Syrian Army seizes most of Ayn Tarma Valley in East Ghouta, pushes to outskirts of suburb – By Leith Aboufadel


BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:50 P.M.) – In response to the militant counter-offensive in the Harasta suburb, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched a big assault at the nearby ‘Ayn Tarma Valley.

According to an Al-Masdar field correspondent in Damascus, the Syrian Army seized most of the ‘Ayn Tarma Valley, following a short battle with the militants in the area.

The correspondent added that the Syrian Army’s 4th Division has now reached the southeastern outskirts of the ‘Ayn Tarma suburb.

‘Ayn Tarma is a heavily-fortified East Ghouta suburb that neighbors Jobar; it is currently under the control of Faylaq Al-Rahman and Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham.

The Syrian Army has attempted to capture ‘Ayn Tarma on a number of occasions in the past; however, all of their attacks were ultimately repelled by the militants.

Syrian Army Advances in Its Operations against Terrorists in Ein Tarma Valley

March 20, 2018

Syrian army in Eastern Gouta

Syrian Army units continued their operations to liberate Eastern Gouta of the remaining Nusra Front terrorists and the groups affiliated to them.

SANA’s correspondent in Eastern Gouta said that army units began at dawn on Tuesday precise operations in Ein Tarma valley, employing tactics and weapons that suit the nature of the area in order to protect civilians’ lives and preserve the properties and farmlands in it, achieving new advances in the area after inflicting losses upon terrorists.

The correspondent said that this advance is achieved in parallel with military operations against terrorists in the towns of Hazza, Zamalka, and Erbin after fortifying army positions in the towns of Saqba and Kafr Batna, securing the citizens in those towns, and delivering aid to them in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

The army also repelled infiltration attempts by terrorists coming from the direction of Douma towards the outskirts of Mesraba, clashing with them and leaving many terrorists dead or injured, while the remaining ones fled towards Douma.

The correspondent said that the army is continuing to secure corridors to allow citizens to exit Gouta.

Source: SANA

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Commentaries in Guardian and Financial Times say that Russia can be declared guilty without being given chance to defend itself – By Alexander Mercouris (THE DURAN)

Now British media admits it in Skripal case: due process ‘does not apply’ to Russia

It is becoming increasingly difficult for the British authorities and for the British media to deny that ‘due process‘ – ie. the well-established system of rules for conducting fair and impartial trials and investigations in order to determine questions of guilt or innocence – are not being followed by the British authorities in the Skripal case.

Here are some of the violations of due process the British authorities which in my opinion the British authorities are committing:

(1) The British government is interfering in the conduct of a criminal investigation, with Prime Minister Theresa May and especially Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pointing fingers at who they say is the guilty party (Russia) whilst the criminal investigation is still underway;

(2) The British government has said that unless Russia proves itself innocent within a specific time the British government will conclude that it is guilty.  As I have explained previously this reverses the burden of proof: in a criminal case it is the prosecution which is supposed to prove the defendant’s guilt, not the defendant who must prove his innocence;

(3) The British government refuses to share with Russia – the party it says is guilty – the ‘evidence’ upon which it says it has concluded that Russia is guilty, the evidence in this case being a sample of the chemical with which it says Sergey and Yulia Skripal was poisoned.  This violates the fundamental principle that the defendant must be provided with all the evidence against him so that he can properly prepare his defence;

(4) The British government is not following the procedure set out in Article IX (2) of the Chemical Weapons Convention to which both Britain and Russia are parties.  This reads as follows

States Parties should, whenever possible, first make every effort to clarify and resolve, through exchange of information and consultations among themselves, any matter which may cause doubt about compliance with this Convention, or which gives rise to concerns about a related matter which may be considered ambiguous. A State Party which receives a request from another State Party for clarification of any matter which the requesting State Party believes causes such a doubt or concern shall provide the requesting State Party as soon as possible, but in any case not later than ten days after the request, with information sufficient to answer the doubt or concern raised along with an explanation of how the information provided resolves the matter.

This says clearly that in a case like the Skripal case the British authorities should have sent a request for information to the Russian authorities, who would then have had up to ten days in which to respond.

Instead the British demanded a Russian reply within 36 hours, and said they would assume Russian guilt unless one was provided which they were satisfied with.

There has been an attempt to argue that the British disregard of the procedure set out in Article IX (2) does not breach the Chemical Weapons Convention, and I will set it out the British position as it appears in an article in The Conversation

The process set out in Article IX(2) cannot be the exclusive remedy in all cases where doubts arise surrounding compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. For example, it would be absurd to suggest that a state which has suffered an armed attack involving chemical weapons may not defend itself against that attack, but instead must issue a request for information to the attacking state and then patiently await its response within ten days.

In fact, on a closer reading, it’s clear that the obligation set out in Article IX(2) is not of an absolute character. It requires state parties to “make every effort” to clarify and resolve doubts. This duty is framed in the language of “should”, rather than “shall”, and is engaged only “whenever possible”. The terms of the clause therefore enable a state to adopt alternative measures should the circumstances so warrant.

After the Salisbury incident, one of the UK’s responses was to call a meeting of the UN Security Council. While Russia vehemently opposed this move as being contrary to the Chemical Weapons Convention, none of the other members of the Security Council, all of which are also signatories of that treaty, shared this view.

It is also important to be clear about the scope of Article IX(2). The provision deals with the clarification of doubts surrounding compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. However, the British government had already concluded that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the incident. Based on the identification of the nerve agent involved, named as Novichok, the fact that Russia has produced the agent in the past and in the light of Russia’s past conduct and current intent, it was not unreasonable for the UK government to come to this conclusion, in line with the standards of proof applicable in international law in similar circumstances.

