Mr Comey said the investigation was “very complex” and he could not give a timetable for its completion

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Trump Russia claims: FBI’s Comey confirms investigation of election ‘interference’
Media caption What FBI Director Comey said on Trump, Russia and wiretaps

FBI director James Comey has confirmed for the first time that the FBI is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

However, Mr Comey said his agency had seen no evidence to back up President Trump’s claim that his phones had been tapped by the Obama administration.

He was giving evidence to the congressional intelligence committee.

The Trump administration said nothing had changed and there was “no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion”.

Russia has always denied attempting to influence the US presidential election.

The FBI investigation would examine possible links between individuals in the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was co-ordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, Mr Comey said.

The FBI would also assess whether crimes were committed, he said.

Mr Comey said the investigation was “very complex” and he could not give a timetable for its completion.

“We will follow the facts wherever they lead,” he said.

putinImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Mr Putin “hated Mrs Clinton so much” that he had a strong preference for her rival, Mr Comey said

National Security Agency (NSA) chief Admiral Mike Rogers also appeared before the committee.

He said the NSA stood by an intelligence community report published in January, which said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a campaign to harm the campaign of Mr Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.

‘No wiretap on Trump Tower’

Mr Comey said he had no information on unsubstantiated claims tweeted by Mr Trump earlier this month that former president Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower.

This was despite looking carefully for such evidence, he said. The Department of Justice also had no information, he said.


Analysis – BBC North America reporter Anthony Zurcher

FBI Director James Comey (L) and National Security Agency Director Mike RogersImage copyrightAFP

What FBI Director James Comey didn’t say during intelligence hearings today on possible Russian meddling in the 2016 US election was as important as what he did say.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who had ties to pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians? No comment. Long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone, who reportedly had communications with individuals who hacked the Democratic National Committee emails? No comment. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign after leaked evidence surfaced that he had communicated with a Russian ambassador about US sanctions? No comment.

“I don’t want to answer any questions about a US person,” Mr Comey said.

All of this is evidence that the investigation isn’t just ongoing, it’s substantive and far-reaching.

While Democrats will likely be encouraged by this, it was telling that Republicans pursued the White House line that the topic of greatest concern was the intelligence leaks that put this story in the headlines.

If Mr Trump can consolidate his party’s support, it will go a long way towards insulating the president against any fallout from this investigation.


Meanwhile, Admiral Rogers strongly denied that the NSA had asked Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency to spy on Mr Trump – a claim that had been repeated by Mr Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer.

The allegation “clearly frustrates a key ally of ours”, he added.

GCHQ has described the claim as “utterly ridiculous”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump at a press conferenceImage copyrightREUTERS
Image caption Mr Trump raised eyebrows after he suggested both he and Mrs Merkel had been wiretapped by Mr Obama

Mr Trump’s recent joke about how Mr Obama had wiretapped both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and him “complicates things” with an ally, Admiral Rogers added.

However, Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said it was still possible that other surveillance activities had been used against Mr Trump and his associates.

What are the allegations?

In January, US intelligence agencies said Kremlin-backed hackers had broken into the email accounts of senior Democrats and released embarrassing messages in order to help Mr Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

“That was a fairly easy judgement for the community,” Mr Comey said. “Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flipside of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.”

However, late last summer the Russians concluded that Mr Trump had no chance of winning, based on polls at the time, and so focused on undermining Mrs Clinton, Mr Comey said.

Media caption Trump’s wiretap saga explained in two minutes

Both intelligence chiefs said that Russia had made its intervention in last year’s election campaign unusually obvious, perhaps to further its aim of undermining US democracy.

Mr Comey said Russia had succeeded in this goal, by sowing chaos, division and discord.

Mr Trump has since faced allegations that his campaign team had links to Russian officials.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said he saw no evidence of any collusion, up until the time he left his post in January.

Which campaign members have been accused of deception?

Two senior officials in the Trump administration have been caught up in the allegations – former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Attorney-General Jeff Sessions.

Mr Flynn was fired last month after he misled the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador before he was appointed national security adviser.

Michael FlynnImage copyright AP
Image caption Michael Flynn encouraged a softer policy on Russia and a harder line on Iran

He allegedly discussed US sanctions with ambassador Sergei Kislyak. It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy.

Meanwhile, Mr Sessions was accused by Democrats of lying under oath during his confirmation hearing in January.

He said he had “no communications with the Russians”, but it later emerged that he had met Mr Kislyak during the campaign.

Mr Sessions denied any wrongdoing, but removed himself from an FBI inquiry into Russia’s alleged interference in the election.

Related Topics

Trump: Germany Owes US, NATO Vast Sums of Money

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

World

Trump: Germany Owes US, NATO Vast Sums of Money

Trump

Washington –President Donald Trump said on Saturday that Germany owed “vast sums of money” to NATO and the US, and that Berlin “should pay.”

Trump’s statements come following his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington.

