Russia Not Convinced That Assad Used Chemical Weapons

 

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin hopes to send a delegation of Russian lawmakers to the United States to discuss the situation in Syria with members of Congress, the Interfax news agency reported Monday.

Russian legislators Valentina Matvienko and Sergei Naryshkin proposed that to Putin, saying polls have shown little support among Americans for armed intervention in Syria to punish its regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack.

The lawmakers said maybe U.S. legislators can be persuaded to take a “balanced stance” on the issue. Putin supported the initiative, which would require formal approval by the Foreign Ministry.

Russia has sent legislators to the U.S. before to try to persuade Congress about pending legislation. But sending a delegation to Washington to discuss Syria’s civil war could be seen as a publicity stunt, given the strong positions Moscow already has taken as a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. The U.S. has accused Russia of providing military support to Assad that has allowed Assad to cling to power during Syria’s civil war.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed evidence of the alleged chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime as “absolutely unconvincing.”

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UN weapons inspectors leave Syria earlier than planned

August 31, 2013

SOURCE

The 13 inspectors, led by Ake Sellstrom, brought forward their departure from 7am on Saturday to 4am, despite travel being considered dangerous around that time.

Their departure has opened a window for a possible US strike after President Barack Obama on Friday gave his clearest indication yet that a military intervention was imminent.

He said his administration was looking at the possibility of a “limited, narrow act”, while stressing no final decision had been taken on whether to unleash military strikes against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

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Obama Pushes Nations Into World War 3

Anthony Gucciardi
Storyleak
August 27,2013

The plunge into taking military action on Syria is not just reminiscent of Iraq, but is representative of Obama’s continued hot war against Russia that has gone from proxy to direct over the last several days.

The situation in Syria has always been a proxy war between the United States and Russia, and that is even admitted by the mega news networks who don’t ever dare to mention Obama’s secret orders demanding support for the Syrian rebels back in 2011 (in order to crush the Putin-backed Assad). But that all changed when Israel directly attacked a Russian missile depot, launching what amounts to a direct attack on the Russian forces.

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Obama Suggests Further Cuts to U.S., Russian Nuclear Arsenals As China’s Buildup Continues

PLA soldiers stand on military vehicles during a military parade marking China’s 60th anniversary near the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) – See more at: http://cnsnews.com/image/china-13#sthash.8CAdvPvc.dpuf

(CNSNews.com) – President Obama’s offer in Berlin Wednesday for sweeping further cuts to the U.S. and Russian deployed nuclear weapons arsenals has raised many questions, including one that has House Republicans and the Kremlin in rare agreement on one point at least – what about China?  Under the 2010 New START treaty, the U.S. and Russia agreed to reduce deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550 by 2018, down from the current 2,200. Obama’s proposal of a further one-third cut would take them to around 1,000.

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Israel ‘will bring down Assad’ if he retaliates for future airstrikes

Jerusalem conveys unprecedented threat to Syrian president, unnamed officials say; Israeli source tells NY Times further raids contemplated on weapons shipments

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks into Syria from the Golan Heights in January 2013. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks into Syria from the Golan Heights in January 2013. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/FLASH90)

By Times of Israel staff

Israel has warned Damascus that if President Assad chooses to hit back at Israel for any further Israeli military strikes, Israel will bring down his regime.

An Israeli official confirmed Wednesday night that a dramatic and unprecedented message to this effect had been conveyed to Damascus, Channel 2 news reported.

The report said that Israel’s position to this effect also came up during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s emergency meeting in Russia on Tuesday with President Vladimir Putin, during which Netanyahu also told Putin of Israel’s profound opposition to Russia’s sale of sophisticated S-300 missile defense batteries to Assad.

The warning came hours after mortar shells hit the Mount Hermon area for the first time in the two-year Syrian civil war, and as Arabic newspapers reported talk of Hezbollah opening “a new front” against Israel on the Golan Heights.

Syria vowed last week to respond “immediately and harshly” to any further Israeli airstrikes, after Israel carried out two early morning attacks earlier this month on weapons consignments being stored in and around Damascus en route from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The shipments contained highly sophisticated Fateh-110 missiles.

