POROSHENKO GOVERNMENT MAY STAGE CHEMICAL ATTACK TO PROVOKE NEW ROUND OF HOSTILITIES IN EASTERN UKRAINE

South Front

05.12.2018

Poroshenko Government May Stage Chemical Attack To Provoke New Round Of Hostilities In Eastern Ukraine

ILLUSTRATIVE IMAGE: AFP 2018 / YURIY DYACHYSHYN

The military command of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) received information regarding several scenarios of a Ukrainian offensive in Donbass. The details of the alleged Kiev plan were announced by the deputy chief of the People’s Militia of the DPR Eduard Basurin on December 4.

“Our intelligence obtained reliable data on the training of Western curators, together with the Ukrainian command of several options for the offensive,” Basurin said in a statement.

Most notably, there is allegedly a chemical attack being planned in the Kiev-controlled settlements in the Gorlovka area in eastern Ukraine. Prior to this, intelligence suggested that the preparation of such a scenario was being prepared by British experts.

The DPR Militia stated that in Mariupol bloody provocations are being prepared on land and sea. Both scenarios are designed for numerous casualties among the civilian population and the armed forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the subsequent accusation in this of the forces of the People’s Militia.

“This occasion will immediately be used to deliver a massive missile and air strike on the critical objects of the Republics. In particular, artillery and aviation will hit the places that store military equipment, established by the Minsk agreements, weapons and fuel warehouses,  civilian infrastructure,” Basurin said.

The People’s Militia didn’t rule out that these scenarios can be implemented consecutively, “to guarantee the image of the tyrant in the face of the Republic’s leadership in the eyes of the international community and justify the total mobilization of Ukrainian citizens into the ranks of Ukrainian military.”

On December 5, concerns about a possible staged chemical attack in eastern Ukraine were repeated by a spokesperson for the Russian Foriegn Ministry Mariya Zakharova.

“We are calling on the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] monitoring mission to intensify their activities in Donbas. What is needed is a comprehensive picture on the military preparations by Ukraine, not some fragmented pieces of information,” she said.

On December 1st, Basurin warned that Kiev is preparing for a large-scale offensive against the DPR.

“Training of the shock group is underway. This is evidenced by the concentration on the Mariupol tactical direction of three brigades – 79 separate assault and assault brigades, 36 separate brigades of marines and 128 separate mountain assault brigades, who received the task of conducting offensive operations in the Novoazovsk region in early December with access to the border with Russia,” he said.

According to him, breaking through the first line of defense was entrusted to elite formations of paratroopers and marines. Basurin considers this a tactical mistake of Kiev and the “incompetence of the Commander of the Combined Forces Sergey Naev, who for the sake of devotion to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is ready to sacrifice personnel for the sake of achieving dubious goals.”

On November 21st, the head of the press services of the People’s Militia Daniil Bezsonov quoted intelligence that suggested a group of British military expertshad  arrived in Artyomovsk under control of Kiev to participate in a chemical attack in the north of the republic.

“The Ukrainian side does not leave intentions to conduct chemical sabotage in the north of the DPR. Our intelligence obtained data on the arrival at the headquarters of the 72nd brigade in Artyomovsk a group of military specialists from the UK,” he was cited as saying.

According to the provided information, some of the arrivals are part of the units of the special operations forces of the armed forces of the United Kingdom. Also, according to DPR intelligence reports, in the populated areas of Dacha and Dzerzhinsk, 2 and 5 km from the contact line, there was an arrival of special units with personal equipment for chemical protection and boxes with chemical hazard warning.

Furthermore, following the incident between a Ukrainian naval group and Russian coastal guards on November 25th, Ukraine decided to impose martial law in 10 regions, primarily along the Russian border. On November 27thTASS cited the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov who warned that the imposition of martial law could lead to an escalation in the Donbass.

“This is Ukraine’s domestic affair, but amid the elections, certainly, such a step as imposing martial law has a special undisguised undertone. Potentially, the imposition of martial law in some regions may pose a risk of escalating tensions in the conflict-hit region, namely the southeast,” Peskov said.

So far, if the reports by the DPR are accurate it does appear that there are plans for an escalation in the Donbass.

