Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

Storm clouds gather over Ukraine

As economy sinks Ukraine’s belligerent law on Donbass, point to growing instability and a return to war

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

10,206 Views

In a recent article for The Duran I wrote of how the economic situation in Ukraine appeared once more to be deteriorating, with economic statistics apparently being distorted to conceal the extent of the rise in inflation, making the claimed figure of 2% GDP growth in 2017 unlikely.

In a further sign of a deteriorating economic situation, recent reports from Ukraine speak of rolling electric power blackouts in some regions, suggesting growing energy shortages as the price of oil hikes.

In a symptom of how bad the situation has become, the Ukrainian government has quietly dropped its sanctions prohibiting coal imports from Russia, indicating that Ukraine is being forced to turn to Russia for imports of coal in light of the gathering energy crisis.

In this situation, as Paul Goncharoff has recently pointed out, the decision of the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal to force Ukraine to resume gas purchases from Gazprom actually helps Ukraine,  since the gas Gazprom is able to supply Ukraine is actually cheaper than the gas Ukraine has up to now for political reasons been buying in Europe.

A further sign that economic pressures are causing a certain return to economic rationality in Ukraine is shown by a recent report from Interfax that Ukraine wants negotiations with Moscow to secure the transit of Russian gas to Europe across Ukraine

Ukraine is ready to discuss future transit of Russian gas following the ruling on their gas contract dispute from the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Naftogaz Ukrainy chief Andriy Kobolev told Interfax during “Ukrainian Breakfast” at Davos.

The government and Energy and Coal Industry Ministry might represent Ukraine at those talks, Kobolev said.

“Naftogaz is ready, but there is one nuance. The government wants to engage in these talks. Therefore, there is the likelihood that [Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr] Kistion will go to the transit talks together with [Energy and Coal Industry Minister Ihor] Nasalyk,” he said.

Earlier, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Energy Union Maros Sefcovic invited Russia and Ukraine to discuss with each other future transit of Russian gas through Ukraine following the Stockholm arbitration ruling.

Russia supplied 94 billion cubic meters of gas to the EU through Ukraine last year, witnessing to the importance of this transit route in future.

“I think this can well be considered an achievement, and the massive gas volumes signal that this transit route is very important for Gazprom (MOEX: GAZP) as the supplier, for Ukraine as the transiter, and for the EU as the consumer. I will discuss with him [Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko] how we will operate after the Stockholm arbitration ruling in order to create a constructive atmosphere in order to be convinced that this transit route will remain an important route for supplies to Europe, that will be sufficient up to 2019,” he said.

Note the heavy lobbying for these talks by the European Commission, which is politically committed to preserving Ukraine’s role as a gas transit state.

Whether the Russians will be prepared to agree to allow Ukraine to remain a gas transit state notwithstanding the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal’s decision to uphold the provisions of Gazprom’s gas supply contracts with Ukraine’s Naftogaz – which Ukraine had disputed – is another matter.

With project financing for Nord Stream 2 now in place and with construction of Turk Stream already underway there seems no obvious reason why the Russians should continue to transit gas across Ukraine once the present contracts expire.

Having said this, the mere fact that the Ukrainians now say that they are prepared to discuss future gas transit arrangements with Moscow at a government level – suggesting that they are prepared to provide interstate treaty guarantees in order to ensure the safety of Russian gas transiting to Europe – is a sign of the pressure they are now under.  Whether the Russians would accept these guarantees given the total lack of trust they now have in Ukraine is of course another matter.

However the single clearest sign of the growing economic pressure in Ukraine is that Ukraine’s Central Bank – just placed by President Poroshenko under new leadership – has today hiked its key lending rate to 16%.

Here is Interfax’s report about this

The National Bank of Ukraine has decided to hike its key policy rate to 16% per annum, effective from January 26, the NBU said in a press release.

“The tighter monetary policy will help decrease the inflation and bring it back to the target range in the middle of 2019,” the NBU said.

