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The ‘Wolfowitz Doctrine’ is propelling the US towards nuclear war with Russia

Former Deputy Defense Secrerary Paul Wolfowitz authored the document which has dominated US strategic thinking since the early nineties

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(New Eastern Outlook) – Who today knows the name of Paul Wolfowitz? He was neither a Congressman, Senator, nor governor, yet until this month, official US ‘defense’ policy has borne his name.

A former President of the World Bank and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, following the 1991 Persian Gulf Warthe neo-conservative he authored the “Defense Planning Guidance of 1992″, which came to be known as the Wolfowitz Doctrine. Intended to “set the nations direction for the next century,” its first objective was “to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival.” In case the reader didn’t immediately get the message, it is spelled out as deterring’ potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role’ by maintaining ‘unquestioned military superiority and, if necessary, employ[ing] force unilaterally.

Both Colin Powell and President Bush objected to this brash approach to world affairs, so before becoming known as the Bush Doctrine it was rewritten in milder languageSince 2009, at the Foreign Policy Initiative think tank, Wolfowitz has advocated for the troop surge in the Afghanistan Warand direct military strikes in Syria, continuing to lament an “absence of American leadership, as global pressure against the American-led international order intensifies.

Imagine now as candidate for the presidency, a real estate magnate enamored of ‘deals’ declares “Wouldn’t it be better if we could be friends with Russia?” From there, it’s a straight line to a Special Counsel being appointed by the Justice Department to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and President Putin.

Russia went from being a rival to be contained, to an ‘adversary’, then imperceptibly, an ‘enemy’, by supporting two breakaway regions of Ukraine after the US — in full view of the world — used Neo-nazi militias to carry out a coup against a democratically elected president who continued historical close ties with Russia. While loudly defend-ing ‘human rights’, Washington claims that Russian-speaking Ukrainians are not entitled to separate themselves from a regime that flouts Nazi insignia, calls them ‘cockroaches’ (burning some alive), and makes use of their language illegal.

Given these events, could Russia count on that same Kiev government to respect the permanent lease of a naval station in Crimea dating back to Catherine the Great? Or might prudence have dictated it encourage Crimea’s Russian-speaking population to act on its long-held desire to once again be a part of Russia? Could the presence of ‘little green men’ to ensure that a referendum was carried out without interference possibly be construed as an attack? For daring once again wield sovereignty over a territory that houses its only warm water naval base, Russia has become an ‘enemy’ of the West!

By a large margin, Americans believe that every effort should be made to avoid using nuclear weapons. They do not know that per the twenty-five year old Wolfowitz Doctrine, their country is building a case for nuclear war with the other major nuclear power. Russian ‘behavior’ (the word invariably spoken in the tone of an adult disciplining a child) in its own back yard justifies stationing NATO forces along its entire western border with Europe, then condemning its inevitable military build-up in response: Americans are gradually being accustomed to the idea that the inevitable use of nukes this situation could set off would be merely a temporary detour on the path of human progress.

Aside from ‘invading’ Ukraine’, Russia is guilty of having ‘interfered’ in the American election, now consistently referred to as ‘America’s ‘Democracy’. (Since the highest court baptized corporations as people, allowing them to spend unlimited money to help their candidates win elections, these are now referred to as Democracy with a capital D, the media breathlessly highlighting the amounts candidates raise, rather than the ideas they espouse.) This system had for decades brought to power candidates fully committed to the Wolfowitz Doctrine of unchallengeable American world hegemony. And in 2016, Hillary Clinton was its most fervent adept, consistently attacking the President of Russia.

Since the election, Vladimir Putin’s sin is not to have drawn a sword, but to have perhaps electronically tipped the scale toward peace and cooperation with the US — any other policy being tantamount to treason vis a vis the Russian people.

A century ago, Americans were taught to regard Russia as an ‘evil empire’ for having embraced a political philosophy intended to ensure the well-being of the 99%, (whether or not it succeeded). When, after seventy years of trying, it executed a stunning turnaround, allowing capitalism to flourish (creating many crooks and billionaires in the process), American policymakers could have applauded. Instead, fearing a capitalist Russia as much as a socialist one, the Wolfowitz Doctrine issued a year later, in 1992, called for the US to carve up the world’s largest country into loyal fiefdoms to ensure continuing American world hegemony.