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The West Stays Mum About Aleppo Chemical Attack

By Alex Gorka
Source

or-41822.jpg

More than 100 people were injured as a result of a chemical attack in Aleppo on Nov. 24. The Syrian government asked the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a fact-finding mission to the city. Evidently the rebels were responsible. The West’s reaction has been surprising. Unlike in previous instances, the West has stayed mum instead of creating an uproar after the attacks and blaming Syria without any sort of thorough investigation to prove its guilt.

When rebel-controlled areas came under chemical attacks, Western leaders raised a hue and cry, but they more or less shrugged it off when civilians living in Aleppo’s government-controlled areas became the targets — shot by 120-mm mortars firing chlorine-filled rounds. The shelling came from Idlib — the province where the remaining rebels are based. There is no way the Syrian government troops could have been the perpetrators. Nobody would believe a story claiming that they attacked their own forces so deep behind their own lines. Russia and Syria are proud of the fact they have established peace in Aleppo, and they have no interest in disturbing it.

Neither the US nor its comrades-in-arms — the UK and France — is launching missile and air attacks to strike rebel-held positions in Idlib. And no one is rushing toward international podiums to do any finger-pointing. No statements have been issued from either Washington or Brussels as of Nov. 27. The silence is deafening.

Only French President Macron has announced that his country is condemning the use of chemical weapons in general and in the Syrian city of Aleppo in particular. Some time ago, Paris was vigorously advocating for the West’s intervention in Syria. It joined the US military actions against Syrian government forces. French special forces operate side-by-side with their American counterparts there. The French president has always expressed his indignation and condemnation of the Syrian government for the things it has not done. This time he failed to castigate the radicals in Idlib for the crime they really did commit.

It was Russian forces who attacked the terrorist positions from where mortars were firing chemical rounds, according to intelligence sources. The Russian Air Force prevented another chemical attack in order to protect civilians. Russian and Syrian medical personnel saved human lives by rapidly coming to their aid. Syria and Russia joined efforts in an investigation to produce proof that it was Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham militants (the former Jabhat al-Nusra) who perpetrated this war crime.

Russia had warned that the White Helmets were preparing to stage such an attack while freely operating in the terrorist-controlled areas. They had been painted in the West as human-rights defenders until their group was exposed as terrorist collaborators. Interestingly, the group had always operated in areas controlled by the extremists, never in zones held by the so-called “moderate opposition.”

But the question is — why were the Russian warnings  ignored? Another question — what will the OPCW do after it has acquired new powers to hand down verdicts about who is to blame? Russian experts are already there investigating and producing tangible results, while that global watchdog is not sure if it is safe enough for a team to be sent to Aleppo! Even if it goes in, it’ll have lost too much time to be able to conduct an effective investigation. The way to do it is to arrive on the scene quickly and gather evidence. It has not done this. Will it cooperate with the Russian military as it should? After all, Russia has hard evidence it can produce, otherwise it would not have attacked Idlib and breached the ceasefire accord. It protected the civilians in Aleppo knowing perfectly it would have to justify its actions.

In any event, the chemical attack in Aleppo is an acid test that will demonstrate the OPCW’s ability to beef up its credibility as an international body empowered with the authority to assign blame. The inspectors did not travel to Syria’s Shayrat air base to conduct an inspection after the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack last year, nor did they go to see with their own eyes what really happened in Douma, where a chemical attack took place in April. It’ll have to behave more responsibly this time, even if its own safety is not guaranteed.

The idea behind the attack was to provoke a clash between Turkey, which is responsible for the situation in Idlib, and the Russian-backed Syrian government that is defending Aleppo. But those plans fell apart when they were exposed by Russian intelligence. The attack was not unexpected. And there was one other thing that was exposed as a result — the duplicity of the West.

CHLORINE TERRORIST ATTACK IN ALEPPO SEES 100+ CASUALTIES

Source

Doctors have treated over 100 civilians, including four children, following the attack by terrorists with chlorine bombs in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, the emergency department of a hospital in Aleppo, Shervan Sheho, told reporters on Sunday.

— UPDATE AT 11:30 GMT +2, FRN RAN THIS ARTICLE WITH THE FIGURE OF CASUALTIES AT 70. THE NUMBER IS CONFIRMED NOW OVER 100 —

“All of the people hospitalized have difficulty breathing and their eyes are tearing,” he said. “In medicine, this is called a gas allergy,” he said.

