Vladimir Putin says US is preparing to bomb Syrian capital and will blame devastation on Bashar-al Assad’s forces
The Russian leader made the astonishing claim during a press conference with the Italian President Sergio Mattarella
Source: The Sun
Vladimir Putin has sensationally claimed that the US is preparing airstrikes on the Syrian capital – and will pin the blame on Bashar-al Assad’s forces.
The Russian leader made the astonishing claim – that the US is planning to FAKE chemicals weapons attacks – during a press conference with the Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
Putin said Russia has information strikes are being planned by the US on the southern Damascus region.
The Russian President said the aim of the strikes is to blame the Syrian government.
Earlier, British foreign secretary Boris Johnson was dealt a major blow after his bid for sanctions against Russia and Syria was rejected by fellow G7 foreign ministers.
The Foreign Secretary had urged the world’s richest nations to take targeted action against individuals, such as those in the military, in response to last week’s chemical weapons attack.
Arriving at a summit in Lucca, Italy, he branded Syrian President Assad a “tyrant” and said Russia’s backing of him must stop.
But today G7 ministers said the chemical attack, which killed 87 in a rebel-held town, should be investigated before new measures could be adopted.
Backing down today, Mr Johnson said sanctions should still be considered – but after a chemical weapons inspection and resolution in the UN Security Council.
Today’s outcome will come as a disappointment to Britain, which had hoped to strengthen the hand of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Mr Tillerson, President Donald Trump’s international envoy, will touch down in Moscow later today for crunch talks with the Kremlin.
Last night President Trump agreed there was a “window of opportunity” to break Vladimir Putin’s ties to Assad in a 20-minute phone call with Theresa May.
But speaking at the G7 summit, Italian foreign minister Angelino Alfano said there was “no consensus” on new sanctions as a way of achieving the goal.
“Sanctions are an instrument. They’re not an end in themselves,” he told reporters.
Mr Tillerson said the US’s counter-strike on Syria after the chemical attack was justified.
He told reporters before leaving for Moscow that he could not accept “the normalisation of the use of chemical weapons” by anyone.
And he voiced hopes that President Assad “will not be part of the future” of Syria.
THIN RED LINE Russia and Iran pledge to hit back against further Syria strikes as they blast US for ‘crossing red lines’
The command centre for the two countries and allied groups released a joint statement today saying they would ‘respond to future breaches of red lines with force’
The statement read: “What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”
The warning comes on the same day that:
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned “flagrant US aggression on Syria” following the missile strike on a Syrian air base in response to a suspected chemical attack by the Syrian government on innocent civilians.
The Iranian leader, a key ally of Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad, called yesterday for an impartial investigation into the chemical attack that killed at least 70 people.
He warned that the American strikes in response risked escalating extremism in the region, reported Iranian state television.
In a phone call with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Rouhani told him: “Allegations that Syria launched the chemical attack were just a pretext to disrupt the Syrian peace process”.
LUCCA, Italy — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued an ultimatum to Russia on Tuesday: Side with the US and like-minded countries on Syria, or embrace Iran, the militant group Hezbollah, and embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
As he embarked on a trip to Moscow following urgent meetings in Italy with top diplomats, Tillerson said it was unclear whether Russia had failed to take seriously its obligation to rid Syria of chemical weapons, or had merely been incompetent. But he said the distinction “doesn’t much matter to the dead.”
“We cannot let this happen again,” the secretary of state said.
“We want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people,” Tillerson added in remarks to reporters. “Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role. Or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia’s interests longer term.”
Since the US launched airstrikes against Assad’s forces in retaliation for a chemical attack on civilians last week, Trump administration officials have offered mixed messages about whether Washington believes Assad definitely must surrender power — and when. Tillerson said it was clear the US saw no role for Assad in Syria’s future, given that he had lost legitimacy.
“It is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end,” he said. “But the question of how that ends and the transition itself could be very important in our view to the durability, the stability inside of a unified Syria.”
“That’s why we are not presupposing how that occurs,” Tillerson added.
He said the cease-fire talks that Russia and Iran had helped broker in the Kazakh capital, Astana, could generate momentum toward broader talks about a political transition — if the Astana talks succeed in creating a durable cease-fire. The resulting political talks would take place under the auspices of the United Nations process in Geneva.
“To date, Astana has not achieved much progress,” Tillerson said.
