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The Kennedy Papers: no evidence of conspiracy to murder but evidence of a conspiracy to conceal huge incompetence

Papers show systemic failure by US intelligence and police agencies to protect the President

Alexander Mercouris

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Many years ago I read Conspiracy by Anthony Summers, the book which I still consider the best single book written about the assassination in 1963 of US President John F. Kennedy.

I remember that I decided after reading this book that Lee Harvey Oswald almost certainly was Kennedy’s murderer and that he most probably acted alone (Summers took a different view) and that the key to the solving the many mysteries about the murder lay with him.

I say this because I did not think then and I do not think now that the evidence patiently assembled by Summers and by so many others like him of a conspiracy to murder Kennedy by the CIA, or by a rogue group within the CIA, or by the mafia, or by the Cubans or by the Russians was in the end convincing.

I also thought the most popular theory – that Kennedy was murdered by the CIA or the US ‘Deep State’ because it was unhappy about his recently announced policy of rapprochement with Russia – rested on a fundamental error: that on foreign policy and security policy specifically on the question of relations with the USSR Kennedy was some sort of foreign policy dove.

On the contrary Kennedy was a militant anti-Communist who had been a close friend and political ally of Senator McCarthy’s. His aggressive anti-Communist, anti-Russian and anti-Cuban policies had brought the superpowers closer to a nuclear war during the so-called Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 than has ever been the case both before and since.

The entire thesis that Kennedy was some sort of foreign policy dove rests on a single speech Kennedy delivered on 10th June 1963 at American University in Washington.

This speech – obviously made in order to calm public and international fears following the Cuban Missile Crisis which Kennedy had largely provoked through his extreme belligerence – attracted far more interest in Russia than it did in the US, where it went largely unnoticed.

This by the way is a consistent feature of US-Russian relations, with the Russians always far more interested in the possibility of a lasting rapprochement between Russia and the US than the Americans ever are.

Given President Kennedy’s previous record it is doubtful that many people in the US foreign policy, intelligence and defence bureaucracy took the speech especially seriously.  It is only hindsight – formed following Kennedy’s murder – that has accorded the speech the importance popular mythology attributes to it today.

I would add in passing that I share the skepticism of those who doubt Kennedy’s long-term commitment to his October 1963 decision to begin withdrawing US troops from Vietnam – the other Kennedy decision which is sometimes taken as proof that he had become a dove.

That decision was conditional on US Defense Secretary McNamara’s and US General Maxwell Taylor’s

….judgment that the major part of the US military task can be completed by the end of 1965 …,’ [and] that ‘the long term program to replace US personnel with trained Vietnamese [could go forward] without impairment of the war effort.

(bold italics added)

Once it became clear that the “major part of the US military task” in Vietnam was not being completed by 1965 or by any other date – as would inevitably have been the case – I have no doubt that President Kennedy would have reversed his decision and would have sent US troops back to Vietnam.

In my opinion President Kennedy was no more willing to let “South Vietnam go Communist” than Lyndon Johnson was or than any other conceivable US President in the early or mid 1960s would have been.

I would add that Kennedy’s approach to the war in Vietnam in 1963 was essentially the same ‘stop-go’ approach we have seen more recently from Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump in relation to the war in Afghanistan.  This amounts to make successive announcements of “mission accomplished”, with the numbers of US troops being drawn down on the back of them, only for the decisions to be reversed and for the troops to be sent back when it turns out that the mission has not been accomplished after all.

Overall my opinion of both President Kennedy’s American University speech and of his October 1963 Vietnam withdrawal decision is that they were intended to help President Kennedy win what many expected would be a difficult election in 1964.  I doubt that they had any more significance than that or that anyone in the US government at the time thought that they did.

It follows from this that the hardliners in the CIA or the US Deep State had no reason in October 1963 to want to kill President Kennedy, and given the colossal risks involved in doing so I am sure that they had no plan to do so, and no part in his actual killing.

I would add that if hardliners in the CIA and the Deep State really had wanted to oust President Kennedy from the Presidency, nothing would have been easier, and they would have had no need to arrange his murder in order to do it.

Publication of the details of President Kennedy’s baroque sex life involving prostitutes and multiple mistresses – including a woman who was also the mistress of a Chicago gangster and a woman who was suspected of being an East German spy – together with disclosure of his chronic ill-health, would have shattered the Camelot illusion, and would have guaranteed his defeat in the 1964 election.

That nothing like that ever happened, so that the truth about Kennedy’s sex life, his ill-health and his chronic dependence on drugs only became public knowledge decades after his death despite being common knowledge within the US bureaucracy at the time shows that there was no plot within the CIA or the Deep State to get rid of him.

