Category Archives: Ukraine

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

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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 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

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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.

US to Deploy Six National Guard Companies to Ukraine This Week

US to Deploy Six National Guard Companies to Ukraine This Week

US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Michael Foster said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC said the US would deploy personnel by the end of this week to train the Ukrainian national guard.

Navy US military aircraft plane relief troops

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States will deploy personnel by the end of this week to train the Ukrainian national guard, US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Colonel Michael Foster said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC on Monday.“

Before this week is up, we’ll be deploying a battalion minus… to the Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces for the fight that’s taking place,” Foster stated. “What we’ve got laid out is six United States companies that will be training six Ukrainian companies throughout the summer.”

The training will take place at the level of US and Ukrainian national guard companies, Foster explained, adding that “we have nothing above battalion staff level” engaged in the military training.

The Ukrainian nationalist Aidar battalion was officially disbanded and reorganized as the 24th Separate Assault Battalion of the Ukrainian Ground Forces.

The current plan is for US forces to stay six months, he said, and noted there have been discussions about how to increase the duration and the scope of the training mission.

Related: Last April We Said Russia Would Start WWIII. See Article.

The current channels for military training set up between Ukraine and the United States would not be used for transferring defensive lethal aid if the United States decided to provide arms to Ukraine, Foster told Sputnik on Monday.

“It would go through something separate… We would not funnel the lethal aid or arms through that [training] event, we would use a secondary method for that,” Foster said, adding that a completely separate process is preferable.

The United States and NATO have been engaged in military training exercises with Ukraine since the fall of 2014, according to NATO press releases.

United Kingdom’s (UK) Prime Minister David Cameron announced last week that the UK will also be sending military advisors to Ukraine.

Prominent Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov shot dead

Prominent Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov shot dead

By LAURA MILLS and VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV

Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister and opposition leader shot dead in Russia.

MOSCOW (AP) — Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down Saturday near the Kremlin, just a day before a planned protest against the government.

The death of Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former deputy prime minister, ignited a fury among opposition figures who assailed the Kremlin for creating an atmosphere of intolerance of any dissent and called the killing an assassination. Putin quickly offered his condolences and called the murder a provocation.

Nemtsov was working on a report presenting evidence that he believed proved Russia’s direct involvement in the separatist rebellion that erupted in eastern Ukraine last year. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of backing the rebels with troops and sophisticated weapons. Moscow denies the accusations.

Putin ordered Russia’s top law enforcement chiefs to personally oversee the probe of Nemtsov’s killing.

“Putin noted that this cruel murder has all the makings of a contract hit and is extremely provocative,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.President Barack Obama called on Russia’s government to perform a “prompt, impartial and transparent” investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. Obama called Nemtsov a “tireless advocate” for the rights of Russian citizens.

Nemtsov assailed the government’s inefficiency, rampant corruption and the Kremlin’s Ukraine policy, which has strained relations between Russia and the West to a degree unseen since Cold War times.

Nemtsov said on radio just a few hours before his death criticized Putin for plunging Russia into the crisis by his “mad, aggressive and deadly policy of war against Ukraine.”

“The country needs a political reform,” Nemtsov said, speaking on Ekho Moskvy radio. “When power is concentrated in the hands of one person and this person rules for ever, this will lead to an absolute catastrophe, absolute.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called Nemtsov a personal friend and a “bridge” between the two countries. He said on his Facebook that he hopes the killers will be punished.Nemtsov’s lawyer Vadim Prokhorov said the politician had received threats on social networks and told police about them, but authorities didn’t take any steps to protect him.

The Russian Interior Ministry, which oversees Russia’s police force, said that Nemtsov was killed by four shots in the back from a passing car as he was walking over a bridge just outside the Kremlin shortly after midnight.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Yelena Alexeyeva told reporters that Nemtsov was walking with a female acquaintance, a Ukrainian citizen, when a vehicle drove up and unidentified assailants shot him dead. The woman wasn’t hurt.

Mikhail Kasyanov, a former Russian prime minister now also in opposition, said he was shocked.

“In the 21st century, a leader of the opposition is being demonstratively shot just outside the walls of the Kremlin!” Kasyanov told reporters as Nemtsov’s body placed in a plastic bag was removed on a rainy and cold night, as the Kremlin bells chimed nearby. “The country is rolling into the abyss.”Kasyanov said the rally organizers decided that instead of the planned demonstration on Moscow’s southeastern outskirts they will stage a demonstration in the center of the capital to commemorate Nemtsov.

