Russia Retaliates After Canada Imposes Sanctions

Canada’s move to impose sanctions on 30 Russian officials was “senseless and reprehensible” and has led to retaliatory measures, Russian officials said. Canada announced the sanctions on Friday against Russian officials it accused of complicity in the death of anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009 while he was in prison after alleging state tax fraud. Kirill Kalinin, a spokesman for the Russian diplomatic mission in Ottawa, told the official TASS news agency late on Friday retaliatory actions against Canadians had already been set in motion. “Canada’s decision on extending anti-Russian sanctions under a false pretext of a hypocritical protection of human rights is absolutely senseless and reprehensible,” said Kalinin. Ottawa’s move “is isolating itself from one of the key global powers” and “pushes Canada’s foreign policy back to the narrow black-and-white world view, incompatible with modern geopolitics”, he added. “Dozens of Canadians” have now been barred from entering Russia in response, Kalinin said, without specifying who...

Read More...


God, Guns … and Russia?

by Susan Grigsby – In 2016, the National Rifle Association (NRA) spent $30.3 million to elect Donald Trump. In addition, according to a report from OpenSecrets Blog and The Trace, they spent $20 million on six Senate races. The total, more than $50 million, represented 96 percent of the lobbying group’s outside spending during the 2016 cycle. The close relationship between the NRA and Donald Trump began in May, when the organization endorsed the candidate earlier than it had ever endorsed a Republican presidential contender. Trump appeared before thousands of people at the NRA convention in Louisville, Kentucky, where he gleefully accepted the organization’s official support. Perhaps it never occurred to anyone to wonder why the NRA was so quick to endorse Donald Trump, who was not then known to be a fanatic ammosexual interested in interpreting the Second Amendment to allow the average man on the street to own an arsenal of weaponry. According to a report of the early...

Read More...


North Korea Tensions: All the Latest Updates

All the latest developments since the latest UN sanctions imposed on North Korea Here are all the latest developments since the latest “toughest” UN sanctions imposed on North Korea on August 4: September 15, 2017 North Korea has fired a ballistic missile from the capital Pyongyang that has flown northern Japan. Yoshihide Sug, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, said the projectile was launched at 6:57am local time on Friday (21:57 GMT Thursday) and flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido before falling into the Pacific Ocean – 2,000km east of Cape Erimo. It splashed down at 7:16am local time (22:16 GMT). “Japan protests the latest launch in the strongest terms and will take appropriate and timely action at the United Nations and elsewhere, staying in close contact with the United States and South Korea,” Suga said. South Korea’s defence ministry said the missile travelled about 3,700km and reached a maximum altitude of...

Read More...


Putin Opposes Military Action Against North Korea

Russian president criticizes US diplomacy in the crisis, cautioning that tougher sanctions would be counterproductive. Imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear missile programme would be counterproductive, and threats of military action could trigger “a global catastrophe”, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. Putin, speaking on Tuesday after a BRICS summit in Xiamen, China, also criticised US diplomacy in the crisis and renewed his call for talks, saying North Korea would not halt its missile testing programme until it felt secure. “Russia condemns North Korea’s exercises; we consider that they are a provocation … ramping up military hysteria will lead to nothing good. It could lead to a global catastrophe,” Putin said. UN Security Council ‘strongly condemns’ North Korea nuclear test “There’s no other path apart from a peaceful one.” Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said on Monday that North Korea’s leadership is “begging for war” as she called on the...

Read More...


UN Security Council Adopts New North Korea Sanctions

Security Council votes unanimously to impose new sanctions on North Korea, including banning $1bn in exports. The UN Security Council has approved a resolution toughening sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programme. The Security Council unanimously adopted on Saturday the US-led resolution, which bans mineral and seafood exports worth more than $1bn. The measures would be the seventh set of UN sanctions imposed on North Korea since it first carried out a nuclear test in 2006. “Today the full Security Council has come together to put the North Korean dictator on notice,” Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said after the vote. “And this time, the council has matched its actions and words.” The resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean labourers working abroad, bans new joint ventures with...

Read More...


