Mental blockade: US embargoes 20 nations but frets over imaginary Russian siege

Finian Cunningham
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.
Mental blockade: US embargoes 20 nations but frets over imaginary Russian siege
US and British troops this week joined thousands of NATO forces to conduct war games in Poland rehearsing the ‘possible’ blockade of Baltic states by Russia. Talk about mental blockade.

Never mind that Russia has repeatedly denied it has any intention of invading Latvia, Estonia or Lithuania, or any other state for that matter. And never mind that there is no evidence at all of any unusual build-up of Russian forces posing a threat to its Baltic neighbors.

NATO commanders themselves admit that the latest war games are a “theoretical scenario” in which Russian military sever the 104-kilometer Suwalki Gap between Belarus and Kaliningrad, thus cutting off the Baltic NATO members from the rest of the 29-member alliance.

The amusing thing about this imaginary blockade by Russia of sovereign states is that it contrasts with actually existing blockades or embargoes imposed by the US and its allies against at least 2o nations.

And topping the list of countries sanctioned by Washington and its allies is Russia. Only last week, the US Senate voted through new punitive measures to tighten financial and diplomatic restrictions imposed on Russia over the 2014 Ukraine crisis. In addition to dubious claims of Russian interference in Ukrainian affairs, the American senators have now added unfounded allegations of Russian interference in the US presidential elections at the end of last year.

Other countries to feel the heat from US sanctions include Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea. Cuba takes the unenviable title of having been subjected to a blanket embargo imposed by the US for nearly six decades. A relative easing of the sanctions under the previous Obama administration is now being reversed by President Trump who is accusing Havana of harboring a “brutal regime”.

According to the US Treasury and the State Department, a full list of some 20 blacklisted foreign nations extends to Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and Zimbabwe among others. When counting in nations which are sanctioned or blockaded with US approval by Washington’s allies the list includes the Palestinian territory of Gaza, the Donbas breakaway republics of eastern Ukraine, Yemen and most recently Qatar.

Out of the 20 or so nations blockaded in some way by American complicity, none is in more grave humanitarian crisis than Yemen. Millions of children are facing starvation and death from diseases like cholera due to a land, sea and air blockade imposed on the war-torn country by Saudi Arabia with the support of the US and Britain.

Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab region, depends on imported food for 80 per cent of its total supply. The US and British-backed Saudi blockade on Yemen has also cut the country off from vital medical supplies. What is going on there is a truly barbaric siege which is comparable to the most notorious sieges recorded in history, such as the Nazi Wehrmacht’s three-year horrific blockade imposed on St Petersburg (Leningrad).

Of less humanitarian severity is the blockade thrown up around the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar. Nevertheless, the draconian move by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies to cut off transport and financial links between Qatar and the rest of the world is an outrageous violation of international law. The siege on Qatar could not be applied if it were not for at the least tacit approval of Washington.

The accusations leveled against the Qatari rulers of sponsoring jihadist terrorism are serious enough. But the idea that Saudi Arabia is leading these pious allegations is ridiculous given the oil kingdom’s own well-documented sponsorship of terrorism.

The salient point is the way certain states evidently consider it their prerogative to use financial and diplomatic coercion of others. It is not an exaggeration to say that such one-sided measures are used like weapons. Rather than diplomatic means of dialogue and arbitration, the resort to slapping on sanctions is simply bullying.

Such substitution of diplomacy and international law by unilateral punitive measures is a dangerous erosion of normal relations.

It is no coincidence that the US-backed Saudi military coalition blockading Yemen for the past two years with such horrendous human suffering – and with such little international outcry – can then turn around casually to blockade Qatar. Once international law and norms have been breached as they have been so horribly with regard to Yemen, then it becomes “acceptable” to repeat elsewhere.

What is even more dangerous is that sanctions and embargoes are all too often a prelude to all-out war, as history has shown. The Pacific War between the US and Japan (1941-45), for example, was the culmination of years of an oil embargo imposed by Washington on Tokyo. The “surprise” Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was in many ways a desperate resort to full-on conflict.