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One of the eyewitness accounts of the attack, Ahmet Mohammed, told reporters that the victims did not feel the first signs of poisoning.

“My brother was at home, he heard that the bombs were falling, but he did not think anything terrible had happened. However, after two hours his condition worsened, it was difficult for him to breathe, the ambulance took him to a hospital” , said Mohammed.

A resident of Nile Street in Aleppo, Galia Ali, said she received the first aid in the hospital, and only later she was able to return home.

“But my daughter’s condition worsened and my family took her to the hospital,” the woman added.

The city of Aleppo was liberated by Syrian government troops in 2016 after fighting militant groups and terrorists. However, the city continues to suffer attacks on the outter suburbs.

The Russian Center for Syrian Conciliation previously said militants were preparing new provocations with the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

According to Russia’s Ministry of Defense, terrorists from the Islamic Party of Turkey took to Syria at least 20 containers with 10 liters of chlorine each. The delivery would have been motivated by an attempt to stage new provocations.

The Russian Defense Ministry also warned that the Al-Nusra affiliated terrorist group Tahrir al-Sham was planning a chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria to provoke the West and incite retaliation against Damascus.

Russian military chemists arrived in Aleppo, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Gendfal Igor Konashenkov said.

“Groups of radiation, chemical and biological protection units with special equipment located in Syria arrived at the bombing area with urgency. They work with the wounded taken to medical institutions and monitor the situation in the area where the militants used poisonous substances “Konashenkov said.

The symptoms of the wounded show that, most likely, the pumps were filled with chlorine, he added.

“According to preliminary data confirmed in particular by the symptoms of poisoned victims, the bombs that were fired in residential areas of Aleppo were filled with chlorine,” the spokesman said.

He pointed out that Russia had already drawn attention to the fact that the White Helmets organization was attempting to organize chemical weapons provocations in the demilitarized zone around Idlib to accuse government forces of using chemical weapons against the local population.

“It is clear that White Helmets are directly linked to terrorist organizations operating in Syria and, in particular, the Idlib de-escalation zone,” he said.

Western states have accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of having carried out a chemical weapons attack in the city of Duma on 7 April. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, rumors that a gas poisoning would have occurred in Duma were spread to justify foreign interference. The Armed Forces of Russia also issued an alert on 13 March stating that there were plans for provocations in Syria.

In response to alleged chemical weapons attacks in the Duma, the United States, Britain and France launched an attack on Syria targeting a number of targets, including alleged chemical weapons factories.

The international community has expressed concern over the use of chemical weapons in Syria since the alleged use of Sarin gas in Damascus in 2013. Following the incident, Syria joined the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and agreed to destroy your arsenal of chemical weapons.

On 4 January 2016, the OPCW released a report confirming the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal.

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UK Was Aware of Saudi Plot Against Khashoggi Weeks in Advance

Jamal Khashoggi was about to disclose details of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen when he was killed.

An activist dressed as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman holds a prop bonesaw during a demonstration calling for sanctions against Saudi Arabia outside the White House in Washington, U.S., Oct. 19, 2018.

UK Was Aware of Saudi Plot Against Khashoggi Weeks in Advance: Report
By TeleSur

Saudi Arabia told the U.K. about their plan of abducting Khashoggi three weeks before the incident took place. The MI6 warned them against carrying out the said operation.

The murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi was about to disclose details of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen when he was killed, as reported by the Sunday Express, a source close to him told the media outlet Friday.

This revelation was made as different intelligence sources disclosed that the U.K. was made aware of the entire plot by Saudi Arabia three weeks before the incident took place on Oct. 2.

Intercepts by GCHQ of internal communications by the kingdom’s General Intelligence Directorate revealed orders by a “member of the royal circle” to abduct the troublesome journalist and take him back to Saudi Arabia. The report does not confirm or deny whether the order came from the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They were supposed to abduct Khashoggi and take him back to Riyadh but could take other actions, if the journalist created problems.

“We were initially made aware that something was going in the first week of September, around three weeks before Mr. Khashoggi walked into the consulate on October 2, though it took more time for other details to emerge,” the intelligence source told the Sunday Express Friday.

