Russian president Vladimir Putin signs law to label journalists as ‘foreign agents’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Russian president Vladimir Putin signs law to label journalists as ‘foreign agents’

Foreign agents, defined as involved in politics and receiving money from abroad, must register with the justice ministry, label publications with the tag and submit detailed paperwork or face fines.

WORLD Updated: Dec 03, 2019 06:23 IST

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Moscow
Russian legislation passed in 2012 already gave authorities the power to brand media organisations and NGOs as foreign agents, a term that has Soviet-era overtones.
Russian legislation passed in 2012 already gave authorities the power to brand media organisations and NGOs as foreign agents, a term that has Soviet-era overtones.(REUTERS FILE)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a controversial law allowing independent journalists and bloggers to be labelled as “foreign agents”, a move that critics say will violate media freedom.

Russian legislation passed in 2012 already gave authorities the power to brand media organisations and NGOs as foreign agents, a term that has Soviet-era overtones. The new law, which now extends to individuals, will come into effect immediately, according to a document published on the Russian government website.

Foreign agents, defined as involved in politics and receiving money from abroad, must register with the justice ministry, label publications with the tag and submit detailed paperwork or face fines.

Nine human rights NGOs, including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, have expressed concern that the amendments may be aimed not only at journalists, but also at bloggers and internet users who benefit from scholarships, funding or revenues from a relevant media outlet.

NGOs said in a joint statement last month the law was “a further step to restrict free and independent media” and “a strong tool to silence opposition voices”.

Authors of the bill have said it is intended to “perfect” existing legislation on “foreign agents” that already covers NGOs and media organisations. Russia says it wants the law as a tit-for-tat mechanism if its journalists are defined as foreign agents in the West. Russia first passed legislation allowing media organisations to be slapped with the label in 2017, after Kremlin-funded RT television was declared a foreign agent in the United States. Russian opposition politician Alexi Navalny’s organisation has been branded a foreign agent, as has US-financed media outlet Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe and Voice of America.

The term foreign agent was used negatively during the Stalinist era in the 1970s and 1980s for opponents accused of being paid by the West.

Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

Xinhua
Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

Xinhua

The Heihe section of the east-route natural gas pipeline.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had a video call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Monday afternoon, as the two heads of state jointly witnessed the launching ceremony of the China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline.

“East-route natural gas pipeline is a landmark project of China-Russia energy cooperation and a paradigm of deep convergence of both countries’ interests and win-win cooperation,” Xi told Putin via the video call in Beijing.

He congratulated the launch of the pipeline and expressed appreciation to the construction teams from both countries.

The east-route natural gas pipeline began providing China with Russian natural gas, which is scheduled to reach 5 billion cubic meters in 2020 and increase to 38 billion cubic meters annually from 2024, under a 30-year contract signed between the China National Petroleum Corp and Russian gas giant Gazprom in May 2014.

Speaking highly of the arduous efforts Chinese and Russian builders and companies have made in frozen and snow-covered land in the past five years, Xi said they have shown to the world their consummate skills and the fruitful results of China-Russia cooperation.

Xi and Putin witnessed the signing of the pipeline agreements in 2014 in Shanghai.

The launch of the pipeline is not only an important result at the current stage but also a new start for future cooperation, Xi said.

He called on both countries to make the pipeline a safe and green pipeline of development and friendship, ensure the safe operation of the pipeline and boost the sustainable development of the regions along the line.

Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping has a video call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Beijing to witness the launching ceremony of the China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline, December 2, 2019.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Russia. Xi and Putin announced in June in Moscow to lift bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the new era.

Stressing that he and Putin agreed to continue putting bilateral ties as a priority of each other’s foreign relations and enhancing strategic coordination and cooperation, Xi called on both countries to redouble their efforts to initiate more key projects like the east-route natural gas pipeline, to boost both countries’ development and better benefit both peoples.

Putin, who made the video call from the Russian city of Sochi, said it is of great historic significance that the east-route natural gas pipeline was launched on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Russia-China diplomatic ties.

The launch has lifted bilateral strategic coordination to a new level, said Putin.

Hailing the five-year toil of construction teams from both countries on the project under extreme weather and the completion on schedule, Putin said Russia will provide 1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas to China in the next 30 years.

