The shooting down of a Syrian fighter jet by US forces this week comes on the back of several aggressive actions by American military on the ground. Taken together the US actions mark an alarming escalation of intervention in the Syrian war – to the point where the Americans can be said to be now openly at war against Syria. The American military actions also come despite repeated warnings from Russia against such unilateral deployment of force. Following the shoot-down of the Syrian SU-22 fighter bomber this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced the American violence as an act of flagrant aggression against a sovereign state. Some Russian lawmakers such as Duma foreign affairs chief Alexei Pushkov went further and condemned it as an act of war by the Americans. Of course, Washington’s logic is riddled with absurdity. To claim that its forces are acting in self-defense overlooks the glaring reality that the US-led military coalition has no legal mandate whatsoever to be in Syria in the first place. Its forces are in breach of international law by operating on Syrian territory without the consent of the government in Damascus and without a mandate from the UN Security Council. Another absurdity is the claim that the US forces are protecting militants whom they are supposedly training to fight the Islamic State terror group (ISIS). On at least three occasions over the past month, American military have carried out air strikes on Syrian government forces and their allies near a strategically important border crossing between Syria and Iraq. The Americans claim that the Syrian government forces were posing a threat to a military base at Al Tanf on the Syrian side of the border where they are training militants belonging to a group called Maghawir al Thawra.
21st Century Wire says… Yesterday a US F/A-18E Super Hornet is reported to have shot down a Syrian Army SU-22 jet near the village of Rasafah, south of Raqqa. Washington claims it was an act of ‘collective self-defense’ because the Syrian jet had dropped bombs ‘near US-backed forces.’ Syrian officials in Damascus deny the US claims, stating that their plane was downed while conducting a strike on an ISIS position. According to a statement released by Damascus, the US act of aggression in Syria airspace was a ‘flagrant attack was an attempt to undermine the efforts of the army as the only effective force capable with its allies… in fighting terrorism across its territory.’ Officials added that, ‘this comes at a time when the Syrian army and its allies were making clear advances in fighting the (ISIS) terrorist group.’ US officials are claiming that ‘pro-Syrian regime forces’ on the ground attacked the US-backed Kurdish militias under the ‘SDF’ brand (Syrian Democratic Forces) near Tabqa outside Raqqa, after which time the US-led Coalition planes engaged Syrian military. US officials then claim that a Syrian planes ‘dropped bombs near the US-backed forces.’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issue this statement: ‘We call on the United State and all others who have their forces or advisors on the ground [in Syria] to ensure the coordination in our work. Zones of de-escalation are one of the possible options to jointly move forward. We call on everyone to avoid unilateral moves, respect Syrian sovereignty and join our common work which is agreed with the Syrian Arab Republic’s government.’
From day one, President Trump’s administration has been dogged with accusations that he is somehow in league with the Russians. To be fair, Trump has a lot of flaws that are worth criticizing, but the mainstream media has refused to relent on this particular issue, even though there isn’t any real proof. They won’t back down from the Russia allegations, because they know that if they can get them to stick, it could end Trump’s presidency. The latest accusation has resulted in just about everyone in the mainstream media and the Democratic party, calling for Trump’s impeachment. Again, there’s no proof that Trump leaked classified material to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week. There’s only the word of one anonymous source who offered this revelation to the Washington Post. Members of Trump’s administration have provided a very different take on what happened. National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster told the press that ‘The story that came out tonight as reported is false… I was in the room. It didn’t happen.’ Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell claimed ‘The story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.’ And Rex Tillerson has since added that ‘the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.’
This post was published at shtfplan on May 17th, 2017.
On Monday, the Washington Post ran a story claiming U. S. President Donald Trump had divulged highly classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a meeting in the Oval Office. The Post came by this information via former and current U. S. officials who continue to remain anonymous. Trump’s national security advisor, H. R. McMaster, was tasked with mitigating the damage of this leak. However, any success he had at the time (which was very little) was seriously undermined by Trump’s statements that he did, in fact, divulge the information – and that he had every right to do so. Let’s examine the issues here. According to the Washington Post, Trump gave his Russian counterparts information ‘considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U. S. government.’ Specifically: ‘Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U. S. intelligence partner detected the threat.’