“These details included primary orders to capture Mr. Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia for questioning. However, the door seemed to be left open for alternative remedies to what was seen as a big problem. We know the orders came from a member of the royal circle but have no direct information to link them to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Whether this meant he was not the original issuer we cannot say.”

The MI6 had warned their Saudi counterparts to cancel the mission. “On October 1 we became aware of the movement of a group, which included members of Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-‘Āmah (GID) to Istanbul, and it was pretty clear what their aim was.

“Through channels, we warned that this was not a good idea. Subsequent events show that our warning was ignored.”

Sunday Express also obtained an anonymous interview from a close friend of Khashoggi’s who revealed that the journalist was about to obtain “documentary evidence” of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapon in its proxy war in Yemen.

Iran has previously claimed that the kingdom had been supplying ingredients that can be used to make the nerve agent Sarin in Yemen but Khashoggi was possibly referring to phosphorus which can be used to burn bones. Last month it was claimed that Saudi Arabia had been using U.S.-supplied white phosphorus munitions against troops and even civilians in Yemen.

Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist who left Saudi Arabia a year ago due to the widespread crackdown on dissent by the crown prince which saw imprisoning of a large number of dissenters and activists in Saudi Arabia.

The journalist went to Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 .to get papers for his marriage and never seen after that. Turkey maintained that he was killed inside the consulate by Saudi authorities but the latter denied any allegations against them for almost three weeks before finally accepting that he indeed was murdered but alleged it to be a rogue operation about which the crown prince had no knowledge.

The case of Khashoggi created an international uproar and diplomatic scandals where many countries are deciding to impose sanctions on the country and many companies severed their ties with Saudi Arabia.

According to the latest updates, the European Union is considering a ban on arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other sanctions. The EU will make a joint decision on how to punish the kingdom, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday in Istanbul after Russia-Turkey-France-Germany summit on Syria. A similar sentiment was expressed by France’s Emmanuel Macron.

This article was originally published by TeleSur” –

The US has encircled Russia with the biological laboratories, by Ruslan Ostashko

English translation and subtitles by Eugenia

 

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews

Via The Saker

October 18, 2018

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews, Moscow, October 16, 2018

Question: The issue of Russia’s financial contribution to the Council of Europe has long been on the agenda after Russia’s voting right was suspended. How important is the Council of Europe to Russia? What, in your view, is the likely solution to this impasse?

Sergey Lavrov: The Council of Europe is going through a serious crisis and not because Russia suspended its contribution more than a year ago but due to the reasons you mentioned: because Russia was denied the right to vote. This happened in 2014 as punishment for the free expression of will by Crimea residents, who voted in favour of reintegration with Russia at a referendum. This punishment was imposed on the members of parliament that were elected by the population of Russia and sent as a delegation to the Council of Europe.

The sanctions imposed in 2014 became tougher in 2015. As a result, the Russian members of parliament were stripped of all rights whatsoever and were only allowed to be present at the meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and listen to anti-Russia statements without having an opportunity to answer, which is, strictly speaking, regular practice in any normal parliament where, even if tensions are running high, it is always possible to answer and compare different positions. Our members of parliament were denied this right for three years even though from 2014 until 2017 we made the required contributions. In so doing, we warned that this could not go on forever because without due representation at the assembly and without the opportunity to state its position it would be unwise for Russia to pay for Russophobic activities; the same goes for any other country that might end up in a similar situation for that matter. So we warned everyone that we would be forced to suspend our contributions at some point. We did this in the summer of 2017, making it clear that as soon as the rights of our members of parliament at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe were unconditionally and fully reinstated, we would immediately pay our debts.

I want to stress that our decision on this point has worked. Many sensible MPs and functionaries in the Council of Europe have become aware of the seriousness of the situation. Michele Nicoletti, the then President of the Parliamentary Assembly, and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland were struggling to find a way out of this absolutely abnormal situation.

As a result of that work, the attention of all members of the Parliamentary Assembly was drawn to the fact that there is a basic document that all bodies of the Council of Europe, including the Parliamentary Assembly, must be guided by in their work. This is the Statute of the Council of Europe – a fundamental document, an imperative, so to say. It says that all Council of Europe member states enjoy equal rights in any Council of Europe format, whether the Parliamentary Assembly, or the Committee of Ministers, or any other organ.