The same also applies to the other the three parties often assumed to have had some role in Kennedy’s death: the mafia, the Cubans and the Russians.

Whilst it is certainly true that the mafia and the Kennedy brothers were in conflict with each other at the time of Kennedy’s death, the mafia has no history in the US of murdering federal politicians (Leon Jordan – in whose 1970 killing the mafia may have had a hand – was a Representative in the Missouri House of Representatives, not a federal politician).  It beggars belief that if the mafia ever were to start killing US federal politicians that they would begin by murdering the President.  Besides it is impossible to see what advantage killing Kennedy would have conferred on the mafia anyway that would have outweighed the enormous risks for them if they had been caught.

The suspicion of mafia involvement in Kennedy’s killing seems to stem from the fact that Jack Ruby – the man who murdered Oswald – seems to have had at least some mafia connections and may at some point in his career have met with the notorious Florida mafia boss Santo Trafficante.

However the actual extent of Ruby’s dealings with the mafia are open to doubt, whilst there is no evidence that before killing Oswald Ruby had ever killed anyone.  What is known about Ruby suggests that he was never anything more than a manager of nightclubs, strip-clubs and dance halls, a fact which makes it extremely unlikely – to put it mildly – that the mafia would have chosen him to murder Oswald.  Besides it has never been made clear what the mafia could have offered Ruby in order to induce him to kill Oswald in the extremely public way that he did.

I would add that I place no credence in the claim made by an airport manager to US investigators and disclosed for the first time in the papers which have just been released that he saw Oswald and Ruby in the same group of young people who flew to Cuba together and that they therefore knew each other.  That sort of sensational story is all but certain to appear in the aftermath of a sensational murder like those of Kennedy and Oswald, and I am pretty sure the airport manager either imagined his story or made it up, and I am sure the investigators who spoke with him thought so as well.

All the facts in fact point to Ruby’s murder of Oswald being the sort of spontaneous act of an unremarkable man desperate to gain fame and attention, which are all too common in the sort of highly charged atmosphere which events like Kennedy’s murder create, and which Ruby – along with many other incoherent things – said that it was.

As for the Cubans, Lyndon Johnson and (possibly) Richard Nixon apparently believed that Fidel Castro ordered Kennedy’s killing in retaliation for the CIA’s multiple attempts – ordered by the Kennedy brothers – to kill him.

No evidence for that has however ever come to light, and all the known facts actually argue strongly against it.

Oswald does appear to have had left wing sympathies, and did visit the Cuban consulate in Mexico City shortly before he killed Kennedy.  He also seems to have had some contacts with an anti-Castro Cuban dissident group based in Mexico City during his trip there.  This group was apparently heavily infiltrated by Cuban intelligence so it is possible that some of the things he told them – which may have included a statement that he intended to kill Kennedy – might have got passed back to Havana.

However Oswald’s dealings with the Cuban officials at their consulate – from whom he sought a visa to travel to Cuba on his way back to the USSR – appear to have been heated and acrimonious, with the Cubans initially refusing him a visa but eventually granting him one only to discover that by then he had returned to the US.

Kennedy’s murder came almost exactly a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis during which Fidel Castro would have learnt the limits of Soviet support for him.  By October 1963 he would have been under no doubt that the USSR would not risk a nuclear war with the US on his and Cuba’s behalf.

It beggars belief that Fidel Castro – an extremely well-educated and highly intelligent man – knowing this would have nonetheless gone ahead and ordered the murder of the President of the United States when he would have known that the result when his role in the murder was discovered – as it was bound to be – would be a US invasion of Cuba and his own death.  It was not after all as if there were not already plenty of people in the US in 1963 who were already itching to do just that.

Needless to say if Fidel Castro had nonetheless decided to do such a crazy and reckless thing it is all but inconceivable that Cuban intelligence would have recruited someone as obviously unbalanced as Oswald – with whom the Cubans had previously had only minimal dealings – to do it.

Though the cache of papers that has just been released shows that one or two lower ranking Cuban officials were pleased when they heard the news of Kennedy’s murder (just as some lower ranking Iraqi officials were pleased when they heard the news of 9/11) reliable eyewitness accounts of Fidel Castro’s own reaction say that he was shocked when he heard of Kennedy’s murder and was filled with deep foreboding, being worried that he would be blamed for it.

This is logical, and since it is inconceivable that any Cuban official would have ordered Kennedy’s murder without first obtaining Fidel Castro’s permission, the theory of Cuban involvement in Kennedy’s murder – for which there is no evidence – is unsustainable and must be rejected.