“In 2017, headline inflation reached 13.7%, exceeding the target of 8% ± 2 pp set for the National Bank of Ukraine in the Monetary Policy Guidelines for 2017 and Medium Term,” it said.

“Inflation sped up to 12.4% compared to 2016, mainly due to factors on which monetary policy tools have only a limited effect. In particular, acceleration of inflation was mainly driven by a decrease in the supply of some foods resulting from the unfavorable weather conditions seen in the first half of last year, the unstable situation in animal breeding, and a rise in the global prices of, and demand for, Ukrainian foods, mainly meat and dairy products,” the NBU said.

“An increase in production costs, especially labor costs, and fast recovery of consumer demand also contributed to the growth of prices,” it said.

“In addition, the end of last year saw an increase in hryvnia exchange rate fluctuations and a noticeable easing in fiscal policy, thanks to, among other things, sharp increase in pension payments and budgetary spending being unevenly distributed over the year. This increased underlying inflationary pressure, as evidenced by a rise in core inflation, to 9.5% in December, and high inflation expectations. As a consequence, the deviation of inflation rate from the target was larger than the NBU anticipated in its October 2017 Inflation Report,” it said.

This is the NBU’s third rate hike in almost as many months: the rate went up from 12.5% to 13.5% in October 2017 and was raised to 14.5% in December. The NBU had lowered the rate prior to that.

This surge in interest rates – with the key lending rate rising from 12.5% to 16% in three stages over just three months – may be a further sign that the official inflation rate of 13.7% in 2017 is too low, and that the true inflation rate in 2017 was higher, and was really 16-17% as various Russian commentators are speculating.

Note that the Central Bank’s target range for inflation – 8% + – 2pp – is still by international standards very high, and the Central Bank does not now expect to achieve it before the middle of 2019.

I would add that if the true rate of inflation in Ukraine really is higher than is being reported, and was closer to 16-17% than 13.7% in 2017, then interest rates in Ukraine may before long rise still further.

This is happening alongside an increase in the financial burdens being borne by the Ukrainian economy.

The Central Bank’s claims that the surge in inflation in 2017 is the result of higher demand for Ukrainian foodstuffs against the backdrop of tough agricultural conditions caused by poor weather in the second half of the year has very much the look of special pleading about it and of an attempt to give a positive spin (“Ukrainian food products are in high demand”) to what is unequivocally bad news.

It seems inherently more likely that the inflation pressures within Ukraine in 2017 were caused by the rise in oil prices, the knock on effect of the blockade of the Donbass, the continued fall in production of Ukrainian finished goods, and the fiscal loosening which the Central Bank says took place towards the end of the year, which is not backed by goods or services but which Poroshenko’s government nonetheless resorted to in order to buy off growing political opposition within Ukraine from the population by increasing its pension and benefit payments.

On top of this Ukraine is now expected to make payments to its external creditors of $20 billion over the next two years.  Others put the total amount of external payments even higher, saying that they will average out at $14 billion each year over the next two years.

To these must now be added the $5 billion the courts in London and Stockholm have now said Ukraine must pay Russia and Gazprom.

In addition the government’s seizure of Kolomoisky’s Privatbank has apparently exposed a $5 billion hole in the bank’s accounts – something which will surprise no-one – with further reports that large quantities of funding provided Ukraine by the IMF cannot be fully accounted for and may have been misappropriated, something which if true will not surprise anyone familiar with the situation in Ukraine either.

Though this is a terrible situation, it should not be an irretrievable one.  Many of Ukraine’s worst problems are self-inflicted and a return to rational decision making would quickly cause them to abate.

Putting to one side the question of corruption, which is a very serious problem in Ukraine but which is also a problem that is both intractable and longstanding, it should be obvious that Ukraine’s economic problems over the last three years are the direct consequence of its conflict with Russia.

