Permalink Europe unlikely to cut Russia off SWIFT — VTB bank CEO

The European Parliament called on the European Union on Thursday to consider cutting Russia off the SWIFT inter-bank financial message system. The European Union will not cut Russia off the SWIFT inter-bank financial system, Andrei Kostin, the chief executive officer VTB Group, Russia's second largest bank, said on Friday. "I think this is not going to happen. I would have called it an act of direct aggression against Russia's financial system with all subsequent consequences. This is a very tough measure," Kostin said at an international investment forum in Sochi.

Permalink Scotland: suspected electoral fraud

Police investigating alleged electoral fraud at polling stations in Glasgow after people find their votes had already been cast. Police in Glasgow are investigating ten cases of suspected electoral fraud. Voters turned up at polling stations to find that people had already voted using their names. Glasgow City Council confirmed that there had been 10 instances where people had gone to vote and found their names had already been crossed off the list. Spokesman Colin Edgar said: 'We've had a number of suggestions across the course of the day that people have turned up at the polling station to vote and they appear to have voted already. 'This is impersonation, if it turns out to be what it is. Last night police officers were present at the count to remove the ballot papers and keep them as evidence. The papers were from 10 different boxes across Glasgow, and not concentrated in one area.

Financial Times: Scotland votes to remain part of the UK
RT.com: Scotland votes 'No' to split from UK in independence referendum
RT.com: 8 reasons why Scots voted ‘No’ to independence

Permalink Ukraine SITREP September 18, 17:30 UTC/Zulu: infighting everywhere

The Saker: The first sign of trouble became visible with Strelkov had to urgently come back to Donetsk to prevent the behind-the-scenes negotiations apparently taking place between some officials of the DNR and Ukie oligarchs including Akhmetov. Then came the news of the sudden removal of Strelkov followed by an almost simultaneous removal of most of the Novorussian leadership. In spite of that, the Novorussian leadership (Zakharchenko & Co.) appeared to be more than worthy successors to Strelkov and they did a stellar job implementing the counter-offensive plans apparently developed by Strelkov. Then came the Minsk negotiations with little-covered reports of an attempted coup by Vladimir Antiufeev who, before that, had been in charge of state security under Strelkov. Apparently, this coup was directed at Zakharchenko and it failed. What then happened to Antiufeev is still unclear, at least to me. Last I read he was being interrogated.


Permalink Scottish independence: Almost half of No voters have felt 'personally threatened' by the Yes campaign

Almost half the people who intend to vote No in [today’s] Scottish referendum have felt “personally threatened” by the Yes campaign, according to a new poll. The online survey of more than 3,200 Scots by YouGov for BuzzFeed will fuel allegations by the Better Together campaign that supporters of independence have intimidated voters. It found that a strikingly high 46 per cent of No supporters felt personally threatened by the Yes campaign during the referendum, while 50 per cent did not. In contrast, only 24 per cent of Yes supporters felt personally threatened by the No campaign and 72 per cent did not (“don’t knows” excluded). Almost half of No voters (49 per cent) said they had not always felt able to speak freely about their views on the referendum, while 48 per cent felt they had. Meanwhile, 76 per cent of Yes backers believed they had always felt able to speak freely, and only 21 per cent did not.

Reuters: "World" holds its breath, mostly hoping Scots vote 'No' [May the 'Yes' side win!]

Permalink While zero evidence of Russia arming the Rebels, Poroshenko admits ‘at least’ one country arming Ukraine

The Guardian published a report on the recent NATO meeting, authored by Ewen MacAskill and Shaun Walker (“Nato leaders cautiously welcome Ukraine ceasefire agreement“, 4 Sept 2014, see fascimile bellow). What caught my eye was a sentence in the middle of the article referring Poroshenko admitting “individual countries” arming Ukraine with high-precision weapons, this, despite”NATO was not arming Ukraine”. Who, those ‘individual countries’ then might be?


Permalink Lavrov: NATO actually pushes Kiev to forcible scenario

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave an interview to Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily’s multilingual news and information resource Russia Beyond The Headlines for the Spanish El País daily. Today Ukraine faces the choice - to go on the path of peace and constructive dialogue in the society or slide into authoritarianism and nationalist radical dictatorship,” Lavrov said, noting that “This is up to Kiev and Ukrainian society to decide.” Moscow is convinced that a real chance appeared to stop a fratricidal war in Ukraine. “For this along with keeping the ceasefire in force it is needed to begin a substantial, open and inclusive dialogue involving representatives of all regions and all political forces as quickly as possible. It's necessary to discuss the scope of issues concerning constitutional system, the future of the country in general where all nationalities, minorities and regions where human rights would be fully observed in all their variety would live comfortably and safely,” the minister noted.

