We must be ready to use ‘hard power’ against Moscow and Beijing – UK defense chief

The UK must be ready to use ‘hard power’ against Russia and China, defense chief Gavin Williamson has said. The remark has raised eyebrows in Moscow, which calls it “irrelevant” to reality and aimed at securing a larger budget.

The UK needs to strengthen its "lethality" and must be ready to "use hard power" to uphold it interests against nations like Russia and China, Secretary of State for Defense Gavin Williamson said on Monday.

Delivering a speech at the Royal United Services Institute in London, he accused "resurgent" Moscow of boosting its "military arsenal" to bring former Soviet states like Georgia and Ukraine "back into its orbit."

Also on rt.com Britain’s ‘backyard’? UK wants to deploy 800 troops to defend ‘interests’ in the Arctic...

The UK defense chief lashed out at Beijing as well, warning the audience that China is "developing its modern capability and commercial power."

We have to be ready to show the high price of aggressive behavior, ready to strengthen our resilience.

The politician made the remarks as London prepares to send its largest warship, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, to the South China Sea on a mission to enforce freedom of navigation rights.

Williamson’s statement was met with a mixed reaction in Russia, with the nation’s embassy in the UK calling it “completely irrelevant” to reality, yet “worrying” in its militaristic spirit.

“Certainly, it’s convenient to threaten society with the so-called ‘Russian threat’, distracting it from the relevant internal and external problems that Great Britain faces today,” the embassy said in a statement.

“Apart from that, the British minister is pursuing a very particular goal with such statements: painting our country as an ‘aggressor’, he is trying to steadily expand the state funding of the UK’s military-industrial complex.”

Williamson, 42, is known for pushing Britain to reassert its role as an influential military power. He also often makes headline-grabbing bombastic statements. In September, commenting on plans to send British troops to the Arctic, he called the region the nation’s "backyard."

At the end of last year, he unveiled plans to build military bases in the Far East and the Caribbean, suggesting that it will help the UK to become a "true global player" after leaving the EU.

During the tensions over the Skripal poisoning case, Williamson went on a fiery tirade against Moscow, saying that Russia should "go away and shut up."

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Moscow slams EU’s ‘arbitrary’ chemical-weapons sanctions, threatens to retaliate

Russia has threatened to respond to “freshly invented” punitive measures imposed by the EU over the Skripal poisoning. Moscow says it’s an arbitrary punishment that disrespects established non-proliferation norms.

The accusations that gave rise to the sanctions “don’t stand up to criticism,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We reserve the right to retaliatory measures in response to this unfriendly act.”

On Monday, Brussels used its new powers against four Russian nationals over the March 2018 poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK.

Also on rt.com Skripal spin doctors: Documents link UK govt-funded Integrity Initiative to anti-Russia narrative...

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov (named in the sanctions ruling as Russian intelligence agents Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga) were subjected to a European asset freeze and a travel ban, along with Igor Kostyukov, the head of Russia’s main intelligence directorate (the GRU), and his deputy, Vladimir Alekseyev.

 
Russians don’t hold Kremlin responsible for Skripal poisoning, say British did it themselves – poll

The EU also sanctioned five Syrians who it claims were involved in the Damascus government’s chemical-weapons program.

“It’s notable that among the first subjects to be added to the EU’s ‘chemical’ restrictions list are citizens of Russia and Syria – two countries that (unlike, for example, the US) have ensured the complete destruction of their chemical weapons arsenals under OPCW control,” said the Foreign Ministry.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Skripal poisoning and offered to help with the investigation. London has not provided any conclusive proof of Russian involvement.

The EU Council adopted a new regime of restrictive measures on October 15, 2018. Under the new regulations, the EU reserves the right to sanction persons and entities it deems to be involved in the development and use of chemical weapons, without seeking the opinion of the UN Security Council.

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Russia’s FSB busts ISIS cell planning terrorist acts in Moscow

An Islamic State terrorist cell that was planning attacks in the Russian capital was detained in Moscow Region on Friday, Russia’s Security Service (FSB) said.

The group consisted of six members, who received commands from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist kingpins in Syria, the FSB said in a statement.

“The detained planned to carry out resonant terrorist attacks in Moscow, using both firearms and improvised explosive devices,” the statement read.

READ MORE: ISIS took several US & European citizens hostage in US-controlled part of Syria – Putin

The group was funded by money transfers from abroad and through local criminal activity. It put much effort into covering up its operations and avoiding detection by police.

During the search of the terrorist hideout, the FSB discovered automatic firearms, cash, communication devices with reports on preparing the terrorist attacks, as well as blueprints for improvised bombs.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

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Moscow has noticed US attempts to meddle in Russian election process – foreign ministry

Moscow has seen attempts to meddle in the Russian elections coming from the US, a senior Russian diplomat said. It comes as Google is suspected of possibly violating the law by selling political ads for unsanctioned rally.

