Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis had a private meeting in the Vatican on
Monday afternoon with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. It’s the
fourth time the Russian leader has been here to the Vatican – he met twice with Pope
John Paul II in 2000 and 2003 and had an audience with Pope Benedict in 2007.
In September this year, Pope Francis also wrote directly to President Putin, as the
city of St Petersburg prepared to host the G20 summit of world economic leaders.
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Source: The Vatican
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that being
labeled the world’s most powerful person by Forbes magazine this year has made him
“more cautious,” his first-ever public comment on the issue.
“I appreciate Forbes experts’ opinion, but I personally believe that, first, it always
makes you cautious because it limits you a little bit – it can limit you – let’s say, in
making decisions,” Putin said in an interview with South Korea’s KBS broadcaster
ahead of a visit to Seoul.
“I prefer to pay less attention to such things,” he said, according to an
English-language transcript provided by the Kremlin press office. “If you pay too much
attention to that, it is going to influence the decision-making process. And this would
be most regrettable.”
In October, Putin was promoted to the top spot of the Forbes’ most powerful people
list from third place in 2012. The Russian leader this year was followed by US
President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Source: RIA Novosti
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed
Thursday that after weeks of negotiations a deal had been struck with the United
States on a resolution regarding Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.
“We reached an understanding with the United States on a draft resolution,” Lavrov
told reporters at the Security Council.
He gave no details on the contents of the draft agreement.
The US and Russia are expected to submit the resolution to the full 15-member
Security Council. A meeting in New York has been called for 8 p.m. local time.
The resolution has the potential to become the first to be passed by the Security
Council since the Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011.
Source: Radio Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media NEW YORK—Former President Bill Clinton offered some rare words of praise Wednesday from a US politician about Vladimir Putin, describing the Russian president as “very smart, brutally blunt” and true to his word.
“Mr. Putin … he’s very smart,” Clinton said in an interview with CNN talk show host Piers Morgan. “And, remarkably, we had a good, blunt relationship.” Asked to describe just how blunt that relationship was, Clinton replied: “Brutally blunt,” indicating he preferred this level of frankness in private conversations.
Putin took over as acting Russian president on January 1, 2000 following the surprise New Year’s Eve resignation of the late Russian leader Boris Yelstin, and was formally elected for his first term two months later. Clinton, who left office in January 2001, worked with him as head of state for a year.
Asked if Putin ever reneged on a promise, Clinton was categorical: “He did not.”
“He kept his word on all the deals we made,” Clinton said.
Broadcast of the interview came as some US officials publicly question whether the United States should trust Putin – both the man and his administration – enough to invest fully in a new Russia-US push to destroy chemical weapons in Syria and sponsor negotiations to end the two-year conflict there.
The joint effort staved off what appeared to be imminent US military action in Syria earlier this month, but many US politicians have voiced skepticism on whether it will bear fruit.
“We do have to believe it” will help, Clinton said of the latest Russian-US effort. “We just have to see what happens and make the most of what happens,” he said, adding that “it would be a terrible mistake” not to explore viable opportunities for resolving the Syrian crisis peacefully.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media NEW YORK—Russia’s President Vladmir Putin has gone through extra lengths to prevent World War III from happening, and late Wednesday penned an op-ed in the New York Times, making his case directly to the American people. The article has been well-received by Americans who now view Putin as the peacemaker and statesman, while politicians are fuming because the article is awakening the
American public. Putin insists that any military action should be approved by the United Nations.
“The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades,” Putin wrote.
“No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization,” he added.
Putin then points out that outside interference by other countries is unnecessary because the conflict within Syria is not a battle for Democracy but, several little factions battling each other and the government for their own personal agendas. “Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government,” Putin writes.
The White House shrugged off the article but an unnamed White House official said, “The world will note whether Russia can follow through on that commitment,” according to Politico.
Meanwhile, other officials were more harsh because Putin took his message directly to the American people. “It’s pretty clear the whole purpose of that was to try to weaken our resolve and to try to make sure that we would not fulfill our pledge to conduct military action if we have to,” former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief Leon Panetta told NBC on Thursday morning. “So I think he was trying to, in his own way, weaken the United States in the effort to negotiate these issues.”
Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey also voiced his opinion about the article. “I worry when someone who came up through the KGB tells us what is in our national interests, and what is not,” Menendez said. “It really raises the question of how serious the Russian proposal is.”
Despite the objections of politicians who are only interested in starting new unjustified wars, Putin is showing leadership by his numerous efforts to contain the crisis. Putin’s article is characteristic of a person who is using critical thinking, while all pro-war politicians give the impression that they are driven and blinded by emotion, rather than logic and reason.
