US military suffers Japan base setback

                                                  

  
Four Sea Knight transport helicopters and a Super Stallion helicopter are parked at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan on Okinawa May 3, 2010. (Reuters/Toru Hanai)

Four Sea Knight transport helicopters and a Super Stallion helicopter are parked at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan on Okinawa May 3, 2010. (Reuters/Toru Hanai)

 

Opponents of a new American military base in Japan won a key victory on Sunday. Candidates against the idea now have a majority in Noga’s city assembly, as they look to block the construction of the new facility in the Okinawa Prefecture.

The assembly in the city of Noga now contains 16 members out of a total of 27 who are against the relocation of a US base from Futenma. They are both located in the Okinawa Prefecture – Japan’s southernmost district, made up of some of the Ryukyu Islands. The facility is situated in a densely-populated urban area in southern Okinawa. However, the government wants to move it to Noga, a smaller city to the north that already hosts Camp Schwab, another US Marine base.

The results will please the Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who is resolutely against the construction of the new military base. There has been significant local opposition to the relocation of the facility and the re-election of Inamine in January by a wide margin was effectively a de facto referendum on the US facility.

“Why should only Okinawa hold the burden for security of all of Japan, when the presence of US Marines doesn’t play a big role in deterring China?” Inamine, said in May, whilst on a visit to Washington, DC. “I, as mayor, have operational control over two ports that are needed for use as construction landfill and I will exercise all powers in the municipality to block access.”

Voter turnout at the assembly vote on Sunday was 70 percent, showing there is strong local interest surrounding the base. The results will come as a blow to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is in favor of the relocation move, as he sees the US presence as a needed deterrent against China.

On April 24, Abe and US President Barack Obama “affirmed the resolve on both sides” to make “steady progress” on transferring the Marine base in Futenma.

The estimated cost of the relocation is about $8.6 billion, and Japan will cover $3.1 billion of that sum.

In December 2013, the governor of Okinawa, Hirokazu Nakaima agreed to the base’s relocation in return for large-scale funds from Tokyo, which he hoped would be used to revitalize the local economy. In August, Japan’s Ministry of Defense started a drilling survey off the coast of Nago to prepare for the building of the base, which was to be built on a landfill site.

Hercules aircraft are parked on the tarmac at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan on Okinawa May 3, 2010. (Reuters/Issei Kato)

Tokyo and Washington are negotiating multiple plans regarding the relocation, according to the Japan Daily Press. One is to allow Japanese authorities to enter US bases for environmental checks and other official purposes, which Tokyo believes will complement the existing Status of Forces Agreement. Another is to advance the return of land where Futenma is currently, which is now scheduled for 2022.

In addition, Japan is suggesting that US exercises involving the controversial MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft occur in several locations – not just in Okinawa.

The United States agreed in 2006 to move the base to the coast, but local opposition prevented the potential shift. Anti-base sentiment and concern about US military operations at Futenma has long been an emotionally charged issue in Okinawa.

Japan hosts some 50,000 American soldiers and officers, particularly in Okinawa. Their presence is a constant source of tension with local populations due to crimes committed by the servicemen, disruptions caused by military flights and land use by the US forces.

For instance, last October, a local woman was raped by US military personnel. The incident provoked anger among locals and forced the American military to enforce a curfew upon its service members. The incident led to protests by outraged locals, while due to the seriousness of the case, it was held in a Japanese court. 24-year-old Seaman Christopher Browning was sentenced to 10 years behind bars, while 23-year-old Petty Officer 3rdClass Skyler Dozierwalker received nine years’ imprisonment.

The Okinawa prefecture, which is the southernmost Japanese district, is strategically vital to the US military given its proximity to the rest of Asia. The islands accounts for less than 1 percent of Japan’s total territory, but hosts about half the 38,000 US military personnel stationed in Japan.

 

 

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No ‘iron curtain’ for Russian arms industry – Rogozin

                                                       

 
 
 
US action movie actor Steven Seagal and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin (R) take part in the military exhibition "Oboronexpo-2014" in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, on August 14, 2014. (AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)

US action movie actor Steven Seagal and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin (R) take part in the military exhibition “Oboronexpo-2014” in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, on August 14, 2014. (AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)

We have no thought of throwing the country into complete self-isolation, of dropping the iron curtain. It would be a disaster not just for the defense industry, but for the entire technology sector,” Dmitry Rogozin said at the Oboronexpo-2014 forum that is taking place near Moscow this week.

