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Turkey dismisses NATO membership bids with Sweden, Finland, as "meaningless"

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2023. REUTERS/Leah Millis/Pool/File Photo
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday it was "meaningless" to hold a trilateral meeting with Sweden and Finland to discuss their NATO bids after protests this month in Stockholm.

Speaking at a news conference, Cavusoglu also said there is no offer to evaluate Sweden's and Finland's NATO membership seperately.


Comment: Is Turkey slyly playing both sides, as always, by leaving the door open for separate bids?


Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has said his country wanted to restore NATO dialogue with Turkey after Ankara indefinitely postponed trilateral talks with Sweden and Finland over their membership.

Comment: NATO will struggle to further its plans to surround Russia, and Turkey is revealing how fragile the organisation is, amidst its pathological attempts to wage war on Russia: Erdogan tells Sweden it won't back NATO bid after Quran burning outside its embassy in Stockholm


Attention

Biden was a national security threat long before his classified docs fiasco

Biden
© White House/FLICKR
US President Joe Biden • Security Risk-in-Chief
Don't be fooled into thinking this is the first time Biden has sacrificed U.S. national security to protect his personal interests!

Long before classified and potentially compromising documents were discovered in President Joe Biden's "think tank" office and Wilmington home and garage, the Democrat's actions posed a threat to U.S. national security.

The discovery of even more top secret documents dating back to Biden's time as vice president and senator sparked widespread concerns that the current president hid material that put U.S. national security at risk, potentially for decades.

Republicans worried — and even partisan hacks such as Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff conceded — that Biden's harboring of classified documents in high-traffic, unsecured areas could have put Americans or the U.S. government at risk.

ABC's "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl asked:
"Is it possible that national security was jeopardized here as many, including you, raised that possibility with the Mar-a-Lago documents?"
The disgraced former chair of the House Intelligence Committee replied:
"I don't think we can exclude the possibility without knowing more of the facts."
It seems logical to investigate Biden's recent scandal to ensure he didn't compromise any sensitive material. But the truth is, he opened up the U.S. to a myriad of national security crises, abuses, and disasters long before news broke of his document scandal.

Dollars

US government failed to track $8M in grants to Ecohealth Alliance, which gave money to Wuhan lab, IG

EcoHealth
© Soham Sen/ThePrint/KJN
The U.S. government failed to track grants worth at least $8 million to EcoHealth Alliance, a research non-profit that gave money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to study coronaviruses, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General.

The National Institutes of Health gave three grants worth $8 million to EcoHealth from 2014 through 2021, which in turn awarded more than $3.7 million to the lab in Wuhan, China, to study the emergence of bat coronaviruses during this time, the report states.

The watchdog identified more than $89,000 in what it called "unallowable costs" resulting from EcoHealth's improper use of grant funds.

"Substantial evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic was the result of a research-related incident associated with a laboratory in Wuhan," according to a report by Senate Republicans this past fall.

The inspector general stated that despite the potential risks associated with the research funded by the grants, the government "did not effectively monitor or take timely action to address EcoHealth's compliance with some requirements."

Comment: See also:


Footprints

CA Rep. Swalwell offers cryptic warning after getting booted from House Intel: 'More time on our hands'

group 4
© Unknown
Adam Schiff • Eric Swalwell • Ilhan Omar • Kevin McCarthy
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., vowed that he and two other House Democrats do not plan to go away, despite not being reappointed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to committees they historically served on, adding the speaker's decision was "purely about political vengeance."

During a press conference on Wednesday, Swalwell and Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., responded to McCarthy's decision to not reappoint the three legislators to their committees.

Swalwell said:
"Even though we have said publicly, 'These smears are bringing death threats against us,' he continues to do it, which makes us believe that there's an intent behind it. But we will not be quiet. We're not going away. I think he'll regret giving all three of us more time on our hands. But at the end of the day, our mission now is to restore the credibility and integrity of this institution of which the speaker has so gravely, so gravely smashed and destroyed."

Comment: Schiff vows revenge:
During his time as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Schiff promoted the debunked Trump-Russia collusion theory while serving as the lead impeachment manager. McCarthy told reporters at a press conference earlier this month:
"Schiff famously read out a made-up call between [former president Donald] Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for dramatic effect amid Democrats moving to impeach Trump.
"Adam Schiff openly lied to the American public. He put America for four years through an impeachment that he knew was a lie at the same time we had Ukraine, at the same time we had Afghanistan collapse. Was that the role of the Intel Committee? No."
Swalwell caught flak from McCarthy over his intimate sexual relationship with a Chinese spy named Fang Fang:
"Let me phrase something very direct to you: if you got the briefing I got from the FBI, you wouldn't have Swalwell on any committee. He cannot get a security clearance in the private sector."
When Republicans held the minority in the previous Congress, McCarthy consistently pledged to keep Schiff and Swalwell off the Intel Committee if the GOP regained the majority and he controlled the speakership.

McCarthy told Fox News in June:
"I'll promise you this — when I'm Speaker, [Schiff] will not be on the Intel Committee anymore. And you know what else, Swalwell won't either. I don't know if this is a high bar. But if you have relations with a Chinese spy, you shouldn't be allowed to be on the Intel Committee."