Following the latest provocative story from the Washington Post earlier suggesting that Trump shared “highly classified information” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during their White House meeting last week, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster just spoke to reporters outside the White House to offer an unequivocal denial of the story: “The story that came out tonight as reported is false. I was in the room. It didn’t happen.” “There is nothing that the President takes more seriously than the security of the American people. The story that came out tonight as reported is false. The president the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time, at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. Two other senior officials who were present, including the Secretary of State, remembered the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources. I was in the room. It didn’t happen.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 15, 2017.
After an ‘icy’ (pardon the pun) meeting between Rex Tillerson and Russia Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov last week in Moscow, Vladimir Putin has just released the first public photos of a giant, top-secret military base recently built on the arctic island of “Alexandra Land.” According to media reports, the base is believed to be fully-armed with missile systems and nuclear-ready fighter jets. A virtual tour of the facility can be viewed here.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 19, 2017.
21st Century Wire says… Following Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Theodore Postol’s direct challenge to evidence released regarding that the alleged chemical weapons attack in the Idlib province of Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov states that the event was ‘orchestrated.’ In 2013, western claims were discredited, as evidence for the alleged sarin gas attacks which took place pointed directly at the western and Gulf state-backed ‘rebels’ (aka terrorists) as being the true criminals. Bear in the mind that the entire western mainstream media had already cast blame on Syrian President Bashar al Assad for the chemical attacks (just as they’ve done now without providing proof) – making this WMD redux yet another pretext for war and ‘humanitarian intervention by the west. Did the Western establishment get things wrong once again? More from Bloomberg below…
Despite numerous earlier reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not meet U. S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, moments ago the “breathless speculation” and suspense whether the Russian president would indeed skip the opportunity to meet with the top US diplomat – who has been repeatedly portrayed in the press as a friend of the Russian president – ended when Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin is currently meeting with Tillerson, together with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Kremlin. The surprise meeting comes one day after Kremlin officials said the top American diplomat would not meet with the Russian leader during his first official trip to Moscow. “Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting with the US Secretary of State Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in the Kremlin,” Peskov told Sputnik. Peskov refrained from revealing what the President discussed with the diplomats. Earlier Tillerson met with Lavrov, when in a closed door meeting the Russian foreign minister warned Tillerson no to strike Syria again. So, can the breathless speculation about a Tillerson/Putin meeting end now? — Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) April 12, 2017
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 12, 2017.
Trust between Russia and the US has collapsed under the Trump administration, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on Wednesday, as Moscow delivered an unusually frigid if not hostile reception to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a face-off over Syria, shortly after Putin said the recent chemical attack was a staged “false flag” and predicted that more are coming, while at the same time the US accused Russia of a gas attack “cover up.” In an interview on Wednesday, Putin said that if Donald Trump had intended to bring about a thaw in US relations with Russia, he has failed to see this intention through. “One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated,” Putin said in an interview broadcast on Russian television moments after Tillerson sat down with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an ornate hall. Putin doubled down on Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, repeating denials that Assad’s government was to blame for the gas attack last week and adding a new theory that the attack may have been faked by Assad’s enemies.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 12, 2017.
Amid attempts to “clarify areas of sharp difference,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blasted the Trump administration’s “ambiguous and contradictory” foreign policy at the start of talks with Tillerson in Moscow Wednesday calling the demand for the Kremlin to abandon Assad “absurd.” Furthermore, he warned Tillerson that Russia “believes it’s fundamentally important not to let these actions happen again.” Russia pushed back against demands that it abandon Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad over a chemical-weapons attack as Bloomberg reports that the Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin is likely to meet with U. S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Putin complained that relations with the U. S. are worse than under President Barack Obama, while Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized the Trump administration’s ‘ambiguous and contradictory’ foreign policy at the start of talks with Tillerson in Moscow Wednesday.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 12, 2017.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented on Monday about the U.S.-led operation to block the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) from marching on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. Responding to a journalist’s question about the development, Lavrov stated that Russia supports any international efforts to combat Islamic State, but warned the U.S. “to fight terror rather than gain geopolitical advantages in Syria“: “umerous uninvited players : the US-led air force coalition, Turkish servicemen, and commandos from the United States and a number of European countries. All of this creates a rather motley picture, but we are confident (and have advocated this for a long time) that the main criterion should be our common concern in the fight against terrorism. So far, coordination leaves much to be desired. We have reason to believe that our partners, including the Americans, are beginning to realise the need for remedying this situation. Let us hope that all of us will be driven by the well-understood priority to fight terror rather than gain geopolitical advantages in Syria.” Lavrov seems to be keeping his cards close to his chest, but it’s clear that he’s less than thrilled about Washington’s posturing around Raqqa. It could be as simple as a “lack of coordination” – but let’s be honest: There’s very likely a lot more at play here. Any attempt by Washington to prevent Syrian forces from liberating their own country from Islamic State should be seen as extremely worrying. According to a trusted Syria expert, preventing the SAA from taking Raqqa signals that Washington is quietly preparing to “Balkanize” Syria – an analysis that we agree with.
