What President Trump Can Learn from Putin’s Pics From Siberia

The Russian president Donald Trump Vladimir Putin was in Siberia for a few days according to published reports and he took a bunch of pictures and video footage of his time there.

What is he saying with these pictures? Why did he take these pictures and publicly disperse these pictures? One picture, for example, show him holding a dead fish. He apparently chased the fish (a pike) for hours before he “hit” it.

What is the takeaway for President Trump?

Well, first of all, Mr Putin does not look like he lifts weights. His body looks very soft for a guy with such a tough reputation.

Second, Mr Putin is very athletic for a man his age even though he does not have a very hard looking body.

Third, Mr Trump should think twice about going to Siberia with Mr Putin.

Fourth, Mr Trump should have analysts determine what does a “dead fish” mean to a guy like Vladimir Putin.

Fifth, Mr Trump should likewise show some photos of himself during his vacation, to show that he has a better chest than Putin (that could be very difficult)

Sixth, emphasis on point 5 above. Show us your manly chest, Mr President! Do you lift weights?

Putin Expels Nearly 800 US Diplomats from Russia and Seizes Diplomatic Property

Oh la la.

The fireworks have begun between Putin and Trump and Trump hasn’t even signed the sanctions into law. If Trump backs off now and doesn’t sign, he looks weak and scared. If he does sign, so much for his pre-campaign promise about him and Putin.

Remember how he bragged during the campaign that Putin does not respect Obama while “I will get along with him!”?

Well, it is going to depend on what Trump does with this crisis on the sanctions. I kinda think the timing on these new sanctions is the worse. I advised against Trump signing in an earlier post.

The thing is, now that Putin has expelled the diplomats, he has pushed Trump against the wall. Trump is going to look like he is running scared from Putin. The entire world is watching to see who wins this stand off.

Shit.

So now, I am not sure what to advise. Don’t veto but don’t sign? Just leave it hanging? That is not a solution but it is buying time. For what? I don’t know.

The thing is, Putin has an economic crisis in Russia and probably could not afford a fight with the US.  Although, they can help rogue states. My sense is that it is not in Putin’s interest right now to have a long standing fight with America. He really wanted to be friends.  Which is probably why they meddled, because they felt they stood a better chance with Trump than Hillary.

The thing is, if you want to be friends, Mr Putin, there are some things that need to change. Under your watch, Mr Putin several very un-American things occurred and it scares the livingbejesus out of us over here. Plus, the Ukraine situation.

If you really want to be friends, why don’t you agree to get out of the Ukraine or Crimea? It’s called negotiation. Then Mr Trump can go to his congress and say that yes, Putin has been bad in the past but he is remorseful and he promises to change and we should try to work with him going forward if he gets out of Ukraine.

Then, problem solved. World peace just a few short jumps away.

How about it Putin?

How about it Trump?

Jeeze. I need popcorn.

 

Russia Vows Retaliation For US Sanctions. But is any of this RATIONAL?

Russia vows retaliation for US Sanctions. Where will this all lead?

Russia on Sunday, has vowed to retaliate in kind against the United States for increased sanctions which were approved overwhelming in the US Senate by a vote of 98 to 2. What are the sanctions for? I am guessing the interference into the American elections – which the president of the United States insists could have been done by others besides Russia.

OK.

But. Where is this all going to take us when you have a deteriorated relationship with the Kremlin at this particular moment in world history? It this a moment to move towards more aggression, or a moment to cool it? Where is this all heading?

Of course, it is bad precedent to let Russia’s interference go unanswered and unpunished. I am just afraid that this whole thing is the start of much bigger problems for the world.

America’s position in the world is not that strong either. First of all the Europeans did not like these sanctions and raised objections if I properly understood the story. Second of all, even if the Europeans were thrilled about these sanctions, we have the problem of NATO and Trump’s position thereto. So how much support are we going to get from Europe if this thing explodes?

Worse, our relations with the Asia continent are not that fantastic. China has been courting Russia and Europe lately (trade, military) and they him. The Middle East has been rogue for some time and Iran, certainly will back China over America. Africa, continentally speaking, also seems to have more invested in China (which is more invested with Russia) than it is to the United States.

What is my point? My point is that since Trump became President, the balance of power in the world has shifted. But it did so imperceptibly. It is like Reince Preibus’ firing. The latter, like the former was a 7 on the Richter scale. But it happened so matter of factly, that nobody took notice.

For this reason, I think that a confrontation with Russia right now is not rational.

I think the Senate had all this information before Trump was sworn in and should have and could have taken action then. In fact, before Trump even won the presidency, this information about Russia was out there and everybody glossed over it as though it was a routine Sunday morning at Mass.

