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By Jason Michael
FEW IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA picked up on White House reporter Jeff Mason’s last question during the Putin-Trump press conference in Helsinki. Yet, what he asked President Putin and, perhaps more importantly, the answer he received were the single most significant revelation to come out of the US-Russian summit. “Did you want President Trump to win the election,” Mason put to Mr Putin, “and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?” “Yes, I did. Yes, I did,” responded the Russian premier as soon as his translator had finished. Two simple questions and two unhesitant affirmative answers which I fear will resound down through our future like a broken church bell tumbling down time’s stone campanile steps.
Speculations can cease. We can stop defending against the accusations that this was all an elaborate conspiracy theory. Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. In the face of an Oval Office-led right-wing media barrage claiming an anti-Trump “witch-hunt,” this was precisely what former FBI director Robert Mueller indicted twelve Russian military officers for on Friday. In spite of the constant attack his investigation has been under, Mueller has been vindicated. All the evidence from the US intelligence agencies has been vindicated. Russia was active in the subversion of US democracy to secure the election of the “Siberian Candidate” – Donald J. Trump.
The arrest of Maria Butina, a 29-year-old Russian national, in Washington DC adds another layer to the drama. According to federal prosecutors the woman employed by Alexander Torshin – a major player in Russian politics and a deputy governor at the Russian central bank – has links to Russian intelligence and had been active in funnelling rubles into various conservative organisations, including the NRA, for the purposes of funding the Trump campaign.
Butina has a similar part in the “dark money” story to Richard Cook in Scotland. Cook, a former chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and the only known member of the unregistered political interest groups the Constitutional Research Council, travelled to Kiev in 2013 to collected funds from a German fraudster, Hans-Ernst Bastian, via the state-owned Укрексімбанк bank – during the pro-Russian presidency of Viktor Yanukovych.
Two ground-changing Western elections – Brexit and the 2016 Presidential – and everywhere a similar pattern of infiltration, money laundering, illegal foreign funding (all Russian-linked), and the gaming of democracy. We are looking at the modus operandi of a global power with an interest in destabilising Western democracies and dividing the US from its allies. Regardless of the current British government’s suspect reluctance to investigate at least the possibility of Russian interference in UK politics, other European nations have begun to take steps to safeguard themselves from the same and from the potential consequences of a compromised US or UK.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on the day of the Putin-Trump meeting that Germany “can no longer fully rely on the White House.” As the Western alliance begins to come undone the attitude in Berlin is that a recalibration of Germany’s partnership with the United States will require “a united, confident and sovereign Europe.” What this means is that the US is now being viewed in the European Union as a broken reed, and that for a common defence against Russian pressure and expansion – think Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Poland – the EU will have to look inward, rather than to Washington, and seek consolidation and greater political unity.
Russia has taken a big bite into the US and the UK, seriously compromising their security and the integrity of their democratic structures. This has weakened the bonds of NATO – potentially harming global security – and fractured the European Union. Why Russia would do this is obvious. Over the past decade the recovery of Russia on the international stage was met with a US policy of encirclement, seeing the placement, replacement, and strengthening of a US military presence around the western, southern, and eastern edge of Russia. US policy towards Putin and Russia has been one of hampering – seeking to frustrate Putin’s hemispherical agenda. Much of this, of course, came into the open during the Syrian conflict, in what amounted to a proxy war between the two powers.
Europe too has been frustrating the Kremlin’s ambitions. Looking to the East and its own economic expansion, the European Union has increasingly encroached on what Russia sees as its sphere of influence in Poland, the Baltic states, and in Ukraine. The EU’s courtship of Ukraine before 2014 contributed in no small part to the civil unrest in the country which led ultimately to the ousting and exile of its pro-Russian former president Viktor Yanukovych.
Russia’s big bite has thus far been a dazzling success. In the Trump election we see that Putin has most likely purchased for himself the highest prize in international politics – the US president. US influence over the UK and the success of its cyber war in Britain and the effect of its dark money programme during the Brexit referendum has delivered for Russia a heavy blow to European unity, creating at least the possibility of an exploitable weakness. It is unimaginable Putin would not push the EU door if it failed to offer much resistance. Power – after all – abhors a vacuum.
So far, Russia has been given the benefit of the doubt in what looks like a diplomacy in Europe of latter day appeasement. While Trump cannot be trusted to stand by his commitments to the NATO alliance, the EU will continue to try to pacify Russia, but sooner or later Putin will over bite – forcing Europe to take a stand. The Ukraine was a failure of the EU, but Berlin knows that if the EU fails to protect a member state on the Russian periphery the European project is dead. Europe does have red lines, and right now Russia is busy testing Brussels’ resolve when it comes to holding those lines.
This is a dangerous period. The stand-off between the EU and Russia and between previous US administrations and Russia have created something of a new Cold War. How close this situation comes to actual conflict, as it did during the Cold War, depends in large part on the maintenance of the balance of power. Any significant shift in that balance may have catastrophic consequences.
