Thursday, April 6, 2017

"Trumpism" as the "social experiment" and the "Gang of Four": The engineered election of Donald Trump as the U.S. President is the joint operation of the German, Russian, and Israeli Intelligence Services with the major executive role played by the Russian-Jewish Mafia at the head of the International Organized Crime. | M.N.: Russia should join NATO: the benefits for the Global Security are enormous | Russia and Trump: "But the real issue surrounding Trump and Russia has nothing to do with collusion between Trump and Russia. Rather, it has to do with the problems Trump will create for Russia and its interests." - Russia's Trump Problem | The Daily Caller - by Gary Bauer | Trump’s Russia policy is scaring allies and confusing even the Kremlin - VOX | Can Russia and the United States be allies? - Joseph Micallef

Updates: Nato - Russia News 



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"Trumpism" as the "social experiment" and the "Gang of Four":

The engineered election of Donald Trump as the U.S. President is the joint operation of the German, Russian, and Israeli Intelligence Services with the major executive and operational role played by the Russian-Jewish Mafia at the head of the International Organized Crime.

M.N.: Predictions: 

Within the next six months, Trump and Pence will be out, with Trump facing a prison term. Paul Ryan will become the next President - a very good replacement. The train has left the station and is moving somewhat slowly but surely.

In Russia, Putin, very likely, will be out (I do not see how he could politically survive the Trump debacle), or dead (from the illness, suicide, or both) - I do not wish it to you, Vovchick; I just prognosticate. Medvedev might be bypassed (with the lack of mass appeal and popularity cited as a problem), Sergei Ivanov will likely become the next Russian President; the signs of the power struggle for the succession are evident.
(Excuse the frankness and the bluntness of these assessments.)
S. Ivanov appears to be more pragmatic, much less nationalistic, and more West, especially the Scandinavian model oriented. The accompanying changes in the Russian political system and the geopolitical orientations appear to be almost inevitable.

Merkel will be out in Germany.

It is foreseeable, that Russia will be admitted to NATO within next 5 to 10 years.

At the present time, all the efforts to restore the relations between the Western: US - NATO and the Russian military systems should continue, despite all the perceived recent setbacks and mutual recriminations, which should be gradually resolved; and also despite all the temporary uncertainties in the political situations and circumstances, which will eventually be resolved in due time too. This should be viewed as a strategic choice. Good will, the readiness, and the skills in communicating and listening to each other, active search for the practical and mutually acceptable solutions will help in this process.

I see this good will and the guarded but balanced optimism in the NATO officials, for example in NATO Secretary General's press conference after NATO - Russia meeting on 3.23.17.

Both sides should make an extra effort and an extra step, to go an extra mile in this direction; there should be no doubts in the positive outcome.

From the point of view of the balances of military powers, freed from the temporary, ever-changing and fleeting "political" or "ideological" considerations, no one could be a better Ally for Russia than NATO, and no one could be a better Ally for the core big powers of NATO, than Russia; much better than the swirling Eastern European midgets. The jealousy and fears of these military midgets is clearly present and evident, they were said to be more anti-Russian than the core big powers, and they are tireless in their efforts to drive a wedge between the big guys, and to drive it as deeply as they can, in order to retain and to enhance their power share in influence and the decision making. This might be one of the problems that Gen. Gerasimov complained about in his recent meetings with Gen. Dunford.
The role and the place of Germany was, is, and will be quite ambiguous and ambivalent, determined by the historical factors. The urge and the push for the German revanche, in whatever new forms and ways, covert and overt, hidden and obvious, is historically un-rootable and has to be always kept in check.

See also: "Germany and nuclear weapons: M.N.: Germany uses the pretenses of "Trump's withdrawal" and the "dangers of Putin's aggression" to open the discussions about "going nuclear"... 

"Nuclear weapons are expensive, contentious, potentially contagious, and dangerous. Germany is in no rush to get them. But if the shelter of the U.S. nuclear umbrella is removed while Russian weapons are still pointed at Berlin, it will have no choice." 

M.N.: This article, presenting the arguments for Germany "to go nuclear" due to "Trump's withdrawal from NATO" and the "dangers of Putin's aggression", confirms, in my opinion, the German part of the "Gang of Four" hypothesis, namely the role of the German Intelligence in the "Trump affair". 
In fact, this is the attempt to justify the German revanchism and Germany's 70+ years old itch to acquire the nuclear weapons. This reveals their motivation at interference in the U.S. 2016 Presidential Elections, and their skillful and concealed manipulations, in addition to the design to demonstrate the Germany's "leading moral role and status" as the "protector" of the human rights in Europe and the world, especially when compared with the "aggressive Russia" and the "decadent, dysfunctional, dictatorial" America under Trump. 
Quite a twist: a mixture of the utter moral hypocrisy and the suppressed, pent-up rage at their old defeats and the potential aggressive tendencies of the "great economic power", claiming its "natural rights". 
We cannot exclude that at least in part, these "concerns" (re the "Russian aggression" and the "Trump dictatorship") were also engineered by the survived, revived, and increasingly ambitious and sophisticated German Intelligence. 
Not to see this possible connection would be a blindness of criminal proportions. 

With the strategic vision of the NATO - Russia Alliance clarified and affirmed, the issue of the anti-missile defense shield will be resolved by itself: it will be a common shield for everyone, including NATO, Russia, and their close allies, such as Israel, in the Northen hemisphere.

The traditional, historical, dysfunctional and misplaced (just like it happened so many times in the past) Russian military paranoia has to be replaced with trust and cooperation, aided by the clear and the mutually acceptable verification mechanisms.

The alternative for Russia would be putting herself in a box without any exit: she absolutely cannot afford self-destructive military-industrial competition with the West which would only lead to her eventual demise and the dissolution as a state and the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural country.

На встрече с Александром Евстифеевым.

4.6.17 - На встрече с Александром Евстифеевым.

Europe is not "stiff", warm her up by resolving the Ukranian, Crimean, Georgian, and other conflicts, avoid the mortal dangers, escape the abyss; start building the new Alliance honestly, wisely, strategically, with the long-term perspectives, and, I think, these new efforts will be noted with appreciation. Do not try to fool the others with the "extra-smart" special operations and political interference, they are not "lapots". In the end, it happens that you get fooled by the others yourselves, including by those whom you consider being friends, such as the same Germany, for example. "Не рой другому яму, сам в нее попадешь", (Russian Lessons).

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You can kill the messengers but not the clarity of the message written on the wall. To misread these messages is madness.
So far, as I can see, the U.S. did not and is not trying to dig a trap hole for you, if they really did, we would hear a very different kind of music.

Представление делегаций перед началом российско-узбекистанских переговоров. С Президентом Узбекистана Шавкатом Мирзиёевым.

4.5.17 - Note the nice smiles in the foreground and some interesting telling gesture in the background.

However, I am afraid that this advice will fall on the stiff and dead ears. Putin's pseudo-nationalism and his irrational anti-Western slant and stance are short-sighted and self-serving, they are determined by his general, narrow, oligarchic power centered, survivalist principle: "after us - the flood", "après nous le déluge", with the propagandist populist slogans and the half-hearted populist policies employed as the convenient and the necessary covers to maintain his personal and his Mafiosi-oligarchic circle which he serves, predatory, abnormal hold on power.