Garry Kasparov, a former chess champion who worked with Nemtsov to organize protests against Putin and now lives in the United States, tweeted: “Devastated to hear of the brutal murder of my long-time opposition colleague Boris Nemtsov. Shot 4 times, once for each child he leaves.”

Opposition activist Ilya Yashin said on Ekho Moskvy radio that he last spoke with Nemtsov two days before the killing.

Yashin said he had no doubt that Nemtsov’s murder was politically motivated.

“Boris Nemtsov was a stark opposition leader who criticized the most important state officials in our country, including President Vladimir Putin. As we have seen, such criticism in Russia is dangerous for one’s life,” he said.Political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky told Ekho Mosvky radio station that he did not believe that Nemtsov’s death would in any way serve Putin’s interests.

“But the atmosphere of hatred toward alternative thinkers that has formed over the past year, since the annexation of Crimea, may have played its role,” Belkovsky said, referring to the surge of intense and officially endorsed nationalist discourse in Russia since it annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Irina Khakamada, a prominent opposition figure who co-founded a liberal party with Nemtsov, blamed a climate of intimidation and warned that the murder could herald a dangerous destabilization.

“It’s a provocation that is clearly not in Putin’s interests, it’s aimed at rocking the situation,” she said in remarks carried by RIA Novosti news agency.

Nemtsov served as a deputy prime minister in the 1990s and once was seen as a possible successor to Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first elected president. After Putin was first elected in 2000, Nemtsov became one of the most vocal critics of his rule. He helped organize street protests and exposed official corruption.

He was one of the organizers of the Spring March opposition protest set for Sunday, which comes amid a severe economic downturn in Russia caused by low oil prices and Western sanctions.

Nemtsov said during a radio interview just before his death that it was hard to live under constant intimidation and pressure.

“I won’t hide the fact that the opposition is under strong pressure,” he said. “Lies are spread about the people, and one has to be a very strong person to cope with all this. I know this from my own experience.”

Peter Leonard in Kiev, Ukraine contributed to this report.

Obama Admits US Role In 2014 Ukraine Coup

Obama Admits US Role In 2014 Ukraine Coup

And George Soros funded the coup through his front groups
Ukraine Protesters
Ukraine Protesters
The United States took an active part in the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, which installed pro-Western authorities, US President Obama told CNN Sunday.

“And since Mr. Putin made this decision around Crimea and Ukraine — not because of some grand strategy, but essentially because he was caught off-balance by the protests in the Maidan and [Ukraine’s then-President Viktor] Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine,” Obama said in an interview.

Yanukovych’s decision not to sign an association agreement with the European Union in late 2013 triggered a mass wave of protests across Ukraine, which culminated in the February coup. Following the February events and the rise of aggressive nationalism in the country, Crimea seceded from Ukraine and joined Russia in March 2014, following a referendum, in which 96 percent of voters were in favour of reunifying with Russia.

US Military ‘Trainers’ To Deploy To Ukraine

US Military ‘Trainers’ To Deploy To Ukraine

Also Will Begin Shipment of US-funded Armored Vehicles

sheriff vehicle police armored militarized

WASHINGTON — American soldiers will deploy to Ukraine this spring to begin training four companies of the Ukrainian National Guard, the head of US Army Europe Lt. Gen Ben Hodges said during his first visit to Kiev on Wednesday.

The number of troops heading to the Yavoriv Training Area near the city of L’viv — which is about 40 miles from the Polish border — is still being determined, however.

The American training effort comes as part of a US State Department initiative “to assist Ukraine in strengthening its law enforcement capabilities, conduct internal defense, and maintain rule of law” Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman told Defense News.

After meeting with commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Anatoliy Pushnyakov and acting commander of the National Guard Lt. Gen. Oleksandr Kryvyenko during his visit, Hodges said he was “impressed by the readiness of both military and civil leadership to change and reform.”

The training was requested by the Ukrainian government “as they work to reform their police forces and establish their newly formed National Guard,” Hillman added. Funding for the initiative is coming from the congressionally-authorized Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF), which was requested by the Obama administration in the fiscal 2015 budget to help train and equip the armed forces of allies around the globe.

The training mission has been the subject of plenty of discussion among US policy makers for months, and the United States has already earmarked $19 million to help build the Ukrainian National Guard.

“We’re very open to the idea that this becomes a first step in further training for the Ukrainian military,” Derek Chollet, former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told Defense News just before he left the Pentagon on Jan. 17.

He was quick to add that he doesn’t anticipate that this training mission “will require significant US presence.”

The mission comes at a time of increasing concern among Eastern European countries that Russian aggression in the region will increase, and as fighting around the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk between government forces and Russian-backed separatist rebels rages on.

