Tag Archives: Ukraine

Putin calls for non-aligned international security system in face of global terror threat

May 9, 2016. Russian President and Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Vladimir Putin at a military parade to mark the 71st anniversary of Victory in the 1941-1945 WWII, on Moscow's Red Square.

May 9, 2016. Russian President and Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Vladimir Putin at a military parade to mark the 71st anniversary of Victory in the 1941-1945 WWII, on Moscow’s Red Square.

Vladimir Putin said Russia is all for creating a non-aligned system of international security to counter global terror. The president, speaking at the V-Day parade in Moscow, called on all nations to learn the lessons of WWII.

“Today our civilization has faced brutality and violence – terrorism has become a global threat,” the Russian president said, addressing the crowds on Moscow’s Red Square ahead of a parade dedicated to the 71st anniversary of victory in WWII. “We must defeat this evil, and Russia is open to join forces with all countries and is ready to work on the creation of a modern, non-aligned system of international security.”

According to the Russian leader, the lessons of the World War II showed that “double standards” and “short-sighted indulgence to those who are nurturing new criminal plans” are unacceptable.

“The lessons of history show that peace on our planet doesn’t establish itself, that you need to be on high alert,” he said.

The Great Patriotic War (the term used in Russia and former Soviet republics to describe the conflict on the Eastern Front from 1941-45) will always remain “an outstanding, sacred heroic deed of our people, a call to live according to conscience, to keep the height of the truth and justice, to transfer these values from generation to generation,” the president added.

“Our fathers and grandfathers defeated the powerful, merciless enemy, in front of whom many countries folded,” Putin said.

“It was our servicemen who gave the Nazis and their accomplices full retaliation for millions of victims, for all the barbarities and excesses on our land.”

Putin added that Russian soldiers have proven that they are “worthy successors to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War who are defending the country’s interests with honor.”

“I’m sure the veterans today are proud of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren – they are not letting [the veterans] down and will always remember the great victory, the heroic deeds of the glorious generation of victors,” he said.

Seventy-one years ago, Nazi Germany was defeated. Almost 80 percent of the world’s population was caught up in the war, including all of the great powers, and a total of 55 million people were killed in the conflict.

The Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. The following four years of fighting saw 27 million Soviet people killed.

In Europe, V-Day commemorations started on Sunday, as the Nazi Germany’s Instrument of Surrender came into force at 22:43 CET on May 8, 1945. In Moscow it was already 00:43, on May 9.

 

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Greek Defense Ministry confirms Russian Su-24M bomber was downed in Syrian airspace

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The Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber was brought down by the Turkish Air Force in Syrian airspace, Greek Minister of National Defense Panos Kammenos said in an interview to the Mega TV channel on Wednesday.

“The attack (on Su-24M) took place in Syrian airspace. This is beyond doubt,” he said. “The Turkish side knows that, otherwise Ankara would ask to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter, requesting the Alliance’s help.”

“This is undoubtedly a military action in the territory of another state,” Kammenos said. “But even more important point is the murder of the pilot, who was shot dead by members of the Turkish extremist group Grey Wolves.”

Asked which side Greece should take, as a NATO member, the minister said – “the truth”. “If Russia had violated Turkish airspace, we would support Ankara”, the defense minister said.

An F-16 fighter jet of the Turkish Air Force shot down Russia’s Su-24M bomber on Tuesday, November 24. Ankara claims the Su-24M bomber violated the Turkish airspace in the area of the border with Syria. However, Russia’s Defense Ministry has said the Su-24M plane stayed exclusively over the Syrian territory and “there was no violation of the Turkish air space.”

