Tag Archives: Vladmir Putin

Russia and Turkey Exchange Threats as War Tensions Reverberate Along Syrian Border

‘What happens next is anything but clear.’

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-17-2016

PresidentRecep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey pictured in January 2016. (Photo: EPA)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey pictured in January 2016. (Photo: EPA)

A bomb blast in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Wednesday—which killed dozens of people and injured scores of others—arrived alongside increasing global worries about how Turkey is responding to shifting developments on the other side of its border with Syria where a brutal civil war and international fight against the Islamic State continues.

Over the recent days and weeks, the Syrian armed forces of President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian airstrikes and the Syrian Kurdish milita known as the YPG, have closed off vital supply routes of ISIS and opposition fighters while capturing long-held territory near the strategically-situated town of Azaz and the rebel stronghold of Aleppo in northwestern Syria. Continue reading

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Tensions Flare as Putin Calls Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet ‘Stab in the Back’

Volatile situation as Moscow and Ankara express mutual disgust and worries reverberate over regional and global implications of latest incident along Syrian border

Written by Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-24-2015.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has warned Turkey of ‘serious consequences’ after a Russia fighter jet was shot down close to Turkey’s border with Syria. Putin described the incident as a “stab in the back” and accused Turkey of siding with Islamic State militants in Syria. (Photo: Screenshot/Anadolu Agency)

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has warned Turkey of ‘serious consequences’ after a Russia fighter jet was shot down close to Turkey’s border with Syria. Putin described the incident as a “stab in the back” and accused Turkey of siding with Islamic State militants in Syria. (Photo: Screenshot/Anadolu Agency)

Turkey has taken responsibility for shooting down a Russian fighter jet near the border with neighboring Syria on Tuesday, as both Moscow and Ankara put forth conflicting narratives about what led to the incident which has sparked an emergency meeting of NATO allies and strong rebuke from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Though some factual details remain contested, Reuters reports how this marks “the first time a NATO member’s armed forces have downed a Russian or Soviet military aircraft since the 1950s and Russian and Turkish assets fell on fears of an escalation between the former Cold War enemies.”

Early reports indicated that both Russian pilots had been able to eject from the plane before it crashed, but subsequent information has diverged about whether both, only one, or neither survived.

Officials in Turkey have said the plane was shot down by a Turkish F-16 after the Russian pilots ignored repeated warnings to leave Turkish airspace. One Turkish official was quoted as saying:”This isn’t an action against any specific country: Our F-16s took necessary steps to defend Turkey’s sovereign territory.”

Russian officials, however, have disputed the plane was in violation and slammed Turkey’s behavior. Putin, speaking from the city of Sochi ahead of a scheduled meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, called the incident a “stab in the back” and said the Russian plane was flying over Syrian territory when it was brought down.

“The loss today is a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists. I can’t describe it in any other way,” Putin said. “Our aircraft was downed over the territory of Syria, using air-to-air missile from a Turkish F-16. It fell on the Syrian territory 4km from Turkey. Neither our pilots nor our jet threatened the territory of Turkey. This is obvious.”

Turkey has made no secret that it dislikes how Russia has come to the aid of embattled Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has repeatedly made warnings about Russian fighters jets crossing into its airspace and condemned the targeting of Syrian Turkmen and other rebel forces fighting against Assad who it views as allies. Following the incident and a request by Turkey, an emergency NATO meeting in Brussles has now been scheduled for all member states .

Footage of what is said to be the Russian SU-24 fighter going down and then bursting into flames just before impact was released on Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency:

Putin voiced disgust with the situation even as he said his government would assess all information before taking action. “We will analyse everything,” Putin said, “and today’s tragic event will have significant consequences, including for Russia-Turkish relations. We have always treated Turkey as a friendly state. I don’t know who was interested in what happened today, certainly not us. And instead of immediately getting in contact with us, as far as we know, the Turkish side immediately turned to their partners from Nato to discuss this incident, as if we shot down their plane and not they ours.”

According to the Guardian:

The latest incident highlights the grave risks of clashes of arms between the various international forces that have intervened in Syria. A coalition led by the US is conducting an campaign against Isis in the country, and American and Russian officials have worked on ensuring there are no clashes between their forces as they pursue their separate campaigns.

But the shooting down of the Russian plane is an escalation that leaves open the possibility of a clash between a Nato member and Russia, whose intervention shows an increasing assertiveness in international affairs.

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The Second GOP Debate – Our Takeaway

As you’ve probably guessed by now, we at Occupy World Writes are news junkies. In this country, if you only relied on the major media for information, you’d be forgiven by us if you thought that the most important thing happening in this country is the jockeying for position in an election that’s still fourteen months away.

We try to stay as apolitical as possible. We’ve been watching the whole story unfold in front of us, even though in our case, it’s more like watching a trainwreck. We know that what happens is going to be ugly, but we just can’t turn away. With that in mind, I’d like to present my personal reflections on last night’s GOP Presidential debate.2nd-GOP-debate-2015

First of all, there was the location of the debate; the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Ronald Reagan’s been the Pole Star of the conservative movement for years, so this shouldn’t surprise anybody. Of course, all the candidates professed their love for Saint Ronnie, and pledged to follow his ideals.