I find this wholly unconvincing and I am sure the vast majority of international lawyers would do so also.

What this argument essentially says is that the British are entitled to disregard the procedure set out in Article IX (2) because they had already concluded in advance of their enquiry to the Russians on the basis of evidence which they are not prepared to share with the Russians that Russia is ‘highly likely’ to have been guilty of carrying out the attack on Skripal.

That effectively admits that the ‘request for information’ – ie. Theresa May’s ultimatum to Russia – was not made in good faith and it was not really a genuine ‘request for information’ at all, but was rather a rhetorical device intended to make it easier for the British government to say without providing further proof that Russia is guilty.

Far from providing a justification for ignoring the procedure set out in Article IX (2), this looks to me more like an admission that the British have not been acting in good faith, which of course is not merely a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention but of due process.

(5) The British authorities are denying the Russians consular access to Yulia Skripal, though she is a Russian citizen who the British authorities say was subjected to a criminal assault on their territory.

This is a potentially serious matter since by preventing consular access to Yulia Skripal the British authorities are not only violating the interstate consular arrangements which exist between Britain and Russia, but they are preventing the Russian authorities from learning more about the condition of one of their citizens who has been hospitalised following a violent criminal assault, and are preventing the Russian authorities from carrying out their own investigation into the assault on one of their citizens which the British authorities say has taken place.

I would add that this obstruction of Russian consular access to Yulia Skripal has gone almost entirely unreported in the British and Western media.

Needless to say, if the situation were reversed and it was the Russian authorities who were denying the British consular access to a British citizen who had been hospitalised following a criminal assault in Russia, I have no doubt that the British and Western media would be far less reticent about it.

In truth the violations of due process are so egregious that sections of the British media have been in effect forced to admit that they are happening, and are now trying to justify them.

Here for example is what Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian has said

On the face of it, Jeremy Corbyn’s position, as set out in the Guardian yesterday, seems eminently reasonable. Anxious to learn the lessons of the Iraq catastrophe of 2003, he suggested we exercise patience: let’s wait and see where the investigation leads, let’s not “rush way ahead of the evidence”. After all, said his spokesman, the intelligence agencies had been wrong before……

But those pleas to delay judgment point to a wider error: a misreading of the nature of the contemporary Russian state…..

The error here is to assume that Moscow’s attitude to evidence and due process is the same as that of nations still governed by the rule of law. But in Putin’s Russia, lying has long been a routine and integral part of statecraft. No matter how copious the evidence, Putin will think nothing of denying it….

What meaning does “due process” have when dealing with such a regime? Moscow would not cooperate in good faith with an investigation by the international chemical weapons watchdog, offering up evidence that might be incriminating. They would see such an inquiry instead as a useful delaying tactic, one that would allow them to issue yet more denials, wild counter-accusations (“Salisbury was an MI5 plot to distract from Brexit”) and obfuscation – disseminated either through their RT propaganda TV station or by their army of bots and online enablers. That way they could generate yet more of the fog of doubt and confusion that they believe undermines the west’s confidence and strengthens them. This is the Putin modus operandi: spread doubt until the public grows exhausted and concludes that the truth is unknowable.

(bold italics added)

More pithily an editorial the Financial Times says the same thing

President Vladimir Putin’s government uses a well-worn playbook after it commits an international outrage. The first Russian response is denial mixed with the propagation of a variety of implausible alternative explanations….

The Kremlin then tries to blunt the response by wrapping its accusers up in procedure. The game is to confuse the narrative, delay the international response — and demonstrate to the Russian people and the wider world that the Kremlin can act with impunity.

(bold italics added)

The first thing to say about these articles is that they are an admission that in the Skripal case due process – ie. proper procedure in a case like this – is not being followed.

The second thing to say is that they show a startling failure to understand the purpose of due process.

Due process in a criminal investigation is not a favour to the defendant.  It is the way to arrive at the truth.

That is why in England in criminal appeals judges say that convictions in cases where due process has not been followed are ‘unsafe’.  What they mean is that because due process was not followed the court cannot be sure that the case which has been made against the defendant has been made out.

It follows that defendant’s alleged lack of good faith (the reason Jonathan Freedland and the Financial Times are giving for disapplying due process in cases involving Russia) is not a reason for disapplying due process since using due process.

It is in fact ridiculous to say – as Jonathan Freedland and the Financial Times are in effect saying – that due process should be disapplied because they believe the defendant in this case – ie. Russia –  is lying and is never going to admit its guilt.

Defendants often lie when cases are brought against them.  If they did not there would be no reason to have trials.  Defendants very often go on denying their guilt even when courts have convicted them after trials.  That is not a reason for not having trials.

Stripped of their bogus arguments, what Jonathan Freedland and the Guardian are saying is that when Russia is accused of something it has no right to defend itself.

That is an astonishing and deeply troubling thing to say.

It also looks to me rather like an admission that in the Skripal case the British authorities do not have the evidence to prove that their accusation against Russia is true.

That does not surprise me because the British authorities have apparently been unable to provide even their closest allies with evidence which proves that their accusation against Russia is true.

Here is what Der Spiegel says the British have told the Germans about the evidence – or lack of evidence – they have in the case

The key to the Skripal case is to be found in the toxin that was used. When the British briefed their German colleagues this week, they didn’t go into great detail, according to sources in German security circles. Intelligence services suspect that could be because the British no longer completely trust the Americans and are particularly wary of Donald Trump.

The British didn’t even tell their German counterparts which variation of the nerve agent they believe was used. Western intelligence experts suspect that it was Novichok of the A-232 variety, which is fluid enough to be used as a spray.