Trump took it to twitter where he said: “Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

The two leaders did not show any signs of agreement on several pending issues, including NATO and defense expenditures.

During a joint press conference with Merkel, Trump complained that other NATO members have not paid their dues for years. He insisted they pay for “their fair share of the defense they receive.”

NATO countries are asked to contribute 2 percent of their GDP to the alliance’s defense spending.

Merkel said that Germany agreed on the need for “increasing expenditure” to meet the 2 percent goal.

Trump then criticized the way the media had dealt with the meeting saying on Twitter also: “Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

Expenditure was not the only point of disagreement between the two. A German journalist brought up the case of wiretapping and Trump’s accusations that British Intelligence was working with Obama to spy on him.

Despite constant negations and absence of evidence, the US President continued with his allegations and even joked that Merkel had also been a victim of wiretapping.

Since his arrival at the White House, the Republican billionaire had written several controversial tweets, none of which had damaged his credibility as much as the one he wrote on March 4.

He tweeted: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism.”

Media reports reveal each day new findings on Trump’s or his close personnel’s contacts with Russia.

Trump had repeatedly denied any affiliations to the Kremlin, but he could not control the flow of information and therefore decided to attack his predecessor.

Since then, Obama, former intelligence director James Clapper and many democratic and republican officials have denied those allegations.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to apologize to the UK for press secretary Sean Spicer’s allegation that the GCHQ had spied on Trump Tower for Obama. Spicer almost caused a diplomatic crisis by defending the president.

On Thursday, Spicer quoted a series of articles that discussed surveillance. He referenced comments made earlier this week on Fox News TV by Andrew Napolitano in relation to Trump’s controversial claim that wiretaps had been installed at his New York residence.

“Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ,” Spicer said in the press conference.

British officials were quick to comment on Napolitano’s claims, saying they were “rubbish”.

A government source reportedly said the claim was “totally untrue and quite frankly absurd”.

It told Reuters that under British law, GCHQ “can only gather intelligence for national security purposes” and noted that a US election “clearly doesn’t meet that criteria”.

“As for as wiretapping, I guess by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,” Trump said during his press conference with Chancellor Merkel, referring to reports that the National Security Agency had tapped Merkel in 2010.

Such incidents do not reassure US Congressmen, including those in Trump’s camp. Trump promised to reveal next week new evidences that prove his allegations.

Chairman of the House intelligence committee, Devin Nunes confirmed Friday that the Justice Department had “fully complied” with the committee’s request.

He did not provide any further details.

FBI Director James Comey is set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday.

The public hearing is the first of several that the intelligence committees are expected to hold on alleged Russia’s interference in the presidential election.

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Boris Godunov: Russian Czar From 1598-1605; Lived From 1551-1605

(THIS ARTICLE CAME FROM GOOGLE PLUS)

Boris Godunov – Russian Czar
Boris Godunov - Russian Czar
Boris Godunov – Russian Czar

Boris Godunov was born in about 1551 and was one of the transitional figures in a nation’s history who keeps the machinery of state running in times of crisis. Godunov first came into prominence as one of the apparatchiks of Ivan IV (the Terrible), who helped that czar organize his social and administrative system.

This must have also clandestinely involved operating the oprichnina, the secret state police that Ivan used to keep his realm in a state of terror. The oprichniki, as they were called, used to ride through Russia with wolves’ heads tethered to their saddles to frighten the population into submission.

Ivan IV died in 1584 at the height of his power, having carried on a long correspondence with none other than Queen Elizabeth I of England. In the year after his death, the Cossack Yermak died in Siberia, but not before starting the massive Russian drang nach osten (drive to the east) that would take the Russians to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

There they established the city of Vladivostok. When Ivan died, his son Theodore succeeded him to the throne as Theodore I. Theodore charged Boris with leading the Russian counterattack again Kuchum, the Siberian khan who had killed Yermak. Under Boris’s firm military hand, the Russians built two fortified trading posts at Tobolsk and Tyumen to guard their new frontier in Siberia.

Theodore’s younger brother, Dimitri, died in 1591, and Theodore followed him in 1598. Whatever scruples the Russians may have had in the deaths of Ivan’s two sons, they were willing to sacrifice everything on the altar of expediency.

Caught between a hostile Poland and Ottoman Turkey, they needed a strong man in the Kremlin to guide the affairs of the state, and Boris seemed the most likely candidate. Any doubts about Boris’s suitability to rule had been washed away in the year of Dimitri’s death. In that year, a vast horde of 150,000 Tartars swept out of the Crimean Khanate.

Khan Ghazi Gerei II was determined to destroy Russia before it could attack the Crimea. On July 4, 1591, outside Moscow Boris met the Tartars with a fraction of the Russian army. The muskets and artillery held by Boris and his commander, Prince Theodore Mstislavsky, wreaked terrible slaughter as thousands of Tartars were killed or wounded. The next day, Godunov and Mstislavsky launched a furious pursuit of the panicstricken Tartars, marking the beginning of the decline of the Crimean Khanate.