We pointed this out and asked our colleagues in the Parliamentary Assembly to comply with the document they signed when they endorsed the decision to establish the Council of Europe and to honour the terms on which Russia joined the organisation. Once again, I will point out that the term written in the Statute is the complete equality of the delegations of all Council of Europe member states, including in the Parliamentary Assembly.

Instead, a small, but very loud and aggressive group of delegations from countries that are well known to everyone (I won’t bother mentioning the names; they have been pushing an anti-Russia stance in the European Union, as well as NATO, the United Nations and the OSCE) set forth the premise that besides the Statute of the Council of Europe there are also the Rules of Procedure for the Parliamentary Assembly. These Rules of Procedure stipulate that decisions be adopted through a vote and by a very narrow majority. The most they were willing to do was to consider whether these rules should be changed to make it harder to restrict the rights of one delegation or another.

Our response was simple and tough. No regulations, rules or procedures can compare in significance with the fundamental document – the Statute of the Council of Europe, which, let me point out once again, proclaims the mandatory equality of all delegations in all structures of the Council of Europe.

Therefore, we will propose that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe pass a resolution confirming the indisputability of this statutory provision – this is its function. If that decision is blocked, it will be a deliberate step by those, who, in their anti-Russia fervour, simply want to “bury” Europe.

Please note that since our MPs were stripped of the right to vote, the Parliamentary Assembly has already elected, if I am not mistaken, 24 judges to the European Court of Human Rights. And the total number is 47. So, the majority of judges in the European Court are judges elected in the absence of the Russian votes.

Similarly, a new High Commissioner for Human Rights was elected without the Russian MPs. Next June, a new secretary general of the Council of Europe will be elected. So, due to the suspension of our right, which is granted to us by the Statute of the Council of Europe, to participate in these votes, the above functionaries of the Council of Europe (the judges, the commissioner for human rights and soon, if this issue persists, the secretary general) will, in fact, not be legitimate for us. Therefore, I do hope that all our partners, including and in the first place those who made this mess, who decided to punish the deputies chosen freely by the will of the people who are residents of Crimea – that they have become aware of the seriousness of the situation and the responsibility that they are taking upon themselves.

Question: Thorbjorn Jagland said they would make the budget without Russia’s funds. Our Russian MPs say that one of the options is leaving the Council of Europe. Is Russia considering this possibility?

Sergey Lavrov: Thorbjorn Jagland has no other option than to create the budget using the current funding under circumstances where we are not paying our share. We, again, recently stated that as soon as our rights are restored we will pay our dues to the Council of Europe in full. The European Court of Human Rights has been largely formed without our participation, so its legitimacy for Russia is rather dubious, just like the legitimacy of the Commissioner for Human Rights. I have heard the Russian parliamentarians’ statements to the effect that if this outrage continues, the Council of Europe will be signing its own death warrant. I do not think that Russia’s participation in Council of Europe is more important for Russia than for the European countries. This is my firm conviction. We joined the Council of Europe on the principle that it provides for a pan-European, universal legal and humanitarian space. I am sure that those who have dealt a blow to this space through illegitimate actions that violate the Statute and seek to deprive the Russian delegation of their equal rights, they know what they are signing up for. If they want to push Russia out of the Council of Europe, we won’t give them the pleasure; we will leave the organisation ourselves. Let those in the majority, who are aware of the provocative nature of this plan initiated by a small but loud group of countries, work within this group. It is unacceptable to ruin a pan-European organisation to satisfy the ambitions of certain politicians in some European capitals. Everyone is aware of this. I hope that most sensible people will be brave enough to prevent this from happening.

Question: Is Russia doing anything to prove to the West that we are reliable and can be trusted after what has happened to the Skripals and all those hacking attack charges?

Sergey Lavrov: Our Western colleagues are priding themselves on having built a rule-of-law state in their countries; rule of law and the rules-based order are allegedly what the historical West has created as well as what all others should accept and reproduce, including the judicial system. There is English law and there is Roman law, but in both cases for someone to start proving his innocence he should hear the concrete charges. We have not been presented with such charges. We are baselessly being convinced that we have “highly likely” done something unlawful in Salisbury, then in Amesbury, and later we did something unlawful in Catalonia. Allegedly, we have meddled in all these matters. They are also accusing us of having played our sad role in Brexit and of many other sins. But not one single concrete charge has been presented.

