Russian leader Vladimir Putin, in a pre-filmed interview, has said he was ready to use nuclear weapons if the West had tried to stop him seizing Crimea.
He made the comment in a documentary, “Crimea. The Path to the Motherland”, aired on Russian state TV on Sunday (15 March).
When asked if he would have put his nuclear arsenal on alert, he responded: “We were ready to do that … That’s why I think no one wanted to start a world conflict”.
He added that he warned his Western counterparts he is prepared to go to war: “I spoke to colleagues and I told them that this is our historic territory, Russian people live there, they are in danger and we can’t abandon them. What do you want to fight for? You don’t know? We know. And we’re ready for that”.
The film also revealed that he sent Russian special forces to the Ukrainian peninsula prior to its so-called referendum on independence, which took place on 16 March last year.
Russian strategic bombers, sometimes with nuclear payloads, have flown several sorties on the edge of Nato airspace in recent months.
Russian propaganda outlets have said it is capable of reducing the US to "radioactive ash".
Putin has also claimed he could conquer Kiev, Bucharest, and Warsaw “in two days” by conventional means if he is provoked.
The Crimea nuclear threat was aired amid concern Russia will shortly attack the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
The European Commission and the EU foreign service, an EU source said, have finalised a package of new economic sanctions which could be imposed if he does.
But speaking to European media at the weekend, EU Council chief Donald Tusk noted how hard it is to maintain EU unity.
“A common policy of the 28 member states doesn’t exist. We have 28 different foreign policies”, he said.
He noted he has little faith in the recent, so-called Minsk 2, ceasefire accord. But he said it gave Kiev the chance to “prepare for a long, long conflict”. He added that any EU leader who believes Putin is ready to make peace is guilty of “naivete or hypocrisy”.
“The only effective answer to Putin’s clear and simple policy is pressure”, he said.
Russia Was Ready For A 'Nuclear State Of Alert' Over Crimea
Russia was ready to bring its nuclear weapons into a state of alert during last year's tensions over the Crimean Peninsula, President Vladimir Putin says.
Mr Putin has also expanded on a previous admission that the well-armed forces in unmarked uniforms who took control of Ukrainian military facilities in Crimea were Russian soldiers.
His comments, in a documentary being shown on state TV, highlight the extent to which alarm spread in Russia in the weeks following Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's ousting in February 2014 after months of street protests.
After Yanukovych fled Kiev, eventually surfacing in Russia, separatist sentiment soared in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula dominated by ethnic Russians.In the documentary, which marks a year since the referendum, Mr Putin says of the nuclear preparedness: "We were ready to do this ... (Crimea) is our historical territory. Russian people live there. They were in danger. We cannot abandon them."
Mr Putin said his plans for a Crimean operation started after Mr Yanukovych fled.
"We never thought about severing Crimea from Ukraine until the moment that these events began, the government overthrow," he said, repeating Russia's contention that Mr Yanukovych was the victim of a coup.
But what makes this new era of anti-Semitic violence in Europe different from previous ones is that traditional Western patterns of anti-Semitic thought have now merged with a potent strain of Muslim Judeophobia. Violence against Jews in Western Europe today, according to those who track it, appears to come mainly from Muslims, who in France, the epicenter of Europe’s Jewish crisis, outnumber Jews 10 to 1.
That the chief propagators of contemporary European anti-Semitism may be found in the Continent’s large and disenfranchised Muslim immigrant communities—communities that are themselves harassed and assaulted by hooligans associated with Europe’s surging right—is flummoxing to, among others, Europe’s elites. Muslims in Europe are in many ways a powerless minority. The failure of Europe to integrate Muslim immigrants has contributed to their exploitation by anti-Semitic propagandists and by recruiters for such radical projects as the Islamic State, or ISIS.
Yet the new anti-Semitism flourishing in corners of the European Muslim community would be impoverished without the incorporation of European fascist tropes. Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, a comedian of French Cameroonian descent who specializes in Holocaust revisionism and gas-chamber humor, is the inventor of the quenelle, widely understood as an inverted Nazi salute. His followers have taken to photographing themselves making the quenelle in front of synagogues, Holocaust memorials, and sites of past anti-Jewish terrorist attacks. Dieudonné has built an ideological partnership with Alain Soral, the anti-Jewish conspiracy theorist and 9/11 “truther” who was for several years a member of the National Front’s central committee. Soral was photographed not long ago making the quenelle in front of Berlin’s Holocaust memorial.
The union of Middle Eastern and European forms of anti-Semitic expression has led to bizarre moments. Dave Rich, an official of the Community Security Trust, a Jewish organization that monitors anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom, wrote recently: “Those British Muslims who verbally abuse British Jews on the street are more likely to shout ‘Heil Hitler’ than ‘Allahu Akhbar’ when they do so. This is despite the fact that their parents and grandparents were probably chased through the very same streets by gangs of neo-Nazi skinheads shouting similar slogans.”
The marriage of anti-Semitic narratives was consummated in January of last year, during a so-called Day of Rage march in Paris that was organized to protest the leadership of the French president, François Hollande. The rally drew roughly 17,000 people, mostly far-rightists but also many French Muslims.
European Jewry does not have a bright future. A declining population (the German Jewish community in 2013 recorded 250 births and more than 1,000 deaths); the return of old habits of anti-Semitic thought; the rise of the far right in a period of stagnation and cultural crisis; the waning of Shoah consciousness; the inability of European states to integrate Muslims; and the continued radicalization of a small but meaningful subset of those Muslims—all of this means that Jews across large stretches of Europe will live for some time to come with danger and uncertainty. (Perhaps the saddest, and most debasing, comment I saw from a Jewish leader came in the wake of the Copenhagen synagogue attack, from Jair Melchior, the head of Denmark’s Jewish community, who was arguing that anti-Jewish activity in the country was relatively mild. “It’s not a dangerous anti-Semitism,” he told Reuters. “It’s spitting, cursing, like that.”) Of course it is possible, in ways that were not 80 years ago, for Jews to dissolve themselves into the larger culture. But for Jews who would like to stay Jewish in some sort of meaningful way, there are better places than Europe.