The vocabulary used by the UK and its allies indicates that British intelligence officials are highly confident in their assessment. Yet although it is clear which substance was used and that it very likely came from Russian stockpiles, there is no definitive proof that the Russian state was behind the attack, according to a senior German official on Thursday evening. The official has read through all of the documents that have thus far been presented. He said that intelligence officials are viewing the evidence laid out in those documents — several tightly printed pages — as a “compelling chain of clues.”

(bold italics added)

In other words the British case against Russia in the Skripal case is no more than surmise (a “compelling chain of clues”).

It is not based on evidence because as of Thursday 15th March 2018 (when the Germans were given the facts) there was none.

What of the argument Jonathan Freedland and the Financial Times both make – echoing things the British government has said – that concrete ‘proof’ of Russian guilt in the Skripal case is not needed because Russia’s guilt can be presumed from Russia’s previous conduct.

Putting aside that there are conflicting opinions about Russia’s previous conduct, it is actually a further breach of due process to declare someone guilty not on evidence but on the basis of their previous conduct.

Putting that aside there have been at least three cases since The Duran was founded in May 2016 when declarations of Russian guilt which were confidently asserted proved on proper examination of the evidence to be untrue.

(1) On 19th September 2016 an attack on a humanitarian convoy in Syria was widely blamed by Western governments and by the Western media on Russia.  Yet a UN inquiry headed by an Indian military officer effectively cleared Russia of responsibility for the attack.

(2) In a succession of reports Professor Richard McLaren has claimed to have found proof of a gigantic government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy amongst athletes in Russia.

These claims have been enthusiastically repeated by the Western media, and led to partial bans on Russian participation in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, on the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, and to a complete ban on Russian participation in the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

However the Schmid Commission, which on behalf of the International Olympic Committee, carried out a thorough review of Professor McLaren’s claims of a government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia, concluded that those claims had not been proved to be true.

(3) The third case is more controversial, but I personally have no doubt that the same applies.

Since at least the summer of 2016 it has been repeatedly and confidently claimed that there was a vast conspiracy between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign to steal the US Presidential election from Hillary Clinton and to swing it to Donald Trump.

The House Intelligence Committee, having investigated this claim in detail, now says it is untrue.

Though the Mueller investigation, which is also looking in this claim, has yet to report, none of the indictments it has issued suggest that this claim is true, whilst it seems the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating the claim, is also going to report that the claim is untrue.

Here we have three examples of claims of wrongful activity confidently made against Russia proving to be untrue.  Why then assume that the claim of wrongful activity made against Russia in the Skripal case is true?

Obviously presumptions of guilt based on claims of previous Russian misconduct are wrong and unsafe, and that whole approach must be abandoned as both flawed and ethically wrong.

I would finish by repeating a point I have before.

Underpinning the regular allegations made in the West about Russian misconduct including the ones now being made in connection with the Skripal case is the intense Western prejudice against Russia and against all things Russian.

I discussed this Western prejudice against Russia and Russians in detail in a long article The Duran published on 12th October 2016, and I discussed it again more recently in articles I have written about a recent report by a group of US Democratic Party Senators targeting Russia, and about the Hollywood film Red Sparrow which is currently on general release.

Now we see further examples of this prejudice with the demand in the Skripal case that Russia be denied the right to defend itself, a right which every other defendant accused of a crime has.

Personally I cannot see a more straightforward example of prejudice against Russia than that.

The Duran



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Skripal case: EU demands ‘disclosure of Novichok program,’ Russia says it has ‘nothing to disclose’ – By RT

Skripal case: EU demands ‘disclosure of Novichok program,’ Russia says it has 'nothing to disclose’
Moscow says it is “miffed” at the European Union’s “hasty, speculative, and evidence-free” judgment on the Sergei Skripal incident, and maintains that it has no stocks of Novichok, the nerve agent purportedly used to poison him.

On Monday, the European Council, which represents the heads of governments of the EU states, issued a statement that it “takes extremely seriously the UK Government’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible” for the March 4 attack.

The Council went on to say that it was “shocked at the offensive use of any military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, for the first time on European soil in over 70 years” and it called on Moscow “to address urgently the questions raised by the UK and the international community and to provide immediate, full and complete disclosure of its Novichok programme to the OPCW.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed regret “the European Union has ignored obvious facts…and has let its decisions be driven by misconstrued notions of European solidarity, and its anti-Russian reflexes,” it said in a press release published on Monday evening.

Moscow then accused Brussels of “ignoring” the OPCW, the international chemical weapons watchdog, which officially declared that Russia had finished destroying its store of similar weapons last year.

“We have nothing to ‘disclose’ as is demanded by the European Union, as no agents under the name of Novichok are produced or stockpiled in Russia. Perhaps it should redirect its queries to the UK or other member states where such substances are evidently still being developed,” said the Foreign Ministry.

Over the weekend, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson accused Moscow of “stockpiling” Novichok, a Soviet invention from the 1970s, while OPCW officials have arrived in Salisbury to investigate the sites where Skripal, 66, was poisoned. Both the former double agent and his daughter, Yulia, remain in hospital in critical condition.

The Kremlin has demanded proof of the allegations that it was involved in the attack or an apology from the UK over the incident, which has resulted in London and Moscow to each expelling 23 diplomats.

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A Log in Your Own Eye: Decades of US Meddling in Foreign Elections – By Sputnik

The obsessive condemnation of still unconfirmed Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election is a classic case of “do as I say, not as I do,” where the US politicians and media seem to have developed both long and short-term memory loss when it comes to American meddling in foreign elections.
Photo: US President Bill Clinton (R) laughing with Russian President Boris Yeltsin during a press conference after their meeting at Hyde Park 23 October 1995. AFP, Don Emmert
With Russia’s presidential election coming up on Sunday, March 18, all eyes are on Moscow where eight candidates will be on the ballot this year. In turn, the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) is busy in its preparation to administer the vote, ensuring fair and free procedure, as well as prevention of illegal interference in the election process.