As for the Russians, Oswald did ‘defect’ to the USSR in 1959 and did live for a time there.  He was also attempting to return to the USSR shortly before he killed Kennedy, and was bombarding Soviet diplomatic missions in Mexico City and the US with requests to be allowed to return there.

The papers which have just been released however corroborate what has been known for some time: that the Soviet authorities did not see in Oswald a genuine ideological defector but rather a highly unstable individual with a personality disorder.

They were happy to let him go when he told them he wanted to leave the USSR and go back home, and they showed no enthusiasm in 1963 when he told them that he wanted to come back.

Of claims that Oswald received some sort of special training whilst he was in the USSR there is no evidence, and again it beggars belief that if the Russians had hatched a lunatic plot to murder the President of the United States – risking a nuclear war with the US in the process – that they would have selected an erratic and melodramatic individual with a history of a public defection to the USSR like Oswald to do it for them.

It is in fact all but inconceivable that the Russians would have wanted in 1963 Kennedy killed.  Not only would the risks involved in murdering the President of the United States have been wholly out of proportion to any possible gains, but despite my own cynicism about Kennedy’s American University speech (see above) the Russians were obviously tantalised by it, with the Soviet media publishing it in full in the USSR unamended.

All the evidence points to the Russians hoping that President Kennedy’s American University speech would mark the start of a genuine rapprochement between the USSR and the US, which must in turn mean that the Russians so far from wanting Kennedy dead not wanted him alive but in 1963 but wanted him re-elected in 1964.

The papers which have just been released in fact show that the Russians were horrified and panicked by Kennedy’s murder and by the fact that Oswald, his murderer, had lived for a time in the USSR.

They seem to have genuinely feared that in the confusion and hysteria caused by the murder some paranoid US general would – Dr. Strangelove style – take it on himself to launch a nuclear attack on the USSR.

In their dismay the Russians seem to have clutched at various wild conspiracy theories of their own, with Soviet Premier Khrushchev and the KGB apparently believing that Kennedy was killed as a result of a right wing coup, with Moscow swirling with fantastic rumours – some of them apparently believed in by Premier Khrushchev himself, and passed on by the Russians to the US – including a particularly bizarre one that President Kennedy was killed as a result of a plot involving the Dallas Police Department.

These wild theories should be taken as a sign of the confusion and panic in Moscow following the murder.  They are not evidence of how the murder was actually carried out.  In 1963 the Russians would have had no means to find out the truth about a murder like the one of Kennedy which was carried out on US soil since they would have had no means to carry out an investigation of a murder carried out in the US.  Their various theories about the murder should be treated as no more than the wild guesses that they obviously were.

One particular factoid (as opposed to fact) which has come to light in the recently published papers and which is attracting a disproportionate amount of media attention is that over the course his dealings with the Soviet consulate in Mexico City in the month before the murder Oswald at some point met the Soviet consul, who was an official called Valery Kostikov.

The US papers identify Kostikov as a KGB officer working for the KGB’s “13th Department” (actually the 13th Department of the KGB’s First Chief Directorate) which supposedly was responsible for “assassinations and sabotage”.  This has inevitably led to some excited commentary about Oswald having supposedly met a “KGB assassinations expert” or even a “KGB assassin” in Mexico City a month before he killed Kennedy.

In fact Kostikov’s meeting with Oswald was simply chance, caused by Oswald’s increasingly frantic efforts to get himself a Soviet visa, which caused him to have multiple contacts with Soviet diplomatic missions both in Mexico and the US.  Since Kostikov headed the Soviet consulate in Mexico City, it is not surprising that an increasingly agitated and desperate Oswald somehow managed to meet with him.

The reason the US found out about the meeting between Kostikov and Oswald was because on 1st October 1963 – three days after the meeting supposedly took place – Oswald telephoned the consulate on an open line and demanded news about the progress of his visa application.  He seems to have mentioned his meeting with Kostikov in order to get the official who took his call to pay attention to him.

It beggars belief that if Oswald really was a Soviet agent involved in a dangerous plot to murder the President of the United States that he would have been engaging in open contacts of this sort with people like Kostikov, or that he would have been blabbing about meeting Kostikov on an open line given that both he and the Russians would have known that phone calls to the consulate were being monitored.

As it happens the Soviet government took a formal decision in 1959 to prohibit the KGB from assassinating enemies of the USSR on foreign territory (the last person to have been assassinated by the KGB on foreign territory – immediately before the prohibition was put in place – was the Ukrainian fascist leader Stepan Bandera).