Kerry, Zarif Reconvene As Iran Nuke Talks Hit Crunch Time
Iran nuclear talks entered a critical week Monday with US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart sitting down in Switzerland seeking an elusive breakthrough after 18 months of intense negotiations.
Time is running out, however, with Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif aiming to agree on the outlines of an agreement by the end of the month. A full accord is then due by July 1.
Both men, who began meeting soon after 8:00 a.m. Swiss time in a luxury hotel in the lakeside city of Lausanne, are also under intense pressure from domestic hardliners worried they will give too much away.
“If (Iran’s nuclear program is) peaceful, let’s get it done. And my hope is that in the next days, that will be possible,” Kerry told CBS television.
There were, however, “important gaps,” he said.
“Several questions need to be discussed, those where we haven’t found a solution yet and also those where we have found solutions but where we need to discuss certain details,” Zarif said on Sunday.
Zarif was later Monday due in Brussels to meet his British, French, German and EU counterparts before returning to Lausanne.
Saudis Warn Iran Deal Could Spur Nuclear Race In Mideast
A deal that leaves Iran with the ability to enrich uranium could trigger a nuclear race across the Middle East, a senior member of the Saudi royal family warned Monday — a prospect that analysts believe will further destabilize the already volatile region.
Speaking to the BBC, Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, a former director of Saudi intelligence and a former ambassador to the US, also cautioned that Tehran’s aggressive behavior must be reined in — notwithstanding the outcome of current negotiations — because it threatens peace in the Middle East.
Turki said Riyadh and other capitals in the volatile region would seek the same rights as Iran to enrich uranium should that be the result of high-level negotiations with world powers currently taking place.
“The whole world will be an open door to go that route without any inhibition, and that’s my main objection to this P5+1 process,” he said.
Top Saudi and Israeli officials have repeatedly warned that Iran is developing nuclear weapons to assert its hegemony over the region — a claim that Tehran has denied, insisting that its nuclear program is intended only for peaceful purposes.Saudi officials warn that the deal in its speculative current form is not effective enough — because it focuses only on Iran’s nuclear program, and not on what officials say is its belligerent conduct that currently threatens the security of other Middle Eastern states.
“Iran is already a disruptive player in various scenes in the Arab world, whether it’s Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, or Bahrain,” Prince Turki said.
“So ending fear of developing weapons of mass destruction is not going to be the end of the troubles we’re having with Iran. Now it seems that Iran is expanding its occupation of Iraq and that is unacceptable,” he said.According to unconfirmed reports, in the event that a “bad deal” will leave the Islamic Republic with the ability to produce atomic weapons, Saudi Arabia “would let Israeli jets use their air space to attack Iran” — a pre-preemptive move that analysts say may signal reticent, but warming ties between Riyadh and the Jewish State in the shadow of the Iranian nuclear threat.
More Signs In The Sky
The approaching solar eclipse on March 20, followed by another blood moon on Passover, brings warnings of judgment coming to an unrepentant nation that has turned its back on God, says the author of two New York Times-bestselling books on America’s place in an increasingly chaotic world.
Jonathan Cahn, author of “The Harbinger” and “The Mystery of the Shemitah,” says he will be watching and taking notes on the landmark Supreme Court decision expected this summer on same-sex marriage while also keeping an eye on ISIS and Israel in the Middle East.
Throw in a volatile U.S. stock market, and Cahn expects to be a busy man for the remainder of the Shemitah year, which reaches its halfway point at sundown on March 20.
That also happens to be the day of a total solar eclipse.The second half of the Shemitah and its ultimate climax on Sept. 15, which is Elul 29, the infamous “wipe-out day” on the Hebrew calendar, is dreaded by financial investors. This is the same day that brought the two biggest single-day stock market crashes in U.S. history to that point, Sept. 17, 2001 and Sept. 29, 2008. In the 2008 crash, the Dow fell 777.7 points on the news that the House of Representatives voted down a $700 billion bailout deal.
If you’re starting to get the idea that the Shemitah is all about the number seven, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.
Following 2001 and 2008, the next Shemitah year is 2015, which follows a seven-year cycle laid out for Moses in Exodus, then repeated in Leviticus. Every seventh year, the Israelites were instructed by God to celebrate a Sabbath year, letting the land rest from sowing and reaping and canceling out the debts of their countrymen. Everyone would start with a clean financial slate on Elul 29, the day of “release.” They would be blessed as long as they followed God’s commandments, but when they turned to false gods or followed their own pursuits independent of God, that’s when the blessings turned to judgments, often starting out light but turning more severe the longer the warning signs were ignored.
Cahn sees a similar phenomenon playing out in America. He traces the first signs of judgment to 1973, a Shemitah year, following Supreme Court decisions that removed prayer from public schools and legalized abortion. That started a downhill spiral, with each judgment getting more pronounced, including the stock-market crashes of 1980 and 1987, followed by terror attacks and a market crash in September 2001, then another financial collapse seven years later in September 2008. The present Shemitah year started Sept. 25, 2014, and is now halfway to its climax in September 2015.
“You never want to put God in box. He doesn’t have to do anything, but the pattern has been, the last seven Shemitahs, there’s been a collapse every time. And then the last two have been exactly to the day, on this Elul 29 wipe-out day,” Cahn said.
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