Speaking at the Davos conference on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of sending 9,000 troops into the eastern part of his country to back the rebels, a contention that NATO officials have backed up, but without providing their own estimates for the number of Russian forces in country.

Chollet said Russian military incursions into the Crimea and eastern Ukraine have refocused American attention on the region after a decade of fighting two wars in the Middle East.

“A year ago we were worried about the future of the trans-Atlantic relationship, how would it be relevant to people,” he said. “And of course, the events of the last year with Russia and Ukraine has focused people again on threats to European security and the unfinished business, really, still coming out of the end of the Cold War.”

One of the biggest challenges for US policy makers is trying to discern “where could this lead and how does this make us think anew about European security issues and force posture issues or defense spending issues?” he added.

In addition to US trainers, Washington is beginning to provide heavier military equipment to the government in Kiev. On Monday, the United States delivered the first prototype of an armored “Kozak” vehicle for use with the Ukrainian border guard, according to the US Embassy there.

A posting on a US government contracting site put the cost of the vehicle at $189,000.

The vehicle is built on a chassis manufactured by Italian company Iveco and features a V-shaped armored hull to help protect against mines and roadside bombs. The embassy said that to date, “the United States has delivered dozens of armored pickup trucks and vans to the Ukrainian Border Guard Service. The Kozak is larger and offers a higher level of protection.”

Email: pmcleary@defensenews.com

Russia To Boost Military Capabilities In Crimea and Arctic

Russia To Boost Military Capabilities In Crimea and Arctic

We are in a new Cold War

Russia Russian bomber fighter airplane plane aircraft

In 2015, the Russian Defense Ministry plans to focus on boosting military capabilities in Crimea, the Kaliningrad region, and the Arctic, while carrying out other planned modernizations of the armed forces and drafting a new long-term defense plan.

“We are drawing up a new Russian Federation Defense Plan for 2016-2020 to ensure timely placing and obligatory fulfillment of state defense orders in 2015 to have modern models of weapons and military equipment as planned,” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said, as Moscow refocuses its major rearmament plan, worth over 20 trillion rubles ($310 billion) over the span of 10 years, according to a new military doctrine.

Russia’s chief of General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, said that in 2015 Russia will focus on reinforcing its military on the Crimean peninsula, the Kaliningrad Region, and in the Arctic.

“In 2015, the Defense Ministry’s main efforts will focus on an increase of combat capabilities of the armed forces and increasing the military staff in accordance with military construction plans. Much attention will be given to the groupings in Crimea, Kaliningrad, and the Arctic,” Gerasimov said on Tuesday.
In the Arctic, deputy Defense Minister Gen. Dmitry Bulgakov specified that Russia will rebuild an additional 10 military airfields in 2015. “We will reconstruct 10 airfields in the Arctic region this year, which will bring the number to 14 operational airfields in the Arctic,” he said.

A new branch of the Russian military, the Aerospace Defense Force, will be formed in 2015, ahead of schedule, through the merger of Air Force and Space Forces.

“A new type of armed forces will be created in 2015, the Aerospace Defense Force, by merging two already existing military forces: the Air Force and Space Force,” Gerasimov said, as Russia continues developing a reliable space echelon of the early-warning radar system to detect missile launches.

This year, Shoigu said that Russian armed forces are set to receive some 700 armored and 1,550 other vehicles, 126 planes, 88 helicopters, and two Iskander-M missile systems. The navy will receive five surface warships and two multi-purpose submarines.

In 2015, one year ahead of schedule, the military will commission a radar station Voronezh-DM in the Siberian town of Yeniseisk. A similar one in Barnaul, Russia’s Altai region, will be erected six months ahead of schedule, the defense chief said.

A network of joint warfare training centers will be set up in every Russian military district, which by 2020 will all be interconnected by a single virtual battle space, according to the minister. In order to raise the professional level of its troops, the military hopes by the end of 2015 to recruit 52,000 contract soldiers, in addition to conscripts.

The announced upgrades to Russia’s military capabilities fall in line with the newly updated version of the military doctrine, which reflects the emergence of new threats against its national security. NATO military build-up and the American Prompt Global Strike concept are listed among them.

As part of the overall effort to increase security and battle readiness amid hyperbolic warmongering rhetoric from NATO, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced in December that tens of thousands of Russian troops would take part in Center 2015 strategic exercises that would be held simultaneously in several areas both in Russia and abroad. In total, the ministry announced it will hold about 4,000 various combat training missions in 2015.