Russia's admission to NATO will signify and accomplish her complete return to the pre-1917 geopolitical positions and arrangements, to her larger European family and the  assumption of her position within the Western fold and within the Western Civilization, a position which for the last 300 years made her the country as it was known before 1917, and as we know her now. Putin's "Euroasianistic" obsessions and delusions are just another set of the convenient covers to enhance and to secure his hold on power.

Putinism is the legitimization of the criminal power - the "Mafia State" combined with the neo-Sovietization of modern Russia. There is no contradiction between these two components: the Soviet power was always criminal by its nature, with the ideological pseudo-Marxist dressing, which no one and never took seriously. Putin as a human beeing and as a politician is rather complex, he might or might not sincerely believe in what he says and does. His pronouncements, official positions, and his actions do not free the thinking part of the contemporary Russian society, its administrative, management, intellectual, cultural, and, very importantly, military elites, from the responsibility to think for themselves what is good or not so good for the country, to discuss it openly and freely, and to determine for themselves, as a society, the directions in which the country should proceed in its development.

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"Trumpism", in my view, among many different things, is first of all and most of all a social experiment, designed, constructed, and implemented by the "unholy alliance" of the elements within the German, Russian (most likely of Putin's personal intelligence services, of which he has several), and the Israeli Intelligence services, for their own, coinciding in this case and the situation, practical goals and purposes, including the "revenge" for the past "hurts" and "injustices", and nurtured first of all by the anti-Obama - anti-Clinton sentiments.

But this experiment also has the "theoretical aspects", of interest first of all to the Germans, who, I think, were the main but the skillfully invisible and the very carefully masked authors in this group (of the "Ivanovs", "Frances" and "Iosifs"): to examine the origins and factors determining the development of the rightist, fascist type of dictatorship, with the aim to prove and to demonstrate to the world that in principle the establishment of such a dictatorship is quite possible everywhere, including America, the bastion of the civil freedoms; thus relieving the German conscience of its historical guilt.

Well, I have to disappoint you, my dear non-friends: the dictatorship is impossible in America, despite the engineered "election" of Mr. Tump, who is a very interesting person, to say it in one word (and to save the time and space here for the more detailed description and study, which should be the aim of the future efforts), and definitely with the "dictatorial" tendencies and propensities. The dictatorship is impossible in America simply because her people are genuinely free and will never allow it. The more detailed elaboration of this statement is also left for the future.

The dictatorships of any kinds are theoretically and practically possible in the countries like Germany and Russia, I sincerely and strongly hope that it is not possible in Israel either.

There is another, and quite possibly, the major "executive" player in this group, which turns it into a "Gang of Four": the Russian-Jewish Mafia, which is at the helm of the contemporary International Organized crime. This is the real enemy, the real adversary, the very real and almost imminent threat, and the real mortal danger, with the sweet and seductive smile on its face. This is who will kill you - this society and culture, invisibly and "softly", and then wiil hire a slew of writers, journalists, singers and other performers and talents to tell you a nice bedtime story, to lull you into the disbelief, complacency, and the happily blissful ignorance. I hope, that our most gifted and beloved FBI knows well about all of this, at least in part.

I do not know how I veered from the NATO - Russia issues to the "Trumpism" (that what probably is mainly on my mind), but I will return briefly to the security issues before I finish.

I guess, that the deeper connection between this two seemingly disparate and different issues is that the freedom and the Law loving majority of this country, the U.S., in their opposition to Trumpism, should stand united with the freedom and the Law loving people in today's Russia and with the Jews of Israel, just like they did when they defeated the Nazi Germany.

With the admission of Russia to NATO, the new structures of the Global Security will be formed. 

Within this period of time (5-10 years), Iran, very likely, will go through the series of revolutions and will eventually become a secular state.

Similar changes will occur in the Middle East.

Elections 2016 will be fully investigated and the lessons will be learned. 

And zis is not the April 1 joke, zis iz for real!

Michael Novakhov 

Last Update: 4.6.17 




Nato - Russia News - 3.30.17 

NATO, Russia, share troop information, at odds over Ukraine - ABC News
Thu, 30 Mar 2017 11:50:23 -0400

NATO, Russia, share troop information, at odds over Ukraine
ABC News
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of the NATO-Russia council at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Ambassadors from NATO and Russia met for the first time this year in ...
NATO Summit Will Likely Have Tough Questions for Tillerson:
Tillerson's presence at NATO meeting shows our unity, claims secretary generalCNBC
NATO - News: Secretary General previews meetings of NATO ...NATO HQ (press release)
Voice of America -RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty -Russia Beyond the Headlines
all 26 news articles »
NATO - News: Secretary General previews meetings of NATO Foreign Ministers, discusses NATO-Russia Council, 30-Mar.-2017
NATO-Russia Council Holds First Session This Year As Tension Persists
For Tillerson, Showing Up at NATO...
Минобороны предложило НАТО...
Минобороны России протягивает НАТО руку дружбы
Минобороны РФ предложило НАТО восстановить системные контакты между военными - Политика - ТАСС


Russia should join NATO: the benefits for the Global Security are enormous

M.N.: This issue and discussion were active on and off since the establishment of NATO. Most recently, James Baker ("the gold standard when it came to running a White House") stated that he regrets that Russia was not admitted to the Alliance in the late 1990-s - early 2000-s when the conditions were the most favorable for her admission and integration into the Atlantic community. But the train has not left the station completely yet, and maybe this is the time to consider this issue again and to give it a second or another chance, at least in the discussions. 

To reformulate Lord Ismay's phrase: 

1. Take Russia in (very gradually, step by step, in a planned and orderly fashion). 

2. Continue keeping Germany down (gently neutralizing her long-standing ambitions and counterbalancing her growing powers and influence with Russia's admission). 

3. Assert and exercise the US leadership position within the NATO as a unifying and directing force and vector. 

If you want to (completely) reform the (half-reformed) burglar, paraphrasing Lord Ismay's another statement, take him into the police force, watch him closely, educate, train, and acculturate him, absorb him, make him a part of the whole system, and it is very likely that you will greatly reduce the incidents of burglaries and will keep in check his criminal tendencies. 

My impression is that the Russian Military is one of the healthiest parts of the current Russian society, as opposed to the Mafiosi robbers-oligarchs and other destructive elements and they could be the valuable asset in restoring the Russia's overall social and political health and her historical, strategic reintegration with the West in all its aspects, including the cultural, the religious, and the geopolitical. Benefits for the Global Security are enormous, and this strategy might be the only long-term solution. The myriad of tactical issues and problems can be resolved in time if the overall strategic direction is correct. 

One of the foundations of Putin's hold on power is his cultivation of the concept of threat to Russia's security from the NATO and the US, the propaganda of them as the ultimate "enemies". With the destruction of these concepts and symbolic images, the rationale for his continuing pathological hold on power will be greatly diminished in its effects and impact. Deprive him and any other future potential Russian dictators of these "helpful imaginary enemies". 

In response to Mr. Rogozin's concerns, quoted below: 
The greatness of the great powers is enhanced by their alliances with the other great powers, the issue of "joining vs. creating" the coalitions is largely the technical one, and can be resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all the parties involved. Russia was, is, and will be treated as the great historical power, no need to nurture the inferiority feelings and fears... 

The essence and functions of this new and renewed alliance, by whatever name you call it, and by whatever process you form it, remain the same. 

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose 
By any other name would smell as sweet..."

I think, Mr. Rogozin, a smart and strong man, who considers himself the true Russian patriot, understands very well all the peculiarities of the present situation. 