Why Hasn’t Donald Trump Signed the Russian Sanctions Bill?

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump loves to make his indecipherable scrawl on big pieces of paper then hold them up for everyone to see. He also likes to brag about how he’s signed more legislation that anyone ever, even though A) that’s not true, and B) what he has signed has been somewhere on the low side of naming a post office. But last week, an actual piece of actual legislation arrived on Donald Trump’s desk. One that he said he would sign. The White House said on Friday night that President Trump would sign legislation imposing sweeping sanctions against Russia and curtailing his own power to lift them by himself, bowing to the near-universal bipartisan will of Congress at the risk of escalating tension with Moscow. But unlike all those executive orders and nonsense bills, the Russian sanctions are still sitting on Trump’s desk five days later, waiting for him...

Read More...


The White House Picked the Worst Week Ever to Lobby for Weaker Sanctions on Russia

by Addy Baird – The bill flew through the Senate but has stalled in the House in the midst of a collusion scandal involving the Kremlin and the Trumps. On the day before Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted evidence that he aimed to collude with the Russian government during the 2016 election, the White House legislative director was on the Hill lobbying against central parts of a bill that would impose sanctions on Russia. POLITICO reported Monday that White House legislative director Marc Short was encouraging members of Congress to water down the bill, which passed the Senate by a margin of 98–2 but has since stalled in the lower chamber. The White House says the bill would strip the administration of necessary foreign policy flexibility. “Our concern is that the legislation, we believe, sets an unusual precedent of delegating foreign policy to 535 members of Congress by not including certain national security waivers...

Read More...


Hey Paul Ryan, Where’s that Russia Sanctions Bill the Senate Passed 98-2?

by Kerry Eleveld – Immediately after a bill imposing tougher sanctions on Russia and limiting Donald Trump’s ability to lift them passed the Senate with overwhelming support last month, House Speaker Paul Ryan and his leadership team buried it over procedural concerns, claiming the legislation should have originated in the House. At the time, Trump officials just happened to be lobbying House lawmakers to weaken the measure. The Senate subsequently tweaked the bill and resent it to the House. And Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut made a push Wednesday on Morning Joe to revive the bill, saying it had stalled in the House precisely because of Trump’s resistance to it. “The mystery is, why hasn’t the Trump administration taken a forceful stand in supporting this measure, this sanctions bill?” Blumenthal said. Blumenthal insisted that there is no question the bill has support in the House, and would be passed if the Trump administration would give it the green light. “I think it has to do...

Read More...


Time to Act on Russia Sanctions

by Max Bergmann and Vikram Singh – On June 15, in a remarkable feat of bipartisan cooperation on a critical national security issue, the U.S. Senate passed tough Russia sanctions legislation by a stunning vote of 98-2. By taking this long overdue action, the Senate recognized clearly what the U.S. intelligence community described six months ago as Russia’s “unprecedented” attack on America’s democratic process during the 2016 elections and took the first step to a meaningful response. Action on this issue is vital; without a response, both former and current U.S. intelligence officials warn that the nation is still under attack and that future elections are under threat. Yet President Donald Trump continues to deny Russia’s attack and seeks to reset relations with Russia. With the Senate bill in hand, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and other Republicans in Congress should work with their Democratic colleagues to stop Trump’s dangerous accommodation of Putin. The House should rapidly pass the Senate’s Russia...

Read More...


Senate Approves New Russian Sanctions 97-2

by Mark Sumner – In a vote that was as close to unanimous as the current Congress is likely to produce on anything more substantial than naming a post office, the Senate passed sanctions designed to punish Russia for interference in the 2016 election. Jamie Dupree   ✔@jamiedupree Senate votes 97-2 to approve new round of Russia sanctions in response to 2016 election interference 2:48 PM – 14 Jun 2017 This bill would put the force of legislation behind the sanctions that President Barack Obama already imposed following the election, making it more difficult for Donald Trump to remove those sactions—which is something Trump planned from his first days in the White House. Unknown to the public at the time, top Trump administration officials, almost as soon as they took office, tasked State Department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions, the return of diplomatic compounds and other steps to relieve...