It is generally acknowledged that for the rest of the Cold War the KGB abided by this prohibition, though it took some time before the West became aware of the fact. That means that whatever Kostikov was before 1959, he cannot have been an “assassinations expert” or indeed a “KGB assassin” in 1963.

If there was no conspiracy by the CIA, the mafia, the Cubans or the Russians to murder President Kennedy, was there a conspiracy by someone else?

The papers which have just been released do not provide a definite answer to that question.  Whilst such a thing is therefore possible, I have to say that I think it is unlikely.

The two things that come across to me most strongly from the papers are (1) Oswald’s unbalanced personality and (2) the widespread knowledge of him on the part of the US intelligence and security agencies.

The arc of Oswald’s life in fact bears out the Russian assessment of him as an individual suffering from a severe personality disorder.

Like many such people he seems to have suffered from delusions of grandeur, which he struggled to reconcile with the mundane reality of his existence.  The result – very common with such people – was to make him extremely angry and disruptive as his life came to centre on an increasingly desperate quest to attract attention.

Thus Oswald’s ‘defection’ to the USSR, his suicide attempt whilst he was there, his decision to return to the US, his increasingly chaotic and restless life following his return to the US, his frantic attempts to go to Cuba and to return to the USSR, and eventually – when everything else failed – his decision to kill Kennedy.

It is inherently unlikely that such a person could have carried out a complex plot to murder Kennedy along with other people.

No wholly convincing evidence for such a plot has ever come to light.

The papers which have just been published say that a newspaper in Britain received an anonymous tip-off to call the US embassy about some “big news” 25 minutes before Kennedy’s murder.  Some people will no doubt see that as proof that some sort of conspiracy existed.

Though the FBI very properly took this information extremely seriously, it seems unlikely that it actually had anything to do with Kennedy’s murder.

The suggestion that the newspaper call the US embassy suggests that (assuming the call was not a hoax call, of which newspapers receive many) the caller was giving a tip-off about other news which he or she was expecting to come out of the US but which would not make immediate headlines as the murder of the President of the United States certainly would.

If the call was about President Kennedy then one possibility must be that it was about Ellen Rometsch – the alleged East German call girl who had apparently slept with Kennedy and who was suspected of being an East German agent – who had recently been deported from the US.

There are some reasons to think that in November 1963 the scandal about Rometsch was about to break, only to be swept away by the news of President Kennedy’s death.  If so then it is possible that the tip-off to the British newspaper was about that.

It must be said however that the British newspaper in question – the Cambridge News – is a purely local paper and hardly seems an obvious newspaper for someone intent on giving an anonymous tip-off about “big news” coming out of the US to call.

The reporter who claimed to have taken the call was said to be a “sound and loyal person with no security record”.  However it must be possible that he simply made the whole story of the call up in order to give himself importance and to involve himself if only fictitiously in the gigantic news story of the moment, which was Kennedy’s murder.  That sort of reaction following an event like Kennedy’s murder is unfortunately only too common.

As for the various other claims concerning evidence of a conspiracy which have become such a staple of the literature – the eyewitness claims of a second gunman behind the grassy knoll etc – all I will say here about them is that I have never been at all convinced by them.

Taken together with what is known about Oswald’s personality, the lack of convincing evidence of a conspiracy to murder Kennedy makes me doubt that there was one, and makes me think that the official view that he acted alone is right

Unsurprisingly an individual as unbalanced and melodramatic as Oswald with his multiple contacts with the Russians and his ‘defection’ to the USSR could not fail to attract the attention of the US’s massive intelligence and security apparatus, and it seems in fact that he was being kept under continuous surveillance from at least the time of his first contacts with the Russians in 1959.

Given Oswald’s increasingly erratic behaviour and the increasingly wild threats he was making – including a threat in a handwritten letter to the FBI to blow up the FBI office in Dallas – the situation obviously called for action to put him and those he might put in danger out of harm’s way.

Instead nothing was done, with the US’s various intelligence and security agencies failing to share information about Oswald with each other, and failing to take any action to stop him before disaster struck.  It was this inactivity – which in the circumstances amounts to gross negligence – which was the single most important cause of President Kennedy’s death.

What followed was the most sinister part of the whole affair.

Instead of making a clean breast of what had happened and assisting the Warren Commission to carry out a proper investigation of the murder, the US intelligence and security community closed ranks to covered up the evidence of its own negligence.

The result was that evidence was destroyed – including Oswald’s letter in which he threatened to blow up the FBI’s Dallas office – whilst intercepts of Oswald’s communications with the Russians were not disclosed, and the extent of the US intelligence community’s knowledge of Oswald was kept from the Warren Commission and the American people.

