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Anti-Ballistic Missle Defence – The US Provocation That Threatens World Peace

The US and NATO ground missile complex “Aegis Ashore” at the Deveselu Air Force in Romania is not a harmless defensive facility.

Vladimir Kozin

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On 12th May 2016 a ceremony took place in Romania to commission the ground missile complex “Aegis Ashore” at the Deveselu Air Force base in the south of the country.

This Russian military-political leadership paid careful attention to this event, as did the leaders of many other countries around the world.  The reason for that is very simple: this is not a harmless defensive facility.

In accordance with the so-called “Phased Adaptive Approach” for the deployment of a global infrastructure for US ballistic missile defence (“BMD”) the systems which will be based at Deveselu air base will include US Mk-41 launchers for the combat and information management system “Aegis”.  These will eventually be equipped with”Standard-3″ 1B interceptor missiles as used on US combat ships as well as AN/SPY-1 radars for target acquisition and guidance.

The “Standard-3” 1B missiles are the most advanced U.S. missile defence interceptor.  US experts say they can hit all types of medium-range and shorter-range ballistic and cruise missiles up to a maximum range of 5500 km. Under the terms of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed in 1987 Russia does not have such missiles.

It would seem that deployment of such high-technology elements of the US missile defense system should enhance the security of the people of southern and central Europe, but is that really so?

The declared technical characteristics of the “Standard-3” missiles allow them to maintain “security” from hypothetical missile attacks within a horizontal radius of more than 500 km from the place of their deployment horizontally and up to an altitude of about 250-300 km. Thus, the zone of operation of these missiles covers the whole territory of Romania and of a number of neighbouring countries including the European part of the Russian Federation.

In other words these missiles can intercept ballistic and cruise missiles not just over the territory of Romania, but also over the territories of other states, including Russia.

More destabilising still is the claim the BMD base at Deveselu can protect itself – and by extension Romania – from strikes by Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles and Russian cruise missiles of extended range.

This is an wholly mendacious claim. Firstly, a militarily weak country such as Romania would be most unlikely by itself to be a target for Russian nuclear weapons. Secondly, deploying a US BMD base makes Romania such a target.  Thirdly, if the BMD base in Romania were attacked by Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles equipped with the sort of modern technical means needed to penetrate US BMD – something not only technically feasible but under active consideration by the Russian military and by Russian missile designers – then the US BMD base would hardly be able to protect even itself.

At the same time no one can ignore the fact that deploying a BMD base to Romania and in the near future in 2018 in Poland will plant a powerful destabilising mine under Russian-Romanian and Russian-Polish relations. After control of the use of interceptor missiles from the territories of Romania and Poland will be in the hands of  Washington, not of Bucharest or Warsaw. This follows from the bilateral agreements that have led on the deployments of the US BMD bases in Deveselu and Redzikowo.

Which conclusions can be drawn from all this?

It is logical to assume that by deploying of land and sea-based missile defence system in the European area, in the Middle East and in the Asia-Pacific  region the US is pursuing very different and distinctive goals. Of these one,  which was discussed at a top level meeting of representatives of the Russian Ministry of Defence of Russia and of the Russian military-industrial complex with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin – and which looks very convincing – was described by President Putin with these words: “launchers, which will be placed after the commissioning of these bases in Romania and Poland can be easily used for emplacing medium-range and shorter-range missiles” – in other words missiles of an offensive not of a defensive nature.

The US Navy has already deployed since 2011 warships equipped with the “Aegis” BMD system in the seas and oceans around Europe.  There are more than 30 warships equipped with such a system, each ship carrying an average of 30-40 “Standard-3″ interceptor missiles.  This already existing very large naval deployment puts the proposed land based deployment in its proper context.

Deploying a number of Mk-41 universal naval launchers to land bases in Romania and Poland adds little to the already existing BMD capability provided by the naval deployment.  However these launchers can without wmodification house a wide range of missiles, including the notorious land-based “Tomahawk” cruise missiles whose deployment in Europe was prohibited by the Soviet-U.S. Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987. Deploying  offensive land-based “Tomahawk” cruise missiles in Romania using infrastructure supposedly created for BMD missiles could threaten almost the whole of Russia’s European territory.

