Moscow Vows Response to Expulsion of Diplomats From European States, US, Canada – By Sputnik

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Expulsion of Russian Diplomats Over Skripal Case (11)
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European countries and the US along with Canada and Australia have decided to expel Russian diplomats amid the Skripal case.

“We express a decisive protest over the decision taken by a number of EU and NATO countries to expel Russian diplomats. There will be a mirror-like response. We will work it out in the coming days and give our response with regard to each country… We consider this step as unfriendly and not serving the tasks and interests of establishing the causes and finding the perpetrators of the incident that took place on March 4 in Salisbury,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, powerful forces in the US and the UK are behind the poisoning attack on ex-spy Skripal in Salisbury.

The following countries have announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats,

  • Poland — 4
  • Lithuania — 3
  • Latvia — 1
  • The Netherlands — 2
  • Ukraine — 13
  • France — 4
  • Denmark — 2
  • The Czech Republic — 3
  • Estonia — 1
  • Germany — 4
  • Italy — 2
  • Romania — 1
  • Finland — 1
  • Croatia — 1
  • Sweden — 1
  • Albania — 2
  • Spain — 2
  • Norway — 1
  • Hungary — 1
  • The US — 60
  • Canada — 4
  • Hungary — 1
  • Macedonia — 1
  • Australia — 2

READ MORE: Ambassador Slams US Decision to Expel 60 Russian Diplomats, Close Consulate

“Fourteen out of 28 EU member-states have decided to expel diplomats from the Russian Federation as a measure of solidarity with London on the Skripal case… Additional measures, including further sanctions within the common EU framework, cannot be excluded in the coming days and weeks,” European Council President Donald Tusk said.

Moscow will retaliate against a series of expulsions of Russian diplomats from European countries and will provide a mirror-like response with regard to each case in the coming days, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Moscow has been ready for the decision of Western countries to expel Russian diplomats, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The Russian Consulate in Seattle is working to minimize the effects of the US closure of the mission, the senior Russian consul said.

“The Slovak Republic unequivocally condemned the nerve agent attack in Salisbury [the United Kingdom], joined the decisions of the European Council on March 22, 2018, and reserved the right to take further steps in connection with this incident… After the careful consideration of the options, the republic’s Foreign Ministry has decided to urgently summon the Russian ambassador to Slovakia on Tuesday, March 27, and ask him for an explanation of the incident,” Slovakia’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Peter Susko said.

Four Russian diplomats who have been expelled from Germany over Russia’s alleged involvement in the case of poisoning the former GRU colonel Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom must leave Germany within a week, the German Foreign Ministry said.

“Today we, just like other EU countries and countries outside of the European Union, have decided to expel two Russian diplomats. The Russian ambassador was informed today that Denmark is expelling two Russian diplomats,” Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said.

READ MORE: Moscow to Respond to Expulsion of Russian Diplomats Reciprocally — Kremlin

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said “We have to do the utmost to show… solidarity with our allies,” and to come up with “coordinated measures” as well as national measures.

“Today, Poland decided to declare four Russian diplomats persona non-grata,” Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said.

Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser said that the Russian ambassador was given today a note on the expulsion of the military attache from the country.

“Based on what has been discussed at the European Council meeting, Hungary is expelling a Russian diplomat also conducting intelligence activities,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary said.

Ireland is ready to expel at least one Russian diplomat, according to Irish Times.

“In response to the cynical chemical attack in Salisbury, Ukraine, in a spirit of solidarity with our British partners and trans-Atlantic allies, and in coordination with the EU countries, has decided to expel 13 Russian diplomats… Our diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation have been de- facto frozen, as you know,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko wrote in his Facebook.

The Mexican Foreign Ministry condemns the nerve gas attack in the UK on March 4 and informs that it reserves the right to take diplomatic action, including the expulsion of officials, pending an investigation into the matter.Canada’s decision to expel Russian diplomats has delivered another huge blow to bilateral relations, the Russian Embassy in Ottawa said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Russian Embassies in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, the Ambassadors to these countries have been summoned earlier to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the respective nations.

Austria & Bulgaria Keep Channels Open for Dialogue

Austria will not expel Russian diplomats, as it intends to keep channels open for dialogue with Moscow, according to the cabinet spokesman. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that Austria would remain neutral and would work to restore relations between East and West.