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s full press conference
11 thoughts on “Bleakest Forecast”
Perhaps if the West had not reneged on the treaties it made with the USSR/Russia at the end of the Cold War we would not be in the situation we are now.
NATO, in its endless quest to justify a continuous feed of profits to its arms industry sponsors and the Global Imperial desires of the US, tore up every agreement designed to show good faith to Russia and provide that still war-traumatised nation with security without having an occupied buffer zone.
Worse still, they moved into the ex Warsaw Pact states in flagrant violation of those treaties.
Meanwhile, The Forces of Democracy go ‘full Rambo’ across the Middle East, destroying entire nations, especially Libya, which was instrumental in creating the African Union, which was probably the primary reason for bombing the place back to the 5th Century.
After all, we couldn’t have those brown people down in Africa using their own resources to make their own lives better, could we.
Watching these events from afar, I guess Putin realised that he was on the same hit list for bringing an end to the piratical free for all that was Yeltsin-era Russia.
Ask Russian people how lovely a time the ‘democratic ‘90s’ were for them…
Another interesting point about Russia is this. It has the single largest contiguous land mass on the planet, filled with seemingly boundless natural resources,
what reason does Russia have to desire other territories?
Yes, she would like to dominate Europe’s energy market but so does the US with it’s fracked (at great cost to the environment and health of its own people) gas.
On the other hand, the west has for three centuries been desperate to get its hands on Russia’s resources.
The problem with Russia is that it refuses to dance to Wall St’s tune.
The problem for the West is that it is bigger and more heavily armed than Iraq, Libya or Syria.
Europe can hum and ha about ‘Russian aggression’ all it likes but the likes of Junker and Verhoefstat seem to be very silent about real Fascists in Madrid.
It would be interesting to see their private share portfolios; I imagine , Rheinmettal, Dassault and Northrop Grumman are well represented there.
I just wish the SNP would stop buying into this horseshit Neocon agenda.
Sorry for the rant mate but I’ve just had a fucking gutful of endless Russophobia.
It disappoints me to see you accepting it too.
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I couldn’t have put it better myself. Really couldn’t.
Russia has an agenda but it is not the conquest of the west. It is to stop the west’s conquest of Russia.
Everything we ‘know’ & believe about Russia comes via the western media and readers of this site are all to aware how they distort things to promote a specific agenda.
Here’s a thought: did Putin’s agents have a hand in Trump’s election or is Putin simply stirring the pot by saying they did? Is Putin lying? How would we know, one way or the other…
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But I am not a Russophobe. I am as suspicious of the US and the UK – as you know. I am merely pointing to the evidence that Russia ain’t no angel either.
I can’t get over the absolute irony of the nation that has done more to undermine popular democracy across the world since 1950 getting on its high horse about somebody (allegedly) interfering in their own domestic corporate stitch-up.
I imagine there are wry smiles in Tehran and Santiago every time it’s mentioned…
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I’ve always enjoyed your careful and thoughtful analyses of events and attitudes.
For a minute there I thought I was reading The Guardian.
Of course you’re right to say this is a dangerous period. So it is fortunate that a man of Vladimir Putin’s stature holds the presidency of the Russian Federation – a lesser man may well have reacted violently against the ongoing extreme provocation by the Western powers. Consider if you will how the USA might react if Russia or China made agreements with, say, Mexico to station military forces on the border with America. How long would it be before the US attacked/invaded – 24 hours, maybe less?
Remember, the USA is a far, far, greater threat to peace in the World than any other country, and right now, its European lackeys are supporting it all the way.
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You can hear what former NSA Technical Director turned whistleblower has to say, via this 16 minute interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=Qe1movhtIfA
Hi Jazzer – Thanks for that. Firstly, this source is a pro-Trump source. This makes it problematic to begin with. Second, the “forensic proof” is evidence that the information was not transferred at a transatlantic distance, but was hacked locally. The Maria Butin case tells us that Russia has agents on the ground and that these have assents in local positions. You will note that the former director never says it was not a Russian hack. Only the presenter says this, and her conclusion is based on nothing.
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The electoral system in the USA has been corrupted over a period of years, starting long before Putin had the power to interfere. There are two warring factions of super-rich and corporate elite who vie for control. One is the military-industrial complex generally favoured by the Republicans. The other are the financial services sector favour more by the Democrats.
Putin (or more likely his oligarchs) may have participated in the game, but they would not have gotten anywhere if the process was not already seriously corrupted.
In the UK, much the same situation applies, with the addition of descendants of the landed aristocracy.
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Hi Jason. Thanks for the reply.
I don’t think Bill Binney himself is pro-Trump, and he has also put his name to a communication sent to the President – by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity – stating that they (VIPS) say it was not a Russian hack.
Also, Craig Murray has stated he KNOWS it was not a hack & also spoke about Maria Butina in his latest blog.
All the best.
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I’ll have a look, but bear in mind I wasn’t talking about Bill Binney. I was talking about the show and how the anchor interpreted his evidence.
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