Only now superseded by the Trump Doctrine, its purpose was to “prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union, whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.” This grammatical construction, whether or not deliberate, conveys the fact that Russia’s crime is to possess resources that could enable it to dominate the US. When the Wolfowitz doctrine, intended to ensure that no country is ever able to challenge American hegemony, was leaked to the New York Times, Senator Edward Kennedy described it as “a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept.” Rewritten in softer language, when the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan — neither of which could possibly challenge American hegemony – in its name, it became known as the Bush Doctrine.

The new version declared:

Our most fundamental goal is to deter or defeat attack from whatever source… The second goal is to strengthen and extend the system of defense arrangements that binds democratic and like-minded nations together in common defense against aggression, build habits of cooperation, avoid the re-nationalization of security policies, and provide security at lower costs and with lower risks for all. Our preference for a collective response to preclude threats or, if necessary, to deal with them is a key feature of our regional defense strategy. The third goal is to preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the re-emergence of a global threat to the interests of the U.S. and our allies.

Continued uninterruptedly at the cost of thousands of foreign lives, some might see in this doctrine echoes of Hitlers plan for a thousand year Reich, but sadly, most Americans believe their country is ‘generously’ exercising ‘benevolent oversight’ over an innocent, rules-based order of its creation. Ready to condemn Donald Trump’s challenge to the principle of US world dominance, they approve the pursuit of those who, having helped him get elected, are accused of ‘collusion with a foreign power’ (foreign powers having been America’s nemesis since the days of its ‘revolutionary’ separation from Great Britain).

Although Russia and China are the only countries capable of challenging US dominance, they have made no threats. Vladimir Putin’s crime was to have proposed, in a landmark speech to the 2007 Munich International Security Conference, an international architecture in which the four or five regional powers would cooperate on the international stage to ensure peace and prosperity for all.

Stunningly, from the very first paragraph, Donald trump’s security doctrine lifts its principles straight from that speech, calling, exactly like his Russian counterpart, for a world of strong, sovereign, and independent nations, each with its own cultures and dreams, thriving side- by-side in prosperity, freedom, and peace—throughout the upcoming years...”

Since any form of power-sharing contradicts the Wolfowitz/Bush doctrine, the US responded to Putin’s Munich speech by fomenting a series of color revolutions, in Georgia in 2008, and in Ukraine in 2014. Then, it positioned NATO forces along Russia’s entire Western border as a prelude to carving it up before taking on the more formidable other major power, China.

It’s no surprise that candidate Trump’s foreign policy declarations set off a concerted effort to legally sideline him once elected. Erroneously convinced he is the boss, Trump ordered his Security Doctrine to be codified:

China and Russia want to shape a world antithetical to U.S. values and interests. China seeks to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model, and reorder the region in its favor. Russia seeks to restore its great power status and establish spheres of influence near its borders. The intentions of both nations are not necessarily fixed. The United States stands ready to cooperate across areas of mutual interest with both countries.

In addition, after being dismissed as a phenomenon of an earlier century, great power competition returned. China and Russia began to reassert their influence regionally and globally. Today, they are fielding military capabilities designed to deny America access in times of crisis and to contest our ability to operate freely in critical commercial zones during peacetime. In short, they are contesting our geopolitical advantages and trying to change the international order in their favor.

As President Putin in his New Years’ address calls for pragmatic dialogueTrump formally criticizes ‘authoritarian regimes’, while pursuing that same objective, which if pointed out, would be approved by voters of both parties. Unlike Bush/Cheney/Obama, Trump’s concern is with the pursuit of our commercial interests, rather than with power as an absolute. To secure these interests (while satisfying the arms industry), Trump calls for the United States to overmatch” its adversariesdescribed as:

.“the combination of capabilities in sufficient scale to prevent enemy success and to ensure that Americas sons and daughters will never be in an unfair fight. Overmatch strengthens our diplomacy and permits us to shape the international environment to protect our interests. To retain military overmatch the United States must restore our ability to produce innovative capabilities, restore the readiness of our forces for major war, and grow the size of the force so that it is capable of operating at sufficient scale and for ample duration to win across a range of scenarios.”

This policy is justified by the desire to “create wealth for Americans and our allies and partners.(‘Enemies’ or even ‘rivals’ are in Trump’s view ‘competitors’, and prosperous states are stronger security partners who are able to share the burden of confronting competitors.”) –In support of this view, America’s ‘Priority Actions’ are:

  • REINFORCE ECONOMIC TIES WITH ALLIES AND PARTNERS: We will strengthen economic ties as a core aspect of our relationships with like-minded states and use our economic expertise, markets, and resources to bolster states threatened by our competitors.
  • DEPLOY ECONOMIC PRESSURE ON SECURITY THREATS: We will use existing and pursue new economic authorities and mobilize international actors to increase pressure on threats to peace and security in order to resolve confrontations short of military action.
  • SEVER SOURCES OF FUNDING: We will deny revenue to terrorists, WMD proliferators, and other illicit actors in order to constrain their ability to use and move funds to support hostile acts and operations.

