Trump suspends arms treaty, citing Chinese, Russian threats

The Trump administration is pulling the plug on a decades-old nuclear arms treaty with Russia, lifting what it sees as unreasonable constraints on competing with a resurgent Russia and a more assertive China. The move announced Friday sets the stage for delicate talks with U.S. allies over potential new American missile deployments.

In explaining his decision, which he had foreshadowed months ago, President Donald Trump accused Moscow of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with “impunity” by deploying banned missiles. Moscow denies it is in violation and has accused Washington of resisting its efforts to resolve the dispute.

Democrats in Congress and some arms control advocates criticized Trump’s decision as opening the door to an arms race.

“The U.S. threat to terminate the treaty will not bring Russia back into compliance and could unleash a dangerous and costly new missile competition between the United States and Russia in Europe and beyond,” the private Arms Control Association said. It argued that Washington had not exhausted options for drawing Russia back into compliance.

Trump said in a statement that the U.S. will “move forward” with developing its own military response options to Russia’s banned deployment of cruise missiles that could target western Europe.

“We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other,” Trump said. Other officials said the treaty could still be saved if Russia reverses course and returns to compliance, but that window of opportunity will close in six months when the American withdrawal is due to take effect.

The Trump decision reflects his administration’s view that the arms treaty was an unacceptable obstacle to more forcefully confronting not only Russia but also China. China’s military has grown mightily since the treaty was signed, and the pact has prevented the U.S. from deploying weapons to counter some of those being developed in Beijing.

Leaving the INF pact, however, risks aggravating relations with European allies, who share the administration’s view that Russia is violating the treaty but who have not endorsed a U.S. withdrawal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking to reporters after Trump’s statement, said Russia will be formally notified on Saturday that the U.S. is withdrawing from the treaty, effective in six months. In the meantime, starting Saturday, the U.S. will suspend its obligations under the treaty.

Pompeo said that if, in the coming six months, Russia accepts U.S. demands that it verifiably destroy the cruise missiles that Washington claims are a violation, then the treaty can be saved. If it does not, “the treaty terminates,” he said.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://apnews.com/13bee012befd4f989ab9ae108d1ca729

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‘FBI Tried, Failed To Recruit Russian Oligarchs’ For Collusion Narrative

FBI agents tried to turn Russia’s once-richest man into a US mole, according to an explosive NYT report. It claims that Oleg Deripaska was one of six oligarchs targeted for information in a Russiagate-related intelligence flop.

According to reports by the New York Times, the US government pushed oligarchs with perceived links to President Vladimir Putin for information. Deripaska was allegedly nudged to give up information on Russian organized crime and “possible Russian aid to President Trump’s 2016 campaign.”

Determined to get something on the Kremlin’s unproven involvement in the 2016 election, FBI agents reportedly turned up unannounced at Deripaska’s New York home to quiz him about his ex-business partner Paul Manafort – who went on to lead Trump’s election campaign – and Manafort’s links to Russia.

Despite the US government’s repeated attempts to gather intelligence from him, Deripaska told the US Department of Justice that he had no information to provide. Sources told the NYT that Deripaska disagreed with the agents’ opinion that Russia had colluded with the US in Trump’s election campaign. He also slammed theories about Manafort’s alleged role as “preposterous,” even though the two men were involved in a “bitter business dispute.” He is also said to have notified the Kremlin about the US government’s failed efforts to recruit him.

It is understood that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and former British spy Christopher Steele – who was responsible for the infamous Trump-Russia ‘dirty dossier’ – were involved in the attempt to turn Russian oligarchs into US informants. The report said that the US government tried to entice Deripaska with promises to relieve him of previous visa issues stemming from past legal problems, but their attempts to win over the aluminum magnate and other Russian oligarchs appear to have failed.

In April, Deripaska and his company were hit by sweeping US sanctions, with Washington accusing him of links to crime, various abuses and even of ordering a murder.

The report comes as Trump took to Twitter to accuse the Department of Justice and FBI of “corruption” over the “Russia hoax.” The president also accused the DOJ and FBI of being “completely out to lunch” in a series of tweets, in which he insisted that “no information was ever given by the Trump Team to Russia.”

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/report-fbi-tried-failed-to-recruit-russian-oligarchs-for-collusion-narrative/

Sanctioned Russian oligarch linked to Cohen has vast US ties

Long before Viktor Vekselberg was tied to a scandal over the president and a porn star, the Russian oligarch had been positioning himself to extend his influence in the United States.

