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

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

Vladimir Kozin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which conclusions can be drawn from all this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the alternatives?

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

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

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

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

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

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Russia calls on US to put a leash on Petro Poroshenko

The West’s pass for Mr. Poroshenko may blow up in NATO’s and the US’s face if the Ukrainian President tries to start a war with Russia.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russia called on Washington not to ignore the Poroshenko directives creating an active military buildup along the Ukrainian-Donbass frontier, this buildup consisting of Ukrainian forces and right-wing ultranationalists, lest it “trigger the implementation of a bloody scenario”, according to a Dec 11 report from TASS.

The [Russian] Embassy [to the US] urges the US State Department to recognize the presence of US instructors in the zone of combat actions, who are involved in a command and staff and field training of Ukraine’s assault airborne brigades. “We expect that the US will bring to reason its proteges. Their aggressive plans are not only doomed to failure but also run counter to the statements of the administration on its commitment to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine by political and diplomatic means,” the statement said.

This warning came after Eduard Basurin, the deputy defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic noted that the Ukrainian army was massing troops and materiel for a possible large-scale offensive at the Mariupol section of the contact line in Donbass. According to Basurin, this action is expected to take place on 14 December. TASS offered more details:

According to the DPR’s reconnaissance data, Ukrainian troops plan to seize the DPR’s Novoazovsky and Temanovsky districts and take control over the border section with Russia. The main attack force of over 12,000 servicemen has been deployed along the contact line near the settlements of Novotroitskoye, Shirokino, and Rovnopol. Moreover, more than 50 tanks, 40 multiple missile launcher systems, 180 artillery systems and mortars have been reportedly pulled to the area, Basurin added. Besides, 12 BM-30 Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers have been sent near Volodarsky.

The DPR has warned about possible provocations plotted by Ukrainian troops several times. Thus, in early December, the DPR’s defense ministry cited reconnaissance data indicating that the Ukrainian military was planning to stage an offensive and deliver an airstrike. At a Contact Group meeting on December 5, DPR’s Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova raised the issue of Kiev’s possible use of chemical weapons in the conflict area.

This is a continuation of the reported buildup The Duran reported in this article linked here, and it is a continuation of the full-scale drama that started with the Kerch Strait incident, which itself appears to have been staged by Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. Following that incident, the president was able to get about half of Ukraine placed under a 30-day period of martial law, citing “imminent Russian aggression.”

President Poroshenko is arguably a dangerous man. He appears to be desperate to maintain a hold on power, though his approval numbers and support is abysmally low in Ukraine. While he presents himself as a hero, agitating for armed conflict with Russia and simultaneously interfering in the affairs of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, he is actually one of the most dangerous leaders the world has to contend with, precisely because he is unfit to lead.

Such men and women are dangerous because their desperation makes them short-sighted, only concerned about their power and standing.

An irony about this matter is that President Poroshenko appears to be exactly what the EuroMaidan was “supposed” to free Ukraine of; that is, a stooge puppet leader that marches to orders from a foreign power and does nothing for the improvement of the nation and its citizens.

The ouster of Viktor Yanukovich was seen as the sure ticket to “freedom from Russia” for Ukraine, and it may well have been that Mr. Yanukovich was an incompetent leader. However, his removal resulted in a tryannical regíme coming into power, that resulting in the secession of two Ukrainian regions into independent republics and a third secession of strategically super-important Crimea, who voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia.

While this activity was used by the West to try to bolster its own narrative that Russia remains the evil henchman in Europe, the reality of life in Ukraine doesn’t match this allegation at all. A nation that demonstrates such behavior shows that there are many problems, and the nature of these secessions points at a great deal of fear from Russian-speaking Ukrainian people about the government that is supposed to be their own.

President Poroshenko presents a face to the world that the West is apparently willing to support, but the in-country approval of this man as leader speaks volumes. The West’s blind support of him “against Russia” may be one of the most tragic errors yet in Western foreign policy.

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Second Canadian Citizen Disappears In China

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea.

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Via Zerohedge…


For a trade war that was supposed to be between the US and China, Canada has found itself increasingly in the middle of the crossfire. And so after the arrest of a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in retaliation for the detention of the Huawei CFO in Vancouver, Canada said a second person has been questioned by Chinese authorities, further heightening tensions between the two countries.

The second person reached out to the Canadian government after being questioned by Chinese officials, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said, at which point Canada lost contact with him. His whereabouts are currently unknown and Global Affairs Canada said they are in contact with his family.

“We haven’t been able to make contact with him since he let us know about this,” Freeland told reporters Wednesday in Ottawa. “We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we have also raised this case with Chinese authorities.”