Andrey Nesterenko, a senior Russian diplomat, said the US “certainly does” attempt to meddle in the Russian electoral processes, Interfax reported. He was speaking after a briefing on the issue.

“Our collective opinion is that electoral sovereignty is a principle that all civilized nations should respect,” the diplomat said, adding that Moscow will notify “our American partners that the actions of their media outlets allow us to state that they are close to breaking Russian law.”

 
FILE PHOTO © Maciej Toporowicz

On Sunday, several Russian regions, including Moscow, will hold elections. Opposition leader Aleksey Navalny is calling for protests to denounce the plebiscite, which he calls biased. Among other ways to spread the word about the event, Navalny’s public movement is using paid ads on Google services like YouTube. Holding an event dedicated to an election campaign on the exact day of the election is banned by Russian law.

The Russian Central Election Commission, media watchdog Roskomnadzor (RKN), and the Russian Anti-monopoly Service (FAS) earlier notified Google that its platform is being used to conduct improper political activities in Russia.

“Living in a proper law-abiding nation, we expect every actor to play by the rules. Especially an informed player. If the opposite happens, I believe we have tools at our disposal [to address that],” Andrey Kashevarov, the deputy head of FAS, said.

Vadim Subbotin, the deputy head of RKN, said YouTube ads “serve as a conduit for incitement of anti-social behavior during the election campaign.” He said Google and other social media platforms “offer virtually unrestricted instruments” to “individuals seeking to destabilize the situation in Russia.”

The accusations from Moscow come shortly after the revelation that the FBI had unsuccessfully tried to recruit several Russian billionaires as informants. The US agency hoped people such as tycoon Oleg Deripaska could provide insider information about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, among other things, according to the New York Times. Moscow, which denies interfering in the US election, said the report confirms the US’ duplicity in the matter, demonstrating that it was meddling in Russia’s domestic affairs.

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US violated international law over Russian diplomatic missions, Moscow tells Washington

Washington has violated international law with respect to Russian diplomatic missions in the US, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a protest note filed to DC.

 

FILE PHOTO: Ballerina at the original Bolshoi Theatre stage © Ramil Sitdikov

The ministry expressed “protest at the continued violation of international law by the US with regard to” Russian diplomatic missions and consulates in the US, according to a statement on its website.

The complaint concerns Russian diplomatic properties in Washington DC, San Francisco, and Seattle, as well as in the states of Maryland and New York.Moscow said that the “negative consequences” undermine not only US-Russian relations, but also “the principles of the sovereignty of states and international cooperation.”

Moscow said that it has a right to take “additional countermeasures” against US diplomatic property on Russian soil if the US “continues violations” against its facilities.

In a separate statement, also released on Friday, the Foreign Ministry  urged the UN Secretary-General to look into the matter.The relevant letter to Antonio Guterres was sent on May 18, the ministry said.

The diplomatic spat between Moscow and Washington dates back to December 2016, when on New Year’s Eve, the outgoing Obama administration expelled Russian diplomats and closed two Russian diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland.

Russia did not immediately retaliate as the new Trump administration was taking office. However, the downward trend in US-Russia ties persisted and, in the summer of 2017, Washington slapped a new round of sanctions on Moscow, which retaliated by ordering the US diplomatic mission to downsize.

In response, the US took new hostile action, shutting the Russian Consulate-General in San Francisco, as well as the country’s trade missions in Washington and New York.

In May this year, US authorities removed the Russian flag from the diplomatic compound in Seattle. The Russian embassy condemned this “unacceptable treatment” of the national symbol.

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FIFA World Cup Round of 16 draw revealed

After an enthralling opening two weeks, the World Cup lifts the stakes with only 16 teams left to battle for football's greatest prize.

There are no more second chances with all remaining matches sudden death.

There are some scintillating match-ups on offer in the Round of 16 with the powerhouse nations France and Argentina going head to head.

Cristiano Ronaldo's push for for footballing immortality continues as Portugal take on Group A winners Uruguay on Monday morning.

The rest of the knockout games include Brazil taking on surprise packets Mexico, Croatia going up against hosts Russia, Sweden and Switzerland facing off and Croatia to clash with Denmark while Belgium will play Japan.

The knockout round will conclude on Wednesday morning (AEST) with England's match against Colombia.

All matches will be broadcast live, free and in HD on SBS.