It would be much better for the proverbial tent and its inhabitants to keep it clean and tidy and to carry out all the natural duties and obligations outside it in the areas designated by the mutual consents and agreements. This looks like the natural, healthy, hygienic, and the long-term condition and solution for meeting the world's natural needs. This should help to develop the clean and congenial set of relationships within the tent too, and who knows, might even lead one day to the most sincere and thrilling romance. 

It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.  - Lyndon B. Johnson

I would add: especially if he and they felt so pissed off lately.
No illusions, just common sense hygiene. Generally speaking, the same or very similar principle is practiced with the other guys inside the tent too. 

The first and the necessary step in this process is the mutually acceptable solution and the resolution of the Crimea issue and problem which would require the active involvement of the US. Hopefully, the Russian leadership understands this necessity, and also the benefits of restoring the normal relations with their sister nation. They should not allow this "bone of contention" to be exploited by the others (such as hypocritical although fair on a surface Germany). For the West, it is much better to have them both inside the tent rather than to deepen and to exacerbate this conflict. The Sevastopol's warm water port can be expanded and shared by the joint NATO forces, including both Ukraine and Russia as the members, and also by the others, if it is one of the concerns. 

In its brief historical review in 2001"The Guardian" mentioned that "a mischievous Putin pointed out that he suggested Russian membership of Nato a year ago but was rebuffed by Madeleine Albright, then the US Secretary of State. And while it was stressed that Russia and America could be 'allies', Colin Powell, Albright's successor, made clear that that was 'allies with a small "a"'. The big issues require the big and deep, proactive and forward looking thinking and ideas. They require the big "A"-s, not the small ones. And this is something for all sides to take a note of. 

Is all of this practical, is it doable? 
If there is a will there is a way. 


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Russia's Trump Problem | The Daily Caller

Since well before Donald Trump was elected president, the media have been obsessed with his supposed Russia problem—stemming from the Putin regime’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and its purported ties to key members of Trump’s campaign.

But the real issue surrounding Trump and Russia has nothing to do with collusion between Trump and Russia. Rather, it has to do with the problems Trump will create for Russia and its interests.

Think about it: If you wanted to hurt the Russians, what would you do? Their economy is on the verge of recession and they have only two major exports — oil and natural gas. If you wanted to hurt Russia, you would unleash the American energy industry to drive down the price of oil. If you wanted to hurt Russia, you would reconsider one-sided arms control treaties, increase the defense budget, as Trump has proposed to do by ten percent, and follow Ronald Reagan’s playbook and rebuild the American military. (Here’s some irony:  Virtually all of the Democrats fretting about Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia will vote against his proposed military buildup.) And if you wanted to hurt Russia, you would tell our NATO allies to drop the socialism and beef up their own defenses.

If you wanted to hurt Russia, you would make America great again. And that’s exactly what President Trump is doing. On every count, Donald Trump’s policies are working against Russia’s interests.

Consider that Trump has criticized the START arms control treaty with Russia as “just another bad deal that the country made.” START required parity in strategic nuclear arsenals between the US and Russia. “It’s a one-sided deal like all other deals we make,” Trump told Reuters. “It’s a one-sided deal. It gave them things that we should have never allowed.” Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Commission on International Affairs in the Russian State Duma, said that Trump’s statements are a “source for concern” for Russia.

Or consider that Donald Trump has signed executive orders that will make it easier to construct two oil pipelines that were long delayed because of the Obama administration’s meddling. According to CNN, the US will import just 11 percent of its oil from abroad by the end of Trump’s first term in 2020, down from 65 percent in 2005.

America’s revolution in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and Trump’s pro-energy agenda have helped place Putin’s petro-state on the verge of recession. Trump’s focus on energy independence and bolstering US defenses explains why Russian state-run media has turned on Trump.

Despite all this, the media continue to portray Trump as a lap dog of the Kremlin. But recall that it was George W. Bush who said he looked Russia’s Vladimir Putin in the eye and “was able to get a sense of his soul.” And it was Barack Obama who dismissed Russia as a “regional power” and ridiculed Mitt Romney’s suggestion that Russia was America’s chief geopolitical foe.

This week FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers testified before the House Intelligence Committee about Trump’s Russia connections.

The “big news” from the hearing so far appears to be Comey’s statement that there is an active, ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the election and potential collusion by the Trump campaign.

But James Clapper, Obama’s director of National Intelligence, recently said that he saw no evidence of collusion between anyone on the Trump campaign and the Russians. Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of House Intelligence Committee, has said publicly that he has seen no evidence of collusion. Even former President Obama has stated that there is no evidence to suggest that the 2016 election results were interfered with in any way.

And Obama’s acting CIA Director Michael Morell appeared at an intelligence community forum recently. When asked about the allegations of collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians, Morell bluntly stated: “There is no fire at all. There’s no little campfire. There’s no little candle. There’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”

Allegations of collusion between the Trump administration and Russia will likely follow the president throughout his term—the liberal media will make sure of that. And the media will likely continue to ignore the real news about Trump and Russia—that Trump’s efforts to “make America great again” are in direct conflict with Russia’s interests.

Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of Campaign for Working Families.

Putin and Trump floats at a parade in Germany.  (Maja Hitij/Getty Images) 

Trump’s Russia policy is scaring allies and confusing even the Kremlin - VOX

"There is, in short, little concerted effort from the Trump administration to implement the pro-Russia policy it promised. The Kremlin-friendly rhetoric that’s been so painful for Trump politically has yielded little in the way of concrete gains, either for US-Russia relations or for Trump personally...

Normally, Russia would be rubbing its hands with glee at anything sowing dissension in the NATO ranks. But the public rhetoric from the Kremlin since inauguration, at least where Trump is concerned, has been fairly sour.

“The Russian media, up until recently, put a lot of effort into praising Trump,” Mathers says. “Lately, they seem to have pulled the plug on that propaganda. The media coverage of Trump has changed pretty radically in the past several weeks.”

Reportedly, Russian state media is being echoed in the halls of the Kremlin...

In the short term, then, Trump’s theory of foreign policy is kind of working: Unpredictability is deterring Russia from trying anything too dangerous. In the longer run, though, it’s plausible that Russia might push Trump’s limits too far — or that in a crisis situation in a place like Syria, both sides act in a destabilizing fashion."

M.N.: In summary: There is no coherent and formed Russia policy on the part of Trump Administration presently, and the "unpredictability" as a tactical device has its limits and might be even, to a certain extent, provoking and dangerous with regard to Russia's actions and her desire to probe and to test the limits. 


NATO–Russia relations - Wikipedia 

Historical Notes:

"As the first Secretary General, Ismay was "assuming an entirely new role in the history of international organizations," and as such he helped to define the position itself.[185] While Ismay "deemed it wise not to step too boldly in a political role" in disputes among the members, he asserted himself strongly on issues relevant to the organisation of NATO.[186] From the very beginning of his time in office, Ismay worked to empower the permanent representatives to NATO, and emphasised that they had the same legal authority to make decisions as the NATO foreign ministers.[186]
Ismay was also a proponent of NATO expansion, saying that NATO "must grow until the whole free world gets under one umbrella."[187]

However, before Warsaw Pact was even put in place, he opposed the request to join NATO made by USSR in 1954[188] [189] saying that "the Soviet request to join NATO is like an unrepentant burglar requesting to join the police force"[190] thus making apparent that NATO alliance ("the police force") was directed against USSR.

