The real story from this week’s UN General Assembly is that Russia, not America, is now the dominant power at the Security Council for the first time in the history of the UN. This dramatic shift in the power balance at the UN seems to have been completely overlooked by many of those covering the meeting, who are more interested in wittering on about the proposed Security Council resolution on disarming Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile (it won’t work)or Iran’s utterly transparent charm offensive (they are desperate to get the sanctions lifted) towards some of the world’s more gullible world leaders. But the key to this disturbing realignment in the global power structureis clearly visiblein the draft of the Security Council resolution on Syria, which entirely reflects Russia’s interests at the expense of those of the Western powers. America, Britain and France, the three Western members of the five permanent members of the Council, wanted the option to take punitive action against the Assad regime if, as most observers expect, Damascus does not fully comply with the U.N.’s requirements. (Nor has anyone considered how U.N. inspectors can be expected to examine and neutralise stockpiles of chemical weapons in the midst of a civil war.) But Russia is determined to prevent any form of military intervention in Syria, and to that end insisted that the resolution be watered down to the effect that, if Assad fails to comply, then the issue will be referred back to the U.N. where, as we know from history, it will be subsumed by the organisation’s bureaucratic complacency. In short, Russia has won the diplomatic battle, and the Western powers, after all their threats to bomb Assad into submission,have been made to look weak and impotent. Apply this paradigm to Iran and it is not hard to see why Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has decided to embark on a charm offensive with the West. Just like Syria, the Russians have no intention of allowing the Western powers and that includes Israel to take military action against Iran over its decade-long refusal to cooperate with the U.N. over its controversial nuclear programme, which most intelligence experts believe is designed to build atom bombs, rather than power stations. And with President Barack Obama desperate to avoid a confrontation with Iran, Syria or any of the regions other rogue states, the key to resolving the Iranian crisis lies in Moscow, not Washington or New York. And if that’s the case, then don’t expect Iran to give up enriching its uranium anytime soon. All the more reason for Iranian diplomats to smile warmly at their American counterparts.

Russia is now the undisputed master of the UN Security Council

Verzilov said the acting head of the prison had described Tolokonnikova’s condition as “horrible” but had given no further details. He also said prison officials would not show him documents about her transfer to hospital or allow her lawyers to visit. The administration of the prison could not immediately be reached for comment, and prison service employees in the remote Mordovia region declined to comment. Tolokonnikova, 23, announced on Monday that she was starting a hunger strike to protest against “slave labor” at Corrective Colony No. 14, where she is serving her sentence, and that she had received a death threat from a senior prison official. She said inmates were forced to work up to 17 hours a day, deprived of sleep and subjected to collective punishment and violence from senior inmates enforcing order in a system reminiscent of the Soviet-era Gulag forced labor camps. Prison authorities dismissed her accusations that the jail is run in violation of Russian law and human rights standards. ABUSE CLAIM Earlier on Friday, Verzilov gave out a statement from Tolokonnikova in which she said prison guards had taken drinking water away from her isolation cell and one had roughly grabbed her and held her in place by her shoulders. The Mordovia branch of the prison service said the drinking water had been replaced by warm boiled water in accordance with doctor’s orders and that Tolokonnikova had refused to let medics check her body for bruises. Tolokonnikova and two other band members were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for a February 2012 protest in which they burst into Christ the Saviour Cathedral and prayed to the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin. Kremlin critics say their trial was part of a crackdown on dissent since Putin started a third term at the Kremlin in May 2012. Pussy Riot and other Kremlin critics accuse Putin of fostering too close ties with the resurgent Russian Orthodox Church and discriminating against sexual minorities as part of the wider crackdown.

Russia offers to guard Syria arms destruction

They will also seek information on three other attacks last month that allegedly included chemical agents. The inspectors were seen leaving their Damascus hotel in a vehicle convoy on Thursday afternoon, but there was no immediate indication where they were going. A Free Syrian Army fighter holds his son outside their home in Habit village, the Syrian central pro The U.N. inspectors first came to Damascus last month to probe a March 19 attack and two other incidents in the north when an alleged chemical attack occurred outside the Syrian capital. They returned to Syria on Wednesday. The Aug. 21 incident in the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus became their focus after the United States and its allies said Assad’s troops were responsible for the chemical attack that killed hundreds. The U.S. threated punitive strikes; Assad’s government denied the allegations and said the rebels were behind the Ghouta attack. In Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia is ready to ensure security and help guard facilities, once the chemical weapons are stored for destruction in Syria. He emphasized that Moscow will not accept the Syrian chemical weapons to be dismantled in Russian territory. “We believe that it should be dismantled on Syrian territory,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. “We undoubtedly won’t deal with it. We believe that the process of its destruction could be efficiently organized on the territory of Syria.” In this Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian Pre The attack on the Iraqi consulate came a day after Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari warned Western nations that support the Syrian opposition not to send military aid to the rebels for fear it could assist jihadi groups.

Russia and Italy battle for EuroVolley crown

CEV European Championship – Semifinal time in Copenhagen The semifinal round of the CEV European Championship gets underway at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on Saturday. Defending champion Serbia and Russia will face off in the first semifinal. This is a rematch of the 2011 semfinal that was won by the Serbians in five sets. The Balkan powerhouse went… Germany, Bulgaria brace for quarterfinal duel Advancing to the semifinal of the CEV European Championship is the main aim of both Germany and Bulgaria in their match in Gdansk/Sopot today. The Germans gained an outright quarterfinal berth by sweeping Pool D of the preliminary round. They defeated Russia (25-20 25-23 25-19), Bulgaria (3634 20… Belgium, Serbia fight for semifinal berth The defending European champions and the reigning European League winners take on each other in the CEV European Championship quarterfinal today as Serbia and Belgium lock horns in Aarhus. The Serbians saw action in yesterday’s playoffs where they eliminated host Denmark 2517 2517 25… France, Russia set quarterfinal date France and Russia face off in the quarterfinal of the CEV European Championship in Gdansk/Sopot today. The French were given an automatic quarterfinal berth after sweeping Pool B of the preliminary round. Laurent Tillie’s wards posted wins over Slovakia (25203533 2826), Poland (2522 2523… Finland, Italy fight for semis seat A semifinal berth is at stake in the match between Finland and Italy in the CEV European Championship at the NRGi Arena in Aarhus today. The Finns are well-rested after getting an outright quarterfinal berth by ruling Pool C of the elimination round.