Not only has this upset much of Ukraine’s population, resulting in a civil war which has resulted in the loss of much of the Donbass – Ukraine’s industrial heartland and its economically most productive region – but the severing of economic links with Russia and the feckless spending on the military in a confrontation which can never be won are placing burdens on Ukraine’s economy which it simply cannot carry.

A reversal of these foolish policies is what Ukraine urgently needs if it is to achieve an economic stability which is sustainable.

The trouble is that despite the occasional glimmers of rationality of the sort discussed earlier in this article, reversing these policies would involve adopting the opposite course to the one which Ukraine’s Maidan establishment is determined Ukraine should follow.

This provides the background for Ukraine’s extraordinary and deeply alarming new Donbass integration law, which in flagrant violation of the Minsk Agreement treats the territories of the Donbass and Lugansk People’s Republics as territory occupied by Russia – denying the reality of Ukraine’s civil war – and which converts Ukraine’s military campaign against the two People’s Republics from an already grossly misnamed “anti-terrorist operation” into a self-depicted military conflict with Russia.

In other words instead of looking for ways to end the conflict in the Donbass and to mend relations with Russia – which is what Ukraine urgently needs to do if its economy is to stabilise – the Maidan establishment in Kiev is set on doing the opposite, and has embarked on a path which can logically only lead to more war.

As anyone familiar with the Maidan movement ought to know by now, this is in fact its typical – indeed invariable – response when it comes under pressure.  Instead of moderating its policies and adjusting them to the prevailing realities, its invariable response is to intensify its policies still more.

As it drives towards the cliff edge, its impulse is to slam down the accelerator instead of the brake.

Behind this there may be a calculation on the part of some people within the Maidan movement that greater confrontation with Russia is the way to rally support for Ukraine in the West, with the hope that if the conflict in the Donbass escalates funding from the IMF and the European Union – which has now stopped – will resume.

However it is probably a mistake to look for much calculation in these actions.  My impression is that hostility to Russia on the part of the Maidan movement and its supporters is so hardwired that their actions are largely visceral, and have little calculation behind them.

How else to explain their bizarre decision to mount a totally counter productive economic blockade of the two People’s Republics which even Anders Aslund, one of their staunchest supporters, says was misguided and which was one of their actions last year which now has him wringing his hands in despair (discussed at length in my article here)?

In the meantime the responsibility of Ukraine’s Western allies for this darkening picture cannot be overstated.

Though it is Ukraine not Russia which is openly and flagrantly violating the Minsk Agreement – Russia is not a party to the Minsk Agreement, merely its guarantor – the European Union continues to reward Ukraine for its ever grosser violations of the Minsk Agreement by prolonging the sanctions against Russia.

It does so on the completely illogical premise that it is Russia – which is not a party to the Minsk Agreement – which is responsible for its implementation rather than Ukraine.

This policy is so absurd that it has been coming under growing criticism across Europe, with the right wing parties which now look set to win the March parliamentary elections in Italy calling it  irrational – which it is – and committing themselves to reversing it by vetoing any further extension of the sanctions if they win.

However both of the parties that currently form Germany’s failing ‘grand coalition’ government – Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the SPD – remain committed to this ‘irrational’ policy even though it is known that many senior members of both parties are filled with doubts about it.

Compounding this folly was a recent disastrous visit to Ukraine by Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel over the course of which he publicly endorsed Ukraine’s call for a peacekeeping force to be deployed across the whole of eastern Ukraine in order to bring the territory of the two People’s Republics once more under Kiev’s control.

The Russians have repeatedly and publicly ruled out this proposal – Lavrov has just said in response to Gabriel’s comments that the proposal is intended to ‘strangle’ the two People’s Republics and is therefore unacceptable to Russia – but Gabriel appears to have deluded himself that it was a route to ending the conflict so as to get Germany off its own self-inflicted sanctions hook.

In reality, by endorsing a Ukrainian proposal the Russians have repeatedly and publicly rejected Gabriel has only managed to increase Russian suspicions of German intentions whilst giving further encouragement to the Maidan hardliners in Kiev.

