By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – – Russian President Vladimir Putin has abruptly become a climate-change denialist, apparently …
A wave of unsanctioned rallies swept across Russia on Sunday to protest corruption in the government of President Vladimir Putin, prompting arrests as hundreds of riot officers moved in to break up crowds.
A former Russian member of parliament who defected to Ukraine and began sharply criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin was gunned down Thursday in downtown Kiev in an apparent contract killing.
The Russian president said his friend who was named in the leaks spent the money on expensive musical instruments.
The tricky question of who will confront Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin about an alleged $2 billion tax-avoidance scheme has been answered this evening, with former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying he’ll look after it.
“You bet you are, you bet I am,” Mr Abbott said, puffing his chest out slightly, when reporters asked if he was serious. Abbott reminded journalists he had form when it came to coercing Putin. He recounted the story of the time he strong-armed the Russian President into revealing whether or not he was behind the MH17 attack (he wasn’t, as it turns out).
Mr Abbott – who is re-contesting the next election on the promise of better transport links in his Warringah electorate – will meet with Mr Putin as part of his next international trip. Mr Putin responded to questions from reporters about the meet-up, saying
Two weeks ago Rupert Murdoch’s ex wife No.3 Wendi Deng was arm-in-arm with hunky violinist Charlie Siem, 17 years her junior who also dabbles in a bit of underwear modelling.
The approval rating of President Vladimir Putin is now higher than ever at 89.9 percent and pollsters say the fresh surge in the Russian leader’s popularity is due to the successful anti-terrorist operation in Syria.
Russian president Putin and his US counterpart spar over the crisis in Syria in duelling UN speeches.
Here’s the latest from our pal in Russia:
President Vladimir V. Putin on Monday approved the delivery of a sophisticated air defense missile system to Iran, potentially complicating negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program and further straining ties with Washington.
The sale could also undermine the Obama administration’s efforts to sell Congress and foreign allies on the nuclear deal, which Iran and the United States are still struggling to complete. It might also reduce the United States’ leverage in the talks by making it much harder for the United States or Israel to mount airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure if the country ignored such an agreement.
Well, there you have it: Putin is eager to undermine any possibility of a US nuclear deal with Iran. This gives Republicans a choice: they can side with Putin or they can side with Barack Obama.
Decisions, decisions. I wonder what they’ll choose?
One thing that is fact, Russia isn’t supplying Isil or it’s allies with weapons. However the USA is.
Today, one can draw conclusions from Vladimir Putin’s interview to German TV channel ARD and his visit to Brisbane for the G20 summit. The president clearly indicated his intention to support the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, substantiated Russia’s strong economic position and made it clear that the West could accuse and threaten as much as it wanted to, but the “Russian czar will go fishing” amid all of this.
Putin gave the interview to the German TV channel a few days before his departure to Australia. The interview was published after the Russian president returned on Sunday. The President noted that the Minsk agreement became possible only because “Russia became actively involved in this effort; we worked with the Donbass militias, that is the fighters from southeast Ukraine, and we convinced them that they should settle for certain agreements. If we had not done that, it would simply not have happened. There are some problems with the implementation of these agreements, it is true,” he said.
However, according to Putin, Russia does not have the “special levers” of influence on the leaders of Donbass. It is difficult to find arguments, when loved ones are being killed. “These are our villages, we come from there. Our families and our loved ones live there. If we leave, nationalist battalions will come and kill everyone. We will not leave, you can kill us yourselves,” the president said, expressing the views of the militia forces.
“When Putin speaks about the limited possibilities of showing influence on leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk republics, it goes primarily about the fact that Russia is not responsible for their statements, for example, when they say that the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics must exist within the administrative boundaries of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, – Konstantin Kalachev, a political scientist, the head of Political Expert Group told Pravda.Ru. – Russia is not responsible for their statements about the wish to go on crusade to take Mariupol. Russia sees them as a full-fledged, independent entity. The country in any case is responsible for the fate of the population living on the territory.