It did not help matters that the Dallas Police Department seems also to have botched its investigation of Kennedy’s death and disregarded warnings from the FBI that Oswald needed to be kept secure.

To say that there were no conspiracies connected to Kennedy’s murder is therefore wrong.   A conspiracy did happen, though it is not the one that is most widely suspected.  It was not a conspiracy to murder Kennedy, but a conspiracy to conceal from the American people the incompetence of the intelligence and security agencies which caused his death.

It was the existence of this conspiracy which has ever since led to the theories about the others.  Coming across evidence of this conspiracy the countless numbers of researchers who have studied the murder have naturally seen in this evidence proof of a conspiracy to murder rather than a conspiracy to conceal the incompetence of the intelligence and security agencies who failed to protect him.

Along the way the researchers also discovered many ghastly truths about the many other bad things the US intelligence and security agencies had been up to, such as the CIA’s plots to murder Fidel Castro, and its attempts to enlist the help of the mafia in order to do it.  Needless to say, on the principle that people who habitually do bad things are capable of any crime, that made many people even more convinced that President Kennedy was killed because of some plot by the US’s own intelligence and security agencies.

Rumours of this plot continue to run rife to this day, and the US intelligence and security community appears to have learnt nothing from this.  Incredibly, fifty years after President Kennedy was killed, they have pressured President Trump into blocking publication of hundreds of documents relating to the murder.

It is all but inconceivable that publication of these documents today could have any national security implications.  Today these documents are purely historic.  Almost certainly their concealment reflects the continued wish of the US intelligence and security bureaucracy to hide the evidence of their own incompetence.  However by doing so they simply feed the rumours which publication of the documents was supposed to suppress.

The other consequence of the conspiracy to conceal the truth about the incompetence of the US intelligence and security community is that no senior US official was ever punished for its negligence or paid the price of losing his job.  The result was that a culture of impunity took hold which continues to this day, as has been made all too obvious by the serial leaking which has taken place over the course of the Russiagate scandal.

Meanwhile the same incompetent officials who were running the US intelligence and security agencies before President Kennedy was killed continued to do so after.  It was these people who went on to botch the US intelligence effort during the Vietnam war, which they largely authored.  Moreover since it is their direct lineal successors who run the US intelligence and security agencies to this day their malign legacy continues still and is the cause of the US’s other repeated intelligence disasters, such as 9/11 and the claims about WMD in Iraq.

The American people have paid a heavy price for this self-protection of people who supposedly work to protect them.  With hindsight it was in 1963 that the US intelligence and security community began to make itself unaccountable.  That was the key moment when the culture of impunity and lawlessness took hold which persists to this day.

In a sense it was on that day – 22nd November 1963, when President Kennedy met his death – that the US “Deep State” began.

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Russia makes MASSIVE progress on its ‘super-weapons’

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle moves into serial production, nuclear-engine powered cruise missile tests continue, and more as Russia continues to outdo all Western military tech

Seraphim Hanisch

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On July 19th and 20th, The Russian Defense Ministry announced several milestones of progress in its advanced weapons systems programs. These programs were revealed to the world in March of this year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the State of the Russian Federation speech.

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While at first the Western onlookers did not believe the amazing announcements of hypersonic weapons and nuclear-powered cruise missiles with unlimited range, subsequent releases and concurrent observation by the American military experts has shown these developments to be as real as Mr. Putin claimed they are.

TASS, the Russian News Agency, released information on these weapons systems in separate reports:

Kinzhal

The Kinzhal hypersonic missile:

Squadrons of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles should enter combat duty in the Black Sea region and at other Russian fleets and flotillas, said Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva magazine.

Besides, a squadron (between 12 and 16 aircraft) of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles entered combat duty in the Caspian Sea region in April.

“I think at least one squadron of those complexes should be deployed at any fleet, in other words – at all regions where we have fleets and flotillas. We need to deploy them in the regions of the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Northern Fleet. The Pacific region also should not be forgotten,” Murakhovsky said.

He said that such systems can become a “good instrument” against not only vessels equipped with high-precision weapons, but also for countering carrier attack groups.

“We know how expensive a carrier attack group can be. By employing this asymmetric method, which is unbelievably cheap in comparison with building a carrier attack group, we can neutralize this threat almost completely,” the expert said.

Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile trials:

The Burevestnik is an entirely new cruise missile, powered by a nuclear engine. This gives the missile unlimited range. In theory, such a missile could be launched at a target and spend days or weeks in hidden flight using advanced guidance systems, and then close on its target at the optimal time to assure destruction of that target with maximum surprise. The TASS piece goes on to say:

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia was preparing to test upgraded test prototypes of the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile with an unlimited range.