This is perhaps one of Sergei Lavrov’s finest addresses. It needs to be read in its entirety to fully appreciate the scale and depth of Lavrov’s observations – although we’ve provided a very short excerpt for those with short attention spans. Lavrov’s driving thesis is that the U.S.-led global order has abandoned the concepts of state sovereignty and international law, choosing political expediency over consensus. Lavrov believes that shifting economic centers will bring this era to an end: “Ironically, the American elite, which emerged as freedom fighters and separatists anxious to cast off the yoke of the British crown, had transformed itself and its state by the 20th century into a power thirsting for global imperialist domination. The world is changing, however, and – who knows – America might yet purify itself and return to its own forgotten sources.” “The redistribution of the global balance of power continues. We are witnessing new centres of economic power and associated political influence come into being in the world…The formation of a polycentric international order is an objective process. It is in our common interest to make it more stable and predictable.” The speech was given to senior officers of the Military Academy of the General Staff in Moscow on March 23.
It’s not even up for debate – Sergei Lavrov is in a league of his own. Russia’s Foreign Minister mutilates Washington soundbites in his sleep and eats NATO press releases for breakfast – no salt. As you are well aware, Sergei dropped a payload of painful truth on Mike Pence’s smug, smarmy face during the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. But that was just a warm-up. Pence is a small fish in a big ocean of idiots. On the sidelines of the Munich conference, Lavrov participating in a meeting with top diplomats from the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine). Angela Merkel used this opportunity to lecture Lavrov and the rest of the audience about the dangers of Russian hacking. You think Lavrov just sat there and took it on the chin? No. When it was his turn to speak, he reminded the entire world that Angela Merkel’s phones were tapped by her “ally”, and that this is a confirmed fact, and that Angela Merkel is a sad puppet.
“Aiming to calm European fears about US-Russia ties, Vice President Mike Pence told world leaders Saturday that the United States will stand firm against Moscow while also seeking avenues for cooperation.” This is the opening line to CNN‘s report on the predictable saber-rattling that took place at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. Pence also told the audience that Washington remained “unwavering” in its commitment to NATO as it faced a “more assertive Russia.” Shortly after Pence had finished his war liturgy, Russia’s Foreign Minister took to the podium. Sergei Lavrov phrased his comments in a very simple manner, so that his American counterparts could understand: Lavrov said that the time when the West called the shots was over and, dismissing NATO as a relic of the Cold War, added: “I hope that (the world) will choose a democratic world order — a post-West one — in which each country is defined by its sovereignty.” Lavrov said Moscow wanted to build relations with Washington which would be “pragmatic with mutual respect and acknowledgement of our responsibility for global stability.” Lavrov is a career diplomat and a true gentleman. But we’ve noticed a subtle change in his approach to U.S. bullshittery over the last two years.
Russia warned it would respond proportionally to yesterday’s unprecedented sanctions and diplomatic expulsions unveiled by the Obama administration, and this morning it did just that when Russia’s foreign ministry announced plans to expel 35 U. S. diplomats and ban U. S. diplomatic staff from using a dacha and a warehouse in Moscow in retaliation to Washington’s sanctions, Russian news agencies reported. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by the agencies as saying he had proposed the measures to President Vladimir Putin, and said that ‘we cannot leave such acts unanswered. Reciprocity is part of diplomatic law.” He called the people in question – 31 employees at the U. S. embassy in Moscow and 4 in the U. S. consulate in St Petersburg – ‘persona non-grata.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 30, 2016.