To the Russian people, Boris was obviously the man to lead them, and he was raised to be czar by the Russian Great Assembly in February 1598. Constantly insecure on his throne, Boris feared one family among the boyars—the Romanovs. Ivan IV’s first wife, Anastasia, had been a member of the Romanov family and had been the wife of Theodore I.

With the death of Theodore I, the Riurik dynasty became extinct, and the Romanovs had an excellent claim on the throne. In June 1601, Boris moved against the Romanovs, taking their lands and banishing them from Moscow. He continued efforts to modernize the medieval Grand Duchy of Muscovy into the Russian empire. The Russian Orthodox Church was formally organized, and Boris continued a policy of peace in the west.

In 1604, Boris faced a new danger. A challenger to the throne, known as the False Dimitri, appeared, supported by the Poles, who were determined to weaken the growing Russian state. Dmitri claimed to be the son of Ivan come back to claim his father’s throne. People rallied to him.

The Cossacks, always looking for an opportunity for a good fight and loot, joined his cause. In spring 1604, Boris’s brother and minister of the interior, Simeon, led a force against the Cossacks. However, he was defeated by them and sent back with the message that the Cossacks would soon enough arrive with the real czar—Dimitri.

In November 1604, Dimitri committed a grave tactical mistake. Rather than pressing on to take Moscow, he committed his army to the prolonged siege of the city of Novgorod Seversk. The commander of Novgorod Seversk, Peter Basamov, managed to defeat all attempts to take the town. On January 20, 1605, battle erupted.

None could make headway against the closely mustered musketeers and artillery of Boris’s army. However, in a major tactical blunder, the leaders of Boris’s relief army squandered their victory. Rather than pursue the enemy into the steppes, they instead decided on punishing the cities that had sworn allegiance to the false czar.

Suddenly in April 1605, Czar Boris died; many suspected he had been poisoned. In May 1605, Peter Basamov, the defender of Novgorod Seversk, swore allegiance to Dimitri. With Peter’s support, Dimitri entered Moscow in triumph. Both Dimitri and Basamov would be killed. Foreign invasion and internal dissent continued to tear apart the Russian state.

Donald Trump Is Using 23 Million People In Taiwan As A Trade Bargaining Ploy With China?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Why Donald Trump Really Shouldn’t Play Games with China Over Taiwan

The U.S. President-elect has said the “One China” policy was up for negotiation and dependent on what Beijing does for the U.S. in return

East Asian geopolitics is a tapestry of fictions. Beijing insists Taiwan is part of China, despite the island of 23 million being self-governing for over half-a-century. The constitution of Taiwan — officially called the Republic of China, a legacy of the routed Nationalists (KMT) flight across the Strait in 1949 following China’s civil war — still claims dominion of all of the Chinese mainland and even Mongolia. The U.S. concedes Taiwan is part of China, having broken off diplomatic relations one China policy

with Taipei in 1979, yet is treaty-obliged to sell the island the weapons it uses to protect itself from Beijing.

One can have sympathy for Donald Trump not wanting to partake in such a charade, which is commonly known as the “One China” principle. The U.S. President-elect had the backing of many people in Taiwan when on Dec. 2 he accepted a phone call from its President, Tsai Ing-wen. Owing to “One China,” which was negotiated by an earlier KMT government in Taiwan, it was the first direct contact between the leaders of Taiwan and the U.S for almost four decades. When Beijing cried foul, Trump sent a series of unrepentant tweets, culminating with an interview on Fox on Sunday during which he said “One China” was up for negotiation and dependent on what Beijing does for the U.S. in return.

Read More: ‘Trump Truly Is a Mad Dog’: How Chinese Social Media Melted After the Taiwan Call

“Trump’s taking a more realpolitik approach, saying there are no sacred cows, we won’t be pushed around and everything is on the table,” says Prof. Nick Bisley, an Asia expert at Australia’s La Trobe University.

But Trump should be wary of wielding realpolitik in this land of fictions. Beijing regularly cites the “Taiwan question” as one of its “core interests,” and the topic is toxic even among otherwise politically inert Chinese. On Wednesday, An Fengshan, a spokesman for China’s policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, said, “peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted” if the U.S. wavers on “One China.”

For Taiwan, the “One China” policy is partly a millstone, precluding the island from a seat at the U.N. or from joining potentially lucrative free trade groupings. But conversely, the agreement — otherwise known as the “1992 Consensus” — has allowed peaceful ties to flourish across a previously truculent Strait. Today, tourists and exchange students flock in both directions and 40% of Taiwan’s exports go to the mainland. Taiwan has a lot to gain from official recognition but even more to lose. “In the short term the [Taiwan] government seems to be very excited about [Trump addressing ‘One China’],” says Prof. Tang Shaocheng, an international relations expert at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University. “But the consequences — the reaction from Beijing — is still unpredictable.”