As stated in the official NATO website "the request tested the limits of NATO's willingness to admit new members".[191]
As Secretary General, Ismay also worked to encourage closer political co-ordination among the members of the alliance. During the Suez Crisis he offered his good offices to help resolve issues among members of the alliance.[192] Ismay also offered to help mediate disputes over Cyprus.[186]
In December 1956, Ismay decided to retire from NATO. He told the press that "he was not giving up his position for personal reasons, but because he felt it needed a fresh hand and a fresh brain."[193] Paul-Henri Spaak was immediately chosen as his successor, but Ismay remained in office until May 1957, when he left with "the affection and respect" of all the NATO members.[193]

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While Secretary General, Ismay is also credited as having been the first person to say that the purpose of the alliance was "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down," a saying that has since become a common way to quickly describe the alliance.[194][195]

Suggestions of Russia joining NATO

The idea of Russia becoming a NATO member has at different times been floated by both Western and Russian leaders, as well as some experts.[100]
In 1990, while negotiating German reunification at the end of the Cold War with United States Secretary of State James Baker, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev said that "You say that NATO is not directed against us, that it is simply a security structure that is adapting to new realities ... therefore, we propose to join NATO." However, Baker dismissed the possibility as a "dream".[101]
In March 2009, the Polish Foreign Minister, Radosław Sikorski, suggested including Russia in NATO.[86] Speaking to one of the main Polish daily newspapers after the lecture, Mr Sikorski explained, 'I stand by everything I said, but that doesn't mean I'm inviting Russia to join the NATO. I simply presented a certain hypothetical vision, a reference to a debate that took place in the NATO in the mid-1990s. Then, under the Clinton administration, there was a debate on whether, and on what terms, Russia could become a member of the Alliance.'[102] Russian leadership, however, made it clear Russia did not plan to join the alliance, preferring to keep cooperation on a lower level now. In March 2009, the Russian envoy to NATO,

Dmitry Rogozin, in response to Radosław Sikorski′s proposal, while not ruling out NATO membership at some point in the future, was quoted as saying: "Great powers don't join coalitions, they create coalitions. Russia considers itself a great power."[86]

In early 2010, the suggestion was repeated in an open letter co-written by German defense experts General Klaus Naumann, Frank Elbe, Ulrich Weisser, and former German Defense Minister Volker Rühe. The letter′s authors posited that Russia was needed in the wake of an emerging multi-polar world in order for NATO to counterbalance emerging Asian powers.[103]
In Sept 2010, in New York, the NATO-Russia Council met for the first time after relations were suspended as a result of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war of 2008; on the eve of the meeting, the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, Ivo Daalder, mentioned the hypothetical possibility of Russia joining NATO.[104]

Putin wants NATO to let Russia join - Associated Press - Published: July 18, 2001

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his country should be allowed to join NATO or the alliance should be disbanded and replaced by a new body that includes all of Europe and Russia.

In his first major Kremlin news conference, Putin also said Russia has no plans for a joint response with China to counter U.S. moves to build a missile defense system. The prospect of a coordinated stance was raised by Putin's meetings this week with the Chinese president.

The Russian president — who in two days attends the G-8 summit in Italy gathering the leaders of the world's top economic nations — said the U.S.-led NATO alliance has outlived its usefulness, having been created during the Cold War to oppose the Soviet bloc.

"There is no more Warsaw Pact, no more Soviet Union, but NATO continues to exist and develop," he said.

"We do not see it as an enemy," he said. "We do not see a tragedy in its existence, but we also see no need for it."

M.N.: These positive views of NATO membership went through subsequent and quite unfortunate devolution. 

See also: Putin and NATO

"How Can Russia Join NATO?

The affirmative case for Russian eligibility for NATO membership is fairly straightforward and easy to make. The alliance has at least two implicit and at least five explicit criteria for admission. The first implicit requirement is that the candidate be a member of the Atlantic community--that is to say, the West. The second is that the candidate share important security concerns with the other members. Russia surely qualifies on both counts. Since the end of the Cold War, it has repeatedly declared its identification and wish to align with the West, a region that, for NATO's purposes, already extends eastward to Greece and Turkey..."
Russia in NATO? - James Addison Baker - The Washington Quarterly 25.1 (2002) 


Can Russia and the United States be allies?

