagement in the two critical areas of terrorism and weapons, as set forth in Section 401 of CISADA—

SEC. 401 (22 U.S.C. 8551). GENERAL PROVISIONS.

(a) Sunset.—The provisions of this Act (other than sections 105 and 305 and the amendments made by sections 102, 107, 109, and 205) shall terminate, and section 13(c)(1)(B) of the Investment Company Act of 1940, as added by section 203(a), shall cease to be effective, on the date that is 30 days after the date on which the President certifies to Congress that—

(1) the Government of Iran has ceased providing support for acts of international terrorism and no longer satisfies the requirements for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism (as defined in section 301) under—

(A) section 6(j)(1)(A) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 2405(j)(1)(A)) (or any successor thereto);

(B) section 40(d) of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2780(d)); or

(C) section 620A(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2371(a)); and

(2) Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of, and verifiably dismantled its, nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and ballistic missiles and ballistic missile launch technology.

(b) Presidential Waivers.—

(1) In general.—The President may waive the application of sanctions under section 103(b), the requirement to impose or maintain sanctions with respect to a person under section 105(a), 105A(a), 105B(a), or 105C(a) the requirement to include a person on the list required by section 105(b), 105A(b), 105B(b), or 105C(b), the application of the prohibition under section 106(a), or the imposition of the licensing requirement under section 303(c) with respect to a country designated as a Destination of Diversion Concern under section 303(a), if the President determines that such a waiver is in the national interest of the United States.

... ... ...

Legislation and Executive Orders

...

"These and other authorities have been applied to Iran. It is unlikely that these statutes would be amended if and when they no longer apply to Iran. Sanctions authorized by these statutes are applied, and lifted, by executive branch decision.

"On the other hand, because the President holds sole authority to renew, alter, and revoke executive orders he issues pursuant to the National Emergencies Act (NEA) and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), Table 2 includes actions taken that are specific to Iran and also actions taken that are not specific to Iran (e.g., Executive Order 13224 and 13382 target terrorists and proliferators, respectively) but have been applied to that country. The authorities in these orders have been exercised to affect Iran in a significant way. Executive orders are subject to their underlying statutory authorities: economic sanctions are most often based on the President's authorities established in IEEPA. These are applied and lifted by the President;


(emphasis addded)

15John5918
gen. 18, 2019, 11:38pm

Nastya Rybka: Russia seizes model who made Trump collusion claim (BBC)

A Belarusian model who said she had evidence of Russian collusion with Donald Trump's election campaign is now in Russian police custody.

16margd
gen. 21, 2019, 9:19am

Polina Ivanova (Reuters) @polina__ivanova | 4:33 AM - 21 Jan 2019:
(see screenshot of board game at https://twitter.com/polina__ivanova)
so apparently this is a board game called 'our guys in Salisbury', with guys in hazmat suits at the finish line


Mr Tether in rain @BabblingRobot | 5:17 AM - 21 Jan 2019:
@polina__ivanova
Goodnight Chernobyl moon.
Goodnight radiation house.
Goodnight melted phone.
Goodnight glowing milk.
Goodnight bleeding grandpa's eyes.
Goodnight two-headed cat.
Goodnight nobody.
Goodnight blocks and blocks and blocks of nobody.
The end.
5:17 AM - 21 Jan 2019

17margd
gen. 21, 2019, 4:51pm

Russian prostitute offering Trump info moved from Thai fire to Russian frying pan.
Sounds like poor little thing has been offered polonium tea:

'Nastya Rybka' To Remain In Custody, Apologizes To Deripaska
January 19, 2019 18:57 GMT

A Moscow court on January 19 extended for three days the custody of Anastasia Vashukevich, also known as Nastya Rybka, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on Thursday (January 17) on suspicion of "enticement into prostitution." Vashukevich, whose reported relationship with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska put her at the center of a geopolitical scandal, spoke to reporters in the courtroom and apologized to Deripaska, pledging not to publish any audio recordings of him that she had previously said she possessed.

See video at https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-moscow-court-nastya-rybka/29719532.html

__________________________________________________​

Meanwhile, her onetime sugar daddy makes out like bandit:

Russian Oligarch and Allies Could Benefit From Sanctions Deal, Document Shows
Kenneth P. Vogel | Jan. 21, 2019

WASHINGTON — When the Trump administration announced last month that it was lifting sanctions against a trio of companies controlled by an influential Russian oligarch, it cast the move as tough on Russia and on the oligarch, arguing that he had to make painful concessions to get the sanctions lifted.

But a binding confidential document signed by both sides suggests that the agreement the administration negotiated with the companies controlled by the oligarch, Oleg V. Deripaska, may have been less punitive than advertised.

The deal contains provisions that free him from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of his most important company, the document shows....

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/21/us/politics/oleg-deripaska-russian-sanctions....

__________________________________________________​

Meanwhile rich Russian women head to Miami to bear their babies.

Miami Has Russian Baby Boom, As Expectant Mothers Head There To Give Birth
JakeThomas 1/21/2019

...According to Bloomberg News, Russian mothers-to-be are heading to Florida in growing numbers, despite factors like the “weakness of the ruble, the tense relations between Russia and the U.S., the hurdles that have to be scaled to get a visa.”

...What they are doing is completely legal, as long as they don't lie on any immigration or insurance paperwork. In fact, it's protected by the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says anyone born on American soil is automatically a citizen.

The child gets a lifelong right to live and work and collect benefits in the U.S. And when they turn 21 they can sponsor their parents' application for an American green card.

...many of the wealthy Russian women coming to Miami to give birth stay in Trump’s very own property

...condo buildings that bear the Trump name are the most popular for the out-of-town obstetric patients, although the units are subleased from the individual owners and it's not clear if building management is aware.

...Women from countries other than Russia tend to gravitate toward cities other than Miami. For women with roots in the former Soviet Union, it’s Miami; if they’re affluent, it’s Sunny Isles Beach, called Little Russia because so many of its 22,000 residents hail from that part of the world.

...The biggest deterrent (for Russians): They’d have to start paying personal income taxes that are more than double what they are in Russia...

https://mavenroundtable.io/theintellectualist/news/miami-has-russian-baby-boom-a...

19margd
Editat: feb. 1, 2019, 12:52pm

America’s Electric Grid Has a Vulnerable Back Door—and Russia Walked Through It
Rebecca Smith and Rob | Jan. 10, 2019

A Wall Street Journal reconstruction of the worst known hack into the nation’s power system reveals attacks on hundreds of small contractors

One morning in March 2017, Mike Vitello’s work phone lighted up. Customers wanted to know about an odd email they had just received. What was the agreement he wanted signed? Where was the attachment?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/americas-electric-grid-has-a-vulnerable-back-dooran...