Read More...


‘Payout Time’: Exxon Seeks Waiver From U.S. Sanctions to Drill in Russia

by Nika Knight – “Exxon applied for waiver from sanctions on Russia. Among departments who must approve: State Department, run by company’s ex-CEO” Exxon is applying for a waiver from the U.S. Treasury Department to bypass U.S. sanctions against Russia and resume offshore drilling in the Black Sea with the Russian oil company Rosneft, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Among those charged with deciding to grant the permit is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon who previously oversaw the company’s Russia operations. Rebecca Ballhaus  ✔@rebeccaballhaus Exxon applied for waiver from sanctions on Russia. Among depts who must approve: State Dept, run by company’s ex-CEO https://www.wsj.com/articles/exxon-seeks-u-s-waiver-to-work-in-russia-despite-sanctions-1492620677 … 1:09 PM – 19 Apr 2017   “Ka-ching! Payout time,” tweeted Rachel Maddow in response to the Wall Street Journal report. Rachel Maddow MSNBC ✔@maddow Ka-ching! Payout time.https://goo.gl/Zv9pT1  1:52 PM – 19 Apr 2017 Exxon Seeks U.S. Waiver to Resume Russia Oil...

Read More...


Israeli Government Is Petrified of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

by Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview – The following is an interview with Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace and the editor of On Antisemitism: Solidarity and the Struggle for Justice. Mark Karlin: How is the charge of antisemitism used to smear critics of the Israeli government and its ignoble policies toward Palestinians? Rebecca Vilkomerson: As Tony Lerman’s contribution to the On Antisemitism book explores, Israel and its advocates have worked hard to portray criticism of the state of Israel as the “new antisemitism.” However, using the charge of antisemitism to shut down legitimate criticism of Israeli policies diminishes the meaning of the term and makes it harder to combat the real thing. In our advocacy work for Palestinian rights, we must always be vigilant for cases of real antisemitism directed against Jewish people — as opposed to protest against the Israeli state — just as...

Read More...


What did Trump Know About Flynn’s Talks With Russia, and When did He Know it?

by Mark Sumner – There’s something about the words “full confidence.” In any administration, the fact that someone has to come out and say that a cabinet officer has the full confidence of the president is enough to let you know that there are very good reasons for that position to be in doubt. When the person on the receiving end of that “confidence” is carefully hiding out of public sight, then it’s a pretty good bet there are packing boxes being unfolded. For Michael Flynn, it was Kellyanne Conway who delivered the full confidence speech following his heartfelt apology — pointedly delivered over the phone — to Mike Pence. So what was coming next seems almost obvious. On the surface, Flynn’s apology should have been enough. If the extent of his sins was bobbling his statement to Pence, when he had given some vague response to a question on the topic of sanctions, it would have...

Read More...


Michael Flynn Out: From Trump’s “Full Confidence” to Midnight Resignation

by Jon Queally – Having served just 24 days, US national security advisor quits after secret talks with Russian diplomat raise too many questions for him to answer The idea that lawmakers in congress will continue to pursue a probe into the Trump administration’s dealings with Russian officials was confirmed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who last week filed a “resolution of inquiry” to investigate President Trump’s ongoing conflicts of interest, which would include possible business dealings with Moscow and political ties to the Kremlin during last year’s election. In a pair of tweets overnight, Nadler indicated the latest developments, including Flynn’s surprise resignation, only bolster the case for a formal congressional investigation: Less than one month into office, President Donald Trump’s controversial national security advisor, Michael Flynn, abruptly resigned Monday night following revelations he had discussed sanctions with a high-level Russian official and then misinformed White House staff, including Vice President...

Read More...


Trump: Cut Sanctions on Russia for Nuclear Arms Deal

Incoming US president says weapons should be reduced, weeks after joining Putin in call for nuclear expansion. Donald Trump, the US president-elect, has told a British newspaper that he will offer to end sanctions against Russia in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal with the Kremlin. In an interview with The Times of London published late on Monday, Trump said he wanted nuclear weapons arsenals of the world’s two biggest nuclear powers – the United States and Russia – to be “reduced very substantially”. “They have sanctions on Russia – let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it,” Trump was quoted by the newspaper as saying. However, on December 22 Trump tweeted that the US must “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until the world...