Vladimir the merciful? Following this morning’s reports that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would recommend to Russian President Vladimir Putin a retaliation in kind, and expel 35 American diplomats, saying that ‘we cannot leave such acts unanswered. Reciprocity is part of diplomatic law” with Putin spokesman Peskov adding that “there is no doubt that Russia’s adequate and mirror response will make Washington officials feel very uncomfortable as well”, it was ultimately up to Putin to decide how to respond to the US. Which he did on Friday morning, when in a stunning reversal, the Russian leader took the high road, rejected the Lavrov proposal, and in a statement posted by the Kremlin said that Russia won’t expel any Americans in retaliation to US moves, in a brutal demonstration of just how irrelevant Obama’s 11th hour decision is for US-Russian relations. The reversal comes as Russian officials portrayed U. S. sanctions as a last act of a lame-duck president and suggested that Trump could reverse them when he takes over the White House in January.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 30, 2016.
Vladimir the merciful? Following this morning’s reports that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would recommend to Russian President Vladimir Putin a retaliation in kind, and expel 35 American diplomats, saying that ‘we cannot leave such acts unanswered. Reciprocity is part of diplomatic law” with Putin spokesman Peskov adding that “there is no doubt that Russia’s adequate and mirror response will make Washington officials feel very uncomfortable as well”, it was ultimately up to Putin to decide how to respond to the US. Which he did on Friday morning, when in a stunning reversal, the Russian leader took the high road, and in a Kremlin statement said that, contrary to expectations, Russia won’t expel any Americans in retaliation to US moves, in a brutal demonstration of just how irrelevant Obama’s 11th hour decision is for US-Russian relations. In the statement Putin said that Russia won’t cause problems to U. S. diplomats or deport anyone, adding that Russia has the right to respond in tit-for-tat manner, but it will not engage in irresponsible diplomacy. The punchline, however, was saved for what may be Russia’s final slam of the debacle that is Obama’s administration saying that “It’s a pity that the current U. S. administration is finishing their work in such a manner” saying that Russia refuses “to sink to the level of this irresponsible “kitchen” diplomacy.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 30, 2016.
In one of the bigger stories to hit yesterday, Russian media outlet, RT, which is funded by the government reported that NatWest, a division of the nationalized RBS, had blocked access to RT’s bank account, provoking a confused and in some cases angry response that the UK government was trying to stifle free speech. To be sure, NatWest rejected any suggestion of political pressure, releasing the following statement: ‘We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities.” Today it appears that Russia did not accept that explanation, and as Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said, the decision by a majority-British government-owned bank to stop servicing RT UK’s accounts could not have been taken by the institution independently. ‘It’s as clear as day that this decision was not made by the bank. And not any other bank – banks don’t make such decisions on their own,’ he said. ‘I believe an old saying is appropriate here: don’t treat others the way you don’t wish to be treated yourself.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 18, 2016.
When earlier this month, Russia suspended a treaty with Washington on cleaning up weapons grade plutonium in response to what it said were “unfriendly acts” by the United States, it was mostly an act of window dressing: there was little in execution terms left under the treaty and the announcement was mostly symbolic, hinting at the ongoing deterioration in diplomacy between the two powers. However, when it was reported on Friday that Russia had deployed nuclear-capable Iskander SS-26 missiles to Kaliningrad in immediate proximity to central Europe in response mostly to recently encroaching behavior by NATO, things got decidedly more serious and will likely leed to even further retaliation by NATO and western powers. *** So to clarify Russia’s precarious position vis-a-vis the US, earlier today Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russian state TV’s First Channel that he had detected “increasing U. S. hostility towards Moscow and complained about what he said was a series of aggressive U. S. steps that threatened Russia’s national security.” The interview, which according to Reuters is likely to worsen already poor relations with Washington, Lavrov blamed the Obama administration for what he described as a sharp deterioration in U. S.-Russia ties. “We have witnessed a fundamental change of circumstances when it comes to the aggressive Russophobia that now lies at the heart of U. S. policy towards Russia,” Lavrov told Russian state TV’s First Channel.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 9, 2016.
In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country believes the United States may be tacitly supporting jihadist rebels in Syria. He said the U.S. had broken a promise to help separate the the powerful Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) and other extremist groups from more moderate rebels. He was speaking to Stephen Sackur on BBC World News TV on the first anniversary of the beginning of the Russian air campaign in Syria.