Had they taken action then, it would have been messy, but a different person (maybe even a Republican) would be president today) and the need to save face with Russia would not be so urgent.

And don’t even try to blame the former president Obama. Notice that the Congress is taking action without the consent of the current president Trump. So the blame is on the Congress not the former president.

Now they are putting Russia in a bad position of having to save their face at America’s expense. They are pushing Russia to the wall. This is not rational.

It is a big mistake.

I am really concerned that it is a mistake that will be indelible. A year from today…

If I were Trump, I would veto the measure. I would not let this slide by completely. I would publicly acknowledge that Russia did meddle and that their meddling probably helped me. But I would also emphasize the folly of getting into diplomatic spats with the Kremlin at this time.

Because in fact, it is not totally stupid for the US and Russia to try to turn the page and cooperate more on trade and military issues. Indeed, this is rational. It is a question of how it is done so America still maintains the upper hand (or at least appears to).

I don’t know. This obviously is not my area of expertise. But quite seriously and quite simply, I am concerned about this direction we are taking with Russia.

The timing is wrong for something like this.

Time is on President Obama’s Side With Respect to His Foreign Policies in Russia, Syria and Israel

Perhaps deservedly, Vladimir Putin is getting a lot of international attention these days and one can see in the way he struts, stands and smiles, that he is enjoying his new perch at the top of the global political hierarchy. He is all everybody is talking about. He seems like a winner, having installed (allegedly) Donald Trump to the presidential dais in the United States (the United States!!!) and having brokered an unexpected ceasefire in Syria.

He felt so big that when Obama lost his patience and expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying on the United States, Putin demurred and decided not to act in kind, instead wishing Obama the best and expressing the hope that things will be better (he thinks) under the new incoming Trump administration.

People are giving him a lot of high fives. Trump called him smart on Twitter. The US congress, meanwhile, dug it into Obama by saying “yes, you finally acted but it is a little bit too late and not enough and on top of that your foreign policy with Russia and Syria failed.” (Paul Ryan seems capable of great vindictiveness for such a handsome guy, does he not?)

Obama must have some doubts about things from time to time. Did he take the right course of action in Syria? Could he have tried harder with Russia and Putin? Did Kerry go to far with Israel?

It is natural to feel doubts. Hindsight is always 2020. But this story is not over yet; indeed it is only beginning. And people who are now excoriating Obama and elevating Trump and Putin could do a 180 by the time the dust settles on this.

History will show one thing on Syria: nobody can say the United States imposed its will or committed human rights atrocities against the Syrian people. Nobody can say that Obama caused unnecessary loss of American lives in that quicksand situation in the Middle East by involving the country in a new war.

And his foreign policy worked in the sense that his doctrine is all about “multilateralism.” He believes, rightly so, that American muscle, dollars and capital are not infinite and that America an ill afford to continue these adventures in the Middle East without, at some point, over-extending itself and perhaps even self-destructing. He believes that other countries in the region needed to step up and do their share of the heavy lifting.

Amazingly, with Russia’s intervention, along with its regional allies Turkey and Iran, Obama’s foreign policy vision (and his incredible patience to stay still when every instinct was to institute a no fly zone and “take over Syria) worked!

So what if Russia and Iran are the ones who gets all the reconstruction contracts to put Syria back together? America does not have to have it all. In the short run, it is a loss but in the long run, having preserved capital, lives and resources — that were expended by others — America may very well come out on top.

Moreover, the image of America in the Middle East is definitely tarnished as a peacemaker and broker. Blame all the realpolitik or whatever is the cause. But the thing with that is the push back from terrorist groups who then turn their anger on America after America has gone in to “help.” In the case of Syria, this is not about America. It is Russia’s puppy. It is Iran’s puppy. They take the spoils and their also bear the consequences, if any.

With regard to Russia, how quickly everyone forgets. There are countless photographs over the course of his presidency – both terms – that show Obama and Putin discussing and conferring. Now the media writes all these stories that Obama “refused to talk to Putin.” What a lie. What a barefaced lie. And then they wonder why Trump refuses to engage with the media. Trump will be the match for a dishonest media. It is important that the global media is more honest and quit with spreading propaganda. Trump will be their match there.

Of course, it is convenient for Trump when the media excoriates Obama for his relationship with Putin knowing full well that often, it was Putin who refused to have a mutually respectful relationship with Obama and not the other way around. Trump, from the start, disdained Obama’s presidency and from the beginning, he used Putin’s disrespect for Obama as a reason he (Trump) would make a better president, rather than calling out the Russian president for less than statesmanlike behavior towards the American president.

