Category Archives: Russia

Congress Seeks U.S. Military Response to Russian Treaty Violation

Congress Seeks U.S. Military Response to Russian Treaty Violation

Administration ignores Moscow’s illegal nuclear cruise missile

Vladimir Putin

BY:

The House Armed Services Committee approved legislation last week that would require the Pentagon to deploy new weapons in two years to counter Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

The fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill considered by the committee last week contains language that directs the president, secretary of defense, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to evaluate and develop new U.S. and allied weapons in response to Russia’s failure to explain its new intermediate-range cruise missile.

The legislation, contained in the $604.2 billion authorization bill, states that the U.S. government has been negotiating with Russia since 2013 on the violation and to date “the Russian Federation has failed to respond to these efforts in any meaningful way.”

“For years, we’ve been urging the Obama administration to get serious about Russia’s violation of the INF treaty,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces.

“Its response: we’re talking to Russia,” said Rogers, who sponsored the provision. “While Obama talks, Putin cheats on treaties and invades his neighbors. We must take Russia’s actions seriously, and this authorization of DOD funding does just that. The United States will not be unilaterally bound by any treaty.”

Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of the U.S. European Command and NATO commander, said the Russian INF violation “can’t go unanswered.”

“We need to first and foremost signal that we cannot accept this change and that, if this change is continued, that we will have to change the cost calculus for Russia in order to help them to find their way to a less bellicose position,” Breedlove said. His remarks, made in April 2014, were quoted in the bill.

Additionally, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month that the United States must make clear to Russia that there will be political, diplomatic, and “potentially military costs” for the treaty violation. “It concerns me greatly,” Dempsey has said.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated during his Senate nomination hearing in February that options were being studied. He warned Russia that treaty limits were a “two-way street” and suggested the U.S. military could build missiles that it agreed not to build under the 1987 accord.

The bill would require the president to submit formal notification to Congress within 30 days on Russia’s testing and deployment of missiles that violate the treaty and on whether Moscow has begun to take steps for full compliance and verification to correct any violations.

If Russia fails to return to full compliance, with inspections and verification, the Pentagon should begin preparing “military response options,” the legislation states.

The options include “counterforce” capabilities that could prevent intermediate-range ground-launched ballistic and cruise missile attacks, including weapons acquired from allies.

Additionally, Congress wants the Pentagon to begin developing unspecified “counterforce capabilities” and “countervailing strike capabilities”—presumably similar or asymmetric nuclear strike capabilities “to enhance the armed forces of the United States or allies of the United States.”

The legislation authorizes using funds for research, development, testing, and evaluation, noting that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs can prioritize those weapons that will be fielded within two years.

The INF treaty bans ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 310 miles and 3,417 miles. The United States eliminated all its Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Russian officials have said the INF treaty has constrained their defenses and noted concerns about the large buildup of Chinese INF-range ballistic and cruise missiles as one reason for Moscow apparently jettisoning the INF accord.

The Obama administration has sought to play down the INF violation, first disclosed formally last year in a State Department arms compliance report.

Russia’s INF missile banned under the accord has been identified in published reports as the Iskander M ground-launched cruise missile. The missile, also known as the R-500, is a cruise missile variant of the Iskander short-range ballistic missile.

Moscow has denied violating the treaty and countered U.S. charges by claiming the United States has violated the treaty through a target missile and drone – both of which are not covered by the treaty. The U.S. has denied Moscow’s counter charges.

Critics on Capitol Hill, however, said State Department arms control officials, led by Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, have sought to play down or ignore the INF violation in order to try to preserve the arms control agenda with Moscow.

Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told the congressional hearing in December that there were no plans to withdraw from the INF and that efforts were being undertaken to bring Russia back into compliance.

The House bill will need to be reconciled with a Senate version in the coming months. Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain (R., Ariz.) said during a hearing March 19 that the new INF weapon is a “a nuclear ground-launched cruise missile.”

In March, Brian McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that one option for the United States would be to deploy a ground-launched cruise missile in Europe and that such a deployment would require withdrawing from INF.

“What we are looking at in terms of options, countermeasures, some of which are compliant with the treaty, some of which would not be,” he said.

The options ranged from bolstering defenses of NATO and U.S. sites in Europe, preventive measures and then “countervailing strike capabilities to go after other Russian targets.”

Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon arms control official, said the legislation is very useful.

“There must be a congressional push for a response to Russian violation of the INF Treaty or there won’t be any,” he said.

“While I believe that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is sincere when he talked about the need for a U.S. response, I do not believe that this is the case within the Department of State arms control bureau.”

Schneider stated that in addition to the illegal cruise missile, Russia cheating is much broader.

“In particular, there has been a recent development on the issue of whether Russian ABM systems and surface-to-air missiles have the prohibited capability to attack ground targets with nuclear warheads at INF range,” he said.

For example, Russian military analysts have reported that Russia’s S-300 anti-missile system has a ground attack capability close to INF range.

“With the Russian sale of the S-300 to Iran, this issue takes on greater significance,” Schneider said.

David S. Sullivan, a former Senate arms control specialist and former CIA analyst who first exposed Moscow’s cheating on the SALT arms treaty in the 1970s, said effective arms control treaties require effective verification and compliance.

“Violators must pay a price,” Sullivan said. “The Reagan defense build-up was the price the U.S. paid to deal with Soviet arms control cheating, and it ultimately caused the Soviets to bankrupt themselves in response.”