russia U.s. United states
PORTLAND, Ore. Mar. 26, 2017 /Troy Media/ – During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump roiled the foreign policy establishment by praising Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He suggested it was time for a comprehensive re-evaluation of U.S.-Russian relations and broader co-operation between the two countries, especially in the fight against jihadists.
In doing so, Trump raised political and strategic issues.
By praising Putin and challenging the prevailing view that Moscow posed a long-term threat to American interests around the world, the Trump campaign underscored its anti-establishment credentials and its distance from both the Republican and Washington foreign policy establishments.
The move also gave credence to a strategic view circulating in Washington and closely associated with Michael Flynn (President Trump’s now-deposed national security adviser) that the threat posed to the United States by jihadists outweighed the threat posed by Russia. Since Russia was also threatened by jihadists, there was, in theory, a basis for a realignment of American-Russian relations and expanded co-operation in combatting international jihadism.
Russia has a significant Muslim population, estimated at 12 to 15 per cent of its citizenry or around 27 million people. Moscow has the largest Muslim community in Europe, outside of Istanbul, at as many as 2.5 million inhabitants. Roughly half are Russian citizens, the balance immigrants, many undocumented, from the Caucasus.
Birth rates between Russia’s Muslim and non-Muslim citizens point to a steady increase in the Muslim population. It’s estimated that by 2050, more 50 per cent of Russia’s population will be of Muslim descent, although not necessarily practising Muslims. Muslim conscripts make up more than 50 per cent of the Russian army’s new soldiers and by 2030, this will increase to three-quarters.
The Russian Caucasus have been a hotbed of jihadist activity since the Russian empire began to encroach on the region in the 18th century. Russia has fought two recent, bloody wars in Chechnya, from 1991 to 1994 and from 1999 to 2000. Since then jihadists have carried out an ongoing insurgency in the region and have staged several high-profile terrorist attacks in Russia.
Chechen militants have a reputation for being among the Islamic State’s most ferocious and effective fighters. It’s estimated that 2,500 Russian nationals, many from Chechnya and the surrounding region, have fought with IS in Syria and Iraq.
Jihadism represents a serious threat to Russia.
However, expanded co-operation with the West and an increase in Russia’s role in combatting jihadism would come at a steep price. At very least, it would require the revocation of the economic sanctions placed on Russia following its intervention in Ukraine and its seizure of Crimea. More likely, it would precipitate a Yalta-like agreement under which the U.S. and its NATO allies would recognize a Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet republics and some portions of Eastern Europe – what Moscow typically refers to as the “near abroad.”
Such an agreement would end the eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union, and would most likely end western aid to Ukraine. Where it would leave the Baltic states or NATO’s newer members is unclear.
Although Russia has often spoken about a joint effort with NATO to combat jihadism, especially in Syria, it has stopped short of indicating what such co-operation would entail and what Moscow is prepared to bring to the effort.
There is a larger issue here than whether the struggle against jihadism might offer a basis for resetting U.S.-Russian relations: to define the nature of Russia’s ongoing relationship with the West.
The Soviet Union emerged from the Second World War as one of two undisputed superpowers. During the Cold War, the U.S.S.R. represented an alternative and unique ideology for organizing society, albeit one that had become corrupted and diluted.
Modern Russia is no longer a superpower, the Kremlin’s pretensions notwithstanding. It has a formidable military force, however, as well as an advanced military-industrial base and, most importantly, more than 7,000 nuclear warheads and the missile forces to deliver them. It can no longer challenge the U.S. across the globe and no longer boasts the stable of client states it once had. Its presence in Latin America and Africa, once hotbeds of Soviet-American rivalry, for example, is largely nonexistent. Instead, Russia behaves more like an emerging power trying to define its role in the world.
Its primary focus has been in the near abroad, the region previously incorporated into the Soviet Union or under its control, and the Middle East. The latter is particularly important to Moscow since the region represents the petroleum swing producers, whose production can have a significant impact on the prevailing price and because Russia sees issues there where it can gather diplomatic chips to trade for concessions elsewhere.
The problem with the Kremlin’s foreign policy is that its concept of national security is outdated. There’s an inherent contradiction between Russia’s dependence on western capital and technology, and its desire to control its periphery.
Students of Russian history note that the country’s lack of defensible frontiers and its history of repeated invasions from the west create a five-century-old geopolitical imperative. Only by controlling its periphery can Moscow be certain of protecting its core. During periods of Russian strength, that periphery extends; it retreats during periods of Russian weakness. At the height of the Cold War, Moscow succeeded in pushing that periphery all the way to the Adriatic Sea, albeit briefly, and well into central Europe.
Over the last several decades, hydrocarbon exports have represented around 70 per cent of Russia’s foreign earnings and around 50 per cent of the federal government’s budget. During periods of high oil prices, Russia generated surpluses sufficient to finance the modernization of its industry and military. It was still dependent on foreign technology in many industrial sectors, especially petroleum, but the rapidly-growing economy and rising personal incomes made Russia an attractive place to invest.
That didn’t mean that the Kremlin’s desire to exert more control over its periphery contradicted any less with its desire to attract foreign capital and technology. But it was less dependent economically on Europe and the U.S., and better able to afford the price of an aggressive foreign policy.
Since 2008, low oil prices have meant that Russia has been in a period of very low to negative growth and declining real wages. The government has run persistent budget deficits and has been forced to dig into its reserves. It has cut back spending, especially for military modernization. Its intervention in Ukraine and seizure of Crimea resulted in economic sanctions that further aggravate the economic slowdown.
Moscow’s desire to control its periphery, much of which is now part of NATO and the European Union, is incompatible with long-term improvement of its relationship with the United States and its allies. More importantly, it represents an adherence to a national security paradigm that’s largely obsolete.
No state today could mount a significant military threat to the territorial integrity of Russia. Neither Europe nor the United States have the military manpower or political will to mount an invasion. China’s military forces are large enough to pose a threat to Russian control of its Far Eastern regions, but that’s more the stuff of fiction than practical consideration.
But the lessons of the colour revolutions in some former Soviet states hasn’t been lost on Moscow; especially that those colour revolutions received political and financial support from the U.S and Europe. The Kremlin correctly sees such actions as legitimate threats to its ruling elite.
In the age of the Internet, circumstances have changed. When the threat to Moscow came from military might, geography was critical to defence. But geography is irrelevant to social media. Instantaneous digital communication and dissemination of news makes proximity meaningless.
As long as the Kremlin defines security in terms of controlling Russia’s periphery, its relationship with the U.S. and Europe will be problematic. Russia’s gambit in Ukraine has misfired spectacularly: NATO has increased its forces along the east European periphery; under pressure from the Trump administration, its members are beefing up their defence spending; and Russia has been subjected to crushing economic sanctions.
More importantly, there’s no evidence that the U.S. or EU would consider an agreement that would reset Russia’s relations with the West, end the sanctions and give the Kremlin a free hand to shape the national governments along its periphery more to its liking.
High oil prices will make it easier for Russia to pay for an aggressive foreign policy, but they won’t eliminate the contradiction between that policy and the need for better economic relations with the West. The fact that oil prices will likely stay low for the foreseeable future means there’s no easy way out of its dilemma.
It’s in the West’s interest to improve its relationship with Russia. But it needs to convince the Kremlin it won’t pursue a regime change, while making it equally clear it won’t abandon NATO’s newest members or tolerate Russia’s attempts to instigate its own counter-revolutions or to intimidate those states into adopting policies more to Russia’s liking.
U.S.-Russian relations are unlikely to improve as long as the Kremlin adheres to a concept of national security welded to history. Nor will they improve if the U.S. and NATO see every instance of political unrest as an opportunity to encourage new colour revolutions that ultimately necessitate a further eastward expansion of NATO to defend.
Troy Media columnist Joseph Micallef is an historian, best-selling author and, at times, sardonic commentator on world politics. Joe is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.

The view

Russia News Review: Homo Politicus: "Lost in his loneliness..." “She was a woman who loved and was not loved.” | The Russian Lessons: "Не мытьём, так катаньем"...

Homo Politicus: "Lost in his loneliness... She was a woman who loved and was not loved.

Trump says chemical attack in Syria crossed many lines 

M.N.: The usual, old, tried so many times, successful or not, Putin's game: "forcing into peace", "forcing into cooperation", forcing into love". Now it is Mr. Trump's turn. 

The Russian Lessons: "Не мытьём, так катаньем"... 

"The Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing last week on alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, but the committee has yet to uncover any evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump. If there's one thing on which Trump and Putin can be accused of colluding, it's recognizing the establishment's insistence on using the threat of fear for self-justification and profit at the average citizen's expense." 


Russia bans images of Putin linked to 'gay clown' meme
Images of Putin, often with rouged cheeks and eye shadow, have been online since 2011 -- and have had much wider circulation since 2013 in protest over what became known as Russia's gay propaganda law. They are widely known online as the "gay ...
Russia bans image of Putin with red lips, heavy makeupUSA TODAY
It's now illegal in Russia to share an image of Putin as a gay clownWashington Post
Russia bans picture of Vladimir Putin in dragThe Guardian -Atlanta Journal Constitution -Huffington Post -The Moscow Times
all 83 news articles »

The Guardian

Russia bans picture of Vladimir Putin in drag
The Guardian
A picture depicting Vladimir Putin in full makeup has been banned inRussia. The picture is cited on the Russian justice ministry's list of banned extremist materials a list that is 4,074 entries long. No 4,071 states that the poster, depicting ...
It's now illegal in Russia to share an image of Putin as a gay clownWashington Post
Russia bans 'extremist' picture of Vladimir Putin as a gay
Russian Court Bans Image Suggesting Putin Is Gay - The Moscow TimesThe Moscow Times

all 47 news articles »


Russia bans images depicting Putin as a gay clown
It has been fiercely opposed by gay rights groups in Russia and beyond as well as by other human rights groups and the political opposition inRussia. The circulation of the images first came before the courts last year in Tver, a city northwest of Moscow.
It's now illegal in Russia to share an image of Putin as a gay clownWashington Post
Russia bans picture of Vladimir Putin in dragThe Guardian
Russia bans 'extremist' picture of Vladimir Putin as a gay
Huffington Post -Daily Beast -The Moscow Times -TASS
all 69 news articles » 

