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Kremlin Accuses US Of Meddling In Russia’s Affairs |The Republican News

                               Russian President Vladimir Putin

Kremlin on Monday accused the US of  “crudely” trying to recruit Russian nationals to act as its agents, adding that this showed Washington was meddling in Russian affairs.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked during a conference call to comment on a report in the New York Times which said the F.B.I. and US Justice Department had tried unsuccessfully to recruit Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska as an informer between 2014 and 2016.

“The fact is that the US in recent years is working crudely using its intelligence services, trying to recruit Russian citizens, exerting moral and other pressure on them.

“ I think these incidents in the most eloquent manner testify to the attempts to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs,” Peskov said.

(Reuters/NAN)

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Putin Attends Austrian Foreign Minister’s Wedding |RN

Putin-in-Austrian-ministers'-wedding
               Vladimir Putin and Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl dancing

Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the wedding of Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl on Saturday, in a visit that the opposition says has damaged Austria’s reputation for political neutrality.

Putin was one of around 100 guests at Kneissl’s wedding to businessman Wolfgang Meilinger in the picturesque village of Gamlitz in southeastern Austria.

The Russian leader was pictured dancing with Kneissl during the festivities. He also brought a Cossack choir to perform for the newlyweds.

Austrian opposition politicians had criticised the invitation to Putin saying it undermined Austria’s claim to be an “honest broker” between Europe and Russia, with the Green party calling for Kneissl’s resignation.

Russia has been accused of seeking to weaken and divide the EU, notably by maintaining links with populist parties in several European countries.

Hundreds of police officers were deployed for the ceremony and the road from nearby Graz airport to Gamlitz was shut in both directions for Putin’s arrival and departure.

Putin was accompanied to the airport by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and went straight on to Germany for a planned meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Among the other guests at the wedding were Kurz, of the centre-right People’s Party (OeVP) and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

Kneissl was nominated for the post of foreign minister by the FPOe, which since 2016 has had a “cooperation pact” with Putin’s United Russia party.

Since last December, the FPOe has been in government in coalition with Kurz’s OeVP after a campaign in which both parties ran on an anti-immigration platform.

Putin’s visit comes amid reports of other Western countries becoming warier of intelligence co-operation with Austria because of suspicion that the FPOe and its Interior Minister Herbert Kickl are trying to exert influence on intelligence agencies.

Unnamed intelligence officials told the Washington Post newspaper that police raids on the BVT domestic intelligence agency in February caused particular concern.

“The alarms are going off. What happened in Austria reminds me of what autocrats would do,” one senior European intelligence official told the paper.

AFP

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Trump Blames US ‘Foolishness, Stupidity’ Heading Into Summit With Putin |RN

By AFP

President Donald Trump headed into his first summit with Vladimir Putin on Monday determined to forge a personal bond with the Kremlin chief, saying only “stupidity” by prior administrations had brought US-Russian ties to their present low.Hours before the Helsinki summit, Trump was asked if he would press Putin over Russia’s alleged manipulation of the 2016 election that brought the mercurial property tycoon to power. He said only: “We’ll do just fine.”

Democrats had called for the summit’s cancellation after new revelations surrounding the alleged election meddling.

But Trump has insisted it is “a good thing to meet”, as he attempts to replicate with Putin the sort of personal rapport he proclaims with the autocratic leaders of China and North Korea.

If the pair does find common ground, then the summit may take the heat out of some of the world’s most dangerous conflicts, including Syria.

But there are many points of friction that could yet spoil Trump’s hoped-for friendship with the wily former KGB spymaster.

Trump began the day’s talks by meeting Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto, who has loaned his harbour-front palace for the occasion.

But first, he fired a Twitter broadside at his domestic opponents, blaming the diplomatic chill on the investigation into alleged Russian election meddling.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted.

After a stormy NATO summit in Brussels last week, Trump was accused by critics of cosying up to Putin while undermining the transatlantic alliance.

But over breakfast with Niinisto, he insisted NATO “has never been stronger” and “never been more together” thanks to his insistence on all allies paying their fair share.

With Washington and Moscow at loggerheads over Ukraine, Iran and trade tariffs as well as Syria, even Trump has cautioned that he is not approaching the Putin summit “with high expectations”.

The brash 72-year-old billionaire has been president for 18 months while Putin, 65, has run Russia for the past 18 years.

In a weekend interview with CBS News, Trump admitted that Russia remains a foe, but he put Moscow on a par with China and the European Union as economic and diplomatic rivals.

The Kremlin has also played down hopes that the odd couple will emerge from their first formal one-on-one summit with a breakthrough.