Airplane Paper

Scholtz decided to send Leopard 2A6 tanks to Kiev, German media reports

Tanks
© Christof Stache/AFP
Leopard 2A6 tanks
The German government has decided to send a company of Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine, German media reported on Tuesday, citing sources. According to the publication, these tanks are now in service with the Bundeswehr. The development came on the heels of US media reports that the Biden administration is considering delivering a "significant number" of Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine.

Earlier, German media suggested that Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in a conversation with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday, made it clear that Germany would supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks, but on the condition that Washington also send its Abrams tanks.

On January 18, US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said that the Abrams tank is a very complicated piece of equipment, which is "expensive, hard to train on" and has a jet engine, so it will be difficult for Ukraine to maintain.

Addressing the WEF on the same day, Scholz highlighted that Germany was among the leading countries in terms of support for Ukraine and reaffirmed that his country would continue to provide assistance. At the same time, he rejected any unilateral steps on the issue, stressing that all decisions should be made in coordination with allies, especially the United States.

Comment: A change of mind: US agrees to sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
The United States announced on Wednesday it will supply Ukraine with 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks worth $400 million in a matter of months, a decision that helped break a diplomatic logjam with Germany over how best to help Kyiv in its war against Russia.

President Joe Biden announced the decision at the White House, saying the tanks are needed to help the Ukrainians "improve their ability to maneuver in open terrain."
"Germany has really stepped up. The expectation on the part of Russia is we're going to break up. But we are fully, totally and thoroughly united."
The decisions by Washington and Berlin come as the Western allies help Ukraine prepare for a possible spring counter-offensive to try to drive Russia out of territory it has seized.

"There is no offensive threat to Russia" from the tanks, Biden said. "Germany didn't force me to change my mind, we wanted to make sure we were all together."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said any Abrams shipments would be a waste of money as they "burn" like other tanks in Ukraine.

MONTHS FOR DELIVERY

The Abrams -- among the most powerful U.S. tanks -- will not be heading to Ukraine anytime soon.

Senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the decision said it will take months, not weeks, for the Abrams to be delivered and described the move in terms of providing for Ukraine's long-term defense.

While a highly sophisticated and expensive weapon, the Abrams is difficult to maintain and provides a logistical resupply challenge because it runs on jet fuel.

The total cost of a single Abrams tanks can vary, and can be over $10 million per tanks when including training and sustainment.

Kremlin's Peskov said about the Abrams tanks:
"I am certain that many experts understand the absurdity of this idea. The plan is disastrous in terms of technology. But above all, it overestimates the potential it will add to the Ukrainian army. These tanks burn just like all the others."
The United States will provide the tanks through a fund known as the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows Biden's administration to buy weapons from industry rather than taking them from existing U.S. weapons stocks. Buying them is a slower process.
See also: US finalizing plans to send approximately 30 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, two US officials say


Eye 1

Censored: Who really killed RT France?

rt france closed down
© Sputnik / Vitaly Belousov
The French establishment media took on the role of political commissars, making sure the outlet was not allowed to operate

After a year of censorship, RT has now had to officially stop its activities in France. But would the French authorities have made this move without the influence of some prominent French journalists who put aside their ethics for the occasion?

From the very beginning, RT France had been a target of the French authorities and the mainstream media. In a notorious 2017 press conference, Emmanuel Macron, standing next to Vladimir Putin, said RT and Sputnik were "organs of influence and false propaganda." At the time, RT France had already been working as an online media outlet for some years, and was merely criticized by other media for being financed by Moscow. But the accusations became more and more frequent and harsh as Macron took the lead of the country and RT France was about to launch its channel from studios in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris. In 2018, the work of RT journalists during the Yellow Vest protests was the most exhaustive coverage by any media. This has been widely acknowledged, and the audience of the channel received a considerable boost. The Russian outsider annoyed the establishment media more and more when star television host Frédéric Taddeï started collaborating with RT and stated that it was the only channel that gave him carte blanche in an informational landscape where real debate had totally disappeared.

Attention

Blinken concedes war is lost

David Ignatius & Blinken
© Johnhelmer.org
David Ignatius (lead image, left) has been a career-long mouthpiece for the US State Department. He has just been called in by the current Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) to convey an urgent new message to President Vladimir Putin, the Security Council, and the General Staff in Moscow.

For the first time since the special military operation began last year, the war party in Washington is offering terms of concession to Russia's security objectives explicitly and directly, without the Ukrainians in the way.

The terms Blinken has told Ignatius to print appeared in the January 25 edition of the Washington Post. The paywall can be avoided by reading on.

The territorial concessions Blinken is tabling include Crimea, the Donbass, and the Zaporozhe, Kherson "land bridge that connects Crimea and Russia". West of the Dnieper River, north around Kharkov, and south around Odessa and Nikolaev, Blinken has tabled for the first time US acceptance of "a demilitarized status" for the Ukraine. Also, US agreement to restrict the deployment of HIMARS, US and NATO infantry fighting vehicles, and the Abrams and Leopard tanks to a point in western Ukraine from which they can "manoeuvre...as a deterrent against future Russian attacks."