ETA_______________________________________________​

Cyberattacks: China and Russia can disrupt US power networks warns intelligence report
Steve Ranger | January 29, 2019

Countries could launch damaging attacks against gas pipelines and electricity grid, says assessment...

https://www.zdnet.com/article/cyber-attacks-china-and-russia-can-disrupt-us-powe...

ETA_______________________________________________​

Pipelines, power grid vulnerable to cyber attack by China, Russia (7:00)

Rebecca Smith, national energy reporter for The Wall Street Journal, talks with Rachel Maddow about the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that key energy infrastructure like pipelines and the power grid are vulnerable to cyber attacks by Russia and China.Jan. 30, 2019

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/pipelines-power-grid-vulnerable-to-cybe...
.
.
.
Maddow got Wikileaks' attention! Note on behalf of Russia, not China...

WikiLeaks @wikileaks | 3:01 PM - 31 Jan 2019:
U.S. largest audience TV host, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow (Democratic party aligned) this evening: Russia will freeze you and your family to death.

ETA_______________________________________________​

Dan Coats, Director of National Security
Statement for the Record (42 p)
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Jan 29, 2019
https://www.dni.gov/files/ODNI/documents/2019-ATA-SFR---SSCI.pdf

20mamzel
gen. 31, 2019, 2:11pm

>19 margd: I can only hope that we have the same ability on their systems.

21StormRaven
Editat: gen. 31, 2019, 2:43pm

' Unfortunately'--or fortunately, depending on one's point of view--the Congress does not decide such matters. The president does.* So, Trump's sole "vote" "trumps" the 362 votes which express the sentiments of the House.

If Congress passed a bill that decided the matter, they could override the President. The President's authority in this area exists because Congress gave it to him. They could, via legislation, take that decision away from him as well.

22krolik
feb. 1, 2019, 5:11am

23-pilgrim-
feb. 1, 2019, 6:09am

>22 krolik: When we think about a normal state, Magyar told me, “the assumption is that the state acts in the public interest, and if that doesn’t happen, that’s a deviation.” That is true of how we think about democracies but also, to a large extent, of how we think about dictatorships as well: the dictator positions himself as the arbiter and sole representative of the national interest.

It seems to me that this is a very flawed assumption. I can think if very few dictators who I would assume to be acting in the interests of anyone other than themselves.

And most democratic politicians seem to usually place their personal careers, and party loyalties, above the national interest.

I think it is a better analysis to assume that most, although certainly not all, politicians act in the national interest most of the time simply because failure to do so tends to have negative consequences for them personally.

So if Russia and Hungary are, q.v. Luke Harding and Bálint Magyar, "Mafia States", then the description's aptness is determined by the degree to which their leaders operate through parallel organisations of personal connections, rather than through the official political infrastructure.

24margd
feb. 1, 2019, 7:39am

>22 krolik: I think another payoff for the Russian godfather is disarray in the American system as vengeance for perceived interference in Russian election (Clinton)? Also, disrespect by Obama? (I never understood why Obama publicly dissed Russia as a "regional power". No gain, and he certainly must have incentivized Russian godfather to do what he could to regain perception of himself as leader of a great power?)

25krolik
Editat: feb. 1, 2019, 10:34am

>23 -pilgrim-:, >24 margd:

Yes, fair enough. I also think that Gessen might underestimate the persistence of some Soviet attitudes in Putin himself, regarding spheres of influence, even if some mafiosi peers have turned the page and are quite happy to do their banking in Cyprus or London and elsewhere, and go on holiday in Tenerife.

26margd
Editat: feb. 2, 2019, 9:47am

'Useful idiot' delivers as directed. Russia responds as it no doubt had already planned, leaving no opportunity for US to reconsider and maybe attempt other measures. Ronald Reagan turns in grave?

'Quid pro quo': Russia suspends INF nuclear treaty after US move
February 2, 2019

Vladimir Putin says Russia will abandon key nuclear arms treaty in a mirror response to US decision.
an hour ago

..."We will respond quid pro quo," Putin said during a televised meeting with foreign and defence ministers, Sergey Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu.

"Our American partners have announced they were suspending their participation in the treaty and will do the same. They have announced they will conduct research and development, and we will act accordingly."

The Russian leader instructed the military to work on developing new land-based weapons that were previously banned by the pact, but said Moscow will not increase its military budget for the new weapons.

However, he said Russia would not deploy them in the European part of the country or elsewhere unless the US does so.

He also ordered ministers not to initiate disarmament talks with Washington, accusing the US of being slow to respond to such moves...

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/pro-quo-russia-suspends-inf-nuclear-treat...

27mamzel
feb. 2, 2019, 1:33pm

>26 margd: However, he said Russia would not deploy them in the European part of the country or elsewhere unless the US does so.

Probably won't happen any way if his royal orangeness makes good his threat to exit NATO.

28margd
feb. 5, 2019, 9:47am

A useful idiot...

Congress braces for Trump diverting military construction money to build the wall
Erica Werner and Karoun Demirjian | February 4, 2019

...domestic blowback, which could surface in numerous states, including some critical to Trump’s 2020 reelection prospects, has led to expectations among congressional aides in both parties that Trump could go after overseas construction projects first. A significant portion of that money is dedicated to projects that are part of the European Deterrence Initiative, an effort to help U.S. allies in Europe shore up their defenses against Russia.

The military construction budget dedicates around $800 million in the 2019 budget year toward the initiative, which was created, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to bolster the U.S. presence in Eastern Europe. The money pays for staging areas, refueling stations and other efforts aimed at helping NATO allies defend against encroaching Russian threats and is considered a crucial part of the security alliance that Trump has often jeered as he suggests partner nations have not contributed enough to cooperative defense...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/congress-braces-for-trump-diverting-mil...

29John5918
feb. 7, 2019, 8:17am

US boyfriend of Russian agent Maria Butina charged with fraud (Guardian)

Paul Erickson, who arranged high-level NRA visit to Moscow, allegedly cheated investors out of thousands

30BucketLegs
feb. 7, 2019, 8:32am

Russia has one big pro! And it's a lot of beautiful women.
This website is showing this

312wonderY
feb. 7, 2019, 9:24am

>30 BucketLegs: spam profile

32margd
Editat: feb. 7, 2019, 9:42am

26-28, contd. US, France, Russia all fired off missiles within few hours of each other...
https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1083676/world-war-3-russia-US-France-nuclea...

And his orangeness, all alone in the White House, is facing a lot of pressure of Mueller and House-investigation variety...

33margd
feb. 8, 2019, 9:07am

Third Skripal Suspect Linked to 2015 Bulgaria Poisoning
Bellingcat Investigation Team | February 7, 2019

...a third Russian GRU officer, who was in the United Kingdom at the time of the Skripals’ Novichok poisoning in March 2018, arrived in Bulgaria just days before a local entrepreneur and his son became seriously ill after being poisoned with an unidentified substance.