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to Turkish TV station Ulusal Kanal on April 2, 2013. (photo credit: image capture from YouTube video uploaded by SyrianPresidency)

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to Turkish TV station Ulusal Kanal on April 2, 2013. (photo credit: image capture from YouTube video uploaded by SyrianPresidency)

Confirmation of Israel’s warning to Assad came soon after the New York Times quoted an Israeli official issuing the same threat. The New York Times said Israel was “considering further military strikes on Syria to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to Islamic militants,” and that an unnamed Israeli official had contacted the paper to warn: “Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah. The transfer of such weapons to Hezbollah will destabilize and endanger the entire region. If Syrian President Assad reacts by attacking Israel, or tries to strike Israel through his terrorist proxies, he will risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.”

The New York Times report speculated that Israel “could be trying to restrain Syria’s behavior without undertaking further military action, or alerting the international community to another strike. That would ratchet up the tension in an already fraught situation in Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than two years.”

Channel 2 on Wednesday night showed satellite images of what it said was a surgical strike, reportedly carried out by Israel at Damascus airport to target the Iranian missile consignments. It showed before and after pictures of specific buildings that had been blown up, while neighboring buildings remained intact. Israel has not formally confirmed either of this month’s attacks.

Channel 2 shows a satellite image of Damascus Airport before (right) and after an airstrike in early May. (photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)

Channel 2 shows a satellite image of Damascus Airport before (right) and after an airstrike in early May. (photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)

Channel 2 also said that some in the Israeli security establishment were assessing that the unprecedented firing of mortar shells into the Mount Hermon area from across the Syrian border earlier Wednesday may have been deliberate, rather than a case of fallout from fighting between Assad’s forces and Syrian rebels.

Also Tuesday, several Arabic media sources reported that Syria was prepared to give Hezbollah leeway to open a “new front” against Israel in the Golan Heights. Iran, a report in the Palestinian Al-Quds daily said, had persuaded Assad “to open the door to jihad” in the Golan Heights in an effort enable Arab and Muslim fighters to unite and confront Israel, so that they’re “ready” if Israel strikes Syria again.

In the comments quoted by the New York Times, the Israeli official said “Israel has so far refrained from intervening in Syria’s civil war and will maintain this policy as long as Assad refrains from attacking Israel directly or indirectly.”

“Israel will continue its policy of interdicting attempts to strengthen Hezbollah, but will not intercede in the Syrian civil war as long as Assad desists from direct or indirect attacks against Israel.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (photo credit: AP/ Maxim Shipenkov)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (photo credit: AP/ Maxim Shipenkov)

Channel 2 said Netanyahu had made clear to Putin — as he also had in recent conversations with US President Barack Obama and the Chinese leadership — that Israel would hold to its “red lines” as related to Syria, which included preventing the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah and other rogue organizations.

Netanyahu, who sought the meeting in part to persuade Putin not to sell advanced S-300 missile defense systems to Assad, told the Russian president that the S-300 was not a weapon of relevance to civil war, but was rather a system that, if acquired by Syria, “is likely to draw us into a response, and could send the region deteriorating into war,” Channel 2 reported.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon reiterated Israel’s red lines publicly last Tuesday: “Whether it is the transfer of high-quality weapons to terrorist organizations or violation of our sovereignty across the border, in all these cases we will strive to protect the security of the State of Israel,” he said.

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Netanyahu to Putin: ‘Your missile sales to Assad could trigger war’

PM says sophisticated S-300 system has no relevance for Syrian regime’s civil-war battles, but that its delivery by Moscow could prompt an Israeli response, Channel 2 reports

A Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (photo credit: AP)

A Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (photo credit: AP)

By

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that Moscow’s sale of a sophisticated missile defense system to President Bashar Assad could push the Middle East into war.

Netanyahu, who flew to meet Putin for emergency talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, told the Russian president that the S-300 had no relevance to Assad’s civil-war battles against rebel groups, and urged Moscow not to deliver the systems, Channel 2 reported on Wednesday night.

He said that if acquired by Assad, the S-300 — a state-of-the-art system that can intercept fighter jets and cruise missiles — “is likely to draw us into a response, and could send the region deteriorating into war,” the Channel 2 report said.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, asked last week about possible sales of the S-300 to Assad, said cagily: “Russia is not planning to sell. Russia has been selling for a long time, has signed contracts and is completing deliveries of technology that consists of anti-aircraft systems.”