INFORMATION STATECRAFT

Americas competitors weaponize information to attack the values and institutions that underpin free societies, while shielding themselves from outside information. They exploit marketing techniques to target individuals based upon their activities and interests.

COMMON THREATS. Fair and reciprocal trade, investments, and exchanges of knowledge deepen our alliances and partnerships, which are necessary to succeed in today’s competitive geopolitical environment.

Trump replaces unchallengeable world hegemony with an “America First” foreign policy [that] “celebrates Americas influence in the world as a positive force that can help set the conditions for peace and prosperity and for developing successful societies.”

We are not going to impose our values on others. Our alliances, partnerships, and coalitions are built on free will and shared interests. When the United States partners with other states, we develop policies that enable us to achieve our goals while our partners achieve theirs.

Today, the United States must compete for positive relationships around the world. China and Russia target their investments in the developing world to expand influence and gain competitive advantages against the United States. China is investing billions of dollars in infrastructure across the globe. Russia, too, projects its influence economically, through the control of key energy and other infrastructure throughout parts of Europe and Central Asia. The United States provides an alternative to state-directed investments, which often leave developing countries worse off. The United States pursues economic ties not only for market access but also to create enduring relationships to advance common political and security interests.

PRIVATE SECTOR ACTIVITY AND RULE OF LAW. The United States will shift away from a reliance on assistance based on grants to approaches that attract private capital and catalyze private sector activity. We will emphasize reforms that unlock the economic potential of citizens, such as the promotion of formal property rights, entrepreneurial reforms, and infrastructure improvements—projects that help people earn their livelihood and have the added benefit of helping U.S. businesses. By mobilizing both public and private resources, the United States can help maximize returns and outcomes and reduce the burden on U.S. Government resources.

Here, Trump deliberately misrepresents an adversary: while most African countries welcome the fact that China builds infrastructure without requiring reciprocal purchases (unlike the US), Trump takes advantage of American ignorance to claim that:

Unlike the state-directed mercantilism of some competitors that can disadvantage recipient nations and promote dependency, the purpose of U.S. foreign assistance should be to end the need for it. The United States seeks strong partners, not weak ones. American-led investments represent the most sustainable and responsible approach to development and offer a stark contrast to the corrupt, opaque, exploitive, and low-quality deals offered by authoritarian states.

Continuing an apparent condemnation of authoritarianism, Trumps states that:

Actors have long recognized the power of multilateral bodies and have used them to advance their interests and limit the freedom of their own citizens. If the United States cedes leadership of these bodies to adversaries, opportunities to shape developments that are positive for the United States will be lost. All institutions are not equal, however. The United States will prioritize its efforts in those organizations that serve American interests, to ensure that they are strengthened and supportive of the United States, our allies, and our partners. Where existing institutions and rules need modernizing, the United States will lead to update them. At the same time, it should be clear that the United States will not cede sovereignty to those that claim authority over American citizens and are in conflict with our constitutional framework.

EXERCISE LEADERSHIP IN POLITICAL AND SECURITY BODIES: The United States will strive for outcomes in political and security forums that are consistent with U.S. interests and values, which are shared by our allies and partners. The United Nations can help contribute to solving many of the complex problems in the world, but it must be reformed and recommit to its founding principles. We will require accountability and emphasize shared responsibility among members. If the United States is asked to provide a disproportion- ate level of support for an institution, we will expect a commensurate degree of influence over the direction and efforts of that institution.

Although the menace of Soviet communism is gone, new threats test our will. Russia is using subversive measures to weaken the credibility of Americas commitment to Europe, undermine transatlantic unity, and weaken European institutions and governments. With its invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, Russia demonstrated its willingness to violate the sovereignty of states in the region. Russia continues to intimidate its neighbors with threatening behavior, such as nuclear posturing and the forward deployment of offensive capabilities.

The United States will deepen collaboration with our European allies and partners to confront forces threatening to undermine our common values, security interests, and shared vision. The United States and Europe will work together to counter Russian subversion and aggression, and the threats posed by North Korea and Iran. We will continue to advance our shared principles and interests in international forums.