Turkey’s F-16 fighter that shot down the Russian Aerospace Forces’ Sukhoi Su-24M bomber was in Syria’s airspace for 40 seconds and went inside its territory by 2 kilometers, while the Russian bomber did not violate the Turkish state border, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Viktor Bondarev, said on November 27. “In line with air defense means objective control materials, the Turkish plane was in Syria’s airspace for 40 seconds and flew two kilometres inside its territory, whereas the Russian bomber did not violate the state border of Turkey,” Bondarev said. He said the crew of the second Su-24 plane confirmed the launch of the missile from the F-16. After the combat employment at the mentioned target and left turn to 130-degree course “it observed on the left side of it flame and a tail of white smoke, which it reported to the flight operations director,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that the attack on the bomber will have “serious consequences” for the Russian-Turkish relations. According to Putin, the Turkish Air Force’s attack on the Russian combat plane that took part in the operation against terrorists in Syria and posed no threat to Turkey is a “stab in the back of Russia.” The crew of the Su-24M bomber managed to eject but one of the pilots was killed by gunfire from the ground. The second pilot was rescued and taken to the Russian airbase. Two Mi-8 helicopters were engaged in the pilots’ rescue operation. One of the helicopters came under fire and had to make an emergency landing. One Russian contract marine was killed by militants in the operation. The rest soldiers on board the helicopter were evacuated. The downed Mi-8 helicopter was later destroyed by mortar fire from the territory controlled by militants.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said, speaking at the ceremony of the presentation of credentials by new foreign ambassadors on Thursday that Turkey was steering the relations into the gridlock as it neither apologized nor offered to repair the damage, nor promised to punish those responsible. “We have not heard yet apologies from the highest political level of Turkey. Nor do we hear proposals to repair the damage or promises to punish the perpetrators for the committed crime,” Putin said. “One gets the impression that the Turkish leadership is steering deliberately the Russian-Turkish relations into the dead end, which is regrettable,” he added.

In an interview with CNN, Erdogan warned Moscow that Turkey would take steps if its warplane were downed by the Russian S-400 missile system in case it violated the Syrian airspace. “I think if there is a party that needs to apologize, it is not us,” he said. “Those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize.”

 

What is Russia’s S-400 Air Defense System Set to Do in Syria?

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Moscow has deployed its most advanced S-400 air defense system, said to have no equals globally, to guard the skies over Syria after a Turkish F-16 fighter shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syrian territory on Tuesday.

The S-400 Triumf (NATO codename SA-21 Growler) is an anti-aircraft and anti-missile system, which is capable of intercepting all types of modern air weaponry, including fifth-generation warplanes, as well as ballistic and cruise missiles at a maximum range of nearly 250 miles. It has a tracking range of over 370 miles.

The system uses three types of long- and medium-range missiles and can simultaneously engage as many as 36 targets.

In addition, the S-400 is the only missile complex in the world capable of hitting targets located beyond the horizon, defense expert Konstantin Sivkov told Radio Sputnik. The system is also well protected against electronic warfare.

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Nowhere to Hide: New Videos of Russian Cruise Missile Strikes in Syria

Russian Defense Ministry released new videos of cruise missile strikes carried out against Islamic State forces in Syria.

The videos, published on the ministry’s official YouTube channel, show ISIL assets in the Syrian province of Idlib being obliterated by cruise missile strikes.

Kalibr-NK cruise missiles employed by Russian forces make short work of ISIL command posts, as can be seen on these two videos.

Several missiles scored direct hits against an ISIL base also located in Idlib province.

Russia has been launching airstrikes against ISIL by Assad’s request since September 30. Russian aircraft have carried out over 2,000 sorties, destroying about 3,000 ISIL targets and eliminating hundreds of militants. The warships of Russia’s Caspian Flotilla have also launched a series of cruise missile strikes against the ISIL assets in Syria.
On Tuesday Russian Aerospace Forces intensified their campaign in Syria, launching massive airstrikes against ISIL forces.

A US-led international coalition has also been conducting an aerial campaign against the militants, but without the approval of Damascus or the United Nations.

Why NATO is terrified of Russia

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Pepe Escobar

The twin-pronged attack – oil price war/raid on the ruble – aimed at destroying the Russian economy and place it into a form of Western natural resource vassalage has failed.

