October 2016 – WASHINGTON/MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday suspended a treaty with Washington on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium, signaling he is willing to use nuclear disarmament as a new bargaining chip in disputes with the United States over Ukraine and Syria. Starting in the last years of the Cold War, Russia and the United States signed a series of accords to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals, agreements that have so far survived intact despite a souring of U.S.-Russian relations under Putin. But on Monday, Putin issued a decree suspending an agreement, concluded in 2000, which bound the two sides to dispose of surplus plutonium originally intended for use in nuclear weapons. The Kremlin said it was taking that action in response to unfriendly acts by Washington. It made the announcement shortly before Washington said it was suspending talks with Russia on trying to end the violence in Syria.
The plutonium accord is not the cornerstone of post-Cold War U.S.-Russia disarmament, and the practical implications from the suspension will be limited. But the suspension, and the linkage to disagreements on other issues, carries powerful symbolism. “Putin’s decree could signal that other nuclear disarmament cooperation deals between the United States and Russia are at risk of being undermined,” Stratfor, a U.S.-based consultancy, said in a commentary. “The decision is likely an attempt to convey to Washington the price of cutting off dialogue on Syria and other issues.” U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement on Monday that bilateral contacts with Moscow over Syria were being suspended. Kirby said Russia had failed to live up to its commitments under a ceasefire agreement. Western diplomats say an end to the Syria talks leaves Moscow free to pursue its military operation in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but without a way to disentangle itself from a conflict which shows no sign of ending.
Russia and the United States are also at loggerheads over Ukraine. Washington, along with Europe, imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 and backed pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine. Putin submitted a draft law to parliament setting out under what conditions work under the plutonium accord could be resumed. Those conditions were a laundry list of Russian grievances towards the United States. They included Washington lifting the sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine, paying compensation to Moscow for the sanctions, and reducing the U.S. military presence in NATO member state in Eastern Europe to the levels they were 16 years ago. Any of those steps would involve a complete U-turn in long-standing U.S. policy. –Reuters
Commentary: The U.S. and Russia are now on a collision course in the world of geopolitics. Few people of this generation understand what that ultimately means. As the rift deepens between the two powers, any miscalculation, catalyst, or trigger between the two nations has the potential for igniting a world war. Hillary Clinton is now the most volatile and random element in U.S. political history because many Russians believe her presidency could be the very catalyst that ignites a Russo-American conflict.
Info Wars reports on Hillary Clinton’s hawkish war rhetoric – just what the the world needs, more wars
U.S. suspends ceasefire talks with Russia over Syria: The rift between the U.S. and Russia deepened Monday as the Obama administration quit talks over the failed cease-fire in Syria, saying Moscow’s role in the bombardment of Aleppo left nothing more to discuss. The decision ends for now prospects for a truce and threatens to send the long war into a perilous new direction and makes hopes for a political settlement more distant. The end of the talks also put the onus on the Obama administration to consider other options for Syria, including the provision of more powerful weaponry from the U.S. and other allies for rebels fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad. There is nothing more for the United States and Russia to talk about in regard to trying to reach an agreement that would reduce the violence inside of Syria,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday. “And that’s tragic.”
The White House wouldn’t specify what options it would take in Syria. “We’re going to have to pursue an alternative approach,” Mr. Earnest said. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Obama administration has revived an internal discussion over giving U.S.-vetted Syrian rebels new weapons systems to help them fend off Syrian and Russian artillery and air power. Under another option, Washington could give a green light to partners in the region, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to provide the rebels with more weapons unilaterally. U.S. intelligence officials and their counterparts in the region have been holding secret talks about these and other so-called Plan B options, officials in the region said Monday.
The U.S. has ruled out the provision of man-portable air defense systems, known as Manpads, because of proliferation concerns, but could authorize shipments of less-mobile antiaircraft weapons systems, officials said. Rebel groups, along with Turkish and Saudi intelligence, have long supported the introduction of a limited number of Manpads, but the U.S. has resisted. Yasser Alyousef, a political spokesman for the rebel group Nour al-Din al-Zinki, said the U.S. decision to pull out of talks could increase Russian isolation and that “perhaps America will turn a blind eye to regional powers that are willing to give us what could exhaust Russia.” His group is one of the largest fighting the regime in Aleppo. –WSJ