The latest US sanctions lined up against Russia take aim at disrupting its giant gas trade being expanded with Europe through the Nord 2 Stream project. This is the real geo-strategic objective of the US. To disrupt the European energy market for Russia in order to advantage American companies.

Even European leaders, such as Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, issued statements last week decrying the Senate’s proposed Russian sanctions. “Threatening European enterprises is a violation of international law,” they said. Perhaps their complaints could be taken more seriously if these same European leaders did not also comply with US-led sanctions against Russia and Crimea.

How long Russia will tolerate this American attack – and attack is what it is, albeit in financial form – against its vital national interests is a troubling question. History shows that threats against vital interests sooner or later reach a threshold beyond which overt violence becomes inevitable. The surge in tensions in Syria over the American shoot-down of a Syrian warplane could be one such spark.

The US and its NATO allies accuse Russia of “threatening” Europe and destabilizing the “liberal world order”. This is while NATO spends a total of 10 times more on military than Russia. And while NATO forces amass on Russia’s borders.

Similarly, Washington conducts war games that “envisage” an imaginary, future blockade of NATO countries by Russia. Russia has not blockaded any country and has categorically denied having any intention of doing so. Meantime, it is Washington and its allies that are actually blockading, embargoing or sanctioning as many as 20 nations.

Washington’s blockades entail a unilateral repudiation of diplomatic means. In some cases, they are an outrageous violation of international law. And further still, financial coercion by Washington can be seen as an act of war.

If one has trouble deciding which nation is the source of so much international tensions and aggression, perhaps a sure way of making an assessment is to answer the question: which nation is responsible for imposing the most sanctions and blockades on others?

And if we view the unilateral use of blockades as low-intensity warfare, then without hesitation, the United States is the world’s number one warmongering regime.

A curious Western mental blockade seems to obscure this otherwise clear conclusion.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Games, interviews & behind-the-scenes: RT starts special coverage of Confed Cup in Russia

Live reports from four host cities, interviews with athletes, special guests, and over a dozen matches – don’t miss RT’s special coverage of the FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup, which opens this Saturday in St. Petersburg.

The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup will be held in Russia through July 2 in four host cities – Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, and Sochi.

READ MORE: Confed Cup oracle cat forecasts Russian win in game with Kiwis (VIDEO)

As a special host for the event, former football star and now popular sports blogger Stan Collymore has joined RT. Liverpool’s former center-forward will travel to the host cities and meet with players and fans.

“I’m delighted to be reporting for RT from the Confederations Cup in Russia this summer. It’s a chance for me to see the country, the infrastructure, the fans,” Collymore wrote to RT on his blog earlier.

RT will closely monitor the event and bring you up to date with live reports from pop-up studios in all four host cities.

One of the studios in St. Petersburg has been set up in very heart of the city on Palace square.

General information about host cities, stadiums, tickets, transportation, timetables and results for the games, the latest news, and other trivia info can be found on our special RT page here.

The event kicks off on Saturday with host team Russia meeting New Zealand in the tournament’s opening game in St. Petersburg. Confed Cup oracle Achilles has predicted that Russia will win in the game – sort of.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the opening match, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked if Putin was planning to visit the game.

In addition to the opening game, St. Petersburg will host two other matches during the group stage of the tournament: Cameroon vs Australia on June 22, and New Zealand vs Portugal on June 24.

Flynn to turn over subpoenaed documents to Senate intelligence committee

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn will hand over subpoenaed personal and business records to the Senate intelligence committee, a source close to the retired Army lieutenant general told Fox News Monday.

Flynn, who was fired as national security adviser in February, rebuffed an initial subpoena for personal documents from the committee by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The committee’s leaders responded by subpoenaing records related to Flynn’s consulting businesses, which are not subject to Fifth Amendment protections.