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea. He gained fame for helping arrange a visit to Pyongyang by former NBA player Dennis Rodman, and he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on that trip, the newspaper reported. Attempts to reach Spavor on his contact number either in China, or North Korean went straight to voicemail.

Spavor’s personal Facebook page contains several images of him with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un including one of him with both Jong-un and former Dennis Rodman at an undisclosed location.

Michael P. Spavor, right, pictured here with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, second from right, and Dennis Rodman.

Another image shows the two sharing a drink on a boat.

The unexplained disappearance takes place after China’s spy agency detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing on Monday, who was on leave from the foreign service. The arrest came nine days after Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. DOJ. While Canada has asked to see the former envoy after it was informed by fax of his arrest, Canada is unaware of Kovrig current whereabouts or the charges he faces.

“Michael did not engage in illegal activities nor did he do anything that endangered Chinese national security,” Rob Malley, chief executive officer of the ICG, said in a written statement. “He was doing what all Crisis Group analysts do: undertaking objective and impartial research.”

One possibility is that Kovrig may have been caught up in recent rule changes in China that affect non-governmental organizations, according to Bloomberg. The ICG wasn’t authorized to do work in China, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during a regular press briefing in Beijing Wednesday.

“We welcome foreign travelers. But if they engage in activities that clearly violate Chinese laws and regulations, then it is totally another story,” he said, adding he had no information on Kovrig specifically.

As Bloomberg further notes, foreign non-governmental organizations are now required to register with the Chinese authorities under a 2017 law that subjects them to stringent reporting requirements. Under the law, organizations without a representative office in China must have a government sponsor and a local cooperative partner before conducting activities. ICG said this is the first time they’ve heard such an accusation from the Chinese authorities in a decade of working with the country. The company closed its Beijing operations in December 2016 because of the new Chinese law, according to a statement. Kovrig was working out of the Hong Kong office.

Meanwhile, realizing that it is increasingly bearing the brunt of China’s retaliatory anger, Trudeau’s government distanced itself from Meng’s case, saying it can’t interfere with the courts, but is closely involved in advocating on Kovrig’s behalf.

So far Canada has declined to speculate on whether there was a connection between the Kovrig and Meng cases, with neither Freeland nor Canadian Trade Minister Jim Carr saying Wednesday that there is any indication the cases are related. Then again, it is rather obvious they are. Indeed, Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016 and worked with Kovrig, says the link is clear. “There’s no coincidence with China.”

“In this case, they couldn’t grab a Canadian diplomat because this would have created a major diplomatic incident,” he said. “Going after him I think was their way to send a message to the Canadian government and to put pressure.”

Even though Meng was granted bail late Tuesday, that did not placate China, whose foreign ministry spokesman said that “The Canadian side should correct its mistakes and release Ms. Meng Wanzhou immediately.”

The tension, according to Bloomberg,  may force Canadian companies to reconsider travel to China, and executives traveling to the Asian country will need to exercise extra caution, said Andy Chan, managing partner at Miller Thomson LLP in Vaughan, Ontario.

“Canadian business needs to look at and balance the reasons for the travel’’ between the business case and the “current political environment,’’ Chan said by email. Chinese officials subject business travelers to extra screening and in some case reject them from entering, he said.

Earlier in the day, SCMP reported that Chinese high-tech researchers were told “not to travel to the US unless it’s essential.”

And so, with Meng unlikely to be released from Canada any time soon, expect even more “Chinese (non) coincidences”, until eventually China does detain someone that the US does care about.

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Multipolar World Order in the Making: Qatar Dumps OPEC

Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The decision by Qatar to abandon OPEC threatens to redefine the global energy market, especially in light of Saudi Arabia’s growing difficulties and the growing influence of the Russian Federation in the OPEC+ mechanism.

In a surprising statement, Qatari energy minister Saad al-Kaabi warned OPEC on Monday December 3 that his country had sent all the necessary documentation to start the country’s withdrawal from the oil organization in January 2019. Al-Kaabi stressed that the decision had nothing to do with recent conflicts with Riyadh but was rather a strategic choice by Doha to focus on the production of LNG, which Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, is one of the largest global exporters of. Despite an annual oil extraction rate of only 1.8% of the total of OPEC countries (about 600,000 barrels a day), Qatar is one of the founding members of the organization and has always had a strong political influence on the governance of the organization. In a global context where international relations are entering a multipolar phase, things like cooperation and development become fundamental; so it should not surprise that Doha has decide to abandon OPEC. OPEC is one of the few unipolar organizations that no longer has a meaningful purpose in 2018, given the new realities governing international relations and the importance of the Russian Federation in the oil market.