They display the tendencies of an attorney who neglects to do discovery, take depositions or interview anyone on the opposing side, yet falsely believes he or she is ready for prime time, thus jeopardizing the client’s chance of getting a fair trial.
Putin on the other hand, comes across a a master chess player who thinks five moves ahead of the game.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin has said if NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is going to have a shot of gaining asylum in Russia, he’ll need to stop sharing America’s secrets. Putin also ruled out Snowden’s extradition. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Putin said the former contractor for the American National Security Agency (NSA) would have to stop divulging secrets about the United States if he planned to stay in Russia.
“If he wants to go somewhere and there are those who would take him, he is welcome to do that,” Putin said in Moscow. “If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound on my lips.”
A foreign ministry official quoted by the AFP news agency said Snowden had applied for asylum in Russia on Sunday night. Reports from the Russian news agency Interfax echoed this claim.
Earlier on Monday, a Russian official quoted by the RIA news agency said President Barack Obama and Putin had ordered their respective security services, the FBI and the FSB, to end the standoff over Snowden. He is currently holed up in a transit area of an airport in Moscow.
Putin said on Monday that Russia would not be extraditing Snowden. “Russia will never extradite anyone anywhere and doesn’t plan to start doing so,” he said.
Source: Radio Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday sent a congratulatory message to the late Hugo Chavez’s protégé, socialist candidate Nicolas Maduro who narrowly won Sunday’s presidential election in Venezuela, saying that he hoped Russian-Venezuelan relations will strengthen even further.
Putin said he was confident that under Maduro Venezuela will continue to consolidate its “strategic partnership with Russia” and reaffirmed Moscow’s readiness for further development of a constructive dialog between the two nations, the Kremlin’s press service said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry urged all political forces in Venezuela to respect the results of the presidential election and exercise a balanced and responsible approach. Maduro won 51 percent of the vote, whereas his rival, Miranda State Governor Henrique Capriles, gained 49 percent, according to preliminary official results announced by the National Electoral Council.
During his election campaign, Maduro, 50, pledged to promote Chavez’s “21st century socialism,” which brought popular health, education and food programs to the poor. Capriles, 40, vowed to bring change to the nation of 29 million people if elected.
Chavez, who had ruled Venezuela for 14 years, died on March 5 at the age of 58 after a two-year-long battle with cancer. He named Maduro as his successor before undergoing the latest surgery last December.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—The US Senate has unanimously approved a resolution condemning a new Russian law banning US citizens from adopting Russian children and calling on President Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership to reconsider the measure on humanitarian grounds.
In its resolution, approved in a vote late Tuesday, the Senate affirmed that all children deserve to live in a permanent, protective family and said it valued a “long tradition” of the US and Russian governments working together to find homes for children who have been deprived of their parents.
The Senate also said it “disapproves of the Russia law ending inter-country adoptions of Russian children by United States citizens because it primarily harms vulnerable and voiceless children” and “strongly urges the Russia Government to reconsider the law on humanitarian grounds, in consideration of the well-being of parentless Russian children awaiting a loving and permanent family.”
The Senate resolution noted that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates there are 740,000 children living in Russia without parental care. It also cited data from the Russian Ministry of Science and Education affirming that 110,000 children live in state institutions in Russia.
“Whatever issues our two governments may be facing, there is no political reason to put vulnerable children in the middle of political posturing,” said US Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who authored the resolution and serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about foster care and international adoption issues.
“Children should be raised by parents, not in orphanages, institutions or alone on the street,” she said.
The Russian ban on adoptions by US citizens was signed in response to the Magnitsky Act, an American law signed by President Obama in December which calls for sanctions on individual Russian citizens deemed by the United States to have violated human rights.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia denied on Friday its top diplomat Mikhail Bogdanov made any statement on Syria, stressing it would not change its stance concerning the ongoing crisis in the Middle Eastern country.
“We would like to remark that he (Bogdanov) has made no statements or special interviews with journalists in the last days,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.
The press reported earlier on Thursday that Bogdanov told a meeting of the Public Chamber official oversight body that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was losing more and more control of Syria.
Lukashevich confirmed that the hearing with the Social Chamber had taken place but said Bogdanov had “once again confirmed the principled Russian position about the lack of alternative to a political solution in Syria.”
He also gave assurance that Moscow has never changed its position from the Syrian crisis.
“We have never changed our position (on Syria) and we never will,” Lukashevich said.
“Our position remains in effect,” he told reporters. “It is unchanged.”
There are new findings, according to Al Manar news, that two Russian warships docked in the port of Tartus today, for several hours but their crews did not go ashore, the Interfax and ITAR-TASS news agencies reported.