The source told Fox News that the committee recently narrowed its requests for Flynn’s personal records, enabling him to accommodate the committee’s requests without jeopardizing his legal rights. Flynn’s attorneys had argued the earlier request was too broad and would have required Flynn to turn over information that could have been used against him.

The source added that Flynn wanted to cooperate with congressional investigations and was grateful that the Senate panel had narrowed the scope of its request.

The House and Senate intelligence committees, as well as the FBI, are conducting an investigation into Russian activities during the 2016 election campaign, including whether members of Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russian officials.

Flynn’s cooperation came as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, rejected a request for documents as part of a House committee’s separate probe into Russia’s election meddling and contacts with the Trump campaign.

Cohen, a longtime attorney for the Trump Organization, remains a personal lawyer for Trump. He served as a cable television surrogate for the Republican during the presidential campaign.

The House intelligence committee’s request for information from Cohen came as the investigators continued to scrutinize members of Trump’s inner circle, including Flynn. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said last week that a subpoena for Flynn from the House panel was likely.

“I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen told The Associated Press. “I find it irresponsible and improper that the request sent to me was leaked by those working on the committee.”

Cohen told ABC News Tuesday that he had been asked by both the House and Senate intelligence committees to provide information and testimony about contacts he had with Russian officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the allegations of Moscow meddling in the U.S. presidential election are “fiction” invented by the Democrats in order to explain their loss. In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Putin reaffirmed his strong denial of Russian involvement in the hacking of Democratic emails. The interview was recorded during Putin’s Monday trip to Paris and released Tuesday.

Trump made a similar claim in a tweet early Tuesday: “Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.”

Cohen’s ties with Russian interests came up in February when The New York Times reported that Cohen helped to broker a Ukraine peace plan that would call for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and a referendum to let Ukrainians decide whether the part of the country seized by Russia in 2014 should be leased to Moscow. The Russian government denied knowing anything about such a plan.

The Times reported that the peace plan was the work of Felix Sater, a business associate who has helped Trump try to find business in Russia, and Cohen.

Cohen was a fierce defender of Trump during the campaign, often haranguing probing reporters and famously challenging a CNN reporter live on-air to name the specific polls that showed then-candidate Trump behind his rival, Hillary Clinton.

In the early 2000s, he formed his own firm working on a range of legal matters, including malpractice cases, business law and work on an ethanol business in Ukraine. Cohen also owned and operated a handful of taxi medallions, managing a fleet of cabs in New York.

Cohen’s business associates in the taxi enterprise included a number of men from the former Soviet Union, including his Ukrainian-born father-in-law.

Cohen has made his own unsuccessful attempts at public office, losing a city council race and briefly running for state assembly in New York.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Macron accuses RT and Sputnik of ‘behaving like deceitful propaganda’

Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron explained his team’s decision to deny RT and Sputnik, both Moscow-based news outlets, accreditation during his campaign, by labeling the media outlets as “propaganda.”

READ MORE: ‘Putin and I have disagreements, discussed them in frank exchange’ – Macron

They didn’t act like the media, like journalists. They behaved like deceitful propaganda,” Macron told RT France head Xenia Fedorova during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Versailles.

I have always had an exemplary relationship with foreign journalists, but they have to be real journalists,” explained Macron, who defeated Marine Le Pen in the second round of the election, earlier this month. “All foreign journalists, including Russian journalists, had access to my campaign.”

Macron described RT and Sputnik as “organs of influence and propaganda,” adding that both “produced infamous counter-truths about him.”

Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow “does not agree” with Macron’s statements about the two news organizations.

RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said that Macron’s attack on a news outlet he disagrees with is a threat to freedom of speech.

Despite the numerous accusations made throughout the duration of the French presidential campaign, to this day not a single example, not a single piece of evidence, has been presented to support the claims that RT spread any slander or ‘fake news’ about Mr. Macron,” Simonyan said in a statement. “By labeling any news reporting he disagrees with ‘fake news,’ President Macron sets a dangerous precedent that threatens both freedom of speech and journalism at large.”