Putin appreciated that. But Putin does not necessarily appreciate Trump. Trump is a smart guy and he probably knows this but Putin is looking to eclipse Trump not share the stage with him. Putin’s interest is making Russia great again and this time, for a million and one reasons, he wants to make sure that Russia is way greater than the United States, such that there is no return to the post-cold war era. He wants to do to America what America did to Russia. Tit for tat? Maybe. But he is going to skilfully use Trump’s own hate of Obama and Trump’s kissing up to exact the outcome he craves. He has backed Trump into a corner.

In the end, the entire world will see this and will turn its attention again to Obama’s policies and how he viewed the world and his relationship with Russia, etc. The new world order that will come out of Trump’s relationship with Putin will put America in a much worse place than it ever was under Obama. For one thing, the more Russia hacks America and perpetrates cyberwarfare on the country the more in denial Trump will have to go (he is trapped!) and the bigger the damage and harm that will come to the country as a result.

Time will show this. And it is Trump’s own hate that is his achilles heel and that will have dire consequences for himself, his supporters, his country and the world. And really, this is penance. This is how nature is.

As for Israel, both Obama and Kerry are right and it is important that he leaves office having set his own record straight on this issue. Whatever happens after, he has no control. But his doctrine on Israel is morally, legally and strategically correct in the interest of the national security of not just the region and the United States, but also the world.

Time will tell. Time is on President Obama’s side.

Trump Compliments Putin as “Smart” For Ignoring Obama’s Sanctions

Trump is very loyal to Vladimir Putin and he sent a tweet of approval to his Russian BFF yesterday calling the Russian “smart.”

If you recall, the Obama Administration decided to sanction Russia for its interference into America’s election and the Administration labelled 35 Russian diplomats as “persona non grata” and basically tossed them from the United States, Perhaps predictably, Vladimir Putin was displeased with this and through his Foreign Minister vowed to expel 35 American diplomats from Russia (and there were rumors that he planned to close an American school in Russia as well.)

But at the last minute, he seems to have had a change of heart and Mr Putin instead wished Obama a nice holiday and vowed to wait for president elect Trump to take office in order to reset relations with the country. It is for this that Trump deemed Putin “smart” – whatever that means. Remember that Trump is king of double speak.

Keep in mind also that Trump’s congressional allies in the GOP are not very impressed with this relationship he has with Putin and they want to hit Putin and Russia “hard” for interfering in America’s elections – whatever that means.

Bien sûr, everybody knows that Trump is not afraid of the GOP and the chances are much more likely that they will come around to his way of thinking that he is to come around to theirs.

But voilà. This is where it stands for now.

Grizzly Steppe: Do the Russians Have a Plan to Fade America to Black?

In Vermont, they apparently found evidence that the electricity system has been hacked and of course they are pointing their fingers you-know-where. The Obama Administration has given it this interesting name: Grizzly Steppe.

Could there ever come a time when the Russians could just turn off all electrical power in the US with sophisticated malware? In which case they can probably even disable America’s nuclear codes such that even if the President puts his finger on the button and hit “go” nothing will happen?

Scary.

Will Russia Sanction France due to Charlie Hebdo Art Work?

 

 

According to the Moscow Times, Charlie Hebdo, the satirical french paper has angered Russia with several arguably distasteful cartoons depicting the crash on Christmas day that killed 92 people, including 64 member of the Red army choir. One Russian blogger has called for Russia to impose sanctions on France as a  result:

Just hours after Charlie Hebdo’s latest work, there’s already a petition hosted on Change.org calling for Russian sanctions against France, against the staff of Charlie Hebdo, and against Audrey Azoulay, France’s minister of culture and telecommunications. Initiated by Russian journalist and blogger Nikolai Zubov, the petition had 419 supporters, at the time of this writing.

One Kremlin spokesperson found the satirists’ drawings “blasphemous,” saying:

“This has nothing to do with democracy, self-expression, or whatever,” the Kremlin’s spokesperson said at the time about the drawings, calling them “pure blasphemy.”

 

The United States of Russia Will Give the Former United Soviet Socialist Republic a Run for its Money

Next up for Putin and the Kremlin: Form a new Union. The Russian Union or the United States of Russia. How? Easy:

  1. Step one: Infiltrate and take over the following states and make them part of the Russian Empire willingly or unwillingly:
  • Ukraine
  • Belarus
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia
  • Estonia

2. Convince Iran and Turkey of the wisdom of being part of the Russian Union instead of the European Union (especially in the case of Turkey).

3. Declare military dominion over the Middle Eastern states by sheer force of will.

4. Once the initial steps have been solidified and all these states are on board, infiltrate Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Poland and take those over by sheer force of will. (Putin will probably use diplomacy though and go for a EU type of deal with these states and in the case of states that are already in the EU, he will convince them to bail and jump ship.