Russia’s “Startling” Proposal To Europe: Dump The US, Join The Eurasian Economic Union

Russia’s “Startling” Proposal To Europe: Dump The US, Join The Eurasian Economic Union

Tyler Durden's picture
Submitted by Tyler Durden

Russian Rubbles money cash foreign bank

Slowly but surely Europe is figuring out that as a result of the western economic and financial blockade of Russian, it is Europe itself that is suffering the most. And while Germany was first to acknowledge this late in 2014 when its economy swooned and is now on the verge of a recession, now others are catching on. Case in point: the former head of the European Commission, and Italy’s former Prime Minister, Romano Prodi who told Messaggero newspaper that the “weaker Russian economy is extremely unprofitable for Italy.”

The other details from Prodi’s statement:

Lowered prices in the international energy markets have positive aspects for the Italian consumers, who pay less for the fuel, but the effect will be only short-term. In the long-term however the weaker economic situation in countries producing energy resources, caused by lower oil and gas prices, mostly in Russia, is extremely unprofitable for Italy, he said.

The lowering of the oil and gas prices in combination with the sanctions, pushed by the Ukrainian crisis, will drop the Russian GPD by five percent per annum, and thus it will cause cutting of the Italian export by about 50%,” Prodi said.

“Setting aside the uselessness or imminence of the sanctions, one should highlight a clear skew: regardless of the rouble rate against dollar, which is lower by almost a half, the American export to Russia is growing, while the export from Europe is shrinking.”

In other words, just as slowly, the world is starting to grasp the bottom line: it is not the financial exposure to Russia, or the threat of financial contagion should Russia suffer a major recession or worse: it is something far simpler that will lead to the biggest harm for Europe’s countries. The lack of trade. Because while central banks can monetize everything, leading to an unprecedented asset bubble which if only for the time being boosts investor and consumer confidence, they can’t print trade – that all important driver of growth in a globalized world long before central banks were set to monetize over $1 trillion in bonds each and every year to mask the fact that the world is deep in a global depression.

Which is why we read the following report written in yesterday’s Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten with great interest because it goes right to the bottom line. In it Russia has a not so modest proposal to Europe: dump trade with the US, whose call for Russian “costs” has cost you another year of declining economic growth, and instead join the Eurasian Economic Union! From the source:

Russia has presented a startling proposal to overcome the tensions with the EU: The EU should renounce the free trade agreement with the United States TTIP and enter into a partnership with the newly established Eurasian Economic Union instead. A free trade zone with the neighbors would make more sense than a deal with the US.

It surely would, but then how will Europe feign outrage when the NSA is found to have spied yet again on its “closest trading partners?” Some more on Russia’s proposal from EUobserver:

Vladimir Chizhov told EUobserver: “Our idea is to start official contacts between the EU and the EAEU as soon as possible. [German] chancellor Angela Merkel talked about this not long ago. The EU sanctions [on Russia] are not a hindrance”.

“I think that common sense advises us to explore the possibility of establishing a common economic space in the Eurasian region, including the focus countries of the Eastern Partnership [an EU policy on closer ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine]”.

“We might think of a free trade zone encompassing all of the interested parties in Eurasia”.

He described the new Russia-led bloc as a better partner for the EU than the US, with a dig at health standards in the US food industry.

“Do you believe it is wise to spend so much political energy on a free trade zone with the USA while you have more natural partners at your side, closer to home? We don’t even chlorinate our chickens”, the ambassador said.

The treaty establishing the Eurasian Union entered into life on Thursday (1 January).

It includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia, with Kyrgyzstan to join in May.

Modelled on the EU, it has a Moscow-based executive body, the Eurasian Economic Commission, and a political body, the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, where member states’ leaders take decisions by unanimity.

It has free movement of workers and a single market for construction, retail, and tourism. Over the next 10 years, it aims to create a court in Minsk, a financial regulator in Astana and, possibly, to open Eurasian Economic Commission offices in Astana, Bishkek, Minsk, and Yerevan.

It also aims to launch free movement of capital, goods, and services, and to extend its single market to 40 other sectors, with pharmaceuticals next in line in 2016.

And as a reminder: The Eurasian Economic Union, a trade bloc of former Soviet states, expanded to four nations Friday when Armenia formally joined, a day after the union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan began.

So the ball is in your court, Europe: will it be a triple-dip (and soon thereafter quadruple: see Japan) recession as your Goldman-controlled central bank plunders ever more of what little is left of middle-class wealth with promises that this year – for real is when it all turns around, or will Europe acknowledge it has had enough and shifts its strategic, and trade, focus from west (speaking of the TTIP, Germany’s agriculture minister just said “We can’t protect every sausage” referring to the TTIP) to east?

Considering just whose interests are represented by the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, we won’t be holding our breath.