On his first foreign visit to Belarus on Tuesday since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin explained during a joint press conference with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko that the time frame of the military offensive in Ukraine was determined by the intensity of hostilities and Russia would act according to its plan. “I often get these questions, can’t we hurry it up?’ We can. But it depends on the intensity of hostilities and, any way you put it, the intensity of hostilities is directly related to casualties,” said the Russian president. “Our task is to achieve the set goals while minimizing these losses. We will act rhythmically, calmly, and according to the plan that was initially proposed by the General Staff.”
Vladimir Putin was “defiant” during his end-of-year press conference last Thursday. The Russian president, who has held these impressive question-and-answer events for the past 20 years, was “bellicose.” He was “threatening.” So we read in the all-the-same-always American press. Here’s a gem from one Mary Ilyushina, a CBS News correspondent in Moscow: Putin is worried about the military activities of NATO members in Ukraine, she tells us, “you know, on Russia’s doorstep, which is what Putin believes Ukraine is.” Putin believes. Got it. Mary Ilyushina, my nominee for president of the Overseas Press Club. I have other words for Putin’s performance before 500 domestic and international journalists, and it is far more pertinent to our circumstances.
Andrei Martyanov also explains the timing. Russia is technologically and militarily in a strong position and currently can survive a break with the 'western' world without too much trouble. The U.S. is in disarray and NATO not ready to fight. It is simply the right moment. To add to his short video I will also note that it is winter and that Europe depends on Russian gas. Gazprom is no longer offering gas at European spot markets but only delivering in previously agreed quantities to long term contract partners. This puts pressure on German regulators to finally sign off on Nord Stream II which the U.S. and Ukraine want to prevent by all means. Russia does not need that pipeline but Germany does.
During the scripted Trump-Putin press conference in Helsinki, Finland, a US journalist, Sam Husseini, was taken into police custody for holding a small sign. Husseini, a long time advocate for exposing and breaking through the corporate media machine, hoped to ask a few critical questions of the world leaders. He speaks about the press conference, how he was treated and the state of media in general. We also cover recent news including the Mueller indictments, Russia gate, NATO, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the release of Ahed Tamimi and her mother.
By Pepe Escobar for Asia Times. From the start, the “positive chemistry” in the Mother of All Sit-Downs was a given. The format – with only the four principals, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and two translators – prevented any leaks. What was originally scheduled for 35 minutes went on for 2 hours and 16 minutes, and not even an impromptu appearance by First Lady Melania Trump – they were late for the Elbphilharmonie pomp and circumstance – managed to stop the flow. They needed to deliver. They needed headlines. They got plenty. Including a possible first step at real cooperation; a ceasefire deal in southwestern Syria. Yet the real headline is that diplomacy beats demonization. Still, from the toxic, overwhelmingly Russophobic Beltway point of view, that dystopia masquerading as a summit – the actual G-20 – was a mere backdrop.
By Ray McGovern for Consortium News. The immediate prospect for significant improvement in U.S.-Russia relations now depends on something tangible: Will the forces that sabotaged previous ceasefire agreements in Syria succeed in doing so again, all the better to keep alive the “regime change” dreams of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists?
By Ray McGovern for Consortium News. President Trump will have his first meeting with President Putin at a time of dangerous U.S.-Russian tensions, amid demands to “get tough,” but ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, a former presidential briefer, urges Trump to see Putin’s side. In the style of a President’s Daily Brief for President Trump: When you meet with President Putin next week, you can count on him asking you why the U.S. is encircling Russia with antiballistic missile systems. Putin regarded the now-defunct Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as the key to maintaining the nuclear-weapons balance between the United States and Russia and told filmmaker Oliver Stone that the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty in 2001 and the follow-on U.S. deployment of ABM batteries could “destroy this balance. And that’s a great mistake.”