The U.S. response today to several confirmed INF treaty violations should also be programmatic, Sullivan said, including deployment of “offsetting cruise missile deployment to NATO and more strategic missile defenses.”

“Neither would cost very much, but they would be effective bolsters to deterrence,” he said.

A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the legislation. A spokesman for the Russian Embassy did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

According to the bill, other treaties that Russia appears to be violating include the Open Skies Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Vienna Document, the Budapest Memorandum, the Istanbul Commitments, the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Moscow also recently withdrew from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, raising new doubts about its arms control commitments.

Other Russia-related provisions of the bill call on the Pentagon to notify Congress of Russian transfers or sales of Club-K cruise missiles, weapons disguised in launchers that appear to be shipping containers. The military also would be required to develop a strategy to defeat the Club-K.

Another measure calls for the Pentagon to provide quarterly notifications to Congress of Russian preparations for deploying nuclear weapons in militarily occupied Crimea.

Congressional notification of any U.S. approval of Russia’s plan to upgrade intelligence-gathering aircraft under the Open Skies Treaty is included in the bill.

Russian Hackers Read Obama’s Unclassified Emails, Officials Say

Russian Hackers Read Obama’s Unclassified Emails, Officials Say

WASHINGTON — Some of President Obama’s email correspondence was swept up by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House’s unclassified computer system that was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged, according to senior American officials briefed on the investigation.

The hackers, who also got deeply into the State Department’s unclassified system, do not appear to have penetrated closely guarded servers that control the message traffic from Mr. Obama’s BlackBerry, which he or an aide carries constantly.

But they obtained access to the email archives of people inside the White House, and perhaps some outside, with whom Mr. Obama regularly communicated. From those accounts, they reached emails that the president had sent and received, according to officials briefed on the investigation.

White House officials said that no classified networks had been compromised, and that the hackers had collected no classified information. Many senior officials have two computers in their offices, one operating on a highly secure classified network and another connected to the outside world for unclassified communications.

But officials have conceded that the unclassified system routinely contains much information that is considered highly sensitive: schedules, email exchanges with ambassadors and diplomats, discussions of pending personnel moves and legislation, and, inevitably, some debate about policy.

Officials did not disclose the number of Mr. Obama’s emails that were harvested by hackers, nor the sensitivity of their content. The president’s email account itself does not appear to have been hacked. Aides say that most of Mr. Obama’s classified briefings — such as the morning Presidential Daily Brief — are delivered orally or on paper (sometimes supplemented by an iPad system connected to classified networks) and that they are usually confined to the Oval Office or the Situation Room.

Still, the fact that Mr. Obama’s communications were among those hit by the hackers — who are presumed to be linked to the Russian government, if not working for it — has been one of the most closely held findings of the inquiry. Senior White House officials have known for months about the depth of the intrusion.

“This has been one of the most sophisticated actors we’ve seen,” said one senior American official briefed on the investigation.

Others confirmed that the White House intrusion was viewed as so serious that officials met on a nearly daily basis for several weeks after it was discovered. “It’s the Russian angle to this that’s particularly worrisome,” another senior official said.

While Chinese hacking groups are known for sweeping up vast amounts of commercial and design information, the best Russian hackers tend to hide their tracks better and focus on specific, often political targets. And the hacking happened at a moment of renewed tension with Russia — over its annexation of Crimea, the presence of its forces in Ukraine and its renewed military patrols in Europe, reminiscent of the Cold War.

Inside the White House, the intrusion has raised a new debate about whether it is possible to protect a president’s electronic presence, especially when it reaches out from behind the presumably secure firewalls of the executive branch.

Mr. Obama is no stranger to computer-network attacks: His 2008 campaign was hit by Chinese hackers. Nonetheless, he has long been a frequent user of email, and publicly fought the Secret Service in 2009 to retain his BlackBerry, a topic he has joked about in public. He was issued a special smartphone, and the list of those he can exchange emails with is highly restricted.

When asked about the investigation’s findings, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, said, “We’ll decline to comment.” The White House has also declined to provide any explanations about how the breach was handled, though the State Department has been more candid about what kind of systems were hit and what it has done since to improve security. A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.

Officials who discussed the investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the hacking. While the White House has refused to identify the nationality of the hackers, others familiar with the investigation said that in both the White House and State Department cases, all signs pointed to Russians.

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter revealed for the first time that Russian hackers had attacked the Pentagon’s unclassified systems, but said they had been identified and “kicked off.” Defense Department officials declined to say if the signatures of the attacks on the Pentagon appeared related to the White House and State Department attacks.

The discovery of the hacking in October led to a partial shutdown of the White House email system. The hackers appear to have been evicted from the White House systems by the end of October. But they continued to plague the State Department, whose system is much more far-flung. The disruptions were so severe that during the Iranian nuclear negotiations in Vienna in November, officials needed to distribute personal email accounts, to one another and to some reporters, to maintain contact.

Earlier this month, officials at the White House said that the hacking had not damaged its systems and that, while elements had been shut down to mitigate the effects of the attack, everything had been restored.

One of the curiosities of the White House and State Department attacks is that the administration, which recently has been looking to name and punish state and nonstate hackers in an effort to deter attacks, has refused to reveal its conclusions about who was responsible for this complex and artful intrusion into the government. That is in sharp contrast to Mr. Obama’s decision, after considerable internal debate in December, to name North Korea for ordering the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, and to the director of national intelligence’s decision to name Iranian hackers as the source of a destructive attack on the Sands Casino.