Unlike our partners, we did build a rule-of-law state, because we hold sacred our international legal commitments and hope that all others will do the same. We have advised the British Government dozens of times, in keeping with conventions existing in our bilateral relations (the Council of Europe conventions, incidentally), of the need to utilise the mechanism for mutual assistance in criminal cases. After numerous reminders on our part, they replied officially that the British Government could not do that out of national security considerations. As is clear to everyone, this reply lacks substance and is disrespectful of the British legal system, among others. Therefore, as soon as we are presented with concrete facts, we will be ready to sit down and talk. The same goes for allegations that we have meddled in the US elections. Moreover, in both cases, we have long been suggesting – even before Donald Trump was elected president and before the Salisbury incident – that we should start concrete work on cybersecurity, where professionals, first of all, will exchange their concerns and respond to these mutual concerns, and, secondly, devise certain universal rules that will make it possible to rule out or dramatically reduce the abuse of cyberspace, which is used by terrorists, criminals, drug addicts, pedophiles, and many other people, who must be restrained in every possible way. In response, we hear only that Russia should mend its ways, if it wants to be talked to. This is neither serious nor the way adults behave.

Unlike our accusers, we ask some very concrete questions: there is a convention on legal assistance, let us use it; there is the Chemical Weapons Convention, which says that if a state party has questions to ask another state party, the country that has conceived a question must put this question directly in a bilateral format to the country, to which this question is addressed. Nothing of the kind has been done.

Yet another utterly concrete question, which we have been asking for too long now and which is shameful to ignore for much longer, is: where are Yulia and Sergey Skripal? If the evidence we have been presented with includes just the corpses of a cat, a hamster, and a poor, unstably housed woman, as well as a scent-bottle, it all looks grotesque. I don’t want to belittle the seriousness of cases involving the use of chemical substances, but if someone wants to gamble on this and put up a show to amuse the public and rally the European community against the Russian Federation, then this is shameful. If someone is seriously concerned about these problems, there is no need to tell the untruth. You should prove your accusations with facts, including by presenting to the public Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia. While Sergey has British nationality apart from Russian citizenship, Yulia is just a citizen of Russia. She appeared on television just once, uttered a clearly filmed monologue, and added that she wanted to return back to Russia. No one has seen her since then. Her relative, Viktoria, has failed to obtain a visa. She was harassed at the British Embassy in Moscow, where they repeatedly urged her to change the documents, rewrite the questionnaires or bring new photographs. In the end she was left without a visa. There are many other factors preventing relatives of these people from contacting them. So, we are in favour of legal solutions to any problems. The rabid accusation in the spirit of “highly likely” or “we don’t see any other plausible explanation” are just not serious.

Question: What about Bellingcat? All these investigations…

Sergey Lavrov: That’s part of the same story, really. White Helmets, or Bellingcat – it’s all the same. It’s not a secret for anyone, and Western journalists openly write about this, that Bellingcat is closely connected with the special services that use it to channel information intended to influence public opinion. No matter how many times we were told that the White Helmets are truth lovers, human rights champions and humanitarian workers who save people in the most difficult situations. More and more facts are popping up confirming their close connection with ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra. This is more like they are not at all benefactors working “answering the call of the heart,” but rather for getting payment. As for the staged videos, the locals are not allowed to leave the site until these people arrive with their cameras. There are a lot of facts like this that have become public.

Moreover, quite recently, three months ago maybe, our Western colleagues decided, as they said, to “save” the units of the White Helmets in southern Syria after non-Syrian forces left the de-escalation zones established there by Russia, the United States and Jordan. Their positions were taken over by the Syrian army, which has now restored the order on the Golan Heights established by the UN Security Council resolution of 1974, which Israel also supported. Representatives of the White Helmets, 400 people with their families, urged to take them to Jordan for a period of three or four weeks, and then, as was announced, Britain, Canada, Germany and Holland would take them. Three months have passed. They are still there. According to our data, Western countries, which promised Jordan to take these people and move them to Europe and Canada, have browsed through some of their dossiers and became horrified. Their past suggests that European countries would be scared of accepting such people with prominent criminal tendencies.

Question: Do you believe that diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom and Western countries can improve?

