Smoky Mountains Sunrise
Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pat Buchanan: Are Trump and Putin Right?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Monday, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” hosted a spirited discussion with Donald Trump on whether he was right in asserting that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated as the towers came down on 9/11.

About Muslim celebrations in Berlin, however, there appears to be no doubt. In my chapter “Eurabia,” in “State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America,” [2006] is this quote from The New York Times Magazine, exactly 10 years ago.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Russia Warns Of Donald Trump Assassination Plot, US Refuses To Hear

By Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers

A chilling Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) report circulating in the Kremlin today is warning that the life of current front-running US Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump may be in “grave danger” after the discovery of his personal travel itinerary with a known Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) “routing/computing number” was discovered on a laptop device seized from the Islamic terrorists responsible for the killing of 43 French nationals. [Note: quotes are added for Russian words having no exact English counterpart and are meant to be understood in their most general context]

According to this report, and as we had previously reported on in our 26 October report Terror Attack On French Bus That Killed 43 Linked To Islamic State, found in the possession of the 5 Saudi Arabian nationals detained by Lebanon’s intelligence services this past Monday after their private jet was forced to land by Federation Aerospace Forces was a “heavily encrypted” laptop computer device.

Upon Lebanon’s General Directorate of General Security (GDGS) seizing of this laptop device, this report continues, they requested assistance from the SVR in “defeating” its encryption, which was immediately granted.

Once this laptop was in the possession of the SVR, this report notes, it was flown to Moscow where computer security analysts were able to unlock its “secret information”, of which the most “startling/confusing” was a document listing the entire travel itinerary and private security plans of Donald Trump for the month of October.

Contained “within/on” this Donald Trump itinerary document too, this report further notes, was a “routing/computing number” the SVR had previously ascertained was used by the CIA in their communications with Islamic terrorist forces they are supporting and arming in Iraq and Syria operating in the Levant War Zone.

As to why these Islamic terrorists had in their possession a CIA-provided itinerary of Donald Trump this report doesn’t state due to there being no other documents on the seized laptop associated with it.

With Donald Trump’s policy positions on the Middle East mirroring Russia’s however, this report says, he has been reviled by the warmongers in the United States (of both parties) since July, 2000, when he released his book titled “The America We Deserve” which a full 14 months prior to the 11 September 2001 (9/11) attacks predicted not only this horrific crime would happen, but actually stated that Osama bin Laden would be blamed. 

In fact, this report warns, so feared is Donald Trump by his nations warmongers should he take power and uncover all of their secrets, top establishment Republican consultant Rick Wilson in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes last week actually called for his assassination, and as, in part, one can read from the transcript:

“Trump is still a very powerful force right now” because he appeals to part of the of the conservative base that Wilson said was activated by his “nativist” message. Wilson insisted that the donor class “can’t just sit back on the sidelines and say, ‘oh well, don’t worry, this will all work itself out.’”

“They’re still going to have to go out and put a bullet in Donald Trump,” Wilson said. “And that’s a fact.”

Following established SVR procedures when threats are detected against any foreign national, this report says, the Foreign Ministry was directed to convey this information to the US Secret Service who has the responsibility of protecting that nations leaders and presidential candidates.

Upon contacting the US Secret Service though, this report concludes, they informed the Foreign Ministry that Donald Trump was not under their protection and refused to take the information referring it instead to Mr. Trump’s private security company—but which they stated they didn’t know who they were or have any contact information for.

Though not contained in this SVR report, it is important to note the fact that Donald Trump has requested Secret Service protection, but has so far been denied. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pat Buchanan - Putin: Friend or Foe in Syria?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

What Vladimir Putin is up to in Syria makes far more sense than what Barack Obama and John Kerry appear to be up to in Syria.

The Russians are flying transports bringing tanks and troops to an air base near the coastal city of Latakia to create a supply chain to provide a steady flow of weapons and munitions to the Syrian army.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, an ally of Russia, has lost half his country to ISIS and the Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaida.

Putin fears that if Assad falls, Russia’s toehold in Syria and the Mediterranean will be lost, ISIS and al-Qaida will be in Damascus, and Islamic terrorism will have achieved its greatest victory.

Is he wrong?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pat Buchanan: NATO-Russia Collision Ahead?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“U.S. Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in East Europe: A Message to Russia,” ran the headline in The New York Times.

“In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries,” said the Times. The sources cited were “American and allied officials.”

The Pentagon’s message received a reply June 16. Russian Gen. Yuri Yakubov called the U.S. move “the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and NATO since the Cold War.” When Moscow detects U.S. heavy weapons moving into the Baltic, said Yakubov, Russia will “bolster its forces and resources on the western strategic theater of operations.”

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ditch NATO, Defend the Anglosphere

Magna Carta - a shared foundation for freedom
From The Hill
By Bernie Quigley

Suggested in the days between the Velvet Revolution and the Orange Revolution — which you do not hear much about these days — that "they," meaning those in the unfortunate neverwhere between the old Soviet Union and Greater America, were not really calling for Thomas Jefferson, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Abrahama Lincoln for liberation. More like Calvin Klein and Michael Jackson. Even the honored Czech poet and then-President Vaclav Havel, seeking a front-row bench in the "West," would pitch musician Frank Zappa as avatar and inspiration. This has been the odd model of the American conquest since World War II. The French in their imperial day would send the soldiers, then they would send the priests. We send Frank Zappa and Lady Gaga, Starbucks, McDonald's and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bono and Mick Jagger. Possibly what is today causing the stellar decline of American influence in the world is that most under 50 don't know who Frank Zappa was.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Patrick J. Buchanan: On Treating Putin as Pariah

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Mr. Obama is focused on isolating President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world … and effectively making it a pariah state.”