Donald Trump Angers China With Historic Phone Call to Taiwan’s President
Trump went where no U.S. commander-in-chief had gone since diplomatic relations were restored with China in 1979 — by speaking directly to the President of Taiwan, the island-state of 23 million that is essentially an independent country.

Taiwan would bear the brunt of a metastasizing Sino-U.S. relationship, though Trump has never mentioned what the island’s citizens desire during his bating of the Chinese leadership. Instead, the President-elect has treated the case like a business deal, jostling for the smallest advantage, while needling the world’s second largest economy over trade tariffs and alleged currency manipulation. “Trump is trying to get some more bargaining chips to use later with Beijing,” adds Tang. “Taiwan is just a leverage point for Trump.” And Trump’s actions elsewhere are recasting the rules of the game and further imperiling the island’s people.

Read More: Trump’s Doubting of ‘One China’ Has Sparked Both Hope and Fear in Taiwan

The other headline of Trump’s nascent foreign policy is warming ties with Russia. Trump repeatedly praised President Vladmir Putin during his presidential campaign, flying in the face of the international condemnation prompted by Moscow’s 2014 annexing of the Crimea, not to mention its steadfast support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. On Wednesday, Trump named his candidate for Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil chief with a long history of deals with the Kremlin, and who was awarded the Russian Order of Friendship in 2013. The nod raised eyebrows even within Trump’s own party.

“I don’t know what Mr. Tillerson’s relationship with Vladimir Putin was,” Sen. John McCain told Fox News on Saturday. “But I’ll tell you it is a matter of concern to me.”

What exactly Trump hopes to gain from courting Putin is unclear. The real estate mogul may have been elected on promises to put “America first,” but Putin is a Russian nationalist of the deepest dye and unlikely to yield much of consequence to Washington. One theory is that Trump is maneuvering for a “reverse Nixon” strategy: teaming up with Moscow to isolate Beijing, in a mirror of U.S. policy to counter the Soviet Union in the 1970s. However, that is unlikely to bear fruit. According to Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center think-tank, Beijing and Moscow have never been as close as they are today. “I would call them a ‘détente’ state of relations,” says Trenin. “That’s somewhere between a strategic partnership and a full-fledged alliance.”

Read More: China Says Donald Trump’s Suggestion of Closer U.S.-Taiwan Ties Are ‘Out of the Question’

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s seminal One Belt, One Road economic strategy — a rekindling of the iconic land and maritime Silk Road though infrastructure and development projects — is dependent on rosy relations with Russia and particularly Central Asia, which is largely beholden to the Kremlin. Today, Russia is the world’s top oil exporter — accounting for 70% of all national exports — and its top customer is China, which bought 22 million tons in the first half of this year. Squabbles over disputed territory in Central Asia have been solved with surprising prudence and a raft of pipeline and other infrastructure deals have been struck. “Relations are robust and I can only see them getting stronger,” says Trenin.

By contrast, the U.S. has little to offer Russia. But Trump’s fawning of Putin does have an effect. Trump announced Tillerson’s appointment just as Assad’s Russian-backed troops retook Aleppo, displacing thousands and reportedly slaughtering scores of innocents. But Beijing is most acutely aware that the Kremlin suffered few repercussion from its seizing of Crimea, other than economic sanctions it shrugged aside (and Trump could soon lift them at a stoke of his pen.) If Trump wants to put ethics aside and talk realpolitik: What would the U.S. do if China decided to retake Taiwan?

Read More: Donald Trump Details Plan to Rewrite Global Trade Rules

To rephrase: What could it do? The U.S. military is stronger that China’s overall, though a war in China’s coastal waters would be bloody and impossible to win. The Philippines, traditionally America’s staunchest ally, has become antagonistic with Washington and chummy with China since new President Rodrigo Duterte took office. There are also resurgent calls to removed U.S. troops from bases in South Korea and Japan, who both list China as their largest trading partners. Beijing has built islands — dubbed unsinkable aircraft carriers — in the South China Sea, which new satellite images indicate contain significant weaponry. Not to forget that Trump campaigned on drawing down commitments on costly wars overseas.

“Xi is a tough guy and has shown unprecedented tolerance for Trump’s arrogance,” says Prof. Shi Yinhong, director of the Center on American Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University. “But if Trump still wants to mess with China’s core interests after he becomes President, Sino-U.S. ties will suffer the greatest damage since [the resumption of diplomatic relations]. China will not compromise.”

Trump thinks he is being clever by shaking up the status quo in East Asia, but there is a reason why all six preceding U.S. Presidents have firmly stuck to the convenient fiction of “One China.” In a game of true realpolitik when everything is on the table, China knows exactly what it wants — and it also now knows what it can probably get away with.