5. Once these states are all safely part of the new union, it is fait accompli for Russia and the Kremlin. As far as Putin is concerned, China can have Africa if it wants or fight with the US to see who gets what.

6. With respect to the rest (and this is very key) break up the European Union with machiavellian strategies so that there is no alliance that can match him on this side of the Atlantic.

7. Across the Atlantic, weaken and tie up the United States with cyber-warfare and possibly even open and hostile military attacks and completely dismantle their idea of being a democracy. Moreover, destroy the country’s reputation in the global arena such that they lose ALL credibility.

This can all be accomplished in four short years.

Vladimir Putin on How to Take Over the World in 6 Steps

Vladimir Putin is poised to become the new leader of the world. He did it in SIX easy steps:

  1. Form the right alliances and create a new power structure (Iran, Turkey, China)
  2. Dismantle the power structure in America and plunge the country into chaos (Donald Trump, Hacks)
  3. Achieve a high profile military win (Syria)
  4. Divide Europe (Brexit, far right insurgence)
  5. Encourage the dismantling of NATO (while creating a new alliance to fill the void)
  6. Bow to the UN (while at the same time encourage the US to diss the UN)

Voila.

Trump Dismissed the UN as a “coffee club” But Putin Still Respects the UN Security Council And Here is the Proof

Vladimir Putin is on a roll and he will be seen as the leader of the world very soon. He is calling all the shots in Syria, for example, and has just brokered a ceasefire to a five-year conflict which so far, is holding steady. Now, he is about to submit the agreement between the al Assad regime and the rebel fighters to of all places the United Nations Security Council. According to a recent report in the Atlantic:

The agreement that is reached will be submitted to the UN Security Council later Thursday, the Russian foreign minister said. Both Turkey and Russia said representatives of the Syrian government and the rebels will meet soon in Astana, the Kazakh capital. Turkey added that they will be accompanied by the guarantor countries.

This says something about Putin and how he views his role in this conflict. He is not just doing this haphazardly and in a totally lawless way. It is not totally “clean” of course. Bad things have occurred but he is moving now to put a stamp of legitimacy on it by taking it to the UN Security Council for approval. This is a big time political coup for this player on the international stage. This gives him credence. This gives him power.

What is power anyway? As I have always argued, it is not about money. Money does not make you powerful. It is about influence. Russia’s economy is in the abyss at the moment. Even India has better balance sheets than Russia right now. But Russia is emerging a very powerful country and Putin as a very powerful leader because of his ability to influence the outcome of global events.

By bringing Turkey and Iran in for the ride, he also creates this center of gravity that cannot be ignored or taken for granted going forward from a foreign policy perspective.

The more influence Putin achieves, the greater the likelihood that Putin’s allies like Iran and Turkey will also grow in stature. Trump will be in deep trouble here because of his expressed disdain for Iran, for example. Putin is going to force Trump to eat humble pie with respect to Iran. Iran will become a nuclear state as well. Behind the scenes, they probably already are despite the Iran deal.

Europe is in a very precarious position right now. If European leaders are not worried about the turn of events in international politics and global affairs, then each and every one of them is a fool.

As for America, once Putin takes over the power in the Soviet region and the Middle East, (AND THEN EUROPE!) America is probably done. Because China is also more likely to team with Putin. And Trump is hostile towards China. China has Africa. America is probably done.

And when you factor the internal chaos in the United States in, the hatred among its people for each other, the division, the raw hate that spews from every direction for each other, the Congress and how they preferred to block everything the president tried to do and to work to sabotage their own president domestically and internationally, America is probably done. They don’t know it yet.

But its the beginning of the end and maybe we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman the Sexy Maria Zakharova Promises Reprisals for Obama’s Russian Sanctions

With the recent sanctions against Russia that include the ejection of 35 Russian diplomats from the Russian Republic from the United States, Barack Obama demonstrates that he understands that chaos can be an effective strategy in foreign policy as well as in presidential politics. Russia loves chaos and  one of its spokesmen even say that they “sell” it.

Trump also is king of chaos. Jeb Bush rightly called Trump the “chaos candidate” but what Jeb failed to understand is that chaos is a strategy and it is a commodity. You can buy it and sell it in the marketplace.

What is behind Obama’s play of the chaos card? Why now and why this way? That is the question for the pundits to answer.

In the meantime,  Russian Foreign Minister Maria Zakharova (she looks like an ice skater, doesn’t she? Or is this sexist?) had a press conference yesterday where she disclosed that Russia will close an American school in Moscow as well as take other counter measures to be disclosed later today.

Meanwhile, members of the GOP have chastised Obama for his tardy response to the alleged Russian hacking and espionage despite seeming to approve of the president’s actions that, as indicated above, include expulsion of diplomats and a declaration that these individuals are “persona non grata.”