Putin, who arrived in Helsinki Monday after playing host at the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday, has remained tense in the run-up to the summit.

On Friday his adviser Yuri Ushakov played down expectations, saying: “The state of bilateral relations is very bad…. We have to start to set them right.”

Giving up ground?

Indeed, after the bad-tempered NATO summit and a contentious trip by Trump to Britain, anxious European leaders may be relieved if not much comes out of the Helsinki meeting.

Those leaders are already fuming over Trump’s imposition of trade tariffs on various countries, including Russia.

Turning the tables, European Union President Donald Tusk said Trump was guilty of “spreading fake news” with his remark about foes, and warned that the trade tensions could spiral into violent “conflict and chaos”.

“Europe and China, America and Russia, today in Beijing and in Helsinki, are jointly responsible for improving the world order, not for destroying it,” he tweeted.

“I hope this message reaches Helsinki.”

Protesters have been on the streets of Helsinki to denounce the policies of both Trump and Putin. Greenpeace draped a giant banner down a church tower urging: “Warm our hearts, not our planet.”

Trump is also under pressure from Britain to press Putin over the nerve agent poisoning of four people in southern England.

One of the victims, Dawn Sturgess, has died and her 19-year-old son Ewan Hope told the Sunday Mirror newspaper: “We need to get justice for my mum.”

Extradition demand?
Many fear that Trump — in his eagerness to prove that he was right to seek the summit with Putin despite US political opposition — may give up too much ground.

Trump has refused to personally commit to the US refusal to recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea, leaving open the possibility of a climbdown linked to a promise by Putin to somehow rein in Iranian influence in Syria.

If Washington were to acquiesce in Russia’s 2014 land-grab, this would break with decades of US policy and send tremors through NATO’s exposed eastern flank.

And there will be outrage at home if Trump does not confront Putin over the election scandal.

But the US leader would not say whether he would demand the extradition of 12 Russian intelligence officers who were indicted last week by US special prosecutor Robert Mueller.   (The Guardian)

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Putin Visits Turkey To Launch Nuclear Project, Discuss Syria |The Republican News

© Sputnik/AFP | Vladimir Putin (L) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have forged an increasingly close alliance, as tensions with the West grow

ANKARA (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday arrived for a visit to Russia’s increasingly close partner Turkey aimed at launching the construction of a nuclear power plant and coordinating policy on the war in Syria.Putin will hold an afternoon of talks with his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the two strongmen leaders are joined on Wednesday by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for a summit devoted to Syria.Putin’s visit to Turkey is his first trip abroad since he won a historic fourth presidential mandate in March 18 polls.

Putin and Erdogan — who have both led their post-imperial states out of economic crisis but also into a new era of confrontation with the West — have forged an increasingly close alliance in recent months.

Their meeting comes as ties between Russia and the West are nosediving to post-Cold War lows after the March poisoning of Russian ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK.

While EU powers have rushed to join Britain in condemning Russia and expelling diplomats over the attack on Skripal, Turkey has been much more circumspect.

Erdogan, who in 2017 held eight face-to-face meetings with Putin, has said that Ankara will not act against Moscow “based on an allegation”.

In a move that has troubled Turkey’s NATO allies, Ankara has agreed to buy S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia.

But Ankara-Moscow relations were also tested by a severe crisis from November 2015 when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane over Syria, a confrontation both sides are trying to put behind each other.

Despite being on different sides of the Syrian civil war, key regime backers Russia and Iran have joined with rebel-supporting Turkey to boost peace and also influence when the conflict ends.

Cooperation is also flourishing in other areas. Putin and Erdogan will from Ankara via video conference launch construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power station in the Mediterranean Mersin region.

The Akkuyu power station — a project costing over $20 billion (16 billion euros) and heavily disliked by environmentalists — was already launched once before in February 2015 but then put on hold due to the plane crisis.

Russia and Turkey are also building the TurkStream gas pipeline under the Black Sea that will allow Moscow to pump gas to Europe avoiding Ukraine and increase Turkey’s importance as a transit hub.           AFP

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Trump Invites Putin To White House Despite Diplomatic Row Over Nerve Agent Attack |RN

Alex Ward
President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg.© Associated Press President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg.This is yet another example of Trump’s incoherent stance toward Russia.

 

President Trump is willing to hold a rare face-to-face meeting with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin despite growing evidence that Moscow poisoned an ex-spy and his daughter near their homes in the UK, an attack that has plunged relations between Russia and the West to their lowest point in years.