This month, after CNN reported that hackers had gained access to sensitive areas of the White House computer network, including sections that contained the president’s schedule, the White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, said the administration had not publicly named who was behind the hack because federal investigators had concluded that “it’s not in our best interests.”

By contrast, in the North Korea case, he said, investigators concluded that “we’re more likely to be successful in terms of holding them accountable by naming them publicly.”

But the breach of the president’s emails appeared to be a major factor in the government secrecy. “All of this is very tightly held,” one senior American official said, adding that the content of what had been breached was being kept secret to avoid tipping off the Russians about what had been learned from the investigation.

Mr. Obama’s friends and associates say that he is a committed user of his BlackBerry, but that he is careful when emailing outside the White House system.

“The frequency has dropped off in the last six months or so,” one of his close associates said, though this person added that he did not know if the drop was related to the hacking.

Mr. Obama is known to send emails to aides late at night from his residence, providing them with his feedback on speeches or, at times, entirely new drafts. Others say he has emailed on topics as diverse as his golf game and the struggle with Congress over the Iranian nuclear negotiations.

George W. Bush gave up emailing for the course of his presidency and did not carry a smartphone. But after Mr. Bush left office, his sister’s email account was hacked, and several photos — including some of his paintings — were made public.

The White House is bombarded with cyberattacks daily, not only from Russia and China. Most are easily deflected.

The White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies put their most classified material into a system called Jwics, for Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. That is where top-secret and “secret compartmentalized information” traverses within the government, to officials cleared for it — and it includes imagery, data and graphics. There is no evidence, senior officials said, that this hacking pierced it.

Russia lifting sanctions for missile deliveries to Iran, starts oil-for-goods swap

Russia lifting sanctions for  missile deliveries to Iran, starts oil-for-goods swap

BY GABRIELA BACZYNSKA

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani at the welcoming ceremony during a summit of Caspian Sea regional leaders in the southern city of Astrakhan, September 29, 2014. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Kremlin
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.

(Reuters) – Russia paved the way on Monday for missile system deliveries to Iran and started an oil-for-goods swap, signaling that Moscow may have a head-start in the race to benefit from an eventual lifting of sanctions on Tehran.

The moves come after world powers, including Russia, reached an interim deal with Iranthis month on curbing its nuclear program.

Russia Missile weapons rocket

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ending a self-imposed ban on delivering the S-300 anti-missile rocket system to Iran, removing a major irritant between the two after Moscow canceled a corresponding contract in 2010 under pressure from the West.

A senior government official said separately that Russia has started supplying grain, equipment and construction materials to Iran in exchange for crude oil under a barter deal.

Sources told Reuters more than a year ago that a deal worth up to $20 billion was being discussed and would involve Russia buying up to 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day.

Officials from the two countries have issued contradictory statements since then on whether a deal has been signed, but Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday one was already being implemented.

“I wanted to draw your attention to the rolling out of the oil-for-goods deal, which is on a very significant scale,” Ryabkov told a briefing with members of the upper house of parliament on the talks with Iran.

“In exchange for Iranian crude oil supplies, we are delivering certain products. This is not banned or limited under the current sanctions regime.”

He declined to give further details. Russia’s Agriculture Ministry declined comment and the Energy Ministry did not respond to request for comment. There was no comment from Iran.

Iran is the third largest buyer of Russian wheat, and Moscow and Tehran have been discussing the oil-for-goods barter deal for more than a year.

Russia hopes to reap economic and trade benefits if a final deal is concluded to build on the framework agreement reached in the Swiss city of Lausanne between Iran and six world powers – Russia, the United States, France, Britain, Germany and China.

They have until June 30 to work out a detailed technical agreement under which Iran would curb its nuclear program and allow international control in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions.

TWO TO TANGO

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the agreement in Lausanne wiped out the need for Moscow’s ban on the delivery of S-300 and that the system was defensive, hence would pose no threat to Iran’s foe, Israel.

“As a result of suspending the contract, we did not receive major sums that we were due. We see no need to continue doing this given progress in talks on Iran’s nuclear program and the absolutely legitimate nature of the forthcoming deal,” he said.

The United States and Israel had lobbied Russia to block the missile sale before it did so in 2010, saying the S-300 system could be used to shield Iran’s nuclear facilities from possible future air strikes.

Leonid Ivashov, a retired Russian general who now heads the Moscow-based Centre for Geo-Political Analysis think-tank, said the move was part of a race for future contracts inIran.

“If we now delay and leave Iran waiting, then tomorrow, when sanctions are fully lifted, Washington and its allies will get Iran’s large market,” RIA news agency quoted him as saying.

Ryabkov suggested Russia had high hopes that its steady support for Iran would pay off in energy cooperation once international sanctions against Tehran are lifted.

“It takes two to tango. We are ready to provide our services and I am sure they will be pretty advantageous compared to other countries,” he said. “We never gave up on Iran in a difficult situation… Both for oil and gas, I think the prospects for our cooperation should not be underestimated.”

He also reiterated Moscow’s view that an arms embargo on Iran should be lifted once a final nuclear deal is sealed.

Sanctions have cut Iran’s oil exports to about 1.1 million barrels per day from 2.5 million bpd in 2012. Analysts say Iran is unlikely to see a major boost in exports before next year.

One upper house lawmaker asked Ryabkov whether lifting sanctions on Tehran could undermine Russia’s position on global energy markets, including as the main gas supplier to Europe.

“I am not confident as yet that the Iranian side would be ready to carry out supplies of natural gas from its fields quickly and in large quantities to Europe. This requires infrastructure that is difficult to build,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Polina Devitt, Olesya Astakhova and Vladimir Soldatkin, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Angus MacSwan)

Russian 30 Year Old To Receive World’s First Head Transplant

Russian 30 Year Old To Receive World’s First Head Transplant

Russian 30 Year Old To Receive World's First Head Transplant Spiridovov surgery brain
Valery Spiridonov says he is ready to put his trust in controversial surgeon Dr Sergio Canavero who claims he can cut off his head and attach it to a healthy body.

A man with a fatal medical condition has spoken exclusively to MailOnline about how he is set to become the first person to undergo a head transplant and hopes it could be as soon as next year.

Valery Spiridonov says he is ready to put his trust in controversial surgeon Dr Sergio Canavero who claims he can cut off his head and attach it to a healthy body.

Mr Spiridonov, 30, a computer scientist from Russia, said: ‘My decision is final and I do not plan to change my mind.’

As a lifelong sufferer of the rare genetic Werdnig-Hoffman muscle wasting disease, he says he wants the chance of a new body before he dies.

‘Am I afraid? Yes, of course I am. But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting,’ said Mr Spiridonov from his home in Vladimir, a city 120 miles east of Moscow.

‘But you have to understand that I don’t really have many choices’, he said. ‘If I don’t try this chance my fate will be very sad. With every year my state is getting worse.’

Dr Canavero and Mr Spiridonov have talked via Skype though they have not met yet and the doctor has not reviewed his medical records.

The Italian told CNN he has received many email and letters from people seeking the procedure but he insists the first patients will be people suffering from a muscle wasting disease.

Dr Canavero has named the procedure HEAVEN, which is an acronym for head anastomosis venture. Anastomosis involves the surgical connecting of two parts.

He insists all the necessary techniques already exist to transplant a head onto a donor body.

The first monkey head transplant was performed 45 years ago and a basic operation on a mouse was carried out in China recently.

But critics say Dr Canavero’s plans are ‘pure fantasy’. The Italian has been compared to the fictional gothic-horror character Dr Frankenstein.

And Arthur Caplan, the director of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Centre, has described Dr Canavero as ‘nuts’.

Dr Hunt Batjer, president elect of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons, told CNN: ‘I would not wish this on anyone. I would not allow anyone to do it to me as there are a lot of things worse than death.’

The cost of the 36-hour operation, which could only be performed in the one of the world’s most advanced operating theatres, has been estimated at £7.5million.

The new body would come from a transplant donor who is brain dead but otherwise healthy.

Both donor and patient would have their head severed from their spinal cord at the same time, using an ultra-sharp blade to give a clean cut.

The patient’s head would then be placed onto the donor’s body and attached using what Canavero calls his ‘magic ingredient’ – a glue-like substance called polyethylene glycol – to fuse the two ends of the spinal cord together.

The muscles and blood supply would be stitched up, before the patient is put into a coma for four weeks to stop them from moving while the head and body heal together.

When they wake the patient should be able to move, feel their face and even speak with the same voice. Powerful immunosuppressant drugs should stop the new body from being rejected.

Critics say Dr Canavero has simplified the difficulties involved in reattaching a spinal cord.

The Italian doctor has also so far failed to secure funding for the staff of 150 doctors and nurses he believes are required to complete the procedure.

However, the Italian is confident he can successfully transplant a head on to another body.

And if successful, his pioneering procedure could give new hope to thousands of paralysed and disabled people.

Mr Spiridonov was diagnosed with the rare muscle-wasting condition, Werdnig-Hoffman disease, at the age of one. Tragically the disease progresses every day.

Planning: Mr Spiridonov has been talking through and planning the operation with Dr Canavero for two years
Planning: Mr Spiridonov has been talking through and planning the operation with Dr Canavero for two years.

He told MailOnline: ‘I can hardly control my body now. I need help every day, every minute. I am now 30 years old, although people rarely live to more than 20 with this disease.’

He continued: ‘My muscles stopped any development in childhood. Because of this, they do not grow and the skeleton gets deformed. The back muscles cannot support the skeleton.’

With his condition worsening each day, Mr Spiridonov is desperate for the technique to work. He told MailOnline: ‘If you want something to be done, you need to participate in it.

‘I do understand the risks of such surgery. They are multiple. We can’t even imagine what exactly can go wrong. I’m afraid that I wouldn’t live long enough to see it happen to someone else.’

He said his family fully support his decision to be the first human to undergo such surgery.

Mr Spiridonov added: ‘What’s more, there’s already a lot of effort invested in this idea and that’s why it’s too late to back out.

‘I came up with this idea quite some time ago. I read many scientific articles on this topic.’

‘The idea to transplant not only organs but the head has been studied for a long time even by Russian specialists. But an actual transplantation of the human head was never conducted.’

Mr Spiridonov contacted the controversial doctor, who is based at the University of Turin in Italy, after reading about his ambitious medical claims.

He said: ‘I contacted Professor Canavero two years ago after reading about his works. I offered myself to him to make this operation possible. We have never met and we just communicate via emails.

‘For the last two years we’ve been talking this idea through and planning the operation.

‘He’s a very experienced neurosurgeon and has conducted many serious operations. Of course he has never done anything like this and we have to think carefully through all the possible risks.’

The Russian has compared the pioneering procedure to the space race of the post-war years.