Lavrov said the weapons were to help Syria defend itself against air attacks. Israel suspects that Russia plans to sell Damascus six S-300 missile batteries, as well as 144 missiles, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (photo credit: AP/ Maxim Shipenkov)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (photo credit: AP/ Maxim Shipenkov)

Netanyahu, who flew to meet Putin despite have only just returned from a trip to China, took with him his National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and the head of military intelligence in the IDF Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin went too, to help with translations.

Netanyahu also briefed Putin on Israel’s intel assessment of Assad’s alleged chemical weapons use. He also filled the president in on Israel’s information concerning Syria’s transfer of arms to Hezbollah.

At a brief joint press conference, the Russian president said that the only way to resolve the crisis was via “the soonest end to armed conflict and the beginning of political settlement.”

He added: “At this sensitive moment, it’s particularly important to avoid any action that could destabilize the situation.”

Netanyahu, however, said that the volatile situation in the Middle East requires action to improve security. “The region around us is very unstable and explosive, and therefore I am glad for the opportunity to examine together new ways to stabilize the area and bring security and stability to the area,” he said. The prime minister’s bottom line was that “Israel will do whatever it takes to defend its citizens.”

Russia has continued to ship weapons to Syria, despite the civil war there, but it so far has refrained from providing Damascus with the S-300s, which has a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles), and the capability to track down and strike multiple targets simultaneously with lethal efficiency.

The weapon would mean a quantum leap in Syria’s air defense capability, including against neighboring countries.

Israel reportedly attacked suspected shipments of advanced Iranian weaponry — the Fateh-110 surface-to-surface missile — in Syria with back-to-back airstrikes this month. Israeli officials signaled there would be more attacks unless Syria refrains from trying to deliver such “game-changing” missiles to Hezbollah. Hezbollah said weapons shipments won’t cease.

On Monday, Israeli Tourism Minister Uzi Landau accused Russia of destabilizing the Middle East by selling weapons to Assad’s regime. “Anyone who provides weaponry to terror organizations is siding with terror,” Landau said.

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It’s not just the missiles

The S-300 air defense system that Netanyahu is urging Putin not to sell to Syria is the ‘ultimate’ in protection. But it’s still only a part of the wider problem: Russia’s unwavering support for Bashar Assad

A Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (photo credit: AP)A Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (photo credit: AP)

SOURCE

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, only just back from China, was back overseas on Tuesday, meeting with President Vladimir Putin to ensure –- or more accurately to plead — that Russia refrain from sending Syria four S-300 batteries, a $900 million, long-range aerial defense system that, Israeli experts say, would change the calculus of Israeli and US involvement in Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov struck a defiant tone in advance of the meeting. “Russia is not planning to sell,” he told reporters in Warsaw, without specifying which systems he was referring to. “Russia already sold them a long time ago. It has signed the contracts and is completing deliveries, in line with the agreed contracts, of equipment that is anti-aircraft technology.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (photo credit: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (photo credit: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian state TV was even more explicit. “After the S-300s are put into service, a repeat of the Libyan scenario — the imposition of a no-fly zone over the country — would be extremely difficult,” the Wall Street Journal reported Vesti-24 as saying.

Israeli experts largely agree with this assessment. The S-300, which can intercept fighter jets and cruise missiles, “is the ultimate system,” said Uzi Rubin, the former head of missile defense at Israel’s Defense Ministry and a senior researcher at the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. “It covers enormous surfaces and is so potent that when the Cypriots bought the system the Turks threatened them with war because it endangered Turkish aircraft flying over Turkey.”

Nonetheless, Rubin said, it is the fact of Russia’s unstinting involvement on Bashar Assad’s behalf in Syria, more than the precise nature of that role, which dictates the course of events.

A review of Assad’s air defenses, their capacity and their performance in recent years — including after a 2007 upgrade — underlines the importance of the S-300 amid what thus far has been unwavering Russian support.

In 1967 Israel destroyed Syria’s air force on the first day of the war. By 1973′s Yom Kippur War the situation had changed. The Russian SA-6 system downed more than 20 IAF planes over Syria.

