China Could Respond to Czech Republic, Poland Over Huawei Case

As expert from the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies Mikhail Belyaev has told Sputnik, the Czech Republic and Poland’s support for the United States on the issue of Huawei could result in the reduction of Chinese investments and restrictions on their companies’ activities in China.

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Washington alerts Moscow that US troops will leave Syria soon

US President Donald Trump traditionally announced via Twitter on Wednesday that Washington had defeated the Islamic State (terror group, outlawed in Russia) and it was time to bring US troops back home. Soon, it was reported that Washington had started withdrawing its troops from Syria, Izvestia writes. According to the latest data, there are more than 2,000 US soldiers in Syria, who were deployed mostly to the area of the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. The White House said that despite the US contingent’s pullout, the coalition’s forces will remain in Syria.

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Separation of church & state? Not in Ukraine, with Poroshenko’s push for ‘independent’ church

Poroshenko’s drive for an independent Ukrainian Orthodox church breaches the secular nature of the country, experts say, while some believe it might be part of a foreign-inspired strategy, not just a pre-election stunt.

Ukraine – according to its Constitution, at least – is supposed to be a secular state, and Poroshenko’s activities constitute an obvious violation of the country’s fundamental laws, historian and political analyst Vladimir Kornilov believes.

“He’s flagrantly violating the Constitution of Ukraine, which has established separation of the church from the state; he’s grossly violating a whole bunch of Ukrainian laws, including presidential ones,” Kornilov told RT.

“The head of the state himself decides when the so-called ‘unification council’ of churches will take place. Where else in the world, in which Christian country, is that possible nowadays?”

Such actions might actually backfire for Poroshenko in the long term, senior fellow with the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, Oleg Nemenskiy, believes.

“In Ukraine, the civil authorities are very actively – to put it mildly – interfering with church affairs, violating the country’s Constitution. Next year, if Poroshenko stops being the president, it might have some consequences, since a president who violates the Constitution must be held legally accountable,” he said.

Unification… of what exactly?

The prospects for the “unification council” look rather bleak so far, since the only canonical institution – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate – has refused to take part. If only the self-proclaimed hierarchs of unrecognized churches are present, “it will be just a schismatic gathering, which can only create yet another schismatic religious institution,” Nemenskiy says.

The event is unlikely to result in any sort of “unification,” former US diplomat Jim Jatras believes, since it’s not actually the goal of the Ukrainian authorities, who appear to seek as much conflict as possible.

I wouldn’t say that Poroshenko is meddling in church affairs – he’s doing far, far worse. He’s driving this. There would be no controversy there, there would be no conflict if it was not for Poroshenko trying to use the church as a ploy to get himself re-elected,” Jatras told RT.

“He’s willing, as we see in Kerch, as we see in Donbass, willing to do anything and provoke any kind of bloodshed in order to secure his re-election, however improbable it is.”

The drive for the “independence” of the Ukrainian church, however, might be deeper than a mere pre-election stunt of Poroshenko, since it has hardly scored him any political points, Nemenskiy says. Attempts at securing an independent church had already been made by Poroshenko’s predecessors, and some say it’s unlikely that Kiev is calling the shots here.

“The project of the church separation of Ukraine from Russia is quite old, and not connected with Poroshenko. President [Viktor] Yushchenko already tried to fulfill it. So, the initiative likely comes not from Poroshenko, but from the US, and he could not get away from this project regardless of his election campaign prospects,” Nemenskiy said, adding that “the Constantinople Patriarchate is actually an American church, the majority of its congregations is located in America.”

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China Forced West to Reconsider its Attitude to Peacekeeping

China completed registration of its peacekeeping contingent, numbering 8,000, last year. Earlier, in September 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping at the UN peacekeeping summit announced his intention to create a contingent of reserve peacekeeping forces of 8,000 troops and also to train 2,000 peacekeepers for other countries.

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‘Dream’ comes true, as ruling party backed candidate wins Georgian polls

Salome Zurabishvili, a French-born Georgian independent candidate backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, is poised to become the country’s new president, exit polls show, according to Izvestia. In the runoff presidential election, she secured nearly 57% of the vote. Zurabishvili’s victory opens the door for restoring direct dialogue between Tbilisi and Moscow, Georgian MP Georgy Lomia told the paper. According to experts, the outcome signals that citizens fear that former President Mikheil Saakashvili and his allies could return to power.
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Saudi prince launches regional tour seeking to recoup his image

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is currently on a tour of Arab states, seeking to reduce the damage Riyadh is facing over the Jamal Khashoggi murder case. On Monday, the prince visited Bahrain, on Tuesday he will travel to Tunisia, and at the end of the week, he will represent Saudi Arabia at the G20 summit in Argentina. In particular, he will hold a meeting with US President Donald Trump in an effort to close the chapter concerning the journalist’s murder, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

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Allying against Iran: US is creating Arab NATO

While the US envisages a new military alliance as a tool to counter potential threats from Iran towards the Gulf monarchies and the Middle East, there are a number of obstacles in the way of creating an Arab military bloc.
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Scholar: No Matter What China Does, West Interprets It as ‘Evil Plan’

In the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s annual report for the US Congress, legislators will be called upon to extend measures put in place to counteract a purported threat of Chinese global expansion, contending that Beijing threatens Washington’s national security and economic interests, as well as those of its allies.

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