For Washington bureaucrats, who remain the same from one president to the next, Wolfowitz will always be the law of the land. Trips to Moscow are invariably construed as ‘political’ and criminalized by the FBI. Even at home, Americans are required to signal any encounter with Russians to the FBI! Saudi Arabia can bomb tiny Yemen to smithereens in the biggest ethnic cleansing ever, but talking to Russians can land you in jail. The Republican Party — which had been dragged kicking and screaming behind Trump in the 2016 election, is now vociferously demanding an investigation of the FBI itself, in order to derail its investigation of the President’s Russian ties.

Whether or not one applauds the election of Donald Trump, it should be obvious that if the nuclear great powers do not maintain friendly relations, the future of mankind is in jeopardy. Why should Russia’s ‘behavior’ in its own back yard justify plans for war? Why, instead of praising those who reach out to Russia, is the deep state threatening to ruin their lives? Why do those who hope that President Trump will not challenge North Korea to a nuclear exchange not also worry about the missiles we installed in Europe, to be launched against Russia should a US-dominated Old World decide it’s had enough of Uncle Sam’s ‘solicitude’?

The commercialization of every aspect of their lives has brought much harm to Americans, and now they need to stop focusing on their commercially-oriented president’s puerile tweets, and hope that in foreign policy, he manages to gain the upper hand over Wolfowitz before it’s too late.

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Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

Neocons make the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

The Duran

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Authored by Erik D’Amato via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:


If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury.

With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation.But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable…

To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

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At Age 70, Time To Rethink NATO

The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”

So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.

NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.

And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.

The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.

Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.

Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.

In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.

The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.

As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers — West Germany, France, Britain, Italy. Twelve nations agreed that an attack on one would be treated as an attack on them all.

Cross the Elbe and you are at war with us, including the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal, Stalin was, in effect, told. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned to Europe to send the message that America was serious.

Crucial to the alliance was the Yalta line dividing Europe agreed to by Stalin, FDR and Churchill at the 1945 Crimean summit on the Black Sea.

U.S. presidents, even when monstrous outrages were committed in Soviet-occupied Europe, did not cross this line into the Soviet sphere.

Truman did not send armored units up the highway to Berlin. He launched an airlift to break the Berlin blockade. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian rebels in 1956. JFK confined his rage at the building of the Berlin Wall to the rhetorical: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

LBJ did nothing to help the Czechs when, before the Democratic convention in 1968, Leonid Brezhnev sent Warsaw Pact tank armies to crush the Prague Spring.

When the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa was crushed in Gdansk, Reagan sent copy and printing machines. At the Berlin Wall in 1988, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Reagan never threatened to tear it down himself.

But beginning in 1989, the Wall was torn down, Germany was united, the Red Army went home, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the USSR broke apart into 15 nations, and Leninism expired in its birthplace.

As the threat that had led to NATO disappeared, many argued that the alliance created to deal with that threat should be allowed to fade away, and a free and prosperous Europe should now provide for its own defense.

It was not to be. The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

This, said Kennan, would “inflame the nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations.” Kennan was proven right.

America is now burdened with the duty to defend Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic, even as we face a far greater threat in China, with an economy and population 10 times that of Russia.

And we must do this with a defense budget that is not half the share of the federal budget or the GDP that Eisenhower and Kennedy had.

Trump is president today because the American people concluded that our foreign policy elite, with their endless interventions where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled, had bled and virtually bankrupted us, while kicking away all of the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Halfway into Trump’s term, the question is whether he is going to just talk about halting Cold War II with Russia, about demanding that Europe pay for its own defense, and about bringing the troops home — or whether he is going to act upon his convictions.

Our foreign policy establishment is determined to prevent Trump from carrying out his mandate. And if he means to carry out his agenda, he had best get on with it.

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Photos of new Iskander base near Ukrainian border creates media hype

But research into the photos and cross-checking of news reports reveals only the standard anti-Russian narrative that has gone on for years.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News obtained satellite photos that claim that Russia has recently installed new Iskander missile batteries, one of them “near” to the Ukrainian border. However, what the Fox article does not say is left for the reader to discover: that in regards to Ukraine, these missiles are probably not that significant, unless the missiles are much longer range than reported:

The intelligence report provided to Fox by Imagesat International showed the new deployment in Krasnodar, 270 miles from the Ukrainian border. In the images is visible what appears to be an Iskander compound, with a few bunkers and another compound of hangars. There is a second new installation that was discovered by satellite photos, but this one is much farther to the east, in the region relatively near to Ulan-Ude, a city relatively close to the Mongolian border.

