Russia, US move along same track to build up smart weapons potentials

 

Russian Navy Caspian Flotilla ship taking part in air strikes against remote Islamic State targets in Syria

Russian Navy Caspian Flotilla ship taking part in air strikes against remote Islamic State targets in Syria

MOSCOW, October 22. /TASS/. The first tests of the United States’ missile defense system in Europe were the Pentagon’s response to the successful use of Russia’s sea-launched cruise missiles from the land-locked Caspian Sea on October 7 against military targets of the Islamic State in Syria, polled experts have told TASS.

On Tuesday, the United States for the first time held tests under the European missile defense program. In a joint exercise with NATO allies it destroyed a dummy ballistic missile over the northern Atlantic. The commander of the US naval forces in Europe and North Africa, Admiral Mark Furguson, said the exercise demonstrated the United States’ readiness to protect Europe with ships armed with the Aegis missile defense system.

The deputy director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Pavel Zolotaryov, said the US test of its “anti-missile umbrella” in Europe was the Pentagon’s response to the launch of Russian cruise missiles against Islamic State positions in Syria.”

Zolotaryov does not believe that the missiles launched in the process of testing the US missile defense in Europe pose any threat to Russia’s nuclear potential, though. “The range of the guided interceptor missile Standard-3 (SM-3) Bloc 1A does not enable it to hit strategic targets inside Russian territory,” Zolotaryov, a former senior officer at the Strategic Missile Force Staff, told TASS.

“The United States and its NATO allies are building up its cutting-edge smart weapons potential. The great discrepancy between their potential and Russia’s own capabilities cannot but cause alarm. Potentials’ disparity is always fraught with a risk to security. Russia is on the right track as it builds up both smart weapons and counter means. In fact, the United States and Russia are moving along parallel lines, Zolotaryov said.

Infographics The US missile defense system and NATO European Missile Defense SystemThe US missile defense system and NATO European Missile Defense System

The US has announced plans to reject the deployment of the fourth stage of the missile defense system in Europe and to refocus towards protection against potential North Korea missile attacks. Infographics by TASS

“That the US has been launching missiles within the framework of NATO exercises does not look like something out of the ordinary to me. Russia, too, has been practicing attacks against ballistic missile targets with its new generation S-400 air defense system. That’s a normal competition procedure,” the president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Konstantin Sivkov, told TASS.

“The United States’ missile defense tests in Europe were a routine procedure to practice interaction between the naval component and the ground-based systems. We, Russian specialists, have seen nothing new in the just-held experiment. The United States was making such tests back six years ago,” Sivkov said.

“The armed forces of NATO and Russia have the same task of keeping abreast of the world situation. Each country has the right to test its own weapons. And each country is entitled to the right to interpret another country’s actions as a challenge or a threat. This is also quite normal in the context of the current strained situation in the world,” the deputy director of the Institute of Military-Political Studies, Aleksandr Khramchikhin, told TASS.

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Really? NATO Respects Duty to Not Build Bases Near Russia – US Commander

Flags wave in front of soldiers who take positions with their army vehicles during the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland, Thursday, June 18, 2015

 

The US Army in Europe Commander stated that NATO respects the agreement with Moscow not to station bases close to the Russian border. But will these words come true?

 NATO respects an agreement with Russia to not build bases near its borders, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the commanding general of the US Army in Europe, said.

“The alliance […] respects the NATO-Russia Founding Act which said that no NATO bases would be established in former Warsaw Pact countries. It’s not a treaty but it was an agreement. And so I think in order to keep the alliance together there won’t be much support by most nations to put a NATO base closer to Russia,” Hodges said in an interview with the Defense News weekly.

NATO-Russia relations soured due to the Ukrainian crisis. NATO has recently increased its military presence in Europe, particularly in Eastern European countries bordering Russia.Russia has expressed concern over NATO’s growing military presence in Eastern Europe, warning that it is a threat to regional and global stability.

NATO Spy Plane Roamed Skies Over Siberia

C-130 Hercules

 

During the past several days, a US observation plane has been flying over Russian skies, taking photos of military installations and equipment, Russian media reported on Monday.