According to the expert, it is highly likely that the prototype of the missile “has already made a flight.”

“Clearly, it was something like the pop-up trials of Sarmat – a launch without the nuclear-powered engine, in other words, with an ordinary missile booster, conducted in order to assess the possibility of a launch, aerodynamics and the operability of the entire system in general,” [Murakhovsky] said.

Further reporting from TASS had this to add about the Burevestnik program:

Russia is getting ready for flight tests of the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile, an official at the Defense Ministry told reporters on Thursday.

“The missile’s component makeup is being improved based on clarified requirements, while ground tests continue and preparations are being made for experimental flight tests of the improved missile,” the official said.

According to the Defense Ministry, “work on an unlimited-range missile is going according to plan.”

“In the meantime, launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon – a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear powered missile,” the ministry official noted.

[The head] of the 12th Central Research Institute at Russia’s Defense Ministry Sergey Pertsev, in turn, said that the tests of the new cruise missile equipped with a small nuclear power unit had confirmed the accuracy of the technical decisions that Russian researchers, engineers and designers had made. In addition, the tests enabled the researchers “to receive valuable experimental data necessary for specifying a number of requirements.”

“A low-flying and low-observable cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and capability to bypass interception lines is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems,” the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

A further use of the nuclear engine technology is also expected in the Poseidon underwater drone, Mr. Murakhovsky stated that separate systems for the craft have been successfully tested. He further noted that the next task is to design the entire layout, build a test model and begin testing the whole platform.

The Avangard Hypersonic Missile

While the Kinzhal is a Mach-10 capable hypersonic system that can be launched from a fighter, the Avangard is a Mach-20 capable system that has intercontinental reach. There is almost no footage of this system released to the public, but the concept videos show how the system works. TASS reports this status:

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force is preparing a position area for accepting the Avangard hypersonic missile system for service as part of the efforts to strengthen the country’s military security, the Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

“The Russian defense industry has completed developing the Avangard missile system with the principally new armament – the gliding cruise warhead. Industrial enterprises have switched to its serial production,” the Defense Ministry said.

“A set of organizational and technical measures is underway in the position area of the Dombarovsky large unit of the Strategic Missile Force to accept the Avangard missile system for operation,” it added.

The development of new strategic weapon systems “is aimed at increasing Russia’s defense capability and preventing any aggression against our country and its allies,” the Defense Ministry stressed.

The infrastructural facilities of the large unit’s position area have already been prepared for the missile system’s operation, the ministry said.

“The position area has been prepared in geodesic and engineering terms to accommodate the missile system. Work is underway to build new and reconstruct old facilities to provide for the operation and the combat use of the system. Technical and utility supply lines are being modernized and electric power, communications and command and control cables are being laid. Work has been arranged to train personnel and prepare armament, military and special hardware,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Deputy Commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force for Armament Sergei Poroskun has said that the Avangard hypersonic missile system features combat capabilities that “make it possible to reliably breach any anti-missile defenses.”

The Okhotnik attack drone

The Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone is now being viewed as a prototype for Russia’s “sixth-generation” fighter plane. TASS describes this in more detail:

According to [a defense industry] official, although the sixth generation fighter jet project “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known.”

“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, Okhotnik will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”

“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.

TASS was unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Another defense industry source earlier told TASS that the prototype of Okhotnik (Hunter) was ready and would start test flights this year.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour.

Peresvet laser weapons systems

TASS reported that the Russian military forces are now training for the use of the Peresvet combat laser system:

Russian Aerospace Force has accepted for service the laser complexes Peresvet and the military are now taking drills that involve the novel combat technologies, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“The Peresvet laser complexes have been placed at sites of permanent deployment,” the report said. “Active efforts to make them fully operational are underway.”

“To ensure their proper functioning, the necessary infrastructures and specialized facilities for housing the complexes and duty crews have been built,” the ministry said.

The crews assigned to the Peresvets have taken upgrader courses at the Alexander Mozhaisky Military-Space Academy in St Petersburg.

The Russian military strategy of “asymmetric response.”

The overall defense strategy is termed an “asymmetric response”, and Mr. Murakhovsky explained the principle in this way:

“This is an asymmetric response, in which new classes of weapons are created, instead of new types within the framework of the existing systems. Other states are not expected to have anything of this kind [in the near future],” he said.

The expert described this response as “quite an efficient one, all the more so because it requires no additional investment – all the works are being carried out within the framework of the state procurement program.”