Yet air defense systems, Rubin explained, are a lot like locks. Some are old and feeble. They can be cut with a pair of pliers and tossed aside. Some are familiar. An experienced thief knows how to extract the combination with relative ease. And some are state-of-the-art and keep all but the best at bay.

By 1982, Israel, unbeknownst to Syria, had cracked the combination to Russian air defense. On June 9, the fourth day of the Lebanon War, after Syria had moved 19 SA-6 surface-to-air missile batteries southwest into Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in order to protect PLO forces there, Israel launched an attack. Using a combination of radar-jamming electronic warfare, radiation-seeking missiles and, according to international reports, early unmanned aircraft, the IAF destroyed 17 of the 19 batteries and downed 29 Syrian jets without suffering any losses of its own.

“That’s how it is,” said Rubin. “Air defense is always a game of cops and robbers, and once you know a system for some time, you get to know its strong points and its weak points.”

Before and after satellite images of the Syrian nuclear reactor at al-Kibar, which was reportedly struck by Israel in 2007 (AP/DigitalGlobe)

Before and after satellite images of the Syrian nuclear reactor at al-Kibar, which was reportedly struck by Israel in 2007 (AP/DigitalGlobe)

In September 2007, Israel reportedly exploited its technological advances to blind Syrian air defenses and strike and destroy Syria’s plutonium reactor in the far northeast of the country.

Subsequently, Syria set out to further modernize its aging defenses. That same year, Assad signed contracts with Russia for the Pantsir S1 mobile air defense units. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly met with then prime minister Putin to bar the sale, said Yiftah Shapir, the head of the Middle East Military Balance assessment at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “But by 2009 it had arrived.”

The Pantsir batteries were the newest layer of defense, complementing the old Russian systems from the seventies and eighties. The Israeli news site Walla recently reported that Syria now has eight such batteries. The Wall Street Journal, quoting US intelligence officials, put the number at 36.

The discrepancy may be part of the public battle over the quality of Syrian air defenses, which began in earnest in late April when an Israeli general revealed what most Western intelligence agencies apparently already knew: Assad’s soldiers had used sarin gas against rebel troops. This revelation, a clear crossing of President Barack Obama’s red line, pushed the US closer to action in Syria and triggered a flood of leaks from the Pentagon.

When briefing the president or his staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, frequently singles out Syria’s air defenses as the single greatest obstacle to US involvement in the conflict, the Wall Street Journal reported several days after the Israeli statement.

The paper quoted US intelligence and defense officials as saying that Assad’s air defense network was the most advanced and concentrated on the planet.

Rubin and Shapir agree that cumulative effect of the systems means Syria’s skies are densely protected but said that today, before the arrival of the S-300, the coverage is more tactical than strategic.

“The Pantsir units provide pinpoint coverage,” Shapir said, meaning that the batteries defend only small swaths of the sky and only from close range.

Technologically, the Pantsir is state of the art. In June 2012, a Pantsir battery shot down an American-made Turkish Phanton F-4 jet somewhere near the countries’ border line.

Yet judging by the airstrikes, reportedly executed by the IAF, in and around Damascus in January and earlier this month, their lock is easily picked. Many precision-guided strikes, said Shapir, appear to offer a path around the Pantsir.

This reportedly served Israel’s purpose of attacking specific weapons shipments. Establishing a no-fly zone — a constant blanket of air cover — is another story, as the Pantsir units are highly mobile and hard to track and could inflict losses on NATO aircraft.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Jerusalem on June 25, 2012. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Jerusalem on June 25, 2012. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/FLASH90)

Four units of the S-300 would further change the calculus. “They would cover all of Syrian airspace,” Rubin said, and “would be like a new lock on the safe.”

Rubin stressed that all locks can be picked and that Israel and the US possess the technological means to address such weapons systems, but he said they have yet to be tested on the S-300.

Al Quds al-Arabi newspaper claimed Tuesday that Assad’s army actually already possesses the S-300 system, but that it is under Russian control. This cuts to the heart of the matter: the extent of Russian-Syrian cooperation. More than the technological ability of each weapons system, the very fact of Russian involvement on the ground — in terms of technical support and strategic backing — is pivotal.

“The surface-to-air missiles are a small problem,” Rubin said, with varying degrees of severity. “The big problem is Russia itself.”