Concerns regarding foreign meddling in the nation’s pivotal vote shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering it was not that long ago when the US interfered in Russia’s internal matters, influencing the outcome of the 1996 presidential election.

Spinning Boris
The popularity rating of then incumbent president Boris Yeltsin plunged to 6% and his chances of winning were next to nothing. In what later was released as Hollywood’s depiction of events, characters of the Spinning Boris film described the president’s standing:

“Stalin is dead. Not as dead as Yeltsin.”

2003 American comedy starred Jeff Goldblum, Anthony LaPaglia and Liev Schreiber, who portrayed a team of US spin doctors sent to salvage Yeltsin’s image and secure him another four-year term in the office.

The whole ‘rescue effort’ was reportedly orchestrated by Felix Bryanin, a Russian-American businessman who did not relish the prospects of Yeltsin’s chief rivals – the Communist party – winning the election and steering the country back to socialism.

The US didn’t bother covering its tracks, as political consultants Joe Shumate, George Gorton, Richard Dresner and Steven Moore detailed their exploits in an exclusive interview to Time magazine. The article was published on July 15, 1996 under the headline “Yanks to the Rescue – the secret story of how American advisers helped Yeltsin win.”

Photo: Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Sputnik, Alexander Makarov
According to the Guardian, in 2003 Yeltsin’s former head of staff Sergei Filatov denied the involvement of US spin doctors in the election, claiming that he “never saw them” but “as they had been paid we decided to let them sit quietly in the President Hotel and not interfere.”
‘In the Interests of Democracy’
To some the fact of US interference in foreign politics may come as an eye-opening revelation but definitely not to former CIA director James Woolsey, who just recently admitted that American meddles in other countries “only for a very good cause in the interests of democracy.”
The majority of the Russian public are not dumbfounded by the practise either, as new poll revealed that in 2016 almost eighty percent of Russians thought the United States meddled “a great deal” or “a fair amount” in Russian politics.
Photo: Viewers during a holiday concert devoted to Russia Day on Red Square. Sputnik, Ramil Sitdikov
The US attempts at steering the political processes abroad were neither limited to Russia alone nor did they begin in the 1990s. Moreover, it won’t come as a surprise if the US “policy of interference” continues in the future, considering the rich history of such activity by Washington in the past.

The “impressive” record of forcing their political agenda on foreign governments by the US reveals a list of numerous cases, which include but are not limited to the following.

In their effort to support non-Communist forces in post-war Italy, the US administration under Harry Truman flexed its political and financial muscle to influence the outcome of Italian elections in 1948.

The US threw their weight behind the Christian Democracy party, who defeated the left-wing coalition of the Popular Democratic Front, through generous monetary support, which former CIA officer F. Mark Wyatt simply described as “bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians.”

Photo: Italy’s Premier Alcide de Gasperi, at microphone, addresses a huge crowd from the balcony of the Christian Democrat Party Headquarters in Rome, Italy, on April 21, 1948. AP
“And, we did many things to assist those selected Christian Democrats, Republicans and… and the other parties… that could keep the secret of where their funds came from,” Wyatt said in a 1996 interview.
“Stay out of this hemisphere and don’t try to start your plans and your conspiracies over here,” Henry Cabot Lodge, US ambassador to the UN, warned his Soviet counterpart during a UN emergency session on June 18, 1954.
But US activity didn’t stop at finger-wagging and in 1954 the democratically elected leader of Guatemala Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was overthrown by the CIA-backed coup and forced into exile. The Eisenhower administration portrayed the coup as a revolt meant to clear the region of a perceived Communist threat – something that was facilitated by the US corporation the United Fruit Company (UFC).
“Once he took power, he was implanting this policy. The UFC didn’t like that very much and they hired a PR firm to convince the US that Arbenz was a Soviet puppet… Out of this PR campaign came a commitment by the CIA and the military to take this man out and in fact we did,” the author of the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman, John Perkins explained.
The fire of impending unrest in 1958 Lebanon, fuelled by confrontation between Maronite Christians and Muslims, was put out by Washington’s ‘helping hand’, which backed the pro-western Christian President Camille Chamoun against perceived threats posed by Syria and Egypt.
Photo: Former Lebanese President Camille Chamoun conducts business over the telephone at his National Liberty Party headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, July 9, 1963. Chamoun stated: “If Lebanon’s independence were threatened as in 1958, I would certainly appeal to any Nation”. AP
Around the same time the CIA used the US government money and donations by American oil companies to help Christian politicians in Lebanon win the elections.
Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s the US secretly supported the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), providing covert financial support to its candidates without hesitation. The LDP have been in power in Japan since 1995 till modern days with minor gaps in between.
Photo: Socialist party members rough up a plain-clothes policeman during a scuffle between left wingers and riot police near the parliament building in Tokyo, Nov. 6, 1965. The demonstrators, supporting the Socialist and Communist parties, opposed the normalization pact which they contended is aimed at a Japan-South Korea-U.S. military alliance, after ruling Liberal-Democratic party rammed the ratification bill for the treaty through the special ad hoc committee of parliament’s Lower House. AP Photo, Nobuyuki Masaki
In 1950s their main opposition were the left-wingers – the Japan Socialist Party and the Japanese Communist Party. Interested in preserving LDP’s authority, the CIA provided financial backing to the party to ensure its dominance over its Communist counterparts.
In 1999, the US and their NATO allies have intensified their efforts in ‘fighting for democracy’ – this time in then Yugoslavia. Thanks to their considerate assistance, the democratically-elected Yugoslav government had been toppled and millions of US dollars were poured into what Washington called “democratic opposition.”
Photo: Still from Serbian TV from April 4, 1999 showing a bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, northern Serbia, some 70 km (40 miles) north of Belgrade, which was destroyed a day earlier by NATO warplanes. AFP, Serbian TV
“In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalisation,” George Kenney of the US state department kindly explained.
Manuel Zelaya was ousted as Honduras’ president in a military coup on June 28, 2009. His post was taken over by parliament Speaker Roberto Micheletti. Hillary Clinton who held the post of the US Secretary of State at the time cemented Micheletti’s position, according to an article citing inquiry conducted by Robert Naiman, Mark Weisbrot and Alexander Main, following the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails by the Department of State in March 2015.
Photo: A masked supporter of Honduras’ ousted President Manuel Zelaya demonstrates as soldiers stand guard outside Congress in Tegucigalpa, Friday, July 31, 2009. AP, Arnulfo Franco
It is further alleged that she deliberately delayed the suspension of US non-humanitarian aid to Honduras, under the excuse that the situation in the country was “still unclear.” Clinton’s action reportedly ensured that Zelaya wouldn’t be restored, despite the fact that the coup was officially opposed by the Obama administration and the UN.
Photo: Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. AP, Patrick Semansky
A number of questions arise around America’s role in the 2014 coup in Ukraine, when the democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, following a series of violent protests.

