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Putin could be as bad as Stalin, says former defence secretary
Rowena Mason, political correspondent

Senior Labour MP Bob Ainsworth warns that Russia is a bigger threat to world peace than Isis.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has the potential to be as bad as Stalin and the UK must urgently consider how to stave off the threat of a new cold war, former defence secretary Bob Ainsworth has said.

The senior Labour MP called for a new review of defence capabilities before the election, warning Russia is a bigger threat to peace than the Islamic State (Isis) insurgents in Iraq and Syria.

He made the assessment in a new article for the Chamberlain Files, a Birmingham public affairs website.

"No leader of a major power has behaved as overtly aggressively since Stalin in the postwar period, and sadly Putin would be very pleased with the comparison," he wrote. "He has said the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century and he claims the right to act on behalf of Russian minorities in other states.

As there are Russian minorities throughout the old Soviet Union and far wider he is in principle claiming the right to interfere in the affairs of all of the independent sovereign states of eastern Europe.

"Stalin's policies pushed the world into the cold war. Putin has the potential to be equally as dangerous."

Ainsworth argued that Isis is an affront to humanity but that it contains "non-state actors", whereas Putin's Russia confronts the world with a problem of a different magnitude.

He said the sanctions imposed by the EU are unlikely to go nearly far enough and called for more effective deterrents to halt Putin's expansionist aims.

Europe should reduce its reliance on Russian energy and the UK must revisit the strategic defence review of 2010 with cross-party agreement, he added.

"The prime minister told the House of Commons recently there is no need to look at the strategic defence review of 2010 despite the fact that large scale cuts are still being imposed on our armed forces and we have an army stuffed full of the kind of vehicles best suited to fight a counter insurgency in Afghanistan, not those likely to offer reassurance to our European neighbours facing a Russia that is re-equipping its own forces," Ainsworth said.

"These capabilities cannot be altered simply or quickly. All party agreement should be sought for a new review now, this side of the election, to look at what can be afforded and the kind of training and equipment needed in the face of the new scenario."

Cameron has pledged to increase defence spending in real terms in the second half of the decade, following deep cuts made in the defence review of 2010. Another review is due in 2015 but the government has so far resisted calls to bring it forward.

Last week, Gerald Howarth, a former coalition defence minister, called for a new comprehensive strategy for dealing with security threats arising from Ukraine, the middle east and north Africa.

"Since we completed our strategic security and defence review in 2010, fundamental changes have taken place across north Africa, the middle east and Ukraine," he said. "Nothing calls more for a really serious new strategic defence and security review than the state of affairs at the moment. I hope that the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence and other government departments will put time and effort into producing a strategy.

Russia to provide military, other assistance to Iraq, Syria in combating terrorism
Tass News Agency

PARIS, September 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia will provide military and other assistance to Iraq and Syria in the fight against terrorism, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on the sidelines of an international conference on Iraq in Paris on Monday.

“We have spoken of our contribution to supporting the Iraqi government in their fight against terrorists, ensuring security of their state. In a similar way we provide military and other kind of assistance to Syria that is also facing a serious terrorist threat, maybe to a lesser degree. We also provide assistance to our partners in Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan. So we have something to contribute to the common efforts,” Lavrov said.

No double standards in the fight against terrorists are acceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on the sidelines of an international conference on Iraq in the French capital on Monday.

“We have long been raising the issue of terrorist activity that has dramatically intensified in the Middle East and in North Africa after the “Arab spring” events, after the goals of overthrowing the regimes were set above the general goals of preventing the terrorism threat spread,” he said.

“We did this not for the sake of blaming somebody for the past, but exclusively for taking into account the past lessons in the international community’s new actions and drawing the conclusion that no double standards are acceptable in the fight against terrorism, that there are no good and bad terrorists and that it is necessary to take consistent action, without putting that or other political projects above the general task of combating terrorism,” Lavrov said.

"This also refers to such a phenomenon as terrorist organizations that occpupy oilfields and securely sell oil through channels established by them," he pointed out.

"An emphasis must be laid on the need to prevent a swelling of the ranks of a terrorist international which young people readily join because of bad socio-economic conditions," Lavrov emphasized.

"Extremists also make use of the Palestinian problem that remains unresolvd for decades, pointing to an unfair attitude to the Arabs in the Middle East," Russia's Foreign Minister added.

Russian militants fight in Syria, raise fears back home
by Danielle Wiener-Bronner

Moscow fears return of militants from Syria, Bangladeshi workers get a raise but protests go on, and Philippines president blasted over typhoon reaction. Today is Thursday, November 14, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

Militants’ return. Russian officials fear that locally-born Islamist militants, fighting in Syria alongside rebel troops, may return home to join a violent movement for an independent Islamic state. Deadly clashes between militants and law enforcement are a near-daily occurrence in the North Caucasus region, where some residents abide by Sharia law. Moscow reports that hundreds of Russians are now fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a long-time Russian ally. Some Russian militants who joined troops in Syria fought for Chechen independence in the 1990s, repurposing their training for a new battle:

Since Putin rose to power 13 years ago and crushed a Chechen separatist revolt, he has said he would not allow the Caucasus provinces to split from Russia. But the nationalist cause that inspired Chechens to revolt after collapse of the Soviet Union has mutated into an Islamic one that spread to nearby Caucasus mountain lands. Defeated in Chechnya, rebels now launch near-daily attacks in Ingushetia, Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria. Today, the ranks of fighters are filled by youths disillusioned by police brutality, joblessness, corruption and the perceived persecution of religious conservatives.

Russia will host the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014, and has renewed anti-terrorism laws in preparation for the event. This summer, insurgent leader Doku Umarov called for “maximum force” during the Olympics. Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed plans for a stalled peace conference and the country’s chemical weapons disarmament process with Assad. The opposition has insisted Assad’s removal be a prerequisite for peace negotiations.

Wage war. Bangladeshi garment workers protested on Thursday, saying the 77 percent minimum raise proposed by their employers was not enough. The hike would increase the monthly minimum wage from $38 to $68, a figure that would keep Bangladesh’s minimum wage the lowest in the world.

Violent protests have shuttered more than 100 clothing factories this week. Bangladesh’s lucrative garment industry was put under an international spotlight following the death of 1,130 people, mostly women, killed in the April collapse of a building housing several garment factories.

Aquino under fire. Philippines President Benigno Aquino faces criticism over his response to – and preparation for – the typhoon that devastated his country over the weekend, as foreign aircraft begin to deliver aid and ravaged towns start to bury their dead.

Aquino said casualties were avoided by evacuations, but victims report they did not receive sufficient warning of the tsunami-like wall of water. Philippines officiasl report 2,357 confirmed deaths, but aid workers expect the number of casualties to rise. According to the United Nations, 544,600 people were displaced by the storm and nearly 12 percent of the population was affected. Click through for an interactive chart showing the damage, and information on how to help survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.
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