Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

US SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN WARNS OF PUTIN ON VISIT TO SWEDEN

August 20, 2015

thelocal.se on August 19, 2015, reported on US senator and former presidential candidate John McCain slamming Russia over its increased military activity in the Baltic region on a visit to Stockholm. Excerpts below:

John McCain spoke to reporters on August 19 on his brief visit to Stockholm with Republican party colleague John Barrasso and Democrat senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Top of the agenda were environmental issues, IT security and Russia.

“We underline our concern for Russia’s activities in the region and its military build-up,” McCain told Swedish media after he met Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Sverker Göranson.

“We all need to understand who [Vladimir Putin] is and what he wants. He wants to restore the Russian Empire,” said the 79-year-old war veteran, who has been a member of the US senate for the state of Arizona since 1987.

McCain has long advocated a more aggressive approach towards Russia…

The two countries have enjoyed a strained relationship in the past year, with Sweden’s security service Säpo stating that Russia posed the biggest intelligence threat to the Nordic nation in 2014.

Earlier this year in June, a report for the US-based Center for European Policy Analysis (Cepa) claimed that some 33,000 Russian soldiers rehearsed a military takeover of the Baltic Sea area on March 21st to 25th, including practising the seizure of the island of Gotland off Sweden’s east coast.

The revelation followed an incident last September when two SU-24 fighter-bombers allegedly entered Swedish airspace in what the former Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called “the most serious aerial incursion by the Russians” in almost a decade.

The following month a foreign submarine was spotted in Swedish waters, although the Swedish military was unable to determine where it came from.

Sweden has announced it would be stepping up its military power, including stationing 230 Swedish troops on Gotland from 2018.

Commentary: It is important that the dire situation in the Baltic area is noted in the United States. The suggested stepping up of Swedish military expenditure is too small. The Swedish center-left government is endangering Sweden’s security by only improving the Swedish military slightly. It is impossible to defend the island of Gotland with only additional 230 troops. If Russia occupies the Aland archipelago between Sweden and Finland this would pose a great risk to the Stockholm area. This danger has been identified by highly placed politicians in Finland.

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PLAYING CATCH-UP IN THE ARCTIC

August 5, 2015

In a commentary on August 3, 2015, in Washington Times David Hunt pointed out that America is missing a chance to check Russian ambitions in the Arctic. The U.S. Government Accountability Office says that the Obama administration is forcing the military to measure ice levels in the resources-rich Arctic. The president’s thinking, according to reports, is that shrinking ice could force us to institute a “military and homeland security presence” in the region. Excerpts below:

I’m all for having a strong military presence in the Arctic. In fact, the need for one has already been demonstrated and doesn’t require analysis of ice levels to understand why.

The Arctic is an incredibly important region geopolitically that is home to critical natural resources, including about 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas, as well as vital trade routes.

As the United States has dithered in the Arctic, Russia has deployed an array of fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missile systems, and state-of-the-art radar systems to islands off the Russian coast in the Arctic.

It is an example of Russia’s latest militarization and construction blitz. After sending in about 38,000 troops with new radar and guidance system capabilities, nuclear-powered submarines, and various warships and icebreakers, Russia is now constructing an assortment of Arctic search-and-rescue stations, deepwater ports, airfields and air-defense radar stations that will allow other merchant, survey and military vessels to continuously ply through the Arctic ice securely.

Russia has also increased its military spending by a third, even though it’s in the middle of an economic downturn.

While the recent U.S. accession to chairmanship of the Arctic Council presents an opportunity for leadership, America continues to be anchored by constraining policies and misplaced priorities that have greatly hampered …influence in the Arctic. Access to natural resources in the U.S. Arctic offshore, which contains an estimated 23.6 billion barrels of oil and 104 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, has been severely curtailed through restricted leasing opportunities and increasing federal regulatory obstacles and delays. In addition, we have just two heavy diesel icebreakers and one medium icebreaker, only one of which is currently functional.

From a geopolitical perspective, the government would be wise to promote Arctic energy production as a strategic neutralization tactic against the Russians. Oil revenue finances more than half of Russia’s coffers, and production and exports have dropped ever since oil prices fell about a year ago.