“We will not take any measures at the national level, we will not expel diplomats. The reason for this is that we intend to keep open channels of dialogue with Russia. Austria is a neutral country and a kind of bridge between East and West. But we support the decision to recall the EU ambassador from Moscow,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Twitter. 

Bulgaria, for its part, doesn’t intend to expel Russian diplomats, the ministry said.

Turkey doesn’t plan anti-Russian measures over Skripal case, according to the Prime Minister deputy.

“The crisis with the former agent concerns relations between the Russian Federation and Great Britain. They must resolve this question among themselves. Turkey is not going to take any decisions with respect to Russia in this regard. We have good relations with Russia,” Turkish Vice-Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

​Czech PM: ‘Unreported Spies’ to be Expelled

The Czech Prime Minister says not Russian diplomats, but “unreported spies” will be expelled from the Czech Republic over the Skripal case.

“The use of a term ‘diplomat’ [in the light of the issue of expulsion] is wrong. In fact, these are people who are called ‘unreported spies.’ It seems that there are more of them in the Czech Republic than in any other country in Europe… Moreover, the Russian side has scandalously accused us, saying this Novichok poison is allegedly being manufactured here. This is a blatant lie,” Andrej Babis wrote on his Facebook page.

 

READ MORE: UK Defense Secretary Claims Arrest Warrant Issued for ‘Doubtful’ Russian Capital

Earlier, Czech PM Andrej Babis at the EU summit in Brussels had told reporters that he was considering the possible expulsion of several Russian diplomats from Prague in solidarity with Britain over the Salisbury case.

“Although it [the United Kingdom] is withdrawing from the European Union, we must do everything to ensure that Europe remains strong and united. In addition, the United Kingdom is a prominent member of NATO and, in terms of European and transatlantic security, an important partner for the Czech Republic. Thus, I repeat, we must support the United Kingdom,” Babis said.

Government Official Arrested in Poland On Suspicion of Spying for Russia

Poland’s security agents have detained a government official and suspect him of providing Russia with secrets about tactics Warsaw projected to use to try to block the construction of a gas pipeline, the Polish government said.

The official, who has been named only as Marek W., has been responsible for energy projects and allegedly was providing the Russians with information on how Warsaw intended to block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Stanislaw Zaryn, spokesman for the minister responsible for the secret services.

READ MORE: Polish Foreign Ministry to Advise Germany Against Nord Stream 2 After Salisbury

Poland opposes the building of Nord Stream 2, which would connect Russia to Germany through a pipeline across the Baltic Sea and enable Moscow to pump more gas to its main markets in Western Europe while detouring states further east.Warsaw states the pipeline would extend Gazprom’s dominant claims on the gas market in central and eastern Europe, limit competition and increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

‘Loyal-Lip Servicing’ — Russian FM Spokeswoman

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova characterized the expulsion of Russian diplomats from EU countries as being loyal lip service to the UK and accused London of imposing on Europeans a deterioration in relations with Russia.

“Now the ‘parade of sovereignties’ will start, the-loyal lip service of political support by EU countries for London,” wrote the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova on her Facebook page.

She noted that “everything that will happen now in the public-diplomatic sphere (reviews, expulsions, etc.) will be explained by the EU as ‘solidarity’ with London, as the EU’s foreign policy requires.”

“When London leaves the EU, amid its Brexit process, it will not be bound by the framework of a general line in foreign policy. It will be able to start a game for approaching or removal. But the countries remaining in the European Union will be bound by the mutual guarantee of anti-Russian solidarity, the has already been imposed by the British,” she said.

READ MORE: Skripal Case: EU Gets ‘Signals’ US Wants to Expel Russian Diplomats — Reports

The moves come a few days after the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the UK amid Theresa May accusing Moscow of Sergei Skripal’s poisoning.

Commenting on the expulsion of Russian diplomats from various EU countries, Britain has welcomed the support displayed at a summit last week by other EU countries, but it is up to them if they decide to take further action against Moscow, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said.

“You saw at the European Council a very positive response from our partners who said they agreed with the UK’s assessment. In terms of decisions which countries may choose to take when they’re planning further action, that’s obviously a matter for them,” he told reporters.

At the EU summit in Brussels, the heads of European countries expressed their solidarity with the UK’s measures.