The US Senator John McCain was in Kiev during the start of the unrest. A leading Republican voice on US foreign policy, McCain told thousands of Ukrainian protesters camped on Kiev’s main square in December 2013:

“We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe.”

Photo: US Senators Chris Murphy and John McCain cheer up the supporters of Ukraine’s European integration at Maidan square in Kiev, Ukraine, Dec 12, 2013. Sputnik, Ilya Pitalev
Later, a leaked phone conversation between then US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland hinted at extensive involvement.

They spoke about the need to “midwife this thing” and said Ukrainian politician Arseniy Yatsenyuk was “the guy”, shortly before he became prime minister.

Commenting on Washington’s attitude towards foreign meddling, Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr., former staff director of the US Senate’s Church committee told the New York Times in 1997 “the United States has certainly engaged in these things, but we get all up in arms when someone else does.”

”The things the CIA cited as successes really weren’t successes. ‘They were an arrogant exercise of our power to intervene in domestic affairs,” he added.

Maria Zakharova completely rubbishes Britain’s anti-Russia campaign on national TV – By Paul Antonopoulos FRN (Fort Russ News) (SOTT)

Maria Zakharova

© Facebook
Maria Zakharova

Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Russian Federation, on Russian national television has completely rubbished the British anti-Russian campaign in response to the Salisbury assassination attempt.

She questioned why normal protocol was not undertaken if a deadly chemical agent was used to try and kill Russian traitor Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33.

Both people remain critically ill in hospital after they were found unconscious on a bench in the picturesque town of Salisbury in southern England.

British Prime Minister Theresa May believes Moscow is “culpable” in the assassination attempt despite not being able to provide any evidence.

Watch all of Zakharova’s crusade against British inconsistencies in the video.

click below if having problems with watching this video =










Lavrov: Partition Syria must be foiled, West is ‘on the ground’, Haley remarks irresponsible – By Sputnik


© Al-Masdar News
Russian FM, Sergey Lavrov

During an interview with the television and radio company of Kazakhstan’s President, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has commented on a wide range of issues: from the situation in Syria to Skripal’s poisoning and beyond.

While stressing that the level of violence in Syria has significantly decreased, the foreign minister emphasized that “the process of deescalation in Eastern Ghouta could start only if the militants stopped shelling Damascus. This process has not been underway for a very long time, now there seems to be some hope that these armed formations will separate from Jabhat al-Nusra, ” Lavrov said.

According to Lavrov, any plans on Syria’s partitions should be abandoned. “I do not think that we should even talk about a potential partition of Syria, but it is our duty to demand that these plans be immediately foiled, some bear it,” the minister said in an interview with the television and radio company of the president of Kazakhstan.

The decrease of violence in the country was discussed during a ministerial meeting on Syria between the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey as part of the Astana reconciliation process.

“Those armed groups that could be a part of the negotiating process are, unfortunately, operating under the umbrella of Jabhat Fatal al Sham. They created a joint command and in fact three groups: Faylaq al-Rahman, Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham – became allies of Jabhat Fatal al Sham, which is designated by the UN Security Council as a terror organization,”

Lavrov said, adding that Russian servicemen were urging the three groups to distance themselves from the terrorists.

He has also condemned illegitimate presence of foreign forces in Syria, saying that it “contradicted international law and the UN Charter.”

“US, French, UK special forces are ‘on the ground’ in Syria. So it is not a ‘proxy war’ anymore, but direct engagement in the warfare,” Lavrov added.

Furthermore, the foreign minister said that the Americans are “planting local authorities” on the eastern shore of the Euphrates River.

“What is happening on the eastern shore of the Euphrates River, where Americans have indeed liberated vast territories from terrorists with the help of the Kurds, but plant local authorities, who are intentionally isolating themselves from Damascus, and declare that they will support these authorities without any contacts with the Syrian government,” he said.

Earlier this week, the minister stated that the progress achieved at the Astana talks on Syria, including due to Russia’s efforts, was not being welcomed by those striving to divide the country into small territories under their control.

“Those who, in violation of all norms of international law, in violation of Resolution 2254, obviously seek to divide Syria, to replace the regime so that this important Middle Eastern country is replaced by small principalities, controlled by external players, certainly do not welcome what we are doing in Astana, we are trying to achieve in Astana,”

Lavrov said in a welcoming speech before the talks with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts in Astana.