They have called for STRONGER measures against Russia at the same moment when Trump is pleading for everyone to get over the hacking and move on with their lives. Notably, however, the president elect has promised to meet with intelligence officials shortly to discuss their findings about the espionage and the hacks. The president elect, who has expressed doubts about these hacks will likely find himself between a rock and a hard place following these intelligence briefings when coupled with Russia’s countermeasures.

It is chaos.

It is bloody chaos.

Obama Sanctions Russia For Hacking, & Kicks Out 35 Russian Diplomats & Issues Executive Order 13694

President Obama is not pleased with the Kremlin and to express his displeasure for Russian hacking and frankly other grievances, he took action today by expelling three dozen Russian diplomats, deeming them “persona non grata.” He also issued executive order 13694

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a post election bedfellow of Donald Trump, apparently issued a response:

“While today’s action by the administration is overdue, it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia. And it serves as a prime example of this administration’s ineffective foreign policy that has left America weaker in the eyes of the world,” he said in a statement.
He added that “Russia does not share America’s interests. In fact, it has consistently sought to undermine them, sowing dangerous instability around the world.”

It seems Mr Ryan is not a bedfellow of Vladimir Putin. Will this create any post-inauguration tensions in the Trump Administration, given that Mr Trump has publicized his affinity for the Soviet leader?

Vladimir Putin Announces that a Syrian Ceasefire Has Been Agreed To, and Begins December 30 2016 (Turkey helped)

Has he successfully brokered a peace deal in Syria? It seems as if Vladimir Putin, along with Turkey, has successfully assisted the Syrian fighters in reaching a deal to stop the slaughter in their country. Sixty-thousand fighters (60,000) have reportedly agreed to lay down their arms and bring to an end this protracted multi-year struggle for power and control of the country. Mr Putin describes the accord as “fragile” perhaps recognizing that similar UN-backed and US supported accords have quickly imploded.

If this agreement sticks, however, it will undoubtedly raise Mr Putin’s stature in the international community, and perhaps even elevate him to the “leader” of the current global system in some people’s minds. Will this sit well with Mr Trump? Will he willingly allow Mr Putin to enjoy the “leader” mantle? Or will he compete to be number one?

Many world leaders have lamented that the US has lost influence in global affairs over the last several years in the Post-Iraq war era. Increasingly, leaders in the Arab states as well as in Europe have looked beyond the UN and the US for solutions to these gnawing conflicts in the Middle East.  President Obama’s foreign policy has been that the US should not be the only one shouldering the burden of keeping a misbehaving world in order. He has stressed multilateralism as far as costs and capital and manpower. The wisdom of this approach is indisputable but the result is also evident – the US could lose its “leadership” position in global affairs. Correspondingly, if President Trump adopts the isolationist posture he has threatened during the campaign and focus his energies entirely on reupholstering America’s airports and other infrastructure as well as create jobs domestically and build that Great Wall, America could render itself nearly irrelevant in the international arena.

Is this necessarily a bad thing? America followed an isolationist path before and existed quite happily and productively apart it its cocoon prior to the Second World War. Sure, the world is different from what it was then, and not only from the standpoint of globalization and technological advancement. But it does not mean that America could not successfully isolate itself once again and turn the world over to Russia (and maybe to a lesser extent China) to deal with all the minor  headaches – and leaving itself the option of butting in only for the biggest of the big fights. Right?

Russian Military Jet Carrying Up to 100 Passengers Disappears off Radar After Take Off in Sochi

According to a Reuter report , Russia has a new tragedy to mourn just days after losing its ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov.  This time it is being reported that up to 100 people might have perished over the Black Sea after take a defense force aircraft took off from Sochi.

According to Reuters:

A Russian defense force Tu-154 aircraft has disappeared from radar, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported on Sunday.

Citing Russian media, the BBC said the plane was believed to be carrying between 70 and 100 people when it went missing soon after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Vladimir Putin is not going to be happy to hear this. Will he blame Washington?

Putin’s Veiled Threat to Trump Goes Totally Undetected

Vladimir Putin is not playing games – and this is very serious. He wants results. He wants action, fast. He wants respect and admiration for himself and his country. He wants recognition. And he wants thanks from Donald J Trump. This is very serious. Make no mistake about how serious this is.

The minute Mr Trump takes office on January 20th, he will have to begin to repay Monsieur Putin for whatever it is that Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump owes him. Because the one thing Putin does not have is the luxury of time. This is a very impatient man with a clicking clock.