Recent actions by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries highlight how US production can weaken the interests of our adversaries around the world.

Building a strategy that truly facilitates economic development in the U.S. Arctic would also enable America to take advantage of new shipping routes that have materialized thanks to continuously melting ice. Russia has already jumped on this commercial opportunity; the Russian Northern Sea Route, according to reports, could soon rival the Suez Canal in economic importance.

Americans are used to being No. 1, but when it comes to the Arctic and its record quantities of yet-to-be-tapped oil, gas, mineral and fishery reserves, we don’t even qualify for the silver or bronze. As such, we’re jeopardizing our worldwide competitiveness and leadership, and risking a renewed reliance on imported oil and gas. There’s only one way we can change this. We must push our president to think more strategically about the Arctic, or elect someone who will.

David Hunt is a retired U.S. Army colonel and a former security adviser to the FBI. He served as counterterrorism coordinator for the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul.

U.S. CEDES ARCTIC TO RUSSIA: ‘WE’RE NOT EVEN IN THE SAME LEAGUE’, SAYS COAST GUARD CHIEF

July 10, 2015

Washington Times on July 8, 2015, reported Coast Guard Commandant Paul F. Zukunft saying that the U.S. is essentially ceding the Arctic’s emerging trade routes and natural resources to Russia. Excerpts below:

Warming temperatures have opened up the trade routes and access to natural resources, which Russia is taking advantage of with its increased military presences and 27 icebreakers. The U.S. has two icebreakers.

“We’re not even in the same league as Russia right now,” said Adm. Zukunft, who oversees 88,000 personnel, Newsweek reported. “We’re not playing in this game at all.”

The magazine reported that in addition to the resources Russia is sending to the Arctic, it also has filed claims with the U.N. to claim an additional 200 miles of land extending off its continental shelf. The claims will then be examined by U.N. scientists operating under a treaty called the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

LITHUANIA COULD COUNTER RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA

July 3, 2015

US Professor J Michael Waller recently visited Lithuania and was interviewed on his views on psychological and political warfare. An interview with Mr Waller was published on May 12, 2015, by the blog toinformistoinfluence. Excerpts below:

Lithuania has a potential to irritate Russia if it moves from defense to offense, information warfare specialist J. Michael Waller, says and provides several examples of how Russian diplomats could be enraged.

As a non-permanent UN Security Council member Lithuania could initiate resolutions on the human rights situation in Russia, the right of nations to self-determination, ecological security and other matters.

While Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council and has veto power, it will be forced to defend itself. That means less time to attack Ukraine, Lithuania and the United States.

Every time Russia has to veto a resolution, attention is drawn to her problems, says J. Michael Waller.

It is possible to provoke Russia to veto resolutions on human rights, security and the right to self-determination. Russia can be forced to defend itself, knowing that they will veto every critical resolution. Thus it would be deprived of their right of initiative and look bad at no cost.

An example could be to focus on the ecological safety of Lake Baikal. A Security Council resolution could bring up the ecological security of the Lake Baikal, as Moscow threatens to devastate the lake. The Buryat people living in the region want to preserve Lake Baikal, because it is their home.

This can bring up the question of self-determination of the Buryats in the United Nations. It can be supported by the Mongols and others. You might lose the vote, but it is not that is important. The most important thing is to win the diplomatic debate by forcing the world to pay attention, according to Professor Waller.

Most irritating to Russia would be if it was left isolated. That would require countries to bring together a broader coalition. For example, the question of the Karelian national minority rights in Russia could be brought up, possibly with the support of Finland. Turkey and Muslim countries are likely to support a resolution on the situation of the Crimean Tatars.

Mr Waller admits that the political landscape in Europe is changing. Strong supporters like Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski is at present focusing on internal politics. Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is out of office. But there are allies outside the political parties.

It might be possible to work with Sikorski’s wife Anne Applebaum, who is a well known journalist and writer.

The question the status of Kaliningrad enclave could be another question of interest.