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New Chinese leader Xi Jinping first official visit to Moscow

China-Leader-Xi-Jinping-Russia-Visit

The new Chinese leader Xi Jinping chose Russia as first stop on his maiden overseas voyage.

SOURCE

China President Xi Jinping will hold meetings with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin as part of a two day visit to Moscow.

President Xi Jinping, who was made Communist Party leader in November and installed as the country’s president last week, will also hold meetings with the Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev.

Xi Jinping will attend the opening celebrations to mark ‘Chinese Tourism Year’ in Russia and will deliver a speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

A meeting has also been scheduled with officials from the Russian Defence Ministry.

Since November there has been plenty of speculation over which country would be chosen for the first foreign trip.

Xi Jinping is returning the courtesy bestowed last year, when President Vladimir Putin included Beijing into the first foreign trip of his third presidential term.

This exchange of first foreign visits is seen as the two powers’ effort to bolster their common clout in the world arena now that Russian-Chinese relations “are the best in their centuries-long history,” as Vladimir Putin put it in his recent interview to ITAR-TASS.

According to the Russian president, the two countries are working on quite an ambitious common goal “to shape a new, more just world order.”

China Russia Relations:Each other in the interests of the two countries with the same

Russia Federation and China are historically allied together in a union which has countered western global interests.

The two countries continue to share views on key global issues including Syria and Iran.

Moscow and Beijing both vetoed key UN resolutions on the Syrian crisis.

The two countries stand together, against the US-led stance on both Syria and Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.

However, economics is the critical motivation for this trip.

Last year, just before his re-election to the presidency, Mr Putin said that he wanted to “catch the Chinese wind in our economic sail”.

Russia is the world’s largest energy producer. China is the world’s largest user of energy and needs more of it.

Given the downturn in Europe, Russia needs a new customer. China wants to sign an agreement on a new natural gas pipeline with the Russians.

According to the Chinese Xinhua state-run news agency, President Xi has said that China and Russia should “strengthen coordination in international and regional affairs to safeguard world peace, safety and stability”.

Xinhua said the pivot, which will see America re-focus its attention and its military to the Asia-Pacific region, represented a “strategic mistrust” of China.

Chinese-US relations are tense with Washington accusing Beijing of industrial-level state-sponsored computer hacking.

Despite that though, the new Chinese premier Li Keqiang insisted at a press conference last weekend that both countries were committed to closer ties.

“China and the United States have their own distinctive cultures but we must learn from each other to maintain strong ties,” Premier Li said.

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A Mad Dash to Cyprus Banks and ATMs!

Residents rush to pull money from Cyprus banks as EU takes aim at Russian deposits

Cyprus.JPG
Cypriot banks and ATMs faced a run until they were ordered closed while the Parliament figures out how to satisfy demands of euro zone leaders. (AP)
Cypriots rushed to pull their money out of banks and ATMs before the tiny Mediterranean nation’s government could finalize a plan to seize depositors’ funds to satisfy austerity demands from euro zone leaders, sparking a run that prompted banks to be closed until at least Thursday.The island nation’s leaders were huddling to come up with a way to soften the blow on average depositors, with one proposal targeting accounts with deposits above $130,000. The plan elicited an angry response from Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose nation’s oligarchs may have as much as $19 billion secretly deposited in Cyprus banks.

“The European Union essentially opened a Pandora’s box.”

– Mikhail Prokhorov, Russian billionaire

“Putin said that this decision, in case of its adoption, will be unfair, unprofessional and dangerous,” Russian news agencies quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

The Brussels-based euro zone agreed on Saturday to give Cyprus a $13 billion bailout, but demanded levies that would take between 6.75 and 9.9 percent of bank deposits.

Analysts believe the measure is designed to ensure that the bailout doesn’t go toward propping up Russia‘s billionaires – including Putin himself.

“It is clear that (Cyprus) is under tremendous pressure from the European Union,” Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov told Interfax.

The $19 billion figure comes from Moody’s, and would account for as much as half of all Cypriot deposits. Cyprus’ bank deposits dwarf by 8-to-1 the gross domestic product of the nation of 1 million, indicating a dangerously oversized banking system stuffed with foreign cash. And Cypriot banks are invested heavily in Greek government bonds, which were restructured last year at the EU’s demand, incurring big losses on bondholders.

