The Independent & Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty & Press For Truth & RT News – 2018-07-18 01:01:01
Russian Aggression Is a Myth,
But Moscow Does Need Friends
Gabriel Samuels / The Independent
‘Unlike foreign colleagues who see Russia
as an enemy, we have never looked for enemies’
— Vladimir Putin
(December 1, 2016) — Russian president Vladimir Putin has dismissed reports of aggression from Moscow as “myths” and said he is “ready for cooperation” with US president-elect Donald Trump.
Mr. Putin admitted the Russian government “needs friends” while warning foreign nations not to infringe upon Moscow’s “interests”, during a state-of-the-nation address in the capital.
Last week the EU parliament voted on a resolution aimed at countering “disinformation” and “hostile propaganda” from Moscow, in a move criticised by the Russian president.
“We don’t want confrontation with anyone. Unlike our foreign colleagues who are seeing Russia as an enemy, we have never been looking for enemies, we need friends,” Mr. Putin told officials at the Kremlin.
“We won’t allow any infringement on our interests and neglect of them. In the last few years. We have faced attempts of foreign pressure with all tools involved â€” from the myths about Russian aggression, allegations of meddling in elections to the hounding of our athletes.
“We are ready for cooperation with the new American administration. It’s important to normalize and develop our bilateral ties on an equal and mutually beneficial basis.
“We share responsibility for ensuring global security and stability and strengthening the non-proliferation regime.”
Tensions between Russia and the US have increased in recent times over the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war in Syria. In October the German foreign minister said the current situation was “more dangerous” than during the Cold War.
Following the election of Mr. Trump, both he and Mr. Putin appear to be willing to cooperate on world affairs and are due to meet in the coming months.
Mr. Putin meanwhile pointed out the Russian economy has begun to recover following a 3.7 percent slump in 2015, and announced agricultural exports from Russia now exceed weapons exports.
Russia Accuses NATO of ‘Slander’
As US Denounces ‘Russian Aggression’
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
(April 1, 2017) — Russia has accused the United States and its allies of “slander” as the US top diplomat and Pentagon chief denounced Russia’s actions in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told his counterparts at NATO on March 31 that the United States was committed to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and that US sanctions against Russia will remain in place “until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered our sanctions.”
Western nations imposed the sanctions for Russia’s illegal 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and for its support for separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.
“We do not and will not accept Russian efforts to change the borders of the territory of Ukraine,” said Tillerson.
The secretary of state added that Washington “will continue to hold Russia accountable to its Minsk commitments,” referring to the Minsk process to resolve the Ukraine crisis.
Tillerson was attending his first meeting of NATO foreign ministers amid worries about US President Donald Trump’s stated desire for closer relations with Moscow.
He told Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who was also at the meeting, that American and NATO support for Ukraine remained “steadfast” after “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”
Russia responded by accusing NATO of spreading “the myth of a ‘Russian threat'” and “the slander of ‘Russian aggression'” as a way to unify its members.
“The US and its allies are obsessed with building up their military presence on our borders, justifying it with the need to ‘restrain Russia’,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Also on March 31, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters in London that “Russian’s violations of international law are now a matter of record — from what happened with Crimea to other aspects of their behavior in mucking around inside other peoples’ elections.”
Mattis was likely referring to Russia’s alleged meddling during the 2016 US presidential election.
The US secretary of defense also expressed concern over Russia’s activities in Afghanistan and its interaction with the Taliban militant group.
“We have seen Russian activity vis-a-vis the Taliban,” Mattis said. “I am not willing to say at this point if that is manifested into weapons and that sort of thing, but, certainly, what they are up to there in light of their other activities gives us concern.”
The comments came after US General Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, told a US Senate committee on March 23 that he had seen evidence of increasing Russian efforts to influence the Taliban “and perhaps even to supply” the militant group.
Moscow denies it provides aid to the Taliban, which is fighting the US-backed government and US forces in Afghanistan.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels on March 31, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, said Russia is in contact with the Taliban to push the group toward national reconciliation and to ensure security of Russian citizens.
“Many countries” maintain contacts with the Taliban, Grushko said, adding that “the consultations we hold, the work we do, we do it with the participation of Afghanistan’s central government.”