So wrote Peter Baker in Sunday’s New York Times. Yet if history is any guide, this “pariah policy,” even if adopted, will not long endure.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Patrick J. Buchanan: Nationalism, Not NATO, Is Our Great Ally

By Patrick J. Buchanan

With Vladimir Putin having bloodlessly annexed Crimea and hinting that his army might cross the border to protect the Russians of East Ukraine, Washington is abuzz with talk of dispatching U.S. troops to Eastern Europe.

But unless we have lost our minds, we are not going to fight Russia over territory no president ever regarded as vital to us.

Indeed, should Putin annex Eastern and Southern Ukraine all the way to Odessa, he would simply be restoring to Russian rule what had belonged to her from Washington’s inaugural in 1789 to George H. W. Bush’s inaugural in 1989. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Patrick J. Buchanan: What Would Reagan Do?

By Patrick J. Buchanan 

President Reagan was holding a meeting in the Cabinet Room on March 25, 1985, when Press Secretary Larry Speakes came over to me, as communications director, with a concern.

The White House was about to issue a statement on the killing of Major Arthur Nicholson, a U.S. army officer serving in East Germany. Maj. Nicholson had been shot in cold blood by a Russian soldier.

Speakes thought the president’s statement, “This violence was unjustified,” was weak. I agreed. We interrupted the president, who reread the statement, then said go ahead with it.

What lay behind this Reagan decision not to express his own and his nation’s disgust and anger at this atrocity?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Obama's Weakness Provokes An Aggressive Russia, Say Analysts

From American Media Institute
By J. Michael Waller

While President Obama is conferring with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, current and retired senior American intelligence officials fear he is blind to a growing threat from a resurgent Russia.

These officials say that Moscow continues to probe America's skies and seas with bombers and submarines, both to assert itself and to see just how far Russia can push Obama. In June 2012, Russian strategic nuclear bombers broke protocol and conducted maneuvers in the Arctic without alerting the U.S.

A month later a Russian Tu-95 Bear-H strategic bomber, capable of carrying nuclear-armed cruise missiles, entered American airspace off Alaska and California. Then in August, a stealthy Russian Akula-class attack submarine, designed to hunt and sink American subs, patrolled for weeks off Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Post v. Putin -- Whose Side Are You On?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

The culture war has gone global.

And the divisions are not only between, but within nations.

"Suddenly, homosexuality is against the law," wailed Jay Leno. "I mean, this seems like Germany. Let's round up the Jews. Let's round up the gays. ... I mean, it starts like that."

Leno was speaking of Vladimir Putin's Russia. Obama eagerly agreed:

"I have no patience for countries that treat gays or lesbians ... in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them. ... Nobody is more offended than me by some of the antigay and lesbian legislation that you've been seeing in Russia."

Monday, July 8, 2013

15,000 Russian Troops on US Soil to Prepare for Upcoming Disaster

From Patriot News Organization 
By Alexia Symone 


This story is UNCONFIRMED – What we do know is everything listed here:

What this WILL do is allow Russian government personnel, under FEMA’s guise, to provide security at events. It’s very vague language.

There is an alarming report that was prepared by the Emergencies Ministry that is shedding light on the recently completed talks between Russia and the United States that happened in Washington D.C. The Obama administration has requested more than 15,000 Russian troops to be trained in disaster relief and controlling highly populated events such as riot control and protests. These Russian troops will be trained to respond to FEMA Region III during an unspecified upcoming disaster.

According to this report from the Emergencies Ministry, this request was made directly to Minister Vladimir Puchkov by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Director Janet Napolitano who says that these Russian troops will work “directly and jointly” with her Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA’s main mission is to secure the US government in the event of natural disasters or war. The government seems to know something that they do not want us to know that they are preparing for.

This alarming report says that FEMA Region III, the area Russian troops are being requested for, which includes Washington D.C. and the surrounding States of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, strongly suggests that the Obama administration has completely lost confidence in its own military and they may have something planned that they know will take more military enforcement than we can provide alone.

troops here

In his public statements yesterday regarding this news Minister Puchkov stated, “We have decided that the US Federal Emergency Management Agency and Russia’s Emergencies Ministry will work together to develop systems to protect people and territory from cosmic impacts,” and he further explains that his meeting with DHS Director Napolitano also covered many other kinds of emergencies that his troops will assist in.

Minister Puchkov stated that the Russian troops that are being requested by the Obama administration would more than likely be combined with US-DHS troops who last year purchased nearly 2 billion rounds of ammunition and also recently this past month placed an emergency order for a large amount of riot gear.

As to what the “upcoming disaster” is that the US is preparing for, this report continues but it appears to be strongly related to the assassination of American reporter Michael Hastings who was killed recently while attempting to reach the safety of the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles. The back end of Hastings car was blown open and shredded with the rest of the car nicely intact, which proves that the official story that he ran into a tree is wrong and a cover up for what really happened.

There has been an abundance of confidential information about the US being leaked and the American people are not happy about it. After watching the civilians of Egypt overthrow their government our government is becoming uneasy with the thoughts of the American people following in Egypt’s footsteps. Americans are not happy with the government right now and if there was any time for the American people to riot and protest, the people would be doing it soon with these new revelations. The US is preparing for a huge disaster or war and it may be with its own people.