He added that unlike the Soviet Union, Russia avoids being dragged into a direct arms race and searches for cutting-edge solutions instead of simply increasing the number of weapons.

“The development of counter-weapons to those arms [may be possible] in distant future, but it does not mean that they can be created at all,” Murakhovsky added.

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From McCain to Brennan, Deep State soft coup against Trump picks up steam (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 59.

Alex Christoforou

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After Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, the Deep State smells blood, and is moving quickly to depose of US President Donald Trump.

Government officials and mainstream media puppets from left and right are condemning the US President over his press conference with Vladimir Putin.

Leading the charge are the usual Deep State, suspects, starting with John McCain and ending with the man many believe is behind the entire Trump-Russia collusion hoax, former Obama CIA boss John Brennan.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou examine the soft coup aimed at removing US President Trump by the November 2018 midterms. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Independent

Conservative John McCain, who is facing a rare and terminal brain cancer, unleashed a damning statement against Mr Trump’s conference with Mr Putin, describing it as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” he said.

“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realise his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbours, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.”

The conservative senator’s comments arrived after the US president declined to name Russia as the adversary behind coordinated attacks on the 2016 presidential election.

While discussing whether he thought Russia was behind hacks against the 2016 election — as the US intelligence community has determined —the president said: “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

“Dan Coats [the US Director of National Intelligence] said its Russia. President Putin says its not Russia,” said Mr Trump. “I don’t know why it would be…..I have confidence in both parties. President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

That set off a wave of condemnations from Democrats and Republicans alike.

“President Trump’s press conference with Putin was an embarrassing spectacle,” Bernie Sanders wrote in a tweet. “Rather than make clear that interference in our elections is unacceptable, Trump instead accepted Putin’s denials and cast doubt on the conclusions of our intelligence community. This is not normal.”

Jeff Flake, one of the only frequent Republican critics of Mr Trump in Congress, said the conference was “shameful” in a statement he posted across social media.

“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” he said. “This is shameful.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan released a statement calling for Mr Trump’s impeachment and describing his comments as “treasonous”.

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours,'” Mr Brennan wrote on Twitter. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Elizabeth Warren also slammed the president for failing to hold Mr Putin accountable, writing on Twitter: “Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable – not rewarded.”

“Disgraceful,” she concluded.

However, Mr Trump’s typical roster of critics weren’t the only legislators rebuking his bizarre denials of US intelligence. Lindsey Graham also criticised Mr Trump’s performance, adding that his denial of US intelligence will “be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves”.

“Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections,” he said.

The Republican senator added a suggestion to Mr Trump: review the soccer ball Mr Putin gave to him as a gift for “listening devices” and “never allow it in the White House.”

Thomas Pickering, a regarded statesman and the former US ambassador to Russia, told MSNBC that he was in utter disbelief after the press conference was held on Monday.

“It’s a breathtaking denial of something that clearly is so obviously true,” he said. ”it represents the epitome of President Trump’s effort at self-promotion over the notion of defending the national interest of the United States.”

Mark Warner, a Virginia senator, also suggested Mr Trump committed a clear violation of his responsibilities as president.

Mr Trump committed “a breach of his duty to defend our country against its adversaries,” Mr Warner said. ”If the President cannot defend the United States and its interests in public, how can we trust him to stand up for our country in private?”

Meanwhile the latest Deep State leak, via the NYT, claims that US President Trump was told by Obama holdovers that Putin was involved in cyberattacks during the 2016 election. US intelligence told Trump this information days before the inauguration.

Via The Gateway Pundit

The same liberal hacks who illegally leaked this information want Americans to trust them as they continue to destroy this duly elected president.

President Trump on Wednesday told CBS anchor Jeff Glor that he has no confidence in the tainted intelligence by far left hacks Clapper, Brennan and Comey.

And, once again, the timing of this leak is not an accident.

Liberals are outraged that President Trump refused to chest bump Putin in Helsinki.

The deep state leaked this information to pile on the Republican president.

The New York Times reported…

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

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Russia ranks HIGHER than Switzerland in these areas of doing business

Some curious things happened with several businesspeople who attended World Cup events in Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

One of them was a distinctly renewed interest in doing business inside the country, and another was the realization to what extent perceptions have been tainted by media and political rhetoric directed against any real or imagined nastiness attributed to Russia these days.

These past few weeks have been invaluable, at the very least by affording a clear picture of Russia through which almost all anxiety-ridden preconceptions were illuminated and dispelled. More disturbing was the fact that the several businesspeople I was dealing with were furious. They were livid for being played for fools, and felt victimized by the dismally untrue picture painted about Russia and Russians in their home countries, both by their own politicians and the press.