“Russia will have to take responsibility for the fate of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in terms of economic and practical assistance – in questions of the organization of peaceful life, in terms of advice, counseling and everything that will help these territories go through this difficult period. This winter for them is actually a test for survival,” Konstantin Kalachev told Pravda.Ru.
Putin laid responsibility for the situation in Ukraine on the Kiev government. “Today there is fighting in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian central authorities have sent the armed forces there and they even use ballistic missiles. Does anybody speak about it? Not a single word. And what does it mean? What does it tell us? This points to the fact, that you want the Ukrainian central authorities to annihilate everyone there, all of their political foes and opponents. Is that what you want? We certainly don’t. And we won’t let it happen,” said the Russian president.
Thus, it is now obvious that Putin will not tolerate the destruction of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. This is the main conclusion from Sunday’s interview. Russia does not need NATO bases in Ukraine, nor does it need the neo-Nazi Ukraine. “Frankly speaking, we are very concerned about any possible ethnic cleansings and Ukraine ending up as a neo-Nazi state,” he said.
Speaking of the influence on “separatists,” Putin said: “There is just one thing that I always pay attention to. We are told again and again: pro-Russian separatists must do this and this, you must influence them in this way, you must act in that way. I have always asked them: “What have you done to influence your clients in Kiev? What have you done? Or do you only support Russophobic sentiments?” he said. “However, the following day, despite all the guarantees provided by our partners from the West, a coup happened and both the Presidential Administration and the Government headquarters were occupied,” he then continued.
Next came the question of support for the Donetsk and Luhansk republics with servicemen, weapons and equipment. Where did they get the armoured vehicles and the artillery systems? Nowadays people who wage a fight and consider it righteous will always get weapons,” said the president.
At the G20 summit in Brisbane, Putin told Canadian Prime Minister that “we will not leave Ukraine because we are not there.” Some like to draw parallels with Crimean events, where Putin first denied, but then acknowledged the presence of Russian troops to “block Ukrainian military bases.” Well, politics is the art of the possible.
Russia, according to the president, does not fight against Ukraine, but saves its economy. Russian banks, for the time being, have credited Ukrainian economy in the amount of $25 billion, Putin said. Yet, Russia is not going to seek early repayment of the public debt of the 3-billion-dollar loan in payment for natural gas.
“When we extended a $3 billion loan a year ago, there was a condition that if Ukraine’s total debt exceeded 60 percent of GDP, we, the Russian Ministry of Finance, would be entitled to demand an early repayment. Again, if we do it, the whole financial system will collapse. We have already decided that we will not do it. We do not want to aggravate the situation. We want Ukraine to get on its feet at last,” Putin said.
Why does the West restrict Russian banks in their access to credit resources, Putin asked, because such restrictions harm Ukraine. Gazprombank is another creditor, a private bank. When under sanctions, it may demand early repayment of the amount of 3.2 billion dollars.
“For Putin, it is important Donetsk and Luhansk republics should gain political subjectivity, and this is where respect to the elections that took place there comes from. For Russia, it is important the Ukrainian authorities should see these territories as a partner for negotiations. For war, one party is enough, for peace one needs two. The problem is that not all people in the Donetsk and Luhansk republics want peace. Not all people in Ukraine want peace either. For some, this war is business, for others, war can end only with victory,” said Konstantin Kalachev.
“This is the idea that Putin announced back in March, when he offered to confirm and guarantee the neutrality of Ukraine, when he tried to push the Ukrainian leadership towards federalization of the country for the protection of human rights, protection of the Russian-speaking population, the introduction two-language system and so on,” Rostislav Ishchenko, President of the Center for Analysis and Forecasting (Kiev) told Pravda.Ru. The plan was rejected then, and, as I understand it, it was finally rejected at the G20 in Brisbane. Putin’s early departure suggests that he failed to come to a consensus with the United States. In Ukraine, it is the USA that forms the reaction of the Western world to all proposals in this regard. This means that this idea of shared responsibility should be buried.”