Read More...


Trump’s Plan to Warm Relations with Russia is Getting Harder

by Justin Salhani – Trump wanted to improve relations with Putin, but Senate Republicans may complicate his plans. President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to warm relations with Russia are set to be complicated by new sanctions placed on Russia’s top intelligence agencies and Obama’s decision to expel a number of Russian emissaries. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that he will not expel American diplomats, despite the Obama administration’s jettison of 35 Russians from the United States over accusations of hacking and election interference. “While we reserve the right to respond, we will not drop to this level of irresponsible diplomacy, and we will make further steps to help resurrect Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of Trump will pursue,” Putin said in a statement published on the Kremlin’s website. Putin said the expulsion was a provocation but chose not to immediately retaliate, despite suggestions to do so from Russian...

Read More...


Feds Investigating Trump Advisor’s Meeting with Russian Officials

by Aaron Rupar – Harry Reid wrote the FBI, demanding action. U.S. law enforcement is looking into Donald Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page’s meetings with high-ranking Russian officials this summer, Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff reports. Page, who Trump said was one of his five foreign policy advisors last March, is suspected of communicating with “senior Russian officials” about “the possible lifting of economic sanctions” if Trump becomes president, Yahoo reports, citing “multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.” One of the officials Page allegedly met with, Igor Diveykin, is “believed by U.S. officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election.” Russia is widely believed to be behind high-profile computer hacks that appear timed to influence the presidential election. ThinkProgress obtained a letter from Sen. Harry Reid to the FBI, dated August 27, demanding an investigation into Page’s contacts with the Russians. Reid’s letter refers...

Read More...


World Powers Lift Nuclear-Related Sanctions on Iran

Move comes after the UN atomic watchdog announces that Tehran complied with the terms of last July’s landmark deal International sanctions against Iran have been lifted after the UN atomic watchdog announced that the country had complied with the terms of last July’s landmark deal aimed at scaling down its nuclear programme. The United States and the European Union said on Saturday that nuclear-related sanctions against Iran were lifted, after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that Tehran had put in place all nuclear measures required under a deal reached with six world powers in July. “Iran has carried out all measures required under the (July deal) to enable Implementation Day (of the deal) to occur,” the Vienna-based IAEA said in a statement on Saturday. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that as a result “multilateral and national economic and financial sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme are lifted”....

Read More...


Iran to Comply With Nuclear Deal “Within Days”

Implementation to come soon, US Secretary of State says, meaning Iran to reap lifting of economic sanctions Iran could comply with last summer’s nuclear deal as early as Friday or this weekend, officials said, requiring the United States and other nations to immediately suspend billions of dollars’ worth of economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Secretary of State John Kerry predicted Wednesday the achievement “within the next coming days.” Just hours after welcoming Iran’s release of 10 US sailors it detained when their boats wandered on to an Iranian island in the Persian Gulf, Kerry said in a speech at the National Defense University that implementation of the nuclear agreement will take place soon, without specifying an exact date. Others in Washington and elsewhere said the announcement could come within two days. In Vienna, a senior diplomat from one of the six countries that cut the deal with Iran...

Read More...


World Powers Vow to Punish N Korea After Nuclear Test

UN Security Council to start work on new sanctions against Pyongyang after its hydrogen bomb test claim The UN Security Council has vowed to pursue new sanctions against North Korea after the reclusive country said on Wednesday it had successfully conducted a test on its first hydrogen bomb. In an emergency session, the council strongly condemned the nuclear test and said it would begin working immediately on a new resolution against Pyongyang, whose nuclear test claim sparked a global outcry even as some officials and experts voiced doubts over its validity. The test was in violation of previous resolutions and “a clear threat to international peace and security continues to exist”, said the council, which started imposing economic and commercial sanctions on North Korea a decade ago because of its nuclear activity. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned North Korea’s announcement, calling it “profoundly destabilizing for regional security”. The...

Read More...