The U.S. and NATO have mixed their nuclear and conventional arms in the so-called “Chicago Triad” since 2012 following an agreement hammered out at the NATO Summit in that city. Commitment to maintaining this Triad was confirmed by the NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014, and will probably be reconfirmed at the next NATO Summit to be held in Warsaw in July. This “Triad” is deployed on the “front lines” in the confrontation with Russia as forward-based weapons.

The philosophy behind this Triad is what explains why the USA is “defending” the inhabitants of Bucharest, but not those of Rome, Athens, Berlin or London by deploying BMD bases in Romania but not in Italy, Greece, Germany or the UK.  Quite simply the US BMD base in Romania is much closer to the sites of Russia strategic nuclear forces than would have been the case if it had been deployed on the territories of Italy, Greece, Germany or especially the UK.

There is probably another reason for deploying the BMD base in Romania –  one that may seem cynical but which is probably true.  This that in case of retaliation against the new U.S. anti-missile ‘shield’ the citizens of other countries – specifically those of Romania – can be victims rather than those of the US.

Would the United States have spent – in vain – billions of dollars to keep the not so developed Romanian economy afloat save in its own self-interest?  Perhaps there are serious people around who believe it did so for entirely disinterested reasons.  However one thing is for sure: Russian politicians and experts do not suffer from that sort of naivety.

Are the threats from the American BMD components in Europe critical to Russia? Apparently now they are, in part because of the presence of the combined “Chicago Triad”, which combines offensive  assets with a military doctrine that allows for a US initial nuclear first strike.

Thus we see emerging on the European continent the third in a row of US challenges to regional and global stability and world peace. The first was the series of actions taken by Washington in 1962 which unfolded as what the West calls “the Cuban Missile Crisis”.  The second was the adoption in 1979 by NATO leaders of the so-called “double-track decision” which paved the way for the deployment of nuclear ballistic and cruise missiles in Europe within strike range of the USSR. The third is the construction of the US BMD bases in Europe which is now underway.

In face of this latest challenge we should note the Russian leadership’s determination to take adequate countermeasures. These will be based on a comprehensive assessment of the balance of power in Europe and the world.

As has already been said, plans for Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles capable of overcoming anti-ballistic missile defences far more advanced and capable than the most sophisticated anti-missile defence systems planned by NATO and the US already exist.  Russian long-range air and sea-based non-nuclear cruise missiles used against the terrorist organisations in Syria have already proved their exceptional capability.  The combat capabilities of the Russian Navy and of Russia’s electronic warfare capabilities are also being enhanced in a programme announced in 2008.

In the meantime the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has warned that: “the countries of Eastern Europe which house the U.S. first strike missiles are becoming legitimate targets for the Russian retaliation strike.”

This is not Moscow’s choice. This is a necessary and forced response, prompted by the growing threat stemming from the United States of America.

Amongst the list of potential Russian countermeasures we could see Russia’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty, and even from the START-3 Treaty (known in the West as “New START”) which was signed in Prague in 2010.

It is also clear that there will be no further discussion with Washington of any possible new treaty limiting or reducing strategic offensive nuclear weapons.  Nor will there be negotiations on a treaty to reduce the number of tactical nuclear weapons.  Talks on such treaties will not happen whilst US nuclear missile and missile defence supported by general-purpose forces move towards Russia’s door step.

This hardly exhausts the list of possible countermeasures the details of all which remain classified.

What are the alternatives?

The short answer is that the US and NATO should reverse the dangerous course they have embarked on.  They should close the BMD base in Romania, withdrawing all their missiles from there, and cease building its twin in Poland.  The US should also withdraw its tactical nuclear weapons from Europe and Turkey and cease its and NATO’s provocative aerial displays over the Baltic States, which moreover use dual-capable aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The US should also commit itself together with Russia to a policy of non first use of nuclear weapons and ideal to a policy of no use at all.

As the same time there should be serious negotiations for a new multilateral treaty on BMD – one which involves other states, not just the US and Russia as the old ABM Treaty did – and which limits the number and capability of such systems and prohibits their deployment beyond national borders.