Natural resources were also essentially the reason for reducing Iran to a Western vassalage. That never had anything to do with Tehran developing a nuclear weapon, which was banned by both the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The ‘New Great Game’ in Eurasia was always about control of the Eurasian land mass. Minor setbacks to the American elite project do not mean the game will be restricted to a mere “war of attrition”. Rather the contrary.

All about PGS

In Ukraine, the Kremlin has been more than explicit there are two definitive red lines. Ukraine won’t join NATO. And Moscow won’t allow the popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk to be crushed.

We are coming closer to a potentially explosive deadline – when EU sanctions expire in July. An EU in turmoil but still enslaved to NATO – see the pathetic “Dragoon Ride” convoy from the Baltics to Poland or the “Atlantic Resolve” NATO show-off exercise – may decide to expand them, and even try to exclude Russia from SWIFT.

Only fools believe Washington is going to risk American lives over Ukraine or even Poland. Yet let’s plan a few steps ahead. If it ever comes to the unthinkable – a war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine – Russian defense circles are sure of conventional and nuclear superiority on sea and land. And the Pentagon knows it. Russia would reduce NATO forces to smithereens in a matter of hours. And then would come Washington’s stark choice: accept ignominious defeat or escalate to tactical nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon knows that Russia has the air and missile defense capabilities to counter anything embedded in the US Prompt Global Strike (PGS). Simultaneously though, Moscow is saying it would rather not use these capabilities.

Major General Kirill Makarov, Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces’ deputy chief, has been very clear about the PGS threat. Moscow’s December 2014 new military doctrine qualifies PGS as well as NATO’s current military buildup as the top two security threats to Russia.

Unlike non-stop Pentagon/NATO bragging/demonizing, what Russian defense circles don’t need to advertise is how they are now a couple of generations ahead of the US in their advanced weaponry.

The bottom line is that while the Pentagon was mired in the Afghanistan and Iraq quagmires, they completely missed Russia’s technological jump ahead. The same applies to China’s ability to hit US satellites and thus pulverize American ICBM satellite guidance systems.

The current privileged scenario is Russia playing for time until it has totally sealed Russia’s air space to American ICBMs, stealth aircraft and cruise missiles – via the S-500 system.

This has not escaped the attention of the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) – as it gamed sometime ago whether Washington might launch a first strike against Russia.

According to the JIC, Washington might go rogue if “a) an extreme government were to take over in the United States, b) and there was increased lack of confidence by the United States in some if not all of her Western allies owing to political developments in their countries, c) and there was some sudden advance in the USA in the sphere of weapons, etc. that the counsels of impatience may get the upper hand.”

US ‘Think Tankland’ spinning that Russian military planners should take advantage of their superiority to launch a first strike nuclear attack against the US is bogus; the Russian doctrine is eminently defensive.

Yet that does not exclude Washington doing the unthinkable the next time the Pentagon thinks of itself to be in the position Russia is now in.

SWIFT changes

The whole game used to be about who ruled the waves – the geopolitical gift the US inherited from Great Britain. Control of the seas meant the US inheriting five empires; Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands. All those massive US carrier task forces patrolling the oceans to guarantee “free trade” – as the hegemonic propaganda machine goes – could be turned against China in a flash. It’s a mechanism similar to the carefully choreographed “leading from behind” financial op to simultaneously crash the ruble/launch an oil war and thus smash Russia into submission.

Washington’s master plan remains deceptively simple; to “neutralize” China by Japan, and Russia by Germany, with the US backing its two anchors, Germany and Japan. Russia is the de facto only BRICS nation blocking the master plan.

This was the case until Beijing launched the New Silk Road(s), which essentially mean the linking of all Eurasia into a “win-win” trade/commerce bonanza on high-speed rail, and in the process diverting freight tonnage overland and away from the seas.

So NATO’s non-stop Russia demonizing is in fact quaint. Think about NATO picking a fight against the constantly evolving, complex Russia-China strategic partnership. And in a not so remote future, as I indicated here, Germany, Russia and China have what it takes to be the essential pillars of a fully integrated Eurasia.

