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CONFIRMED: Russia deploys Kuznetsov aircraft carrier to defend Syrian coast

Russia’s use of its aircraft carrier in the Syrian conflict is principally intended to learn lessons for the design of more potent such warships in the future, rather than to change the situation in Syria itself.

Alexander Mercouris

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The Russian navy’s deployment of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean has provoked a very confused response in the Western media.

On the one hand it is described as a major escalation, as if the Admiral Kuznetsov was a US style supercarrier.  On the other hand there has been a great of deal of derision, with the ship called an obsolete rust bucket dangerous mainly to its crew.

Where does the truth lie?

The Admiral Kuznetsov is the first and only Russian aircraft carrier capable of launching fighter aircraft conventionally.  The preceding Kiev class carriers were smaller ships, which could only launch a small number of aircraft vertically.

Contrary to what reports say, Admiral Kuznetsov is by the standards of navy carriers a relatively new ship.  She was launched in 1985, commissioned in the then Soviet navy in 1990, but only became operational after prolonged trials in 1995.

The US navy currently operates 10 Nimitz class supercarriers.  If the age of a ship is determined by its date of launch; then three of the US navy’s Nimitz class supercarriers are older than Kuznetsov;  if by date of commission, then five are;  if by entry into service then six are.

The Russian navy had no previous experience of operating carriers, so the lengthy time scale of her sea trials between commission and entry into service is not surprising. 

In addition what undoubtedly extended this period before her full entry into service was the political and economic crisis Russia experienced during the 1990s.  Given the severity of this crisis, it is a wonder a ship as large and complicated as Kuznetsov was brought into service at all.

Either way talk of Kuznetsov as some sort of archaic ship from a bygone era is exaggerated, whilst jokes about Kuznetsov being “….practically old enough to have been deployed in the 1905 Russo-Japanese war….” are simply silly.

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The Admiral Kuznetsov is expected to deploy off Syria, carrying 15 warplanes, including new MiG-29K/KUB fighters and the Su-33a, shown here.

Aircraft carriers as it happens tend to be long-lived ships.  Coral Sea, a US Medway class carrier, served in the US Navy from 1947 to 1990.  By the standards of aircraft carriers Kuznetsov is not an old ship.

What is true about Kuznetsov is that because she was the first of a type of ship of which the Russians had no previous experience, and because of the fraught period during which she was commissioned and brought into service – which made it impossible to sort out her teething problems properly – Kuznetsov suffers by comparison with US navy carriers from design flaws and from engine problems.

The ship’s engines are unreliable, because they are insufficiently powerful for a ship of this size. 

The Russians when they built Kuznetsov lacked suitable nuclear reactors for this type of ship (they were designed for the intended follow-on Ulyanovsk carrier, which because of the 1990s crisis was however never built).  They also lacked conventional engines large enough for a ship of this size, which was roughly twice as heavy as the largest other ship the Russian or Soviet navy had commissioned before. 

The Russians accordingly came up with a complicated solution of using multiple steam turbines and turbo-pressurised boilers to make up for the lack of power of the individual engines.  Like all complicated arrangements, this arrangement is unreliable and prone to breakdown, with the engines experiencing stress especially in heavy seas.

To compound the trouble with the engines, they were built by a plant in what is now independent Ukraine.  As political relations between Russia and Ukraine deteriorated, servicing of the engines by this plant became increasingly erratic, and has now stopped completely.

It is these problems with the engines that account for the practice of accompanying Kuznetsov on long range deployments with a tug. 

The tug in question – the Nikolai Chiker – is the most powerful tug in the world.  This same tug played a key role in successfully hauling Kuznetsov’s uncompleted sister ship Varyag from Ukraine to China in 2005, where she has now become the Chinese carrier Liaoning.

The fact Kuznetsov is accompanied by a tug on long range deployments has provoked some derision.  However it is common practice in any navy to accompany large surface warships with service ships, and accompanying Kuznetsov with a tug ensures in Kuznetsov’s case that the carrier will get to where the Russian naval staff are sending it. The engine problems will not affect Kuznetsov’s Mediterranean deployment when the carrier finally reaches its position.