FIFA World Cup Round of 16

Saturday 30th June

France v Argentina - Live on SBS from 11pm (replay 6.3oam Sunday)

Sunday 1st July

Uruguay v Portugal - Live on SBS from 3am

Spain v Russia - Live on SBS from 11pm (replay 6.30am Monday)

Monday 2nd July

Croatia v Denmark - Live on SBS from 3am

Brazil v Mexico - Live on SBS from 11pm (replay 6.30am Tuesday)

Tuesday 3rd July

Belgium v Japan - Live on SBS from 3am

Sweden v Switzerland - Live on SBS from 11pm

Wednesday 4th July

Colombia v England - Live on SBS from 3am (replay 6.30 am)

  • Published in Sports

Moscow has become ‘very convenient scarecrow’ for US – Russia’s UN envoy

Russia has turned into a convenient bogeyman used in the internal battles raging in the US political landscape, the Russian envoy to the UN says.

Although tensions are simmering, too much hinges on the bilateral relations, with the UN Security Council remaining one of the few cooperative platforms.

“We, unfortunately, became a very convenient scarecrow, including in the domestic political battles that are raging [in the US],” Vasily Nebenzya said in an interview with RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze.

 

The entrance to the building of the Consulate General of Russia is shown in San Francisco © Stephen Lam

No thaw happened in the US-Russian relations with President Donald Trump coming into office due to “the domestic dimension and the political situation within the United States,” Nebenzya believes.

Relations have sunk to a new low after a series of diplomatic tit-for-tat measures, which started with the Obama administration expelling 35 Russian diplomats and denying access to the Maryland and New York compounds late last year. In August, Moscow responded by demanding a reduction in the number of US embassy and consulate staff, to which Washington retaliated and ordered three Russian diplomatic properties on its soil shuttered.

However, “too much depends on our bilateral relations, and it's not appropriate that they are so low these days and they should be improved, and that will be for the best – for the better of the world and not just our two countries,” he said.

“I will not make peace and security hostage to our bilateral relations,” Nebenzya added.

“The Security Council maybe is one of the few platforms left for us and the US to cooperate,” he said. “Hopefully, that platform that is the Security Council will help us in many things, including improving Russian-American relations.”

 

Anatoly Antonov © Maxim Blinov

As to how work gets done in the Security Council despite the diplomatic standoff between the US and Russia, Nebenzya assures he has “no problem in communicating personally on good terms with any American colleague, not only Nikki Haley,” calling it “a professional camaraderie.”

With rhetoric occasionally flaring up at Security Council meetings, Nebenzya says he hadn’t engaged in a heated exchange with his colleagues.

“I think that the United Nations, and the Security Council in particular, should not be a place for futile rhetoric and a spotlight to master their rhetorical skills,” he says, adding the UN should serve its main purpose: “to maintain the international peace and security.”

“I never, never imagine that the Russian and the American people have anything like hostility towards each other. It's the political situation that is to blame, but on a personal level we are all humans, first of all, and secondly, we feel sympathy towards Americans and I feel that Americans feel sympathy towards Russians,” Nebenzya says.

You can watch the full interview with the Russian envoy to the UN Friday on RT’s SophieCo.

  • Published in World

Putin says WW2 started due to disunity of world’s leading countries, calls on world to unite

The Nazis were able to start World War II because of the disunity of the world’s leading countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated during a Victory Day parade at Moscow’s Red Square, adding that the lessons of the past should not be ignored.

 
© Grigory Sisoev

“This horrific tragedy could not be prevented, first and foremost, because of the connivance of the criminal ideology of racial superiority, because of the disunity of the world’s leading countries. This allowed the Nazis to appropriate themselves the right to decide the fate of other peoples, to unleash the most brutal, bloody war, to enslave almost all European countries, putting them at the service of their deadly targets,” the Russian leader said, speaking during the military parade in Moscow marking the 72nd anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945.

According to Putin, the greatness of Victory Day is “defined by the people, by their unprecedented heroic act of saving the Fatherland, and a decisive contribution to the defeat of Nazism.”

The triumphant victory over this terrible totalitarian force will remain in human history forever as the highest point of the triumph of life and mind over death and barbarity,” he stressed.

“We must remember that the victory was won at the cost of huge, irreplaceable fatalities, that the war took millions of lives,” Putin concluded.

In order to effectively combat terrorism, extremism, and neo-Nazism today, the entire world community should unite, the Russian president noted.

 

“The lessons of the past war urge us to be vigilant, and the Russian Armed Forces are capable of repelling any potential aggression,” the Russian president said, stressing that “nowadays, life itself requires raising our defense potential.”

“But to effectively combat terrorism, extremism, neo-Nazism, and other threats, consolidation of the entire international community is necessary,” Putin said.

“We are open for such cooperation, and Russia will always be on the side of forces for peace, with those who choose the path of equal partnership, who deny wars as contrary to the very essence of life and human nature.”

The Victory Day parade has concluded on Moscow’s Red Square, where some 10,000 people took part and 114 military vehicles were on display. After attending the festive event, Putin laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beside the Kremlin walls to honor the fallen soldiers of World War II. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, and other top Russian officials attended the ceremony.

  • Published in World
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