It’s now illegal in Russia to share an image of Putin as a gay clown

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A protester holds up a sign showing Russian President Vladimir Putin wearing lipstick during a protest against Russian anti-gay laws in 2013. A similar image has been declared “Internet extremism.” (Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Russia has banned a picture depicting President Vladimir Putin as a potentially gay clown.
Russian news outlets are having trouble reporting exactly which image of the Internet's many Putin-gay-clown memes is now illegal to share. Because, you know, it's been banned.
But the picture was described last week on the Russian government's list of things that constitute “extremism.”
Item 4071: a picture of a Putin-like person “with eyes and lips made up,” captioned with an implicit anti-gay slur, implying “the supposed nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation.”
The Moscow Times thinks it probably looks like this:
That poster became popular in 2013, after Russia passed a law banning propagandizing to children about “nontraditional sexual relations,” and gay rights protesters were beaten and arrested.
But gay Putin memes have proliferated as Russia has cracked down on both sexual liberties and online speech in recent years.
Thus, another news site thinks the banned image is this one:
(The other man in that picture is Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, by the way. He's more commonly associated with sleeping memes than sexuality issues, though in 2015, he signed an order banning transgender people from driving.)
A Kremlin spokesman told Russia's state-run news service, Tass, that he hadn't seen the Putin-clown picture, though he was sure it didn't bother the president.
“Kremlin says Putin skilled at brushing off ‘vulgarities’ hurled against him,” reads the state-sanctioned headline on that interview.
The Kremlin has also become fairly adept at controlling what people say about each other on the Internet.
Russia passed its first “Internet extremism” laws in 2013, according to the Moscow Times — a year after Putin returned to the presidency and began restricting civil rights.
A year later, the paper reported, Putin signed a law imposing prison sentences for people who give so much as thumbs-up to a forbidden online post. Those include an article about a theoretical coup, which landed a philosophy professor in detention.
In 2015, Russian authorities began shutting down websites of Putin critics, and restricting nearly all anonymous blogs, The Washington Post reported. And Russia's Internet censor has long allowed public figures to file court complaints if they run across a meme that misrepresents their “personality.” Like this one, maybe.
Last year, United Press International and other outlets reported on a single mother sentenced to community service for reposting a cartoon of Putin looking at a map with a knife in his hand. And a former naval captain from Rostov who reposted an antiwar report about Ukraine got a two-year suspended sentence and one year of probation for inciting hatred and animosity.
The Post reported on evidence of a government plan to block online announcement of an antigovernment rally in Moscow last weekend, after arresting hundreds at the last protest.
The Post's Moscow bureau chief, David Filipov, recorded cellphone videos of the atmosphere in Russia's capital on March 26 as tens of thousands of protesters rally against corruption. (David Filipov, The Washington Post)
The Post's Moscow bureau chief, David Filipov, recorded cellphone videos of the atmosphere in Russia's capital on March 26 as tens of thousands of protesters rally against corruption. The Post's Moscow bureau chief, David Filipov, recorded cellphone videos of the atmosphere in Russia's capital on March 26 as tens of thousands of protesters rally against corruption. (David Filipov, The Washington Post)
The saga of the banned Putin clown actually began years ago, when a man posted a slew of offensive images to a Russian Facebook clone.
They included openly racist and anti-immigrant posts, according to Radio Free Europe. The man was convicted last year, his social media account was shut down, and he was placed in psychiatric care.
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A year later, many of the images he shared were added to the government's thousands-strong blacklist of “extremist materials” — with the potentially gay clown listed right above a picture of Putin and Medvedev as Nazi soldiers.
More reading:
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If Germany Goes Nuclear, Blame Trump Before Putin - Foreign Policy (blog)

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Foreign Policy (blog)

If Germany Goes Nuclear, Blame Trump Before Putin
Foreign Policy (blog)
The withdrawal of this security guarantee, as repeatedly suggested by Trump (to the delight, or perhaps at the prompting, of Vladimir Putin), would expose Germany and its neighbors to an increasingly revisionist and aggressive Russia, intent to redress ...

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A historian explains what Putin, Le Pen and Trump are selling — and why it is so dangerous - Raw Story

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Raw Story

A historian explains what Putin, Le Pen and Trump are selling — and why it is so dangerous
Raw Story
And it links the “nostalgic nationalism” of Donald Trump's “Make America Great Again” with Brexit's “Take Back Control” and “Vladimir Putin's reassertion of Russian power”—see here onPutin's nationalistic use of the past. The FT article also mentions ...

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FBI Using 'Peeing Russian Prostitutes' Dossier as 'Roadmap' for 2016 Investigation

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The dossier, which contains wild and unproven claims about Trump and sordid sexual acts, including the mocked claim that Trump hired prostitutes and had them urinate on a hotel room bed, was compiled by former intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who was reportedly paid by Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans to investigate Trump.
Video Nunes requests FBI and NSA directors for briefing
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Mike Morell, who served as deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency and twice as acting director, has questioned the dossier’s credibility as have news media reports worldwide.
“The roadmap for the investigation, publicly acknowledged now for the first time, comes from Christopher Steele, once of Britain’s secret intelligence service MI6,” the BBC’s Paul Wood reported.
Wood acknowledged that until now “no single piece of evidence has been made public proving that the Trump campaign joined with Russia to steal the US presidency – nothing.”
But he wrote that “the FBI Director, James Comey, told a hushed committee room in Congress last week that this is precisely what his agents are investigating.”
Wood related that Steele’s dossier “contains a number of highly contested claims.”
But one of the claims in the controversial document was purportedly verified by Wood – that Mikhail Kalugin, a Russian diplomat pulled out of Washington by Moscow, was a Russian agent.
Wood relates that “sources I know and trust have told me the US government identified Kalugin as a spy while he was still at the embassy.”
Of course, in the diplomatic world it is widely known that many top foreign diplomats report back to their home countries about information gleaned in the host country.
Spelling Kalugin’s name wrong, Steele at one point claimed: “A leading Russian diplomat, Mikhail KULAGIN, had been withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation… would be exposed in the media there.”
The FBI is not alone in relying on Steele. Earlier this month, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on a House intelligence committee, cited Steele as a source repeatedly when he delivered his opening statements at a hearing where he laid out the case for alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The Washington Post reported that after being paid to compile opposition research on Trump by the billionaire’s opponents during the election, Steele “reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work, according to several people familiar with the arrangement.”
Ultimately, the FBI did not pay, Steele, the Post reported.
The Post report continued:
Communications between the bureau and the former spy were interrupted as Steele’s now-famous dossier became the subject of news stories, congressional inquiries and presidential denials, according to the people familiar with the arrangement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
In light of the Post report, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley earlier this month sent a letter requesting information on whether the FBI utilized Steele.
In the letter, Grassley questioned the FBI’s intentions over the Steele report:
The idea that the FBI and associates of the Clinton campaign would pay Mr. Steele to investigate the Republican nominee for President in the run-up to the election raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration’s use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends.
Citing current and former government officials, the New Yorker reported the dossier prompted skepticism among intelligence community member, with the publication quoting one member as saying it was a “nutty” piece of evidence to submit to a U.S. president.
Steele’s work has been questioned by former acting CIA director Morell, who currently works at the Hillary Clinton-tied Beacon Global Strategies LLC. Beacon was founded by Phillippe Reines, who served as Communications Adviser to Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state. From 2009-2013, Reines also served in Clinton’s State Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications. Reines is the managing director of Beacon.
NBC News reported on Morell’s questions about Steele’s credibility:
Morell, who was in line to become CIA director if Clinton won, said he had seen no evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Russians. He also raised questions about the dossier written by a former British intelligence officer, which alleged a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. …
Morell pointed out that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Meet the Press on March 5 that he had seen no evidence of a conspiracy when he left office January 20.
“That’s a pretty strong statement by General Clapper,” Morell said.
Regarding Steele’s dossier, Morell stated, “Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can’t judge the information — you just can’t.”
Morell charged the dossier “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think.”
“I had two questions when I first read it. One was, How did Chris talk to these sources? I have subsequently learned that he used intermediaries.”
Morell continued:
And then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris. And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former FSB officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, “Hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,” because they want to get paid some more.
I think you’ve got to take all that into consideration when you consider the dossier.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
With research by Joshua Klein.
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Report: FBI Using 'Peeing Russian Prostitutes' Dossier as 'Roadmap' for 2016 Investigation - Breitbart News