This is conducive to the realization of a Russia-China trade volume of 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2024, Putin said.

Russia stands ready to work with China to ensure the smooth implementation of the landmark strategic project, he said.

During the video call, China and Russia representatives at northeast China’s Heihe station and Russia’s Atamanskaya compressor station and Chayandin gas field reported in turn to the two presidents that they were ready to receive or provide natural gas. Xi and Putin then gave the go-ahead to the teams.

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng attended the ceremony in Beijing.

The cross-border gas pipeline has a 3,000-km section in Russia and a 5,111-km stretch in China.

The Real Reason Trump Withheld Military Is A Favor To Putin?

The Real Reason Trump Withheld Military Aid To UKraine Is A Favor To Putin?

 

This is just an oped on my part, I am only giving you my opinion about this issue. This is something that I have thought to be the truth ever sense the Ukraine story broke. As most of the world knows President Putin of Russia took the State of Crimea by military force from the country of UKraine a few years ago and Russian forces have been at war with the nation of UKraine in the east of that country ever sense. So, of course Mr. Putin does not want the US selling military arms to the nation of UKraine because those weapons are being used against his Russian soldiers on the battle field. I simply believe that it only makes sense that Mr. Putin wanted Mr. Trump to freeze that weapons sale to the Ukrainian government. As most of the world realizes, including the Republicans in the US Congress and Senate, Mr. Trump is nothing but a Putin Patsy. Now because of all of Mr. Trumps habitual lying he has found himself on the impeachment hot seat, it isn’t like he can actually tell the truth about his collusion with the Russian government to undermine an American Ally. These are just my thoughts, right, wrong or only somewhat correct, or not. What are you thoughts on this matter?

Trump is about to give Putin another gift

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(“Sometimes the only way to explain/predict Trump’s foreign policy is to think ‘what would Putin want the US to do?'”)

Trump is about to give Putin another gift

David A. Andelman, Executive Director of The RedLines Project, is a contributor to CNN, where his columns won the Deadline Club Award for Best Opinion Writing. Author of “A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today,” he was formerly a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News. Follow him on Twitter @DavidAndelman. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN

(CNN)Another critical legacy of the post-Cold War era may be on the verge of biting the dust now that President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, which allows member states to conduct unarmed surveillance over one another’s territories and helps verify arms control agreements. Watching Trump drive a stake through the heart of this treaty should be quite a pleasant prospect for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