“Putin is trying to show that putting pressure on him is useless, – said Konstantin Kalachev. – That is, in this case, we can recall the phrase of Alexander III – “when the Russian czar goes fishing, Europe can wait.” Now the two sides will start waiting. In the West, no one is going to die for Ukraine. Now it is very important to start a dialogue between Donbass and Ukraine, and this dialogue will contribute to mitigating the relations between Russia and the West.”
Putin walks out of G20 summit early
Russian president says he left to get some sleep but move may be seen as snub after he was pressured over Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has left the G20 summit in Australia early, live footage showed, after he came under intense pressure from the West over Moscow’s alleged support for separatist fights in eastern Ukraine.
Putin told reporters he was leaving before the release of the G20’s communique because of the long flight to Russia and he wanted to get some sleep, Reuters news agency reported.
In unusually frank language between two leaders, Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, was reported to have told Putin as they shook hands to “get out of Ukraine”.
According to Jason MacDonald, Harper’s spokesman, the prime minister told the Russian leader: “I guess I will shake your hand but I have only one thing to say to you: You need to get out of Ukraine.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron was among other leaders who publicly criticised Russia, accusing it of “bullying a smaller state in Europe” and warning that Moscow would face further sanctions if it continues “destabilising Ukraine”.
Putin left on Sunday before the final communique from the weekend talks was issued, but attended the annual forum’s wrap-up lunch and praised the “constructive discussions”.
Speaking at a press conference broadcast on Russian television earlier, he said “some of our views do not coincide, but the discussions were complete, constructive and very helpful”.
Putin also thanked Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for hosting the event.
There are those who would like to use the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia, to perpetuate a hackneyed West versus East approach, at a time when the world needs to pull together. This begins with a responsible media and competent political leaders, focusing on the issues at hand instead of chasing ghosts and sowing the seeds of conflict.
Predictably, David Cameron has used Brisbane as a stage to launch a set of snide remarks about Russia, just as the host, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, did recently with puerile remarks about wishing to “shirtfront” Russian President Vladimir Putin over the MH17 air disaster over Ukraine. In fact the entire Western leadership has adopted a hypocritical, dishonest and groundless campaign against Russia, its partner in two world wars, over a question which was prepared, cooked and served in the west: Ukraine. Why doesn’t Abbott confront the Ukrainian President, Poroshenko? Why doesn’t he ask why the Ukrainians do not reveal the content of the ATC tapes seized by the authorities, why doesn’t he ask the Ukrainian President about the alleged sighting of fighter jets trailing flight MH 17?
They tried it before in 2008, in Georgia, when Georgian troops murdered South Ossetian citizens, massed their troops on the border with Abkhazia and then ran screaming along with their magnificent NATO advisors as Russia taught them a lesson or four in soldiery.
They tried again in 2014, in Ukraine, when an illegal Putsch was launched in Kiev to topple the democratically elected President, Yanukovich. The West, of course, applauded at this travesty of democracy and then had the audacity to claim the moral high ground and start blaming Russia, accusing Moscow of undemocratic behavior when President Putin has been elected multiple times with whacking majorities and approval ratings several times higher than those of Cameron, Obama and Abbott combined.
Nothing did they say about the shots fired from the sixth floor of Hotel Ukraine in Independence Square against the pro-rebellion demonstrators, to create a cause and blame Yanukovich. Nothing did they say about the Fascist massacres in which burning bodies of Russian-speaking Ukrainians were tossed out of windows by Fascists as the crowds below looked on, applauded and cheered, as was the case at Mariupol. And this is the side backed by Abbott, his master Cameron, and their master, Obama?
They are quick to blame Russia for the instability in Eastern Ukraine, and to point the finger without a shred of evidence that Russia is interfering. Google these days can practically pick up a matchbox. Where are the photographs of tanks rolling across the border? There aren’t any. Maybe the BBC would like to do a copy paste job again using pics from two decades earlier and another continent?