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Breitbart News

Report: FBI Using 'Peeing Russian Prostitutes' Dossier as 'Roadmap' for 2016 Investigation
Breitbart News
He also raised questions about the dossier written by a former British intelligence officer, which alleged a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. … Morell pointed out that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on ...
Russian diplomat under U.S. scrutiny in election meddling speaksMcClatchy Washington Bureau
Trump Russia dossier key claim 'verified'BBC News

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Artur Ocheretny - Google Search

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Artur Ocheretny - Google Search

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Artur Ocheretny - Google Search

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lyudmila ocheretnaya - Google Search

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Эксклюзивные фото Людмилы Путиной с новым спутником

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Людмила Путина
Людмила Путина // Фото: Вячеслав Прокофьев/ТАСС
О том, что президент и первая леди больше не вместе, страна узнала 6 июня 2013-го.Тогда в интервью государственному телеканалу Владимир Владимирович и Людмила Александровна признались, что пережили «цивилизованный развод».
В январе прошлого года «Собеседник» опубликовал громкое расследование: по сведениям журналистов, Людмила Путина сменила фамилию и стала Людмилой Очеретной. Все тут же принялись обсуждать, что она, возможно, теперь жена молодого бизнесмена Артура Очеретного. Официальных подтверждений и каких-либо комментариев героев этой истории не последовало.
В распоряжении «СтарХита» оказались уникальные снимки, сделанные 28 марта этого года в лондонском аэропорту «Хитроу». Россиянин по имени Анатолий рассказал, что ему удалось сфотографировать Людмилу и Артура, которые прилетели вместе рейсом «Аэрофлота» Москва – Лондон в 07:00.
Артур и Людмила прилетели в Лондон из Москвы в 7 утра 28 мартаАртур и Людмила прилетели в Лондон из Москвы в 7 утра 28 марта
Артур и Людмила прилетели в Лондон из Москвы в 7 утра 28 марта // Фото: Архив «СтарХита»
«Я увидел, что народ на кого-то оборачивается, конечно, стало любопытно, – делится Анатолий. – Сначала из зоны контроля вышел стильно одетый мужчина, кативший тележку с несколькими чемоданами. Он параллельно разговаривал по телефону. Рядом с ним шла ухоженная, строго одетая женщина тоже с огромной каталкой. Я узнал в ней бывшую жену нашего президента и услышал, как люди неподалеку обсуждают ее. С рейса в город направлялась еще одна пара. Когда все четверо поравнялись, они обменялись несколькими фразами, обнялись, поцеловались и разошлись. Людмила и ее спутник направились к выходу из аэропорта, где их, видимо, ждал автомобиль».

// Фото: Архив «СтарХита»
На следующий день, 29 марта, председателю правления «Центра развития межличностных коммуникаций» Артуру Очеретному исполнялось 39 лет, вполне вероятно, что гости из России прилетели в Лондон, чтобы отметить праздник. 

// Фото: Архив «СтарХита»

// Фото: Архив «СтарХита»

// Фото: Архив «СтарХита», «Фейсбук»
39-летний мужчина – председатель правления Центра развития межличностных коммуникаций»
39-летний мужчина – председатель правления Центра развития межличностных коммуникаций»// Фото: «Фейсбук»
«Мы с Людмилой Александровной иногда видимся. У нас очень добрые отношения, может, даже лучше, чем раньше», – сказал Путин на «Прямой линии» в апреле 2016-го
«Мы с Людмилой Александровной иногда видимся. У нас очень добрые отношения, может, даже лучше, чем раньше», – сказал Путин на «Прямой линии» в апреле 2016-го // Фото: Bernd Settnik/ТАСС
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Putin’s ex-wife returns to the spotlight with a dashing young husband and a fancy French villa

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Vladimir Putin and then-wife Lyudmila attend a service in Moscow to mark the start of his current term as president on May 7, 2012. (Pool photo by Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti via Reuters)
Lyudmila Putin was the wife of Vladimir Putin for three decades. They met in Leningrad, married in 1983 and moved to East Germany, where her husband was a KGB spy. When the Iron Curtain crumbled, they returned to Russia, where Vladimir Putin began his remarkable journey to becoming the most powerful person in the country, if not the planet.
But as Vladimir reigned in Moscow, Lyudmila was seen less and less in public. Wild rumors in the Russian press suggested that he had packed her off to a monastery. In June 2013, the couple attended a Kremlin production of the ballet “La Esmeralda.” In the intermission, they announced to reporters that they would be divorcing.
Since then, Russians have heard little about Lyudmila. Putin’s press secretary refused to answer questions about her life, while the Kremlin biography of Russia’s president deleted all mention of her. But many ordinary citizens remained fascinated by her, eager to know what had happened to the woman who may have gotten closer to Putin than anyone else.
Now, almost four years later, details about Lyudmila’s new life are emerging. And rather than turning up at a remote monastery, she appears to be planning a lavish life at a European villa, with a new husband 20 years her junior.
These new details offer not only a glimpse into the notoriously private world of Putin’s family, barely acknowledged in official accounts and the subject of tabloid gossip, but also a hint of the wealth that critics say the Russian president and those in his inner circle have acquired over recent years.
The Russian news website Sobesednik revealed Lyudmila’s new relationship last year, when it reported on documents that appeared to show that the 58-year-old divorcée had remarried and changed her last name to that of her new husband, businessman Artur Ocheretny, then 37. Photographs appearing to show the couple at London’s Heathrow Airport were published this weekend by the website Starhit.
The couple’s link to the European villa was revealed Wednesday when the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) published an article that suggested Ocheretny was the owner of a “mini-palace” in a village called Anglet, near Biarritz in the southwest of France, that is worth up to $7.46 million and is undergoing an extensive renovation. The villa was bought six months after the Putins announced their divorce, the OCCRP reported.
The “Souzanna” villa, near Biarritz, which was reported to have been purchased by Artur Ocheretny, husband of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ex-wife. (Wikimedia Commons)
One local resident told a reporter from the OCCRP that the art deco villa was a landmark. “The buyer is Putin’s ex-wife, we all know this here,” the local was reported to have said, apparently unaware that Artur Ocheretny was the legal owner.
It seems like a happy ending for Lyudmila. Accounts of the Putins’ long marriage weren’t always pretty, and the sensitive Lyudmila is said to have struggled with her harsher husband. As Nataliya ­Gevorkyan, a biographer of Putin, told The Washington Post shortly before the divorce was announced, “She was a woman who loved and was not loved.”
But the OCCRP’s discovery of the luxury villa in France also raised questions about how Lyudmila or her new husband could afford such a lavish property. Artur Ocheretny is the director of a nonprofit organization, the Center for the Development of Interpersonal Communications, which is best known for being closely linked to Lyudmila. Before that, he worked at an event agency that often worked with government clients. The OCCRP notes that Russian NGO directors do not generally receive high salaries, and none of Ocheretny’s business ventures appear to be a success.
Lyudmila is not officially wealthy, either. Until her divorce, she was required by law to declare her assets and income, and she never declared much. In fact, Vladimir Putin’s own wealth declarations are similarly sparse, with a $147,000 salary and limited assets, including a Moscow apartment, a plot of land and three cars, listed on his 2015 statement.
There has long been speculation, however, that Putin and those close to him are significantly wealthier than they let on. Some estimates for the Russian president’s personal wealth go as high as $200 billion, though they are backed by sparse evidence. A 2016 leak of records from a law firm based in Panama did suggest that associates known to be close to Putin held as much as $2 billion through offshore accounts.
The Russian president may well have reason to keep such details quiet. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny recently released a video that accused Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of accepting more than $1 billion in bribes. The allegations sparked major protests in Russian cities.
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Reuters reported in 2015 that Katerina Tikhonova, widely said to be the younger of Putin’s two daughters, owned a seaside villa in Biarritz that was worth about $3.7 million at the time. She and her husband, Kirill Shamalov, the son of a friend of the Russian president, together were worth around $2 billion, the news agency reported.
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Page 5