This is an offer for a tradeoff - partition through a demilitarized zone (DMZ) in the east of the Ukraine in exchange for a halt to the planned Russian offensive destroying the fortifications, rail hubs, troop cantonments, and airfields in the west, between the Polish and Romanian borders, Kiev and Lvov, and an outcome Blinken proposes for both sides to call "a just and durable peace that upholds Ukraine's territorial integrity".

Also in the proposed Blinken deal there is the offer of a direct US-Russian agreement on "an eventual postwar military balance"; "no World War III"; and no Ukrainian membership of NATO with "security guarantees similar to NATO's Article 5."

Blinken has also told the Washington Post to announce the US will respect "Putin's tripwire for nuclear escalation", and accept the Russian "reserve force includ[ing] strategic bombers, certain precision-guided weapons and, of course, tactical and strategic nuclear weapons."

President Putin has offered a hint of the Russian reply he discussed with the Stavka and the Security Council last week.

Putin told a meeting with university students on Wednesday, hours after Blinken's publication. "I think that people like you," the president said, "most clearly and most accurately understand the need for what Russia is now doing to support our citizens in these territories, including Lugansk, Donetsk, the Donbass area as a whole, and Kherson and Zaporozhye. The goal, as I have explained many times, is primarily to protect the people and Russia from the threats that they are trying to create for us in our own historical territories that are adjacent to us. We cannot allow this. So, it is extremely important when young people like you defend the interests of their small and large Motherland with arms in their hands and do so consciously."

Read on, very carefully, understanding that nothing a US official says, least of all through the mouths of Blinken, Ignatius, and the Washington Post is trusted by the Russians; and understanding that what Putin and the Stavka say they mean by Russia's "adjacent historical territories" and the "small and large Motherland" has been quite clear.

Follow what Blinken told Ignatius to print, before Putin issued his reply. The propaganda terms have been highlighted in bold to mean the opposite — the public positions from which Blinken is trying to retreat and keep face.

Megaphone

West risks war with Russia over escalating military aid

German Leopard tank
© Michael Sohn/AP
Germany is to send a squadron of 14 Leopard 2 battle tanks Ukraine and allow others do the same, in a major policy shift expected to boost to Kyiv’s campaign after 11 months of war with Russia.
From day one of the war in Ukraine, the most powerful argument against unrestrained western intervention in the conflict has been the danger of catastrophic escalation into an all-out war between Nato and Russia.

So far, western governments have shied away from a truly existential confrontation with Russia. But the threat remains that continuing western military aid to Ukraine will provoke Russian countermeasures that could turn Moscow's proxy war with Nato into a direct military conflict.

Western hawks have long argued the danger of escalation is illusory. In an op-ed for the New York Times, former British diplomat Nigel Gould-Davies claimed "Putin has no red lines" and that, far from being deterred by fear of escalation, the West should call Putin's bluff and threaten Russia with nuclear retaliation if he overreacts to western support for Ukraine.

Gould-Davies provides no hard evidence for his insights into Putin's mind. His argument is pure speculation, and prompts the question: what if Putin won't back away from a major war with the West? Should Nato be taking even a small risk of igniting a larger conflict that could kill millions?

Recent decisions by western governments to supply Ukraine with many more tanks and armoured vehicles suggest that the materialisation of such a scenario is not so far-fetched.

Comment: Good to hear some voices of reason in the West, though there are few in the MSM.

See also:
NewsReal: Germany Sending Tanks to 'Save Ukraine' - WEF Meets to 'Save The Planet'




Attention

Smoking gun: Tucker says Hunter Biden used classified info to profit in Ukraine

Hunter Biden classified information Ukraine Burisma

Hunter Biden accused of cribbing classified information to obtain a cushy non-job in Ukraine's energy sector
On Tuesday evening on his prime time show, Fox News host Tucker Carlson accused Hunter Biden of using classified information to profit in Ukraine.

The revelation from Carlson came in response to a New York Post story that was derived from the infamous Hunter Biden laptop.

"The entire question whether it's a big deal or no big deal at all hangs on that question what was in the documents?" Carlson started while discussing whether or not the classified document story is important.

Bullseye

'Unthinkable' Russia would lose in Ukraine conflict - ex-Japanese PM

Yoshiro Mori
© KIM KYUNG-HOON / POOL via AFP
Yoshiro Mori in 2021.
It is "almost unthinkable" that Russia would lose in the Ukraine conflict, former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori has said, questioning the US-led drive to support Kiev, which Tokyo has joined.

"Is it fine to put so much effort into Ukraine?" the former official asked, as quoted by Japanese media. "It's almost unthinkable that Russia will lose," he added, during a meeting of the Japan-India Association in Tokyo on Wednesday.

The 85-year-old politician explained he didn't understand why Tokyo was willing to damage its relationship with Moscow after "we have come this far." Russia and Japan have an unresolved territorial dispute and are technically still at war with each other.