With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, TASS, and Interfax
The Myth of Russian Aggression:
Follow The Money
Press For Truth
(2016) — According to US defense contractors, the “Russian threat” is good for business. In this video Dan Dicks of Press For Truth breaks down the propaganda that seeks to set the stage for World War Three.
From Russia with Peace:
Debunking the myth of ‘Russian Aggression’
Robert Bridge / RT News
(July 5, 2016) — Western pundits are busy peddling a new phenomenon they call ‘Russian aggression’, which they say represents a global threat of the first order. Have the Russians become an aggressive race, or is this just a smokescreen to conceal the West’s own behavior?
Having lived in Russia for nearly 20 years, I like to think I’ve acquired some insight into the Russian mentality and how the Russian people generally react under different circumstances. I can state with certainty that aggression is not an overriding feature of the Russian character. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Thus, it is with alarm that I read hysterical Western reports of ‘Russian aggression’ — claims that curl up and blow away under the slightest scrutiny.
Former US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, for example, recently penned an opinion piece in the Washington Post [‘How Brexit is a win for Putin’] where he discussed what the Brexit vote means for the EU.
Setting aside British opinion in the matter, he drags the phantom of ‘Russian aggression’ into the discussion:
“Most importantly, one of the European Union’s most principled critics of Russian aggression in Europe [that is, the United Kingdom] will no longer have a vote in Brusselsâ€¦ The job of EU diplomats fighting to resist Russian aggression, especially those from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, just got harder.”
As par for course when it comes to reporting on Russia, concrete examples are rarely needed to support allegations — and irrespective as to how outrageous those allegations may be. Thus, McFaul never informs the reader as to how Russia has been behaving aggressively towards the Baltic States.
Apparently it is supposed to be accepted as an article of faith. And for good reason. To be forced to prove such a statement would be quite embarrassing since no such aggression exists. Disagreements yes, as is normal between neighbors that share a fence, but nothing that could be misconstrued as full-blown, in your face military aggression.
Buried deep in the penultimate paragraph, McFaul distorts the historical record to conform with the narrative of ‘Russia aggression’ — a dark force that is personified by, wait for it:
“Putin is consolidating strength . . . mobilizing popular support through foreign war. He stopped NATO’s expansion by invading Georgia in 2008 and slowed EU expansion by invading Ukraine in 2014â€¦ As a result of his military intervention in Syria, Putin is expanding Russia’s presence in the Middle East, as Europe and the United States pull back.”
Apparently the reader is expected to ignore, or fail to recall, that Darth Putin was not president at the time of the 2008 Georgian conflict. And yes, Russia briefly “invaded Georgia,” but only after Mikhail Saakashvili ordered a full-scale, crack-of-dawn military attack against the breakaway region of South Ossetia, killing a dozen Russian peacekeepers in the process.
Oops. It would have been more honest for McFaul to have mentioned ‘Georgian aggression’, at least in passing, since even the EU admitted tiny Tbilisi was to blame for sparking the conflict.
Regarding the absurd and oft-repeated claim that Russia invaded Ukraine, that bit of sensationalism can be duly refuted by a simple freedom of information request: Please provide one (1) satellite image that shows a single Russian vehicle/soldier/projectile crossing the Ukrainian-Russian border at any time or place during said conflict. The reason why it can’t be produced is because Russia never invaded Ukraine.
And this is precisely how propaganda works: If a monstrous falsehood — in this case ‘Russian aggression’ — is circulated enough times in the rusty public pipeline it magically takes on a life of its own, becoming an unchallenged, uncritical ‘fact’ that only conspiracy theorists would be foolish enough to doubt.
A bit like the legendary alligator that lives deep underground in New York City’s sewer system. No wonder even the propagators of these Orwellian untruths eventually come to believe in the reality of their fantasy world.
At this point, so-called Russian experts can toss around with gleeful abandon the warped idea of ‘Russian aggression’ with little fear of being called out (except in the reader comments section, which many Western publications have tellingly axed altogether, thank you very much). It should be mentioned that passing off such easily debunked misinformation requires no small amount of contempt for the intelligence of your audience.
Claims of ‘Russian aggression’ now represent a significant part of the Western media’s ‘information war’ against Russia. It has become nearly impossible to peruse an article on Russia these days without being confronted with some variation of the theme.
