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Melkulangara Bhadrakumar

Ukraine Remains the Signpost of World Politics

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The ice in the frozen lake shifting is one of the coolest sounds you can hear. The air is cold but not freezing, and the woods are silent. The frozen lake looks like it’s been stopped in time, but beneath the placid surface it keeps shifting and moaning. The phenomenon produces amazing sci-fi sound — like a cracking whip. 

The phone conversation between the presidents of Ukraine and Russia — Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin — last Friday brings to mind the frozen lake acoustics. It lasted for 20 minutes, long enough for two Russian-speaking statesmen to exchange opinions. Zelensky took the initiative, but most certainly, there was some advance planning. 

The Kremlin readout was taciturn but acknowledged that the two leaders discussed “issues of a settlement in the southeast of Ukraine” and “opportunities to continue contacts in the Normandy format.” The Kremlin took care to play down the phone call. 

Earlier last week, Zelensky had publicly suggested that he and Putin meet in Minsk, Belarus, to discuss the conflict in Ukraine’s east and Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. He added that he would like the leaders of the United States, Britain, France, and Germany to join the talks. Putin reacted to the idea saying he’s open for talks with Zelensky, but negotiations would be unlikely before Ukraine’s parliamentary elections due on July 21 and after a new Ukrainian Cabinet is formed. Evidently, back channels have been working.
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Iran can be Trump’s Nemesis

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What a coincidence that a leaked document from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) just exposed that the chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria in April, 2018 was most likely staged. In security parlance, it was a false flag operation — stage-managed cunningly to create the alibi for a ‘humanitarian intervention’ by the West in Syria.
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Iran to Even the Nuclear Score With US

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It is going to be 30 years in another six months since the USS Abraham Lincoln, named in honour of the 16th US President, was commissioned on Nov.11, 1989 as the 5th Nimitz-class aircraft carrier of the American Navy. Now, as it leaves Croatia and heads toward the Persian Gulf, the carrier would have mixed emotions. 

Its finest moment in all of these thirty years came on a sunny day off the coast of San Diego on May 1, 2003, when the then commander-in-chief President George W. Bush landed on its deck in the co-pilot’s seat of a Navy fighter jet to give a “thumbs-up” sign and declare victory in the war in Iraq. 

“Major combat operations in Iraq have ended,” Bush said, the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner hovering over him. “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed,” the C-in-C declared. 

Sixteen years later, USS Abraham Lincoln is going back to the Persian Gulf in atonement — to confront the real winner of the Iraq War and US’ number one enemy, Iran. The irony of this improbable moment cannot be lost on the 5000-odd men and women on board the carrier when the US National Security Advisor John Bolton announced their new deployment at 9.30 pm on Sunday. The statement said...
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Governing Ukraine is No Laughing Matter

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Comedy, it is often said, is unusual people in real situations and farce is real people in unusual situations. No doubt, it can be said that by electing comedian Vladimir Zelensky as their new president in a landslide victory in Sunday’s runoff, the people of Ukraine find themselves in a farcical situation. To be sure, the country’s embrace of an inexperienced showman represented a verdict on three decades of political failure.

Ukraine’s first president in the ‘post-Soviet’ era Leonid Kuchma told the Russian paper Komsomolskaya Pravda, “Ukraine is tired of its politicians, who for 28 years have been unable to organise life, deliver democracy, well-being or peace. The people are tired, and believe it’s time to turn over a new page.”

The Ukrainian voters perceived Zelensky as an upright candidate, a straightlaced and open person without a corruption-related past, who personified hope. He was quite tight-lipped about his policies or even about the team he’s picked to govern Ukraine. In fact, it’s a bit too early to form a full opinion about this political rookie.
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Russia Throws Down the Gauntlet to US on Venezuela

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The Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova acknowledged in Moscow on Tuesday that Russian “specialists” are indeed in Venezuela within the ambit of a 2001 military-technical cooperation agreement with Caracas. Zakharova underscored that Russia’s bilateral military cooperation with Venezuela is in accordance with the latter’s constitution and has legal underpinning, which “doesn’t require any additional approval from the (opposition-controlled) National Assembly of Venezuela.” 

This followed media reports that two Russian air force planes landed at Caracas on Saturday carrying Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces with nearly 100 military personnel and some 35 tonnes of material. An unnamed official at the Russian embassy in Caracas told the Sputnik that the Russian personnel had arrived to “exchange consultations. Russia has various contracts that are in the process of being fulfilled, contracts of a technical-military character.”

Zakharova’s remarks came a day after Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov received a phone call from the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on March 25. The Russian readout said Pompeo was “interested in certain issues related to the developments in Venezuela.” It added, “Sergey Lavrov emphasised that Washington’s attempts to organise a coup d’etat in Venezuela and threats to its legitimate government are a violation of the UN Charter and blatant interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state… After stating principal differences in Russian and US positions, the officials agreed to stay in touch and continue to exchange assessments.”
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US Leaves Trail of Bitterness in Syria

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On December 17, Ankara was notified of President Trump’s decision on troop withdrawal from Syria. During an earlier phone conversation between him and President Recep Erdogan on Dec 14, Trump had pointedly asked and elicited a positive response from the Turkish leader as to whether Turkey would have the capability to eliminate the remnants of the ISIS in the Syrian tract east of the Euphrates in the event of a US withdrawal from Syria. Erdogan reportedly “reaffirmed” Turkey’s commitment to fight the ISIS.
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Trump’s Fawning Over Saudi Ties Backfires

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The G20 is an economic club and it has traditionally stuck to that groove. And Saudi Arabia has traditionally been represented at G20 events by government ministers, usually the oil minister. But this time around, the Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, who is just a heartbeat away from becoming the king of Saudi Arabia, showed up.
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