Since 2014, the US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against terrorists in Syria without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

UK, Russia Diplomatic Standoff Over Skripal’s Poisoning

Commenting on the case of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal’s poisoning, Lavrov said that “western propaganda is becoming more brazen and primitive.”

“We are living in the world where one had better not read Western newspapers. All events are covered in an exceptionally simplistic, crudely propagandist way. The manipulation of public opinion is under way… On the one hand, the Western propaganda is getting more primitive, but it is also becoming more brazen, on the other,” he said.

On March 4, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found collapsed after being exposed to a chemical substance, later identified by UK police as the military-grade nerve agent Novichok, allegedly developed in Russia. British authorities have accused Moscow of “attempted murder,” although declined Russia’s request to provide samples of the substance in question.

As a response to the alleged attack, UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats from the country since the Cold War. Moscow, in turn, has declared 23 British diplomats personae non gratae, with the Foreign Ministry revoking its agreement on the UK General Consulate’s operation in St. Petersburg.

Russia-US Relations

The interview has also touched upon relations between Russia and the United States, with Sergei Lavrov insisting that Russia would not sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

“We will not sign it because we believe that prohibition of nuclear weapons in such a directive manner is impossible. Five official nuclear powers as well as non-official ones will not do that,” he said, adding that the US plans to expand its missile defense system and the fact that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had not entered into force yet, “mainly due to Washington’s reluctance, influence strategic stability as much as nuclear weapons do.”

As for the role of the United States in the UN, Lavrov said that ultimatums during the Security Council’s sessions were “unacceptable.”

“When our American colleagues bring any resolution to the UNSC, and we suggest holding talks on the matter because there are alternative views, we are being accused of blocking the proceedings, and they decide to do it solo. Immediate ultimatums, sanctions, etc are absolutely unacceptable according to the UN Charter,” he added.

The Russian Foreign Minister has also commented on the statement made by the US Envoy to the UN Nikki Haley on Washington’s “readiness to strike Damascus,” calling it “absolutely irresponsible.” “I don’t know who has empowered the US permanent representative to UN Nikki Haley to declare that the United States will be ready to bomb Damascus… […] It’s an absolutely irresponsible statement,” he concluded.

Comment: Fair and direct comments from Mr. Lavrov. The US and its Western allies are conforming reality to meet their mindset — insanity.

Framing Putin – Saga of the Spy and the Nerve Agent – By Chris Kanthan (

Putin Theresa May

How dumb are the masses of the world? One need only look at the brazen, obvious false flag incidents that the elites keep piling on. Trained to be consumers of sensational news, the idiotic population of the West simply accepts allegations without thinking or analysis.

Let’s take a brief look at the claim that Putin/Kremlin/Russia used a deadly chemical weapon (called “Novichok”) against an ex-Russian spy who has been living in the UK for eight years. Within hours of the incident, the UK foreign minister – bozo Boris Johnson – claimed that Russia was behind the attack. Then Theresa May said it’s “highly likely” that Russia did it; and everyone translated that into “definitely Russia did it.” Now, of course, crazed warmonger Nikki Haley has joined the chorus and even tells people that Russia may use chemical weapons in New York.

Who has Novichok? Yes, Novichok was invented and produced by the USSR in the 1970s and 80s. But that was 30+ years ago. Hello! Did anyone take the time to wonder if it’s now possible for others to possess or make it?

Who’s Got CW? Russia got rid of all its chemical weapons under the supervision of OPCW. On the other hand, the US hasn’t destroyed all its chemical weapons yet and there are still two CW sites in the US! The US government claims it will destroy them within the next five years. Sure.

Samples Everywhere: The fact is that many labs around the world have samples of that deadly agent. It so happens that there is a UK military chemical lab in Porton Down, just a few miles from where the alleged incident took place. Each lab has a signature attached to it. If the UK wanted to be credible, it would release the samples to third parties – Russia and OPCW – so they can analyze it and see where it came from. But the UK refuses to do so. Wonder why.

Guess Who Lives in the US: The “father” of Novichok defected to the US a long time ago and lives there today. He brags about it openly on his Facebook page. His name is Vil Mirzayanov.

Vil Mirzayanov

The Formula is Well Known: This guy also wrote a book and revealed the composition of the chemical agent.

Vil Mirzayanov State secrets

Did the CIA get Hold of Novichok? The Novichok nerve agent was actually produced in a lab in Uzbekistan, which became a separate country after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Then it became very close to the US. As this 1999 New York Times article reveals, the US worked with the Uzbek government to dismantle the lab and helped many scientists emigrate/defect to the US. So, it’s safe to say that the CIA and the US military have Novichok. (Think of Operation PaperClip when Nazi scientists were brought into the US after World War II).

Is it possible that the entire story is bogus? This nerve agent is supposed to be super deadly, but the UK government advised people near the area to use “baby wipes”, “warm water” and “detergents” to clean their belongings. Really?

And then if you look at the photos of experts at the site, there are these guys in hazmat suits for visual impact. Then, along with them are UK cops without any protective gear. Maybe they had baby wipes with them? It’s just like the nonsensical White Helmets story where they handle “Sarin gas victims” with bare hands. (Oh, btw, the White Helmets got millions of $$ of funding from the UK government).

Motives, Opportunities: In any crime, we must look at the motives and opportunities. The only ones to benefit from this are the West – US, UK, Israel and the globalists. These warmongers are just mad that Putin is helping Assad and ruining their psychotic plans for Middle East domination.

The Russian spy – Sergei Skripal – was a traitor who got arrested in 2004 for leaking state secrets to the UK. He was released in 2010 and sent to the UK as part of a spy-swap program. So Putin had 6 years to kill the guy in the Russian prison. But no! Putin would release him, wait for 8 more years, and then kill him in the most bizarre way possible just before the World Cup and just before the Russian presidential election. My God! Who believes this nonsense?