Some in the West will balk at these steps saying they are unreasonable.  They are in fact the only reasonable response if the danger current US and NATO actions is creating is to be ended.

The author is Chief Adviser, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, a Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, a Professor, of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences, a Member of the Scientific Board of the National Institute of Global Security Research, a Member of the Gorchakov’s Foundation Club and a Global Senior Fellow National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Global Think Tank Network (GTTN)  in Islamabad Pakistan.  He is also a Ph.D., Senior Researcher (Academic Rank)

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It’s Official: ‘Britain’s Democracy Now At Risk’

It’s not just campaigners saying it any more: democracy is officially at risk, according to parliament’s own digital, culture, media and sport committee.

The Duran

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Via True Publica, authored by Jessica Garland – Electoral Reform Society:


Britain’s main campaign rules were drawn up in the late 1990s, before social media and online campaigning really existed. This has left the door wide open to disinformation, dodgy donations and foreign interference in elections.

There is a real need to close the loopholes when it comes to the online Wild West.

Yet in this year’s elections, it was legitimate voters who were asked to identify themselves, not those funnelling millions into political campaigns through trusts, or those spreading fake news.

The government trialled mandatory voter ID in five council areas in May. In these five pilot areas alone about 350 people were turned away from polling stations for not having their papers with them — and they didn’t return. In other words, they were denied their vote.

Yet last year, out of more than 45 million votes cast across the country, there were just 28 allegations of personation (pretending to be someone else at the polling station), the type of fraud voter ID is meant to tackle.

Despite the loss of 350 votes, the pilots were branded a success by the government. Yet the 28 allegations of fraud (and just one conviction) are considered such a dire threat that the government is willing to risk disenfranchising many more legitimate voters to try to address it. The numbers simply don’t add up.

Indeed, the fact-checking website FullFact noted that in the Gosport pilot, 0.4 per cent of voters did not vote because of ID issues. That’s a greater percentage than the winning margin in at least 14 constituencies in the last election. Putting up barriers to democratic engagement can have a big impact. In fact, it can swing an election.

In the run-up to the pilots, the Electoral Reform Society and other campaigners warned that the policy risked disenfranchising the most marginalised groups in society.

The Windrush scandal highlights exactly the sort of problems that introducing stricter forms of identity could cause: millions of people lack the required documentation. It’s one of the reasons why organisations such as the Runnymede Trust are concerned about these plans.

The Electoral Commission has now published a report on the ID trials, which concludes that “there is not yet enough evidence to fully address concerns” on this front.

The small number of pilots, and a lack of diversity, meant that sample sizes were too small to conclude anything about how the scheme would affect various demographic groups. Nor can the pilots tell us about the likely impact of voter ID in a general election, where the strain on polling staff would be far greater and a much broader cross-section of electors turns out to vote.

The Electoral Reform Society, alongside 22 organisations, campaigners and academics, has now called on the constitution minister to halt moves to impose this policy. The signatories span a huge cross-section of society, including representatives of groups that could be disproportionately impacted by voter ID, from Age UK to Liberty and from the British Youth Council to the Salvation Army and the LGBT Foundation.

Voters know what our democratic priorities should be: ensuring that elections are free from the influence of big donors. Having a secure electoral register. Providing balanced media coverage. Transparency online.

We may be little wiser as a result of the government’s voter ID trials. Yet we do know where the real dangers lie in our politics.

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Corrupt Robert Mueller’s despicable Paul Manafort trial nears end (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 79.

Alex Christoforou

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Paul Manafort’s legal team rested its case on Tuesday without calling a single witness. This sets the stage for closing arguments before the judge hands the case to jurors for a verdict.

Manafort’s defense opted to call no witnesses, choosing instead to rely on the team’s cross-examination of government witnesses including a very devious Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime deputy, and several accountants, bookkeepers and bankers who had financial dealings with Manafort.

Closing arguments are expected on Wednesday. Jurors may begin deliberating shortly after receiving their final instructions from judge Ellis.