Tillerson spoke after a meeting of the “like-minded” countries was hastily arranged on the sidelines of the summit of the Group of Seven industrialized economies in Italy, days after the US for the first time launched strikes against Assad’s forces.
A key focus since the chemical attack has been on increasing pressure on Russia, Assad’s strongest ally, which has used its own military to keep Assad in power. The US and others have said Russia bears responsibility for the deaths of civilians at the hands of Assad given Moscow’s role in guaranteeing the 2013 deal in which Assad was supposed to have given up his chemical weapons arsenal.
The US raised the stakes significantly Monday when a senior US official said Washington had made a preliminary conclusion that Russia knew in advance of Syria’s chemical weapons attack. Yet the US has no proof of Moscow’s involvement, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on intelligence matters and demanded anonymity.
That accusation will hang over Tillerson’s visit to Moscow, where he plans with meet with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and possibly with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin declined to say whether Putin would meet with Tillerson, in line with its usual practice of not announcing such meetings ahead of time.
The US has sought to minimize expectations for the trip or the likelihood that the US will leave with any concessions from Russia regarding its support for Assad. Instead, the US is hoping to use the visit — the first by a Trump Cabinet official to Russia — to convey its expectations to Moscow and then allow the Russians a period of time to respond.
Though intended to punish Assad for a chemical weapons attack, the US strikes last week served to refocus the world’s attention on the bloody war in Syria, now in its seventh year. Diplomats gathered in Italy as US officials in Washington floated the possibility of new sanctions on the Syrian and Russian military, plus the threat of additional US military action if Assad’s government continues attacking civilians.
At Tuesday’s meeting in the walled Tuscan city of Lucca, the G-7 countries were joined by diplomats from Muslim-majority nations including Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. The inclusion of those countries is important because the US strategy for Syria involves enlisting help from Mideast nations to ensure security and stability in Syria after the Islamic State group is vanquished.
(Zero Hedge) The Russian central bank opened its first overseas office in Beijing on March 14, marking a step forward in forging a Beijing-Moscow alliance to bypass the US dollar in the global monetary system, and to phase-in a gold-backed standard of trade.
According to the South China Morning Post the new office was part of agreements made between the two neighbours “to seek stronger economic ties” since the West brought in sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis and the oil-price slump hit the Russian economy.
According to Dmitry Skobelkin, the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia, the opening of a Beijing representative office by the Central Bank of Russia was a “very timely” move to aid specific cooperation, including bond issuance, anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism measures between China and Russia.
The new central bank office was opened at a time when Russia is preparing to issue its first federal loan bonds denominated in Chinese yuan. Officials from China’s central bank and financial regulatory commissions attended the ceremony at the Russian embassy in Beijing, which was set up in October 1959 in the heyday of Sino-Soviet relations. Financial regulators from the two countries agreed last May to issue home currency-denominated bonds in each other’s markets, a move that was widely viewed as intended to eventually test the global reserve status of the US dollar.
Speaking on future ties with Russia, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in mid-March that Sino-Russian trade ties were affected by falling oil prices, but he added that he saw great potential in cooperation. Vladimir Shapovalov, a senior official at the Russian central bank, said the two central banks were drafting a memorandum of understanding to solve technical issues around China’s gold imports from Russia, and that details would be released soon…
The Western media missed an oh-so juicy nugget out of Russia recently that should have set off alarm bells in Washington. Asked about the current state of U.S.-Russia relations, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova gave a long winded answer that can be read below.
In her answer, Zakharova suggested Russia may “publish leaks” about “secrets” the Obama administration asked the Russian government to keep private. The shocking statement can be found in the second to last paragraph of Zakharova’s answer highlighted in both bold and italic,.
You could just imagine the headlines this would have made if this was about a Trump administration official.
But because it is about Barack Obama, arguably the most anti-American president in US history, the liberal mainstream media ignores this completely.
Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow
As per mid.ru:
Question: How do you see the future of Russian-US diplomatic relations in the context of the current atmosphere in Washington? Can you confirm that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will come to Moscow in April?
Maria Zakharova: Apparently, many volumes have been written about the development of Russian-US relations. I announced the release of the Foreign Ministry’s yearend Diplomatic Bulletin and even showed it at the previous briefing. I believe that about 20 per cent of that bulletin was devoted to Russian-US relations, the way we see them, how we want them to develop, what we expect from Washington, what we are willing to do with the United States, the priority areas of cooperation, areas where our cooperation should be revived without delay and the areas where this can wait, at least for a limited time. This issue has been covered in interviews by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, comments by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and in numerous statements made at all levels by representatives from various Russian agencies, political analysts and politicians, as well as officials from the legislative and executive authorities. We can talk about bilateral relations with a different degree of mastery, but we would like to start implementing our relationship at long last.
