Posts tagged with "President Vladimir Putin"

U.S. Intelligence helped Ukraine strike Russian flagship, officials say

May 9, 2022

The United States provided intelligence that helped Ukrainian forces to locate and strike the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet last month—another sign that the Administration is easing its self-imposed limitations on how far it will go in helping Ukraine fight Russia, U.S. officials told The New York Times.

The targeting help, which contributed to the eventual sinking of the flagship, the Moskva, is part of a continuing classified effort by the Biden Administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine, the Times said.

That intelligence also includes sharing anticipated Russian troop movements, gleaned from a recent American assessment of Moscow’s battle plan for the fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the officials said.

The Administration has sought to keep much of the battlefield and maritime intelligence it is sharing with the Ukrainians secret out of fear it will be seen as an escalation and provoke President Vladimir Putin of Russia into a wider war. But in recent weeks, the United States has sped heavier weapons to Ukraine;  and  requested an extraordinary $33 billion in additional military, economic, and humanitarian aid from Congress, demonstrating how quickly American restraints on support for Ukraine are shifting.

Two senior American officials said that Ukraine already had obtained the Moskva’s targeting data on its own, and that the United States provided only confirmation. But other officials said the American intelligence was crucial to Ukraine’s sinking of the ship.

The U.S. intelligence help in striking the Moskva was reported earlier by NBC News.

On April 13, Ukrainian forces on the ground fired two Neptune missiles, striking the Moskva and igniting a fire that eventually led to the sinking of the warship.

Attention also has focused on whether the aging ship’s radar systems were working properly. Ukrainian and U.S. officials said the Moskva was possibly distracted by Ukraine’s deploying of a Turkish-made Bayraktar unmanned drone nearby.

Immediately after the strike, Biden Administration officials were scrupulously silent, declining to confirm even that the Moskva had been struck. But in recent days, American officials confirmed that targeting data from American intelligence sources was provided to Ukraine in the hours before the Neptune missiles were launched.

Russia has denied Ukrainian missiles played any role in the Moskva’s demise, claiming instead that an onboard fire caused a munitions explosion that doomed the ship. Independent Russian news outlets based outside the country have reported that about 40 men died and an additional 100 were injured when the warship was damaged and sank.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden to donate 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccine worldwide over a year

June 11, 2021

In a speech set to be delivered on Thursday, June 10, on the eve G7 Cornwall Summit in the United Kingdom, President Joe Biden plans to  outline plans for the United States to donate 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses to about 100 nations worldwide over the next year—in addition to the 80 million doses he already has pledged will be delivered by the end of this month.

According to a report by The New York Times, in making the announcement, the president will challenge his fellow G-7 leaders— from the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan—to step up vaccine distribution in their own nations and in others in order to beat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The White House reached the deal just in time for Biden’s eight-day European trip, which offers his first opportunity to reassert the United States as a world leader and restore relations that were badly frayed by former President Donald Trump.

“We have to end COVID-19, not just at home, which we’re doing, but everywhere,” Biden told American troops after landing at R.A.F. Mildenhall in Suffolk, England, on June 9. “There’s no wall high enough to keep us safe from this pandemic or the next biological threat we face, and there will be others. It requires coordinated multilateral action.”

People familiar with the Pfizer deal said the United States would pay for the doses at a “not-for-profit” price. The first 200 million doses will be distributed by the end of this year, followed by 300 million by next June, they said. The doses will be distributed through COVAX, the international vaccine-sharing initiative.

Biden is in Europe for a week to attend the NATO and Group of 7 summits and to meet with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Geneva. In a statement on Wednesday, Jeffrey Zients, the White House official in charge of devising a global vaccination strategy, said Biden would “rally the world’s democracies around solving this crisis globally, with America leading the way to create the arsenal of vaccines that will be critical in our global fight against Covid-19.”

According to the Times, the White House is trying to spotlight its success in fighting the pandemic — particularly its vaccination campaign — and use that success as a diplomatic tool, especially as China and Russia seek to do the same. Mr. Biden has been insistent that, unlike China and Russia, which have been sharing their vaccines with dozens of countries, the United States will not seek to extract promises from countries receiving American-made vaccines.

The 500 million doses still fall far short of the 11 billion the World Health Organization estimates are needed to vaccinate the world, but significantly exceed what the United States has committed to share so far. Other nations have been pleading with the United States to give up some of its abundant vaccine supplies. Less than 1% of people are fully vaccinated in a number of African countries, compared with 42% in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Advocates for global health welcomed the news, but reiterated their stance that it is not enough for the United States to simply give vaccine away. They say the Biden Administration must create the conditions for other countries to manufacture vaccines on their own, including transferring technology to make the doses.

“The world needs urgent new manufacturing to produce billions more doses within a year, not just commitments to buy the planned inadequate supply,” Peter Maybarduk, the director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program, said in a statement. He added, “We have yet to see a plan from the U.S. government or the G7 of the needed ambition or urgency to make billions more doses and end the pandemic.”

The deal with Pfizer has the potential to open the door to similar agreements with other vaccine manufacturers, including Moderna, whose vaccine was developed with American tax dollars—unlike Pfizer’s. In addition, the Biden administration has brokered a deal in which Merck will help produce Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, and those doses might be available for overseas use.

The United States has already contracted to buy 300 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires two shots, for distribution in the United States; the 500 million doses are in addition to that, according to people familiar with the deal.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden sanctions Russia, expels diplomats over election interference

April 16, 2021

President Joe Biden on Thursday declared that the United States faces a “national emergency” over an array of malign actions from Russia. In retaliation, Biden said he is imposing new sanctions on the Russian government and expelling ten Kremlin diplomats from the United States, Yahoo reports.

The moves are part of an intensifying U.S. campaign to punish Moscow over its attempted interference in the 2020 U.S. election, its occupation of Crimea, and other actions. They are sure to escalate already rising tensions between the two nations and are likely to be met with some Russian reprisal, including the expulsion of U.S. diplomats. The moves also come as Russia has amassed military forces near its border with Ukraine, alarming the international community.

The new penalties also follow a y conversation between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, April 13,, during which Biden proposed the two meet in a third country in the coming months.

Conversely, after four years of fealty toward Putin from former President Donald Trump, President Biden’s  new sanctions are sure to be met with approval by many U.S. lawmakers from both parties, although some are likely to say they do not go far enough. For example, based on the information released by the Administration, there did not appear to be any penalties aimed at stopping the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany, a step a number of Democrats and Republicans have urged.

In a statement, the White House characterized the administration’s actions as intended “to impose costs on Russia for actions by its government and intelligence services against U.S. sovereignty and interests.”

The Treasury Department‘s Office of Foreign Assets Control released information on several of the sanctions. The office said that it “took sweeping action against 16 entities and 16 individuals” who sought to influence the outcome of the election last November under orders from Russian government leaders.

“Treasury will target Russian leaders, officials, intelligence services, and their proxies that attempt to interfere in the U.S. electoral process or subvert U.S. democracy,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement. “This is the start of a new U.S. campaign against Russian malign behavior.”

With regard to Russia’s actions in Ukraine—where Putin still claims the Crimea region as its own—Yahoo reports that OFAC  has“designated five individuals and three entities” for sanctions. OFAC Director Andrea Gacki said in a statement that the designations would “impose additional costs on Russia for its forceful integration with Crimea and highlight the abuses that have taken place under Russia’s attempted annexation.”

Finally, under the authority of a new executive order signed by Biden on April 15, the Treasury Department announced a series of punitive measures including “the implementation of new prohibitions on certain dealings in Russian sovereign debt, as well as targeted sanctions on technology companies that support the Russian Intelligence Services’ efforts to carry out malicious cyber activities against the United States.”

In a letter notifying Congress of his executive order, Biden wrote that his directive would declare “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by specified harmful foreign activities” of the Russian government.

Biden specifically cited Russia’s efforts to “undermine the conduct of “democratic elections and institutions in the U.S. and its allies, its “malicious cyber-enabled activities,” and its use of “transnational corruption to influence foreign governments.”

Other malign behavior mentioned by Biden included the targeting of dissidents and journalists outside Russia, the undermining of security in areas where the United States. has national security interest, and the violation of international law.

Research contact: @Yahoo

Senate spurns Russia despite Trump’s G7 overtures

August 28, 2019

Despite Donald Trump’s deep devotion to the Kremlin, U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle aren’t feeling the love, Politico reports.

Tensions between Russia and the Senate are rising, the news outlet notes—with Russia barring senators in both parties from visiting and Democrats urging Trump to keep President Vladimir Putin out of the G-7.

Senators Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Russia denied their visas as part of a congressional delegation.

Those revelations were quickly followed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats arguing to Trump that “under no circumstances” should Putin be allowed to take part in the next G7 meeting of global powers. Russia was expelled in 2014 after illegally annexing Crimea.

Murphy warned in a statement Tuesday morning that denying visas to members of Congress could further stymie dialogue between the United States and Russia, Politico said. He emphasized that it’s in the world’s best interest to prevent conflict between the two countries.

“Unfortunately, the Russian government is further isolating their country by blocking our visit and several others in recent months,” Murphy said. “ With the collapse of recent arms control agreements and significant domestic opposition to Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule, this is potentially a perilous moment for our two nations’ fragile relationship, and it’s a shame that Russia isn’t interested in dialogue.”

Johnson also said Monday evening that he too was denied entry to the country; the Wisconsin senator was part of a Republican delegation that visited last summer. Indeed, on August 26, Johnson criticized Putin for his recent actions in the region—including failing to hold free and fair elections, supporting Syria and annexing Crimea.

In a formal statement on his own website, Johnson said,” “Eventually, a new generation of leaders will emerge in Russia. Working with Ambassador [John] Huntsman, I had hoped direct dialogue with Russian parliamentarians could help set the stage for better future relations between our two nations. Unfortunately, Russian officials continue to play diplomatic games with this sincere effort and have denied me entrance to Russia. Regardless of this petty affront, I will continue to advocate a strong and resolute response to Russian aggression — and frank dialogue when possible.”

The Wisconsin Republican, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, has led and co-sponsored legislation to get tough on Russia for its actions in Ukraine, but voted against keeping some sanctions on Russia earlier this year, Politico reported.

The denial of visas to the senators highlights an ongoing conflict between members of the Senate and the White House when it comes the United States’ relationship with Russia.

Trump said on Monday that his “inclination is to say yes, [Russia] should be in” the G-7, again rattling U.S. beliefs that the country should remain on the sidelines of the international groups. Trump said there were discussions in France about the matter and said that he found agreement that “having them inside the room is better than having them outside the room.”

In the letter to the president, Schumer and other Democratic leaders argued that [theory] was misguided, because “Russia does not currently possess the democratic institutions nor the economic capacity to rejoin the group.”

The letter was also signed by Senators. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), Mark Warner (D-Virginia), and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey.), who lead Democrats on key national security committees.

Research contact: @politico

Trump allowed no transcripts of Putin meetings

January 15, 2019

Talk about wiggle room. It would be hard to judge U.S. President Donald Trump on his initial meeting with  Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2017, because he did not allow any English-speaking note-takers in the room and no formal transcript remains of the discussion, The Wall Street Journal reported on January 13.

What’s more, the Journal said, senior administration officials were never briefed on the tête-a-tête, according to informed sources.

Indeed, when Trump and Putin first met in Germany, it was the Russians who asked to have a note-taker present, according to sources. Telling aides that he wanted to reduce the chance for leaks, the president, in an unconventional move, allowed only then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to be present at the session; and instead had him take notes with the intention of relaying the details to relevant officials afterward, they said.

The president went to “extraordinary lengths” to keep his discussions with Putin from leaking, according to one person familiar with the planning, including preventing any details of the meeting from circulating widely within the government.

“It was very unusual,” the source said.

Unlike most prior administrations, the. Trump White House doesn’t keep records of every meeting between the president and a foreign leader, a former national security official told the Journal—adding that Trump made that call in an effort to build relationships with foreign counterparts. “He does not use traditional diplomatic techniques,” the official said.

“There aren’t records of his meetings like you’d expect,” said one foreign official, adding that the administration also cut back on phone call transcripts since his conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked out early in his presidency.

However, Trump said claims that he took extraordinary measures to keep his discussions with Putin secret were ridiculous.“I had a conversation like every president does,” the president said in an interview Saturday on Fox News. “You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries. I’m not keeping anything under wraps, I couldn’t care less.”

In response, House Democrats said they would explore whether President Trump sought to limit documentation of the meetings, in what could be one of their first actions to probe the president since they took control of the House this month.

“Every time Trump meets with Putin, the country is told nothing,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-New York) said in a statement. “We will be holding hearings on the mysteries swirling around Trump’s bizarre relationship with Putin.”

The flurry of media reports on the lack of note-taking came on the heels of a report by The New York Times that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into. Trump after he fired former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked. I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written,” Trump said of The New York Times report in the Fox News interview.

Members of the Trump administration and Republicans dismissed the report. “The notion that President Trump is a threat to American national security is absolutely ludicrous,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Research contact: @vmsalama