RIA Novosti: Russia’s Lavrov Bashes NATO Over its ‘Destructive Role’ in Ukrainian Crisis

Permalink EU Officials Admit Buying Oil From ISIS

We recently explained how ISIS remains so well funded but what was unclear was who exactly what purchasing their 'recently-provisioned' oil reserves? The assumption being some desperate third-world nation or some scheming offshore hedge-fund arbitrageur; however, as Sott.net reports, a senior European Union official has revealed that some EU member states have purchased oil from ISIL Takfiri militants despite their rhetoric against the group. The official declined to disclose any names but Turkey remains a front-runner (having already shunned President Obama) and potentially France (after their recent anti-Petrodollar comments).


Permalink CrossTalk: The Bear & The Dragon (ft. Pepe Escobar)

The bear and the dragon: Russia and China are moving closer together as Moscow becomes more and more disenchanted with the West. Can these two countries successfully challenge western hegemony? Can the bear and dragon reshape the world? CrossTalking with Martin Hennecke and Pepe Escobar.

Permalink US envoy to Ukraine caught posting fake images on Twitter

US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt has been caught posting "unverified images" on his Twitter feed Monday, as he was showing off the ongoing US-Kiev military exercises in Ukraine. Ambassador Pyatt first uploaded a picture of US and Ukrainian troops, which he said was taken in the morning at the military exercises in western Ukraine. Internet users quickly pointed out that the photo had already been published as early as July 31. The ambassador then posted a picture of a German tank allegedly taking part in the drills. His tweet said that the Leopard 2 tank is taking part in Rapid Trident exercises near Lvov. However, Twitter users found out that the posted image was actually taken from a YouTube video uploaded nearly one year ago – in October 2013. UK journalist and RT contributor Graham Phillips called Pyatt out on Twitter, calling the ambassador a “liar” for posting old photographs.

Permalink Ukraine, EU to sign association agreement

Ukraine is set to approve an association agreement with the European Union, while Kiev plans to offer limited self-rule to parts of the country’s volatile eastern regions. Lawmakers in the Ukrainian and European parliaments are due to sign the 1,200-page political and economic association agreement during a live video conference later on Tuesday. President Petro Poroshenko has said the pact would enter into force as of November 1; however, the two sides will delay the application of the trade rules until 2016.

The Australian: EU, Ukraine, Russia reach deal on EU-Ukraine association agreement [September 13, 2014]
EU Propaganda: Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area
Chris Marsden Ukraine’s EU Association Agreement a prelude to further bloodshed [28 June 2014]
Pål Steigan Går det mot deling av Ukraina?


Permalink CrossTalk: Sanctions in action

When the blame game turns into sanctions wars. With no the political crisis in Ukraine far from over, the West and Russia trade sanctions against the other. Which side is more vulnerable? Which side can endure the most pain? CrossTalking with Liam Halligan, Art Franczek and Mitch Feierstein.

Permalink Shelling kills 10 people in Ukraine

At least 10 people have been killed during fresh clashes in war-torn eastern Ukraine over the last 48-hours. According to Donetsk city officials, four people were killed on Monday when a car repair shop was hit by an artillery shell and six civilians were killed in separate shelling incidents on Sunday. The officials also said that 15 people were wounded by artillery shell shrapnel. According to reports, the northern districts of Donetsk have been under artillery fire since Sunday which has severely damaged residential and administrative buildings. The recent shelling marked the bloodiest day since a ceasefire agreement was reached between Kiev and the pro-Russians on September 5, after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hammered out a compromise deal aimed at ending the heavy fighting.