He said: ‘In the end it is like with astronauts. Before the first man we sent into space, 300 different scenarios of something going wrong were thought through but when he actually did it, it was the 301st scenario that happened.’

Mr Spiridonov denies his pledge to be a guinea pig is a stunt, and insists he goes into it with his eyes open.

‘If I want this kind of surgery to happen, I shouldn’t put the responsibility onto someone else but should try it on myself.

‘My family fully supports me. They also understand all the risks and even if they think that it’s too dangerous, they still support me in my decision.’

Despite his severe disabilities Mr Spiridonov has lead a full life, graduating from university with a degree in computer science.

‘I lost my father in a car crash 16 years ago,’ he told MailOnline. ‘He was a military man, a lieutenant colonel. So I had to start supporting the family at an early age.

‘My mother is a child psychologist in a rehabilitation centre for children who got into difficult situations.

‘I graduated from the Faculty of Information Technologies of Vladimir State University. I have a very active social life and I’m the head of a committee that deals with social policies for families and youth.’

He added: ‘I don’t do this because I don’t have a life but I think that science is developed by those who are ready to take risks and devote themselves to it.’

Mr Spiridonov has never discussed the possibility of failure with Dr Canavero.

He told MailOnline: ‘It was about me just offering myself as ready to undergo it. Of course, the professor considers the chances to succeed are quite high otherwise he wouldn’t try it.’

He says there is no ethical difference between transplanting a head on to a healthy body and replacing a damaged organ with a healthy one, which is now considered routine.

Donors could include victims of road traffic accidents or even prisoners sentenced to death, he says.

He told MailOnline: ‘I consider it to be as ethical as the transplant of the heart or kidneys. At some point of time this was considered to be unethical as well.

‘There was much talk about where the human soul is located, and if it’s ethical to do the heart transplants, but now doctors do it and save people’s lives.

‘I think it’s the normal way of technology to evolve. It would be strange to stop at this point when the neurosurgery is ready to take the next step.

‘The bodies used for transplant could be those of people whose brain was damaged, let’s say in a car crash or motorbike accident, or who are sentenced to capital punishment.

‘But, of course, in future humanity should learn how to grow healthy bodies for the transplants so there will be no shortage of organs and bodies.’

Mr Spiridonov says he understands that the Italian surgeon can only go ahead when he is satisfied that medical science is sufficiently advanced.

But the Russian he believes this moment is very close, possibly next year, 2016.

He told MailOnline: ‘We haven’t agreed on a particular date of the surgery with Dr Canavero,

‘It’s an ongoing process and a lot depends on the success of the studies that are underway now.

‘There will be a conference of neurosurgery in Annapolis in the US this summer. The professor will be reporting on his studies there.

‘He would like me to be present. I would like to attend if I can find the means to fly there. We will see what the next step is after that.’

Matter-of-factly, he adds: ‘For now we are thinking about transplanting my head in 2016.’

The Russian even jokes about what might happen if the surgery goes wrong.

He told MailOnline: ‘Maybe I would try to move my leg but instead my body will produce a litre of adrenaline. But I am willing to take the risks and try.’

In 1970 Dr Robert White transplanted the head of one monkey onto the body of another at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

The monkey died after eight days because the body rejected the head. The monkey was unable to breathe on its own. The animal could not move because the spinal cord were not connected.

Dr Batjer says White’s research does not provide evidence that a human head transplant can work.

He told CNN: ‘It’s a 45-year-old reference in a primate and there is no evidence that the spinal cord was anastomosed functionally.’

Dr Sergio Canavero could not be reached for comment.

How the U.S. thinks Russians hacked the White House

How the U.S. thinks Russians hacked the White House

By Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN

Washington (CNN)Russian hackers behind the damaging cyber intrusion of the State Department in recent months used that perch to penetrate sensitive parts of the White House computer system, according to U.S. officials briefed on the investigation.

While the White House has said the breach only affected an unclassified system, that description belies the seriousness of the intrusion. The hackers had access to sensitive information such as real-time non-public details of the president’s schedule. While such information is not classified, it is still highly sensitive and prized by foreign intelligence agencies, U.S. officials say.

The White House in October said it noticed suspicious activity in the unclassified network that serves the executive office of the president. The system has been shut down periodically to allow for security upgrades.

The FBI, Secret Service and U.S. intelligence agencies are all involved in investigating the breach, which they consider among the most sophisticated attacks ever launched against U.S. government systems. ​The intrusion was routed through computers around the world, as hackers often do to hide their tracks, but investigators found tell-tale codes and other markers that they believe point to hackers working for the Russian government.

National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh didn’t confirm the Russian hack, but he did say that “any such activity is something we take very seriously.”

“In this case, as we made clear at the time, we took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity,” he said. “As has been our position, we are not going to comment on [this] article’s attribution to specific actors.”

Neither the U.S. State Department nor the Russian Embassy immediately responded to a request for comment.

Ben Rhodes, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said the White House’s use of a separate system for classified information protected sensitive national security-related items from being obtained by hackers.

“We do not believe that our classified systems were compromised,” Rhodes told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday.

“We’re constantly updating our security measures on our unclassified system, but we’re frankly told to act as if we need not put information that’s sensitive on that system,” he said. “In other words, if you’re going to do something classified, you have to do it on one email system, one phone system. Frankly, you have to act as if information could be compromised if it’s not on the classified system.”

To get to the White House, the hackers first broke into the State Department, investigators believe.