Manafort case has nothing to do with Mueller’s ‘Trump-Russia collusion witch-hunt’ as the former DC lobbyist is accused of defrauding banks to secure loans and hiding overseas bank accounts and income from U.S. tax authorities.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a defense motion to acquit Manafort on the charges because prosecutors hadn’t proved their case.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the circus trial of Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, and how crooked cop Robert Mueller is using all his power to lean on Manafort, so as to conjure up something illegal against US President Donald Trump.

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Via Zerohedge

Prosecutors allege he dodged taxes on millions of dollars made from his work for a Ukrainian political party, then lied to obtain bank loans when cash stopped flowing from the project.

The courtroom was sealed for around two hours Tuesday morning for an unknown reason, reopening around 11:30 a.m. with Manafort arriving around 10 minutes later.

The decision to rest their case without calling any witnesses follows a denial by Judge T.S. Ellis III to acquit Manafort after his lawyers tried to argue that the special counsel had failed to prove its case at the federal trial.

The court session began at approximately 11:45 a.m.:

“Good afternoon,” began defense attorney Richard Westling, who corrected himself and said, “Good morning.”

“I’m as surprised as you are,” Judge Ellis responded.

Ellis then heard brief argument from both sides on the defense’s motion for acquittal, focusing primarily on four counts related to Federal Savings Bank.

Federal Savings Bank was aware of the status of Paul Manafort’s finances,” Westling argued. “They came to the loans with an intent of doing business with Mr. Manafort.”

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye fired back, saying that that even if bank chairman Steve Calk overlooked Manafort’s financial woes, it would still be a crime to submit fraudulent documents to obtain the loans.

“Steve Calk is not the bank,” Asonye argued, adding that while Caulk may have “had a different motive” — a job with the Trump administration — “I’m not really sure there’s evidence he knew the documents were false.”

Ellis sided with prosecutors.

The defense makes a significant argument about materiality, but in the end, I think materiality is an issue for the jury,” he said, adding. “That is true for all the other counts… those are all jury issues.”

Once that exchange was over, Manafort’s team was afforded the opportunity to present their case, to which lead attorney Kevin Downing replied “The defense rests.

Ellis then began to question Manafort to ensure he was aware of the ramifications of that decision, to which the former Trump aide confirmed that he did not wish to take the witness stand.

Manafort, in a dark suit and white shirt, stood at the lectern from which his attorneys have questioned witnesses, staring up at the judge. Ellis told Manafort he had a right to testify, though if he chose not to, the judge would tell jurors to draw no inference from that. – WaPo

Ellis asked Manafort four questions – his amplified voice booming through the courtroom:

Had Manafort discussed the decision with his attorney?

“I have, your honor,” Manafort responded, his voice clear.

Was he satisfied with their advice?

“I am, your honor,” Manafort replied.

Had he decided whether he would testify?

“I have decided,” Manafort said.

“Do you wish to testify?” Ellis finally asked.

“No, sir,” Manafort responded.

And with that, Manafort returned to his seat.

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One more step toward COMPLETE de-dollarization

Over the past several months, sitting here in Moscow, it has become increasingly obvious that while the US Dollar is unquestionably the world’s leading and liquid reserve currency, it comes with an ever increasing high price (of sovereignty and FX) if you are not the USA.

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I have opined and written about the trend towards de-dollarization before, but with the latest US –Turkish spat it has hit the wallets, mattresses and markets of a number of countries, be they aligned with Washington or not. One thing they all have in common was that in this recent era of low cost available money, many happily fed at the US dollar trough.

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This serves as a further albeit loud example to many nations for the need to diversify to an extent away from the greenback, or risk being caught up in its volatile, sudden and unpredictably risky increasingly politicized directions.

The Dollar and the geopolitical winds from Washington are today as never before openly being used as policy, which can be called the “carrot and stick”, a distinctly Pavlovian approach. Sadly, few if any can make out where or what the carrot is in this recent US worldview branding.

Tariffs, sanctions, pressured exchange rates, the Federal Reserve loosening or tightening, trade agreements and laws ignored or simply trashed… there is a lot going on which seems to democratically affect America’s allies as well as those on Washington’s politically popular and dramatic “poo-poo” list.

Just now from a press conference in Turkey, I watched Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov say that through the actions shown by the US, the role of the US dollar as a secure global reserve currency for free trade will diminish as more countries switch to national currencies for international trade.