David Andelman

Though President Dwight Eisenhower first proposed such a treaty in 1955, it did not become a reality until 2002. Since then, the Open Skies Treaty has allowed reconnaissance flights over each of the 34 nations that have signed it — largely NATO nations and others across eastern Europe. This arrangement has allowed American surveillance aircraft to keep track of just what the Russian military is up to in areas like eastern Ukraine, or in Georgia, where Russian troops once tried in vain to seize large swaths of territory.
An American withdrawal from the Open Skies treaty would give Putin more leeway to make forays into areas like eastern Ukraine, where he’d love to keep his actions concealed from western scrutiny. As Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, wrote in a letter to National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, “Withdrawal risks dividing the transatlantic alliance and would further undermine America’s reliability as a stable and predictable partner when it comes to European security.”
By withdrawing from the Open Skies treaty, the United States would fulfill Putin’s goals by effectively “driving another wedge into the NATO alliance,” Reif says. President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes may have put it best in a recent tweet: “Sometimes the only way to explain/predict Trump’s foreign policy is to think ‘what would Putin want the US to do?'”
Each time Donald Trump has withdrawn from an international treaty, I’ve declared it his single most cataclysmic move. And each time, he has surprised me by topping his previous actions. He certainly surprised me with the audacity of his decision in 2017 to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, and with his utter failure to understand what the consequences would be. Trump followed this move in 2018 by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear accord, to similarly disastrous consequences. Then there was Trump’s withdrawal from the INF (intermediate nuclear forces) agreement this August, touching off what will inevitably be a new arms race, and certainly freeing up Russia’s ability to test and deploy new generations of advanced missiles threatening America’s allies in western Europe.
Now, the administration is threatening to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies.
“The view within DOD and the State Department is that there continues to be significant value here to the United States and to our allies and partners” in maintaining the treaty, Kingston Reif, director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association, tells me in an interview.
With this treaty in force, Reif says, “The United States has been able to fly over Ukraine and western Russia. These flights have yielded valuable data with respect to the Russian military.” Moreover, since Ukraine is also a signatory to the pact, its military has benefited from intelligence gleaned from these overflights, Reif tells me.
The Open Skies treaty allowed one particularly important flight over eastern Ukraine on December 6, 2018, after Russians attacked Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea. The flight, which included American, Canadian, French, German, Romanian, British and Ukrainian observers on board the OC-135 surveillance plane, “reaffirm(ed) (the) United States’ commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations,” a Defense Department statement said. While the United States does have other sources of satellite surveillance, this particular flight was crucial: It produced images that could be broadly released because they were obtained from this less-classified source. Our ability to make and disseminate these images demonstrated to Russia that the world was watching.
The treaty has also allowed surveillance flights over the heavily armed Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, where the Kremlin has been upgrading its nuclear weapons storage and deployment. These flights have been particularly useful to the Baltic members of NATO, including neighboring Lithuania, where advanced Russian systems pose an immediate and ever-present threat.
To get a sense of the shock and horror Trump’s withdrawal has elicited from America’s strategic establishment, look no further than the United States Strategic Command’s (Stratcom) Twitter account. It quietly asserted its support for the Open Skies Treaty by retweeting Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, who wrote that the agreement “helps build confidence & increase transparency.”
It remains unclear why the Trump administration is looking to pull out of the treaty after 17 years. The administration has declined to comment to CNN, or to me, on the cause or the timing of the withdrawal.
Regardless, the treaty offers several critical functions. It supports our NATO allies while providing a security blanket over non-NATO members who are also interested in containing Russian expansion. It also offers us a window into Russia’s military operations, especially those along its borders.
Above all, Trump should start to consider the consequences of his impulsive actions — demonstrated recently and vividly in his ill-conceived decision to withdraw US forces from northeastern Syria, thereby giving Turkey and Russia an open avenue to occupy swaths of territory that they’d long been denied.
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While the consequences of a pullout from Open Skies may be less visible in the short term than those of the US withdrawal from Syria, on the long term, they could prove equally catastrophic.

So, You Think Russia/Putin Only Interfered In The 2016 General Election, Really?

So, You Think Russia/Putin Only Interfered In The 2016 General Election, Really?

 

This letter to you today is just an opinion piece from my thoughts to your eyes, it is for the purpose of getting us all to think a little bit about the chances of, what if.  For those of you who do not know me I am a 63 year old Christian white guy who lives in the state of Kentucky. I believe my political leanings to be a registered Independent who has voted Republican and Democratic in the past but I honestly can’t see me ever voting for a Republican again because of them backing our current President. I consider myself to be a moderate, sort of right down the middle between being a Conservative on some issues and a bit Liberal on others. So, I don’t agree with either extreme to the left nor to the right. In 2016’s Presidential Election I voted for Gary Johnson, not because I thought he had any chance of winning but because I could not get myself to vote for either Hillary or Trump. I feel the same now as I did then, I could not get myself to vote for a person I totally believe to be a very intelligent, hate filled, habitual liar (Hillary) nor for a totally ignorant, hate filled, ego-maniac, habitual liar (Trump).

 

As most everyone whom has an I.Q. above 2 now knows that President Putin of Russia had his people interfering in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections in an effort to get Donald Trump elected as our 45th President. But I have a question that I would like for you to ponder, do you honestly believe that the Russians only screwed with the General Election in November of 2016? As over 20 U.S. State Election Boards also said that there is plenty of evidence that they were interfered with from the Russian Government. What I believe is that there is a very good chance that Mr. Trump did not win nearly as many of the State Republican Primaries as he was given credit for. He could never have been the Republican Nominee if he didn’t win enough of the Primaries. So, what if Trump via actual American votes did not win a lot of those Primaries that he was given credit for? Would John Kasich have been the Republican Nominee? Just as if the Democratic National Convention had not had the farce of so called “Super Delegates” I believe that Senator Bernie Sanders would have been the Democratic Nominee, not Hillary. Personally I believe that if Senator Sanders had been the Democratic Nominee that he would have beaten Mr. Trump in the November election. What I am saying is that I believe that the American voters totally got scammed in 2016 and to me it is looking like the Republican Party big wigs of today are bound and determined to make sure that we can have another Russian scam election in November of 2020.