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Putin in Los Cabos 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Face that only a KGB Thug Could Love

Russia Issues Stamp to Honor Comrade Obama's 50th Birthday

Russia’s Post Office has issued a collection of stamps and envelopes to mark the 50th jubilee of the US President Barack Obama.

The US leader is celebrating his birthday on the 4th of August.

In one of his recent interviews Mr. Obama said that fifty years ago nobody could imagine Russia and the US as partners. He added that confrontation ended together with the Cold War.

He said that the Internet and mass media have made people from all over the globe closer to each other. “It is important to contribute to mutual understating between Russia and the US, one of the world`s leading countries”, Mr. Obama said.
Russia`s Post Office also presented the US leader with a postmark featuring his portrait. Mr. Obama liked the gift, stamped several envelopes and then signed one of them with dedication to the museum of the Russian Post Office.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Faith and Family Making a Comeback in Russia

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

After 70 years of state enforced atheism, Russian schools will soon be teaching religion again, crucifixes may once again be hung on the walls of schools and offices, and a building once used for programs aimed at demolishing the family will soon host an important summit addressing the demographic crisis in that country.

Larry Jacobs, managing director of the World Congress of Families announced yesterday that the “Moscow Demographic Summit: Family and the Future of Mankind” will be held at the Russian State Social University (RSSU) on June 29-30 this year.

Jacobs noted the historic significance of the Summit’s location: “It is now the home of RSSU, one of Russia’s largest public universities with over 100,000 students and Russia’s chief institution for educating social workers. But in the Soviet-era, it was the home of the Comintern, and then later, after WWII, the Marxism-Leninism Institute.” The Comintern was a communist organization founded in 1919 that existed to fight ‘by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie’ and the establishment of communism worldwide.

Jacobs noted the irony: “This building, once dedicated to the abolition of the family as a bourgeoisie institution, will be the site of a Summit dedicated to revitalizing the natural family and reversing the disastrous worldwide decline of birthrates.” Russia, which is losing an estimated 700,000 people annually, is ground zero for what’s called Demographic Winter.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Freedom vs. Non-Freedom: A View from Russia

By Andrei Illarionov, Former Chief Economic Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on October 3, 2006, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. It is particularly pertinent in light of the Obama administration's decision to have U.S. military personnel participate in a neo-Soviet, Red Square parade on May 9, 2010, celebrating the 65th anniversary of the allied victory over Nazi Germany.

Constitutionalism in the Western political tradition does not mean—as it does in my own country, Russia—simply having a written constitution, regardless of its content. Rather, true constitutionalism requires the limitation of government by law. A government can be considered genuinely constitutional only if it operates under the following minimal constraints: (1) The legislature cannot be dismissed by any body or person other than itself. (2) The courts are independent of the legislative and executive branches. (3) The executive branch cannot appoint ministers without the approval of the legislative branch. (4) Only the legislature can pass laws.

It is not easy to find indications of such constitutionalism in my country. Our legislative branch, the Parliament, was dissolved in October 1993 by presidential decree. And for those who did not fully understand or immediately agree with that decree, some quite convincing tank shells were fired on the Parliament building. Russian courts are probably independent of the legislative branch, but they are completely subordinate to the executive. Ministers are simply appointed by the president. And while it is true that the legislature formally makes laws, the fact is that in the last seven years, there has not been a single executive desire that the Parliament has not passed into law. Thus it is not quite right to say, as some do, that constitutionalism is failing in Russia. In truth, Russia has yet to attempt it.

Why is this important? The answer is simple: constitutionalism is the best way, the most efficient way, and in fact the only way, to secure freedom.

“Freedom is not a luxury”

It is always worth pausing to refresh our memories—as well as the memories of our friends, colleagues, and even our adversaries—concerning the reasons why freedom is better than non-freedom.

Freedom is not a luxury. It is a very powerful instrument, without which no person and no country in the world can have sustained prosperity, security, development or respect. Free countries are certainly more prosperous than non-free countries. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World, and Freedom House’s Freedom in the World all provide overwhelming evidence that economically and politically free countries are much richer than non-free countries—with a GDP per capita, on average, between $28,000 and $30,000, compared to approximately $4,000 per person in non-free or repressed countries.

In addition, the economies of free countries grow faster. During the past 30 years, completely free countries doubled per capita income, and partially free countries increased per capita income 40 percent on average. By contrast, non-free countries reduced per capita income roughly 34 percent. Over the same period, several countries changed their status from political freedom to political non-freedom, and others from political non-freedom to political freedom. The former change leads inevitably to economic degradation, resulting in a negative GDP per capita growth rate. The transition from non-freedom to freedom, on the other hand, speeds up economic growth, resulting in a GDP per capita growth rate higher than the world average.

Freedom also provides security. This is true for external security, because economically and politically free countries are less likely to fight each other than are non-free countries; it is also true for domestic security, as free countries usually have lower mortality rates from violent crime committed by criminal gangs or by the government. Compare the United States, Western Europe, Canada, and Japan on the one hand, and non-free countries like Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and North Korea on the other. Which countries are more secure? Where is the life expectancy higher? Where is there a greater risk of robbery, kidnapping or murder?