Kuznetsov suffers from other problems, which are unsurprising given that Kuznetsov is so much bigger and so different to any other ship the Russian navy has ever previously commissioned, and the unhappy times when it was launched. 

There are for example known to be problems with Kuznetsov’s water pipes, which have a history of breakdowns and of freezing up in Arctic weather.  These problems too however will not affect Kuznetsov’s capabilities as a warship when the carrier finally reaches the eastern Mediterranean, and the close proximity of Russian bases in Sevastopol and Tartus means they can be dealt with quickly if they arise.

Once this deployment is ended Kuznetsov will go through a lengthy refit, which unlike previous refits is intended to be practically a rebuild.  With Russia developing a new range of much larger and more powerful engines, Kuznetsov’s current unsatisfactory engines will finally be replaced, and the other teething problems like the problem with the water pipes will finally be addressed. 

Ultimately this is a potent warship, bigger than any other carrier other than those operated by the US navy, and once the refit is done it will be a powerful asset.  In the meantime the ship already provides the Russian fleet with a carrier capability matched by no other navy apart from that of the US. 

In saying this it is important to stress however that the US navy carrier force – with its 10 nuclear powered supercarriers – dwarfs the capability of any other navy, including Russia’s, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Neither the Kuznetsov, nor any other carrier the Russians might build, nor any other navy, can match or rival it.

A more pertinent criticism of Kuznetsov is that though Kuznetsov is a large ship (at 55,000 tonnes standard weight and with a 305 metre length Kuznetsov is midway between a US Medway class carrier and a US Forrestal class supercarrier) the air group it carries at 40-50 aircraft is relatively small (by comparison a smaller US Medway class carrier carried an air group of 75-80 aircraft in the 1980s).

This suggests that Kuznetsov is inefficient in its use of its spaces, a fact which again reflects Russian inexperience designing this sort of ship when Kuznetsov was built.  However it also partly reflects differences in Kuznetsov’s intended role. 

At the time Kuznetsov was built the Russians did not envisage using their carriers for the sort of long range carrier type operations carried out by the US navy.  Unlike US navy supercarriers Kuznetsov prioritises air defence of the fleet rather than long range strikes.  That explains why Kuznetsov’s fighter aircraft take off from the carrier using a ski jump rather than steam catapults. 

Ski jump takeoffs put less stress on the pilots and shorten takeoff times, enabling more aircraft to take off from the carrier more quickly, which can be important in an air defence situation.

The penalty is that aircraft are limited in the loads they can carry by comparison with aircraft launched by steam catapults.

For air defence – the purpose for which Kuznetsov was designed – this is unimportant since fighter aircraft carrying out air defence missions only carry light air to air missiles rather than heavy air to ground missiles and bombs. 

However it does significantly reduce the air group’s capability to carry out long range strikes.  Combined with the relatively small size of the air group, this means that Kuznetsov’s ability to carry out long range ground strikes is fractional compared to that of a US navy supercarrier.

If Kuznetsov is not really designed to carry out long range ground strikes, why are the Russians deploying Kuznetsov off the coast of Syria?

The plan to deploy Kuznetsov to the eastern Mediterranean was made many months ago, long before the recent collapse in relations with the US over Syria.  The decision therefore can have nothing to do with deterring the US from declaring a no fly zone over Syria, as some people are suggesting.

Most likely the intention is to gain experience operating aircraft against ground targets from an offshore carrier.  This is not something the Russians have ever done before.  Even if Kuznetsov’s capability to do it by comparison with a US navy supercarrier is marginal, the fighting in Syria does at least give the Russians an opportunity to try it out to find out how it is done and what it involves. 

That way they can learn lessons that will help them with the design of the far more powerful ships that are to come (see here and here).

In other words the deployment of the Kuznetsov to the eastern Mediterranean is essentially a training exercise.  It does not merit either the derision or the hype that has been created around it.