—With reporting by Zhang Chi / Beijing

Presidents Putin, Erdogan discuss Russia-Turkey relations on phone

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AZERNEWS AGENCY)

New Oliver Stone documentary blames U.S. for Ukrainian revolutions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE RBTH.COM MOSCOW RUSSIAN NEWS)

New Oliver Stone documentary blames U.S. for Ukrainian revolutions

November 23, 2016 YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH
Russian television has broadcast Oliver Stone’s controversial documentary film “Ukraine on Fire,” in which he argues that Ukraine’s “Maidan” uprisings of 2004 and 2014 were the result of political maneuvering by the United States.
Anti-government protesters
Anti-government protesters gather at a barricade at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev. Source: Reuters
A controversial new documentary produced by U.S. director Oliver Stone and broadcast on Russian television presents the Ukrainian revolutions of 2004 and 2014 as organized uprisings instigated from outside and planned with U.S. participation.Posted on YouTube and screened by nationwide Russian TV channel REN TV on Nov. 21, the film, titled Ukraine on Fire, features Ukraine’s ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Vitaly Zakharchenko, who served as Ukrainian interior minister under Yanukovych, discussing the events leading up to and following the “Maidan” revolution of 2014.

Trailer for Oliver Stone’s documentary Ukraine on Fire. Source: YouTube / Fred Johs

Stone, an award-winning director who is a staunch critic of Washington’s foreign policy, is no stranger to controversy and has a long history of making political films. He also directed 2015’s Snowden, a biopic of the fugitive former NSA agent turned whistleblower.

Directed by Ukrainian American Igor Lopatenyuk, the film has been criticized for its one-sided portrayal of events in Kiev, with a Ukrainian citizen named Andrei Nezvany posting an online petition two days before the film’s online premiere asking for the picture to be banned because it “falsifies facts” and could “provoke mass protests in Ukraine.”

Ukraine on Fire was made by the Los Angeles company Another Way Productions though the source of the project’s financing is not clear.

CIA protected Ukrainian nationalists in the USSR

The film reports that the CIA closely collaborated with Ukrainian nationalistic organizations against the USSR as far back as 1946, using them as counterintelligence sources. Recently declassified CIA documents apparently bear witness to this.

According to the film, “by the end of 1941 alone the nationalists killed between 150,000 and 200,000 Jews on German-occupied territory in Ukraine,” and the following “strong alliance” allowed them to escape after WWII to Europe, where the CIA helped them hide.For example, the film says that Mykola Lebed, a Ukrainian nationalist and activist who was responsible for mass killings of Poles in Ukraine’s Volyn region under Nazi occupation in WWII, was transferred to the U.S., where he died in 1998 without ever facing trial for his war crimes.

But American collaboration with the Ukrainian nationalists did not end there, claims the film.

U.S. was behind 2004 Orange Revolution

In 2004 Ukraine became a battlefield between Russia and the West. The pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych won the presidential election, though the process was tainted by widespread allegations of intimidation and massive vote-rigging, as well as the poisoning of the pro-Western candidate, Viktor Yushchenko.

In the end, Yushchenko, whose wife had been an employee of the U.S. State Department during the Reagan administration, obtained) the presidency thanks to a peaceful protest that the film claims was inspired from outside the country, resulting in a revote.

Subsequently, the off-screen voice narrates, the Yushchenko government failed to carry out the promised reforms and the “democracy” project, and mired itself in dishonest activities.

Russia did not want to pay for Ukraine’s pro-Europe choice

Viktor Yanukovych became the next Ukrainian president, but his talks with the EU did not go well.

“We had been counting on the International Monetary Fund [IMF]… But for a whole year we were offered unacceptable options… Russia was the last resort. Russia told us: ‘We are ready to work with you as partners, if you take our interests into consideration,'” says Yanukovych in the film.

Commenting on Russia’s introduction of restrictions to trade with Ukraine, Vladimir Putin says that the Kremlin did so only because in the event of integration with the EU “the European Union would basically be entering our territory with all its goods without any negotiations.”

“We said, sure, if Ukraine has decided to do this, this is its choice and we will respect it, but we are not going to pay for this choice,” says Putin in the film.

2014 uprising also financed by U.S., says film

In the film, Zakharchenko tells Stone that the Ukrainian authorities knew that protests were being prepared for 2015. But the sudden halt to integration with the EU (after Russia made Ukraine a counter-offer shortly before Yanukovych was due to sign the agreement at an EU Eastern Partnership summit in Lithuania in late November 2013) accelerated the process. Public organizations financed by NED, journalists receiving U.S. grants and the TV channels created on the eve of the Maidan uprising played an important role, argues the film.

The order to drive away the protesters with force was given by head of the presidential administration Serhiy Lyovochkin, under the pretext of putting a Christmas tree on the square.

“It is an amazing coincidence but Mr. Lyovochkin is a friend of many American politicians,” the documentary reports, showing a photo of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland.When Stone asks Yanukovych if “he felt America’s hand” in the uprising, the former president says that many delegations came to Ukraine but took sides with the protesters, something that only exacerbated the conflict.