Permalink Russia: Aid convoy sent to Luhansk in Ukraine

217 trucks cross border headed to Luhansk. A convoy of more than 200 trucks that Russia says is carrying humanitarian aid has crossed the border into Ukraine without permission, a senior Ukrainian Border Service official said Saturday. Col. Serhiy Astahov, assistant to the Ukrainian Border Service chief, told CNN that 217 trucks have crossed the Ukrainian border. Ukrainian border guards and customs officer did not have access to them to check what they were carrying, he said. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which has monitors in Ukraine, said that in total 220 vehicles -- 193 cargo trucks and 27 support vehicles -- had crossed the border overnight and into the morning. "The first group of 40 trucks were quickly checked by the Russian border guard and customs services," an OSCE statement said. "The 180 other vehicles were not inspected. All vehicles crossed into Ukraine without being inspected by Ukrainian border guard and customs officers or the International Committee of the Red Cross." Russian state-run news agency Itar-Tass said the convoy had been cleared by Russian customs control staff, citing the press service of the Russian Southern Customs Department. The news agency said 250 trucks in total are due to arrive in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk by the end of Saturday. It reported that the first trucks were greeted by residents waving and even crying.

RIA Novosti: Russia Says Ukraine Border Guards Refused to Inspect Aid Convoy En Route to Luhansk
RT.com: Russia’s 2nd Ukraine aid convoy of 200 trucks arrives in Lugansk

Permalink Handels-Krieg gegen Russland: Der große Verrat von Angela Merkel an ihrem Volk

Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten Die Sanktionen gegen Russland werden nicht die treffen, die sie beschließen oder verhindern hätten können: Politiker, Verbände, die IHK, die öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender – sie alle leben von Steuergeldern oder Zwangsgebühren und brauchen keine Konsequenzen zu fürchten. Daher heulen sie, ohne nachzudenken, mit den Wölfen. Bezahlen müssen Unternehmen, Arbeitnehmer und Steuerzahler. Was die Bundesregierung und die EU betreiben, ist Machtmissbrauch im großen Stil. Das ist Verrat am eigenen Volk. Diese gänzlich verantwortungslose „Politik“ zerstört nicht nur, wie Christoph Leitl gesagt hat, das Verhältnis zu Russland. Sie zersetzt die Demokratie in Europa. Sie zerstört Werte, die von den Europäern mit ihren eigenen Händen geschaffen wurden. Sie kastriert die Wirtschaft in einem ohnehin schon knallharten, globalen Wettbewerb. Wenn die Regierungen der EU und die ihnen angeschlossenen, willfährigen Institutionen auf diesem Weg weitermachen, wird das Jahr 2014 auch ohne „heißen“ Krieg als ein ganz finsteres in die Geschichte Deutschlands und Europas eingehen. [H/T: Steigan Blogger]

Gabor Steingart The West on the wrong path/Der Irrweg des Westens (Ложный путь Запада)

Permalink Condoleezza Rice: We need to stop Putin. The United States will supply oil and gas to Europe

Letting the cat out of the bag: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Condoleezza Rice) in an interview with German channel N24 on sanctions against Russia in connection with the situation in Ukraine. 16 May 2014.

DWN: Putin zieht den nächsten Joker: Russland kann Staats-Pleite der Ukraine auslösen

RT.com: Lavrov Says Russia Not Losing Battle With US for Influence in Europe || Although the Unites States are trying to do their best to disrupt the economic relations between the EU and Russia, Russia is not losing the battle for influence in Europe, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday. "There is a big battle going on," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russian TVC channel. "The United States want to use the current situation in order to separate Europe from Russia economy-wise and bargain the most favorable conditions for themselves in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the creation of a transatlantic trade and investment partnership." The Russian foreign minister said that such talks have been going for several years. "Europe has been persistent enough in defending its interests. According to the Europeans, the United States wanted to gain unfair profit. Now, however, these [US] efforts have intensified, including through the attempt to force Europe to purchase the American liquefied natural gas at prices that cannot be competitive with the price of the Russian gas. This was definitely motivated by economic interest. Still, geopolitical calculations play a huge role, a key one," the minister said. Answering the question on whether Russia is losing Europe to the United States, the Russian Foreign Minister said, "I think not."


Permalink Lavrov: West may use ISIS as pretext to bomb Syrian govt forces

If the West bombs Islamic State militants in Syria without consulting Damascus, the anti-ISIS alliance may use the occasion to launch airstrikes against President Bashar Assad’s forces, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. There are reasons to suspect that air strikes on Syrian territory may target not only areas controlled by Islamic State militants, but the government troops may also be attacked on the quiet to weaken the positions of Bashar Assad’s army,” Lavrov said Tuesday. Such a development would lead to a huge escalation of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, Lavrov told reporters in Moscow after a meeting with the foreign minister of Mali. Moscow is urging the West to respect international law and undertake such acts only with the approval of the legitimate government of a state, Lavrov said. “Not a single country should have its own plans on such issues. There can be only combined, collective, univocal actions. Only this way can a result be achieved,” he said.

