In a brilliant piece of propaganda that makes President Obama look small and irrelevant, Vladimir Putin plays chess, while Ben Rhodes and Valerie Jarrett play checkers (and Barack Obama vacations in Hawaii again).
Neil MacFarquhar the New York Times reports:
In a head-spinning turn of events on Friday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia announced that he would not retaliate against the United States’ decision to expel Russian diplomats and impose new sanctions — hours after his foreign minister recommended doing just that.
Mr. Putin, betting on improved relations with the next American president, said he would not eject 35 diplomats or close any diplomatic facilities, rejecting a tit-for-tat response to actions taken by the Obama administration on Thursday.
The switch was remarkable, given that the foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, had just made the recommendation in remarks broadcast live on national television, and given the long history of tit-for-tat expulsions between the two countries. Russian officials have traditionally been sticklers for diplomatic protocol.
“While we reserve the right to take reciprocal measures, we’re not going to downgrade ourselves to the level of irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy,” Mr. Putin said, using a common Russian idiom for quarrelsome and unseemly acts. “In our future steps on the way toward the restoration of Russia-United States relations, we will proceed from the policy pursued by the administration of D. Trump.”
First and foremost, this move disempowers President Obama before he even leaves office. Our chief geopolitical rival – a notion Barack Obama sneered at in a presidential debate with Mitt Romney – has just in effect said to Obama, “Who cares what you do? You’re outta here in 3 weeks, buddy.” Dismissing Obama as not worthy of retaliation projects a loss of face onto the world stage, making a capon out of the outgoing president.
This move (or lack thereof) carries some danger for Donald Trump. He must point out the man instances when the Obama administration sucked up to Russia. That bizarre reset button episode with Hillary grinning like a Bride of Chucky doll is just waiting for attachment to a tweet noting that Democrats only attack Russia out of desperation to blame it for Hillary's loss.
I have little doubt that both he and Putin understand the need for some form of pubic confrontation between the two – and there are plenty of issues available, starting with Aleppo and extending to oil prices that divide the two nations. But the underlying tenor of the relationship has to be one of cooperation against common foes, mixed with confrontation.
Don’t worry: I realize that Putin is a thug from the KGB. The sad fact is that ruthless people occupy a disproportionate number of head-of-government roles in the world. I doubt very much that President-elect Trump has any illusions.
In the meantime, Obama looks smaller and smaller.
Following this morning's reports that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would recommend to Russian President Vladimir Putin a retaliation in kind, and expel 35 American diplomats, saying that “we cannot leave such acts unanswered. Reciprocity is part of diplomatic law" with Putin spokesman Peskov adding that "there is no doubt that Russia's adequate and mirror response will make Washington officials feel very uncomfortable as well", it was ultimately up to Putin to decide how to respond to the US.
Which he did on Friday morning, when in a stunning reversal, the Russian leader took the high road, rejected the Lavrov proposal, and in a statement posted by the Kremlin said that Russia won’t expel any Americans in retaliation to US moves, in a brutal demonstration of just how irrelevant Obama's 11th hour decision is for US-Russian relations.
In the just released statement, Putin laughed off Obama's 11th hour temper tantrum, and said that Russia won’t cause problems to U.S. diplomats or deport anyone, adding that Russia has the right to respond in tit-for-tat manner, but it will not engage in irresponsible diplomacy.
The punchline, however, was saved for what may be Russia's final slam of the debacle that is Obama's administration saying that "It’s a pity that the current U.S. administration is finishing their work in such a manner" saying that Russia refuses "to sink to the level of this irresponsible "kitchen" diplomacy."
Putin ended the statement by congratulating U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, and the American people on the New Year and invited the hildren of US diplomats to a holiday celebration at the Kremlin.
From the full statement posted on the Kremlin website:
Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration.
In other news, the Kremlin said it will send a government plane to the US to evacuate the expelled diplomats and their family members. Earlier, there were reports that the diplomats were having problems buying tickets on such short notice, with airlines already booked by New Year’s travelers.
Full Putin statement below:
We regard the recent unfriendly steps taken by the outgoing US administration as provocative and aimed at further weakening the Russia-US relationship. This runs contrary to the fundamental interests of both the Russian and American people. Considering the global security responsibilities of Russia and the United States, this is also damaging to international relations as a whole.As it proceeds from international practice, Russia has reasons to respond in kind. Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration.The diplomats who are returning to Russia will spend the New Year’s holidays with their families and friends. We will not create any problems for US diplomats. We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year’s holidays. Moreover, I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children’s parties in the Kremlin.It is regrettable that the Obama Administration is ending its term in this manner. Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family.My season’s greetings also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people.I wish all of you happiness and prosperity.
The outgoing Obama administration and the British government of Theresa May are engaged in an unprecedented war of words over Secretary of State John Kerry’s blistering critique of Israeli settlements.
Britain voted in favor of last Friday’s UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned settlements as illegal and called for a halt in all settlement activity, while the US abstained. But a spokesman for May, who has expressed robust support for Israel in a series of recent speeches and messages, on Thursday castigated Kerry’s subsequent speech, accusing him of a wrong-headed approach and of being unfair to Israel.
Hours after Britain issued its rebuke, the State Department hit back furiously, denying that Kerry’s speech was unfair, hailing the support the secretary had received from other leaders, and implying that Britain was behaving hypocritically.
The diplomatic tussle is highly unusual between the US and UK, and Britain’s decision to attack Kerry for ostensible unfairness to Israel is still more extraordinary, echoing as it does the criticisms of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
May’s spokesman on Thursday rebuked Kerry for what it said was his speech’s singular focus on the settlements as a major impediment to reaching a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and his commentary on the more right-wing members of Netanyahu’s coalition, whom Kerry accused of dragging Israel into more extreme positions.
According to the UK’s Jewish News website, a spokesperson for May said: “We do not believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this cases the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex.
“And we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally,” the prime minister’s spokesman added. “The Government believes that negotiations will only succeed when they are conducted between the two parties, supported by the international community.”
Reuters noted that May’s critique moves British policy closer to President-elect Donald Trump than its other European allies such as Germany and France, pointing out that “Trump has denounced the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel and promised to change course when he is sworn in on Jan. 20.”
“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the US, but not anymore,” Trump said in a series of tweets on Wednesday, just before Kerry spoke. “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”
Along with the UK’s objections to Kerry’s speech, Australia has condemned the UN resolution as one-sided and “deeply unsettling.” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made plain that Australia would not have voted for Resolution 2334, and pledged support for Israel, “the only democracy in the Middle East.
Well...isnt this interesting...appears the ovomit evil minions are leaking info to the Washington Post (no surprise there) in an obvious attempt to blame Russia once again and try to continue their projected narrative about how bad Russia is. Having said that, there is I believe that hackers can leave any footprint they want implicating whomever they want. The fake footprint can make it look like Russia, when in fact its somebody in China for example. IF this is true, consider the source,WP, then also this is a mild prepper alert on this one...
"Report: Russian hackers penetrated Vermont electric utility"
Oh, and one more...again the Washington Post of all people reported this too...talk about a Friday news dump...
"Report: Iran received $1.4 bil. BEFORE nuclear deal's implementation" (caps is mine)
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