By Alex Christoforou for The Duran. The Obama Administration, with the help of the CIA and main stream media, cleverly diluted the fact they they violently overthrew the democratically elected government in Ukraine, and encouraged the illegal, putsch government to attack its own citizens in the east of the country. Oliver Stone was never fooled by Obama’s Ukraine game, which resulted in the former POTUS getting outplayed in Crimea by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Oliver Stone is now urging US President Donald Trump to make public any secret documents he has in his possession on the origins of Obama’s conflict in Ukraine.
By Sam Biddle for the Intercept. There’s a lot of evidence from the attack on the table, mostly detailing how the hack was perpetrated, and possibly the language of the perpetrators. It certainly remains plausible that Russians hacked the DNC, and remains possible that Russia itself ordered it. But the refrain of Russian attribution has been repeated so regularly and so emphatically that it’s become easy to forget that no one has ever truly proven the claim. There is strong evidence indicating that Democratic email accounts were breached via phishing messages, and that specific malware was spread across DNC computers. There’s even evidence that the attackers are the same group that’s been spotted attacking other targets in the past. But again: No one has actually proven that group is the Russian government (or works for it). This remains the enormous inductive leap that’s not been reckoned with, and Americans deserve better. . . in times of extraordinary risk, with two enormous military powers placed in direct conflict over national sovereignty, we need an extraordinary disclosure. The stakes are simply too high to take anyone’s word for it.
By James Petras for Eurasia Review - The major influential western print media are engaged in a prolonged, large-scale effort to demonize Russian President Putin, his politics and persona. There is an article (or several articles) every day in which he is personally stigmatized as a dictator, authoritarian, czar, ‘former KGB operative’ and Soviet-style ruler; anything but the repeatedly elected President of Russia. He is accused of hijacking Russia from the ‘road to democracy’, as pursued by his grotesquely corrupt predecessor Boris Yeltsin; of directing the bloody repression of the ‘freedom loving Chechens’; of jailing innocent, independent and critical oligarchs and robber barons...
President Obama’s final words to Mr. Putin set the pattern for hypocrisy: “(We are) very firm on the need to uphold core international principles, and one of those principles is you don’t invade other countries or finance proxies ... to break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections.” Is it possible that no one in his own government has yet worked up the courage to tell Mr. Obama that it was his own United States State Department that arranged a public uprising in Kiev last February, against a democratically elected (if corrupt) president of Ukraine, and sponsored the coup d’etat that made Arseniy Yatsenyuk (known as “Yats” in the department) prime minister? The Washington-sponsored coup occurred before there were any Russian troops in Ukraine, and before either government had as yet dreamed that Mr. Putin would annex Crimea in retaliation.
Host Dennis Trainor, Jr. navigates a lively panel discussion with Nicole Carty (The Other 98%), Julianna Forlano (Absurdity Today), and Joel Northam (Resistance Report contributor). Special guests also include Mychal Denzel Smith (The Nation), Kateryna Ruban (expert in Ukraine and Russian history), and Cheri Honkala (Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign).
Two members of Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot freed from prison on Monday derided President Vladimir Putin's amnesty that led to their early release as a propaganda stunt and promised to fight for human rights. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, shouted "Russia without Putin" following her release from a Siberian prison, hours after band mate Maria Alyokhina, 25, was freed from jail in the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod. The women had two months left to serve but walked free days after a pardon from Putin freed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky eight months before the end of his more than 10-year jail term, decisions widely seen as intended to improve Russia's image before it hosts the Winter Olympics in February. "It is a disgusting and cynical act," Tolokonnikova, looking relaxed in a black coat and chequered shirt, told Reuters at her grandmother's apartment building in the snowbound Siberian city of Kransoyarsk where she was jailed. Tolokonnikova, who staged a hunger strike earlier this year and drew attention to stark conditions and long hours of mandatory labor in the jail where she was previously held, said she would fight for prisoners' rights. "Everything is just starting, so fasten your seat belts," she said, suggesting Pussy Riot - jailed for a "punk prayer" in the main cathedral of Russia's dominant faith - would continue to use attention-grabbing protests to make their point. "We will unite our efforts in our human rights activity," Alyokhina said in Nizhny Novgorod. "We will try to sing our the song to the end."