Related to this, freedom enhances economic, political and military strength. Let’s compare countries with similar population sizes but different levels of freedom. Which are economically more powerful? Spain or Sudan? Australia or Syria? Belgium or Cuba? Canada or Myanmar? The Netherlands or Zimbabwe? Taiwan or North Korea? Finland or Libya? Freedom also leads to greater international respect: Which of these countries is considered more attractive and more respected in the world? To which do people immigrate? From which do people emigrate? People vote for freedom with their feet.

The lack of freedom, on the other hand, creates an insurmountable barrier to prosperity and economic growth. For instance, there are no examples in world history of non-free countries that in a sustained way overcame a GDP per capita barrier of $15,000. Countries that have been able to cross this barrier did so only when they became free, politically and economically. Spain, Portugal, Greece, Taiwan, South Korea and Chile are among the best known examples of such a transition. Relatedly, countries that were rich but became non-free, also became poor—even oil-exporting countries in years of high energy prices. In Iran, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the GDP per capita today is lower than it was three decades ago, by 10, 30, 40 and 80 percent, respectively. The lack of freedom always destroys wealth.

The Destruction of Freedom in Russia

The story of the destruction of freedom in my own country, Russia, is sad. But this story should be told, should be known, and should be remembered—to avoid repeating it and in order one day to reverse it.

First, there was an assault on the people of Chechnya. Many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend the freedom of the Chechen people. People in Chechnya lost their independence, their political rights and—many of them—their lives. Many Russians lost their lives as well.

Then there was an assault on the Russian media. This time many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend the freedom of the media. As a result, the media lost its independence—first television channels, then radio stations and newspapers. And now the censors are turning their attention to the Internet.

Then there was an assault on private business. Many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend the freedom of private business. So private business has lost its independence and has become subjugated to the caprice of the executive power. This has been accomplished through so-called PPPs or public-private partnerships, but it would be more correct to call what is happening CPC—coercion of private business by the corporation in power.

Then there was an assault on the independence of political parties. Many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend the independence of political parties. As a result, independent national political parties ceased to exist.

Then there was an assault on the independence of the judiciary. Many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend the independence of the judiciary. Now, there are no more independent courts or judges in Russia.

Then there was an assault on the election of regional governors. Many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend free elections of regional governors. Today, regional governors are appointed by the president, and there are no more independent regional authorities in the country.

Then there was an assault on the independence of non-governmental and religious organizations. Finally, some people tried to defend the freedom of these organizations, but it was too late. And now even those who want to resist have neither the resources nor the institutions required to fight back.

As a result, Russia has ceased to be politically free. For 2005, Freedom House’s Freedom in the World ranks Russia 168th out of 192 countries. Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report ranks Russia 126th out of 159 countries. The World Economic Forum calculates that Russia is 85th (among 108 countries) in avoiding favoritism in government decisions, 88th (also of 108) in its protection of property rights, and 84th (of 102) when measured by the independence of the judicial system. The Russian government could form another G-8 with countries that destroyed the fundamental institutions of modern government and civil society as quickly as it did over the past 15 years by partnering with Nepal, Belarus, Tajikistan, Gambia, the Solomon Islands, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

What is the Russian government doing now, when it has destroyed freedom and achieved next to full control over Russian society? Is it stopping its assaults? No. It continues them, both within and beyond Russia’s borders. Inside the country, the government has started a campaign against human rights. It has created and financed detachments of storm troopers—the movements “Nashi” (“Our Own”), “Mestnye” (“Locals”), and “Molodaya gvardiya” (“Young Guard”)—which are being taught and trained to harass and beat political and intellectual opponents of the current regime. The days for which these storm troopers are especially trained will come soon—during the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2007 and 2008.

Beyond Russia’s national borders, the government provides economic, financial, political, intellectual and moral support to new friends: leaders of non-free countries such as Belarus, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Myanmar, Algeria, Iran, and Palestinian Hamas. At the same time, Russia is attempting to destroy hard-won freedom and democracy in neighboring countries. Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia find themselves in a new cold war as Russian authorities pursue hostile policies involving visas, poultry imports, electricity, natural gas, pipelines, wine, and even mineral water. The Russian government has just started a full-scale blockade of Georgia. Meanwhile, the state-controlled Russian media has launched a propaganda war against Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, the Baltic countries, Europe and the United States.

What do non-free countries have in common? What unites such disparate countries as Nepal, Belarus, Tajikistan, the Solomon Islands, Gambia, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Myanmar, and yes, now Russia? Only one thing: war, in which governments take away property and destroy society, in which they send people to camps or kill them solely because they have a different perception of the world, of faith, of law, and of their homeland. Only through hatred, fear, and electoral violence can these governments hold on to what is dearest to them—absolute power.

Without freedom there can be no open discussion of topics of national and international importance. There is an exclusion from public life of conversation about the most important matters. This primitivizes public life, degrades society, and weakens the state. The politics of non-freedom is the politics of public impoverishment and of the retardation of the country’s economic growth.

The greatest practical lesson of Russia’s recent history is that freedom is indivisible. The failure of freedom in one sphere makes it harder to defend freedom in other areas. Likewise, the fall of freedom in one country is a blow to global freedom. The inability to defend freedom yesterday comes back to haunt us at a great price today and perhaps an even greater price tomorrow.