As it stands, the key shadow play is Moscow and Beijing silently preparing their own SWIFT system while Russia prepares to seal its air space with S-500s. Western Ukraine is doomed; leave it to the austerity-ravaged EU – which, by the way, doesn’t want it. And all this while the same EU tries to handicap the US commercially with a rigged euro that still doesn’t allow it to penetrate more US markets.

As for an irrelevant NATO, all it can do is cry, cry, cry.

Hostage locations difficult to track – and may be getting harder

 American hostage Warren Weinstein is shown in this image captured from an undated video courtesy of SITE Intelligence Group.


American hostage Warren Weinstein is shown in this image captured from an undated video courtesy of SITE Intelligence Group.

The U.S. drone strike that accidentally killed two hostages in Pakistan exposes intelligence shortfalls that former and current U.S. officials say appear to be growing more frequent as militants expand their safe havens and as Washington gathers less on-the-ground human intelligence.

Obtaining timely intelligence on hostages has always been difficult, especially in volatile regions where the United States has limited access and where militants have well-established operations.

But as unrest spreads, militants are acquiring more safe havens, from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq, complicating and often hampering U.S. intelligence-gathering. This is especially so in the wake of the Arab Spring as militants exploit the vacuum left by shattered institutions.

That has forced American intelligence operatives to become more dependent on electronic eavesdropping and spy satellites rather than using informants and on-the-ground human intelligence, say the former and current U.S. officials.

The inadvertent killing of American doctor Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto in a January U.S. drone strike, acknowledged by U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday, follows two failed U.S. attempts in the past nine months to rescue Western hostages. Those efforts apparently relied on dated or incomplete information.

Last July, U.S. Delta Force commandos swooped into eastern Syria to try to rescue U.S. journalist James Foley and other hostages, only to find they had been moved. Foley was later executed by his Islamic State captors.

A December attempt to free American photojournalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie in Yemen failed when their al Qaeda captors were alerted to U.S. commandos’ approach and executed them.

Of all those regions, few have remained off limits for as long as Pakistan’s rugged northwest North Waziristan, where Weinstein and Lo Porto were held and where a generation of Taliban and al Qaeda militants have built a stronghold for launching attacks on U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

Some former U.S. officials say the problem is too few U.S. informants on the ground in danger zones such as Pakistan or Yemen. “You can’t do intelligence operations without HUMINT,” said one former senior U.S. intelligence official, using the acronym for “human intelligence.”

Rescue missions in enemy territory are inherently risky and, officials say, based on imperfect information.

“The rule is, you almost never know where these guys are,” said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“NO ONE SILVER BULLET”

The latest killings re-ignited criticism from hostages’ family members about White House efforts to protect their loved ones, and stoked controversy over the lethal drone program.

In the drone strike that killed Weinstein and Lo Porto, sources said the Central Intelligence Agency had no idea the two were being held there despite hundreds of hours of surveillance of the al Qaeda compound.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that before the strike, U.S. government assessments had arrived at “near certainty” that civilians would not be harmed. An internal review of the operation is underway to see if reforms are needed to prevent similar incidents, Earnest said.

Whether mistakes were made or not, it is very difficult for U.S. spy agencies to acquire timely information about where and how hostages are being held, the officials said.

“It’s a very complex proposition,” requiring the stitching together of multiple streams of intelligence from various data collection methods, said Dane Egli, a former senior White House advisor for hostage policy under President George W. Bush. “There’s no one silver bullet.”

To militant groups, hostages are an extremely valuable commodity and kidnappers make their captives’ security a top priority, the officials said.

Egli said that opportunities to learn information from local inhabitants or interrogating detainees have been reduced as the United States has withdrawn troops and intelligence assets from Iraq and Afghanistan. Another obstacle is the expansion of safe havens and ungoverned spaces, from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to Yemen.