He emphasized that Russia is interested in cooperation with foreign partners and was not planning to put any barriers between it and them.

The Deputy PM also thanked the representatives of foreign companies who had chosen to attend the major Russian arms forum despite the unfavorable political situation. He said that industrialists who maintain ties with Russian defense corporations could count on support from the government as well as those who only plan to enter the Russian market.

Dmitry Rogozin's working visit to Ulan-Ude (RIA Novosti / Sergey Mamontov)

Dmitry Rogozin’s working visit to Ulan-Ude (RIA Novosti / Sergey Mamontov)

 

Rogozin is known for his personal promotion of Russian defense enterprises and on Thursday he lived up to this reputation by escorting US actor Steven Seagal at the exhibition of Russian weaponry.

I invited my friend here, a lot of people criticize him at home, it is not an easy time for him right now,” Rogozin told reporters as Seagal was looking at the newest rifles produced by the Tula arsenal.

In general I would like to say that there are people in the US political and cultural elite who hold opinions different from the ones of Ms Psaki. The times of sanctions will pass and cooperation needs to remain. And the cooperation will be based primarily on mutual respect,” the Russian arms boss said.

Oboronexpo-2014 is taking place between August 13 and August 17 in the suburban town of Zhukovsky near Moscow. 212 Russian and 8 foreign companies are taking part in the show presenting the latest models of weapons and other military hardware.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (R) holds a weapon while listening to an explanation given by his deputy Dmitry Rogozin, during an inspection of Russian-made firearms at Promtechnologiya company in Moscow November 19, 2013. (Reuters / Dmitry Astakhov)

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (R) holds a weapon while listening to an explanation given by his deputy Dmitry Rogozin, during an inspection of Russian-made firearms at Promtechnologiya company in Moscow November 19, 2013. (Reuters / Dmitry Astakhov)

 

Earlier this week the head of Russia’s state owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, Anatoly Isaikin, said that he expected arms sales to foreign buyers to remain steady until 2016. Russia sold $13 billion worth of weapons in 2013, with about 37 percent of that in aircraft, 26 percent going in air defense systems, 21 percent to tanks and other army weapons, and 12 percent in naval sales.

Russian officials also said they did not expect the arms market to be hurt by the current sanctions war. “The sanctions didn’t affect our arms markets. They are traditional, and we still have them. The purchases of our arms will not go down,” Igor Sevastyanov, deputy head of Rosoboronexport told reporters

California and Ukraine National Guard gear up for military collaboration in 2015

Published time: August 02, 2014 11:10

 
AFP Photo / Martin Bureau

AFP Photo / Martin Bureau

“The Defense Department and State Department have notified Congress of our intent to use $19 million in global security contingency fund authority to train and equip four companies and one tactical headquarters of the Ukrainian National Guard as part of their efforts to build their capacity for internal defense,” Reuters quoted Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby as saying Friday.

Russia’s 10 questions for Kiev regarding downing of Flight MH17

The joint military training would take place at a facility inside Ukraine that is capable of hosting multilateral exercises, Kirby said. The advisors would be provided by US Army Europe and by the California National Guard, he added.

Also Friday, the United States pledged about $8 million in new aid to bolster the Ukrainian Border Guard Service.

The plan requires Congressional approval, but judging by the level of anti-Russian rhetoric coming from US legislators, this is expected to be forthcoming.

The California National Guard’s military partnership with the Ukraine military has existed since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Image from eucom.mil

Image from eucom.mil

 

California partnered with Ukraine in 1993 to assist the country develop its military capacity, with the two sides participating in numerous military exercises over the years, including Operation Peace Shield and Operation Sea Breeze, which has particularly irked Moscow since the exercise is occasionally held in Crimea, the home of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

The California-Ukraine partnership is expected to transition to Operation Saber Guardian – a multinational exercise involving 12 nations, including Ukraine.