Looking Ahead

What position should the United States and other free countries take regarding Russia’s growing internal authoritarianism and external aggression? There was a real opportunity over the last several years: Concerted efforts by the West could have slowed significantly, if not stopped, the degradation of freedom in Russia. But nothing was done. One of the West’s last chances was to deny access to its capital markets for the sale of assets stolen from the large private company Yukos; but this did not happen, and the sale of those assets occurred at the Rosneft IPO on the London Stock Exchange. The July 2006 G-8 summit in St. Petersburg could also have been used to emphasize the clear distinction between leaders of the free world and those of non-free Russia. But in the end, nothing was done.

As I wrote in the Washington Post in April 2006:

The G-8 summit can only be interpreted as a sign of support by the world’s most powerful organization for Russia’s leadership—as a stamp of approval for its violations of individual rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, its discrimination against nongovernmental organizations, nationalization of private property, use of energy resources as a weapon, and aggression toward democratically oriented neighbors.

By going to St. Petersburg, leaders of the world’s foremost industrialized democracies will demonstrate their indifference to the fate of freedom and democracy in Russia. They will provide the best possible confirmation of what the Russian authorities never tire of repeating: that there are no fundamental differences between Western and Russian leaders. Like us, Russia’s leaders will say, they are interested only in appearing to care about the rights of individuals and market forces; like us, they only talk about freedom and democracy. The G-8 summit will serve as an inspiring example for today’s dictators and tomorrow’s tyrants.

The West squandered both of these opportunities. None of the G-7 leaders had enough courage to raise the issues of freedom and democracy, or to discuss the principles of true constitutionalism and their absence in Russia. Everyone pretended that nothing special was going on in Russia. Indeed, the G-7 leaders agreed de facto with the Russian authorities’ approach to energy security. Instead of liberalizing and privatizing energy assets, Russia is moving in the opposite direction both internally—by nationalizing private companies and asserting state control over the electricity grid and pipeline system—and internationally, by using non-market methods to manage supply and even demand for the world’s energy resources.

Several months after the summit, the bill for this policy of appeasement is due. Now the Russian authorities are revoking the licenses of American and British energy companies in Sakhalin. BP has found itself under pressure to exchange its partner in TNK-BP in favor of the government-owned Gazprom. Otherwise, it will not have a chance to explore the giant Kovykta gas field in eastern Siberia. The billion dollars it spent on the purchase of Rosneft shares in July 2006 did not help BP much. And there is no doubt that, after the G-8 summit, the free world can expect more of the same. In truth, it should consider itself in a new Cold War-like era.

Let me conclude these remarks with words spoken by Winston Churchill about another great war for freedom:

I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

That war for freedom was won. We may yet win, indeed we must win, this current war. But to win, we must work together.

Andrei Illarionov is president of the Institute of Economic Analysis, an independent free market think tank in Moscow, and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. He completed his undergraduate degree in 1983 and his Ph.D. in 1987, both at St. Petersburg University. He has also studied in Austria, the United Kingdom and the United States. In 1993, he was appointed the chief economic advisor to Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, resigning the next year in protest of government policies. In 2000, he was appointed the chief economic advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which capacity he was the driving force behind the adoption of a 13 percent flat income tax. In December 2005, he again resigned in protest of government policies. Dr. Illarionov has written three books and over 300 articles. He is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, the Economic Freedom Network and the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.

- Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College. -

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Russian Bombers 'Intercepted in British Airspace'

A photo released by the RAF shows a Russian Tu-160 strategic bomber, in the foreground, being shadowed by a British Tornado jet.
From CNN
By Barry Neild

Rare photos of Russian strategic bomber jets purportedly intercepted in British airspace show Moscow's war machine is becoming increasingly bold, analysts said Thursday as Russia denied any territorial violations.

Britain's Ministry of Defence released images it said were taken earlier this month of two Russian Tu-160 bombers -- known as Blackjacks by NATO forces -- as they entered UK airspace near the Outer Hebrides islands off Scotland's northwest coast.

It said the March 10 incident, which resulted in crystal clear images of the planes against clear blue skies and a dramatic sunset, was one of many intercepts carried out by British Royal Air Force crews in just over 12 months.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Russia and Vatican to Establish Full Diplomatic Relations

From Catholic World News

Russia and the Holy See have agreed to establish full diplomatic relations. The agreement was announced on December 3 after Pope Benedict XVI met with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

Since 1990, Russia has maintained a mission at the Vatican. That representation will now be upgraded to a fully accredited embassy, and an apostolic nunciature will be established in Moscow.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Twenty Years After the Fall

From Stratfor
By George Friedman

We are now at the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe. We are also nearing the 18th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union itself. This is more than simply a moment for reflection — it is a moment to consider the current state of the region and of Russia versus that whose passing we are now commemorating. To do that, we must re-examine why the Soviet empire collapsed, and the current status of the same forces that caused that collapse.

Russia’s Two-Part Foundation

The Russian empire — both the Czarist and Communist versions — was a vast, multinational entity. At its greatest extent, it stretched into the heart of Central Europe; at other times, it was smaller. But it was always an empire whose constituent parts were diverse, hostile to each other and restless. Two things tied the empire together.

One was economic backwardness. Economic backwardness gave the constituent parts a single common characteristic and interest. None of them could effectively compete with the more dynamic economies of Western Europe and the rest of the world, but each could find a niche within the empire. Economic interests thus bound each part to the rest: They needed a wall to protect themselves from Western interests, and an arena in which their own economic interests, however stunted, could be protected. The empire provided that space and that opportunity.

