We are leaving the postwar era that saw the U.S foster the founding of the U.N. and entering what may be a prewar period of global disorder.
The Kremlin has given the West little cause for reassurance.
In recent weeks, Russia and its tycoons have displayed their sense of nationalist interest with unmistakable clarity in a manner that suggests an inherently adversarial, if not downright hostile, attitude to Western governments, interests and companies.
Robert Dudley, the chief executive of TNK-BP, the joint venture between BP and wealthy Russian-connected shareholders, left Russia because of complications with his work visa. Those problems coincided mysteriously – and, for the Russian side, conveniently – with broader disputes about the company’s investment policies and senior personnel appointments.
Since leaving, Dudley has been trying to run the company from somewhere outside Russia, even though his partners in the joint venture no longer recognize him as chief executive. BP accused them of enlisting state agencies to pursue their battle – a familiar combination of commercial and government forces in Russia’s quest to restrict foreign influence in its oil industry.
At around the same time, Russia put forward a proposal to NATO for a new treaty that would subsume NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe into a new security architecture designed by the Kremlin to reflect Russia’s re-emergence as a power on the global stage. There were reports, too, that Russia planned to renationalize part of its huge grain exports, raising concerns that Moscow would add food to its armory of economic and diplomatic weapons alongside state-dominated gas, oil and arms exports.
As indicators of Russia’s sense of national interest, those events sent out clear signals: after the chaos and decline of the Yeltsin era in the 1990s, the Kremlin was flexing economic and diplomatic muscle in pursuit of influence and wealth.
But there was an equally clear flip side, a mirror-image of the West’s readiness to cast Moscow in the role of villain and spoiler.
From Russia’s viewpoint, NATO has been a meddlesome force, extending influence within what used to be the Soviet fief, a sense of encroachment magnified by the U.S. plan to station anti-missile defenses in the Czech Republic and Poland.
That rankles with Moscow. Imperial memory is a powerful force, instilling a yearning for lost glories and an urge for new modes of influence, acknowledgment and respect.
It should surprise no one that, once the Kremlin made a strategic decision under Putin to reassert control over its own energy resources, outsiders would have a hard time navigating the oil and gas business that gives the Moscow elite control over such massive wealth and power.
There is a sense, too, that by projecting itself as a pole of opposition to Western plans, Moscow is offering itself as an alternate, a counterweight and an equal player, defining itself quite deliberately as the West’s muscular opposite, as much the “other” as in 1939.
Sometimes that divide takes on the trappings of a redefined cold war. Moscow maintains as many secret agents in Britain as it did in the hey-day of Soviet intelligence-gathering, according to the British security services. After the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB officer, in London in 2006, Britain and Russia expelled four of each other’s embassy personnel. Each side has accused the other of conducting unacceptable espionage.
On a more ominous scale, Putin himself compared the American plan for a missile shield in Eastern Europe to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and threatened to turn Russian missiles against new European targets.
But the power these days lies in pipelines, not warheads. Russia provides an increasingly significant proportion of Europe’s natural gas supplies and controls the pipeline network that distributes it.
Europe is the prime market for Russia’s gas, a font not only of burgeoning revenue but also of vital technology and investment to broaden and develop Russia’s economy. That should give the West some leverage: by instilling trepidation among potential western partners, Moscow jeopardizes its access to the West’s technology.
Yet, European divisions over dealings with Moscow leave the West vulnerable to the Kremlin’s manipulation.
Tony Hayward, the chief executive of BP, was asked the other day what suggestions he would offer to companies planning to do business in Russia.
“My advice,” he said, “would be: tread with caution.”
James Clapper. AP
- The former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said an assessment by the US intelligence community on Russia’s US election interference “cast doubt” on President Donald Trump’s legitimacy.
- Clapper’s comments follow an avalanche of recent news about Russia’s efforts to sway American voters in 2016.
- The Russia investigation has gained significant momentum in recent weeks, with several current and former Trump insiders under scrutiny for their ties to, and contacts with Russian operatives.
James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said Friday that the US intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election “cast doubt on the legitimacy” of President Donald Trump’s victory.
“Our intelligence community assessment did serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election,” Clapper said of Trump in a CNN interview Friday evening.
“I think that, above all else, is what concerned him, and I think that transcends, unfortunately, the real concern here, which is Russian interference in our political process which, by the way, is going to continue,” Clapper said.
Watch the segment below:
It was the most direct assertion about the effects Russian operatives had in the US election — the investigation of which has evolved exponentially in the last four months under special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the Russia probe on behalf of the US Justice Department.