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Russia’s economy continues to outperform as gold takes center stage (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 118.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine how US and EU sanctions have continued to provide a huge boost to Russia’s economy. Russia’s food sovereignty has practically been achieved, as the Russian central bank continues to buy gold and lower its exposure to western financial markets.

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Via TASS…

Outside pressure in the form of sanctions has become an incentive to resolve various issues of Russia’s economy, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev stated in an interview with the Izvestiya daily.

He noted that through introducing sanctions against Russia, “the West aims to destabilize Russia’s economy and to create social and political tensions in society.”

“But during the difficult times, Russians have always stuck together and mobilized their resources in order to ensure the country’s sovereignty. This is what is happening now – the outside pressure has become an incentive to resolve many problems in Russia’s economy,” he said.

“Before the sanctions, it seemed that we would never be able to feed ourselves and that we are doomed to be dependent on Western import. However, right now, Russia’s food sovereignty in crucial sectors has practically been achieved, and in some areas, Russia has become the leading exporter,” Patrushev noted.

Those who apply the sanctions “can see that they (the sanctions – TASS) are ineffective and often achieve the opposite goal,” the Russian security chief concluded.

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US Neocon Foreign Policy and the War Waged Against Serbia

The Serbian assault began first by a ‘financial war’; by sanctions and finished off by an aggressive unprovoked incessant NATO bombing campaign.

Richard Galustian

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The ‘witch-hunt’ against President Trump over Russian collusion has officially ended, following the submission of the Mueller Report, enabling us to now focus on the real problems of America that effects the whole world.

In the hope of a waining of the Russophobia in America, let’s look at the US’s recent war history by starting with the 20th anniversary this month of the NATO war on Serbia in 1999 which amounted to almost 100 days of bombing of historic cities and infrastructure.

Firstly, these problems are, in the main caused by the Neocons, or Deep State, whatever you wish to call them, and the continuing promotion, by the US Military-Security Industrial Complex, of wars and regime change and secondly, Trump’s unreserved support for Israel, regardless of war crimes they may continue to commit against the Palestinians.

Incredibly after that one sided unjust and illegal war that NATO executed, NATO has the audacity to invite Serbia to join it! Something that will never happen. What do they smoke in DC, in the Pentagon and Brussels based NATO?

To compound these overall problems, the US Military and Israeli Defence Forces collaborate on these US regime change policies on all continents evidenced most recently by the arrival of crack Israeli troops last month in Brazil, prepared to support an attack potentially by Brazil and Columbia on Venezuela.

As, has now come to be expected, America pursues its Venezuelan regime change with full main stream media (MSM) cooperation, using well proven sophisticated propaganda techniques along with a variety of pretexts.

From Serbia to Iraq to Libya, where does it end? Observe that Trump is now seeking a ‘NATO alliance’ offering NATO status, to President Bolsonaro of Brazil to back the invasion of Venezuela.

So it is important to remember, as an example, that after a long war of economic and financial destabilization ended with the bombing of Serbia.

Serbia was previously a part of Yugoslavia, a country which had successfully evolved after 1945 to solve the old rivalries of the 19th and early 20th Century Balkan ethnic animosities which was, prior to the advent of power of President Tito, its past history.

The United Nations, instead of supporting, in effect, so called ‘humanitarian wars’ and ‘regime change wars’ by the US, using NATO, helped and relentlessly driven home by MSM outlets like CNN and FOX NEWS into people’s heads, must finally take a stand.

So too, Yugoslavia, once the envy of many in the world, given its then ‘non-aligned’ status under President Tito, was destroyed and broken up; ‘Balkanized’ in the early 1990s.

The Serbian assault began first by a ‘financial war’; by sanctions and finished off by an aggressive unprovoked incessant NATO bombing campaign. That’s what we can expect in Venezuela next.

This ‘Balkanization’ strategy similarly applies to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria et al. It serves US Neocon interests to dismember States in the world and create smaller more ‘manageable’ countries.

