Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, describing Russia's objectives as "generally accomplished". [more inside]
A conversation with Ilya Ponomarev, an exiled dissident Russian State Duma Deputy living in San Jose - "When the Russian government voted to annex Crimea last year, only one member of parliament stood in opposition—Ilya Ponomarev. The final tally was 445 to 1, with Ponomarev wanting the world to know that the annexation did not have unanimous support. He is now barred from returning home to Russia. First elected to Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, in 2007, Ponomarev became a leader of political protests that shook Moscow before Putin's return to the presidency in 2012. Now, the Russian parliament has voted overwhelming to strip Ponomarev of the immunity from prosecution granted to lawmakers by the Russian Constitution. How long can this government maintain control by silencing these voices of opposition? With elections scheduled for next year, what is the future of Putin's government and Russia's relationship with the United States?" [more inside]
Dozens of armed men in Russian-marked military uniforms occupied an airport in the capital of Ukraine's strategic Crimea region early Friday, Obama warns Russia against any military intervention in Ukraine. But what is so dangerous about Crimea, and what is 'The Budapest Memorandum?'
Newsfilter: Chechen war reporter found dead - Anna Politkovskaya. Courageous reporting from the "forgotten" conflicts in Caucasus. I guess she found out the truth too often.
The Ultimatum has been delivered to the UN... This conflict, simmering for over ten years is about to erupt. "In strict accordance with international law," unilatteral military action is imminent unless demands are met. Animosity has been mounting steadily for months, and Russia is ready to invade Georgia. "No one can deny today, and for ourselves we are certain, that Georgian territory is sheltering both those who are implicated in the attacks on the United States and a direct operative involved in the attacks on housing units in Russia," Mr. Putin said on Russian television, echoing the logic U.S. President George W. Bush has used to rally international support for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq. The United States said it would not support Mr. Putin if he carried out his threat to attack Chechen rebel bases in Georgia, and slammed him for suggesting he might. "The United States strongly supports Georgia's territorial integrity and would oppose any unilateral military action by Russia inside Georgia," a U.S. State Department spokesman said. This all seems rather hypocritical, business as usual new world order politics: Is the price of getting UN Security Council approval on Iraq going to be public and secret deals, and is this really about the Chechens, or about breakaway republics and Caspian Sea oil? And what about China? Will we rubberstamp their ambitions re: Taiwan, Spratley Islands, Mongolia? And finally, why Georgia? I know they put up a two-bit Olympics and never caught that one terrorist bomber, but really, Georgia?
How to brew up a new cold war: arm up some rivals and burn a treaty in exchange for setting up a global missle defense system. Can anyone find an upside to this story? Why could this be a good thing for the US and the rest of the world?