Trump says chemical attack in Syria crossed many lines

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By Jeff Mason and Tom Perry| WASHINGTON/BEIRUT

WASHINGTON/BEIRUT U.S. President Donald Trump accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government of going "beyond a red line" with a poison gas attack on civilians and said his attitude toward Syria and Assad had changed, but gave no indication of how he would respond.

Trump said the attack, which killed at least 70 people, many of them children, "crosses many, many lines", an allusion to his predecessor Barack Obama's threat to topple Assad with air strikes if he used such weapons. His accusations against Assad put him directly at odds with Moscow, the Syrian's president principal backer.

"I will tell you, what happened yesterday is unacceptable to me," Trump told reporters at a news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah on Wednesday.

"And I will tell you, it’s already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much," though when asked at an earlier meeting whether he was formulating a new policy on Syria, Trump said: "You'll see."

Vice President Mike Pence, when asked whether it was time to renew the call for Assad to be ousted and safe zones be established, told Fox News: "But let me be clear, all options are on the table," without elaborating.

U.S. officials rejected Russia's assertion that Syrian rebels were to blame for the attack.

Trump's comments, which came just a few days after Washington said it was no longer focused on making Assad leave power, suggested a clash between the Kremlin and Trump's White House after initial signals of warmer ties. Trump did not mention Russia in his comments on Wednesday but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it was time for Russia to think carefully about its support for Assad.

Pence said the time had come for Moscow to "keep the word that they made to see to the elimination of chemical weapons so that they no longer threaten the people in that country."

Western countries, including the United States, blamed Assad's armed forces for the worst chemical attack in Syria for more than four years.

U.S. intelligence officials, based on a preliminary assessment, said the deaths were most likely caused by sarin nerve gas dropped by Syrian aircraft on the town of Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday. A senior State Department official said Washington had not yet ascertained it was sarin.

Moscow offered an alternative explanation that would shield Assad: that the poison gas belonged to rebels and had leaked from an insurgent weapons depot hit by Syrian bombs.

A senior White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Russian explanation was not credible. "We don't believe it," the official said.

The United States, Britain and France have proposed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would condemn the attack; the Russian Foreign Ministry called it "unacceptable" and said it was based on "fake information".

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would press its case blaming the rebels and Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Russia would veto the draft if Western nations went to a vote without further consultations, Interfax news agency reported.

Moscow has proposed its own draft, TASS news agency quoted a spokesman of Russia's U.N. mission, Fyodor Strzhizhovsky, as saying on Wednesday.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, issued what appeared to be a threat of unilateral action if Security Council members could not agree.

"When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action," she told the council, without elaborating.

Trump described the attack as "horrible" and "unspeakable." He faulted Obama for failing to carry through on his "red line" threat and when asked if he had responsibility to respond to the attack, said: "I now have responsibility".

The new incident means Trump is faced with same dilemma that faced his predecessor: whether to openly challenge Moscow and risk deep involvement in a Middle East war by seeking to punish Assad for using banned weapons, or compromise and accept the Syrian leader remaining in power at the risk of looking weak.

While some rebels hailed Trump's statement as an apparent shift in the U.S. position, others said it was too early to say whether the comments would result in a real change in policy.

Fares al-Bayoush, a Free Syrian Army commander, told Reuters: "Today's statement contains a serious difference from the previous statements, and we expect positivity ... from the American role.

Others who declined to be identified said they would wait and see.

Video uploaded to social media showed civilians sprawled on the ground, some in convulsions, others lifeless. Rescue workers hose down the limp bodies of small children, trying to wash away chemicals. People wail and pound on the chests of victims.

The charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said one of its hospitals in Syria had treated patients "with symptoms - dilated pupils, muscle spasms, involuntary defecation - consistent with exposure to neuro-toxic agents such as sarin". The World Health Organization also said the symptoms were consistent with exposure to a nerve agent.

"We're talking about war crimes," French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters in New York.

Labib Nahhas, chief of foreign relations at Ahrar al-Sham, one of the biggest rebel groups in western Syria, called the Russian statement factually wrong and one which contradicted witness accounts.

"This statement provides Assad with the required coverage and protection to continue his despicable slaughter of the Syrian people," Nahhas told Reuters.

The incident is the first time U.S. intelligence officials have accused Assad of using sarin since 2013, when hundreds of people died in an attack on a Damascus suburb. At that time, Washington said Assad had crossed a "red line" set by then-President Obama.

Obama threatened an air campaign to topple Assad but called it off at the last minute when the Syrian leader agreed to give up his chemical arsenal under a deal brokered by Moscow, a decision which Trump has long said proved Obama's weakness.


The Western-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution condemns the attack and presses Syria to cooperate with international investigators. Russia has blocked seven resolutions to protect Assad's government, most recently in February.

Trump's response to a diplomatic confrontation with Moscow will be closely watched at home because of accusations by his political opponents that he is too supportive of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election last year through computer hacking to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. The FBI and two congressional committees are investigating whether figures from the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow, which the White House denies.

Trump's relationship with Russia has deteriorated since the presidential election campaign, when Trump praised Putin as a strong leader and vowed to improve relations between the two countries, including a more coordinated effort to defeat Islamic State in Syria.

But as Russia has grown more assertive, including interfering in European politics and deploying missiles in its western Kaliningrad region and a new ground-launched cruise missile near Volgograd in southern Russia - an apparent violation of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty - relations have cooled, U.S. officials have said.

The chemical attack in Idlib province, one of the last major strongholds of rebels, who have fought since 2011 to topple Assad, complicates diplomatic efforts to end a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven half of Syrians from their homes.

Over the past several months, Western countries, including the United States, had been quietly dropping their demands that Assad leave power in any deal to end the war, accepting that the rebels no longer had the capability to topple him by force.

The use of banned chemical weapons would make it harder for the international community to sign off on any peace deal that does not remove him. Britain and France on Wednesday renewed their call for Assad to leave power.

(Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Polina Devitt in Moscow; Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Lesley Wroughton and Steve Holland in Washington; writing by Peter Graff, Philippa Fletcher and Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall, Louise Ireland and Lisa Shumaker)