“This is a joke,” Jean-Pierre Thomas, a Russian-French relations expert told RT from Paris. “Everyone knows, including Mr Macron that the media has to be diverse. In France, 99 percent of the media were campaigning for Macron, if we do not allow outside media, what is the point?”

Last month’s accreditation delay for RT and Sputnik, which ended up becoming an outright refusal, provoked a heated reaction from Moscow.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called it “deliberate and bare-faced discrimination against Russian media by the presidential candidate of a state that has historically been vigilant when it comes to free speech.”

Simonyan accused Macron’s team back then of “building electoral campaign on lies about RT and Sputnik.”

Macron’s campaign repeatedly accused Russia of interference in the election, claiming that Russian hackers attempted to gain access to its data, and impede the work of its website. A trove of communication purportedly from Macron’s staff was leaked on the internet a day before the run-off election. Moscow has staunchly denied any interference.

Despite an anticipated coolness in relations, the Russian president is one of the first world leaders to travel to Paris since Macron’s convincing election win.

On Monday, the pair spent three hours in what the French leader called a “frank exchange of views,” which Putin said would lead to a “qualitative” improvement in relations between the two countries.

Ex-CIA chief Brennan says Trump-Russia inquiry ‘well-founded’


Media captionEx-CIA boss suspicious of Trump team ‘contacts’ with Russians

Former CIA Director John Brennan has said an investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Kremlin is “well-founded”.

He told the House Intelligence Committee he was aware of intelligence showing contact between Russian officials and “US persons involved in the Trump campaign”.

Mr Brennan said the Russians “brazenly interfered” in last November’s US elections and were “very aggressive”.

But he said he did not know if the Trump campaign intrigued with Moscow.

Mr Brennan, who stepped down as CIA director in January, testified on Tuesday: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals.

“It raised questions in my mind whether or not Russia was able to gain the co-operation of those individuals.”

Trump-Russia scandal: How did we get here?

Trump trip memorable moments

His evidence undercuts President Donald Trump’s claim that the investigation is a “taxpayer funded charade”.

The White House said Mr Brennan’s testimony “backs up what we’ve been saying all along”.

“There is still no evidence of any Russia-Trump campaign collusion,” the administration said in a statement.

The House inquiry is one of two congressional investigations into claims that Russian hackers tried to tip the presidential election in Mr Trump’s favour last November, and whether members of his campaign aided the alleged Kremlin conspiracy.

Media captionCIA director John Brennan tells the BBC what global threats Donald Trump will face as US president

The FBI also has its own investigation on the issue.

Mr Brennan added that he left office with many unanswered questions about Russia’s influence over the election, but that the FBI’s probe was “was certainly well-founded and needed to look into these issues”.

Mr Brennan also told lawmakers that he had warned his Russian counterpart, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov, during a phone call last August against meddling.

He told Mr Bortnikov any attempt to interfere would “destroy any near-term prospect” of repairing relations between Washington and Moscow.

Mr Bortnikov twice denied interfering and promised to bring up the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Mr Brennan.

As CIA Director, Mr Brennan, along with the FBI and the Office of Director of National Intelligence, released an intelligence report in January concluding that Moscow attempted to influence the outcome of the election.

Days afterwards, Mr Trump strained relations with the intelligence community when he accused spy officials of leaking allegations that Russia had compromising information on him, likening it to “Nazi Germany”.

At the time, Mr Brennan called Mr Trump’s accusations “outrageous”.

In a separate congressional hearing on Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats declined to comment on a report that Mr Trump asked him to publicly deny there was any evidence of collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

Senators Burr (L) and Warner say they will release more summons against fired national security advisor Michael FlynnImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionSenators Burr (L) and Warner say they will issue more summonses against fired national security advisor Michael Flynn

According to the Washington Post, Mr Coats and Admiral Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, rejected Mr Trump’s alleged request.

Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced plans to issue two new subpoenas – legal summons – to businesses owned by Michael Flynn, Mr Trump’s fired national security adviser, who left after misleading the White House about his Russian contacts.

Mike Flynn ‘lied’ on security clearance

Also on Tuesday, Democrats on the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee wrote to the Treasury Secretary seeking “all pertinent financial records… that may shed light on President Trump’s financial transactions with and business ties to Russia”.

The letter, which was sent on committee letterhead, required approval from the panel’s ranking Republicans in order to be sent.

Russia steps up North Korea support to constrain US

In spite of international sanctions on North Korea’s communist regime, Russia has been increasing fuel exports to Pyongyang and filling in the supply gap created by China halting trade. Julian Ryall reports.

Russland Militärparade in Moskau (Reuters/S. Karpukhin)

Despite efforts by the United Nations to impose isolating sanctions on North Korea in response to the country’s continued development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, trade between Russia and North Korea soared more than 85 percent in the first four months of the year.


UN condemns North Korea missile test, vows sanctions

The UN Security Council has strongly condemned North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch, warning that it’s prepared to hit back with tougher sanctions. Pyongyang has stepped up its missile tests over the past year. (16.05.2017)

North Korea crisis: Which country has the strongest military in the region?

How North Korea hype helped South Korea’s pro-peace Moon

China, South Korea seek to steer North from nuclear path

N. Korea claims successful test of new rocket able to carry nuclear warhead

North Korea builds closer ties with fellow outcast Russia

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Suspected Russia hackers ‘targeted Macron campaign’

Citing Russian customs data, the Voice of America broadcaster has reported that bilateral trade climbed to $31.83 million (29 million euros) in the January-March quarter, with the vast majority being energy products going over the border into the North.

This included $22 million worth of coal, lignite with a value of around $4.7 million, and oil estimated at $1.2 million. In return, North Korean exports to Russia were estimated to be worth $420,000. The most significant exports were chemicals and – curiously – wind instruments.

China trade falls

In contrast, North Korea’s trade with China, traditionally its most important economic partner, has plummeted. Pyongyang’s exports of coal to China in March came to 6,342 tons, a fraction of the 1.44 million tons sent to China in January, with an estimated value of $126.39 million. Similarly, Beijing has stopped supplying critically-needed fuel oil to the North, a clear demonstration of China’s displeasure at North Korea’s ongoing weapons tests.

The release of the figures detailing Russia’s increased trade with North Korea coincide with President Vladimir Putin’s statement on Monday that Pyongyang’s latest missile launch was “dangerous” – but, he added, “We must stop intimidating North Korea and find a peaceful solution to this problem.”

Read more: North Korea claims successful test of new rocket able to carry nuclear warhead

James Brown, an associate professor of international relations at Tokyo campus of Temple University, believes some of the cross-border trade may be “economic opportunism” but the motivation for the vast majority of it is geopolitical.

“Russia is very worried about the isolation of North Korea and believes that makes the situation dangerous as the US is taking a confrontational approach,” he told DW.

“Moscow’s position is that pressure on the North has not worked and has in fact caused Pyongyang to react because it feels threatened,” he said. “So instead of isolation, which is not working, Russia is proposing engagement.”

Nordkorea Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) Raketentest (Reuters/KCNA)The UN condemned North Korea’s missile test and vowed new sanctions

New ferry route

The most recent example of this support for Pyongyang is the plan to open a ferry route between North Korea and the Russian Far East port of Vladivostok, although the proposal has been delayed by strong protests from Japan.

Read more: North Korea builds closer ties with fellow outcast Russia

In 2014, Russia announced that it was canceling $10 billion of North Korea’s $11 billion in Soviet-era debt and that the remaining $1 billion would be invested back into the country. Russian investors also agreed to sink $25 billion into the North’s dilapidated railway system, while more would go into basic infrastructure. The two governments also announced that Russia would rebuild the North’s power grid, while the two countries would develop the ice-free port of Rason for exports of Russian coal.