And now we are on to the blame game perhaps Mr. Cameron and Mr. Abbott would like to comment on their own countries’ recent history of war crimes in Iraq, the country which was invaded without any justified or justifiable casus belli, the sovereign nation which was totally destabilized, whose civilian infrastructures were strafed with military hardware, whose civilians were murdered. The entire Iraq campaign culminated in the most horrific war crimes – deploying cluster bombs in civilian areas, targeting civilian homes and leaving swathes of the country dangerous through the deployment of Depleted Uranium.
The direct result of the criminal interference of the United States of America, its chief poodle, the UK, in turn its ex-colony crawling around its legs, Australia and new willing bedboy, Poland, was thousands of cases of cancer and birth defects among Iraqi children in 300 known contamination sites. The USA, the UK, Australia and Poland, in participating in the illegal invasion of Iraq, have left a radioactive legacy for decades to come.
And here they are, the West, supporting terrorists in Syria against President Assad, interfering in Ukraine, overthrowing a democratically elected Government, then supporting the side that committed massacres.
So instead of using Brisbane to launch unfounded and insolent quips against Russia, suppose the West, for once, acted with responsibility in addressing the real issues facing humankind, and not perpetuating their lies to cover up their own criminal misconduct?
The issues at Brisbane’s G20 Summit on November 15-16 are the following:
Fostering the conditions to stimulate world trade, instead of stifling it through the illegal imposition of sanctions, job creation, stimulating the global economy by 2 per cent over five years and measures to combat tax evasion, now that climate change is not on the agenda. And who was responsible for keeping it off? Three guesses.
Let us hope Brisbane is about coming together, not driving a wedge between the G8 and its diminishing sphere of influence and the BRICS, the prototype of the new model which carries the hearts and minds of humankind.
It was a warm gesture on a chilly night when Vladimir Putin wrapped a shawl around the wife of Xi Jinping while the Chinese president chatted with Barack Obama. The only problem: Putin came off looking gallant, the Chinese summit host gauche and inattentive.
Worse still were off-colour jokes that began to circulate about the real intentions of the divorced Russian president – a heart-throb among many Chinese women for his macho, man-of-action image.
That was too much for the Chinese authorities.
The incident, at a performance linked to this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, was originally shown on state TV and spread online as a forwarded video. But it was soon scrubbed clean from the internet in China, reflecting the intense control authorities exert over any material about the country’s leaders while also pointing to cultural differences over what is considered acceptable behaviour in public.
“China is traditionally conservative on public interaction between unrelated men and women, and the public show of consideration by Putin may provide fodder for jokes, which the big boss probably does not like,” said the Beijing-based historian and independent commentator Zhang Lifan.
Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan, was once a popular folk singer more famous than her husband, and in contrast to her predecessors she has taken on a much more public role, prominently joining her husband on trips abroad as part of China’s soft power push to seek a global status commensurate with its economic might.
Propaganda officials have built the image of Xi and his wife as a loving couple. Photos of Xi shielding his wife from rain on a state visit, picking flowers for her, or simply holding her hand have been circulated widely on China’s social media.
“When the president personally held up the umbrella for the madam, it complies with the international norm of respecting women,” blogger Luo Qingxue wrote on the news site for the party-run newspaper People’s Daily last year after the couple were pictured on a state visit to Trinidad and Tobago.
But Putin’s intervention messed up the script on Monday night while Xi chatted with the American president.
In the video, Peng stood up, politely accepted the grey shawl offered by Putin, and thanked him with a slight bow. But she soon slipped it off and put on a black coat offered by her own attendant.
It spawned a flurry of comments on China’s social media before censors began removing any mention of the incident.
Li Xin, director of Russian and central Asian studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said Putin was just being a proper Russian and did nothing out-of-line diplomatically.
“It’s a tradition in Russia for a man of dignity to respect ladies on public occasions, and in a cold country like Russia, it is very normal that a gentleman should help ladies take on and off their coats,” Li said. “But the Chinese may not be accustomed to that.”
Vladimir Putin is Making Things Awkward for Tony Abbott at APEC
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has had his first encounter with horse-riding bad boy and #swoleasfuck Russian Vladimir Putin at the APEC leaders’ summit and … it did not go very well.