The third man, a 45-year-old Russian travelling under the alias Sergey Vyacheslavovich Fedotov, has been conclusively identified by Bellingcat as a senior GRU officer. Like the other two Skripal suspects, GRU officers Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, his cover identity was created in 2010, with no prior records of a person with this name ever existing.

...On April 24, 2015, “Sergey Fedotov” arrived on a flight from Moscow to the Bulgarian seaside resort of Burgas. He had a return flight for a week later, on April 30, from the capital city of Sofia back to Moscow. However, he did not show up for the return flight. Instead, late on the evening of April 28th, he showed up at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport and bought a last-minute ticket to a flight to Moscow.

Earlier that day, a Bulgarian entrepreneur, Emilian Gebrev, was hospitalized after collapsing at a reception he was hosting in Sofia. At around the same time, his adult son and one of the executives at his company fell suddenly ill. All three were hospitalized with symptoms of severe poisoning. Emilian Gebrev’s condition quickly deteriorated and he fell into a coma. Doctors surmised that the poison had been applied or consumed in the day or days preceding April 28.

...Mr. Gebrev could think of two hypothetical reasons why he might have been targeted. One was his company’s exports of specialized defense-related equipment to Ukraine, which he said he conducted in strict compliance with Bulgarian and European regulations. Another hypothesis, he conceded, was possible interest by Russia in a weapons manufacturing plant he controlled that was seen as strategic importance to Bulgaria and NATO.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2019/02/07/third-skripal-suspect-l...

34margd
feb. 22, 2019, 8:03am

David Clark @David_K_Clark | 11:25 PM - 21 Feb 2019:

Huge story breaking in Italy. Putin agreed to a request from Lega Nord leader Matteo Salvini to covertly finance his Euro election campaign. The plan was to conceal the payment behind an apparently normal business deal. Sound familiar?

Esclusivo - La trattativa segreta per finanziare con soldi russi la Lega di Matteo Salvini
di Giovanni Tizian e Stefano Vergine | 21 febbraio 2019

Tre milioni di tonnellate di gasolio da vendere a un'azienda italiana: così il piano della Russia per sostenere i sovranisti alle prossime Europee si maschera da scambio commerciale. Il negoziato, condotto da un fedelissimo del vicepremier italiano, su L'Espresso in edicola domenica 24 febbraio

http://espresso.repubblica.it/inchieste/2019/02/20/news/esclusivo-lega-milioni-r... … via @espressonline

35margd
Editat: feb. 26, 2019, 4:46am

Russia: US asks for advice on North Korea talks
Associated Press | February 25, 2019 at 5:13 AM

MOSCOW — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the United States has asked Moscow’s advice in dealing with North Korea before a summit between President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader.

...Lavrov, who is also visiting Vietnam this week...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/russia-us-asks-for-advice-on-n...

362wonderY
feb. 26, 2019, 7:25am

After Putin's warning, Russian TV lists nuclear targets in U.S.

MOSCOW, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Russian state television has listed U.S. military facilities that Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear strike, and said that a hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes.

The targets included the Pentagon and the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.

The report, unusual even by the sometimes bellicose standards of Russian state TV, was broadcast on Sunday evening, days after President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was militarily ready for a "Cuban Missile"-style crisis if the United States wanted one.

With tensions rising over Russian fears that the United States might deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe as a Cold War-era arms-control treaty unravels, Putin has said Russia would be forced to respond by placing hypersonic nuclear missiles on submarines near U.S. waters.

37davidgn
feb. 26, 2019, 7:29am

>36 2wonderY: That was a useful treaty. Shame it got Trumped.

This is also a shame:
https://consortiumnews.com/2019/02/14/the-most-dangerous-weapon-ever-rolls-off-t...

38margd
Editat: març 16, 2019, 10:50am

Wonder how Anastasia Vashukevich (aka Nastya Rybka), a Belarusian escort who claimed to have knowledge of Russian election interference, is doing, poor thing...

Bill Browder @Billbrowder | 7:01 AM - 16 Mar 2019:
More horrifying details from the Italian press on the suspected poisoning of Iman Fadil who was a witness against former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi (Putin’s best friend). “They said she had died after a "month of agony".

Ruby witness Imane Fadil dies, said was poisoned
Murder probe opened
Redazione ANSA Milan | 15 March 2019
http://www.ansa.it/english/newswire/english_service/2019/03/15/ruby-witness-iman...

--------------------------------------------------​--------------------------------------------------​

Witness in Berlusconi’s bunga-bunga trial ‘poisoned’
Tom Kington | March 16 2019

Iman Fadil died before she could give evidence in court

A Moroccan-born model who attended Silvio Berlusconi’s bunga-bunga dinners has died in hospital, allegedly killed by radioactive poisoning...

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/200684ec-4781-11e9-924d-9729bcd51a7f

39margd
març 16, 2019, 10:45am

Fri, 15 March 2019
Bill Browder and Jago Russell Debate Interpol and Authoritarian Governments (49:00 podcast)

Bill Browder, human rights campaigner and foe of Vladimir Putin, seems to get arrested whenever he travels abroad as a result of red notices and diffusion orders issued by Putin through the Interpol police organization. These incidents have highlighted the abuse of Interpol by authoritarian governments, and they raise a really important question: Should we be participating in an international police organization with governments that use that organization to harass and arrest their enemies?

On this episode of The Lawfare Podcast, Benjamin Wittes speaks with two people with somewhat different points of view, although a lot of common ground: Bill Browder himself, along with Jago Russell, the head of Fair Trials ( https://www.fairtrials.org/campaign/interpol ), which has worked to reform Interpol and make it less susceptible to abuse. Bill argues for kicking the bums out and having police cooperation only between countries that observe civilized norms of law enforcement. Jago makes the case for mending, not ending, an inclusive international police organization...

http://lawfare.libsyn.com/bill-browder-and-jago-russell-debate-interpol-and-auth...

40margd
abr. 24, 2019, 8:43am

Magnitsky and Browder are two brave guys!

CAFE: Stay Tuned with Preet (Bharara)
Seeking Justice for Sergei Magnitsky (with Bill Browder)*

https://www.cafe.com/stay-tuned-seeking-justice-for-sergei-magnitsky-with-bill-b...

--------------------------------------------------​

*Webby Award for Best Individual Podcast Episode:
https://www.webbyawards.com/winners/2019/podcasts-digital-audio/features/best-in...

41margd
juny 28, 2019, 7:00am

Trump Tells Putin ‘Don't Meddle in the Election’
Margaret Talev, Jennifer Jacobs, and Ilya Arkhipov | June 28, 2019

Donald Trump lightheartedly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin not to interfere in the upcoming U.S. election during a meeting at the Group of 20 summit, their first since Special Counsel Robert Mueller documented alleged Kremlin efforts to manipulate the 2016 vote.