However Gabriel’s folly has been far capped by that of the US administration with its recent reckless decision to supply Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.

In a recent article published by The Duran on 26th December 2017 I discussed the extraordinary folly of this decision and the high probability that it will spur on the Maidan hardliners to launch more attacks on the two People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine in the coming months.

In that article I also said that the Javelin anti tank missiles do not provide the ‘magic bullet’ that will give the Ukrainians the superiority over the armed forces of the two People’s Republics that the Ukrainians and many others appear to imagine.

Since that article I have read various discussions of the Javelin anti tank missile on the internet which suggest that it is not only difficult to use but very vulnerable to counter measures of a sort that the armed forces of the two People’s Republics – by now well trained and advised by the Russians – would have no difficulty implementing in response to it.

One discussion of the Javelin anti tank missile I have read by a seemingly well-informed military technology commentator from New Zealand even says that these very simple counter measures would not only nullify the Javelin anti tank missile’s supposed advantages but would render it less effective than the Russian Metis-B missile, which supposedly costs fifty times less.

Even if these criticisms exaggerate the Javelin anti tank missile’s weaknesses, the underlying point I made in my article still stands: supplying Javelin anti tank missiles to Ukraine in whatever quantity cannot change the overall military balance on a battlefield in eastern Ukraine where former US President Obama admitted the Russians will always have “escalatory dominance” over the US.  It will however encourage the Maidan hardliners in Kiev to think that if Ukraine attacks the two People’s Republics it will have US support.

Overall it is difficult to look upon the emerging situation in Ukraine this year with anything other than a profound sense of foreboding.

The risk of further war in Ukraine has always been high.  Indeed a crisis atmosphere and lawlessness and armed conflict have been Ukraine’s continuous reality ever since the Maidan protests turned violent in December 2013.

With the political and economic situation in Ukraine steadily deteriorating, and with the Western powers once again doing everything possible however thoughtlessly to aggravate the situation, the country seems to be slipping back towards war.

Advertisement
Comments

Latest

Maria Butina, her crime: A love of the NRA and being Russian (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has communicated to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Russian national Maria Butina must be set free and allowed to return to Russia, after she was arrested by US officials on dubious spy charges.

Lavrov said that the US should immediately release the Russian gun activist, who is being held in the US on espionage charges, after a phone conversation with his US counterpart.

Lavrov called the charges levied against Butina “fabricated.”

In his conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, “Lavrov stressed that the actions of the US authorities that arrested Russian citizen Butina on fabricated charges are unacceptable.”

In an official statement the Russian Foreign Ministry called for her “immediate release.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the oddly timed, out of the blue arrest of Maria Butina, who is being held by US authorities for what they claim to be a violation of the FARA act.

In reality Maria Butina’s crime is much more troubling than simply failing to register as a foreign agent.

Maria made the double mistake of being in the United States of America as a Russian citizens who loves guns, at a time when racism and bigotry against Russians and NRA supporters is surpassing McCarthyite levels.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via RT

The Foreign minister raised the issue during phone conversations that were made at the request of the US and aimed at “further normalization of the US-Russian relations” following the summit between the US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, as well as the situation in Syria.

The 29-year-old Russian student and a gun activist was arrested in the US about a week ago and charged with acting as a foreign agent without registering her activities with the authorities. Butina has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On July 16, a DC Federal Court rejected Butina’s bail plea and ordered her to be placed in custody pending trial over fears that she could flee or contact Russian intelligence officials. Her lawyer says the trial is being politicized and Russian embassy staff were only allowed to visit her in jail on Thursday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called Butina’s arrest politically motivated, adding that it could have been aimed at disrupting the Helsinki summit between Putin and Trump. On Thursday, the ministry also launched a campaign hashtagged #FreeMariaButina on Twitter to raise awareness of her case.