A Lockheed C-130H Hercules with US, French and now Ukrainian military specialists on board carried out a series of observation flights over Western Siberia from August 31 to September 4, the Sovetskyaya Sibir newspaper wrote, citing a Novosibirsk-based aerial photographer Nikolai Yenin.“This plane has been flying circles over our cities on an absolutely legal basis… We had exactly the same thing happening here in 2013, but then there were no Ukrainians on board the NATO observation plane. This is the first time we see Ukrainians spying on us along with their Americans and French colleagues,” Nikolai said.

On September 3 the NATO plane was seen flying over Novosibirsk and the next day it was seen over Krasnoyarsk, Yeniseisk, Abakan and Kemerovo.

On September 4 the Hercules left Sovosibirsk’ Tolmachevo airport and headed towards Moscow.

Since 2002, Russia, the United States and a number of other signatories to the Treaty on Open Skies have allowed a limited number of observation flights over their turf.International agreements set the number of flights, the type of surveillance equipment on board and airports that can be used.

This year, the US — which flies European Open Skies missions out of Royal Air Force Mildenhall in England — began flights to Siberia out of Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a military transport plane often used for surveillance missions.

In 1958 a C-130 was shot down by Soviet interceptors during a spy mission over Armenia.

Moscow Hopes NATO Participates in Future Army Games

The Angolan crew driving a T-72B tank during the Tank Biathlon 2014 world championship. The competition took place at the training ground of the 2nd Guard Motorized Rifle Taman Division in the village of Alabino

 

Russia’s deputy defense minister said he believed that Western European countries and the United States will join the Army Games in the future.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov expressed hope on Thursday that the United States and other NATO members would, at some point, participate in the Army Games international contest.The International Army Games, organized by the Russian Defense Ministry, will be held in various locations in Russia August 1-15. According to the Defense Ministry, it will feature 13 contests. NATO member states were invited to take part in the contest, but declined, citing political reasons. The competition will gather 57 teams from 17 countries.

“I believe, there will come a day when our colleagues from Western European countries, the United States will venture upon an open competition. If you will, it is in a way a challenge to our colleagues from NATO countries, Western Europe to compete at our ranges,” Antonov told reporters.

The deputy defense minister noted Russia’s readiness to visit NATO ranges to demonstrate during the games “who is better, who is more powerful, more trained and qualified.”

Relations between NATO and Russia deteriorated sharply amid the Ukrainian crisis, with the alliance blaming Moscow for its interference in the Ukraine internal conflict, a claim that Moscow has repeatedly denied.

Ukraine Grants Foreign Troops Right to Enter Country Ahead of G7 Summit

US and Ukrainian soldiers

On the eve of the G7 summit in Germany, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a range of controversial amendments to an existing law that would allow foreign forces to enter the country – a decision which could potentially threaten the already fragile situation in Donbass
 

It could be that Kiev is simply trying to expand its cooperation with the EU and NATO in the hopes of securing an invite to become a fully-fledged member. However, the timing – right on the eve of the G7 Summit and amid renewed clashes in the Donbass region – is somewhat suspect.That, in turn, undermines hopes for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Donbass where fighting has recently broken out again near the city of Marinka. In this situation, deployment of foreign troops in Donbass could possibly aggravate the crisis and lead to a new escalation in violence.

The adopted amendment would widen the basis for allowing foreign troops to enter the country. Particularly, foreign military forces can be deployed by “Ukraine’s demand for conducting an international peacekeeping operation on its territory after UN or EU authorization.”

At the same time, the law prohibits deploying troops by a country which is designated as an “aggressor state” by the Ukrainian government.

 

According to the explanatory notes, the deployment of foreign troops “would help as soon as possible normalize the situation and restore law and order in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions as well as constitutional rights of their residents.”The idea to deploy foreign military forces in Ukraine has been avidly discussed since mid-April. For instance, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called for sending UK peacekeepers and a UN mission to the war-ridden Donbass Region.

It was also reported the issue was discussed during a phone talks between “Normandy four” leaders (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) on April 30.

At the time, the official website of the Ukrainian leader reported that “Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on the possibility to send peacekeeping forces to Donbass to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.” However, Moscow dismissed the allegations saying that a peacekeeping mission requires authorization by both parties to the conflict – Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donbass republics.