Prompted by a reporter’s question about whether Trump would warn Putin against future election meddling, Trump said: “Of course I will.”

“Don’t meddle in the election, president,” Trump then told Putin, pointing his finger at his Russian counterpart. “Don’t meddle in the election,” he repeated.

Putin smiled at first, and turned to his translator. After she told him what Trump had said, he laughed. Trump looked at Putin, shook his head and smiled.

...Trump complained to Putin about what he calls “fake news” in the U.S.

“You don’t have this problem in Russia -- we have, you don’t have it,” he said.

Putin, who has cracked down on the independent media in his country, responded in English: “Yes, yes we have too. The same.”

...Trump has repeatedly disputed the consensus of U.S. intelligence officials that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election, and has often chided reporters who ask whether he’ll warn Putin against further meddling in 2020.

“What I say to him is none of your business,” he told reporters on Wednesday before departing for the summit in Osaka, Japan.

...Trump canceled a meeting with Putin before November’s G-20, citing Russia’s capture of Ukrainian ships and sailors in a Black Sea naval clash. Russia has yet to release them.

“Haven’t discussed them, haven’t discussed them,” Trump said of the Ukrainian ships and sailors during Friday’s meeting.

“We haven’t seen each other for a long time since the Helsinki meeting,” Putin said through a translator. “However, our staffers had been working and gave us a good opportunity to continue what we agreed on.”

...Putin invited Trump to visit Russia next year for the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said that during the meeting. Trump “reacted very positively,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the mood of the meeting was “very good, atmosphere is constructive.”

“President Trump said that he would order his staffers who were at the meeting to work with Russian colleagues” on economic and “strategic stability” issues, he said.

...Afterward, the White House said in a statement that the two leaders “reviewed the state of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Russia.”

“Both leaders agreed that improved relations between the United States and Russia was in each countries’ mutual interest and the interest of the world,” the White House said in the statement. The presidents agreed the two countries will continue discussion on a 21st century model of arms control, which President Trump stated as needing to include China. The leaders also discussed the situations in Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and Ukraine.”

Since Trump and Putin last met, the America president withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing violations by Russia. Trump has periodically said he’d like to negotiate a new arms control agreement with Putin.

...most U.S. lawmakers (regard Russia) as acting against American interests across the globe.

Putin has provided military support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and is working with Germany to construct a natural gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, through the Baltic Sea. Russia is trying to close a deal with Turkey to sell the NATO country an anti-aircraft missile system, a transaction the U.S. has threatened would lead to sanctions against Ankara. And the Kremlin has backed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whom the U.S. calls illegitimate and seeks to depose.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-28/trump-tells-putin-don-t-meddl...

42margd
juny 28, 2019, 7:40am

Putin: Russian president says liberalism 'obsolete'
BBC | 6/28/2019

Vladimir Putin says liberal ideals conflict with the interests of most people...liberalism is "obsolete"...the ideology that has underpinned Western democracies for decades had "outlived its purpose".

The Russian leader also praised the rise of populism in Europe and America, saying ideas like multiculturalism were "no longer tenable".

..."Liberals cannot simply dictate anything to anyone," said Mr Putin, who is on his fourth term as president.

He added that liberalism conflicted with "the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population," and took aim at German Chancellor Angela Merkel for allowing large numbers of refugees to settle in Germany. "This liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. That migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected."

Mr Putin, 66, also said Russia had "no problems with LGBT persons… but some things do appear excessive to us...They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles...Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population."

...Mr Putin also praised US President Donald Trump as a "talented person" who knew how to relate to voters.

But the Russian leader also said American unilateralism was partly to blame for the ongoing trade war between China and the US, and for tensions with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz...

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48795764

43John5918
jul. 19, 2019, 8:13am

"Putin's African Dream and the New Dawn" is a new anthology from Modern Diplomacy. I haven't read it but I post the link in case anyone is interested:

https://mailchi.mp/387c0f8a057c/putins-african-dream-and-the-new-dawn?e=6ffc8777...

44margd
jul. 22, 2019, 8:42am

Summaries may be of interest to those of us who have not read the original Russian KGB training manuals that informed Putin's early career.

The Lubyanka Files: Textbooks for Putin's Spies (Fundraiser)
Michael Weiss | July 19, 2019

...never-before-published KGB training manuals spanning multiple decades. Once used to train Soviet intelligence officers, these documents are still classified in modern Russia because of their continued curricular use in teaching tradecraft to Vladimir Putin's spies at Russia’s domestic and foreign intelligence academies. They range in content from how to recruit and psychologically manipulate agents on Western soil; how to root out enemy disinformation schemes; how to infiltrate international scientific gatherings to recruit agents; to how to outflank suspected agents provocateurs. These are all methods still used today to undermine the United States and European countries.

..."The Lubyanka Files" will be unveiled over the course of a year, with each calendar month dedicated to the release of a new KGB manual...

...Below are the titles of each manual, their page-length, year of publication, and a brief summary of their contents:

Title: “Visual Intelligence,” 23 pp, 1970...

Title: “Opportunities for use of Psychological Methods,” 45 pp, 1988...

Title: “Exposure of Disinformation in Intelligence Materials,” 46 pp, 1968...

Title: “Trusted Contacts,” 45 pp, 1977...

Title: “Use of International Scientific Events and Exhibitions on USSR Territory,” 82 pp, 1981...

Title: “Konspiratsiya Tradecraft in Intelligence Work,” 32 pp, 1988...

Title: “Methods of Exposing and Battling the Enemy's Agent Provocateurs (Lectures),” 23 pp, 1971...

Title: “Some Aspects of Training of Agents and Psychologically Influencing Foreigners,” 29 pp, 1985...

Title: “Recruiting People to Foreign Intelligence Agencies of the Soviet KGB,” 34 pp, 1972...

Title: “Psychological Types of Targets for Recruiting,” 48 pp, 1987...

Title: “Work with the Agent's Network,” 61 pp, 1970...

https://www.gofundme.com/f/kgb-training-manuals-project

45-pilgrim-
jul. 23, 2019, 10:05am

>44 margd: How do these differ from the Mitrokhin Archive?

46margd
jul. 23, 2019, 2:34pm

You'll have to ask someone who dabbles in Russki and KGB. (Someone came to mind but he seems to have purged his site of Russian references.)

47margd
ag. 21, 2019, 4:57pm

Annexing Crimea? Interfering in our elections? Just you never mind--I'll take care of you before they kick my sorry orange ass out of the Oval Office:

Kylie Atwood @kylieatwood | 10:41 PM · Aug 20, 2019:

Scoop: Trump & Macron spoke over the phone today & agreed they wanted to invite Russia to the G7 next year, a sr admin official said. Trump is expected to broach the topic w/ world leaders at the G7. Today Trump told reporters it would be “appropriate” for Russia to re-enter G7.