Cape Town Is Set to Become the World’s First Major City to Run Out of Water (Video) – By Robin Scher / AlterNet

Environment
 
The South African city is a test case for what happens when climate change and a dysfunctional government collide.
 

Theewaterskloof Dam near Villiersdorp, Western Cape, supplies Cape Town with most of its water. As the drought continues, the reservoirs are drying up.
Photo Credit: Charles HB Mercer/Shutterstock

How will humanity respond to future crises caused by climate change? Some scenarios envision us rising to the occasion, tackling adaptation head-on and weathering the literal and metaphoric storms. Those with less faith in our fellow humans predict more pessimistic outcomes.

The reality is that we won’t need to wait too long for our first glimpse: In a few months, the South African coastal city of Cape Town is set to become the world’s first major metropolis to run out of municipal water.

 

At present, Cape Town’s dams, which hold the city’s entire water supply, are at around 24 percent capacity. Once that level drops below 13.5 percent, the city will have to reroute its remaining water reserves to 200 emergency pickup points. According to current calculations, that day is scheduled for July 9. The event has been given an ominous name: Day Zero. When it arrives, writes South African political reporter Richard Poplak for the Atlantic, “Cape Town will become a test case for what happens when climate change, extreme inequality, and partisan political dysfunction collide.”

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People queuing to collect natural spring water for drinking in Newlands, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. (image: Mark Fisher/Shutterstock)

So what caused Cape Town to reach this perilous point? The first and most basic answer is a lack of rainfall. Piotr Wolski, a University of Cape Town climate researcher, explained to the Economist in a recent article that, “the drought in the city’s water-catchment area between 2015 and 2017 was of a once-in-300-years magnitude.”

Global warming has certainly played its part in this natural disaster, but as professor Graham Jewitt, director of the Center for Water Resources Research unit at the University of KwaZulu-Natal told Reuters, “simply blaming climate change is a cop-out.”

Cape Town’s mayor Patricia de Lille has attributed some blame to local residents. According to figures cited by the Economist, “only 41 percent of Capetonians complied” with the city’s daily water restrictions implemented last September, which limited each person to 23 gallons. As a result, the municipality has had to cut that daily limit down to 13 gallons and is giving out fines to people who don’t comply.

But apart from these restrictions, what else has local government done to prepare for this imminent threat? The short answer is, not enough.

Since 1990, members of the scientific community have issued warnings about the likelihood of a severe drought in Cape Town. In recent years as dam levels sunk, the local government under the leadership of de Lille’s Democratic Alliance became plagued by inaction. Why? “In part,” Poplak observed, “it comes down to the fact that its administration was paralyzed by a sort of bureaucratic magical thinking that combined technocratic hyper-efficiency, an obsession with austerity-driven bean-counting, and an apparent belief that miracles are certain to fall from the sky.”

On his blog More Than Just Surviving, survivalist Thomas Xavier describes this inactivity as a form of reactionary politics. He reasons that if a government is able to respond well to a drought once it has happened, it will translate into votes. However, Xavier writes, “if a local government spends a truck-ton of cash on water usage reduction technology and the local population never experiences a drought … they will at best think the government is overly paranoid/protective and at worst will think they are wasting money.”

It’s a classic case of—excuse the pun—damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

“Now the city is playing catch-up,” reports Time’s Aryn Baker from Cape Town. Residents are making more of an effort to save water by flushing toilets only when necessary, taking 90-second showers and using paper plates and cups to save on dishwashing. There has also been a mad scramble to stock up on bottled water and large containers and jerry cans for storage. The local government has begun erecting expensive desalinization plants to purify seawater and is attempting to tap the city’s natural underground aquifer. By the time Day Zero arrives, though, “only two of the seven water-augmentation projects are expected to be up and running,” writes Baker.

View of the Theewaterskloof Dam. (image: Michael Candelori/Shutterstock)

The only other major plan in the works involves the emergency water collection points. In effect, this measure will see all the city’s taps shut off, except for hospitals, schools and other “vital institutions,” according to officials. From Day Zero on, city dwellers will have to queue at communal collection points to receive a daily limit of 6.6 gallons of water. Sounds like a bit of a precarious plan, right?