“Any time they have secured real estate … it’s harder for us to penetrate the (U.S. military) Special Forces for us to do a surprise mission” and attempt rescue, Egli said.

Sometimes there is virtually no information at all. American journalist Austin Tice disappeared in Damascus in August 2012, and has not been heard from other than a brief video that surfaced five weeks later.

U.S. officials have given Tice’s family no indication they know where he is, a person familiar with the situation said on Thursday.

 

Vladimir Putin Says Russia’s Military Might Has No Match

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday other countries should not have the illusion that they can attain military superiority over Russia, Interfax reported.

“No one should have the illusion that they can gain military superiority over Russia, put any kind of pressure on it. We will always have an adequate answer for any such adventures,” he was quoted as saying in an address he will present next week on the Defenders’ of the Fatherland Day holiday.

The report of Putin’s comments came the same day British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said that Putin posed a “real and present danger” to the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of which are NATO members. In comments published by The Times, Fallon said NATO was preparing to repel any possible aggression.

 

Putin to hold Q&A marathon on 2014 geopolitical paradigm shift

The much anticipated Q&A marathon by the Russian President is expected to be heavy on economics and politics following major geopolitical shifts this year. Some 1,200 journalists will attend the event with RT broadcasting it live for intl audiences.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding a press conference on pressing issues of the day, including the economic turbulence and volatility of the national currency, at noon on December 18. This is the 10th annual press conference to be held by the Russian President. Similar formats in the past lasted normally up to several hours.

It concerns over the state of the Russian economy in direct confrontation with the West and the governments’ response to the crisis that some 1,200 international journalists will likely seek to tackle first.

“It is clear that the economy will be the first thing that will be asked,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Rossiya 24 TV news ahead of the big event. He said that the Kremlin expects questions “on the situation in the economy, the situation with the ruble, prices, measures that the leadership of Russia have in mind to tackle these.”

Since the beginning of 2014 the ruble has fallen almost 50% against the US dollar. In an effort to halt the devaluation of the national currency the Central Bank has raised its key interest rate to 17 percent, a measure that was not enough to effectively stop the volatility. At the same time, the price of food products in retail chains in the past year in Russia rose by up to 25 percent and it is feared that in the first months of 2015 prices could rise even further.

Putin will also likely discuss the tense geopolitical situation in the world that has been shaped following the Ukrainian turmoil and civil war and Crimea’s referendum to join Russia. Peskov called 2014 an “unusual” year in terms of “a paradigm shift in the international system,” something that the Russian President plans to elaborate even further.

The hostilities in Ukraine are expected to remain one of the main topics of discussions as a ceasefire in Donbas announced by Kiev last week is barely holding up. Meanwhile accusing Moscow of “aggression” in Ukraine, NATO countries has not only slapped Russia with economic sanctions but also stepped up military presence on the Russian borders.

And the biggest question of all is how Russia will react if further sanctions are introduced by the US and the EU.

In preparation for the Q&A session, Putin has been actively seeking expert opinion from a number of government ministers, analysts and advisers. Peskov says, that the Russian leader is prepared for any possible question.

“The press conference is always a place where the president can be asked any questions,” he said, highlighting that the President will answer uncensored questions, summing up the events of the outgoing year.

The live Q&A press conference was first held in 2001 and hosted over 500 journalists. Since then it continued annually until 2008, when Putin became Russia’s Prime Minister. It was then reintroduced in 2012 after Putin was re-elected President.

In his previous key public address Putin made a strong stance against US-led attempts by the West to weaken Russia during his state of the union address to the Federal Assembly earlier in December.

Make sure to tune in to RT live coverage – on RT.com and YouTube channels, including RT French – to stay on top of the Russian leader’s remarks as they will be brought to you live at 9:00 am GMT.