Before World War II the Kaliningrad region did not exist. It was part of German East Prussia with Koenigsberg, which was renamed Kalinigrad. At the end of the war the Soviets had occupied East Prussia.

At the Yalta Conference the Kaliningrad region was given to to the Soviets. This decision is however not based on any legal document.

The Kaliningrad issue was brought up at the Potsdam Conference in 1945. The Soviet interest in Kaliningrad was mainly that the Soviet Union had no ice-free ports in the area. At the Potsdam Conference the Allies agreed in principle to the Soviet demands, but it was decided that a final decision would be made at a future peace conference. However, the Soviets did not wait and incorporated the area long before the peace conference. The Cold War began and no peace treaty was peace signed.

J. M. Waller says that the West might call into question the legal status of Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave, because according to international law it remains unclear.

Speaking about Russia Waller stressed that, like the Soviet Union, Russia is a heterogeneous country. There are many ethnolinguistic groups. Their situation could be brought up in the international arena.

Karelia is complaining about intensified Russification.This is what we should do. We should support these people. Also the Crimean Tatars. We need to give them the opportunity to speak, to strengthen their position by showing that their claims for ancestral lands are legal. We should help the Central Asian tribes – Buryats, Yakuts – to seek sovereignty or even independence.

J. M. Waller says this would be a major threat to Moscow’s centralism. According to him, similar to the movements contribute and Russians who are unhappy with the Kremlin’s policy in selected areas of the governor, mayors.

“Ordinary Russians in the regions also have no voice in deciding their own destiny. This is dictated by Moscow, which means that much is taken, but nothing is given back.

When asked if he was not afraid that his words could be used by the Russian press as proof that Washington seeks Russian destabilization, Professor Waller said: this is not intended to weaken Russia, but the power of the Chekists, embodied by Vladimir Putin.

“At the end of the Cold War we we supported the Russian Federation, we supported its secession from the Soviet Union, we supported a strong Russia, which is not based on military force, but on market economy and democratic values. The Russian leaders betrayed this idea. The United States provided billions of economic assistance to Russia, and Putin benefited from it. The Americans and Europeans contributed to support the transition of Soviet Russia to a market economy, but people like Putin and his friends have stolen the money and abandoned democracy. Of course, we do not want to weaken Russia, we want to weaken the Chekists, who now own the Kremlin “, says Mr Waller.

Professor J. Michael Waller is an expert on public diplomacy and political warfare. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy.

Dr. Waller has been a journalist and investigative writer on national security affairs, including intelligence, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism-related issues. His articles have been published in a variety of academic and professional journals, as well as Reader’s Digest, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He is a frequent commentator on the BBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR and the Voice of America.

He has researched and written about the political and psychological dimensions of terrorism, insurgency and counterinsurgency since 1983. His coverage of military affairs ranges from the guerrilla wars of Central America and Colombia to the Strategic Air Command. He was on the scene at the Kremlin in the hours before the Soviet Union was abolished, and at the Russian parliament building during the 1993 coup attempt.

He is author of several books on security, terrorism and political warfare, including Third Current of Revolution: Inside the North American Front of El Salvador’s Guerrilla War (University Press of America, 1991), Secret Empire: The KGB In Russia Today (Westview, 1994), and Fighting the War of Ideas like a Real War (Institute of World Politics Press, 2007); co-author of Dismantling Tyranny: Transitioning Beyond Totalitarian Regimes (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), editor of the Public Diplomacy Reader (IWP Press, 2007) and editor of Strategic Influence: Public Diplomacy, Counterpropaganda and Political Warfare (IWP Press, 2008).

He has been a practitioner in the areas in which he has written. In the 1980s he infiltrated and disrupted Soviet international front organizations in the U.S. and Europe, wrote what is considered the definitive work on the politico-psychological support networks for the FMLN insurgency in El Salvador, and advised the Salvadoran army on the FMLN’s international political warfare strategy and its role on ground combat operations. On contracts with the U.S. government in Honduras, he trained 88 commanders and sub-commanders of the Nicaraguan Resistance Army in political warfare and political communication. He also worked in support of Afghan Northern Alliance resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud in his war against the Soviets in the 1980s.