“When protesters seize government buildings, is this acceptable? Would it be acceptable if the Ukrainian ambassador had come to the protestors in Ferguson and handed out cookies or accused American policemen? Why was Ukraine treated in this manner?”

Kremlin Emails Hacked Prove President Putin Is A Liar, A Fraud And A Mass Murderer!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

UKRAINE CRISIS
OCT 27 2016, 6:00 PM ET

Payback? Russia Gets Hacked, Revealing Putin Aide’s Secrets

Karma, it turns out, is a borscht.

A Ukrainian group calling itself Cyber Hunta has released more than a gigabyte of emails and other material from the office of one of Vladimir Putin’s top aides, Vladislav Surkov, that show Russia’s fingerprints all over the separatist movement in the Ukraine.

While the Kremlin has denied the relationship between Moscow and the separatists, the emails show in great detail how Russia controlled virtually every detail of the separatist effort in the Russian-speaking regions of the Ukraine, which has torn Ukraine apart and led to a Russian takeover of Crimea.

And unlike the reported Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee, the Ukrainian hack reached deep into the office of the Russian president.

“This is a serious hack,” said Maks Czuperski, head of the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the Atlantic Council (DFRL), which has searched through the email dump and placed selected emails on-line.

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Flight MH-17 Shot Down by Russian Missile, Investigation Finds

“We have seen so much happen to the United States, other countries at the hands of Russia,” said Czuperski. “Not so much to Russia. It was only a question of time that some of the anonymous guys like Cyber Hunta would come to strike them back.”

A senior U.S. intelligence official said the U.S. “had no role” in the hack.

Surkov has been a close aide to Putin for more than a decade, serving as both deputy prime minister and Putin’s deputy chief of staff. The hacked emails date from 2014, a period during which Surkov was called the “gray cardinal” of the Kremlin, Putin’s behind-the-scenes aide responsible for managing Russia’s most crucial operations. He guided separatists not just in Ukraine, but in breakaway “republics” in Georgia as well.

It’s as if the Russians were able to hack the email of Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security director and close aide to President Obama.

Specifically, the anonymous Ukrainian hackers were able to download the Outlook email accounts of Surkov’s assistants, including a “Masha” and a Yevgenia,” according to the DFRL. Surkov himself apparently doesn’t use email. The files included “the inbox, outbox, drafts, deleted email, spam, etc.,” said Czuperski, noting 2,337 messages in total were dumped.

Emails from the Outlook accounts of Surkov’s assistants Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council

A senior U.S. official, asked if the material was authentic, told NBC News that there was “nothing to indicate otherwise.”

Hidden in the one gigabyte file are a variety of materials that provided evidence of Russian involvement at the highest levels in the war in the eastern Ukraine, which has taken the lives of 10,000 people, including the 298 passengers and crew of Malaysian Flight 17, shot down by a separatist missile in July 2014 over Ukraine.

There is a list of casualties in the Donbass region of Ukraine sent from a high-ranking separatist official, and a list of candidates for office in a sham election. One email notes that the individuals with asterisks next to their name were “checked by us” and are “especially recommended.” Days later, those same names were announced as having been “elected.”

There are expense reports and a proposal for a government press office in Donetsk, scene of some of the fiercest fighting — a three-person operation for separatist propaganda , with an editor, reporter and webmaster.

One U.S. official told NBC News that the material confirms much of what the U.S. believed was going on at the time, that the Kremlin was running the separatists at a micro-level. In fact, the official noted that Surkov’s name was the first on a list of Russians and Ukrainians placed under executive sanctions by President Obama in March 2014, citing his role in the separatist movement. The action froze his U.S. assets in the United States and banned him from entering the country. Similar sanctions were imposed by the European Union.

CIA planning cyber attack against Putin and Russian officials, NBC News reports 0:29

Czuperski said he believed that since Russian authorities realized they were dealing with a violation of international law, they wanted to keep the details in their emails close-hold. He said that while he believes there is likely more hacked material, and that it may prove politically sensitive, he doesn’t know that for sure, or whether “Cyber Hunta,” like WikiLeaks, will continually dump material.

“It’s all time and probability — how much effort you put in and how much effort the adversary puts in,” he said.

Is President Putin Telling U.S. Politicians They Need To Grow Up, Lose Their Ego’s?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Putin Says U.S. Isn’t Banana Republic, Must Get Over Itself

October 27, 2016 — 11:06 AM EDT uupdated on October 27, 2016 — 11:47 AM EDT
1477581074_Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech at a Valdai Discussion Club meeting of political scientists in Sochi on Oct. 27.

Photographer: Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP via Getty Images

Vladimir Putin dismissed U.S. “hysteria” over alleged Russian interference in its presidential elections, saying it was impossible to influence voters’ choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

“Does anyone seriously think that Russia can influence the choice of the American people?” President Putin told the annual Valdai discussion forum of international analysts and academics in Sochi on Thursday. “Is America some kind of banana republic? America is a great power. If I’m wrong, correct me.”

