In March of 2014, the G8, which included Russia, became the G7. Russia was suspended from the group due to the invasion of Crimea and the problems in Ukraine.

Recently, the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he would like to see Russia return to the G8, writes the Kyiv Post. However, it would depend on Russia’s role in settling conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, according to Deutsche Welle.

The Foreign Minister spoke in front of the gathering of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) in Hiroshima and said he would prefer that the G7 format would not remain as it is for a long time. He advised member states “to create conditions for the return to G8.”

However, the German Foreign Minister added that Russia’s return to the group this year would be impossible, according to Ukraine Today.

He emphasized that the key for Russia’s return to the G8 would depend on the country’s contribution to reaching a “political solution” to the crisis in Ukraine and the “constructive role in establishing peace in Syria.”




Activist Group Claims Russian Ground Troops Are Fighting In Syria

(Stock photo of Russian soldiers)

Al Jazeera writes that a report by a group of Russian activists claims that Russia’s military is taking an active role in ground operations to support the Syrian army against ISIS and other rebel groups.

The report contradicts Moscow’s claim that Russia is only using air-strikes and military advisors and equipment.

Kirill Mikhailov works for the Moscow-based Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) which investigates the Russian military’s activities in countries such as Ukraine and Syria.

Mikhailov spoke with Al Jazeera on Sunday and said the group has discovered that Russian ground forces have been operating in areas that have seen intense fighting across Syria.

The group did not confirm whether or not Russian troops were fighting in conjunction with or not in conjunction with Syrian government troops.

(Updated report)




Marco Rubio’s Idea For Syria

Secular Talk

(Someone once said, “It’s always possible to make things worse…the challenge is making things better” – Ed.)

On Monday on CNBC, presidential candidate Marco Rubio discussed a new idea for the war in Syria that may or may not be appealing to most Americans: creating no-fly zones that Russia is likely to violate.  And what if they violate them?  War with Russia?

In a Monday interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, the presidential candidate argued that doing nothing would only strengthen terror groups like the Islamic State and increase the number of refugees coming out of Syria, writes The Huffington Post.

“I am confident the Air Force can enforce that,” Rubio said of a hypothetical safe zone in Syria. “I believe the Russians would not test that. I don’t think it’s in the Russians’ interest to engage in an armed conflict with the United States.”

Asked what he would do if Russian forces decided to enter the safe zone anyway, Rubio responded, “Well, then you’re going to have a problem. But that would be no different than any other adversary.”






Strange “Nuclear-Shaped” Clouds Seen Over Tyumen, Russia

A giant mushroom-shaped cloud appeared over the city of Tyumen in south central Russia was spotted and shot by amateur photographers across the area, with images quickly going viral online.  Similar “supercell” thuderstorm clouds appeared near Lubbock, Texas, in April.


There has been no official word on what caused the cloud in Tyumen, writes the Irish Mirror.  The huge cloud stopped motorists on roads around the town, who took pictures. The Irish Mirror reported that the appearance of the mushroom-type cloud generated panic, with social media in a tizzy about whether World War III is starting.

Unusual cloud in Tyumen

Unusual cloud in Tyumen




MSNBC: The Ukrainian Front Line


According to MSNBC, Pro-Russian separatists are threatening to break the cease-fire in Ukraine.

The news site Vocativ traveled to the town of Mariupol to find out what’s happening on the front lines.

Wikipedia states that Mariupol is in southeastern Ukraine, situated on the north coast of the Sea if Aziv at the mouth of the Kalmius river.

It is the tenth-largest city in Ukraine and the second largest in the Donetsk region.  The population is 461,810 (2013 est.).  Mariupol was founded on the site of a former Cossack encampment named Kalmius.

John Oliver Interview With Edward Snowden

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

A huge T.V. event on Easter Sunday came and went without any fanfare whatsoever.

John Oliver, HBO’s comedy newscaster, aired a lengthy interview with none other than N.S.A. whistleblower Edward Snowden. The interview starts in the video above around the 13:45 mark.


“The comedian surprised viewers on Sunday night by revealing that he visited Russia last week and met with Snowden, who leaked a trove of documents about the American government’s mass surveillance programs to journalists in 2013.”

Malta and Azerbaijan To Develop LNG, Oil Hub: More Energy Independence For The Region?

File Image: Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania-Hungary (AGRI) Project

Malta and Azerbaijan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the development of a LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) hub which would serve for local and international markets, reports the Times of Malta.

The MOU targets “strategic collaboration” in the oil and gas sector as part of the government’s vision to transform energy and petroleum sectors into key value added economic activities, and both sides identified a number of key areas, according to MarineLink.com.

The European Union is also looking southwards to develop a “southern gas corridor” for natural gas from Azerbaijan to fuel the European mainland.

More here