When Ronald Reagan’s son Ron, a liberal political commentator, was asked by Politico what his father would think of the candidates, he replied:

“Full of weirdos, charlatans and people who aren’t really running for president? I think he’d be kind of appalled. I hope that if he’s floating around somewhere, he’s amused, being separated from all this.”

His other son Michael, a conservative strategist, was asked what the candidates get wrong about his dad. His reply:

“Every one of them mentioned my father in one way or another, and it’s interesting to see how many of them, and how many of the people out there that they’re speaking to recreate my father in their image and likeness instead of his.”

Once again, there were two debates. The first (the “kids’ table”, as some of the snarkier pundits have named it) went for an hour and forty-five minutes. The second debate (the one with the higher polling candidates) went for three hours.

The debates themselves went as expected. All the candidates made bold claims about what they’d do if they were elected, but gave no specifics about how they’d accomplish them. Planned Parenthood was demonized by all. The ACA was blasted by all, but there wasn’t any plan to replace it proposed by any of the candidates. Most of the candidates went after Donald Trump at one time or another; the exceptions being Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. Climate change was accepted as fact by quite a few of the candidates (a surprise), who for the most part then went on to say that since we couldn’t fix it on our own, that we should do nothing (no surprise).

There was a lot of chest pounding going on over the Iran deal, and loud assertions by each candidate that he or she was Israel’s best friend. All claimed that they would defeat ISIS; once again without any details as to how they planned to accomplish it. There was a lot of sniping at Hillary Clinton. In short, exactly what you’d expect.

There was something else that I expected, though; something about the location of the debate that seems to have passed over the moderators’ and candidates’ heads. Simi Valley was also the location of the first trial of the four policemen involved in the beating of Rodney King. In that trial, despite the video evidence, the jury acquitted three of the officers and had a deadlocked jury on the fourth, resulting in a mistrial. The verdicts led to the Los Angeles riots of 1992, and a national dialog on police violence against the black community.

It’s twenty-three years later, and police violence against the black community has again become a flashpoint for national discussion. Was the #BlackLivesMatter movement discussed at the debate? Of course not. The irony is staggering – and it was the biggest takeaway of the night for me.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

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Reading Russia is never easy

While there are Putinversteher to be found everywhere in Europe there seem to be no Europaversteher in Russia. Where does this lack of understanding come from?

By Denis MacShane. Published June 25, 2015 at openDemocracy.

Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell and Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. Photo by Kremlin.ru [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell and Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. Photo by Kremlin.ru [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Reading Russia is never easy. Chatham House recently produced a report on dealing with Russia, written with the help of two former UK ambassadors in Moscow, which painted Russia in almost entirely negative hues. This report lined up with the neo-Cold warriors in Washington and with the prevailing views of Polish and Baltic leaders that see Russia in terms of confrontation and containment.

On the other side of the argument there are the voices of Putinversteher(understanders of Putin), as the Germans call those who seek to explain rather than leap to knee-jerk condemnations of the Russian leader. They include the former UK Ambassador to Moscow, Tony Brenton, Richard Sakwa of Kent University, and the Independent journalist, Mary Dejevsky. Continue reading

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Murder In Moscow

On Friday evening, Boris Nemtsov was shot and killed on a bridge near Red Square in central Moscow. You might be asking yourself “Who is Boris Nemtsov, and why is this news?” It’s a long story.

Boris Nemtsov. Photo by Dhārmikatva (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Boris Nemtsov. Photo by Dhārmikatva (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Boris Nemtsov first gained notice here in the West in the early 1990s. A former research fellow at the Gorky Radio-Physics Research Institute, his first taste of activism was in 1986 through organizing a protest movement to stop the building of a nuclear power plant in his area.

In 1989, he ran for the Soviet Congress of People’s Deputies on a reform platform, which proposed such radical ideas for the time as a multi-party democracy and private enterprise. He lost that election, but ran for the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Republic representing Gorky (now known as Nizhny Novgorod) in 1990 and won by defeating 12 other candidates for the seat.

He became a member of the  “Reform Coalition” of the Parliament, and became a friend and supporter of Boris Yeltsin, who was impressed with Nemtsov’s work on agricultural reform and the liberalization of foreign trade. He was a vocal supporter of Yeltsin during the 1991 coup attempt that brought about the end of the Soviet Union, and was rewarded for his loyalty by being appointed Governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region. Continue reading

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The American credibility trap

American politicians’ attempts to look ‘credible’ when talking about Russia are hypocritical, self-serving and self-defeating. If they really want Russia to change its policies, they need to act smarter, not tougher.

Written by James Kovpak. Published 02-16-15 in openDemocracy.

It began with someone on Twitter giving me a heads up, saying that the Russian media would be replaying it on a loop for at least a year. ‘It’ referred to a recent CNN interview with Barack Obama in which, according to the Russian link my follower had provided, Obama ‘admitted’ that the US was behind the February 2014 ‘coup’ in Ukraine. When I checked the latest headlines online, sure enough it was one of the top stories of the day. The Russian press was having a field day. If John McCain’s visit to Maidan hadn’t already provided enough ammunition to Russian state media, Obama’s ‘admission’ had now armed them as surely as Russia’s ‘humanitarian convoys’ armed the separatists in the Donbas.
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