The State Department computer system has been bedeviled by signs that despite efforts to lock them out, the Russian hackers have been able to reenter the system. One official says the Russian hackers have “owned” the State Department system for months and it is not clear the hackers have been fully eradicated from the system.

As in many hacks, investigators believe the White House intrusion began with a phishing email that was launched using a State Department email account that the hackers had taken over, according to the U.S. officials.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, in a speech at an FBI cyberconference in January, warned government officials and private businesses to teach employees what “spear phishing” looks like.

“So many times, the Chinese and others get access to our systems just by pretending to be someone else and then asking for access, and someone gives it to them,” Clapper said.

The ferocity of the Russian intrusions in recent months caught U.S. officials by surprise, leading to a reassessment of the cybersecurity threat as the U.S. and Russia increasingly confront each other over issues ranging from the Russian aggression in Ukraine to the U.S. military operations in Syria.

The attacks on the State and White House systems is one reason why Clapper told a Senate hearing in February that the “Russian cyberthreat is more severe than we have previously assessed.”

The revelations about the State Department hacks also come amid controversy over formerSecretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business during her time in office. Critics say her private server likely was even less safe than the State system. The Russian breach is believed to have come after Clinton departed State.

But hackers have long made Clinton and her associates targets.

The website The Smoking Gun first reported in 2013 that a hacker known as Guccifer had broken into the AOL email of Sidney Blumenthal, a friend and advisor to the Clintons, and published emails Blumenthal sent to Hillary Clinton’s private account. The emails included sensitive memos on foreign policy issues and were the first public revelation of the existence of Hillary Clinton’s private email address​ now at the center of controversy: hdr22@clintonemail.com. The address is no longer in use.

Intent of Russian military aircraft near U.S. shores remains unclear

Intent of Russian military aircraft near U.S. shores remains unclear

Russia Russian bomber fighter airplane plane aircraft

The air is frigid and the wind is howling as Air Force Col. Frank Flores lifts a pair of foot-long binoculars and studies a hazy dot about 50 miles west across the Bering Strait.

“That’s the mainland there,” he shouts above the gusts.

It’s Siberia, part of Russia, on the Asian mainland.

Named for an old mining camp, Tin City is a tiny Air Force installation atop an ice-shrouded coastal mountain 50 miles below the Arctic Circle, far from any road or even trees. The Pentagon took over the remote site decades ago and built a long-range radar station to help detect a surprise attack from the Soviet Union.

At least from this frozen perch, America’s closest point to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the Cold War is turning warm again.

U.S. F-22 fighter jets scrambled about 10 times last year — twice as often as in 2013 — to monitor and photograph Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers and MiG-31 fighter jets that flew over the Bering Sea without communicating with U.S. air controllers or turning on radio transponders, which emit identifying signals.

The Russian flights are in international airspace, and it’s unclear whether they are testing U.S. defenses, patrolling the area or simply projecting a newly assertive Moscow’s global power.

“They’re obviously messaging us,” said Flores, a former Olympic swimmer who is in charge of Tin City and 14 other radar stations scattered along the vast Alaskan coast. “We still don’t know their intent.”

U.S. officials view the bombers — which have been detected as far south as 50 miles off California’s northern coast — as deliberately provocative. They are a sign of the deteriorating ties between Moscow and the West since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in March of last year and its military intervention to support separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Similar Russian flights in Europe have irked leaders in Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Norway and elsewhere. In January, British authorities were forced to reroute commercial aircraft after Russian bombers flew over the English Channel with their transponders off.

In all, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization says its jets scrambled to monitor Russian warplanes around Europe more than 100 times last year, about three times as many as in 2013. Russian air patrols outside its borders were at their highest level since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, NATO said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a statement in November, as tensions heightened over Ukraine, that Russia’s strategic bombers would resume patrols in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

“In the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.

Although the Arctic draws less attention, Russia is flexing muscles there after years of decline. President Vladimir Putin’s government has announced plans to reopen 10 former Soviet-era military bases, including 14 airfields, that were shuttered along the Arctic seaboard after the Cold War.

A shipyard in Severodvinsk, the largest city on the Russian Arctic Coast, has begun building four nuclear-powered submarines for the first time in decades, according to Russian news reports. The Pentagon says the reports are accurate.

The Pentagon has responded by spending $126 million last year to upgrade Tin City and other coastal radar stations in Alaska. It also has added military exercises with northern allies — including flying U.S. strategic bombers over the Arctic for the first time since 2011.

Last week, four B-52s flew from bases in Nebraska and Louisiana on simultaneous, round-trip sorties to the Arctic and North Sea regions, the Air Force announced. Along the way, the bomber crews engaged in “air intercept maneuvers” with fighter jets from Canada, England and the Netherlands.

The Air Force has said it may base the first squadrons of next-generation F-35 fighter jets at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska starting next year.

The buildup comes as melting ice caps are opening valuable new sea lanes, sparking a scramble for oil and other untapped natural resources by the eight nations with territorial or maritime claims in the far north.

“We’re experiencing a reawakening of the strategic importance of the Arctic,” said Navy Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of the Pentagon’s Northern Command and of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

“Is this a second Cold War? It doesn’t matter what we think,” Gortney said. “Maybe they think the Cold War never ended.”

Analysts say Putin’s government may be ordering the bomber flights as a morale booster for a military that saw its ships turned to scrap, its aircraft grounded and its bases closed after the Cold War.

“The ability to project military power from bases in the Arctic region is one area in which they are still capable,” said Christopher Harmer, a military analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, a nonpartisan public policy group in Washington.