Amid rising confrontation with NATO, Putin insisted that Russia isn’t planning to attack anyone and said it was a “myth” that it poses a military threat. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has outlived its usefulness, while Russia wants all nations to have equal security and isn’t striving for global domination, he said.

Putin spoke as tensions have spiraled between Russia and the U.S. over the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine and allegations that he’s seeking to sway the outcome of next month’s presidential vote. The Kremlin’s role has become one of the dominant topics in the campaign, amid U.S. charges that Russian-backed hackers were behind e-mail leaks from Democratic National Committee servers that have dogged Clinton’s campaign. She and Trump clashed over which was Putin’s “puppet’’ at last week’s debate. The Republican candidate has said repeatedly that he’ll seek good ties with Putin as president.Trump behaves “extravagantly, we all see it” though it’s not without purpose, since he represents a “significant” section of society in the U.S. “that’s tired of the elite who’ve been in power for decades,” Putin said.

It’s “complete rubbish” to say that Trump is the Kremlin’s preferred candidate, which was an idea invented by supporters of Clinton, Putin said. Russia doesn’t have a favorite candidate and is “by and large indifferent” about who wins the election because it’ll work with any U.S. president who’s prepared to offer cooperation, he said.

Complaints of Russian influence on the election are among “fictional, mythical problems that have created hysteria in the U.S — I can’t call it anything else,” Putin said. While the U.S. faces many “acute and urgent problems, from its colossal state debt to the rise of gun violence,” it appears “the elite have nothing particular to say” about them in the elections, he said.

Russia’s President Putin’s Aggression In Europe Should Worry Every Russian Citizen

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Putin’s aggression in Europe should worry the US

Russia: The biggest issue for the next US president?

Russia: The biggest issue for the next US president? 00:40

Story highlights

  • Richard Shirreff: European security is a matter of American security
  • Putin’s aim is clear: to re-establish Russia as one of the world’s great powers, he says

Gen. Sir Richard Shirreff is a senior British army officer and former deputy supreme allied commander Europe. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Since the formation of NATO in 1949 the defense of Europe and the free world has depended on the absolute certainty that whatever president is occupying the White House, the United States will come to the aid of a NATO member if attacked. Any doubt about the American commitment, and the credibility of NATO’s doctrine of collective defense, is holed below the waterline.

At a time when the West faces a greater threat from a resurgent Russia since the most dangerous crises of the Cold War, NATO, more than ever, needs to stand strong, united and credible.
Russia’s invasion of Crimea and Ukraine in 2014 may have already lit the fuse that could lead to the unthinkable: nuclear war with Russia in Europe.
Consider the words and actions of President Vladimir Putin, who has described the breakup of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geo-strategic tragedy of the 20th century.” In his speech on March 18, 2014, the day Crimea was admitted into the Russian Federation, Putin majored on the threat the West posed to Russia by its continued encirclement and warned about the possibility of push back: “If you compress the spring to its limit, it will snap back hard: something you should remember,” while claiming the right to protect the interests of Russian speakers everywhere, “even if it will worsen our relations with some states.”

Who are Putin's allies?

Who are Putin’s allies?01:40
Overnight, Putin became NATO’s strategic adversary, starting a dynamic that could lead to a clash with NATO over the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia (which have significant Russian-speaking minorities).
Two years on and the threat is even greater. Indeed, the ratchet of tension clicks tighter on an almost weekly basis: Even this week we wake up to news of Russia sailing warships near the British coast in “a show of force and a show of capabilities,” according to Peter Felstead, editor of Jane’s Defence Weekly.
Unprecedented levels of military activity on the borders and in the airspace of the Baltic states, Finland and Sweden have been matched by the rapid buildup of military forces in Russia’s Western Military District on the borders of NATO.
For example, in January, Russia announced the formation and deployment of three motor rifle divisions, about 60,000 troops, along the Russian frontier with the Baltic states. And the Russians have kept themselves busy with regular so-called snap exercises to test the readiness of their military, at least one of which was based on a scenario of invasion and occupation of the Baltic states.
Putin’s strategic aim is clear: to re-establish Russia’s status as one of the world’s great powers and to dominate the former republics of the Soviet Union — imperialist intentions that might have been acceptable to great powers in the 19th century but which are an affront in 2016. If the opportunity presents itself, he may well activate long-held plans to march into the Baltic states.