The two leaders discussed a potential meeting on a March 20 phone call, a conversation that the Kremlin and White House disclosed for the first time today. Neither the time nor the location of the potential meeting has been finalized, and it’s possible the summit won’t happen. That doesn’t make the prospect of the two men sitting down together any less jarring.

Here’s why: Meetings with a US president are a major honour for any world leader, even one as powerful in his home country as Putin. Trump was offering the Russian strongman a reward at the same time the US was working with other countries to punish Russia for the nerve agent attack on a former Soviet spy. And while it’s not odd for US presidents and Russian leaders to meet, dangling a potential face-to-face at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue could make Putin conclude that he has little to fear from the US and its allies for the attack.

Video: Trump and Putin Discuss Potential Summit Meeting (Provided by Bloomberg

The potential meeting comes against the backdrop of an attack that was audacious, even for Putin. On March 4, Sergei Skripal, a former Soviet and Russian spy, was found unconscious on a bench next to his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury. Ten days later, the UK announced that it was kicking 23 Russian diplomats out of the country because London blamed Moscow for the attack. (Moscow denies any involvement in the strike, unsurprisingly and unpersuasively.)
And on March 26, the US expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers and closed a Russian consulate in Seattle. More than 20 other countries followed suit, saying they would kick out over 100 Russian spies. Even New Zealand tried to kick out Russian spies but couldn’t find any. Russia announced its own retaliation, removing 150 Western diplomats from the country on March 29 — effectively a like-for-like response.

That makes the Trump-Putin call on March 20 so striking. Trump knew America’s top ally, the United Kingdom, already responded forcefully to the Skripal attack, and he knew his administration was in the middle of a coordinated global response. It also doesn’t help that Trump called Putin to congratulate him on winning a sham election — even though his staff expressly advised him not to.

So to dangle a White House meeting in the midst of all of that makes seems, at this point, dangerously naive.

“It was bad enough that Trump didn’t raise the Skripal issue with Putin during their March 20 phone call,” Andrew Weiss, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Vox. “Now we see that he was proposing something that looks, at face value, like going back to business as usual at a moment when most of our friends and allies were trying to send the exact opposite signal.”

Putin is not America’s friend
Trump consistently says he wants a better relationship with Putin and hopes the US and Russia could work more closely together to solve global problems. Putin clearly doesn’t want that.

Consider the following:

  • According to the US intelligence community, Putin personally ordered an influence campaign during the 2016 presidential election to help Trump win.
  • Russia works against the United States in Syria by propping up Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
  • Russia reportedly provides weapons and other assistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan, even though the US military currently helps Afghan forces fight the insurgent group.
  • Moscow helps North Korea avoid sanctions on its economy, but the Trump administration uses sanctions as a central component of its “maximum pressure” strategy on Pyongyang.

That, of course, is not all. But these examples alone show that Trump likely shouldn’t cavort with Putin at the White House. The fact that Trump won’t call Putin out by name for any of them is as mysterious today as it was during the 2016 campaign.  (Vox .com)

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Putin Puts Russia On War Footing By Telling Businesses To Be Ready To Switch To War Production

William Watkinson
Vladimir Putin in a suit and tie: putin ready for war                                  © Reuters putin ready for war  

Russian President Vladimir Putin has seemingly put his country on a war footing by telling businesses that they should be ready to switch production to military needs at any time.

Putin’s words come just the day after he said his nation should aim to overtake the West in terms of military technology.

Putin was speaking at a conference of military leaders in Sochi on Wednesday (22 November) at a time when western leaders have become more suspicious of a militarily resurgent Russia.

“The ability of our economy to increase military production and services at a given time is one of the most important aspects of military security,” Putin said according to The Independent.
“To this end, all strategic, and simply large-scale enterprise should be ready, regardless of ownership.”

Although Russian military spending remains at record levels, 3 trillion roubles, or 3.3 per cent of GDP this year, just under its spending last year, Putin said that Russia needs to aim to be better than the rest of the world.

“Our army and navy need to have the very best equipment — better than foreign equivalents,” he said, according to AFP. “If we want to win, we have to be better.”

Russia’s military has been modernised since the 2008 Georgian war and it has dumped outdated Soviet equipment used by its troops.

Over the next two years, the Kremlin will spend 2.8 per cent of GDP on defence, although this is still comparatively dwarfed by the Nato budget, which is more than three times larger, The Independent reported.

Part of Russia’s new arsenal is the Iskander-M, a new short-range ballistic missile that is nuclear capable and can reach hypersonic speeds.

Capable of striking Baltic countries and Poland, a report in Popular Mechanics noted that the Iskander-M has been designed to attack land targets with a reported 635kg warhead.