The only ones to benefit from this asymmetric propaganda war are Putin’s enemies.

How this idiotic country, the UK, once gave birth to Shakespeare and then ruled the entire world is a mystery indeed. If in 2018, people believe such idiotic fairy tales, we are doomed to have World War III soon.


Chris Kanthan (Profile)

Chris Kanthan is the author of a new book, Deconstructing the Syrian war.. Chris lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, has traveled to 35 countries, and writes about world affairs, politics, economy and health. His other book is Deconstructing Monsanto.. Follow him on Twitter: @GMOChannel

Russia’s Reaction to the Insults of the West is Political Suicide – by Peter Koenig for the Saker blog


by Peter Koenig for the Saker blog

The onslaught of western Russia bashing in the past days, since the alleged poison attack by a Soviet-era nerve agent, Novichok (the inventor of which, by the way, lives in the US), on a Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, has been just horrifying. Especially by the UK. Starting with PM May, who outright accused Russia of using chemical weapons (CW) on UK grounds, without delivering any evidence. Strangely, there is no indication where Skripal and his daughter are, in which hospital the pair is being treated, no poison analysis is being published, they cannot be visited; there is absolutely no evidence of the substance they allegedly have been poisoned with – do Sergei and Yulia actually exist?

As a consequence, Theresa May expels 23 Russian diplomats, who have to leave the UK within a week. Then came Boris Johnson, the Foreign Minister clown, also an abject liar. He said, no he yelled, at his fellow parliamentarians that it was “Overwhelmingly likely, that Putin personally ordered the spy attack.” This accusation out of nothing against the Russian President is way more than a deep breach in diplomatic behavior, it is a shameful insult. – And no evidence is provided. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, in fact, said that Johnson’s personal attack on President Putin was “unforgivable”.

Not to miss out on the bashing theatre, UK Defense Secretary, Gavin Williamson, got even more insolent, Russia “should go away and shut up”. In response to all this demonizing Russia for an alleged crime, for which absolutely no proof has been provided, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that the undiplomatic comments meant that the British authorities are nervous and have “something to hide,”. Lavrov also strongly objected, wanted to initiate a joint UK-Russia investigation into the case – is he dreaming? – and responded to a question of diplomatic retaliation, yes, that Russia will also expel UK diplomates ‘soon’.

There is no doubt that the UK acted as Washington’s poodle. In the course of this anti-Russia tirade, Trump twittered that he fully supported UK’s position. Indeed, the European puppets, Macron, Merkel, May and their chief, The Donald, signed a joint statement blaming Russia for the nerve gas attack on the former double agent, “There is no plausible alternative explanation than that Russia was to blame for the attack”. Bingo, that says it all. The presstitute picks it up and airs it to the seven corners of this globe – and the western sheeple are brainwashed once again: The Russian did it.

Well we know that. But the real point I want to make is that Russia always reacts to such nonsensical and outright false accusations; Russia always responds, rejects of course the accusations but usually with lengthy explanations, and with suggestions on how to come to the truth – as if the UK and the west would give a shit about the truth – why are they doing that? Why are you Russia, even responding?

That is foolish sign of weakness. As if Russia was still believing in the goodness of the west, as if it just needed to be awakened. What Russia is doing, every time, not just in this Skripal case, but in every senseless and ruthless attack, accusations about cyber hacking, invading Ukraine, annexing Crimea, and not to speak about the never-ending saga of Russia-Gate, Russian meddling and hacking into the 2016 US Presidential elections, favoring Trump over Hillary. Everybody with a half brain knows it’s a load of crap. Even the FBI and CIA said that there was no evidence. So, why even respond? Why even trying to undo the lies, convince the liars that they, Russia, are not culpable?

Every time the west notices Russia’s wanting to be a “good neighbor” – about which the west really couldn’t care less, Russia makes herself more vulnerable, more prone to be accused and attacked and more slandered.

Why does Russia not just break away from the west? Instead of trying to ‘belong’ to the west? Accept that you are not wanted in the west, that the west only wants to plunder your resources, your vast landmass, they want to provoke you into a war where there are no winners, a war that may destroy entire Mother Earth, but they, the ZionAnglo handlers of Washington, dream that their elite will survive to eventually take over beautiful grand Russia. That’s what they want. The Bashing is a means towards the end. The more people are with hem, the easier it is to launch an atrocious war.

The Skripal case is typical. The intensity with which this UK lie-propaganda has been launched is exemplary. It has brought all of halfwit Europe – and there is a lot of them – under the spell of Russia hating. Nobody can believe that May Merkel, Macron are such blatant liars… that is beyond what they have been brought up with. A lifelong of lies pushed down their throats, squeezed into their brains. Even if something tells them – this is not quite correct, the force of comfort, not leaving their comfort zone- not questioning their own lives – is so strong that they rather cry for War, War against Russia, War against the eternal enemy of mankind. – I sadly remember in my youth in neutral Switzerland, the enemy always, but always came from the East. He was hiding behind the “Iron Curtain”.

The West is fabricating a new Iron Curtain. But while doing that, they don’t realize they are putting a noose around their own neck. Russia doesn’t need the west, but the west will soon be unable to survive without the East, the future is in the east – and Russia is an integral part of the East, of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), that encompasses half the world’s population and controls a third of the world’s economic output.

Mr. Putin, you don’t need to respond to insults from the west, because that’s what they are, abusive insults. The abject slander that Johnson boy threw at you is nothing but a miserable insult; you don’t need to respond to this behavior. You draw your consequences.