 

Another side thought for you, something I just thought of while writing this letter to you. Thinking back to the 2016 General Election, it was a given that the Democrats would win the Congressional Elections but the question was by how much. A bigger question was how many Senatorial Seats would the Republicans lose to the Democrats. Turns out that the Democrats didn’t win near as many Congressional Seats as most Annalists thought they would and the Republicans actually picked up a few Senatorial Seats, not lose them. You know if a person wins the White House from one Party but the opposite Party rules both the House and the Senate the President will be vastly limited in getting anything his Party wants passed into law. So, how many Senate and Congressional Seats did the Republicans ‘win’ that they actually did not win with the American peoples votes? Looking at this issue through an “Independents” glasses it becomes obvious why the Republican Party’s Leadership isn’t concerned about “the Russians” interference. This letter is simply meant as ‘food for your thoughts’.

Trump is hanging Israel and Netanyahu out to dry

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Trump is hanging Israel and Netanyahu out to dry

David A. Andelman, executive director of The RedLines Project, is a contributor to CNN, where his columns won the Deadline Club Award for Best Opinion Writing. Author of “A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today,” he was formerly a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News. Follow him on Twitter @DavidAndelman. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.

(CNN)With a single stroke, President Donald Trump has effectively brought a newly resurgent and potent triad—Syria, Russia and Iran—to the very doorstep of their declared enemy, Israel, and given aid and comfort to Israel’s longtime and persistent foe, Hezbollah, in Lebanon.

David Andelman

The ceasefire and agreement with Turkey that Trump vaunted Thursday as “a great day for civilization,” had already been demonstrated to be a potentially epic challenge to one corner of the world—Israel. It was a reality only highlighted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo breaking off from Vice President Pence’s group in Ankara and taking a plane directly to Jerusalem to reassure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday morning.
Suddenly, with not even a token American force remaining to monitor or check military activities of Russia, Iran or the Syrian army main force of President Bashar al-Assad, the entire map of the Middle East was being redrawn, and Israel left with few viable defenders. When the United States had even a minimal military presence in Syria, it was able to act as some restraint on aid that Iran was seeking to channel to this terrorist forcewhich continues to operate out of Lebanon, targeting Israel at every opportunity.
In late August, anti-tank rocket attacks launched from Lebanon into northern Israel by Hezbollah led to the Israeli army responding with attacks on targets in southern Lebanon. Such effective shadow-boxing had been held in check by the apparent ability of Israel to interdict Iranian efforts to supply Hezbollah with arms and munitions through Syria. Now, with Syria reclaiming a large swath of the northeastern stretch of its country that had been held by the Kurds and their American allies, and with Russian forces moving as a backstop into the vacuum left by the US departure, Israeli efforts could become exponentially more complicated.
At the same time, there is ever more leeway now for Syria, Russia and Iran to work their malevolence on a Lebanese government that is striving desperately to carve a middle road in the region. Hezbollah and Iran share a common religion—Shiite Islam—which has only opened up a host of problems for Hezbollah’s principal host, Lebanon, as it tries to remain reasonably neutral in the Middle East and avoid a return to the decades of bloodshed during its civil wars of the 1980s. Hezbollah would like nothing better than a destabilized Lebanon bordering Israel’s northern frontier.
“Americans can’t be trusted at all since they break promise with anyone who depends on them,” said Seyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, in a speech to his followers in Beirut on Wednesday, adding that the Kurds’ “fate awaits anyone who trusts Washington.”
Trump’s new bond with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan—”a tough guy who deserves respect” and “my friend” as Trump described him after Wednesday’s truce talks in Ankara, is also likely to have done little to reassure Israel.
Turkey, which has moved into northern Syria with some impunity has demonstrated that it is no friend of Israel. Erdogan, accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, has called it “a terrorist state.” Until now, it has been possible for Israel largely to ignore Turkey’s impact on the Middle East, and its efforts of rapprochement with both Russia and Iran. But that may no longer be possible. On Tuesday, Erdogan is planning to travel to the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The American withdrawal and Wednesday’s ceasefire can have few positive results for Israel, where Trump’s actions “have stirred discomfort within Netanyahu’s conservative cabinet,” according to Israeli media reports. Amos Harel, military correspondent for the liberal Haaretz daily, said Trump’s moves have “forced Israel to rethink its Middle East strategy.” After his session with Pompeo, Netanyahu was only somewhat more circumspect. “We hope things will turn out for the best,” he told reporters. Indeed, Netanyahu is facing a Wednesday deadline to cobble together a new coalition government after the recent national elections and has still not managed to do so.
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In short, any number of nations in the region are beginning a frantic reassessment of just what this new map of the Middle East promises—beyond the immediate prospects of a new round of chaos and destruction, with the United States on the sidelines. Somehow Washington must find a way to channel to players like Israel and Lebanon military aid and diplomatic reassurance that can help neutralize an increasingly dangerous situation.