On Foreignpolicy.com, it is written:

And it is the Trump administration, Putin insisted, that must improve relations between Moscow and Washington, which are now so bad that, per the Russian president, they “can’t get any worse.” U.S. President Barack Obama, he said, divides America.

OK. Whatever. This is point taken. Barack Obama was one of the most divisive presidents America has seen and it cannot get worse. Everyone agrees with that. It is clear as day.

Next, according to the article:

Indeed, Putin sent a Christmas letter to Trump saying as much. The missive, sent out by the Trump team and dated Dec. 15, noted U.S.-Russian relations are critical for international safety and security, and continued, “I hope that after you assume the position of the President of the United States of America we will be able – by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner – to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level.”

Notice the not-so-subtle way in which Mr Putin asserts his dominance in this situation with the sarcastic use of the term “I hope” as if to say “you better not prove me wrong and dash my hopes because that would be a huge problem.”

Then he goes on with “by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner.” This begs the question “how exactly does Mr Putin define ‘constructive’ and ‘pragmatic'”? Has he provided Mr Trump with a Putin thesaurus? Because it is going to be very important that Mr Trump is on the same page and has the same understanding of those words in order not to anger Mr Putin who also said in the same interview that “love can easily turn to hate.” It is highly possible that this is another coded message for Mr Trump.

And this language about “framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas” as well as “collaboration on the international scene to a new level” is also noteworthy.  This language is very significant because he started the whole thing by saying that US-Russian relations are “critical to world security and safety.” This begs the question “since when?” US and Russia have not had great relations in quite some time (indeed they are usually on opposite sides) and this has not changed world security and safety. Unless Putin is talking about the future and not the past?

Still, listen to this man’s hubris, the self-confidence in this man’s words and his tone – and the speed with which he sent this letter. This is a man who is very self-assured in his position of dominance over the American president. This is a man who thinks he is owed something. Otherwise, he would fully realize his inferior bargaining power in this situation and he would never say that it is “Donald Trump whose job it is to improve relations between Moscow and Washington” – out of the starting block. He would be more humble like a man with his hat in his hand begging to get sanctions lifted and so forth.

Putin has zero humility in this situation. He thinks he is holding the handle and that Trump is holding the blade.

Trump’s response, released in a statement on Friday, was fascinating as well. According to the same article Trump released this as his response the Russian strongman.

“A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct. I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path.”

Trump understood precisely what Putin meant and what Putin is trying to do. He hears the veiled threat quite clearly and knows he has to counter it immediately. And his response is telling Putin “hey, don’t you even think of threatening me, darling, because if necessary I will drop you like a brick just like I dropped the other bozos who thought they had me by the schlong, OK? I appreciate your thoughts about pragmatism and all but if I have to go an alternate path, that is exactly what I am going to do.”

It was a good answer from Mr Trump. It is very important that, whatever it is the Putin thinks the American president owes him, that Putin never gets the sense that he has the upper hand and that Trump will cower. Bien sûr, Trump is probably shaking in his boots because the last thing he wants is a showdown with Putin on a global stage (btw Putin voted for the UN resolution about Israel’s settlements in the West Bank even though Trump commanded Obama on Twitter to veto the resolution).

Trump does not need Putin as an enemy for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is international ridicule when and if Putin gangs up with China and Iran and militarily humiliates the United States in some type of conflict, which, from the looks of it, could involve Israel. But the same result will happen if the entire world can see that Trump fears Putin or that Putin has something on Trump.

And if Putin does, one has to wonder, what the heck could it be?

 

Kremlin Cuts Off ALL Communication With Washington. Will Trump Have to go to Putin With His Hat in His Hand?

Vladimir Putin is playing strategic, hardball, realist politics. He is in a strong position of influence and power, dictating international peace deals from his headquarters in Moscow – without even the courtesy of inviting American or Western representatives – and getting no opposition whatsoever from other global political elites.

This is a good moment for Vladimir Putin. His power and influence in international affairs is expanding rather than contracting. One could even say that he is in the driver’s seat. Russia is leading the world!

To top it off, he has now decided, Monsieur Putin has, to cut off all channels of communication with Washington. Presumably that means that he and his people are not returning phone calls neither are they accepting them from anybody in the USA. It is not clear if Monsieur Putin is still accepting calls from Americas NATO allies such as France and England but after a scathing rebuke in the UK Telegraph by British  foreign minister Alan Duncan, all bets are off that the Kremlin is open to communicating with anybody in the Western alliance at the moment.

But in a few short weeks, the administration of President Elect Trump will take over and Mr Trump has expressed an openness to Mr Putin that no other leader outside of Putin’s inner circle of friends in places like Iran, Turkey and China has expressed. It is highly unlikely that Mr Trump and Mr Putin will continue a “silent treatment” of each other. On the contrary, it is highly anticipated that Mr Trump’s ascendancy to the American presidential throne will mean a total 180 degree change in Russian-American relations.