Dear President Putin, Dear Mr. Lavrov, Let them! Let them holler. Let them rot in their insanity. – Respond to the UK no longer with words but with deeds, with drastic deeds. Close their embassy. Give all embassy staff a week to vacate your country, then you abolish and eviscerate the embassy the same way the US abolished your consulates in Washington and San Francisco – a bit more than a year ago. Surely you have not forgotten. Then you give all Brits generously a month to pack up and leave your beautiful country (it can be done – that’s about what Washington is forcing its vassals around the globe to do with North Korean foreign laborers); block all trade with the UK (or with the entire West for that matter), block all western assets in Russia, because that’s the first thing the western plunderers will do, blocking Russian assets abroad. Stealing is in their blood.

Mr. Putin, You don’t need to respond to their lowly abusive attacks, slanders, lies. You and Russia are way above the level of this lowly western pack. Shut your relation to the west. You have China, the SCO, the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Russia is part of the OBI – President Xi’s One Belt Initiative – the multi-trillion development thrive, emanating from China, connecting continents – Asia, Africa, Europe, South America – with infrastructure, trade, creating hundreds of millions of decent jobs, developing and promoting science and culture and providing hundreds of millions of people with a decent life.

What would the west do, if suddenly they had no enemy, because the enemy has decided to ignore them and take a nap? China will join you.

Everything else, responding, justifying, explaining, denying the most flagrant lies, trying to make them believe in the truth is not only a frustrating waste of time, it’s committing political suicide. You will never win. The west gives a hoot about the truth – they have proven that for the last two thousand years or more. And in all that time, not an iota of conscience has entered the west’s collective mind. The west cannot be trusted. Period.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog; and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

UK, Slovakia, Sweden, Czech Republic among most probable source of ‘Novichok’ – Moscow – By RT

UK, Slovakia, Sweden, Czech Republic among most probable source of ‘Novichok’ – Moscow
The substance used in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal may have originated from the countries studying the “Novichok” nerve agent, including the UK, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“The most likely source of origin of the toxin are the countries which have been carrying out intense research on the substances from the ‘Novichok’ program, approximately since the end of the 1990s until the present time, and this project is not the creation of Russia or the Soviet Union,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday. She listed the UK, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden among the countries involved.

The US should also “be put under question,” Zakharova said in an interview with the state broadcaster VGTRK.

“How did they come to the conclusion about a Russian ‘footprint’ if they didn’t give us those samples? Logically they shouldn’t have this substance. Which samples have they compared with to draw such a conclusion?” she went on. “Questions arise: then, they should have samples, which they conceal, or it is a lie from start to finish.”

“If the UK prime minister and other British experts give the formula, then it will be clear which countries have been developing these agents,” Zakharova said.

Zakharova’s remarks echo those of Russia’s representative at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Aleksandr Shulgin, who said the ‘Novichok’ research was taken out of the Soviet Union following its collapse. While Shulgin didn’t name where the program was smuggled, he said the source of the substance used in Salisbury is “concealed in one of the countries where this research continued and achieved certain success.”

Earlier, the OPCW said none of its member states has declared possession of the Novichok group of nerve agents.

The Russian-UK double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned on March 4. Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of being responsible, with a major diplomatic row deepening.

Iran, Russia, Turkey reaffirm commitment to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity after talks in Astana – By SOTT

Iranian delegation to Syria

Picture taken in the Kazakh capital Astana on March 16, 2018 shows the Iranian delegation to Syria talks featuring Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (3rd L)

Iran, Russia and Turkey, guarantors of the Syria ceasefire, have reaffirmed their strong commitment to the Arab country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity after a tripartite foreign ministerial meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian and Turkish counterparts, Sergei Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu, convened in the Kazakh capital to address the situation in Syria on Friday.

The city has been hosting talks aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the seven-year crisis in Syria.

The talks have featured the Syrian government and opposition’s representatives, with the three states serving as guarantors. Tehran and Moscow side with Damascus, while Turkey takes part on behalf of the Syrian opposition.

At a turning point last year, the negotiations led to establishment of four de-escalation zones across Syria.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, Tehran, Moscow and Ankara “reaffirmed their strong and continued commitment to the sovereignty and independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

They also expressed satisfaction with the “concrete contribution of the Astana process to improvement of the situation in Syria during the last year, calling for continued “coordinated efforts” to make sure the reduction in violence in Syria would be “irreversible.”

The guarantor states further “reiterated their conviction that there was no military solution to the Syrian conflict.”

They underlined the need for a political solution to the crisis “through an inclusive, free, fair, and transparent Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process leading to a constitution enjoying the support of the Syrian people, and free and fair elections with the participation of all eligible Syrians under appropriate UN supervision.”

The meeting is expected to lay ground for a summit involving the presidents of the three countries in Istanbul on April 4.

The ministers were slated to focus on the situation in Eastern Ghouta, in the Idlib de-escalation zone and setting up a constitutional commission, among other issues.

The situation in Eastern Ghouta was expected to take center stage at the talks. The Syrian army, backed by Russian air cover, is conducting an operation against the terrorists holed up in the Damascus suburb and, at the same time, evacuating civilians through humanitarian corridors.

Comment: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Astana process has proved its important and it helps in resolving the crisis in Syria.

In a welcoming speech before the talks with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts in the Kazakh Capital on Friday, Lavrov said that the progress achieved at Astana platform gives a positive impetus to the political settlement of the crisis in Syria.

Lavrov clarified that those who violate all norms of international law and the UN Security Council Resolution No.2254 obviously seek to schemes that threaten Syria’s unity and territorial integrity adding that whoever wants to do so will not agree to the Astana talks.

“I hope that the US-led coalition realizes the necessity of not fencing off terrorists, as it’s happening now in Eastern Ghouta, but will fight terrorist groups consistently and on principle,” Lavrov said.

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