King Salman to Putin: We Look Forward to Working with Russia to Achieve Stability, Combat Terror

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

King Salman to Putin: We Look Forward to Working with Russia to Achieve Stability, Combat Terror

Monday, 14 October, 2019 – 11:00
King Salman receives Russian President Putin in Riyadh. (SPA)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz voiced on Monday Saudi Arabia’s appreciation of the role Russia is playing in the region and the world.

During official talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Riyadh, he said: “We look forward to working with Your Excellency on everything that will bring security, stability and peace, confront extremism and terrorism and promote economic growth.”

Putin’s visit, he said, presents a major opportunity to strengthen bonds of friendship.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, attended the Riyadh talks.

Putin, for his part, hailed King Salman’s role in boosting Russian-Saudi cooperation in all fields.

He stressed that his visit to Russia in 2017 bolstered these relations.

“Russia attaches particular importance to the development of friendly, and mutually beneficial ties with Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Putin had arrived in Saudi Arabia earlier on Monday on his first official visit to the Kingdom in 12 years.

He heads a delegation that includes Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and several ministers.

He will visit the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.

TRUMP ‘FAWNING’ TO PUTIN AND OTHER AUTHORITARIANS IN ‘EMBARRASSING’ PHONE Calls

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

TRUMP ‘FAWNING’ TO PUTIN AND OTHER AUTHORITARIANS IN ‘EMBARRASSING’ PHONE CALLS, WHITE HOUSE AIDES SAY—REPORT

As the spotlight on President Donald Trump’s interactions with foreign leaders intensifies, former and current White House officials have described Trump’s interactions with strongman leaders as fawning, deferential and embarrassing, with many of those in the administration “horrified” at his conduct.

The Washington Post spoke with 12 current and former White House officials who said that members of the administration were shocked at the president’s behavior during conversations with authoritarians like Russian President Vladimir Putin and members of the Saudi royal family.

“There was a constant undercurrent in the Trump administration of [senior staff] who were genuinely horrified by the things they saw that were happening on these calls,” one former White House official—who spoke on the condition of anonymity—told the Post.

“Phone calls that were embarrassing, huge mistakes he made, months and months of work that were upended by one impulsive tweet,” the official added.

Aides were particularly concerned about Trump’s calls with Putin. The first call came less than two weeks into the presidency on January 28, 2017.

The call was intended for Putin to congratulate Trump on his victory, but the new president was “obsequious” and “fawning,” even apologizing to the dictator for not calling him sooner, anonymous former White House aides told the Post.

“He was like, ‘Oh my gosh, my people didn’t tell me you wanted to talk to me,'” according to one person with direct knowledge of the call. And in another Putin call, Trump is said to have asked his Russian counterpart for advice on how to deal with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

“We couldn’t figure out early on why he was being so nice to Russia,” a former senior administration official added.