Permalink New EU Sanctions on Russia Come Into Force

The European Union announced in its Official Journal Friday it was imposing a new round of sanctions on Russia, including those targeting the country’s major defense and energy companies. The EU barred three major Russian oil companies (Rosneft, Transneft, GazpromNeft) and three major defense companies (Oboronprom, United Aircraft Corporation and Uralvagonzavod) from seeking finance on European capital markets. The union also banned sales of dual-technology equipment to nine Russian defense companies, including the Kalashnikov Concern, Russia’s largest producer of automatic and sniper combat arms. A total of 24 people, including senior Russian lawmakers and the leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, were added to the list of individuals facing EU travel bans and asset freezes.

RT.com: US extends Russia sanctions, targets biggest lender Sberbank & gas giant Gazprom
Itar-Tass: Rosneft, Transneft, Gazprom Neft on new EU sanctions list
RT.com: Moscow on sanctions: ‘EU unwilling to see Russia’s efforts on Ukraine’

Permalink Julian Assange lodges appeal against Swedish arrest warrant

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has filed an appeal against the Swedish warrant for his arrest, Swedish media reports. His lawyers are arguing that the prosecutors are acting “in gross breach of Swedish law.” Assange's Swedish lawyer, Thomas Olssen, has claimed that the Swedish court is not handling the case correctly. “We argue against the district court's decision and believe they do not properly take account of the situation,” Olssen stated, according to Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet. Assange's lawyers, who argue that Assange should be questioned by Swedish police in London, argue that Sweden's prosecutor “is in gross breach of Swedish law” for not making the journey to London to interview Assange, the Guardian reported.


Permalink Sergey Lavrov: Throwing Russia off balance is ultimate aim

In an interview for the ITAR-TASS project Top Officials Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Washington and some European countries had made a decision to isolate Russia long ago.

Permalink Barcelona Mayor: Catalonia to Call for Independence Referendum Following Scotland Vote

The Spanish region of Catalonia will call for a referendum on independence immediately after the people of Scotland hold their own vote, Xavier Trias, the mayor of Barcelona, wrote in an article published by The Guardian Thursday. "Barcelona's region, Catalonia, is also on a political journey, reflecting its history but above all the aspirations of its citizens. Catalonia suffered under the dictatorship, which ended in 1975. The Catalan language was banned. Today, Catalans have clearly and repeatedly expressed – peacefully – their desire to vote on Catalonia's independence," Xavier wrote. "In the last elections to the Catalan parliament, 70% of Catalans supported parties that seek a referendum on Catalonia's future status," the mayor noted. The Spanish region of Catalonia has been expecting the Scottish referendum to create a precedent for its own struggle for independence from Madrid. The Spanish government has followed the UK's lead and allowed a popular vote on the region's status set for November 9.

The Guardian: As in Scotland, so in Catalonia

Permalink Michael Gove and the Holocaust

Gilad Atzmon The Guardian of Zion reported yesterday that: “Tory chief whip attacks protesters' response to Gaza conflict and comparisons between Israel's actions and Nazi war crimes”. Michael Gove stated, “too many people are conflating legitimate criticism of Israel's general policies with straightforward anti-Semitism?" It would be enlightening to learn from Gove how he suggests that one formulate an appropriate kosher criticism of the Jewish State and its Jewish lobbies without being tagged as an anti-Semite. Is criticism of the fact that 80% of Tory MPs (Gove included) are friends of Israel a legitimate criticism of the Jewish state and its power? Is the fact that 80% of the British conservative MPS care about Tel Aviv, but not one of them has paid enough attention to Glasgow or Paisley a valid criticism? Or is any such critique classified as Jew hatred that I will be accused of spewing once again.