He clearly spoke for many nations when he said; “It will make more and more countries that are not even affected by US sanctions go away from the dollar and rely on more reliable, contractual partners in terms of currency use.” Putting the situation in a nutshell he went on to say “I have already said this about sanctions: they are illegal, they undermine all principles of global trade and principles approved by UN decisions, under which unilateral measures of economic duress are unlawful.”

Turkey, a long-standing NATO ally and a key line of western defense during the long cold war years fully agreed with his Russian counterpart. The Turkish foreign minister Mr. Cavosoglu openly warned that US sanctions or trade embargoes can and are being unilaterally imposed against any country at any time if they do not toe DC’s political line.

He said at the same press conference; “Today, sanctions are imposed on Turkey, and tomorrow they can be used against any other European state. If the United States wants to maintain respect in the international arena, then it is necessary for it to be respectful of the interests of other countries.”

What is happening in Turkey is symptomatic of the developed and emerging markets globally. When trillions of dollars of newly issued lucre was up for grabs, thanks to several developed country central banks, it was comparatively easy for governments and companies just like Turkey’s to borrow funds denominated in dollars and not their national currencies.

Turkey has relied on foreign-currency debt more than most EM’s. Corporate, financial and other debt denominated mostly in dollars, approximates close to 70% of it’s economy. Therefore as the Turkish lira plunges, it is very costly for those companies to repay their dollar-denominated loans, and even now it is patently clear many will not.

The concern rattling around the underbelly of the global markets is what can be reasonably expected for assets and economies that were inflated by cheap debt, the United States included. All this points not so much to a banking crisis as has happened eight years ago, but a systemic financial market crisis.

This is a new one, and I doubt if any QE, QT, NIRPs, or ZIRPs will make much of a difference, despite the rocket-high equity markets the US has been displaying.

One financial trader I spoke to, whom I have known since the early 1980’s (and I thought him ancient then) muttered to me “we’re gettin’ into the ecstasy stage, nothing but the high matters, everything else including the VIX is seen as boring denial, and not the warning tool it is. Better start loading up on gold.”

Meanwhile, de-dollarization is ongoing in Russia and is carefully studied by a host of countries, especially as the Russian government has not yet finished selling off US debt; it still has just a few billion to go. The Russian Finance Minister A. Siluanov said this past Sunday that Russia would continue decreasing holdings of Treasuries in response to sanctions.

The finance minister went on to say that, Russia is also considering distancing itself from using the US dollar for international trade, calling it an unreliable, conditional and hence risky tool for payments.

Between March and May this year, Russia’s US debt holdings were sold down by $81 billion, which is 84% of its total US debt holdings, and while I don’t know the current figure it is certain to be even less.

The latest round of tightening sanctions screws against Russia were imposed by the State Department under a chemical and biological warfare law and should be going into effect on August 22. This in spite of the fact that no proof was ever shown, not under any established national or international law, or with any of several global biochemical conventions, not even in the ever entertaining court of public opinion.

Whatever Russia may continue to do in its relationship with US debt or the dollar, the fact of the matter is that Russia is not a heavyweight in this particular financial arena, and the direct effects of Russia’s responses are negligible. However, the indirect effects are huge as they reflect what many countries (allied or unallied with the US) see as Washington’s overbearing and more than slightly unipolar trade and geopolitical advantage quests, be they Mexico, Canada, the EU, or anyone else on any hemisphere of this globe.

Some of the potential indirect effects over time may be a similar sell-off or even gradual reduction of US debt exposure from China or any one of several dozens of countries deciding to reduce their exposure to US debt by reducing their purchases and waiting for existing Treasuries to mature. In either case, the trend is there and is not going away anytime soon.

When Russia clears its books of US dollarized debt, then who will be next in actively diversifying their US debt risk? Then what might be the fate of the US Dollar, and what value then will be the international infusions to finance America’s continually growing debt, or fuel the funds needed for further market growth? Value and the energy of money has no politics, it ultimately trends towards areas where there is a secure business dynamic. That being said, looks like we are now and will be living through the most interesting of disruptive times.

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