Abbott recently made headlines promising that he would “shirtfront” Putin if necessary to get some answers on the downing of flight MH17, but various sources, including SBS News, report that he has since “softened” his stance.
He said that he is now simply “looking for an assurance” from Putin that Russia will bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice. Putin, however, does not seem interested, and reports indicate that he has denied Abbott a face-to-face meeting.
The only time the pair have thus far crossed paths is when they were placed near each-other in APEC’s traditional “family photo”, which itself is already being mocked across the internet for its Star Trek-like qualities.
Allegedly, after the photo was taken, Putin completely iced Abbott, walking away while chatting with Chinese president Xi Jinping.
The two world leaders will meet again at the G20 in Brisbane, at which point, shirtfronting may be back on the agenda.
It seems these days, not an hour passes where the Western vassal presstitutes regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot contain themselves from attacking him. Neither do the MSM sock puppets have any compunction from heaping more vitriol on a principled man and the great leader of his people. Moreover, the Western backed purveyors have harangued both he and Russia with their outright lies and fabrications for nine months running. Their drivel now is tiresome.
By Montresor, November 8, 2014.
Of course, stooges that they are, at the butt of their non-stop anti-Russian rhetoric are the threat of more sanctions. Just what the wider world needs; doesn’t bother them a bit though that the accusers as well are all mired in a deep recession. The sanctions pendulum swings both ways!
No surprise either that the vast majority of the Russian people continue to support their President in this conflict between East-West perceptions for the world; some ‘experts’ call it the renewed ‘cold war’ or re-set. And despite what the West claims, Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings eclipse 80 per cent and continue to climb. Imagine that: Russians collectively on down from the President won’t capitulate to the Western propaganda!
Early on, some of that vitriol was to be expected given that Ukraine, long since a failed state after the bloody and murderous Maidan coup d’état in February had fallen deeper into the abyss after 298 lives were lost aboard the crashed civilian jet MH17 over East Ukraine during the genocidal and still ongoing civil war. Right on cue, the West was quick to blame Russia; even before an official, and international investigation was launched.
Yet in the absence of real proof against Russian complicity in Ukraine’s internal affairs, one would hope that at least one courageous editor-chief had the modicum of intelligence to understand and report the truth: that continued U.S./IMF/EU/NATO meddling in Ukraine’s internal sovereign affairs was more the causative factor in the country’s slide into total collapse; more so than from any ‘perceived’ Russian involvement.
The naysayers here and elsewhere will be quick to trot out their usual suspect objections: Putin invaded Crimea, he did the same in East Ukraine, he has now targeted all of Europe, and his expansion plans for the Russian empire include the Baltic States. The new ‘Stalin’ has even set his sights on the Holy Grail: England. What nonsense! Let us examine the real context, shall we.
A revolution by any color pales when juxtaposed to the real truth: the Maidan Protests and subsequent coup d’état was hatched by America; and for America. Washington’s sole aim was to install a puppet government whereby the proxy illegal Kiev government would preside over Ukraine with only America’s (IMF/CIA/NATO) best interests at heart. How dumb is that!
Did these treasonous collaborators really think that Russia would stand idly by; watch their navy dislodged from the Black Sea Sevastopol port in Crimea? And did the Western scoundrels equally believe that Russia would grovel before this illegal junta to acquire a new lease? Why should America and the world be surprised that Crimea legally voted and quickly to secede and join Russia? Any real sovereign nation would have acted in similar fashion to Russia; full stop.November 8, 2014.
Well, many from America bought the lies; and still do. Senator John McCain (who will now probably chair the U.S. Senate Defense Policy Committee) is a prime example. After he returned from Ukraine while addressing colleagues and the press, warmonger McCain was dismissive of Russia. And his description possibly born of ignorance, ‘Russia is a giant gas station’ was altogether disrespectful. Uh, yes Senator, Russia is that now. What you are remiss to understand is that Russia is not Moscow. Neither is it St. Petersburg nor Sochi. Russia is however that vast tract of territory from the Polish border on the west to Vladivostok and Siberia in the east. In fact, Russia contains the world’s largest land mass replete with many natural resources.