Sergey Lavrov: All relations do not boil down to just diplomatic relations. There are other relations, including cultural relations that have not disappeared anywhere and which continue to evoke tremendous interest among Russian, British and American citizens and those of the EU countries. There are also economic relations that, incidentally, concern Russian citizens and the relevant business circles to a considerable extent, and these relations are the subject matter of ongoing contacts.

Diplomatic relations depend on the extent to which various partners are ready to respect diplomatic proprieties. Our British colleagues who, to be honest, started wrecking our relations, are not seriously committed to diplomatic proprieties today. I have already said that we have failed to receive any reply after sending dozens of diplomatic notes. Many requests to the Foreign Office also went unanswered. One gets a strong feeling that the United Kingdom’s current authorities have decided to vent their domestic frustrations, including Brexit, on Russia and to explain their domestic problems by Russian scheming. It appears that the Democratic Party of the United States has set this example by justifying its election campaign defeat by the fact that Donald Trump waged an unfair struggle, with Russia allegedly assisting him during this process. It is sad when domestic political squabbles start affecting relations between leading states. They continue to face a problem linked with Brexit. A struggle is now underway for the post of the leader of the Conservative Party, for holding new elections and so on.

For some reason, the “Russian card” has become quite popular among politicians. Possibly, they don’t have enough creativity for doing something else. They simply blame Russia for everything, without trying to take into consideration their  electorate and believing that their voters will accept any concoction.

It is amusing to see British representatives rushing all over Europe after the Salisbury incident and demanding that the EU countries take part in sanctions. They have persuaded many countries, but not all of them, to expel Russian diplomats after the Salisbury incident. Today, they are also inventing some new systematic sanctions that the whole of the EU would have to impose on any violators of the chemical weapons ban and lots more. It appears that a country, now leaving the EU, is frantically trying to influence the EU’s Russian policies. I believe that the UK wants to rein in the EU with regard to Russia and other matters concerning international affairs. It is not up to me to decide to what extent this meets the EU’s interests as well as their dignity.

Question: Is Russia worried about the political and even economic fallout in connection with the Jamal Khashoggi case.

Sergey Lavrov: You are so metaphorical! I support the current calls for a speedy investigation as soon as possible. We praise the agreements between Turkey and Saudi Arabia on the various steps being taken to make it possible to conduct this investigation. I do hope that the international community will get to know the results.

Question: The media has reported today that President of Syria Bashar al-Assad is set to visit Crimea. Does Russia plan to involve Syria in Crimean matters? There are plans for economic activities there.

Sergey Lavrov: President of Syria Bashar al-Assad is our partner. We regularly exchange visits with our Syrian colleagues at the level of presidents, ministers of foreign affairs, trade and economic development. Our military personnel and secret services also maintain contacts. This is very important for combating terrorism. The Russian regions are interested in various opportunities being provided by Syria for expanding economic, cultural, humanitarian and educational ties. Quite recently, Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov visited Damascus at the invitation of President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. As is customary in normal diplomatic practices, he handed over an invitation from Russian leaders for Bashar al-Assad to visit the Russian Federation, including Crimea. Well, that’s about it.

Please come to Crimea. They are telling us that human rights are being violated in Crimea. But all those who are concerned with this matter have repeatedly been able to see what life is really like there. Those trying to make a politically motivated story out of this insist that they will only go to Crimea via Ukrainian territory. This is out of the question because Crimea is part of the Russian Federation under the results of the March 2014 referendum that involved the people of Crimea. But for some reason, not all Western journalists want to go there and see everything with their very own eyes. They have every opportunity to see how the people of Crimea live. If they are interested in a political game, they strike an attitude and say that they will only visit Crimea via Ukrainian territory. This is unprofessional.