Trump upended long-term U.S. strategy during his calls, for example promising to support Saudi Arabia’s entry into the G7 group of nations. “The G-7 is supposed to be the allies with whom we share the most common values and the deepest commitment to upholding the rules-based order,” one former official told the Post.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses mean it would not have been suitable for admission, but Trump said he would support the country’s efforts anyway, the former official claimed. Ultimately Saudi Arabia was not added to the group.

DOnald Trump, phone, calls, Putin, leaders
President Donald Trump speaks on the telephone in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on December 24, 2018.SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES/GETTY

The president also reportedly ignored the grave human rights abuses in the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte has been waging a zero tolerance campaign against drug dealers and users, in which thousands have been killed.

During an April 2017 call, Trump told Duterte that he was doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem,” the Post reported.

Officials said it was a constant battle to keep Trump on track. “You had two to three minutes max,” one former senior administration official said. “And then he was still usually going to say whatever he wanted to say.”

Another said aides quickly had to come to terms with his unconventional, and at times embarrassing, manner. “People had gotten really numb to him blurting out something he shouldn’t have,” one former national security staffer told the Post.

Officials were also concerned that calls with long-time U.S. allies often did not go as smoothly as those with strongmen and dictators. “People who could do things for him—he was nice to,” one former security official said. “Leaders with trade deficits, strong female leaders, members of NATO — those tended to go badly.”

Trump’s G7 performance suggests he’s either a ‘Russian asset’ or a ‘useful idiot’ for Putin

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON INSIDER NEWS)

 

US spies say Trump’s G7 performance suggests he’s either a ‘Russian asset’ or a ‘useful idiot’ for Putin

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump returns after travelling to the AMVETS convention in Kentucky, at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S. August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Tasos Katopodis
President Donald Trump.
 Reuters

Analysis banner

  • Current and former spies are floored by President Donald Trump’s fervent defense of Russia at this year’s G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
  • “It’s hard to see the bar anymore since it’s been pushed so far down the last few years, but President Trump’s behavior over the weekend was a new low,” one FBI agent who works in counterintelligence told Insider.
  • At the summit, Trump aggressively lobbied for Russia to be readmitted into the G7, refused to hold it accountable for violating international law, blamed former President Barack Obama for Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and expressed sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • One former senior Justice Department official, who worked closely with the former special counsel Robert Mueller when he was the FBI director, told Insider Trump’s behavior was “directly out of the Putin playbook. We have a Russian asset sitting in the Oval Office.”
  • A former CIA operative told Insider the evidence is “overwhelming” that Trump is a Russian agent, but another CIA and NSA veteran said it was more likely Trump was currying favor with Putin for future business deals.
  • Meanwhile, a recently retired FBI special agent told Insider that Trump’s freewheeling and often unfounded statements make it more likely that he’s a “useful idiot” for the Russians. But “it would not surprise me in the least if the Russians had at least one asset in Trump’s inner circle.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“It’s hard to see the bar anymore since it’s been pushed so far down the last few years, but President Trump’s behavior over the weekend was a new low.”

That was the assessment an FBI agent who works in counterintelligence gave Insider of President Donald Trump’s performance at this year’s G7 summit in Biarritz, France. The agent requested anonymity because they feared that speaking publicly on the matter would jeopardize their job.

Trump’s attendance at the G7 summit was peppered with controversy, but none was more notable than his fervent defense of Russia’s military and cyber aggression around the world, and its violation of international law in Ukraine.

Trump repeatedly refused to hold Russia accountable for annexing Crimea in 2014, blamed former President Barack Obama for Russia’s move to annex it, expressed sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and castigated other G7 members for not giving the country a seat at the table.

Since being booted from the G8 after annexing Crimea, Russia’s done little to make up for its actions. In fact, by many accounts, it’s stepped up its aggression.

In addition to continuing to encroach on Ukraine, the Russian government interfered in the 2016 US election and was behind the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy in the UK. US officials also warn that as the 2020 election looms, the Russians are stepping up their cyberactivities against the US and have repeatedly tried to attack US power grids.

“What in God’s name made Trump think it would be a good idea to ask to bring Russia back to the table?” the FBI agent told Insider. “How does this serve US national-security interests?”