And with the oil and gas proceeds, President Putin is committed to building the infrastructure for a better tomorrow; for all Russians. And in case McCain also forgot, Putin’s Russia, inherited from his predecessor Yeltsin was still antiquated and more so corrupted. The economy, barely free from the Communist era was in the throes of transformation to the Western, ‘capitalist’ model. Free markets and ‘privatization’ were all very nascent principles for not only the common people but for the bureaucrats and politicians as well; but not to the oligarchs. Criminals like Khordokovsky stole shares and then cashed in at expense of the people. Spot the difference?
Instead of lecturing Russia and its leaders on how to comport themselves in the real, broader multi-polar world, the decadent West should take some time to read more; learn the lessons of history.
William Shakespeare’s play Henry V would be a good start. The scene is Agincourt in northern France during the 15th century.
Yet, God before, tell him we will come on, Though France himself and such another neighbor Stand in our way. There’s for thy labor, Montjoy. Go bid thy master well advise himself: If we may pass, we will; if we be hinder’d, We shall your tawny ground with your red blood Discolor: and so Montjoy, fare you well. The sum of all our answer is but this: We would not seek a battle, as we are; Nor, as we are, we say we will not shun it: So tell your master.
Like England’s King ‘Harry’ who rallied his countrymen to help him lay claim to that which was rightfully his (French crown) but denied him by the bogus Salic Laws, President Putin’s cause, is equally just. What business is it of the West if he protects Russia’s own interests and people from foreign aggressors who have amassed their encircling military forces right at Russia’s borders?
The West though still doesn’t get it. Now the real question is ‘who blinks first’. Hard to believe let alone accept that the world’s at this juncture. Forget peace. The blast of war is in the air, everywhere; really, this is all too tragic.
Vladimir Putin used a meeting with foreign journalists and Russia experts to rail against the United States and the current world order, blaming Washington for many current global problems, including unrest in Ukraine and Islamic terrorism.
Putin said that over the past two decades, the US had behaved as if it were someone “nouveau riche who had suddenly received a lot of wealth – in this case, global leadership”. Instead of using its powers wisely, said Putin, the US had created a unilateral and unfair system.
In a terse opening statement before taking questions for nearly three hours, Putin said: “The exceptionalism of the United States, the way they implement their leadership, is it really a benefit? And their worldwide intervention brings peace and stability, progress and peak of democracy? Maybe we should relax and enjoy this splendour? No!”
. “Unilateral dictatorship and obtrusion of the patterns leads to opposite result. Instead of conflicts settlement – their escalation. Instead of sovereign, stable states – growing chaos. Instead of democracy – support for very dubious people, such as neo-Nazis and Islamic extremists,” he said.
The president denied claims that Russia’s behaviour in Ukraine had been aggressive: “Statements that Russia is trying to reinstate some sort of empire, that it is encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbours, are groundless,” he said.
However, when one British newspaper reporter asked him specifically about the repeated reports of Russian army troops operating in east Ukraine, Putin chose to ignore the question completely.
Putin was also asked about a remark by a top aide on the previous day of the forum that “if there is no Putin there is no Russia”. Vyacheslav Volodin said any attack on the Russian president should be considered to be an attack on Russia itself. Putin said he believed Russia could survive without him, but said he did not think he could survive without Russia: “Russia is everything to me, that is definitely a fact. I could not imagine myself separated from Russia for a single second.
Consider the number of shouts and whispers we heard after MH17 went down.
First the crime, then the cover-up. The criminals will be brought to justice. Putin will be held personally responsible for this act of evil. The worst peacetime atrocity in modern history. Putin ‘not welcome’ in Brisbane. Putin to be denied permission to come to Australia. Putin, if he comes here, will be ‘brought to justice’. Hundreds of millions to be spent ‘bringing them home’. A war should be suspended so we can recover the bodies. Hundreds of millions spent while we wait for the war to be suspended. A national day of mourning. A multi-faith service in a Melbourne cathedral for the innocent dead.
None of this, after Gaza, ISIS and Ebola, seems very proportionate any more.