Mueller and his investigators have focused on several people close to Trump who have ties to, or have made contact with, the Kremlin — including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and others. Information gleaned from US government surveillance of Manafort prompted concerns that he had encouraged Russians to “help with the campaign,” according to a CNN report on Monday.
Paul Manafort. AP Photo/Matt Rourke
Kremlin operatives reportedly bragged about trying to use people close to Trump — like Flynn, Manafort, and former foreign-policy adviser Carter Page — to make inroads with the campaign.
And Donald Trump Jr. became the subject of heavy scrutiny in July when it was discovered that he, along with Manafort and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner attended a meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer who promised to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Russia’s efforts to sway the US election were further revealed this month when Facebook announced that Russian-associated Facebook accounts had purchased $100,000 in ads during the election. The ads were used to target voters in some battleground states.
Donald Trump. Alex Wong/Getty Images
A soft spot for Trump
Clapper’s assertion that Russia’s activities cast doubt on Trump’s legitimacy will likely strike a nerve with the president. Aides and allies have said previously that Trump’s ire toward the Russia investigation stems from that exact notion that Russia’s meddling potentially diminishes his November 2016 victory.
Trump himself is a subject of Mueller’s investigation for possible obstruction of justice, for his part in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Trump has said that he had the Russia probe in mind when he made his decision, and later said that firing Comey took “great pressure” off of him in the investigation.
To date, neither Trump nor anyone subject to Mueller’s investigation has been accused of any wrongdoing, and Trump has denied the same.
Hillary Clinton. Screenshot via CNN
For her part, Clinton has made crystal clear whom she blames for Russia’s interference.
In an interview with USA Today published Monday, Clinton said she thought some Trump associates had an “understanding” that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted her to lose and Trump to win.
“There certainly was communication, and there certainly was an understanding of some sort,” Clinton said.
“And there’s no doubt in my mind that there are a tangle of financial relationships between Trump and his operation with Russian money,” Clinton said, adding that she was confident the Trump campaign “worked really hard to hide their connections with Russians.”
The federal government told election officials in 21 states on Friday that hackers had tried to break into their systems before the 2016 election, The Associated Press reported.
Key battleground states like Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were among those targeted, the report said. The AP said the government did not specify who the hackers were, but election officials in several affected states told the news wire service that the attempts were linked to Russia.
JAMES CLAPPER: US intelligence assessment of Russia’s election interference ‘cast doubt on the legitimacy’ of …
… intelligence community on Russia’s US election interference “cast doubt” on President Donald Trump’s legitimacy. Clapper’s comments follow an avalanche of recent news about Russia’s efforts to sway American voters in 2016. The Russia investigation …and more »
In addition to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s far reaching investigation into all of Donald Trump’s various past and present criminal activities, a number of congressional committees are also investigating various aspects of Trump’s connections to Russia. Just before Trump entered the election, his Taj Mahal casino paid a multimillion dollar fine for money laundering violations. Now we have confirmation that one Senate committee has in fact obtained those damning records.
On behalf of the Senate Finance Committee, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden requested the money laundering records from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which levied the penalty against Trump’s casino in the first place. According to CNN, FinCEN’s response to Wyden is that it has already provided the records to the Senate Intelligence Committee (link). This is crucial because it gives us a definitive answer after a prolonged battle between Senate Intel and Trump’s Treasury Department.
What this means is that the Senate, or at least the Senate Intel Committee, now has access to the confidential records which provide the details of Trump’s casino’s money laundering bust. Thus far the only publicly available information regarding that bust is largely limited to what was contained in FinCEN’s original press release (link), which is that the violations went back several years to when Donald Trump still had a significant ownership stake in the Taj Mahal. No mention was made of whowas laundering money in Trump’s casino. Was this how the Russians were funneling money into Trump’s hands ahead of the election?
This comes even as Special Counsel Robert Mueller is knee deep into his own investigation into Donald Trump’s various criminal activities past and present. Considering that Mueller has added multiple prosecutors to his team with expertise in money laundering, it seems nearly a given that he’s also aggressively pursuing Trump’s financial crimes.
The post Senate has obtained Donald Trump’s Russian money laundering records appeared first on Palmer Report.
US States Say Voting Systems Were Targeted By Russian Hackers
… battleground states of Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado, and Minnesota, where Democraticcandidate Hillary Clinton lost in some cases by only a few thousand votes to then-Republican candidate Donald Trump, were among those that blamed Russian hackers.
Trump calls Facebook ad controversy part of ‘Russia hoax’ as he says ‘screaming’ biased media tried to tilt election …Daily Mail
Russian hackers targeted Florida, 20 other states in 2016 electionThe Sun Heraldall 171 news articles »