The question is not whether this will be the case. The question is which one of the two will be the first to publicly extend an olive branch to break the ice? The person who does would be the one who is in a weaker position. The person to whom the branch is extended will be in a stronger position.

Putin’s silent treatment is strategy for how he will seek to manhandle America’s next president Donald Trump; and in doing so, he will catapult himself and Russia to the top of hierarchy of global power and influence.

UK Foreign Minister Alan Duncan Says Russia is a “Malign Influence in Syria” and the USA Has Lost Influence in the Crisis

UK Foreign Minister Alan Duncan plans to remain tough on Russia and Vladimir Putin, in spite of being subtly encouraged to soften his stance now that US president Elect Donald Trump has indicated that he plans to invite Putin into the “club.”

Mr Duncan has said, according to a recent report in the Guardian, that Russia is and has been a “malign influence in Syria.” He also challenged Russia’s claim that the murder of Ambassador Andrei Karlov in Turkey was orchestrated by the West, as well as called out Russia for interference into US presidential elections in 2016:

Duncan challenged Russian claims that the “utterly heinous” murder of its ambassador in Turkey was “the fault of the west”, a claim being made in Russian and Turkish media where it is argued that the assassin was a supporter of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric who has been given asylum in the US.

Duncan said it was undeniable that Russia was using cyber warfare to interfere in western democratic politics. “There is no doubt that, using modern technology, they are interfering in many parts of the world.”

He said Russia had seriously interfered in recent Montenegro elections. He also referred to claims by the CIA that Russia interfered in the US presidential elections, adding: “Quite what the effect was, or exactly what they did in the US, is unclear but we have to accept it as a fact that cyber warfare is now a part of modern life and the Russians are using it as best they can to interfere in politics. That is one of the threats we have to be aware of, and be on guard. The world is changing and there are new threats.”

One key point that Mr Duncan implicitly made is that the US has lost considerable influence in the region and possibly internationally, especially given Russia’s recent assertion of power in the Syria crisis, and the fact that a meeting in Moscow to discuss next steps in Syria excluded a representative from the United States.

Assasin of Russian Ambassador Identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas

The assassin of Russian diplomat Andrei Karlov has been allegedly identified by Turkish authorities as Mevlut Mert Altintas. He was 22 years old according to media reports and an off duty police office who received training in Turkey for the “riot” unit. Clearly, he was an expert at this job just by observing the manner in which he handled his gun. He clearly was very skilled with hitting targets and with mastering the art of gun warfare. He had the demeanor of a trained assassin. He fit the part of an assassin to the letter, evoking images of Al Pacino in Scarface as he executed the governmental official who was visiting Turkey for an art exhibit.

Some reports say that he was Syrian descent though he resided in Turkey and worked for the government of Turkey in law enforcement. There are questions about how he was able to enter the exhibit packing so much heat, and how he was able to get so close to the Ambassador before being neutralized. Did he receive aid? And from whom? That is what the international community is now asking and what Vladimir Putin and the Russian government want to know.

Mevlut Mert Altintas’ despicable act will  not muddy relations between Russia and Turkey, thankfully. The two countries are working alongside Iran to find a solution to the situation in Syria and they met in Moscow recently without a representative from the US and their Western allies to discuss a ceasefire and the restoration to power of Bashar al Assad.

However, John Kerry and other world leaders have sent their condolences via Twitter and other means to the Russian government and the Russian people.

Mevlut Mert Altintas was killed in an execution style storm of bullets that were fired into him by Turkish police. The holes that were left in the walls of the art gallery by the firepower, next to the dead assassin, were almost as big as golf balls.  There was blood everywhere.

May everyone who died in this circumstance rest in peace.

 

Bad Boys: The Unspoken Pact of Brotherhood Between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trumps are BFFs. How long has this been going on? This is anybody’s guess. What is clear right now is that they dig each other and have cleaved to each other like newfound long-lost twins. Is this going to last?

Their mutual admiration love fest and loyalty is a consternation, if not concern, to all in the international community. None of their contemporaries can seem to wrap their minds around why these two men like each other so much. Especially when it appears that the two have never formally met.

It is all in the eyes. They see each other reflected in the other’s eyes. They admire the renegade character of the other; the daring; the don’t-give-a-damn what anybody says thinks air the other projects. They even like the brushes with criminality, the flouting of the rules and laws and the sheer fearsomeness that each other exudes.

Theirs is a sparring of equals. In the domaine of international relations, they are identical twins who can read each other’s minds and finish each other’s sentences. Neither is particularly loyal. Everything is open to negotiation and deal-making and people are dropped or frankly extinguished when they have outlived their usefulness–at the drop of a hat.

