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US approves military assistance to Ukraine after Trump-Putin summit

Ukraine’s government says its military will meet NATO standards by or during the year 2020.

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On July 20, the US Defense Department announced in a statement that it will provide $200 million to Ukraine in security-cooperation funds earmarked for additional training, equipment, and advisory efforts to build the defensive capacity of its armed forces.

The funds are intended to enhance Ukraine’s command-and-control and situational-awareness systems, secure communications, military mobility, night-vision capabilities, and military medical treatment. “This reaffirms the long-standing defense relationship between the United States and Ukraine,” the statement noted.

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The package includes equipment to support ongoing training programs and operational needs, including counter-artillery and counter-mortar radars, high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, night-vision devices, electronic warfare detection, secure communications, and medical equipment. The total of US security-sector assistance to Ukraine since 2014 will now top $1 billion in aid.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the founder the Senate Ukraine Caucus, hailed the announcement, which he called “a clear message that America stands with the Ukrainian people in their struggle … against Russian aggression,” as he put it.

In March, the State Department cleared a $47-million sale of FGM-148 Javelin portable anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.  The package specified 210 missiles and 37 launchers. Ukrainian personnel have been training with the new weapons since May.

Sending US military on an advice and training mission is tantamount to indirect involvement in Ukraine’s internal conflict. Hundreds of US and Canadian military instructors have been training Ukrainian personnel at the Yavorov firing range since 2015. The US Navy operates a facility in Ochakov.

In June, Ukraine’s parliament approved the law “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine (on the Direction of Ukraine’s Foreign Policy),” which set NATO membership as Ukraine’s foreign-policy goal, replacing the country’s non-aligned status. With the economy in pitiful shape, Ukraine’s defense expenditures already greatly exceed  2% of its GDP. Very few NATO members spend such a share of their GDP on military needs, despite the pledges they have made at summits.

Ukraine’s government says its military will meet NATO standards by or during the year 2020. But allocating a large percentage of GDP to military needs and getting bang for one’s buck are two different things. Natan Chazin, a former advisor to the chief of the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces, believes the military reforms have gone nowhere.

According to a sensational story in the New York Times, corruption is widespread in the ranks of Ukraine’s military. If so, who can guarantee that the US-supplied weapons would not fall into the wrong hands and be used against the US military somewhere outside of Europe?

The US 2018 fiscal year (FY) defense budget allocates $350 million for security assistance to Kiev. In the draft budget for FY 2019, Ukraine is included in the list of countries to be granted security assistance under the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program.

The sum of $200 million was allocated months ago as part of the defense budget, but was kept on hold pending “a series of defense reforms” Washington was demanding from Kiev. The passage of Ukraine’s new national security law, signed by the Ukrainian president on July 5, met the requirements enshrined in the US legislation, thereby allowing the Pentagon to release the funds.

The Law on National Security provides a legislative framework for aligning Ukraine’s national security architecture with Euro-Atlantic principles. It is perceived as a major step toward achieving NATO interoperability.

The timing has a symbolic impact.  US President Donald Trump has come under harsh criticism for the remarks he made during a joint press conference after the summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16.  The announcement on military aid to Ukraine came on the same day the White House rejected a proposal from Russia to hold a referendum in eastern Ukraine on the fate of the region.

The possibility was raised by Vladimir Putin during the talks. Addressing Russian diplomats on July 19, President Putin said that any country pushing Ukraine or Georgia into the NATO fold “should think of the possible consequences of this irresponsible policy” because Russia would “respond in kind to any aggressive steps that directly threaten Russia.” Indeed, why should the US provide lethal weapons and training to a neighbor of Russia, not to mention its military presence in Ochakov? Russia has not sent weapons to any neighbors of the US, nor does it have a military presence near America’s borders.

Military cooperation between the US and Ukraine is a multilateral process that is moving forward. A US-Ukraine cyber-security bill has passed in the House.

So, cooperation in various areas is thriving, despite human-rights violations in Ukraine. This fact has been confirmed by a report from the State Department. The corruption in Ukraine is an internationally acknowledged problem. Popular protests are commonplace, despite the fact that the conflict in the Donbass is being used to distract the public from their domestic woes.

Many in the West are frustrated with the way Kiev is implementing reforms and with the political influence of the oligarchs.  A study by the prestigious Brookings Institute has confirmed the fact that the reforms in Ukraine have foundered. The country’s politicians are embracing extremist rhetoric.

But a blind eye is being turned to all of this, as Kiev grows obsequious and ready to comply with instructions from Washington. In late June, the Ukrainian government made a decision to buy American coal from Pennsylvania, which is said to be almost twice as expensive as what is locally sourced in the Donbass.

It has also decided to rely on cooperation with Westinghouse, in an attempt to maintain its nuclear energy capacity. The deal assumes that the spent fuel will be stored near the surface, turning the country into a nuclear dump.

Kiev has recently been rewarded with an official status in NATO. The 2018 NATO summit confirmed its support for Ukraine’s membership. To display its diligence Kiev has recently joined a new three-nation anti-Moscow alliance.

With the US-Russia two-way dialog on Ukraine stalled, Washington is no longer viewed as a mediator, but rather an accomplice who is fueling the conflict. America’s vigorous political support and security assistance is enticing Kiev into seeking a military solution to the crisis in the Donbass. Where could that lead?

Russia can supply the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine with weapons systems, including the Kornet anti-tank system, which has better specs than the US Javelin. Moscow could recognize the republics as independent states, once the Minsk II accords wash out. If Russian forces are invited in by the governments of those new republics, Moscow may agree to those requests, which would be an action strictly in compliance with international law.

This is the scenario the US and Ukraine may provoke.  They will have no one to blame but themselves.

Via Strategic Culture

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tomWillDippelchristianbloodnormski1John Vu Recent comment authors
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tom

“Ukraine’s government says its military will meet NATO standards by or during the year 2020”.

Meaning that it will then be prepared to be absolutely butchered if it ever tries to tackle the Russian armed forces.

WillDippel
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WillDippel

As shown in this article, there another European nation that is willing to spend billions of dollars to help NATO expand its presence:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/05/polands-open-invitation-to-united.html

While the drums of war may not yet be beating, the drummer is certainly sitting on his stool, drumsticks in hand and the American military-industrial complex is just waiting for the music to start.

christianblood
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christianblood

Russia should now provide more modern SAMs, radars and especially more anti-ship missiles to Iran.

normski1
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normski1

US military assistance for Ukraine can only end badly!.

John Vu
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John Vu

And Ukraine still “trumped”

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
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VeeNarian (Yerevan)

Banderised Ukraine needs mental assistance, urgently, before they are dumped in the dustbin of history.

Brewerstroupe
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Brewerstroupe
AmericanCossack
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AmericanCossack

Russia and China should be befriending the new Mexican President Lopez Obrador. Maybe a new joint Russian-Chinese military base in Tijuana would get the attention of those Russophobic a$$holes in Washington.

Penny Fulton
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Penny Fulton

For ‘assistance ‘ always read ‘occupation ‘ . Lucky old Ukraine people , now totally occupied by and forever beholden by debt to the USA !
Just as the UK Gov. agreed to be after the war, in exchange for a few beads and trinkets for the people .

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

The Duran

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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