The second thing tying the empire together was the power of the security apparatus. Where economic interest was insufficient to hold the constituent parts together, the apparatus held the structure together. In a vast empire with poor transportation and communication, the security apparatus — from Czarist times to the Soviet period — was the single unifying institution. It unified in the sense that it could compel what economic interest couldn’t motivate. The most sophisticated part of the Russian state was the security services. They were provided with the resources they needed to control the empire, report status to the center and impose the center’s decisions through terror, or more frequently, through the mere knowledge that terror would be the consequence of disobedience.

It was therefore no surprise that it was the security apparatus of the Soviet Union — the KGB under Yuri Andropov — which first recognized in the early 1980s that the Soviet Union’s economy not only was slipping further and further behind the West, but that its internal cohesion was threatened because the economy was performing so poorly that the minimal needs of the constituent parts were no longer being fulfilled. In Andropov’s mind, the imposition of even greater terror, like Josef Stalin had applied, would not solve the underlying problem. Thus, the two elements holding the Soviet Union together were no longer working. The self-enclosed economy was failing and the security apparatus could not hold the system together.

It is vital to remember that in Russia, domestic economic health and national power do not go hand in hand. Russia historically has had a dysfunctional economy. By contrast, its military power has always been disproportionately strong. During World War II, the Soviets crushed the Wehrmacht in spite of their extraordinary economic weakness. Later, during the Cold War, they challenged and sometimes even beat the United States despite an incomparably weaker economy. The Russian security apparatus made this possible. Russia could devote far more of its economy to military power than other countries could because Moscow could control its population successfully. It could impose far greater austerities than other countries could. Therefore, Russia was a major power in spite of its economic weakness. And this gave it room to maneuver in an unexpected way.

Andropov’s Gamble

Andropov proposed a strategy he knew was risky, but which he saw as unavoidable. One element involved a dramatic restructuring of the Soviet economy and society to enhance efficiency. The second involved increased openness, not just domestically to facilitate innovation, but also in foreign affairs. Enclosure was no longer working: The Soviet Union needed foreign capital and investment to make restructuring work.

Andropov knew that the West, and particularly the United States, would not provide help so long as the Soviet Union threatened its geopolitical interests even if doing so would be economically profitable. For this opening to the West to work, the Soviet Union needed to reduce Cold War tensions dramatically. In effect, the Soviets needed to trade geopolitical interests to secure their economic interests. Since securing economic interests was essential for Communist Party survival, Andropov was proposing to follow the lead of Vladimir Lenin, another leader who sacrificed space for time. In the Brest-Litovsk Treaty that ended Russian participation in World War I, Lenin had conceded vast amounts of territory to Germany to buy time for the regime to consolidate itself. Andropov was suggesting the same thing.

It is essential to understand that Andropov was a Party man and a Chekist — a Communist and KGBer — through and through. He was not proposing the dismantling of the Party; rather, he sought to preserve the Party by executing a strategic retreat on the geopolitical front while the Soviet Union regained its economic balance. Undoubtedly he understood the risk that restructuring and openness would create enormous pressures at a time of economic hardship, possibly causing regime collapse under the strain. Andropov clearly thought the risk was worth running.

After Leonid Brezhnev died, Andropov took his place. He became ill almost immediately and died. He was replaced by Konstantin Chernenko, who died within a year. Then came Mikhail Gorbachev — the true heir to Andropov’s thinking — who implemented Andropov’s two principles. He pursued openness, or glasnost. He also pursued restructuring, or perestroika. He traded geopolitical interests, hard-won by the Red Army, for economic benefits. Contrary to his reputation in the West, Gorbachev was no liberal. He actually sought to preserve the Communist Party, and was prepared to restructure and open the system to do so.

As the security apparatus loosened its grip to facilitate openness and restructuring, the empire’s underlying tensions quickly went on display. When unrest in East Germany threatened to undermine Soviet control, Gorbachev had to make a strategic decision. If he used military force to suppress the uprising, probably restructuring and certainly openness would be dead, and the crisis Andropov foresaw would be upon him. Following Lenin’s principle, Gorbachev decided to trade space for time, and he accepted retreat from East Germany to maintain and strengthen his economic relations with the West.

After Gorbachev made that decision, the rest followed. If Germany were not to be defended, what would be defended? Applying his strategy rigorously, Gorbachev allowed the unwinding of the Eastern European empire without intervention. The decision he had made about Germany amounted to relinquishing most of Moscow’s World War II gains. But if regime survival required it, the price had to be paid.

The Crisis

The crisis came very simply. The degree of restructuring required to prevent the Soviet Union’s constituent republics from having an overarching interest in economic relations with the West rather than with Russia was enormous. There was no way to achieve it quickly. Given that the Soviet Union now had an official policy of ending its self-imposed enclosure, the apparent advantages to the constituent parts of protecting their economies from Western competition declined — and with them, the rationale for the Soviet Union. The security apparatus, the KGB, had been the engine driving glasnost and perestroika from the beginning; the advocates of the plan were not going to shift into reverse and suppress glasnost. But glasnost overwhelmed the system. The Soviet Union, unable to buy the time it needed to protect the Party, imploded. It broke apart into its constituent republics, and even parts of the Russian Federation seemed likely to break away.