“This is much less compared to what they were doing in the Cold War,” said Dmitry Gorenburg, a research analyst at the nonprofit Center for Naval Analyses in Washington. “I don’t think they’re threatening anyone. They just want to make sure that no one comes into the Arctic and messes with them.”

The U.S. military downsized but never fully disengaged in the Arctic after the Cold War.

If an alarm sounds, fighter pilots still sometimes slide down gleaming fireman poles at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage and run to F-22 Raptors kept idling in small hangars. The jets, in “hot-cocked” condition, carry fully armed cannons and missiles.

In an underground room on the base, rows of radar technicians sit at glowing screens watching small crescent-shaped blips, each representing an aircraft moving in Alaskan airspace. On the wall, four large screens track aircraft across the Arctic, including Russian airspace.

The wall also holds 261 plaques with red stars. Each represents a successful U.S. intercept of Russian aircraft. A total of 424 Russian planes have been detected since 1983, mostly during the Cold War.

“If they come this way, we’re going to track them, determine who they are and what their intent is,” said Maj. Carrie Howard, an officer in charge of the air defense squadron.

Most of the time, the blips are commercial planes that identify themselves by emitting transponder codes or communicating with regional air controllers. But some aircraft stay silent.

If commanders here decide to respond, they grab a tan telephone marked “scramble” in red letters. It rings in a wardroom by the runway where F-22 pilots are always on duty.

“When the phone rings, it stops your heart, it rings so loud,” said one pilot, who asked not to be named for his security.

Once airborne, the pilots are supposed to get a visual identification of the other aircraft. But the F-22 can fly nearly three times as fast as the lumbering Tu-95 bomber, so slowing down is the challenge.

“You want to go fast,” the pilot said. “The jet wants to go fast. But you just have to ease up alongside of them.”

On Sept. 17, he scrambled in pursuit of radar blips that turned out to be two Russian “Bears,” two MiG-31s and two refueling tankers. The American pilot drew close, radioed his sighting back to Anchorage and returned to base.

“Our presence was felt,” the pilot said. “That’s all that’s needed.”

It was difficult to feel much of anything but cold at Tin City on a recent afternoon, where the temperature was far below zero, the wind was bone-chilling and the world faded into a blinding white of snow, ice and fog.

Vance Spaulding, 53, and Jeff Boulds, 52, two contractors, spend up to four months maintaining the radar site before they fly out on break.

While here, they hunt musk ox, a long-haired, long-horned animal known for its strong odor, and Arctic hare, which they claim can grow to 20 pounds or more, on the surrounding coastal plain.

“We get cooped up here, so we try to get out in the open whenever we can,” Boulds said. “But I never seen no Russkies. Not yet anyway.”

Russia threatens to aim nuclear missiles at Denmark ships if it joins NATO shield

Russia threatens to aim nuclear missiles at Denmark ships if it joins NATO shield

missiles rockets

COPENHAGEN – Russia threatened to aim nuclear missiles at Danish warships if Denmark joins NATO’s missile defense system, in comments Copenhagen called unacceptable and NATO said would not contribute to peace.

Denmark said in August it would contribute radar capacity on some of its warships to the missile shield, which the Western alliance says is designed to protect members from missile launches from countries like Iran.

Moscow opposes the system, arguing that it could reduce the effectiveness of its own nuclear arsenal, leading to a new Cold War-style arms race.

In an interview in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the Russian ambassador to Denmark, Mikhail Vanin, said he did not think Danes fully understood the consequences of joining the program.

“If that happens, Danish warships will be targets for Russian nuclear missiles,” Vanin told the newspaper.

Asked to respond, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Denmark was a staunch member of the alliance and NATO would defend all allies against any threat.

“We have made clear that NATO’s ballistic missile defense is not directed at Russia or any country, but is meant to defend against missile threats. This decision was taken a long time ago, so we are surprised at the timing, tone and content of the statements made by Russia’s ambassador to Denmark,” she said.

“Such statements do not inspire confidence or contribute to predictability, peace or stability,” she added.

Tensions between Moscow and the West have grown since the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia over a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine. NATO has recorded increased activity by the Russian navy and air force in the Nordic region.

No missiles are to be placed on Danish soil under the NATO program, but they could be deployed some day in Greenland, a part of the kingdom, according to Jyllands-Posten.

“Denmark will become a part of the threat against Russia. It will be less peaceful, and relations with Russia will be damaged,” Vanin said, adding that Russia has missiles which would be able to penetrate the future missile shield.

Denmark’s foreign minister Martin Lidegaard said Vanin’s comments were unacceptable.

“Russia knows very well that NATO’s missile defense is not aimed at them,” Lidegaard told Jyllands-Posten.

NATO’s top military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, told a Brussels conference on Sunday that the comments from the Russian ambassador were the “next step” in a campaign against countries that joined the shield.

“Romania came under great pressure when they became a part of the (missile shield). Poland is coming under great pressure and now anyone else who wants to join in to this defensive capability will come under this diplomatic and political pressure,” Breedlove said.

(Reporting by Teis Jensen, additional reporting by Adrian Croft in Brussels; Editing by Peter Graff)

Russian Jets Run ‘Attack Scenarios’ on NATO Ships

Russian Jets Run ‘Attack Scenarios’ on NATO Ships

Russia continues to take bold actions in European territory, near

Su-30 / AP

BY:

Russian fighter jets have been using NATO ships in the Black Sea as target practice to run “attack scenarios,” a situation that NATO military officials say they are aware of and prepared to defend against if necessary.