Working closely with an American cousin who heads the New York investment management firm Columbus Nova, Vekselberg backed a $1.6 million lobbying campaign to aid Russian interests in Washington. His cousin Andrew Intrater served as CEO of a Vekselberg company on that project, and the two men have collaborated on numerous other investments involving Vekselberg’s extensive holdings.

In early 2017, shortly before Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, Intrater hired Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, as a consultant.

Now, Intrater’s investment firm is wrestling with the fallout from financial sanctions the U.S. Treasury Department lodged in April against Vekselberg, one of a group of oligarchs tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Columbus Nova has insisted it only managed Vekselberg’s vast assets. But an Associated Press review of legal and securities filings shows that the cousins sometimes collaborated in a more deeply entwined business relationship than was previously known.

Spokesmen for Columbus Nova have told the AP that the firm’s business relationship with Vekselberg has been indefinitely halted by the sanctions, which targeted Russian oligarchs accused by Treasury of playing “a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities.”

All Vekselberg assets in the U.S. are frozen and U.S. companies forbidden from doing business with him and his entities. The deadline to sever those relationships was June 4, but talks between Columbus Nova and the government are continuing, the firm’s spokesmen said. A Treasury Department spokesman declined to comment.

The Columbus Nova spokesmen said the firm is also seeking permission from Treasury to retrieve any assets entwined with Vekselberg’s Renova Group, which the U.S. firm has called “its biggest client.”

Extricating Columbus Nova’s holdings from Vekselberg’s is not so simple. The sanctions apply to all assets in which Vekselberg has more than a 50 percent stake — including some investment funds managed by Columbus Nova in which the firm has an ownership interest, the spokesmen said. They discussed the matter on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing discussions.

A Russian citizen who has had a U.S. green card and homes in New York and Connecticut, Vekselberg once told an American diplomat he felt “half-American.” Vekselberg heads the Renova Group, a global conglomerate encompassing metals, mining, tech and other assets that is based in Moscow.

He wields an estimated $13 billion fortune that supports Silicon Valley startups, programs at a California state park, a Western-themed resort amid the Joshua trees near Scottsdale, Arizona — and a loan to a Baptist church in Savannah, Georgia.

“I think all along Vekselberg thought a big chunk of his life was going to be anchored here in the United States and he, like other Russia businessmen, has made strategic investments in his philanthropic work to be in better standing here,” said former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

Vekselberg also has cemented tech deals using a Kremlin-funded foundation — raising national security concerns years before special counsel Robert Mueller began probing contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian intermediaries. His opaque corporate structure, which includes an array of hard-to-trace shell companies, has fallen under Mueller’s scrutiny, according to several media reports.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://apnews.com/5e533f93afae4a4fa5c2f7fe80ad72ac

Russian website for U.S. readers tries to turn the nation upon itself

Alexander Malkevich is an information warrior for Russia.

Over the weekend, he sat in an oyster bar in the basement of Grand Central Station in New York City and related to McClatchy the endless difficulties facing his English-language website, USA Really, which is financed by unnamed pro-Kremlin Russians.

USA Really has all the markings of a Russian troll factory trying to undermine U.S. democracy, spinning conspiracy theories, aggregated news and opinions with an aim to show America in a state of near-chaos. Facebook and Twitter have shut down its accounts. When Malkevich’s website called for a rally June 14 to support President Donald Trump, it fizzled for lack of a correct city permit.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/national-security/article213403299.html

The ‘Russian Collusion’ Trial Is On

Lawyers for Russian company Concord Management and Consulting, LLC, formally entered a “not guilty” plea in federal court Monday in a case special counsel Robert Mueller probably never thought would happen.

Mueller, weathering significant criticism that his Russian collusion case was thin, unveiled a grandiose indictment Feb. 16 against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies. The 13 Russians in question were charged with waging “information warfare” in the United States, interfering with the 2016 presidential election, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Mueller generated headlines with the February indictment, safe in the knowledge the 13 Russians were beyond U.S. jurisdiction. Therefore, there would be no trial — only sensational Russian collusion accusations.

Mueller may now have to try the case, and Concord’s lawyers have put the special counsel on notice. The Russian company’s lawyers intend to invoke “discovery” to obtain U.S. intelligence about what they knew of Russian activities.

“I guess Mueller thought it was a freebie, for sure,” former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy told The Daily Caller News Foundation after the court proceeding.

“He thought it could make this association (of Russian collusion) and it would never be challenged in court,” McCarthy, also a National Review contributing editor, said.

Concord retained the services of two attorneys at mega law firm Reed Smith, and the company is demanding a speedy trial. The lawyers indicated they were going to exercise Concord’s rights under discovery to examine all of Mueller’s “evidence” of the conspiracy.