What was clear from the start, that it was an unintended shooting down of a plane that was foolishly in air space over a war zone and mistaken for another plane, seems the case now, like a six-car pile-up on New Year’s Eve, or a Mediterranean ferry sinking in a storm.
And now we have Putin coming to Brisbane. How will he be treated? As a murderous neo-Communist dictator the ICC should put on trial for crimes against humanity? Or as what he is, the world’s most powerful man, one we should treat pretty gingerly?
The politics of the exclamation mark make it difficult for us either to greet him or to shun him. Did he personally order the shooting down of the plane? Of course not. Is his war on Ukraine illegal? Absolutely. Was his takeover of Crimea constitutional? Possibly. Will we be selling him our uranium and beef again soon? Of course we will.
Abbott and Newman are in a fix of their own making. They are accustomed to dealing with semi-fictional enemies — the wicked people-smuggler, the homegrown crucifying terrorist, the furtive criminal unionist, the heinous Kevin Rudd who personally sent boys into roofs where they were electrocuted — and faced with actual, complex, powerful humans with agendas of their own, they are at a loss as to what to do or say, lest the bad guy … answer back.
It is not beyond the bounds of likelihood that Putin will want to debate Abbott in a public place and Abbott will flee from the encounter. It is not beyond the outskirts of possibility that he will persuade some delegates that Kiev did the shooting-down and doubts will be officially articulated on this score.
But because Abbott, who deals only in menacing fictions, is unprepared for the real Putin and not just a huffing muppet he wanted not to come here, Abbott, the hyperbolist, will have no words to deal with him face to face, as Bob Carr might have done, and engage him in actual conversation. And will look, as he usually does, a fool.
The Abbott adventure gets worse and worse. Kobane will fall and Abbott will be shown to have been forbidden by Baghdad to send help there. Baghdad will fall and ISIL command the former Mesopotamia. The Budget will be rejected and Palmer demand that Hockey be sacked before any more negotiation take place. Abbott will be too weak to sack him and Turnbull will move against him.
It is no joke to say, as I have every other day for eighty-four days, that this is the worst free-elected government in a thousand years on this planet.
And, daily, it gets worse and worse.
Nuclear weapons: Which countries have them?
GOING nuclear. It’s the last taboo in an age of hi-tech military equipment, where a single warhead can destroy an entire city, kill millions of people and impact generations for years to come.
Nuclear weapons have only been deployed twice in the world’s history — in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 — in a moment that saw leaders collectively vow to never use them again.
However this week, the terrifying prospect has reared it’s ugly head after Russian President Vladimir Putin told pro-Kremlin youth the world shouldn’t “mess” with Russia.
“I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers,” he reportedly told a group of youngsters near a lake outside Moscow.
It comes after weeks of aggressive actions against Ukraine, which Western leaders are taking seriously. After imposing strict sanctions, members of the international military alliance NATO will amass a “spearhead” force of 4000 troops that can be rapidly deployed to the region.
So who really has what in terms of a nuclear arsenal?
GLOBALLY: It’s estimated there are about 22,000 nuclear weapons in the world today according to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. However it’s a number that is virtually impossible to verify as estimates are based on self-reporting and most countries cloak their nuclear programs in intense secrecy. It’s also made even more complicated by the fact that some weapons are due to be dismantled and not considered in active use.
The Federation of American Scientists puts the total number closer to 16,300, with the US and Russia containing 93 per cent of the global stock. They estimate about 10,000 weapons are in nuclear arsenals with others retired and waiting to be dismantled. Around 4000 are available with 1800 on high alert ready for use at short notice, according to the organisation.
Five countries are officially recognised as having the weapons under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) including China, Russia, France, the UK and US. Here’s a breakdown of exactly who has what.
UNITED STATES: The US is the only country that has used nuclear weapons in the past — against Japan in 1945. Its nuclear arsenal peaked in 1967 at 31,255 warheads although this has since been reduced to 4804 warheads according to latest government disclosures in September 2013, reported by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a non-profit organisation concerned with reducing the spread of weapons.