This is a dramatic departure from the recent past, when US officials — in an apparent effort to make Moscow acquiesce to Obama’s missile defense plans for Eastern Europe — unveiled in 2009 the laughable ‘reset’, complete with a red ‘reset’ button that Sergey Lavrov and Hillary Clinton symbolically pressed together in Geneva (US officials mistranslated the word ‘reset’ as ‘overloaded’ — “peregruzka” — which somehow sounds more accurate all things considered).
When it became clear that the reset held as much power as a cereal box decoder ring, and the US had absolutely no intention of cooperating with Russia on missile defense, which they said was designed to protect Europe against ‘rogue states’, the US was forced to cover its tracks with a Russia-bashing campaign that has now reached a crescendo. As a result, ‘aggressive’ Russia has shed whatever illusions it may have had about a US partnership, something which it truly desired.
Today, much of the delirious hyperbole against Russia is due to Moscow’s ability to anticipate Washington’s aggressive geopolitical designs, which ever since 2003 have been focused on regime-change operations against unwilling patients across the Middle East, North Africa and in Ukraine.
For example, instead of Russia entering what would have been a disastrous military conflict in Ukraine, Moscow displayed commendable restraint, opting for nothing more than accepting Crimea into the fold after an overwhelming majority of the peninsula’s population voted to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.
Russia’s next geopolitical move, which should have gained Washington’s trust and friendship, was to conduct a full-scale aerial campaign in Syria against Islamic State, which was somehow running an oil-export operation in addition to its global terrorist campaign.
Yet the US inexplicably decried Russia’s surprise move, refusing to share information with Moscow over ISIS locations. Go figure (Note: There is still hope for America, not to mention US-Russia relations: Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, for example, proved his foreign policy savvy by applauding Putin’s willingness to confront the new global baddies on the block).
What Russian Aggression?
In my two decades of living and working in Russia, I have witnessed just a handful of physical altercations. A pair of Russians at odds with each other will be content to spend their time hurling insults and arguments at each other long before the standoff disintegrates into a street brawl.
The only way I can explain this tendency to resolve issues without violence is that the Russians are extremely adept at their language — a language that has produced some of the world’s finest poetry and literature — and relish an opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency at it. Of course fights happen, but the threshold for spontaneous violence is much higher, I believe, than in the United States, for example, where a single insult can trigger a five-alarm riot.
Can this national characteristic partially explain America’s predilection for jumping headlong into military conflict? Instead of spending extra time in diplomatic negotiations that may defuse a dangerous standoff, the United States impetuously resorts to military action, which of course only exasperates the problem.
“Unlike many Americans, who see war as an exciting, victorious foreign adventure, the Russians hate and fear war,” wrote a group of Russian analysts living in the United States. Their conclusion should come as no surprise considering the massive toll Russia suffered from World War II.
It is no accident, I believe, that the Russian Federation is popularly portrayed by the bear, a large yet shy animal that goes out of its way to avoid contact and conflict, but one that will become extremely dangerous if unduly provoked. And woe to the hapless hiker who happens to catch a female bear unawares while in the company of her cubs. At that point, running, climbing a tree or both will do little to reduce the complexity of your situation. Better to take your chances with fate and just play dead.
Similar to the ‘aggressive’ bear who must suddenly contend with a group of hunters lurking in an adjacent tract of land, claims of ‘Russian aggression’ are increasing in direct proportion to how close US-led NATO forces approach Russia’s western border.
In other words, Russia assuming a defensive posture as NATO carries out massive war games next door in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe is now arrogantly explained as ‘aggressive’ behavior.
By way of comparison, please consider what Washington’s reaction would be if Russia were to hold war games with South American countries in the Gulf of Mexico. I think it would be a safe bet to say that US fighter jets, at the very least, would be buzzing those Russian ships.
Before the West’s rhetoric concerning ‘Russian aggression’ morphs into something altogether undesirable, the West should come to the realization that Russia — more so than many other countries on the global stage — possesses a natural ability to negotiate at length in order to defuse any global tensions.
Part of this willingness, I believe, derives from its historical appreciation of the spoken and written word, part comes from what amounts to pure intelligence, and part comes from the Russian peoples’ loathing of war, most notably due to World War II, which left an indelible impression on the Russian mentality.
Russia is only as aggressive as the Western imagination needs it to be.
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, Midnight in the American Empire, released in 2013.
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