Russia has been criticised in recent years for its annexation of Ukraine and repeated military exercises and army build-up on Nato’s western border near the former Soviet states.

The nation was accused of violating the airspace of European countries, including the UK, and engaged in cyber espionage, hacking the governments of Denmark and Germany by British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday.

Although Russia has denied conducting any cyberattacks, May said: “I have a very simple message for Russia. We know what you are doing and you will not succeed.

“Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of western nations to the alliances that bind us.”    (International Business Times)

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Donald Trump: Vladimir Putin ‘Absolutely Did Not Meddle In Our Election’

Jonathan Lemire and Jill Colvin
a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam on Nov. 11, 2017© Jorge Silva—AP U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam on Nov. 11, 2017 (HANOI) — President Donald Trump said Russia’s Vladimir Putin once again vehemently denied interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections during their discussions on the sidelines of an economic summit Saturday. Trump declined to say whether he believed Putin, but made clear he’s not interested in dwelling on the issue.

“He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did,” Trump said of Putin, speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One as he traveled to Hanoi, the second-last stop of his Asia trip.

“Every time he sees me, he said: ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that he means it,” Trump said, noting that Putin is “very insulted” by the accusation. Trump called the accusation an “artificial barrier” erected by Democrats — once again casting doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia did try to interfere in the election to help Trump win.

Trump and Putin did not have a formal meeting while they were in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but the two spoke informally several times on the event’s sidelines and reached an agreement on a number of principles for the future of war-torn Syria.

But Trump made clear that the issue of Russian meddling in the election hovers over the leaders’ relationship and said it jeopardized their ability to work together on issues including North Korea’s escalating nuclear program and the deadly conflict in Syria.

“Having a good relationship with Russia’s a great, great thing. And this artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way,” Trump told reporters. “People will die because of it.”

Trump danced around the question of whether he believed Trump’s denials, telling reporters that pressing the issue would have accomplished little.

“He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” said Trump.

“Well, look, I can’t stand there and argue with him,” he added later. “I’d rather have him get out of Syria, to be honest with you. I’d rather have him, you know, work with him on the Ukraine than standing and arguing about whether or not – cause that whole thing was set up by the Democrats.”

Slide 3 of 36: US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L-R front) shake hands during a family photo ceremony at the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

Trump’s suggestion that he may believe Putin over his own nation’s intelligence community is certain to re-ignite the firestorm over the issue of election meddling. Meanwhile, a special counsel investigation of potential collusion between Moscow and Trump campaign aides so far has resulted in two indictments for financial and other crimes unrelated to the campaign, as well as a guilty plea. Congressional committees have also been interviewing campaign and White House staff.

Earlier Saturday, the Kremlin issued a statement saying the leaders had reached agreement on a number of principles for the future of civil war-torn Syria now that the Islamic State group has largely been pushed out. Among the agreements’ key points, according to the Russians, were an affirmation of de-escalation zones, a system to prevent dangerous incidents between American and Russian forces, and a commitment to a peaceful solution governed by a Geneva peace process.

The Kremlin quickly promoted the agreement as the White House stayed silent. Trump told reporters that the deal was reached “very quickly” and that it would save “tremendous numbers of lives.” And he praised his relationship with Putin the two “seem to have a very good feeling for each other and a good relationship, considering we don’t know each other well.”

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump          © AP Photo/Evan Vucci Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump

Snippets of video of from the summit in the sea-side city of Danang showed Trump and Putin shaking hands and chatting, including during the world leaders’ traditional group photo. The two walked together down a path to the photo site, conversing amiably, with Trump punctuating his thoughts with hand gestures and Putin smiling.

Journalists traveling with Trump were not granted access to any of the APEC events he participated in in the picturesque tropical seaside city Saturday.

White House officials had worked quietly behind the scenes negotiating with the Kremlin on the prospect of a formal meeting. The Russians raised expectations for such a session and Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Asia that it was “expected we’ll meet with Putin” to discuss issues including ramping up pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear and ballistic weapons program.As speculation built, the two sides tried to craft the framework of a deal on the future of Syria that Trump and Putin could announce in a formal bilateral meeting, according to two administration officials not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.

Though North Korea and the Ukraine had been discussed, the two sides focused on trying to strike an agreement about a path to resolve Syria’s civil war once the Islamic State group is defeated, according to officials. But the talks stalled and, minutes before Air Force One touched down in Vietnam, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters the meeting was off.

Trump will be attending a state dinner in Hanoi Saturday night. On Sunday, he’ll meet with the country’s president and prime minister before heading to his last stop: The Philippines.   (Time)

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