Trump’s advocacy for Russia is renewing concerns among intelligence veterans that Trump may be a Russian “asset” who can be manipulated or influenced to serve Russian interests, although some also speculate that Trump could just be currying favor for future business deals.

Read more: DOJ watchdog finds James Comey violated FBI policy by sharing memo with The New York Times

‘We have a Russian asset sitting in the Oval Office’

Donald Trump Sergey Lavrov Sergey Kislyak
Trump with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Russian Foreign Ministry Photo via AP

A former senior Justice Department official, who worked closely with the former special counsel Robert Mueller when he was FBI director, didn’t mince words when reacting to Trump’s performance at the G7 summit: “We have a Russian asset sitting in the Oval Office.”

“There is no fathomable explanation for why the president said these things,” the former official said. “Letting Russia off the hook for bullying smaller countries and then blaming Obama for it? It’s directly out of the Putin playbook.”

While arguing for Russia to be invited back into the G7, Trump said the country would be helpful in addressing hot-button issues like Iran, Syria, and North Korea and that the alliance was better off with Russia “inside rather than outside.”

But Russia is a staunch ally of Syria’s Assad regime, and it’s also cozied up to Iran in recent years. US military and intelligence officials view Russia as one of the US’s foremost rivals and believe it generally stands in opposition to American interests.

Glenn Carle, a former CIA covert operative and frequent Trump critic, told Insider there’s been “no question” in his mind for years that the president is behaving like “a spy for the Russians.”

“The evidence is so overwhelming that in my 35 years in intelligence, I have never seen anything so certain,” Carle said, adding that he’s spoken with several intelligence veterans about the matter in the four years since Trump first launched his presidential campaign, many of whom believe Trump’s actions are a threat to national security.

Read more: Russia came out the winner of this year’s G7 summit despite being kicked out, and Trump looked like ‘Putin’s puppet’

“Intelligence assets become convinced to be spies for multiple reasons,” Carle, who specialized in getting foreign spies to become turncoats when he was at the CIA, said in an earlier interview with Insider. “It might start with kompromat or financial hooks, and the asset may be convinced he is acting as a patriot until he becomes accustomed to his role.”

“Trump clearly responds favorably to praise,” he said. “And over the years, the handling officer — Putin, in this case — realizes what the asset wants, and that’s what they provide. Trump wants to be told he’s the greatest, so that’s what you tell him, over and over again, until he comes to believe that is the motivation for his actions.”

‘A useful idiot’ or ‘currying favor’

trump putinReuters

Frank Montoya Jr., a recently retired FBI special agent, told Insider it’s “hard not to think the Russians have an asset in the White House.”

But he added that Trump’s freewheeling and often false statements imply he’s “not playing with a full deck on any matter of state these days. Still, those same delusions are what give me pause when conclusions are reached about the likelihood he is a Russian asset.”

“Useful idiot is more like it,” Montoya said. But he added that given the abundance of meetings and contacts between Trump associates and Russians before, during, and after the election, “it would not surprise me in the least if the Russians had at least one asset in Trump’s inner circle.”

Robert Deitz, a former top lawyer at the CIA and the National Security Agency, agreed that Trump was catering to Putin’s interests, but he disagreed on why.

“I think what’s going on right now is an Occam’s razor scenario,” he told Insider, referring to the philosophical theory that the simplest explanation for an event is often the correct one.

“Trump wants to do deals with Russia when he leaves the presidency,” Deitz said. “We already know he was interested in building a Trump Tower in Moscow before and during the election. The best way of doing a deal with Putin is to be nice to him, so I think what Trump is doing is currying favor.”

He emphasized, however, that regardless of Trump’s motives for being subservient to Putin, “it’s still harmful” to US interests.

“When Trump goes to bed each night, what do you think his last thoughts are: the welfare of the United States, or the size of his bank account?” Deitz added.

Trump’s defense of Putin at the G7 summit didn’t go unnoticed in Russia.

According to The Washington Post, one show on the state-run Rossiya-1 network played a celebratory soundtrack as it showed six video clips of Trump demanding that Putin be given a seat at the table.

The Russian media analyst Julia Davis said that Kremlin-controlled media reacted to Trump’s G7 performance with laughter and mockery.

