Connect with us

RussiaFeed

News

Military

Russia and Belarus kick off impressive ‘Zapad 2017’ military drills

The Zapad 2017 international strategic military exercises take place from September 14-20 in Belarus and three regions in the western part of Russia.

Published

on

0 Views

Originally appeared on RT

The joint Russia-Belarus Zapad 2017 military exercises have kicked off amid ongoing hysteria from western officials and media over their nature, numbers and purpose. RT sums up several facts you need to know to draw your own conclusions.

The Zapad 2017 international strategic military exercises take place from September 14-20 in Belarus and three regions in the western part of Russia. The drills are held by Russia and Belarus every few years (the most recent drills were held in 2009 and 2013), with their timing announced months ahead. However, this year the maneuvers have become the subject of media hype and huge scrutiny by NATO amid further Russia scaremongering.

Moscow believes that “the wave of whipping up passions” around the drill is a provocation, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

READ MORE: Biggest war games kick off in Sweden to practice deterrent skills against Russia (VIDEOS)

“Everything is carried out in strict accordance with international law and relevant regulations,”

he said Thursday, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin may also attend the exercises.

The number of troops & equipment

The exercises involve up to 12,700 troops, a majority of which – 7,200 – are from Belarus, and the other 5,500 from Russia, according to official data from Russia’s Defense Ministry. Some 70 aircraft and 680 land vehicles, including 250 tanks, are also participating in the maneuvers.

Despite Moscow and Minsk repeatedly announcing the official numbers of personnel involved, some politicians have speculated over the figures, exaggerating them a dozen times over. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen claimed that the upcoming drills would involve over 100,000 troops on the eastern periphery of NATO, showing a “demonstration of capabilities and power of the Russians.” The Russian military were “astonished” by those“baseless figures,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement last Saturday.

In early September, Aleksandr Turchinov, the Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, came up with even more impressive estimates, saying that Zapad will involve around 240,000 troops as well as 10,000 pieces of military equipment and 100 aircraft, what contradicts any official data.

Drills are purely defensive

The Zapad 2017 drills have been designed to test the operational compatibility of the Russian and Belarusian military forces and to practice anti-terrorist operations. According to the drills scenario, extremist groups supported with arms and supplies from outside have penetrated to Belarus and Russia’s Kaliningrad Region to carry out terrorist attacks.

Moscow has repeatedly stressed that the maneuvers are purely defensive in nature and said that the imaginary aggressor does not refer to any particular nation state.

However, many have turned a deaf ear to Russia’s statements. In the run-up to the exercises, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite branded them “aggressive games directed against the West.” In July, Lieutenant-General Ben Hodges, commander of US Army forces in Europe, referred to exercises as a Trojan horse,” noting there were suspicions they could be used to move forces and equipment closer to NATO’s eastern flank.

“I would like to emphasize that apart from its anti-terrorist components, the Zapad-2017 exercise is of a purely defensive character,”

Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Fomin stated in August. He also blasted as a “myth” any allegations that they could be used as a basis to invade neighboring countries.

Russia & Belarus invited ‘anyone who wants to attend’

Speculation that the Zapad 2017 exercises are much larger than Russia has announced led to calls for more transparency. Despite the number of troops deployed under the drills not exceeding the threshold for mandatory monitoring stated in the 2011 Vienna document, Belarus has invited international monitors from various foreign countries to observe the active phase of the drills.

“We are not planning to attack anyone. In terms of what the drills will be like – we’ve invited almost anyone who wants to attend. Let them come and watch,”

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko stated in September.

In July, Belarusian Defense Minister Andrey Ravkov, also stressedthat international organizations, including the UN, NATO, and the OSCE, as well as more than 80 foreign observers, are invited to the drills since there is “nothing to conceal.”

While the world’s attention and criticism is focused on Zapad 2017, NATO and its allies have increased their military activity on Russia’s borders. For example, Sweden is holding its largest war games in over two decades, which coincide with the Russia-Belarus drills. Apart from exceeding the number of troops participating in Zapad 2017 by several thousand, the maneuvers are aimed to prepare for a possible Russian attack.

Moreover, around 40,000 NATO troops and allied forces have taken part in various military drills in Europe this summer, according to Air Force Brigadier General John Healy, who directs the drills of US forces in Europe. Eighteen NATO exercises, including Noble Partner in Georgia, occurred in the Black Sea Region alone, close to the Russian border, in summer 2017.

READ MORE: US plans ‘global’ drills to counter Russia & other ‘complex threats’ – top US military official

At the same time Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria joined separate US-led Saber Guardian 2017, which took place this summer. Around 25,000 service members from 22 allied and partner nations were involved in the drills, making them the largest of the 18 Black Sea region exercises this year.

Earlier, Ukraine hosted the US-led Sea Breeze 17 naval drills, involving around 2,500 troops and more than 30 ships from 17 participating countries.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

Published

on

Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

Published

on

Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from OrthoChristian.com:

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

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

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

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

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending