Ex-KGB spy: Trump was Kremlin asset for 40 years. EU hissy fit over AztraZeneca jabs may have global consequences. China: Taiwan independence means war.
Ex-KGB spy: Kremlin cultivated Trump as asset for 40 years
Yuri Shvets, a former KGB spy now living in the US, is a key source for journalist Craig Unger’s new book American Kompramat. Shvets currently works as a corporate security investigator and was a partner of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian defector who was assassinated in London in 2006. In the book, Shvets and Unger purport to fill in some gaps about Trump’s ties to Russia left unexplored by Robert Mueller’s investigation.
According to Shvets, Trump first came to the KGB’s attention when he married his first wife Ivana, a Czech model, in 1977. At the time, the KGB was casting a wide net in the West, targeting promising university students, or up-and-coming businessmen like Trump. The KGB had a policy of cultivating these assets in hopes they would one day rise to prominence on the American stage.
The charm offensive
In 1987, Trump and Ivana visited Moscow and St. Petersberg for the first time. During this trip, the KGB launched a “charm offensive”. Shvets says:
“[The KGB] had collected a lot of information on his personality so they knew who he was personally. The feeling was that he was extremely vulnerable intellectually, and psychologically, and he was prone to flattery.
“This is what they exploited. They played the game as if they were immensely impressed by his personality and believed this is the guy who should be the president of the United States one day: it is people like him who could change the world.”
With agents having planted the idea that Trump should enter politics, Trump lost no time doing just that upon his return to the US. He began exploring a run for president and even held a campaign rally. On September 1, he took out a full-page ad in three major national papers headlined: “There’s nothing wrong with America’s Foreign Defense Policy that a little backbone can’t cure”.
In the ad, Trump offered pointed criticisms of President Reagan’s military policy. Many of these were talking points Shvets alleges were fed to him by the Kremlin agents.
According to Shvets, the ad’s publication both stunned and delighted the KGB higher-ups:
“It was hard to believe that somebody would publish it under his name and that it will impress real serious people in the West but it did and, finally, this guy became the president.”
EU hissy fit over AztraZeneca jabs continues
The three-way spat between the EU, UK, and vaccine producer AstraZeneca is getting uglier and may have global consequences.
The EU has published a redacted version of their August contract with the pharmaceutical company. The EU claims the contract is an unambiguous and iron-clad guarantee of delivery of 300 million doses of the vaccine upon approval by the EU. AstraZeneca disputes this, citing language in the contract that requires the firm to make its “best effort” to deliver the vaccines in a specific timeframe.
AZ has attributed the delay to production problems at two EU plants, one in Belgium and one in the Netherlands. CEO Pascal Soirot pointed out earlier this week that the UK signed its contract with AZ a full three months before the EU, which gave the company more time to shake out bugs at its two UK production facilities.
Nevertheless, on the dubious strength of this contract, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen reiterated a demand that AZ redirect doses made in the UK to fulfill its EU obligations. Von der Leyen also threatened to retaliate if AZ does not give in to the EU’s demands.
Individual EU states could revise export authorizations to block export of vaccines produced within their borders to non-EU countries. This would also impact the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, produced in Germany. The UK has a 40 million-dose order with Pfizer, which also predates the EU’s order with the firm. The EU’s temper tantrum could also prevent fulfilment of orders by the US, Australia and other non-EU countries.
China threatens war over US support for Taiwan independence
After taking office, President Biden promised that the US would continue to support Taiwan. Seemingly in answer to this, China conducted two separate flyovers with warplanes over the Taiwan Strait. Beijing has now threatened Taiwan’s pro-independence leadership that further attempts to breakaway from China would “mean war”.
These fighting words weren’t explicitly directed at the US. However, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping has recently made similar statements regarding US military activity in other disputed areas China claims as its own.