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French Dreams of Becoming Reliable Arms Supplier Could Sink With Mistrals

The Vladivostok Mistral-class helicopter carrier

France is desperately searching what Reuters called “a face-saving compromise” with Moscow over the stalled deal for the delivery of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers built by the Western European nation for the Russian Navy.

France has three options: deliver the warships, sell them to a third party and destroy them. The latter two amount to nothing less than an embarrassment for France since Moscow fulfilled all its obligations under the $1.3 billion agreement signed in 2011 and should have received both ships by now.

Although French President Francois Hollande was not the one who signed the deal, “it will be difficult for Hollande politically and underlines the difficulty for France to reconcile its ambitions as a global arms supplier — a sector on which thousands of French jobs depend — with commitments to NATO allies,” Reuters noted.

The Sevastopol mistral warship is on its way for its first sea trials, on March 16, 2015 off Saint-Nazaire
 

Needless to say, any option France chooses will be extremely costly. Should Paris make good on its word and deliver the ships, the United States and Poland will be furious. France is engaged in talks with both countries aimed at signing defense deals worth $6.7 billion.Keep in mind that Washington and Warsaw are ardent supporters of the narrative according to which Moscow is involved in the Ukrainian crisis. This has been cited as the primary reason for suspending the Mistral deal, although Russia has repeatedly denied these groundless accusations while actively supporting peaceful resolution of the deadly conflict through complete implementation of the Minks II agreements.

The Mistral-class helicopter carrier Vladivostok is seen at the STX Les Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire

Since France is unwilling to deliver the ships – under pressure or of its own volition – Russia is entitled to a full refund, as well as penalties. In total, Moscow reportedly seeks $1.29 billion compensation, which France does not want to pay.

Russia wants $890 million already transferred to France back, as well as a compensation for the purchase of the equipment and crew training. France is reportedly willing to pay some $870 million, a sum Moscow deems unacceptable.

Russian sailors stand in formation in front of the Mistral-class helicopter carrier Vladivostok at the STX Les Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire

Selling the ships to a third party is a complicated task, since France needs Moscow’s permission to do so. Russia has repeatedly stated that it will not sign off on this, since Mistrals were custom tailored for the Russian Navy making this an issue of national security.

 

Some speculate that Canada, Singapore or Egypt might be potential buyers but it was China that made headlines with respect to Mistrals. Purchasing helicopter-carriers for a nation aspiring to become a major naval power makes sense.However, Washington would be as displeased with France for selling the ships to Beijing, as it would have been if Paris delivered them to Russia. The United States and China has locked horns over the South China Sea, a stretch of water, including numerous islands, disputed by Beijing and a number of local nations.

The rumors that China is interested in Mistrals, let alone will buy the ships, remain unconfirmed.

Meanwhile, France is paying $5.5 million of maintenance costs of the Mistrals docked in the French naval shipyard of Saint-Nazaire.

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Russia Stations Iskander Missiles in Kaliningrad: NATO Cries Wolf

Exercises for installing Iskander missile system

The deployment of Iskander-M missile complexes in Kaliningrad will “fundamentally change the balance of security in Europe,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a speech at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday.
 

Stoltenberg described Moscow’s actions as “unjustified, destabilizing and dangerous” while adding that the alliance did not wish to deepen its confrontation with Russia.In Moscow President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov dismissed the NATO chief’s words about Moscow allegedly using military drills as a cover for moving troops to Ukrainian territory as “irrelevant.”

On Wednesday, Czech General Petr Pavel who will assume office of Chairman of the NATO Military Committee on June 1, 2015, said that Russia is capable of seizing the Baltic countries and the Ukrainian capital of Kiev within two days.

The general also believes that if Russia launched an offensive then NATO forces would be incapable of repelling the attack.

Major General Mikhail Matvievsky, chief of Strategic Missile Forces and the Artillery of the Russian Ground Forces, said earlier this month that a missile brigade redeployed to the Kaliningrad region would be equipped with Iskander-M complexes before 2018.

The Iskander-M (also referred to as NATO’s reporting name SS-26 Stone) is characterized by high mobility and maneuverability, as it takes just 20 minutes to place the system in operational readiness.

The system is capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 500 kilometers, with a precision of around 30 centimeters. It can hit adversary troops or underground command centers, depending on the warheads placed on the rockets.

The system can also fire high-precision R-500 cruise missiles.

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