Speaking of professionalism, I would like to mention another aspect, namely, Donbass. In effect, Ukraine is divided by the frontline. Provocations continue despite the Minsk Agreements and all attempts by members of the Normandy format and the Contact Group to fulfil all the agreements. Thank God, there are no large-scale hostilities like back in 2014 and early 2015, but regular firefights occur, despite regular “school,” “harvest” and “Christmas” ceasefire agreements. We have been asking officials from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine not to issue sterile reports listing attacks on communities, the number of killed and wounded civilians. Instead, we are expecting them to provide specific updates on the developments in various sections of the demarcation line and to focus on attacks against civilian facilities and casualties and fatalities among the civilians. In September 2017, the OSCE issued the first such report listing the location of attacks and the damage incurred. This was a difficult job because the Ukrainian authorities tried hard to forbid the OSCE from publishing this report. According to this report, five times more civilian facilities were damaged in the areas controlled by the self-defence fighters. The responsibility for this rests with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Civilians living in such places also sustained six-seven times more casualties and fatalities. Any military expert would use this data to note that such a correlation between damage and civilian casualties and fatalities means that, by all appearances, the Armed Forces of Ukraine attack civilian facilities in communities, including kindergartens, hospitals and schools. For their part, self-defence fighters retaliate by hitting positions from which they are being attacked. I have mentioned journalism and professionalism. Representatives of the Russian media work non-stop, seven days a week and 24 hours a day in areas controlled by self-defence fighters. They show the extent of damage and the real results of the operations involving the Armed Forces of Ukraine. If our Western partners are saying that Russia and the separatists are to blame for everything, and that the Minsk Agreements would be immediately fulfilled as soon as Russia wants this to happen, and that Ukraine has allegedly fulfilled them almost completely (this is what some of our European colleagues and US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker are saying), then it would probably be no problem to send BBC, CNN and Euronews correspondents to areas controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and to show everyone how people live there and  the extent of damaged civilian facilities, if any. I have repeatedly spoken with journalists I know about this but failed to get any reply. They are simply looking at me, nodding but doing nothing. If Donetsk and Lugansk are accused of everything, including aggressive behaviour, then it would be appropriate to send journalists there, so that they would work honestly in areas allegedly severely attacked by self-defence fighters. Over all these years, BBC and someone else sent their groups there only once or twice, and that was all about it.

Question: Speaking of President of Syria Bashar al-Assad once again, does Syria plan to conduct economic operations in Crimea or not?

Sergey Lavrov: This depends on the extent to which this region and a certain region in Syria, be it Damascus, Latakia or any other, are interested in specific projects. This was the first meeting between the Head of Crimea and representatives of the Syrian leadership. Quite possibly, they will be able to discuss mutually beneficial projects after assessing the local situation.

IRGC Cmdr.: «Israel» Could Never Win, Netanyahu Should Learn How to Swim

IRGC Cmdr.: «Israel» Could Never Win, Netanyahu Should Learn How to Swim

Local Editor

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami blasted the “Israeli” prime minister for fabricating the realities on the ground and promoting Iranophobia, and said that Benjamin Netanyahu will take his dreams to grave.

“Netanyahu should know that there is no way for him except fleeing the region and so he needs to learn how to swim in the Mediterranean Sea,” General Salami said on Friday, addressing a group of IRGC commanders and officers in the city of Isfahan in Central Iran.

He underlined that the enemy was planning to create a new Middle East led by the “Israeli” regime, but all their dreams turned sour.

“The US says it has spent some $7 trillion in funding wars across the region, but with the will of God and resistance of nations, it has not been able to gain anything from it and has faced defeat,” Salami added.

“Israel” is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal. The regime, however, refuses to either accept or deny having the weapons.

It has also evaded signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in flagrant violation of a UN Security Council resolution amid staunch endeavor by the United States and other Western states on international levels in favor of its non-commitment to the accord.

Iran has repeatedly announced that its nuclear program is merely for peaceful purposes and poses no threat to the international peace and security. Iran’s nuclear facilities have been under the constant monitoring of the International Atomic Energy Agency for the last two decades. But a nuclear accord signed by Iran and six world powers in 2015 placed the country under even stricter rules of supervision and inspection.

Yet, the UN nuclear watchdog has underlined in 12 reports under the deal as well as dozens of more reports prior to the endorsement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that there has never been any anomaly at Iran’s nuclear program to indicate a move or drive towards a military nuclear capability, reasserting that the country’s nuclear program has remained strictly loyal to its stated “peaceful purposes”.

Back in June, the Iranian foreign minister decried the “Israeli” entity’s nukes as a real threat to the Middle East region and the rest of the world, calling for a new focus on the occupying regime’s nuclear arsenal.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif posted a message on his official Twitter account, saying although Iran had no nuclear weapons, the entity, which is the sole Middle Eastern country to possess such weapons, continued to “howl” about “fabricated” Iranian “ambitions”.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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