‘Regime change’ runs against the intent, the very words contained in the US Constitution. No one in MSM ever reminds us of that fact. Nevertheless America’s ambition to overthrow other States continues, which they arrogantly now make no secret of. The next States will probably be Nicaragua then Iran to name but two.

A very noteworthy most recent outrageous unilateral declaration was made by President Trump, not yet formally agreed by US institutions, ‘giving’ something he has no authority to give; Syrian territory, the Golan Heights to be precise, to Israel. Something that one day could trigger a full scale Arab-Israeli War.

This is of extreme importance yet no real outcry comes from world leaders; well not so far.

The main reason for that decision given by senior US Administration figures is that “God anointed Trump to save the Jews”.

Not forgetting Trump’s need (which we the people don’t understand exactly why) to support Prime Minister Netanyahu in his difficult upcoming elections in Israel – in part because both countries failed to ‘regime change’ Syria – but more importantly to help the ‘financial terrorists’ who formed a company jointly that has already started drilling for oil in the Golan Heights. You might like to know who owns such oil drilling company which should answer a plethora of questions in one go that you must be asking yourselves.

The shareholder’s names tells us everything; Dick Cheney; Baron Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch. The titular heads of neocons, bankers and media on the planet.

In ending there is no more evidence required for us, the people of the world, to rise up against the globalist dark forces wherever they exist, be it in Brussels, London, France or Washington. We must demand democratic elections or start revolutions, the latter has already begun in France in the form of ‘the yellow vests’. And Brexit, by definition, is a rejection by the British people of globalism and American Hegemony.

The pattern of US destabilization and destruction of States to loot them of their sovereign resources is the unseen history of the last 100 years, not taught in any university, anywhere in the West.

As far as Ukraine is concerned, its government was taken down by the CIA and replaced by an ultra fascist regime that has full backing from America. This is no secret. But the MSM simple don’t report it.

US led NATO is ‘the transnational war machine’ of the world, devouring almost all free countries wealth. It can extort to terrorize all into conformity to the global ‘carcinogenic’ US Neocon imperialistic strategy.

A total estimated 20m people around the world have died since the end of WW11 at the hands of US Forces. Think about that for a moment.

One of the most famous sayings attributed to America’s great President Abraham Lincoln is about deception: “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

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‘Dark day for internet freedom’: EU approves controversial copyright reform

Julia Reda, a German MEP with the Pirate Party, described it as a “dark day for internet freedom.”

RT

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The European Parliament has voted to adopt the highly controversial Article 13 provision which would govern the production and distribution of content online under the auspices of increasing copyright protections.

Tuesday’s move will update the EU’s 20-year-old copyright rules and will govern everything from audiovisual content to memes, much to the dismay of many social media users who have already begun outpouring their grief online.

MEPs passed the legislation by 348 votes to 274 Tuesday. Opponents had hoped for last-minute amendments to be made but their efforts were in vain.

Julia Reda, a German MEP with the Pirate Party, described it as a “dark day for internet freedom.”

Article 13 or ‘The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market’ makes all platforms legally responsible for the content hosted and shared on their platforms.

The process of updating the bloc’s copyright laws began in the European Commission two years ago, ostensibly to protect Europe’s publishers, broadcasters and artists and guarantee fair compensation from big tech companies.

By essentially forcing companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter to pay artists and publishers for the reproduction of their work online, include in meme format, the EU is effectively clamping down on online memery.

The onus will now be on tech companies to clamp down on content-sharing on their platforms, which will likely ensure yet more draconian policing of speech and content.

EU member states now have two years to pass their own laws putting Article 13 into effect.

Tens of thousands marched in protest across Germany ahead of the vote, decrying what they viewed as severe online censorship.

Tech giant Google said that while the directive is “improved” it will still lead to legal uncertainty and will damage Europe’s creative and digital economies.

Critics have argued that the only way for Article 13 to be effectively enforced would be through the use of upload filters which automatically check content to see if it’s copyrighted or not, at least in theory. However, the exact mechanics of such a system have yet to be fully debated and the potential for abuse is immediately clear.

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