In starting Wednesday’s trial, Eric A. Dubelier, a Reed Smith law partner, entered a “not guilty” plea in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He also repeated his client’s interest for a “speedy trial.”

McCarthy called Mueller’s entire indictment an “unforced error.”

“One thing you never want to do is to indict in a case that you’re not prepared to try,” McCarthy said.

Mueller tried to delay Wednesday’s hearing and floated a claim Concord had not been properly served notice.

“Until the Court has an opportunity to determine if Concord was properly served, it would be inadvisable to conduct an initial appearance and arraignment at which important rights will be communicated and a plea entertained,” Mueller’s lawyers filed in federal court.

But Concord opposed the motion. “The Special Counsel is not entitled to special rules and is required like the Attorney General to follow the rules of the Court,” Dubelier stated in his response to Mueller.

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich agreed with Concord and rejected Mueller’s request for a delay in the trial without comment, which led to Wednesday’s arraignment.

Concord wants a “speedy trial” as provided by federal law, the company’s lawyers also repeated Wednesday. The case will resume July 9.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

http://dailycaller.com/2018/05/09/russian-collusion-trial-robert-mueller-first-casualty/

Russian Nikolai Glushkov found dead in London ‘with strangulation marks’ is linked to killer of Alexander Litvinenko

It has now emerged Andrey Lugovoy, widely accused of murdering dissident Litvinenko with polonium, was jailed for attempting to spring Glushkov from prison in 2001.

At the time, Glushkov was behind bars for defrauding Russian airline company Aeroflot.

Lugovoy was sent down for 14 months but had his jail term cut short.

There were claims that he may have owed the FSB for getting him out and poisoning Litvinenko’s tea with a radioactive cocktail could have been part of his payback.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5798295/russia-nikolai-glushkov-litvinenko-killer-jail-dead/

Russian spy attack nerve agent found at UK city spots

Traces of a nerve agent used in the suspected attempted murder of a Russian former double agent have been found in a pub and a restaurant he visited, England’s chief medical officer said Sunday.

Sally Davies said up to 500 people who had visited The Mill pub and the Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury, southwest England, should wash their clothes and belongings as a precaution.

Detectives are treating the March 4 attack on Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia as attempted murder.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.yahoo.com/news/russian-spy-attack-nerve-agent-found-uk-city-153120597.html

UK deploys military in Russia spy attack probe

British soldiers were deployed on Friday to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible.

The defence ministry said 180 soldiers were being dispatched to the normally quiet city of Salisbury in southwestern England, initially to remove “a number of vehicles and objects from the scene”.

“The public should not be alarmed and the public health advice remains the same.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.yahoo.com/news/uk-mulls-response-steps-search-russia-spy-mystery-110538828.html

The 16-Year-Old Russian Who Joined the Anti-Putin Movement

Until last year, 16-year-old Vitaliy Smitienko, a high school student in Moscow, wasn’t interested in politics. But after watching one of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption videos on YouTube, he became an opposition activist.

Fear is the main weapon that the government uses against us. We must not show that it scares us.

Vitaliy represents part of the new younger generation of activists in Russia who are changing the face of the opposition movement. Now that Mr. Navalny is barred from running in the presidential elections for a criminal conviction that he called politically motivated, these young Russian activists are boycotting the election, even though many of them are still too young to vote.

This video tells Vitaliy’s story and how he became an activist in Russia, despite the crackdown on critical voices.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-16-year-old-russian-who-joined-the-anti-putin-movement-1520506800

Russian indictments prove Trump won fair and square

After 18 months of Russia, Russia, Russia, we finally meet a cast of real Russians. But par for the convoluted course, they were pretending to be Americans.

The indictments obtained by special counsel Robert Mueller on Vladimir Putin’s attempts to create discord in the 2016 election and eventually support Donald Trump are important both for what they say and what they don’t say.

They offer huge victories for Trump — and thus more defeats for Hillary Clinton — but they don’t close the books on everything about 2016.

The very good news for the president is that the indictments are firm in saying that any Americans contacted by the 13 charged Russians, including Trump campaign associates, did not know they were dealing with Russians.

The indictments also state forcefully that despite their social media efforts, which ranged from creative to clumsy, the Russians had no impact on the election results.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced those findings in a flat monotone that belied their significance.

“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity,” he said. “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Those are dramatic statements by any measure.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://nypost.com/2018/02/16/russian-indictments-prove-trump-won-fair-and-square/