Both Ukraine and Mongolia are nations that have good relations with the West, but Mongolia has good relations with both its immediate neighbors, Russia and China, and in fact participated with both countries in the massive Vostok-2018 military war-games earlier this year.

Fox News provided these photos of the Iskander emplacement near Krasnodar:

Imagesat International

Fox annotated this photo in this way:

Near the launcher, there is a transloader vehicle which enables quick reloading of the missiles into the launcher. One of the bunker’s door is open, and another reloading vehicle is seen exiting from it.

[Fox:] The Iskander ballistic missile has a range up to 310 miles, and can carry both unconventional as well as nuclear warheads, putting most of America’s NATO allies at risk. The second deployment is near the border with Mongolia, in Ulan-Ude in Sothern Russia, where there are four launchers and another reloading vehicle.

[Fox:] Earlier this week, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said authorities of the former Soviet republic are being “controlled” by the West, warning it stands to lose its independence and identity as a consequence. “The continuation of such policy by the Kiev authorities can contribute to the loss of Ukraine’s statehood,” Mr Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This situation was placed by Fox in context with the Kerch Strait incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four crew and soldiers were fired upon by Russian coast guard ships as they manuevered in the Kerch Strait without permission from Russian authorities based in Crimea. There are many indications that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, to create a sensational incident, possibly to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. After the incident, the President blustered and set ten provinces in Ukraine under martial law for 30 days, insisting to the world, and especially to the United States, that Russia was “preparing to invade” his country.

Russia expressed no such sentiment in any way, but they are holding the soldiers until the end of January. However, on January 17th, a Moscow court extended the detention of eight of these captured Ukrainian sailors despite protests from Kyiv and Washington.

In addition to the tensions in Ukraine, the other significant point of disagreement between the Russian Federation and the US is the US’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia sees this treaty as extremely important, but the US point of view expressed by John Bolton, National Security Adviser, is that the treaty is useless because it does not include any other parties that have intermediate range nukes or the capability for them, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. This is an unsolved problem, and it is possible that the moves of the Iskander batteries is a subtle warning from the Russians that they really would rather the US stay in the treaty.

Discussions on this matter at public levels between the Russian government and the US have been very difficult because of the fierce anti-Russia and anti-Trump campaigns in the media and political establishments of the United States. President Putin and President Trump have both expressed the desire to meet, but complications like the Kerch Strait Incident conveniently arise, and have repeatedly disrupted the attempts for these two leaders to meet.

Where Fox News appears to get it wrong shows in a few places:

First, the known range for Iskander missiles maxes at about 310 miles. The placement of the battery near Krasnodar is 270 miles from the eastern Ukrainian border, but the eastern part of Ukraine is Russian-friendly and two provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, are breakaway provinces acting as independent republics. The battery appears to be no threat to Kyiv or to that part of Ukraine which is aligned with the West. Although the missiles could reach into US ally Georgia, Krasnodar is 376 miles from Tbilisi, and so again it seems that there is no significant target for these missiles. (This is assuming the location given is accurate.)

Second, the location shown in the photo is (44,47,29.440N at 39,13,04.754E). The date on the “Krasnodar” photo is January 17, 2019. However, a photo of the region taken July 24, 2018 reveals a different layout. It takes a moment or two to study this, but there is not much of an exact match here:

Third, Fox News reported of “further Russian troops deployment and S-400 Surface to air missile days after the escalation started, hinting Russia might have orchestrated the naval incident.”

It may be true that Russia deployed weapons to this base area in Crimea, but this is now Russian territory. S-400s can be used offensively, but their primary purpose is defensive. Troops on the Crimean Peninsula, especially at this location far to the north of the area, are not in a position strategically to invade Kherson Oblast (a pushback would probably corner such forces on the Crimean peninsula with nowhere to go except the Black Sea). However, this does look like a possible defense installation should Ukraine’s forces try to invade or bomb Crimea.

Fox has this wrong, but it is no great surprise, because the American stance about Ukraine and Russia is similar – Russia can do no right, and Ukraine can do no wrong. Fox News is not monolithic on this point of view, of course, with anchors and journalists such as Tucker Carlson, who seem willing to acknowledge the US propaganda about the region. However, there are a lot of hawks as well. While photos in the articles about the S-400s and the Russian troops are accurately located, it does appear that the one about Iskanders is not, and that the folks behind this original article are guessing that the photos will not be questioned. After all, no one in the US knows where anything is in Russia and Ukraine, anyway, right?

That there is an issue here is likely. But is it appears that there is strong evidence that it is opposite what Fox reported here, it leaves much to be questioned.

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