In the 1990s Waller worked on U.S. contracts to design and implement political warfare attacks on the Soviet and Russian intelligence services. Since 2001 he has worked on the political, financial, psychological and related networks of Islamist extremists in the U.S. and abroad under private sponsorship, and developed strategies and tactics to employ against them in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2006 FBI Director Robert Mueller presented Dr. Waller with a citation for “exceptional service in the public interest.”

Dr. Waller served on the staff of the United States Senate, and as a consultant to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Department of State, the Agency for International Development, the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, the US Army, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and other agencies.

He is a regular lecturer on information operations, PSYOP, public diplomacy, propaganda and political warfare for the National Defense University and the National Intelligence University.

He holds a Ph.D. in international security affairs from Boston University, where in 1993 he won the University Professors Award for Best Dissertation. Dr. Waller earned his M.A. in International Relations and Communication in 1989, as a John M. Olin Fellow at Boston University’s Center for Defense Journalism, graduating first in his class. He received a B.A. in international relations from the George Washington University in 1985, where he graduated first in his class as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

MORE PROOF OF RUSSIAN WEAPONS USED IN UKRAINE

April 27, 2015

Toinformistoinfluence website on April 26, 2015, reported that Russia continues to deny supplying weapons to the “separatists”. Ukraine authorities, however, presented proof that Russia is supplying weapons. Excerpts below:

Representatives of the Military Cooperation and Peacekeeping Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine presented another proof of the use of Russian weapons in the territory of Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts to Kyiv Association of Military Attaches.

Several days ago, a Ukrainian platoon defensive post near Zholobok village (located in Luhansk Oblast) was shelled by Russian aggressors, who used a 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missile system (NATO designation AT-14 Spriggan), specifically, the 9M133F-1 variant, armed with a thermobaric warhead.

According to the markings, the missile was manufactured in 2012 in Russia. These systems are used by the Russian Army. The Ukrainian Army does not possess them.

This report was published by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine at mil.gov.ua. The original photos of ATGM 9M133F-1 Kornet were posted on April 21 by Igor Gurchik on his Facebook page .

Ukrainian checkpoint #29, located near Zholobok village, which is controlled by the Russian forces, was attacked on April 18, 2015. Ten photos that are of a much better quality than the photos posted by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine can be found on the website that provided the information. The photos were taken by a Ukrainian soldier immediately after the attack, when the missile warhead was found.

COLD WAR HEATS UP AGAIN: RUSSIA REACTIVATES AIRFIELD AFTER 20 YEARS

December 11, 2013

Washington Times on December 10, 2013, reported that he U.S. “reset” with Russia just got a lot trickier: An Arctic-area Russian airfield that has been closed for 20 years is being reactivated.

Temp airfield on Kotelny Island went online in 1949…

It officially closed for business two decades ago, although its infrastructure was kept in place so that Russia’s Air Force could use it again. That time is now.

The airfield’s reactivation has been “fast,” according to The Aviationist. It stated that the status change ramped up in October when a transport plane landed there. Over the past year an expedition of 150 people with dozens of vehicles also arrived by sea, the Aviationist reported.

(Comment: there have been other signs of Russian strengthening the military forces especially in the Baltic Sea area in northern Europe).

UKRAINE SUSPENDS PREPARATIONS FOR SIGNING DEAL WITH EUROPEAN UNION

November 22, 2013

Fox News on November 21, 2013, published an AP report on the Ukrainian government saying it’s suspending its preparations to sign a landmark association agreement with the European Union. Excerpts below:

Instead, the government said in a statement posted on its website Thursday that it was setting up a joint commission to work on boosting ties between Ukraine, Russia and the European Union.

The move follows the parliament’s refusal earlier today to pass a bill allowing the release of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko…

It also dealt a harsh blow to Ukraine‘s hope to integrate with the 28-member bloc and move out of Russia’s shadow.

(Comment: No doubt the decision of the Ukrainian government is a result of unfair pressures by Russia.)