Permalink Ukraine Takes Another $1.39 Billion From International Monetary Fund — $3 Billion In Imf Cash Already Sent Offshore

John Helmer Insiders Suspected In Heist, Getaway Drivers Claim Alibi || Bank robbers of the manual, stick-up type have a reputation for a sense of a humour. That may be a comfort to them, because they usually get caught. Bank robbers of the International Monetary Fund type lack even a sense of irony, because they expect not to be caught, and never are. In the bank- robbing profession also, the driver of the get-away car is usually the least talented, the witless one who doesn’t see the gag, especially not when he or she is the butt of jokes from the rest of the gang. This week, when Alexander Shlapak, the Ukrainian Minister of Finance, helped himself to $1.39 billion, the second tranche of the IMF’s Ukraine Stand-By Agreement of $17.1 billion, he illustrated the ministry’s Facebook announcement in Kiev with a picture showing an anonymous figure carrying a cheap briefcase away from the IMF headquarters as the Fund’s front-door sign is partially covered up by the Ukrainian flag. Counting the first tranche of $3.1 billion Shlapak took away on May 5, the cover-up is currently blowing at $4.5 billion. Another $1.39 billion had been scheduled for the taking in October. But that has been delayed and doubled to $2.8 billion for payout by December 15.

PEU Report: USAID to Help Young Biden: The Burisma File
Michael Hudson Losing Credibility: The IMF’s New Cold War Loan to Ukraine
Tyler Durden Biden’s Son a Director in Shale Gas Firm Set to Drill in East Ukraine

Permalink Bogdan Boutkevitch: You need to kill 1.5 million people in Donbass

NATO's friends in the Ukraine are so extreme that it defies imagination. Hromadske TV (financed by the CIA and the Dutch embassy in Kiev) has published this interview with a journalist called Bogdan Boutkevitch, in which he says, "You need to kill 1.5 million people in Donbass." He says:

Bogdan Boutkevitch: It’s perfectly simple. 1.5 million people living in Donbas have to be killed. Donbass is not just a depressed region. There’s a crazy amount of superfluous people there. I know perfectly well what I’m saying. In the Donetsk Oblast, there are about 4 million inhabitants. And no fewer than 1.5 million of them are excess. We don’t need to understand Donbass. We need to understand what is Ukraine’s national interest. And we should use Donbass, simply as a resource. As far as Donbass goes, I don’t have any prescription for how to get it done quickly. However, what’s most important – there are people who simply must be killed.

Permalink Ukraine’s killing fields: RT reporter goes to Lugansk and Donetsk - VIDEOS

Lugansk and Donetsk residents are now used to gunfire. RT’s Maria Finoshina crossed Ukraine’s southeast to see the aftermath of war there - and how it is the civilians who have carried the heaviest burden: relatives lost, homes destroyed, and hope gone. The population of the city of Lugansk has to live amid non-stop bombardment. People in Lugansk are afraid to go out because attacks are becoming more and more frequent; they prefer to stay in bomb shelters. There is a shelter in almost every household: it looks like an apartment, but underground. “They bombed us, the windows were shattered – in my house and over there, too. Everything was burning,” says a distraught elderly woman from the city of Donetsk. “Dear God, when is this going to end? Why are people being killed?” she asks. Donetsk is yet another hot spot in eastern Ukraine. The situation in the city is referred to as “tense” by the city authorities as Ukrainian troops shell residential areas, schools and hospitals.

RT.com: War crimes acceptable? Parliament mulls amnesty for Kiev's troops in E. Ukraine
AI: Ukraine: Abuses and war crimes by the Aidar Volunteer Battalion in the north Luhansk region
Eric Zuesse Our ‘Enemies’ in Ukraine Speak

Permalink Debt-ridden Spain to spend €1mn on riot gear

The Spanish government intends to spend about 1 million euro on police riot gear, despite the country’s debt rising by 58 billion euro over the last year. Authorities worry about widespread protests they believe will grip the nation in the autumn. Spain has become the protest capital of Europe. Just the first half of 2013 saw in the region of 36,000 protests in Spain, with Barcelona accounting for 2,500 of them, according to the Local. Given the love of the populace to take to the streets, the government is not taking any chances, with protests expected to peak in the autumn. The Interior Ministry says they will be purchasing equipment ranging from riot batons to stab proof vests, while they also want to buy water cannon to help deal with protestors. Law enforcements said the water cannon are necessary, “given the current social dynamic.”

The Local: Spain to spend big on riot gear to quash demos
Pål Steigan Spansk politi hamstrer utstyr for å slå ned protester

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