One anchor rejoiced that “Trump is dancing to Putin’s tune,” while others were amused by the “maniacal persistence” with which Trump was lobbying for Russia.

Read more: Trump’s G7 performance shows how he’s living in a totally different reality and isolating the US from the rest of the world

A familiar pattern emerges

trump putin
Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Associated Press/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

This isn’t the first time the president has been accused of working to advance Russia’s interests ahead of the US’s.

Perhaps the sharpest example of this was when Trump and Putin held a bilateral summit in Helsinki last year. After the meeting, Trumpstunned the US national-security apparatus and foreign allies when he sided with Russia over the US intelligence community, blamed “both sides” for the deterioration of US-Russia relations, and praised Putin as being “extremely strong and powerful.”

In 2017, Trump refused to accept the US intelligence-community finding that Moscow meddled in the 2016 race to propel Trump to the presidency.

That May, he fired FBI director James Comey, who was overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s election interference and cited “this Russia thing” as the reason. Two days after firing Comey, Trump shared classified intelligence with two Russian officials in the Oval Office and told them firing Comey had taken “great pressure” off of him.

Shortly after, the FBI began investigating whether Trump was a Russian agent.

Moscow Mitch McConnell The Trumpian And Putin Bitch

Moscow Mitch McConnell The Trumpian And Putin Bitch

 

This letter to you today is not the type of letter that I ever thought I would need to write but it has become very clear that these thoughts and opinions need to be vocalized. First, Mitch McConnell is one of my home states two Senators, the other being Rand Paul so I have been reading up on Moscow Mitch for a long time now and the more I learn about this douche bag the sicker I get of him. I am going to pop some realities at you about this man then simply think what you will. I know that many folks won’t care if everything I say was to be proven to be the total truth beyond a doubt and some of you will probably get even more pissed off at him than you are now.

 

Mr. McConnell has already stated that he is running for re-election in the November 3rd, 2020 election cycle. He was born on February 20th of 1942 so if he wins re-election as our state Senator he would be just barely shy of his 79th birthday when the new cycle begins letting him be in Office until just shy of his 85th birthday. This would also be his 8th term in the Senate and the reality is that he is the second most powerful person in our Nation so for a person as power hungry and money hungry as he is I believe that he will try to stay in Office until the day he dies.

 

Now, lets talk about our Nations elections that is and has been fixed by Russian interference since at least 2016. Our security agencies have proven that the Russian government at the direction of Mr. Trumps good friend President Putin have been trying to ‘fix’ all of our elections even at the State level. Even though Mr. Trump supposedly won the most electoral votes in 2016 he did lose to crooked Hilary by more than 3 million actual votes. But think about what I am getting ready to discuss with you about 2016, even during the primaries. The CIA, FBI and NSA all know that Russia was infiltrating the elections in all 50 States. Do you remember how most folks thought that Trump was nothing but a joke running for the Office of President, then he started winning primaries? What if he actually didn’t win most or any of those primaries, Putin did? Think about it, why would Putin wait until the main election to start fixing things for his puppet Trump? Really, if Russia hadn’t fixed the State and Federal elections Mr. John Kasich would probably be our President now. But, then again if the DNC hadn’t fixed the Democratic primaries for crooked Hilary Senator Bernie Sanders would probably be our President, but certainly not this idiotic Clown we have now.

 

Now, back to Moscow Mitch and why he won’t allow any bill to be brought to the Senate floor that would help stop the Russian interference in our next set of elections. First, he using his position as the Head of the Senate to totally nullified the existence of the Federal Congress. Anything and everything that the Congress has passed and sent onto the Senate he has not allowed it to hit the Senate floor for a vote. This is why he is the second most powerful person in our Nation. He is controlling not only the Senate but the House also. There is good reason why he doesn’t want to stop the Russians form messing up our elections, as the votes get fixed for Trump to win, the Republican Senators win riding Trump’s coat tails. As long as this is allowed to continue the Republicans will control the Senate thus keeping McConnell in this high perch of power. In other words it behooves him personally ego wise and financially to not stop the election interference. Just like Mr. Trump has sold out America and all of our people to Mr. Putin, so has Moscow Mitch.

 

 

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