Continue Reading

Latest

Ugly breakup at FBI: Lisa Page throws ex-lover, Peter Strzok, under the bus (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 60.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

While Peter Strzok’s testimony put a face on the deceptive and secretive Deep State, GOP lawmakers who were present at Lisa Page’s closed-door deposition said they learned a lot of new information from the ex-FBI lawyer, and ex-lover of Peter Strzok.

Lisa Page confirmed to GOP lawmakers that the text messages sent between her and her lover Strzok “meant exactly what they said,” contrary to Strzok’s testimony.

According to The Gateway Pundit, one damning text message in particular sent from Strzok on May 19th, 2017, just two days after Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, intrigued investigators and the public alike.

“There’s no big there there,” Strzok texted.

According to investigative reporter, John Solomon, Lisa Page confirmed that text from Peter Strzok did indeed refer to the Trump-Russia case.

Strzok knew it was a nothing-burger yet he forged ahead.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou, RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle, and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how Peter Strzok’s testimony has undoubtedly contradicted Lisa Page’s cooperative deposition, as the ex-FBI lawyer is preparing to save herself, while throwing her ex-lover under the bus.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Epoch Times

Representatives John Ratcliffe and Louie Gohmert of Texas recently shared their observations of the closed-door testimony of former high-ranking FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which concluded on July 16.

One of the major questions regarding the testimony was whether it would match the one given by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.

But while Ratcliffe said he found a mismatch, Gohmert wouldn’t go so far.

Page and Strzok played major roles in the investigations on both 2016 presidential candidates: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. During the same period, Page and Strzok had an affair and exchanged thousands of text messages expressing a strong bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton.

“When I questioned Lisa Page on Friday about the anti-Trump text messages that were sent between herself and Peter Strzok, there were significant differences in her testimony and Strzok’s as it relates to what she thought some of these text messages meant,” Ratcliffe said in a July 16 tweet, shortly before the second round of questioning.

“Page gave us new information that Strzok either wouldn’t or couldn’t, confirming some of the concerns we had about these investigations and the people involved in running them,” he wrote.

On July 17, Ratcliffe expanded on his further statements about Page’s testimony. Radcliffe told Fox News…

“There are differences in their testimony.”

“In many cases, she admits that the text messages mean exactly what they say, as opposed to agent Strzok, who thinks that we’ve all misinterpreted his own words on any text message that might be negative.”

Via The Epoch Times

In one of the texts, Strzok vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president. In another, the two discussed having an “insurance policy” in the “unlikely” event that Trump would win the election.

Strzok, who gave a closed-door testimony on June 27 and a public one on July 12, said the first message meant he and the American people would stop Trump. The second, he said previously, meant he wanted to pursue the Russia investigation aggressively, in case Trump won.

GOP lawmakers were furious with Strzok’s attitude and unwillingness to answer questions. In a scathing monologue, Gohmert even linked Strzok’s credibility to the fact that he was unfaithful to his wife.

President Donald Trump repeatedly called Strzok’s testimony a “disgrace.”

The lawmakers said Page was comparatively more cooperative.

“There were times the FBI lawyers would be reaching to the button to mute her comment, and she would answer before they could mute her comment,” Gohmert told Fox News.

He said Page didn’t contradict Strzok “so much,” but “has given us insights into who was involved in what.”

“I think she’ll be a good witness,” he said.

Page ditched her first testimony appointment on July 11, prompting GOP lawmakers to threaten her with contempt of Congress. She then agreed to appear on July 13, which gave her the opportunity to review Strzok’s public testimony before giving hers.

The lawmakers are probing the FBI’s and Justice Department’s decisions before the election, suspecting they were influenced by political considerations.

Texts between Strzok and Page suggest that the FBI initiated an offensive counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign as early as December 2015.

Continue Reading

Latest

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

Published

on

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.

Support The Duran – Browse our Shop >>

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.

Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Advertisement

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement
Advertisements
Advertisement
Advertisements

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!

The Duran Newsletter

Trending