Russian relations with the West at new low

Russian relations with the West at new low 02:29
To paraphrase British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s 1938 comment on Czechoslovakia, why are events in these faraway countries of which we may know little important to Americans?
First, because if Russia puts one soldier across the borders of the Baltic states it means war with NATO.
Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have been members of NATO since 2004 and are therefore protected underArticle 5 of the Washington Treaty, the founding document of NATO, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all. A Russian attack on the Baltic states puts America at war with Russia — meaning nuclear war, because Russia integrates nuclear weapons into every aspect of its military doctrine.
And don’t think Russia would limit itself to the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. Any form of nuclear release by the Russians would almost certainly precipitate nuclear retaliation by the United States, and the dreadful reality of mutually assured destruction and the end of life as we know it would follow.
Indeed, Russia is at war with America already. Russian hacking of Democratic Party email servers and, if confirmed, WikiLeaks publicizing of Clinton campaign emails to discredit the Democrats and propel Donald Trump — arguably what Putin would classify as a “useful idiot” into the White House — is classic Maskirovka — deception, aimed at undermining the intelligence and integrity of the enemy in a way that remains below the threshold of conventional warfare. In the words of Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center, and a man with close connections to the Putin regime, the Kremlin has been at war since 2014.

The Iceland Summit that helped end the Cold War

The Iceland Summit that helped end the Cold War 00:59
But although the clock may be ticking close to midnight, it is not too late. Maintenance of the peace we have enjoyed in Western Europe for nearly 70 years depends on effective deterrence. The bar of risk must be raised too high for Russia to consider any opportunistic move into the Baltic states. This requires forward basing of a credible military capability in the Baltic states and eastern Poland (rather than the token presence agreed at the NATO Warsaw Summit in July).
NATO reserves able to move quickly and effectively to bolster defenses in the Baltics will send a powerful message. It also requires Canada and European members of NATO to recognize that military capabilities lost from cumulative disarmament over the past two decades must be regenerated. This means increasing defense spending, almost certainly above the 2% of gross domestic product agreed — but often not acted upon — by NATO members (less the United States, UK, Estonia and Greece).
2017 is 100th anniversary of the first occasion the United States intervened in one of Europe’s wars. The region’s security is a matter of American security, and it means continued and close engagement in Europe and a continuation of the strong leadership that America has given NATO from the start.

Czar Putin And ‘Fair’ Elections In Russia

(This article is courtesy of CNN)

Vladimir Putin’s opponents run in Russian elections

Kremlin critic appears on Russian state television 03:08

Moscow (CNN)As millions of Russians vote in parliamentary elections this weekend, one of the stand-out features of the campaign has been the presence of the opposition.

In past votes, most opposition candidates have been blocked or excluded. But in this election, taking place on Sunday, hundreds of Kremlin critics have been allowed to run for office.
Some have even been given air time on Kremlin-controlled state television, which is normally free of any opposition voices.
“[The authorities] think they should create some kind of picture that elections are free and fair in accordance with international standards,” said Mikhail Kasyanov, leader of the PARNAS opposition party.
But that picture is not accurate, say critics.
Opposition figures have complained of threats and harassment.

Sinister videos

Kasyanov, a former prime minister turned vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been targeted repeatedly.

Did Kremlin encourage attacks on activists?

Did Kremlin encourage attacks on activists? 02:44
In one incident, caught on camera, he was attacked in a restaurant by two men wielding a cream pie.
In what critics say was another bid to humiliate and discredit the former premier, a secretly filmed sex tape was also circulated showing the opposition leader in a compromising embrace with a married associate.
And it gets more sinister: One video posted online showed Kasyanov and another opposition figure in the cross-hairs of a sniper’s rifle.
The head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov — a key Putin ally — said he posted the clip, insisting it was a joke.
But in a country where critics of the Kremlin are routinely murdered, it is no laughing matter.

Opposition figure killed

In February 2015, another leading Russian opposition figure, Boris Nemtsov, was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin, as he walked home from a restaurant.
Kasyanov and Nemtsov were close associates.

Russia to charge 5 in Boris Nemtsov's killing

Russia to charge 5 in Boris Nemtsov’s killing 02:11
After being released from hospital, Kara-Murza said he believed he had been targeted by Kremlin supporters.
“These days in my country, unfortunately, everyone should be scared about the behavior of the authorities or other people,” Kasyanov told CNN at his party headquarters.
“Me too. I am a normal person, that is why I am also scared and I can expect something to happen to me and my family.”
“But I have to continue this mission, this job, which we are already committed to do,” he added.

Rare television debate

Despite the ratcheting up of pressure on activists, Kasyanov says the current official willingness to allow Kremlin critics to stand for election and be given air time is an opportunity for the political opposition.
He was recently invited to take part in a rare televised debate on state television, where most Russians get their news.

Last stand for the Russian opposition

Last stand for the Russian opposition 02:12
In a stunt during the live proceedings, a pro-Kremlin candidate planted a US flag on Kasyanov’s lectern, shouting that it was a reminder of which country’s interests Russia’s opposition defended.
But Kasyanov says the fact he was on state television at all is what is important.
Up until that debate, he said, he had not been invited to appear on national television for nearly a decade.
“It’s angering some people, but others are starting to wake up,” said Kasyanov says. “They wake up and say it is possible — even in a situation where everything seems to be under total control of Putin — to appear on the first channel.
“And they started thinking that something could be changed in the country.”

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