“They loaded up on fuel and water and had minor repairs. No shore leave was planned for the crew,” a source in the naval chief of staff told the Interfax news agency.The Tartus base is Russia’s only remaining foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union and is seen as a major strategic asset for Moscow. READ FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia sees “elements of blackmail” in the West’s linking of new sanctions against Syria with the extension of the international observer mission there, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday, and said it was unrealistic to expect Moscow to force President Assad to step down.
“To our great distress, we see elements of blackmail,” Lavrov said. “They tell us, if you don’t give us an agreement on accepting the [UN Security Council] resolution on Article 7 of the United Nations, then we will refuse to prolong the UN Observer Mission mandate,” he added, ahead of a meeting with the UN’s special envoy on Syria, Kofi Annan. The unarmed observers were sent to Syria following a UN Security Council vote in April, to observe compliance with Annan’s peace plan.
Moscow thinks such an approach “is absolutely counterproductive and dangerous because to use the observers as bargaining chips is inadmissible,” Lavrov said. On Wednesday, Britain, France and Germany presented the UN Security Council with a draft resolution which coordinated an extension of the UN Observer mission in Syria with the fulfillment by the Syrian government of a series of demands within ten days, including an end to use of heavy weapons.
The draft included introduction of a series of diplomatic and economic sanctions against Damascus if it failed to carry out the resolution’s demands, in line with Article Seven of the UN Charter, which allows the Council to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” and to take military and nonmilitary action to “restore international peace and security”.
Russia declared that it would not accept the western draft project and presented its draft document which included an extension of the observer mission for another three months to carry out the Kofi Annan plan to resolve the conflict.
Lavrov also dismissed as “unrealistic” calls by Western powers for it to use its influence to persuade Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stand down as leader of the violence-stricken Middle East country.
“They tell us that we should persuade Assad to step down of his own free will. This is simply unrealistic,” Lavrov said. “He will not leave – not because we are protecting him, but because he has the support of a very significant part of the country’s population.”
“We will accept any decision by the Syrian people on who will govern Syria, as long as it comes from the Syrians themselves,” Russia’s top diplomat added.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that both Russia and China would “pay a price” for what she said was their support for Assad. Western powers have repeatedly accused both countries of protecting the embattled Syria leader. The Kremlin is continuing to push Annan’s six-point peace plan as the only way to bring an end to the spiral of violence in Syria, despite the failure of a ceasefire stipulated under the deal, which rebel forces have said they will no longer abide by. Annan’s plan does not call for Assad’s departure.
“We need to pressure both the regime and the opposition to make them stop the violence,” Lavrov said, adding that Russia had been able to persuade the Syrian armed opposition to drop what he said were “radical demands.”
“They are continuing to talk about a revolution,” he said. Lavrov held talks with two Syrian opposition groups last week.
Russia – along with China – has refused to support Western-backed UN resolutions on Syria that it says betray a pro-rebel bias and which could leave the door open for foreign military intervention against the Assad regime. Putin vowed earlier this year not to allow a repeat of the “Libya scenario,” which saw the ouster and murder of long-time Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi after a NATO military campaign.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was confirmed as the country’s new prime minister by a majority of votes in the State Duma on Tuesday.
President Vladimir Putin submitted Medvedev’s candidacy for the post shortly after his inauguration as president on Monday. Medvedev occupied the presidential post in 2008-2012.
Before the vote on Tuesday, Putin introduced Medvedev to the lawmakers as an experienced politician who stood behind crucial reforms in the country.
“In an open dialog with civil society, he began serious reforms, reformed aimed to improve productivity of the government apparatus, the law-enforcement and judicial system that could protect people and defend truth and justice,” Putin said.
Following winter protests over the results of parliamentary elections, Medvedev pushed for liberalizing the law on political parties relaxing their registration requirements, and also campaigned for reintroducing direct gubernatorial elections. The proposals he made on Tuesday generally coincided with the decrees Puin issued
Putin also praised the former president for his modernization efforts and passion for technology as well as for projects to promote young talents. After the complimentary introduction, the candidate prime minister took the floor and outlined an ambitious program for Russia’s further development.
To be approved as prime minister, Medvedev had to collect the majority of votes in the 450-seat Duma, which is at least 226 votes. United Russia, which earlier proposed Medvedev as its leader, holds 238 seats.
Both Putin, former premier, and Medvedev said before the presidential polls in March that they would swap their positions if Putin won the elections.
Newscast Media DAMASCUS, Syria—The Syrian authorities should “make the first step” towards restoring peace in the country by pulling troops and tanks out of rebellious cities and towns, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
“We agree that the Syrian government should make the first step and order the beginning of security forces and army units’ pullout from residential areas,” the minister said.
However, he said, “ending this process will be impossible without reciprocal steps from those fighting the government.”
Lavrov’s statement came during his speech at an Armenian university in Yerevan. The Syrian government, he said, “has made a lot of mistakes over the past year, first of all, in terms of its inadequate reaction to the protest movement,” which he said involved “armed provocateurs” along with “peaceful demonstrators.”
“The Syrian authorities have been clearly slow to implement reforms – although it would also be wrong to screw up eyes to the fact that reforms do take place,” he said.
He described calls by Syrian opposition groups for President Bashar al-Assad to step down as an “invitation for bloodshed,” adding that Russia was not considering Assad’s removal from power as an option to end the violence in Syria.
More than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the breakout of a popular uprising against Assad in March 2011, the UN has estimated. The Syrian authorities blame the unrest on “armed terrorist gangs” affiliated with al-Qaeda.
On Sunday, during a “Friends of the Syrian People” meeting in Istanbul, 70 countries, including the United States, pledged to send several million dollars and communications equipment to Syrian rebels fighting Assad. Russia, which along with China and Syria’s main regional ally Iran, was absent from the meeting, criticized the initiative. Lavrov said it was at odds with a peace plan for Syria proposed by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
All members of the UN Security Council have backed the Annan Plan, which calls for an immediate ceasefire by both government troops and opposition fighters, provision of humanitarian aid to those in need and launch of a broad Syrian dialogue without foreign intervention.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media MOSCOW, Russia — In a documentary aired by Russian state television on the eve of a global security conference in Munich, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reiterated his confidence that U.S. missile shield plans were aimed at undermining Russia’s defense capabilities.
“Today, neither Iran, nor North Korea poses a threat… Today, it’s missile defense that is certainly aimed at neutralizing Russia’s nuclear missile potential,” Putin said in the documentary, entitled “Cold Politics,” which was aired by the First Channel late on Thursday.
Radars to be installed near Russia’s western borders as part of the NATO missile defense system would shield the entire territory of European Russia, Putin said. Yet Washington officials “do not want to provide any guarantees” that their missile plans are not directed against Russia, he added.
Moscow is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the NATO missile shield will not target Russia. Washington, however, refuses to provide the guarantees, saying the shield is intended to defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran.
In the documentary, Putin also noted that the United States was the only country to use nuclear weapons, referring to the 1945 bombing of Japan.
“We cannot forget this, and we will always react to threats that would emerge near our borders,” Putin said.
In an apparent reference to Iran, he also criticized what he described as calls by some members of the UN Security Council for “intervention and regime change in some countries” which they believe may obtain “weapons of mass destruction.”
“It seems to me that our partners are looking for vassals, not allies. They want to govern. But Russia cannot come into line with this,” he said.
Putin’s comments were aired on the eve of the 48th Munich Security Conference, in which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will take part along with dozens of top officials and security experts from around the world.
Ahead of the conference, which runs from February 3 to 5, its chairman Wolfgang Ischinger expressed hope that it would help Russia and its Western partners reach a compromise on the missile defense issue “so that the cooperation with Russia can move forward at the NATO summit in May in Chicago.”
Newscast Media MOSCOW— Russia is under no obligation to provide an explanation for a recent alleged delivery of arms to Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.
“We don’t consider it necessary to explain or justify ourselves, as we are not violating any international agreements or any [U.N.] Security Council resolutions,” Lavrov told an annual news conference.
“We are only dealing with Syria in those items not outlawed under international law,” he added.
Lavrov’s comments followed the arrival last week of a Russian-operated ship in Syria. An official in Cyprus, where the vessel was briefly held up, said the ship was carrying ammunition.
The United States later said it had raised the issue of the ship’s cargo with Moscow. U.S. envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice said on Tuesday that Washington had “very grave concerns about arms flows into Syria from any source.”
Russia and China in October vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have imposed an arms embargo on Syria. The UN says some 5,000 people have died since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March.
Moscow has insisted, however, that violence in Syria is being instigated by both government forces and rebels and on Wednesday Lavrov repeated calls for the two sides to lay down their arms.
“Weapons are being supplied to fighters and extremists in Syria who are trying to exploit the protest movement to seize power…this is unacceptable and non-productive,” he said. “We consider necessary a halt to any form of violence in Syria, wherever it might originate, and the start of an all-inclusive national dialogue.”
Lavrov also slammed unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe against Syria.
“Unilateral sanctions are always an undermining of collective efforts,” he said, “be they against Iran, Syria or any other country.” http://www.newscastmedia.com/armsdelivery.html