48margd
Editat: set. 6, 2019, 4:08am

Trump holds up Ukraine military aid meant to confront Russia
CAITLIN EMMA and CONNOR O’BRIEN | 08/28/2019

...The Trump administration in 2017 approved lethal arms sales to Ukraine, taking a step the Obama administration had never done. The move was seen as a sign that Trump’s government was taking a hard-line approach to a revanchist Vladimir Putin despite the president’s public rhetoric flattering the Russian leader. Scaling back that assistance could expose Trump to allegations that his policies are favoring Moscow.

For the 2019 fiscal year, lawmakers allocated $250 million in security aid to Ukraine, including money for weapons, training, equipment and intelligence support. Specifically, Congress set aside $50 million for weaponry.

Now, that funding is being called into question. The senior administration official, who asked to remain anonymous in order to discuss internal matters, said the president wants to ensure U.S. interests are being prioritized when it comes to foreign assistance, and is seeking assurances that other countries are “paying their fair share.” | Defense Secretary Mark Esper and national security adviser John Bolton are among the officials who were asked to review the Ukraine security funding.

...The funds for Ukraine can’t be spent while they’re under review and the money expires at the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. The account was originally created by defense policy legislation enacted in late 2015 to help Ukraine battle pro-Russian separatists in Crimea after Moscow annexed the region in 2014.

...Trump is scheduled to meet this weekend in Warsaw, Poland, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Instead, Trump sent Pence.)

The Trump administration’s broader push to freeze or slash foreign aid that White House officials contend is wasteful has sparked intense bipartisan backlash, with lawmakers warning of a deteriorating relationship with the White House when it comes to the use of appropriated funds...

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/28/trump-ukraine-military-aid-russia-1689...

49margd
set. 12, 2019, 11:26am

Russian police raid opposition activists’ homes in 43 cities
NATALIYA VASILYEVA | 9/12/2019

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian police raided the homes and offices of supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in 43 cities on Thursday, his close allies said.

So far, more than 200 raids have taken place across Russia from Vladivostok on the Pacific to Krasnodar in Russia’s south.

Police have also searched the home of Sergei Boyko, a Navalny associate who came second with nearly 20% of the vote in the mayoral election in Russia’s third-largest city of Novosibirsk last Sunday.

...Police appear to be targeting those who were part of Navalny’s 2018 presidential election campaign. Though Navalny wasn’t allowed to run, his supporters in local election headquarters in dozens of Russian cities have grown in force, investigating high-level corruption and mobilizing supporters for opposition rallies.

Many of his allies in the regions ran in local elections last Sunday and monitored the voting, documenting wide-spread violations in some regions like St. Petersburg. They have followed his lead in harnessing new technology including YouTube live broadcasts and slickly produced video investigations.

...(Leonid) Volkov said the raids were linked to their successful election strategy in Moscow which cut the presence of pro-government candidates in the city legislature by a half. Police turned up at all of Navalny’s chapters at 6 a.m. Moscow time despite the vast time difference across the country, which points to a coordinated effort, Volkov said.

Respected election monitoring group Golos also reported that homes of three of its regional coordinators have been raided...

https://apnews.com/967e32974cab4ca99ce347ef6d63c261

50margd
Editat: oct. 6, 2019, 5:34am

You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.
Joshua 9:23

Canada's not nearly as resource-rich as Russia, I think, but there was a concerted attempt in 20th c to diversify the economy with value-added industries--to escape being just "hewers of wood and drawers of water". There was a lot of investment in technology and research. Also, NAFTA, preceded by auto agreement, may have saved Canada from worst of the fate of all too many resource-rich nations? Still, oil tugs at Alberta: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49899113 .

Rachel Maddow On How Russia's 'Resource Curse' Drove Putin To Election Interference (8:27)
Heard on All Things Considered (October 5, 2019)

Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth by Rachel Maddow

Interview Highlights
On how the "resource curse" (in this case, oil) weakens nations like Russia
On whether the U.S. has a role to play
On what she hopes to accomplish with the book

...regulating big corrosive industries that undermine our democratic processes is part of standing up and bolstering our democracies, that we do actually need to rein in some of these guys.

https://www.npr.org/2019/10/05/767572890/rachel-maddow-on-new-book-blowout

51Molly3028
Editat: oct. 6, 2019, 12:47pm

Trump (and his gang) are showing the world that pulling-the-wool-over-the-eyes
of Americans is child's play. This is not a fluke ~ it is probably going to be
par-for-the-course in this Internet era. The American Century has barely lasted
75 years.

52margd
Editat: oct. 8, 2019, 4:59am

We've alienated numerous allies, withdrawn from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, thrown Kurds under bus, held up aid to Ukraine..
Now Trumpians considering pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty.
What else would Putin have his "useful idiot" do? Withdraw from NATO?

Michael McFaul McFaul | 5:25 PM · Oct 7, 2019:

We are now pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty? Really? Please tell me this can't be true.

https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/_cache/files/4/6/46136e03-1d92-431b-aa31-7d20d2...

__________________________________________________​

US spies say Trump's G7 performance suggests he's either a 'Russian asset' or a 'useful idiot' for Putin
Sonam Sheth | Aug 29, 2019

Analysis banner
Current and former spies are floored by President Donald Trump's fervent defense of Russia at this year's G7 summit in Biarritz, France.

"It's hard to see the bar anymore since it's been pushed so far down the last few years, but President Trump's behavior over the weekend was a new low," one FBI agent who works in counterintelligence told Insider.

At the summit, Trump aggressively lobbied for Russia to be readmitted into the G7, refused to hold it accountable for violating international law, blamed former President Barack Obama for Russia's annexation of Crimea, and expressed sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

One former senior Justice Department official, who worked closely with the former special counsel Robert Mueller when he was the FBI director, told Insider Trump's behavior was "directly out of the Putin playbook. We have a Russian asset sitting in the Oval Office."

A former CIA operative told Insider the evidence is "overwhelming" that Trump is a Russian asset, but another CIA and NSA veteran said it was more likely Trump was currying favor with Putin for future business deals.

Meanwhile, a recently retired FBI special agent told Insider that Trump's freewheeling and often unfounded statements make it more likely that he's a "useful idiot" for the Russians. But "it would not surprise me in the least if the Russians had at least one asset in Trump's inner circle."...

https://www.businessinsider.com/spies-react-trump-g7-summit-russian-asset-2019-8

__________________________________________________​

US spies say Trump's G7 performance suggests he's either a 'Russian asset' or a 'useful idiot' for Putin
Sonam Sheth | Aug 29, 2019
https://www.businessinsider.com/spies-react-trump-g7-summit-russian-asset-2019-8

Useful Idiot
by trauncher October 29, 2011

If you have never heard the term “useful idiot” it was the attitude held by Vladimir Lenin towards communist sympathizers in the West (America). While Lenin and the Soviets held them in utter contempt they also viewed them as tools for dispensing communist propaganda to other countries, thus infecting foreign cultures with their totalitarian tripe. After their mission was complete, they were no longer “useful.”