In the latest sign of provocation against Western forces by Moscow, Russia is ordering its newest Su-30 multi-role fighter jets to track NATO forces and run mock attack drills to simulate penetrating NATO’s anti-air systems, according to Sputnik, a pro-Moscow news agency.

A NATO military officer said that regional forces are “closely monitoring” the Russian movements and are prepared to defend themselves if necessary.

The Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), which is stationed in the Black Sea, “is closely monitoring Russian air and surface activity, and no interactions with Russian ships or aircraft have posed any threat to the safety of the group since the ships entered the Black Sea,” the military official said. “The group is very capable of defending itself and is well protected by a variety of state-of-the-art defensive systems.”

The military officer said that the SNMG2 group has made no secret of its presence in the region.

SNMG2 “is in the Black Sea conducting regularly-scheduled maneuvers and exercises with Allied national Naval forces,” the officer explained. “This activity is within international norms and will take place in Allied and international waters. All major NATO exercises are announced well in advance and information on our activities is routinely published on public websites.”

Russia appears to have used the public nature of the NATO exercises as an opportunity to test-run attack maneuvers with its advanced Su-30s, according to Sputnik.

Moscow has reportedly focused on two specific NATO ships, the USS Vicksburg missile cruiser and the Turkish TCG Turgutreis frigate, according to Sputnik. Both ships are said to be operating in the southwestern section of the Black Sea.

The Russian planes have also “conducted monitoring flights over these ships from the Novofedorovka air base,” the report claims.

One Russian official quoted by Moscow’s RIA Novosti publication said it is natural for the country to practice war drills on these ships.

“These ships’ crews are doubtlessly conducting exercises in repelling air attacks from our planes, which gives our pilots the opportunity to gain experience in maneuvering and conducting aerial reconnaissance both in the range of anti-air systems and outside their range,” the Russian military official was quoted as saying.

Anna Borshchevskaya, an adjunct fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), said Russia’s aggressive behavior highlights NATO’s waning influence in the region.

“This highlights the troubling exercise gap between NATO and Russia,” she said. “As Russia’s aggression in Ukraine continues—which threatens Europe beyond Ukraine, and as Russia is increasing its military spending, most NATO members are doing little about the decline in their own military spending.”

Russia has for some time taken increasingly bold military actions, both in Europe and near U.S. territory.

Russian strategic nuclear bombers entered some 16 northwestern U.S. air defense zones over a 10-day period in August 2014, the Free Beacon reported.

Russian bombers also have carried out drills near Alaska in the past year.

Two Russian bombers were identified in September as carrying out practice cruise missile strikes on the United States.

Russia launches war games in disputed Ukraine territories

Russia launches war games in disputed Ukraine territories

Russia has launched large-scale military exercises involving three disputed territories in a move likely to irk its neighbours and heighten concern in Nato about Moscow’s intentions.

The defence ministry on Thursday announced a drill including the federal districts of Southern Russia, the Northern Caucasus and the recently-annexed Crimea as well as Russian military bases in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Armenia. The exercises will run until April 10.

This adds to a string of manoeuvres conducted over the past few weeks in Crimea, Armenia, the Russian region of North Ossetia and three other areas in Southern Russia.

While the Russian armed forces regularly hold manoeuvres at their bases in Armenia and in the two disputed breakaway regions from Georgia — Abkhazia and South Ossetia — they have in the past shied away from giving them too high a profile.

Foreign military experts in Moscow said the overall level of drill activity since the beginning of the year was comparable to the same period last year. Yet the latest exercises were being viewed as a message. “That every exercise at the moment also carries a signal to the west regarding Russia’s readiness goes without saying,” said a European military official.

In September 2012, when the military conducted an annual exercise covering the Caucasus region, it said bases in Armenia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia were not participating and no foreign nationals were taking part “in order to avoid extra tension in the bilateral relations with several neighbours of the Russian Federation.”

But this time, the tone is set by a hardening stand-off between Russia and Nato over Moscow’s role in the war in eastern Ukraine.

Victoria Nuland, US assistant secretary of state, said on Wednesday that Russia had “thousands and thousands” of soldiers in Ukraine. Nato has been strengthening its presence in member states neighbouring Russia, and some members of the alliance are discussing whether to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons to defend itself. The UK is sending personnel to train Ukrainian soldiers.

Several Nato member states and other European countries also complain of increasingly aggressive military posturing by Russia, including repeated incursions by fighter aircraft.

Russia continues to angrily deny any formal involvement of its military in Ukraine and, in turn, has accused Nato of pressuring it. Anatoly Antonov, deputy defence minister, mockingly asked why Ms Nuland had not used even higher figures. “Why doesn’t she say 20,000?” he asked.

Mr Antonov claimed Nato was more active in the vicinity of Russia’s borders than Russia itself. He accused the alliance of using the Ukraine conflict as a pretext for moving closer to Russia’s borders.

The drills also come as Russia is integrating South Ossetia and Abkhazia closer into its security infrastructure through alliance treaties and the establishment of joint forces. Moscow went to war with Georgia in 2008 to support South Ossetia. It subsequently recognised the two breakaway territories as independent states and they have been highly dependent on Russia since.

The authorities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia say their motive for the closer security alliance with Russia — which was designed in Moscow — is the desire for protection as Georgia seeks to align itself with Nato more closely.