What followed was liberalization only in the eyes of Westerners. It is easy to confuse liberalism with collapse, since both provide openness. But the former Soviet Union (FSU) wasn’t liberalizing, it was collapsing in every sense. What remained administratively was the KGB, now without a mission. The KGB was the most sophisticated part of the Soviet apparatus, and its members were the best and brightest. As privatization went into action, absent clear rules or principles, KGB members had the knowledge and sophistication to take advantage of it. As individuals and in factions, they built structures and relationships to take advantage of privatization, forming the factions that dominated the FSU throughout the 1990s until today. It is not reasonable to refer to organized crime in Russia, because Russia was lawless. In fact, the law enforcement apparatus was at the forefront of exploiting the chaos. Organized crime, business and the KGB became interconnected, and frequently identical.

The 1990s were a catastrophic period for most Russians. The economy collapsed. Property was appropriated in a systematic looting of all of the former Russian republics, with Western interests also rushing in to do quick deals on tremendously favorable terms. The new economic interests crossed the new national borders. (It is important to bear in mind that the boundaries that had separated Soviet republics were very real.) The financial cartels, named for the oligarchs who putatively controlled them (control was much more complex; many oligarchs were front men for more powerful and discreet figures), spread beyond the borders of the countries in which they originated, although the Russian cartels spread the most effectively.

Had the West — more specifically the United States — wanted to finish Russia off, this was the time. Russia had no effective government, poverty was extraordinary, the army was broken and the KGB was in a civil war over property. Very little pressure could well have finished off the Russian Federation.

The Bush and Clinton administrations made a strategic decision to treat Russia as the successor regime of the FSU, however, and refused to destabilize it further. Washington played an aggressive role in expanding NATO, but it did not try to break up the Russian Federation for several reasons. First, it feared nuclear weapons would fall into the hands of dangerous factions. Second, it did not imagine that Russia could ever be a viable country again. And third, it believed that if Russia did become viable, it would be a liberal democracy. (The idea that liberal democracies never threaten other liberal democracies was implanted in American minds.) What later became known as a neoconservative doctrine actually lay at the heart of the Clinton administration’s thinking.

Russia Regroups — and Faces the Same Crisis

Russia’s heart was the security apparatus. Whether holding it together or tearing it apart, the KGB — renamed the FSB after the Soviet collapse — remained the single viable part of the Russian state. It was therefore logical that when it became essential to end the chaos, the FSB would be the one to end it. Vladimir Putin, whom the KGB trained during Andropov’s tenure and who participated in the privatization frenzy in St. Petersburg, emerged as the force to recentralize Russia. The FSB realized that the Russian Federation itself faced collapse, and that excessive power had fallen out of its hands as FSB operatives had fought one another during the period of privatization.

Putin sought to restore the center in two ways. First, he worked to restore the central apparatus of the state. Second, he worked to strip power from oligarchs unaligned with the apparatus. It was a slow process, requiring infinite care so that the FSB not start tearing itself apart again, but Putin is a patient and careful man.

Putin realized that Andropov’s gamble had failed catastrophically. He also knew that the process could not simply be reversed; there was no going back to the Soviet Union. At the same time, it was possible to go back to the basic principles of the Soviet Union. First, there could be a union of the region, bound together by both economic weakness and the advantage of natural resource collaboration. Second, there was the reality of a transnational intelligence apparatus that could both stabilize the region and create the infrastructure for military power. And third, there was the reversal of the policy of trading geopolitical interests for financial benefits from the West. Putin’s view — and the average Russian’s view — was that the financial benefits of the West were more harmful than beneficial.

By 2008, when Russia defeated America’s ally, Georgia, in a war, the process of reassertion was well under way. Then, the financial crisis struck along with fluctuations in energy prices. The disparity between Russia’s politico-military aspirations, its military capability and its economic structure re-emerged. The Russians once again faced their classic situation: If they abandoned geopolitical interests, they would be physically at risk. But if they pursued their geopolitical interests, they would need a military force capable of assuming the task. Expanding the military would make the public unhappy as it would see resources diverted from public consumption to military production, and this could only be managed by increasing the power of the state and the security apparatus to manage the unhappiness. But this still left the risk of a massive divergence between military and economic power that could not be bridged by repression. This risk re-created the situation that emerged in the 1970s, had to be dealt with in the 1980s and turned into chaos in the 1990s.

The current decisions the Russians face can only be understood in the context of events that transpired 20 years ago. The same issues are being played out, and the generation that now governs Russia was forged in that crucible. The Russian leadership is trying to balance the possible outcomes to find a solution. They cannot trade national security for promised economic benefits that may not materialize or may not be usable. And they cannot simply use the security apparatus to manage increased military spending — there are limits to that.

As a generation ago, Russia is caught between the things that it must do to survive in the short run and the things it cannot do if they are to survive in the long run. There is no permanent solution for Russia, and that is what makes it such an unpredictable player in the international system. The closest Russia has come to a stable solution to its strategic problem was under Ivan the Terrible and Stalin, and even those could not hold for more than a generation.

The West must understand that Russia is never at peace with itself internally, and is therefore constantly shifting its external relationships in an endless, spasmodic cycle. Things go along for awhile, and then suddenly change. We saw a massive change 20 years ago, but the forces that generated that change had built up quietly in the generation before. The generation since has been trying to pull the pieces back together. But in Russia, every solution is merely the preface to the next problem — something built into the Russian reality.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Anger in Europe as Obama 'Scraps Missile Defence Shield'

Reports that US President Barack Obama is to scrap plans to deploy a missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic have provoked anger in Europe.

From The Telegraph

The Wall Street Journal reported that the US is to shelve the plan, which was first mooted by the Bush administration and has been a source of friction with Russia ever since.