However it also has “several thousand” that have not been dismantled and about 200 weapons stored in Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey.
RUSSIA: There is “considerable uncertainty” surrounding the sites of Russia’s nuclear weapons according to the Federation of American Scientists. However NTI estimates Russia has 1512 strategic warheads ready to be deployed with a total number between 8500 and 10,000 warheads and another 3000 waiting to be dismantled.
CHINA: China is also seriously secretive about its nuclear weapons, even using underground storage facilities to conceal equipment. It’s estimated the country has 250 warheads in 12 locations, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
FRANCE: France has 290 nuclear warheads, which are thought to be stored in six locations around the country.
UNITED KINGDOM: The UK has fewer than 225 nuclear warheads, all of which can be launched by sea. It’s part of the NPT and is committed to scaling back its nuclear program.
INDIA: India regards its weapons as a crucial part of strategic defence and is not party to the NPT. It’s estimated to have between 90 and 110 warheads.
PAKISTAN: Is also outside the NPT and has 100-120 nuclear warheads. It has agreed to provide India with advance notice of tests.
ISRAEL: Israel is committed to a policy of “opacity” when it comes to nuclear weapons and has never admitted to having them, but is widely believed to have between 100-200 nuclear warheads.
NORTH KOREA: It’s not known for sure how many nuclear weapons North Korea has but the country has conducted three explosive tests and is thought to have enough enriched uranium for 6-10 weapons.
IRAN: Has an advanced nuclear program, which it says is peaceful. However failure to report certain parts of it to the International Atomic Energy Agency has led to fears it is covertly developing nuclear weapons and the UN Security Council has passed resolutions demanding the country stop enriching uranium immediately.
SYRIA: No confirmed weapons but has reportedly received assistance from Russia, China and Iran to develop a weapons of mass destruction program.
THE CABIN ANTHRAX, MURPHY, N.C. (CT&P) – In response to the ongoing third-world crises in Iraq, Ukraine, and Ferguson, Missouri, President Obama flew to a region under no particular immediate threat whatsoever in an attempt to confuse our enemies into thinking we have no fucking idea what we are doing.
At a press conference in Estonia, Mr. Obama pledged unwavering support for Poland and the Baltic countries in the event that Russian troops invaded and took over the region.
“I want the people of the Baltic Rim to know that if Russia ever poses a threat to their freedom, the full might of the U.S. military will hovering somewhere in the general vicinity, ready to look mean and issue dire threats to the invading Cossacks,” said the President.
“The people of Estonia will never stand alone against the Russian threat,” said Obama, “the people of the United States will stand firmly behind you and think pleasant thoughts as you are enslaved once again by oppressors from the East.”
The President also outlined his plan for defeating the savage religious zealots of ISIS, currently running amok in Syria and parts of Iraq.
“We have initiated an emergency war plan called ‘Operation Dropkick,’ which calls for the redeployment of a crack unit of shock troops to Iraq in order to fight the terrorists of ISIS,” said Obama.
Obama told journalists that the shock troops, known for their brutality and lack of compassion, consist of the combined police forces of Ferguson and St. Louis County Missouri. They will be airlifted along with all their military equipment to Baghdad next week and transported (via forced busing) to the front lines, where they will be turned loose on the vile and evil terrorists.
“This combined force, known as the ‘Devil’s Brigade,’ will be the spearhead of our effort to wipe ISIS off the map,” said the President.
The President told members of the press that the “Devil’s Brigade” was originally slated to fight in eastern Ukraine, but it was thought that the unit would not be able to work up enough hatred to fight members of its own race, so it was redirected to Iraq.
“As long as the Kurds keep those bigots pointed in the right direction, I have confidence that our problems with ISIS will soon be over,” said Mr. Obama.
While Obama was talking tough in Estonia, leader of the Russian hordes Vladimir Putin was conducting solo reconnaissance missions of the Ukrainian front lines along the Kalmius River. He still assures the world that Russian intentions are completely peaceful and he has no plans for invasion within the next 8 to 24 hours.