It's a term the refers to brainwashed American marxists who blindly support any ideology that gets themselves out of real work and causes others to pay their way.

it also refers to useful idiots who post inaccurate definitions of the term useful idiot on sites like the urban dictionary. while they believe that they are making some sort of statement, they are actually providing perfect examples of the term.
An American who espouses Marxist ideals is a useful idiot.

#usefil idiot#libtard#leftist#marxist#socialist#communist#russia#soviet#fascist#national socialist#nazi

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Useful%20Idiot

53LolaWalser
oct. 8, 2019, 12:34pm

>52 margd:

Urban Dictionary has its uses but shouldn't be used blindly, or one risks being simply an "idiot". That explanation of "useful idiot" is nothing but a right-wing screed without a shred of truth to it.

Not only is there no evidence of the phrase anywhere in Lenin's writing and recorded conversations, the earliest recorded use of it is in the American media decades after Lenin's death and involved Americans pissing on French or Italian communists as far as I recall.

54margd
oct. 8, 2019, 1:51pm

Thanks--wikipedia any better? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot

After hearing Trump referred to more than once as Putin's useful idiot, I was wondering significance of the phrase, if any, beyond the obvious.

55LolaWalser
oct. 8, 2019, 2:35pm

>54 margd:

wikipedia any better?

So it's not Lenin now--but Yugoslav Communists?? This is the first time I hear that bizarre story. I note that other-language wikipedias (I glanced at German, Russian and French) don't mention this tale. I call bollocks on it.

Look, the phrase in that purported usage-by-communists is clearly anti-communist propaganda and as far as anyone has figured out, originated by Americans and employed in that usage most enthusiastically by Americans and other conservatives, not leftists. A fake phrase.

Putin may very well think about Trump as a useful idiot but then who wouldn't--he's an idiot and has been useful to many creeps besides Putin. Communism doesn't enter into it. Putin's no communist and Trump isn't fueled by ideology of any sort. He's a narcissistic monster guided only by ego.

56margd
nov. 30, 2019, 8:12am

From Russia with Blood: The Kremlin's Ruthless Assassination Program and Vladimir Putin's Secret War on the West
Hardcover – November 19, 2019

Unflinchingly documenting the growing web of death on British and American soil, Heidi Blake bravely exposes the Kremlin's assassination campaign as part of Putin's ruthless pursuit of global dominance

Amazon

57margd
Editat: des. 4, 2019, 8:04am

Happily/surprisingly, my rep disapproved of Ukraine-bashing Russia participating in G7 meetings--
but 71 Rs--including the VP's brother, Jordan, Meadows, Gaetz, Bishop, Brooks, Higgins (but not Nunes?) welcomed Russia back.
Will Moscow Mitch have chance to vote on the resolution?

David Frum @davidfrum | 9:24 PM · Dec 3, 2019
On the motion to disapprove Russia participating in G7 meetings, 71 voted Nay. All Republican.

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2019/roll643.xml

--------------------------------------------------​

House passes resolution disapproving of Russia being included in future G7 summits
Juliegrace Brufke - 12/03/19

The House on Tuesday passed a resolution disapproving of Russia being included in future Group of Seven (G-7) summits in a 339-71 vote on Tuesday...

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/472905-house-passes-resolution-disapproving-o...

582wonderY
des. 4, 2019, 3:53pm

Germany expels Russian diplomats over murder in Berlin

In late August, 40-year-old Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was shot in an "execution-style" killing at Berlin's Kleiner Tiergarten park. The suspect in the case, a 49-year-old Russian national, carried out the drive-by shooting on a bicycle in broad daylight — shooting the victim in the head and chest, prosecutors said.

From the beginning, the killing raised concerns about Russia's intelligence agency possibly being involved. Moscow has denied any involvement in the case.

Prosecutors said there is "sufficient evidence" to indicate that the man's murder was carried out on the behalf of the Russian state or by Chechnya.
The German Foreign Ministry also announced that two employees at the Russian Embassy in Berlin had been designated personae non gratae and were expelled.
The names and positions of the diplomats were not given, although the ministry said it took the move after Russian authorities failed to "cooperate sufficiently" in the murder investigation.
Russia's foreign ministry called the move to expel the diplomats an "unfriendly, groundless step" and vowed to respond.

59margd
des. 8, 2019, 5:29am

Elisabeth Braw @elisabethbraw | 11:20 AM · Dec 7, 2019
The new nexus: infowar and the armed forces.

46% of US service personnel now see Russia as an ally,
a trend “predominantly driven by Republicans who have responded to positive cues from President Trump about Russia,” @RonaldReagan Institute reports.

Average US pop: 28%.

Pentagon Concerned Russia Cultivating Sympathy Among US Troops
Jeff Seldin | December 08, 2019
https://voanews.com/usa/pentagon-concerned-russia-cultivating-sympathy-among-us-...

60margd
Editat: des. 22, 2019, 1:09pm

How a Poisoning in Bulgaria Exposed Russian Assassins in Europe
Michael Schwirtz | Dec. 22, 2019, 12:01 a.m. ET

For years, members of a secret team, Unit 29155, operated without Western security officials having any idea about their activities. But an attack on an arms dealer in Sofia helped blow their cover.

...The assassination attempts in 2015 were remarkable not only for their brazenness and persistence, but also because security and intelligence officials in the West initially did not notice. Bulgarian prosecutors looked at the case, failed to unearth any evidence and closed it.

Now Western security and intelligence officials say the Bulgaria poisonings were a critical clue that helped expose a campaign by the Kremlin and its sprawling web of intelligence operatives to eliminate Russia’s enemies abroad and destabilize the West.

Entering his third decade in power, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is pushing hard to re-establish Russia as a world power. Russia cannot compete economically or militarily with the United States and China, so Mr. Putin is waging an asymmetric shadow war. Russian mercenaries are fighting in Syria, Libya and Ukraine. Russian hackers are sowing discord through disinformation and working to undermine elections.

Russian assassins have also been busy.

...Security and intelligence officials are still working to understand how and why the unit is assigned certain targets.

...In recent years, the Kremlin has grown increasingly alarmed as smaller countries have nibbled away at Russia’s dominance in the arms industry.

...Shortly before he was poisoned, Mr. Gebrev tried to buy Dunarit, a large arms production plant in Bulgaria coveted by a Kremlin-backed oligarch....

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/22/world/europe/bulgaria-russia-assassination-sq...

61margd
Editat: gen. 4, 2020, 7:04am

Illuminating discussion at Rachel Maddow's twitter thread. She authored Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth : https://twitter.com/maddow/status/1213331287618064386

Pressure on Belarus coincidentally timed as US-Iran confrontation spikes oil prices.