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Most felt that they have been personally sanctioned by their own countries, betrayed through lack of clear unbiased information enabling them to participate and profit from Russia opportunities these past three growth years in spite of “sanctions”.

The door to doing good business in Russia has been and is open, and has been opening wider year after year. That is not just “highly likely”, but fact. Consistently improving structures, means and methods to conduct business in Russia sustainably, transparently and profitably are now part of the country’s DNA. It is a process, which has been worked on in the west for more than a century, and one, which Russia has only started these past 18 years.

True, there are sanctions, counter-sanctions, and regulations governing them that must be studied carefully. However if you are not a bank or doing business with those persons deemed worthy of being blacklisted by some countries “sanctions list”, in reality there are no obstacles that cannot be positively addressed and legally overcome despite the choir of political nay-sayers.

READ MORE: Russia just dumped $80 BILLION in US debt

The days of quickly turning over Russia opportunities into short-term cash are rapidly fading, they are a throwback to the 1990’s. Today the major and open opportunities are in the areas for Foreign Direct Investments. The nature of FDI is long term to make regularly recurring sustainable returns on investment.

Long term, Russia always was and increasingly confirms that it is a vibrant and attractive market. There is a significant consumer market with spending power, a well-educated workforce, a wealth of resources and the list goes on. The economic obstacles encountered have largely been imposed from without, and not from the dynamics and energies of the Russian economy itself.

Eventually sanctions will end, although the timeline is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile business continues, and any long-term engagement within Russia by establishing a working presence will yield both short and long-term investment rewards. These will only be amplified when the sanctions regimes are removed. In any event, these aspects are long-term investment decisions and one of the criteria in any risk assessment.

For some added perspective, Russia is ranked by the Financial Times as the No.2 country in Europe in terms of capital investments into Europe. It has a 2017 market share of 9% (US$ 15.9 billion) and includes 203 business projects. This is 2% higher than 2016 and better that 2014/2015 when sanctions were imposed.

Another item of perspective is the Country Risk Premium. All investors consider this when calculating the scope for long-term return on investments. What may surprise some is that Russia is no longer ranked as a very high-risk country. For comparisons sake: The risk premium for Germany is zero (no extra risk), the risk premium for Italy is 2.19%, and for Russia, it is 2.54%. When compared to politically popular investment destinations like Ukraine the risk premium is 10.4%  – food for thought. Bottom line is that the risks of investing in Russia are a smidge higher than investing in Italy.

Russia is ranked 35 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The ranking of Russia improved to 35 in 2017 from 40 in 2016 and from 124 in 2010. It may also surprise some to learn that as concerns protecting the rights of minority investors, paying taxes, registering property and some other aspects of the World Bank comparisons, Russia comes out better than Switzerland (See: Rankings).

From operational standpoints, establishing an invested presence in Russia does not mean one must adopt Russian managerial methods or practices. The advantages for established foreign companies is that their management culture is readily applied and absorbed by a smart and willing workforce, enabling a seamless integration given the right training and tools.

The trend towards the ultimate globalization of business despite trade wars, tariffs, sanctions and counter-sanctions is clear. The internet of the planet, the blockchain and speed of information exchange makes it so whether we wish it or not. Personally, I hope that political globalization remains stillborn as geopolitics has a historical mandate to tinker with and play havoc with international trade.

Russia occupies a key strategic position between Europe and Asia. The “west” (US/Europe) have long had at times rather turbulent relationships with China. At the same time the Chinese are quite active investors in both the US and Europe, and western companies are often struggling to understand how to deal with China.

The answer to this conundrum is Russia: this is where East and West will ultimately come together with Russia playing a pivotal role in the relations between the west and China. At the end of the day, and taking the strategic long-term economic view, is what both Chinese and Western companies are investing in when they open their activities in Russia.

If long-term commitment and investment in Russia were simply a matter of transferring funds then I would not be bothering with this opinion article. Without a doubt, there are structural issues with investing in Russia. A still evolving and sometimes unclear rule of law, difficulties obtaining finance for investments directed towards Russia, the unique language and culture of business in the country. Nevertheless, companies that have an understanding and vision of global strategy will manage with these issues and have the means to mitigate them.

Money and other invested resources do not and should not play politics; any investment case when evaluated on objective financial criteria will reveal its fit, or lack of, within a company’s global strategic business objectives. The objective criteria for Russia over any long term horizon is both convincing and strong. This has been repeated by all of the businesspeople I have met with these past few weeks. Without doubt we shall see some new companies coming into the Russian market and objectively exploring the gains their playing fair business football here will yield.

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