Could these two ever outlive their respective usefulness to each other? It depends on motives. Are they really in love? Or is this a union of convenience? If they are really in love, then love is blind and so usefulness or lack of it will not destroy their bond. But if theirs is a BFF of convenience, the question is what is it that they want from the other?

It is not hard to see what Putin could want from Trump. Trump can give him entry into a club out of which he is currently locked out. Trump can give him respectability among his peers in the international community. Trump can help him get those sanctions lifted, in which case, he can work on ameliorating the recession in Russia and thus become an even bigger hero to his country folk. Trump can give him some lucrative oil contracts with American companies like Exxon Mobile. Trump can even help him clean up the mess in the Middle East because Trump can add firepower with America’s military and put boots on the ground but he can also get Putin’s acolyte Bashar al Assad restored to power in Syria as well as help quell any resurgence of violence from the opposition with sheer strength of their combined force. Best of all, Trump can hand America to Putin on a silver platter and look the other way when Putin gets up to his cyber-machinations and other tricks against American companies and institutions.

There is a lot more that Putin may want and can get from Trump.

The problem is the other side of the BFF. What can Putin give Trump? It does not appear that America needs Russia or that Trump needs Putin the way that Putin and Russia needs America and Trump. Even if America cannot drill oil in the Baltic or Black Sea, they can drill oil elsewhere and do quite fine. Moreover, America is already not only in all the important “clubs” but they are the gate-keepers. They do not need Putin to get them entrance into just about anything or anywhere. Technically, they don’t even need Putin militarily.

So for Trump, Putin is expendable and the minute he decides the game is over, he can just drop the Russian bad boy like a brick. Unless these two really do love each other and this is not about convenience. Still, if it is the latter, it is worryingly one-sided. It seems that Putin has everything to gain and Trump has everything to lose.

Because seriously, what can Putin do or give to Trump to make this marriage of convenience worth his while? What does Putin have that Trump needs? Anything?

Putin Adviser Claims That Russia/Putin is Enjoying the CHAOS That Has Engulfed America and the West Since Trump’s Election

Russia is on top and everybody knows it. They have successfully cast their influence over the global order and what has resulted, it seems, is utter chaos. Especially in America where, for the first time in hundred of years, if not ever, the elected American president’s legitimacy is in question. And the fault is alleged to sit on the fingers of the Russian state, specifically that of its leader, Vladimir Putin.

A recent Washington Post article written by the WP Bureau Chief in Moscow, opines that Putin is “winning” at the expense of the West – for now. Indeed, it seems to be pay back time for the Kremlin. But is this a permanent change of the world order? Or will Trump be the great disrupter to Putin’s pipe dreams of running the world? Whatever the case may be, it appears that the Russians are unapologetic about being gleeful that disorder has taken grip of the United States and its allies in Europe. A Kremlin advisor opined as much according to a recent article in the Washington Post:

Of course the Kremlin likes the fact of such an atmosphere of chaos,” Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Putin adviser, said in a recent interview. “Because we are traders of chaos. We sell it, and the more chaos there is in the world, the better it is for the Kremlin.”

Putin’s salvo in Syria and specifically in Aleppo coupled with the chaos in the West, have definitely augmented his influence and status in the world. This success has catapulted the Kremlin to the center of power in the world at the moment. True, the fact that the US is in a “lame duck” interval has emboldened the Soviet leader. But will he change after Trump is officially sworn in as president? Will Trump retake his top dog spot on the olympic dias? Or will he have to yield the spot to Putin and take the second lower spot? Or maybe even the third spot if China sneaks in their and pulls off some kind of military coup? Is Putin the new leader of this new world? With Xi in second place? Is America done? Or is Putin’s run temporary? Can Trump achieve a reset? The Washington Post:

But Putin’s successes, if that is what they are, are tactical and temporary, said Fiona Hill, a Brookings Institution scholar and co-author of a biography of the Russian leader. For years, Putin has been the world’s leader in geopolitical disruption, and the United States under President Obama has been a predictable force and therefore an easy target, she said. If Putin really did contribute to Trump’s victory, he may just have handed his crown over to his biggest rival.

“The land of unpredictability and surprise is the land that Putin and the Kremlin have inhabited for the last part of the last 10 years,” Hill said. “But now they’re not alone. Trump is going to be the great disrupter.”

There is no question that the world order is being shook up. Most people assume that when the water settles back, that America will retake its place as the world leader. No one has contemplated a world where America could be second or third in the pecking order. But is this assumption short-sighted? Have we taken a turn, an imperceptible one, to a different destiny than the one we envision and the one Mr Trump has promised?