The move would be a cause of celebration in Moscow but of real concern to Eastern European countries which have looked to Washington for support against their former imperial master Russia. The US has said the shield is to guard against attacks by rogue states, such as Iran.

The former Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, said: "This is not good news for the Czech state, for Czech freedom and independence. It puts us in a position wherein we are not firmly anchored in terms of partnership, security and alliance, and that's a certain threat."

The Polish deputy foreign minister, Andrzej Kremer, said that Warsaw had heard from different sources there were "serious chances" the anti-missile system would not be deployed.

Russian officials said they did not want to immediately comment on media reports that cited unidentified US officials.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Echoes of Cold War as Two Russian Nuclear Submarines are Spotted Off U.S. Coast

From the Daily Mail
By David Gardner

Fears of a new Cold War stand-off grew last night after two Russian nuclear submarines were spotted patrolling off the coast of America.

The rare sighting has raised fears in the Pentagon that the Kremlin is taking a more aggressive stance against Washington.

It was the first time since the early 1990s that the Russians have sailed submarines as close as 200 miles off the US coastline.

The patrols – involving two Akula class nuclear-powered attack subs – come as Moscow tries to shake off the embarrassment of a failed missile test in the Arctic last month.

Some defence experts believe Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered the incursion as a sabre-rattling attempt to re-assert Russia’s military relevance.


One of Russia's largest Soviet-built nuclear submarines, an Akula, similar to the vessels spotted off the U.S. coast

Two years ago, Mr Putin ordered the resumption of Cold War-style flights of nuclear-capable bombers across the Atlantic in what was seen as a largely symbolic gesture to emphasise Russia’s military might.

‘It’s the military trying to demonstrate that they are still a player in Russian political and economic matters,’ submarine warfare analyst Norman Polmar told the New York Times.

‘I don’t think they’ve put two first-line nuclear subs off the US coast in about 15 years,’ he added.

The path of the rogue subs has been closely tracked by the Americans.

‘Any time the Russian Navy does something so out of the ordinary it is cause to worry,’ said a senior US Defence Department official.

However, a Russian general brushed off US concerns last night, calling the patrol ‘routine.’

‘I don’t know if there is any news in this for anyone. The fleet shouldn’t sit on its hands and be idle,’ said Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of staff of the Russian armed forces.

‘Long voyages of Russian submarines, this is a normal process,’ he added.

The episode has echoes of the Cold War era when both countries regularly sent submarines to patrol off each other’s coasts to track movements of underwater fleets and lie in readiness for war.

But the Russian Navy has rarely taken on missions far from its home ports after the fall of the Soviet Union left the military in shambles.

One of the submarines remained off the eastern US yesterday, while the other reportedly travelled south towards Cuba.

The White House remained tight-lipped over the patrols, although President Obama may have raised the issue when Russian President Dmitri Medvedev called him on Tuesday , ostensibly to wish him a happy birthday.

The Akulas are capable of carrying topedoes for attacking other submarines and ships as well as missiles for land or sea targets.

However, they are not equipped to launch intercontinental nuclear warheads.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Russia’s Plan To Introduce Religion in Schools Lauded

From The Christian Post
By Gretta Curtis

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has announced a pilot project Tuesday that will require schoolchildren to take classes in religion or secular ethics, the Associated Press reported.

Medvedev said pre-teen students at about 12,000 schools in 18 Russian regions would take the classes. They will be offered the choice of studying the dominant Russian Orthodox religion, Islam, Buddhism or Judaism, or of taking an overview of all four faiths, or a course in secular ethics.

The proposal is believed to be part of a Kremlin effort to teach young Russians morals in the wake of a turbulent period of uncertainty following the collapse of the officially atheist Soviet Union.

Patriarch Kirill, leader of 100 million Orthodox Christians in Russia has praised the proposal and said, “All the concerns society has expressed will be addressed by this freedom of choice,” reported Reuters.

Russian Orthodox Church has been pushing the idea of introducing religious education in schools though church and state are officially separate under the post-Soviet constitution.

Three years ago some regions have taken the initiative on their own and required courses in Russian Orthodoxy, stirring protests that they were infringing on constitutional boundaries.

Brushing aside the concerns of some non-religious peoples who fear that it is a way of imposing Orthodox Church ideology, Medvedev said, “Students and their parents must be allowed to choose freely,” while addressing top clerics and officials at his residence outside Moscow.

“Any coercion, pressure will be absolutely unacceptable and counterproductive,” he said.

The President also insisted that the proposal is “only” the four faiths excluding other faiths, especially Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, which the Orthodox Church accuses of proselytising.

Medvedev said the national program would begin next year as a pilot project in 18 regions, covering about 20 percent of Russia's schools.

Over 80 percent Russians are believed to be members of the Russian Orthodox Church, however according to CIA world fact book said only about 15 to 20 percent as practicing Orthodox Christians. And minorities Christians like Roman Catholics and Protestants have often complained of not being able to practice their faith freely.

Earlier this year, the appointment of Aleksandr Dvorkin as chair of Expert Council on Religious Studies raised concern for non-Orthodox Christians, fearing that Russia might return to a “Soviet era” persecution of Christians.

Dvorkin, who is critical of non-Orthodox Christians was given “unprecedented powers” by the Ministry of Justice, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

The move prompted USCIRF to add Russia to its watch list for the first time despite having monitored the country’s religious freedom for ten years.