CIA torture report : Tragedy for America

The United States released the report on horrible, inhuman tortures of prisoners in secret CIA jails. “Interrogation techniques such as slaps and “wallings” (slamming detainees against a wall) were used in combination, frequently concurrent with sleep deprivation and nudity. Waterboarding techniques causing physical harm were used. Detainees were sleep deprived for over 180 hours,” the report says.

Political analyst and Americanist Areg Galstyan told Pravda.Ru why this information was released now of all times.

“The Senate released only the first 500 pages, and the entire report is 6,000 pages. So far the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence obtained approval for release of only 500 pages. This report must have been released way sooner, its release was blocked several times when there were elections,” Areg Galstyan said.

He pointed out that the first 100 pages of the report were to be released as early as in March 2013, but since the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, despite being comprised of the majority of democrats headed by the Chairman, also had hard-line democrats. “In other words, democrats have their own hawks. They also blocked the report to be released,” the expert added.

According to him, it was simply implemented de facto, but it must be clear that the whole report is almost entirely classified, only a small part was released. “Human rights defenders are always in shock, everything seems to be a certain news for them.”

But there were many preliminary reports, and what would be written there could be expected. The release may completely endanger many US residents and Americans working abroad. It will just suffice to mention the assault on and killing of the American Ambassador to Libya in Benghazi.

mericans are wary of the situation, they will not play with fire, but at the same time they cannot close this case completely, that’s why they release bits of information. It all fits in the framework of the domestic policy sector of the President’s Administration and the Democratic Party in general,” Areg Galstyan said in an interview to Pravda.Ru.

But to the question what repercussions would follow this exposure and would this report affect anything, the expert answered that there would hardly be any substantial changes, especially now.

“Any attempts for further investigation in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence are doomed to failure. Because today a veto of the Chairman of the Republican’s Committee on Intelligence is enough to slow everything down. But even if there is nothing less than a miracle and the process goes on and there is another release of information, then the majority leader has an absolute right not to bring it to a public vote for it to be approved.

But even if he decides to do it, Speaker John Boehner will definitely block it on the level of the Lower House. Therefore, I don’t know what miracle must occur for this issue to expand further,” Areg Galstyan said.

In his turn, all that remains for Obama, according to himself, is to come out and say – we did all we could, everything we were able to. “Obama has to clearly understand that today there are very serious threats, especially threats of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, in particular the Islamic State, and he understands that without cooperation with the intelligence his policy cannot be effective.”

Obama is unable to do much in terms of law to make some fundamental changes, to make somebody answer for something, or initiate some serious proceedings on the level of courts, congress hearings, to do so he needs to revise the main provisions of the USA Patriot Act. They need to go back to methods of the Clinton’s administration. In other words, this is the process for decades to come.

Member of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation Yana Lantropova told Pravda.Ru why these tortures could to be used and if you could trust information received with their help.

“Tortures must not be used under any circumstances. Naturally, I would not trust information obtained as a result of torture without participants, witnesses,” she said.

Yana Lantropova told Pravda.Ru about her trip to the south-east of Ukraine. “Over there I talked with those who has been tortured and being held hostage by the Ukrainian National Guard. They were talking about absolute horrors, how they were tormented and beaten, how plastic bags were put onto their heads, and it is horrible,” the expert said having pointed out that such methods were unacceptable.

“It is important for the international community to pay attention to this situation because for some reason when some odd things happen with violation of human rights in any other country, for example, Russia or Ukraine, the United States pay attention to it. And when it happens in their own country, they are just ignoring it. It would be important for international human rights defenders from different countries to gather together and talk about all this chaos happening at the moment,” Yana Lantropova noted.

Answering the question, what repercussions would follow this exposure and would this report affect anything, she said that the United States would probably do everything so that this story was soon forgotten. But, Yana Lantropova pointed out, everything depends on the response of human rights defenders.

“Because at one of the meetings of human rights defenders V.V. Putin said a very right thing that in Donbass churches are being completely destroyed, priests are being killed, they are persecuted for some religious beliefs, their heads are being cut, and he said why international human rights defenders would keep silence about it.