We provided our views on bilateral relations and the reasons for blocking them under President Obama. We said that we were willing to work with the new US administration, under President Trump. I don’t think we need to invent anything in this respect, because so much has been said before. Simply, we should start concrete practical work. We are ready for this.
You know that we always invite our American colleagues and diplomats to join bilateral or multilateral dialogues on issues in which the United States has traditionally played a big and active role, such as Syria, the consultations in Astana and many others. We expect Washington to formulate its foreign policy approaches in the form of a concept. We are ready for pragmatic and specific work on the principles that we have described many times.
As for the visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the information about it, this is what I can say. It’s not a secret that preparations for any visit include the coordination of the time when it can be announced. Visits by foreign ministers are public events that are never kept secret. At least, I don’t know about any secret visits by foreign ministers in Russia or the United States. Preparations for such a visit also include the coordination of the format, agenda and the date it can be announced to the public. It is a matter of propriety and respect for each other’s interests. One side proposes a date, and the other side is expected to accept it. This date should be acceptable to both sides, because the foreign ministers have packed schedules. The issue also concerns the coordination of the agenda by experts. One side informs the other side of the issues it plans to discuss, and the other side needs to respond that the agenda is acceptable. In other words, the sides need to reach agreements on many issues, after which they can announce an upcoming visit. This is how we work with our colleagues.
To tell the truth, over the past few years we’ve seen many strange things happen in Washington in connection with preparations for visits or talks by our foreign ministers. The US Department of State has more than once asked us not to announce planned visits until the last minute. This is not our tradition. We have been operating openly for years, but we have respected the requests we have received from our colleagues in Washington in the past few years. But what happened after that? First, the US Department of State asked us to keep the planned visit quiet and not to announce it until the last possible minute, until we coordinated the date. We did as they asked. But a day or two later the information was leaked by the US State Department and sometimes by the US administration. Frankly, this put Russia and the media in a strange situation, because they didn’t know who to believe – the official agencies or the many leaks.
It is difficult to say if this diplomatic communication is a US tradition or the latest technique. But it definitely doesn’t correspond to our traditions. We believe that everything we coordinate should be made available to the media in accordance with diplomatic procedure. When we coordinate a visit and the date for announcing it, the information should be made public calmly and as agreed. This is what we do in relations with our colleagues from other countries.
As I said, such cases in our relations with the US Department of State have become a bad tradition over the past few years. So, I can say in response to your question that we will make the date and format of contacts between the Russian and US foreign ministers public after we coordinate them. We won’t keep them quiet. At this point, I don’t have any information I can share with you. I can say that this visit and such contacts are possible in principle, but it would be premature to talk about timeframes.
Also, I would like to say that if the practice of leaking information that concerns not just the United States but also Russia, which has become a tradition in Washington in the past few years, continues, there will come a day when the media will publish leaks about the things that Washington asked us to keep secret, for example, things that happened during President Obama’s terms in office. Believe me, this could be very interesting information.
Our American colleagues must decide if they respect the diplomatic procedure, if they keep their word on the arrangements made between us, primarily arrangements made at their own request, or we create a few very nice surprises for each other.
We can only assume that if Obama loyalists still hiding in the White House continue to leak intel, it’s inevitable that Russia will drop a bomb about Obama.
Russia has launched its first upgraded Project 885M Yasen-class attack submarine at Sevmash Shipyards in Severodvinsk. Called Kazan, she will be the most formidable enemy submarine that the U.S. Navy has ever faced once the boat is operational.
“It’s probably the most capable nuclear powered submarine out there fielded by a potential adversary,” Center for Naval Analyses Russian military affairs specialist Michael Kofman told The National Interest earlier this month.
Kazan features substantial improvements over her older sister, Severodvinsk. The vessel incorporates new technological developments that have emerged since Severodvinsk started construction in 1993—including an optimized hull shape and upgraded electronic warfare and automation systems. Kazan also incorporates lessons learned from testing her older sister ship.
“The 885M is really the first ship of the class,” Kofman said. “The 885M is intended as a substantial improvement, based on the lessons learned from the lengthy development, construction, and testing process for the original 885.”