News of the coming bank accounts seizure sent shockwaves rippling through Europe and beyond. Not only did it spook wealthy foreigners who have long parked money in the island nation’s banks, it was seen as possibly setting the stage for similar grabs in bigger nations within the troubled euro zone.

“If I were a saver, certainly in Spain or maybe Italy, I think I’d be looking askance at these measures and think this could yet happen to me,” Peter Dixon, global financial economist at Commerzbank, told Reuters.

The Cypriot Parliament put off a vote on the measure until Tuesday in order to blunt the pain for small savers. But without the EU bailout, Cyprus would be headed for default, according to experts. If depositors – especially the foreigners who have made Cyprus the Cayman Islands of Eastern Europe, pull their money from banks, action by the European Central Bank may be all that can stop regional contagion. The Cypriot central bank announced all banks will remain closed until Thursday while talks on the savings seizure continue.

Russian mining tycoon and owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets Mikhail Prokhorov said euro zone leaders “had set a real financial mine under the idea of a single Europe.”

“And this is not because it touches Russian business, which can afford to lose $2 [billion] or $3 billion,” Prokhorov told the Kommersant business daily. “The European Union essentially opened a Pandora’s box.”

Some analysts say the move could send billions in Russian deposits to safer havens, such as Luxembourg, leaving Cyprus no way to pay down its bailout.

“The unhappiest of the Russians will simply look for other places to put their money,” Paragone Advisory Group analyst Alexander Zakharov told the Global Post.

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See which power is building its military

Expansion, not repair, now has become the goal

russian-akula-submarineSOURCE

by F. Michael Maloof

WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin no longer wants just to reform the Russian military. He wants boost its capabilities, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

This means that he and his Army General Staff chief, Gen. Valeryi Gerasimov, will be looking to ways to achieve advances in Russian military performance levels.

This new perspective is due to the uncertainties arising from the Arab Spring and the military’s experiences in the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia.

Gerasimov believes that the distinction between war and peace have blurred, given recent events in the Middle East and North Africa. The Arab Spring has brought about foreign intervention, chaos, humanitarian disasters and civil war, Gerasimov has pointed out.

In a recent speech, Gerasimov said that experiences stemming from the Arab Spring don’t constitute war in the traditional sense but the unrest and chaos that ensues could become the “typical war” of this century.

He said that this type of conflict creates devastating social, economic and political results that, in effect, equate to a war.

In dealing with this form of modern conflict, Gerasimov said greater emphasis needs to be placed on intelligence and dominance of the “information space.”

This new form of conflict, he said, is occurring through remote contactless war in which strategic, operational and tactical levels – offensive and defensive actions – become less distinguishable.

As a result, more of an asymmetrical, or unconventional, warfare will become more commonplace. The growing concern for a power is being dragged into a conflict that it doesn’t want.

In pointing to the way the United States has conducted limited warfare since the 2003 U.S.-Iraq conflict and then in Libya, Gerasimov believes that the U.S. approach of C4ISR is the way to go for increasing Russian military capability.

C4ISR is Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.

The Russian military will be looking to more of a non-nuclear approach than the way the armed forces are now taking. Gerasimov has the backing of a number of Russian strategists who advocate more of a non-nuclear deterrence.

Such a non-nuclear deterrence will include high-precision, long-range conventional weapons such as the U.S. now uses in its drone campaign against terrorist locations.

Remote warfare will be the preference – what some call Sixth Generation Warfare – that will rely more on information and communications systems and the ability to hit targets with great precision from half a world away, as the U.S. does now in its drone warfare.

Advocates want this type of warfare integrated into Russia’s military doctrine. It is a form of network-centric capabilities.

This is a type of warfare developed by the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1990s. It calls for a robust networked military force capable of information sharing.

This information sharing improves the quality of information and shared situational awareness which, in turn, enhances collaboration toward mission effectiveness.

Because Russia doesn’t have a non-nuclear deterrence policy doctrine, Russian strategic thinkers believe the approach of C4ISR network-centric warfare offers the only viable conventional option to meet future international crises.

Moscow’s defense plan remains secret but analysts believe the Russian military will be going the way Gerasimov outlined in his recent speech to increase its conventional capability through C2ISR within the next five years.

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