Belarus is on Ukraine's western border.

Russia Halts Oil Supplies to Belarus in Push for Closer Ties
The Associated Press | Jan. 3, 2020

MINSK, Belarus — Russia has halted oil supplies to Belarus as talks on strengthening economic ties remained stalled over concerns that Russia could effectively swallow up its neighbor.

In a case that has echoes of Russia's relationship with Ukraine before it annexed the Crimean Peninsula, Belarus' state-owned oil company said Friday that Moscow has stopped supplying crude until contracts for this year are drawn up. Belarus' two main refineries were operating at low capacity, running on reserves.

Later on Friday Belarus suspended its oil exports, which contribute up to 20% of annual GDP. State-owned oil company Belneftekhim said there were enough reserves to cover the country's needs.

...Belarus relies on Russia for more than 80% of its overall energy needs, including gas. Over 90% of its crude oil imports come from Russia. And it has been relying on discounted prices and loans from Russia for more than a quarter century.

But it has one point of leverage: Russia depends on Belarus to ship oil to wealthier markets in the rest of Europe. About 10% of Western Europe's oil supplies come from Russia, via a pipeline transiting Belarus.

The Kremlin has recently increased pressure on its ally, raising energy prices and cutting subsidies. It argues that Belarus should accept closer economic integration if it wants to continue receiving energy resources at Russia's domestic prices.

...Russia had likewise used energy supplies as political leverage to keep Ukraine (Belaurs's eastern neighbor) in its economic orbit and from developing closer ties with Europe...

...There also has been speculation that Putin, who has been in power for nearly two decades, could contemplate a merger with Belarus as a way to stay at the helm of the new union state of Russia and Belarus after his current Russian presidential term expires in 2024.

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/01/03/business/bc-eu-russia-belarus.html

62margd
gen. 16, 2020, 4:46am

Russian parliament to review Putin PM pick after shock overhaul
1/15/2020

If approved, tax chief Mikhail Mishustin will have a week to choose a new government and ministers.

...The proposals would be the first significant change to the country's constitution since it was adopted in 1993 and include a referendum on amending the constitution to increase the powers of parliament while maintaining a strong presidential system.

"I consider it necessary to conduct a vote by the country's citizens on an entire package of proposed amendments to the country's constitution," Putin said, without specifying a date for a referendum.

Under the changes, legislators would name prime ministers and cabinet members, decisions currently made by the president.

...Some suggested 67-year-old Putin, who has steered the country since 1999, could be laying the groundwork to assume a new post or remain in a powerful behind-the-scenes role...

...Outlining his plans, Putin noted the "demand for change" among Russians who have seen their incomes stagnate or decrease for five years, while a key reform hiking the pension age has led to anger and a fall in Putin's ratings.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced the resignation of his government soon after Putin's speech, saying the constitutional proposals would mean significant changes to the country's balance of power.

...Medvedev - who also served as Russia's president for four years from 2008 - is expected to stay close to the Russian leader as deputy head of the country's Security Council, which Putin chairs.

...Putin also said he wanted to tighten the criteria for anyone wanting to become president - anyone wishing to become president must have lived in Russia for the past 25 years.

...Putin is required under the constitution to step down when his current term ends; he will be 71.

..."The proposed changes to the constitution imply the government will actually be appointed by the Russian parliament, which is not how it is now, but at the same time, the president will retain the power to fire the government if he is not satisfied with their performance," said (Aleksandra Godfroid, a journalist in Moscow). "The president will also keep control of the army, police and security, and will be appointing the heads of those services"...

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/russian-parliament-review-putin-pm-pick-s...

63margd
feb. 10, 2020, 9:33am

Funny. Just hope ilk and minions don't report them to Poutine:

A Russian prankster glued a massive portrait of President Vladimir Putin to the inside of a residential elevator.
He then placed a camera in the elevator to record people’s reactions.
1:52 ( https://twitter.com/MoscowTimes/status/1226837337923104768 )

- The Moscow Times @MoscowTimes | 6:56 AM · Feb 10, 2020

64LolaWalser
feb. 10, 2020, 1:09pm

>63 margd:

That's hilarious!

65LolaWalser
feb. 10, 2020, 1:21pm

Six to 18 years in prison for going against Putin's mafia.

Russian antifascist group given 'monstrous' jail terms

66margd
feb. 17, 2020, 6:53am

Ireland believes Russia sent intel agents to Ireland to map the precise location of the fibre-optic, ocean-bed cables that connect Europe to America.
The cables enable millions of people to communicate/allow financial transactions to take place seamlessly.
- Olga Lautman @olgaNYC1211 | 10:40 PM · Feb 16, 2020

--------------------------------------------------​--------------------------------------------------​

Russian agents plunge to new ocean depths in Ireland to crack transatlantic cables
John Mooney | February 16 2020

Russia has sent intelligence agents to Ireland to map the precise location of the fibre-optic, ocean-bed cables that connect Europe to America, gardai suspect. This has raised concerns that Russian agents are checking the cables for weak points, with a view to tapping or even damaging them in the future.

Ireland is the landing point for undersea cables which carry internet traffic between America, Britain and Europe. The cables enable millions of people to communicate and allow financial transactions to take place seamlessly...

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/russian-agents-plunge-to-new-ocean-depths-in-...

67margd
juny 22, 2020, 7:32am

Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki
per John Bolton's The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir:

Bolton: Trump asked his interpreter not to write notes of his meeting with Putin, and Putin wants ⁦@Billbrowder
⁩Image ( https://twitter.com/RupertMyers/status/1274796066651676673/photo/1 )

- Rupert Myers @RupertMyers | 4:07 PM · Jun 21, 2020

68John5918
jul. 16, 2020, 2:43am

US Sanctions Russian Troll Network (The Sentry)

US Places Sanctions on Russian Prigozhin Network Linked to Violent Suppression of Democratic Protestors in Sudan...

“The continued presence of these Prigozhin-linked companies in Sudan represents a threat to the fledgling democratic transition in the country. The ongoing theft of Sudan’s natural resources is a scandal that the civilian-led government should end immediately”...


US targets Russia group over Libya mines, Sudan suppression (AFP)

The United States on Wednesday accused a Russian mercenary group of laying landmines in and around Tripoli and imposed sanctions over its alleged cooperation with Sudan's ousted dictator...

In Sudan, Prigozhin is accused of running M Invest, which the Treasury Department said was a front for the Wagner Group and was awarded concessions in gold mining by longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir.

It charged that M Invest developed plans for Bashir to suppress protests and carried out social media manipulation to discredit youth-led demonstrators, who started taking to the streets in December 2018 in frustration over economic conditions.

The effort ultimately failed with Bashir toppled in April 2019 after three decades in power and the military ultimately ceding to a transitional authority that involves civilians.

"Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his network are exploiting Sudan's natural resources for personal gain and spreading malign influence around the globe," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

"The United States remains committed to holding him and other bad actors accountable so Sudan and other countries can operate freely"...

69margd
jul. 31, 2020, 9:14am

America’s Dying’: Russian Media Is Giddy at Chaos in the USA
‘Trump Is Ours’
Julia Davis | Jul. 30, 2020

From the U.S. troop drawdown in Germany to Trump’s refusal to slam Russia over soldier bounties, Russian state media is jubilant over America acting in the Kremlin’s interests....

https://www.thedailybeast.com/russian-media-is-giddy-at-chaos-in-the-usa-claims-...

70John5918
set. 1, 2020, 11:16pm

Russian agency created fake leftwing news outlet with fictional editors, Facebook says (Guardian)

The Russian agency that interfered in the 2016 US election created a fake leftwing news publication, staffed it with fake editors with AI-generated photos and hired real freelance reporters as part of a fresh influence operation detected and removed by Facebook, the company said on Tuesday...

71John5918
des. 2, 2020, 11:51pm

With Sudan naval base, Russia may have a 'key to Africa' (Deutsche Welle)

The Kremlin plans to set up a naval base on the Red Sea in Sudan. The prestige project would expand Russia's presence in Africa. That could have global geopolitical implications...

72margd
des. 3, 2020, 3:24am

I read a while back that Russia was looking to lock up fossil fuels in n Africa, so that between its pipelines and n Africa resources, Europe would have few (gas?) alternatives. Seems consistent to have naval base as well.

73margd
des. 12, 2020, 11:09am

David Frum @davidfrum | 9:12 AM · Dec 12, 2020
A fascinating glimpse of Putin family secrets
https://occrp.org/en/investigations/love-offshores-and-administrative-resources-...
Image ( https://twitter.com/davidfrum/status/1337762287830986752/photo/1 )
_________________________________________________-

Wonder what the NY DA and Scotland will find--what Deutsche Bank et al. can tell?

74margd
des. 14, 2020, 9:58am

David Sanger @SangerNYT | 6:31 AM · Dec 14, 2020:

Struck by fact that for 6 weeks now @realDonaldTrump and 100+ Republican members of Congress have been talking about a hack that never happened - of the vote. Total silence on the one that did happen: Russian hackers inside the Fed. govt.'s own agencies.
The Treasury Department was one of the agencies targeted by the hackers.

Russian Hackers Broke Into Federal Agencies, U.S. Officials Suspect
In one of the most sophisticated and perhaps largest hacks in more than five years, email systems were breached at the Treasury and Commerce Departments. Other breaches are under investigation.
nytimes.com
_________________________________________________

Cue the Putineers.

75margd
des. 16, 2020, 8:29am

>74 margd: contd.

Hack may have exposed deep US secrets; damage yet unknown
FRANK BAJAK | Dec 15, 2020

Some of America’s most deeply held secrets may have been stolen in a disciplined, monthslong operation being blamed on elite Russian government hackers. The possibilities of what might have been purloined are mind-boggling.

Could hackers have obtained nuclear secrets? COVID-19 vaccine data? Blueprints for next-generation weapons systems?

It will take weeks, maybe years in some cases, for digital sleuths combing through U.S. government and private industry networks to get the answers. These hackers are consummate pros at covering their tracks, experts say. Some theft may never be detected.

What’s seems clear is that this campaign — which cybersecurity experts says exhibits the tactics and techniques of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence agency — will rank among the most prolific in the annals of cyberespionage.

...In the months since the update (that triggered the hack) went out, the hackers carefully exfiltrated data, often encrypting it so it wasn’t clear what was being taken, and expertly covering their tracks.

...President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, cut short an overseas trip (itself a scandalous use of taxpayer dollars for outgoing NSA director) to hold meetings on the hack and was to convene a top-level interagency meeting later this week...

...Earlier, the White House said a coordinating team had been created to respond, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

At a briefing for congressional staffers Monday, DHS did not say how many agencies were hacked, a reflection of how little the Trump administration has been sharing with Congress on the case.

Critics have long complained that the Trump administration failed to address snowballing cybersecurity threats — including from ransomware attacks that have hobbled state and local governments, hospitals and even grammar schools...

Trump eliminated two key government positions: White House cybersecurity coordinator and State Department cybersecurity policy chief.

...(Brandon Valeriano, a Marine Corps University scholar and adviser to the Cyber Solarium Commission, which was created by Congress to fortify the nation’s cyber defenses) said one of the few bright spots was the work of Chris Krebs, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, whom Trump fired for defending the integrity of the election in the face of Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud.

Hackers infiltrated government agencies by piggybacking malicious code on commercial network management software from SolarWinds, a Texas company, beginning in March.

The campaign was discovered by the cybersecurity company FireEye when it detected it had been hacked — it disclosed the breach Dec. 8 — and alerted the FBI and other federal agencies. FireEye executive Charles Carmakal said it was aware of “dozens of incredibly high-value targets” infiltrated by the hackers and was helping “a number of organizations respond to their intrusions.” He would not name any, and said he expected many more to learn in coming days that they, too, were compromised.

Carmakal said the hackers would have activated remote-access back doors only on targets sure to have prized data. It is manual, demanding work, and moving networks around risks detection.

The SolarWinds campaign highlights the lack of mandatory minimum security rules for commercial software used on federal computer networks. Zoom videoconferencing software is another example. It was approved for use on federal computer networks last year, yet security experts discovered various vulnerabilities exploitable by hackers — after federal workers sent home by the pandemic began using it.

Rep. Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat and Cyberspace Solarium Commission member, said the breach...highlights the need for a national cyber director at the White House, a position subject to Senate confirmation. Congress approved such a position in a recently passed defense bill...

https://apnews.com/article/technology-hacking-coronavirus-pandemic-russia-350ae2...

76margd
Editat: gen. 19, 12:24pm

Poor, brave Navalny--Putin has a lot to lose...

Alec Luhn @ASLuhn | 9:33 AM · Jan 19, 2021
With its head @navalny now jailed
@fbkinfo posts its biggest ever investigation into "Putin's palace" near Gelendzhik.
Floorplans seem to suggest it's the biggest home in Russia, with wine cave, theater, gym, pool, "aquadisco" & hockey rink,
& cost $1.35bn https://palace.navalny.com
Image ( https://twitter.com/ASLuhn/status/1351538317888790530/photo/1 )
Image ( https://twitter.com/ASLuhn/status/1351538317888790530/photo/2 )
Image ( https://twitter.com/ASLuhn/status/1351538317888790530/photo/3 )
--------------------------------------------------​

More photos in thread--check out Putin's bathroom! ( https://twitter.com/ASLuhn/status/1351538317888790530 )

Trump has similar taste in decor, though more nouveau riche?