The Project 885 vessels are a departure from previous Soviet and Russian submarine designs. Unlike older Soviet vessels, the Project 885 submarines are multimission boats similar in concept to American vessels like the Seawolf or Virginia-classes.
“[Severodvinsk] is Russia’s first truly multipurpose submarine,” Michael Kofman and Norman Polmar wrote in the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings journal. “The Severodvinsk is capable of antisubmarine, antiship, and land-attack missions. Among the more interesting features are a large bow sonar dome for the Irtysh-Amfora sonar system and an amidships battery of eight vertical-launch cells that can carry 32 Kalibr (SS-N-27/30 Sizzler) or Oniks (SS-N-26 Strobile) cruise missiles. These antiship and land-attack weapons are particularly significant after Russian surface ships and submarines fired long-range missiles into Syria in 2016.”
Russia plans to build a total of seven Project 885M submarines—Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Arkhangelsk and Perm are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyards.
Meanwhile, Russia is planning on developing a follow-on class of attack submarine that would hunt U.S. Navy ballistic missile submarines. “Now in development is a new Russian ‘hunter-killer’ submarine. This SSN will have the primary role of countering Western SSBNs. The new SSN is probably a significant program, but very little is known about it other than construction is slated to begin in the near future,” the authors wrote.
The Russians undoubted have the technical skills to develop an extremely formidable new class of attack submarines. The question is does the Kremlin have the financial wherewithal to fund another expensive new defense project.
Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.
Image Credit: Creative Commons.
CENTCOM Commander on Phony Regional Threats
America’s rage for endless wars is the greatest threat to world peace, stability and security. Russia fears a possible preemptive US nuclear attack on its territory.
According to Russia’s General Staff deputy head of operations Gen. Viktor Poznikhir,
“(t)he presence of American ABM sites in Europe and ABM-capable ships in the seas and oceans close to Russia’s territory creates a powerful clandestine potential for delivering a surprise nuclear missile strike against Russia.”
“The presence of the global ABM system lowers the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, because it gives the US the illusion of impunity for using strategic offensive weapons from under the protection of the ABM ‘umbrella.’”
“The ABM shield is a symbol of the build-up of rocket forces in the world and a trigger for a new arms race.”
Since the onset of Western-instigated Cold War in the late 1940s, “analysts” in Washington and at the Pentagon believed nuclear war on Russia was winnable.
Madness persists, undermining global security, threatening humanity more than ever with neocons in charge of US militarism and war-making.
Intense US hostility toward Russia negates the chance for nuclear sanity, increases the unthinkable – mass annihilation from possible nuclear war.
In testimony before House Armed Services Committee members, CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel lied about Iran, calling the Islamic Republic “the greatest longterm threat to (Middle East) stability.”
America and Israel earned that dubious distinction long ago – threatening the region and world peace.
Votel: Iran seeks regional “hegemon(y).”
Fact: Iran seeks mutual cooperation among all nations. It seeks world peace, forthrightly opposing US-led imperial wars.
Votel: “(H)umanitarian cris(es) are exploited by violent extremist organizations and terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.”
“These groups have clearly indicated their desire and intent to attack the US homeland, our interests abroad and the interests of our partners and allies.”
Fact: America bears full responsibility for creating humanitarian crises in the Middle East, North Africa and central Asia. NATO, Israel and their rogue allies share blame.
Fact: America created and supports al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups. Chances of them attacking the US homeland are virtually nil. Votel lied claiming otherwise.
Votel: “(T)he central region has come to represent the nexus for many of the security challenges our nation faces.”
Fact: America’s only threats are invented ones, no others. They’re used to enlist public and congressional support for out-of-control defense spending – funds used for militarism and endless wars of aggression against nations threatening no one.
Votel: An investigation will be conducted on the March 17 Mosul airstrike killing hundreds of civilians – “to establish what happened, establish what the facts are, identify accountability, and…lessons learned…”
Fact: America indiscriminately massacres civilians in all its wars. Investigations when conducted are systematically whitewashed to avoid accountability for Nuremberg-level high crimes.
Fact: Eyewitness survivors blamed US-led warplanes for the March 17 massacre. Facts don’t need to be “establish(ed).” They’re indisputable.
Mass Pentagon-led slaughter of civilians will continue in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. US war criminals remain unaccountable for high crimes of war and against humanity.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”