Besides that, Saudi Arabia requires the organization to maintain a high level of oil production due to pressure coming from Washington to achieve a very low cost per barrel of oil. The US energy strategy targets Iranian and Russian revenue from oil exports, but it also aims to give the US a speedy economic boost. Trump often talks about the price of oil falling as his personal victory. The US imports about 10 million barrels of oil a day, which is why Trump wrongly believes that a decrease in the cost per barrel could favor a boost to the US economy. The economic reality shows a strong correlation between the price of oil and the financial growth of a country, with low prices of crude oil often synonymous of a slowing down in the economy.

It must be remembered that to keep oil prices low, OPEC countries are required to maintain a high rate of production, doubling the damage to themselves. Firstly, they take less income than expected and, secondly, they deplete their oil reserves to favor the strategy imposed by Saudi Arabia on OPEC to please the White House. It is clearly a strategy that for a country like Qatar (and perhaps Venezuela and Iran in the near future) makes little sense, given the diplomatic and commercial rupture with Riyadh stemming from tensions between the Gulf countries.

In contrast, the OPEC+ organization, which also includes other countries like the Russian Federation, Mexico and Kazakhstan, seems to now to determine oil and its cost per barrel. At the moment, OPEC and Russia have agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day, contradicting Trump’s desire for high oil output.

With this last choice Qatar sends a clear signal to the region and to traditional allies, moving to the side of OPEC+ and bringing its interests closer in line with those of the Russian Federation and its all-encompassing oil and gas strategy, two sectors in which Qatar and Russia dominate market share.

In addition, Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey (a future energy hub connecting east and west as well as north and south) and Venezuela. In this sense, the meeting between Maduro and Erdogan seems to be a prelude to further reorganization of OPEC and its members.

The declining leadership role of Saudi Arabia in the oil and financial market goes hand in hand with the increase of power that countries like Qatar and Russia in the energy sectors are enjoying. The realignment of energy and finance signals the evident decline of the Israel-US-Saudi Arabia partnership. Not a day goes by without corruption scandals in Israel, accusations against the Saudis over Khashoggi or Yemen, and Trump’s unsuccessful strategies in the commercial, financial or energy arenas. The path this doomed

trio is taking will only procure less influence and power, isolating them more and more from their opponents and even historical allies.

Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi, the Eurasian powerhouses, seem to have every intention, as seen at the trilateral summit in Buenos Aires, of developing the ideal multipolar frameworks to avoid continued US dominance of the oil market through shale revenues or submissive allies as Saudi Arabia, even though the latest spike in production is a clear signal from Riyadh to the USA. In this sense, Qatar’s decision to abandon OPEC and start a complex and historical discussion with Moscow on LNG in the format of an enlarged OPEC marks the definitive decline of Saudi Arabia as a global energy power, to be replaced by Moscow and Doha as the main players in the energy market.

Qatar’s decision is, officially speaking, unconnected to the feud triggered by Saudi Arabia against the small emirate. However, it is evident that a host of factors has led to this historic decision. The unsuccessful military campaign in Yemen has weakened Saudi Arabia on all fronts, especially militarily and economically. The self-inflicted fall in the price of oil is rapidly consuming Saudi currency reserves, now at a new low of less than 500 billion dollars. Events related to Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) have de-legitimized the role of Riyadh in the world as a reliable diplomatic interlocutor. The internal and external repression by the Kingdom has provoked NGOs and governments like Canada’s to issue public rebukes that have done little to help MBS’s precarious position.

In Syria, the victory of Damascus and her allies has consolidated the role of Moscow in the region, increased Iranian influence, and brought Turkey and Qatar to the multipolar side, with Tehran and Moscow now the main players in the Middle East. In terms of military dominance, there has been a clear regional shift from Washington to Moscow; and from an energy perspective, Doha and Moscow are turning out to be the winners, with Riyadh once again on the losing side.

As long as the Saudi royal family continues to please Donald Trump, who is prone to catering to Israeli interests in the region, the situation of the Kingdom will only get worse. The latest agreement on oil production between Moscow and Riyad signals that someone in the Saudi royal family has probably figured this out.

Countries like Turkey, India, China, Russia and Iran understand the advantages of belonging to a multipolar world, thereby providing a collective geopolitical ballast that is mutually beneficial. The energy alignment between Qatar and the Russian Federation seems to support this general direction, a sort of G2 of LNG gas that will only strengthen the position of Moscow on the global chessboard, while guaranteeing a formidable military umbrella for Doha in case of a further worsening of relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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