Cape Town is a city of roughly 4 million residents. As Baker notes, if even a quarter of the population shows up each day to collect their families’ allotment, “each site will see some 5,000 water seekers a day.” Then there is the matter of logistics. How will transportation to and from these areas work? Armed guards will be stationed at each collection point, and how will that be managed?

“The risk grading will be done in accordance with the volume of people expected to pass through each water collection point, as well as the general crime trends in each area,” said Richard Bosman, Cape Town’s executive director for safety and security, in the Atlantic article. “Cape Town does have a number of gang hot spots and so this would be a crucial factor in determining whether a collection point is considered low or high risk.”

The longer-term consequences of Day Zero are also a major point of concern. The threat of diseases spread by diminishing basic hygiene, for instance, has been exacerbated by a recent outbreak of foodborne listeriosis in the country. As for the economic impact, analysts quoted in Time estimate that “300,000 jobs in agriculture and tens of thousands more in the service, hospitality and food sectors” are potentially at risk. That’s not to mention the fact that Cape Town remains one of the most economically unequal cities in the world.

Carol Davids, a local resident, wrote more on the issue of inequality and the water crisis for the blog Africa is a Country. Capetonians with financial means have been preparing for months, stockpiling “pricey plastic water tanks” and even “pools on stand-by, filled with chlorinated water,” writes Davids.  For those unable to afford such luxuries, the threat of Day Zero looms larger. “As always,” continues Davids, “the poor are inevitably people of color: black and colored families who remain in the shadow of apartheid’s economic and spatial legacy.”

The looming threat of the water crisis has inspired last-minute action. City dwellers have become more vigilant, and subsequently, Day Zero has been pushed back several times over the last month (maybe out of fear of Splash, a horrific water-saving mascot). If Cape Town is lucky, rain will fall as it used to in years past before July 9 and the city will be spared the less favorable outcome. The alternative is that the world will watch as the city deals with a situation many have likened to the plot of Mad Max.

According to figures from the World Resources Institute cited by Time, up to “3.5 billion people around the world could experience water scarcity by 2025 if steps are not taken to conserve water now.”

Cape Town might be the first city to experience Day Zero, but it will certainly not be the last.

Watch an Africa News report about the Cape Town drought: 

 

Robin Scher is a freelance writer from South Africa currently based in New York. He tweets infrequently @RobScherHimself.

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Putin: The West is decaying, has no morals [Video] – By Inessa Sinchougova

“With the absence of values – society begins to decay.” – Vladimir Putin

That which is “freedom” to a liberal, is offensive to a more conservative state of mind. They are two irreconcilable world views. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong, but there are as many opinions on this subject as there are people in the world. However, it is true that many Russians hold Western values in contempt, and resist being subjugated to them. Deserved or not, the West is often perceived as a faithless and individualistic society with an exceptional love of money.

The pop culture that arrives on Russian TV screens is often looked down upon for its over-sexualised content. Cultural phenomena such as ‘twerking’ are not really understood. Further examples can include the often misogynistic rap culture, the overemphasis on all things stupid (are you keeping up with the Kardashians?), the devaluing of the family unit as the foundation of society, the mascularisation of women, the demasculation of men, the ability to have no gender (I mean, what?), and the list goes on.

This is not to feed the opinions of the libertards who scream “Putin banned homosexuality!” He did no such thing and homosexuals live and work in Russia like any other, with no restrictions on any of their civil liberties. What did occur is the ban on “propaganda for homosexuality” to children and teenagers, which is overt and often vulgar. (For example, why is it that a gay parade, for around 1% of the population, can be held on taxpayer money, otherwise known as the majority of the population, but also behave in a way that a group of heterosexual people never could in public?) The point is not that homosexuals should not exist – they can and happily do! The point is that the minority groups should not force their choices on to the majority of the population.

Russia’s Roskomnadzor (The Federal Service for Supervision of Information Technologies and Mass Communications) has banned websites such as PornHub, as it violated laws surrounding porn distribution and child protection. Similarly, 136 other adult websites were also banned from being accessed in Russia – all of which can easily be viewed by children in any Western country.

I understand the liberals’ concerns about paternalism – but this is about ethics, it is about shutting down profits to a handful of individuals , at the cost of the younger members of society. It is not about consolidation of control.

Comment: See also: A world apart: Obama and Putin represent fundamentally different core values

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