In other words, when there is some high-profile matter which is beneficial for them, for other countries, all human rights defenders are raising a ruckus, and start talking about it, call authorities for something. But when there is a mass violation of rights in Ukraine, when there is a humanitarian disaster there, for some reason no one is responding to that,” the expert told Pravda.Ru.

She added that all this showed that there was no democracy, and “all action being made violate human rights”.

According to her, some Americans, in particular from non-profit organizations, can influence the situation. “If people will take to the streets demanding their rights, then it is possible. One or ten people will do nothing. If we look at the number of people in the United States who are discontent and support Russia, we can see rather interesting figures shown on the Web. It is important to pay attention to the response of ordinary citizens,” the expert believes.

 pravda

Western sanctions are aimed at regime change in Russia – Lavrov

The ultimate goal of the anti-Russian sanctions imposed by some Western nations is to stir public protests and oust the government, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“Western leaders publicly state that the sanctions must hurt [Russia’s] economy and stir up public protests. The West doesn’t want to change Russia’s policies. They want a regime change. Practically nobody denies that,” he told a leading think-tank in Moscow.

Lavrov said that the tensions between Russia and the West had been brewing for years before the Ukrainian crisis, adding that now the Europeans had decided to go for all-or-nothing and play chicken with Russia. But at least the positions have been made clear, Lavrov said.

‘Ideology blinds Europe’

Russia and the EU are having a moment of truth focused on Ukraine, Lavrov said, but stressed that Moscow would not be the one to break off ties with Europe. However, Russia won’t simply go back to how things were before the crisis hit, he said.

“The EU is our largest partner,” Lavrov said. “Nobody is going to shoot himself in the foot and reject cooperation with Europe, but everyone understands that it won’t be business as usual anymore.

“But we don’t need the kind of business we had. [That] was like ‘Russia must do this and must do that,’ and we want to cooperate as equals,” he added.

He laid the blame for the escalation on an “aggressive minority” among EU nations, who pursue ideologically-driven grabs of power in eastern Europe, including Ukraine, instead of focusing on the serious problems that Europe is facing due to the turmoil across the Mediterranean in North Africa and the Middle East.

“Exporting any kind of ideology, whether it is democratic or communist or any other kind, won’t do any good,” he warned.

Ideology blinds Europeans to some problems, which Russia believes need to be solved, Lavrov said. For example, EU officials are reluctant to speak about the persecution of Christians by Muslim militants in Iraq and Syria or elsewhere, because they fear that this would be perceived a is politically incorrect. Meanwhile there is a growing Christianophobia in the world, he said.

“Most of EU members avoid discussing this issue. They are ashamed to pronounce it as they were ashamed to put a phrase acknowledging the Christian roots of Europe into the EU Constitution,” Lavrov said. “If you don’t remember and don’t respect your own roots and traditions, how can you respect the traditions of other people?”

‘Russia not anti-American’

Lavrov blamed the US for claiming global leadership at a time when both its resources and leadership skills are in decline. Particularly, he said, Washington is increasingly tuning its policies with electoral cycles, as long-term goals are sacrificed for short-term gains of popularity among voters.

“We cannot accept the position of those who tell us: ‘Put up with it. Everyone has to suffer from America having elections every two years, and nothing should be done about it. Relax and take it as a given’. This won’t do. We won’t take it because the stakes are too high,” Lavrov said.

He added that while some take Russia’s opposition to America’s global influence as anti-Americanism, this is not the case.

“It’s not about anti-Americanism or forming some sort of anti-American coalition. It’s about the natural desire of an increasing number of nations to ensure their vital interests and doing it in a way they see right, not the way they are being told by a foreign party,” he said.

If the US pursues leadership not out of a false perception that it has a God-given burden to take responsibility for everybody, but by developing the skill to form a consensus, Moscow would be the first to back Washington, Lavrov said.

But now Washington is bullying other nations into toeing their line, and few dare to object publicly out of fear of reprisal, while complaining in private, he added.