In total, Russia planned to increase bilateral trade almost ten-fold to $1 billion by 2020, and that does not appear to have been hampered by more recent UN sanctions.

But Putin is also motivated by security concerns in Russia’s Far East, Brown said.

“Moscow has always been worried that the defensive missile systems that the US is deploying in the region – the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea and now Japan is discussing having Aegis Ashore – are more directed at its interests than North Korea,” he said.

Daniel Pinkston, a professor of international relations at the Seoul campus of Troy University, believes that Putin – who is at odds with the international community over the Ukraine conflict and has been accused of meddling in a number of elections, including those in the US and France – may be forging closer ties with Pyongyang to sow further disarray among his perceived enemies.

Watch video00:33

North Korea launches ballistic missile

‘Slash-and-burn approach’

“Putin seems to have adopted a slash-and-burn approach to the liberal international order, so anything that serves to undermine institutions such as NATO, the European Union or democracy in general is fair game,” Pinkston said. “He is intent on creating instability in a way that serves Russian interests and this sort of multi-front, hybrid war serves to undermine the US and its allies.”

“North Korea fits neatly into that agenda because it causes problems for Washington, keeps the US tied down, drains its resources and causes friction with allies in the region.”

Pinkston points out that playing neighboring nations off one other for their respective favors is not a new North Korean tactic. It has manipulated China and Russia for its own ends in the past.

“That sort of back-and-forth was easier to pull off in the Cold War, but they seem to be trying to capitalize on their relations with Russia now that China has become more distant,” the expert underlined. “And I think it is clear that North Korea will take whatever it can get in terms of political, diplomatic or military support, as well as resources.”



$35bn hit: Zuckerberg, Gates among those to suffer massive losses amid Trump-Russia claims

Billionaires and millionaires the world over have become poorer to the tune of $35 billion, following the media scandal surrounding allegations of highly classified data being leaked by US President Donald Trump to Russia.

Stock markets suffered a meltdown on Wednesday after the alleged revelations, resulting in huge losses for almost every one of world’s 500 richest people, according to Bloomberg.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the biggest hit, estimated at more than $2 billion. Shares in the social media giant fell 3.3 percent, but Zuckerberg still holds fifth position on the global rich list with around $62.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg index.

The richest person on the planet, Bill Gates, lost around $1 billion amid the carnage, as Microsoft’s shares suffered the most significant drop in almost a year – 2.8 percent. Still, Gates’ net worth is $86.8 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Gates was fourth on the list in terms of the amount of reduced capital. Jeff Bezos, the co-founder of, the world’s largest online retailer, is second after Zuckerberg based on the size of losses incurred amid the political uproar.

Before the stock market dive, Bezos was second behind Gates in terms of overall wealth. The turmoil saw Amazon shares recede 2.2 percent, however, and he now stands third with a $81.9 billion – a loss of more than $1.7 billion.

Bezos was overtaken on the list by Amancio Ortega, a Spanish business tycoon and chairman of Inditex, the world’s largest clothing company, best known for its Zara chain. Ortega lost $355 million, five times less than Zuckerberg’s loss, and is now the second wealthiest person on the planet with $83.2 billion.

Wednesday’s market drop followed US media reports on alleged state secret leaks during the meeting between US President Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week.

The revelations were dismissed by Russia, with President Vladimir Putin calling them “political schizophrenia.” Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry also dismissed the media claims, saying that reading US newspapers can “not only be harmful, but dangerous.”

The eight richest people on Earth are estimated to possess wealth equal to that of the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.

According to the latest Bloomberg estimates, the top 500 billionaires and millionaires are valued at around $4.9 trillion. A 2016 report by Boston Consulting Group said only 1 percent of the world’s population owns almost half of its wealth, and that the wealth of the rich is only growing.

READ MORE: 1% of world population owns almost half of its wealth


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