It may come as a surprise to many American taxpayers that the US National Guard has nearly two dozen state partnerships with foreign countries, most of which were once part of the Soviet Union.

According to the Embassy of the United States in Ukraine, “the California–Ukraine partnership directly supports both the goals of the US Ambassador to Ukraine and Commander, US European Command.” However, the embassy provides no further details as to exactly what those specific “goals” may be.

Bad timing for California National Guardsmen?

Although the Pentagon spokesperson failed to mention Washington’s worsening diplomatic relations with Russia over the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, the announcement comes on the heels of a string of anti-Russian actions, which include a series of sanctions that target Russian businesses and banks.

The marked deterioration in Russia-US relations began late last year after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich signaled his preference for forging economic ties with Russia – which was prepared to provide a loan bailout to Kiev, something the IMF had been hoping to do – as opposed to the so-called EU association agreement.

This decision, which proved to be politically fateful for Yanukovich, triggered a harsh response from Western governments and politicians, some of whom, including Republican presidential candidate John McCain, appeared in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to agitate Ukrainians against Russia.

The level of Western meddling in Ukrainian politics became startlingly clear in January when assistant US Secretary of State Viktoria Nuland was recorded in telephone conversation with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, where the two officials are heard discussing their preferences as to whom should take over power in the country.

The icing on the cake came when Nuland was heard to bluntly declare, “F**k the EU” with regards to the European bloc’s opinion in the matter.

The latest setback in Russia-US relations came with the July 17 downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine. Western countries, following in the footsteps of the United States, have been quick to cast blame on Russia for the incident, saying it has supplied the rebels with missiles.

Moscow has emphatically rejected the accusations, while at the same time presenting Kiev with a series of questions concerning the crash, including about why Ukrainian air traffic controllers allowed Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 “to deviate from the regular route to the north, toward ‘the anti-terrorist operation zone.’”

 

US-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty lapsing: Cui bono?

The medium-range RSD-10 Pioneer (SS-20) missile system (RIA Novosti / Anton Denisov)

The medium-range RSD-10 Pioneer (SS-20) missile system (RIA Novosti / Anton Denisov)

The US has accused Moscow of violating a 1987 INF Treaty banning short and medium range ballistic and cruise missiles. Experts speculate whether Washington is nudging Moscow to pull out of a treaty to create a new ‘nuke bogey’ and offer aegis to the EU.

Washington says Russia has tested a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile thus breaching the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the US and the Soviet Union nearly 30 years ago, banning all ground-based nuclear-capable missiles with range from 500 to 5,500 kilometers, the New York Times cited.

READ MORE: US claims on nuclear missiles treaty unfounded, Russia has questions too

Though no Western media outlet has mentioned the name of the missile, there are probably only two candidates for the role of the “peace breaker.”

The first is Russia’s RS-26 Rubezh (Frontier) ICBN “ABM-killer” complex. According to a top military official, it was tested several times at distances ranging from 2,000 km to 5,700 km, RBC Daily reports.

However, Rubezh is technically out of suspicion, according to member of the Academy of Sciences, Aleksey Arbatov, as under the treaty the ballistic missile’s range is estimated as the maximum range it was tested at.

The Yars land-based mobile missile system (Reuters / Vadim Savitskii)

The Yars land-based mobile missile system (Reuters / Vadim Savitskii)

 

The second candidate for the role is the R-500, a cruise missile which can be used with ground-based 9K720 Iskander launcher. Its range is a delicate issue, said Arbatov as cited by RBC Daily. Though it has an officially announced range below 500 kilometers, its exact characteristics remain top-secret and could be argued.

According to military experts, the R-500 is a modification of the old Soviet 3M10 Granat with an estimated range of 2600 km that was initially designed for submarine launch. All land-based Granat missiles were destroyed under the INP Treaty. However, the treaty did not apply to naval missiles.

Iskander high-precision missile system in place during military exercise (RIA Novosti / Alexey Danichev)

Iskander high-precision missile system in place during military exercise (RIA Novosti / Alexey Danichev)

 

Earlier the US already complained about suspected Russian treaty violations, presumably about the R-500 and its land-based tests that reportedly had to be conducted due to lack of funding. Moscow’s explanations did not satisfy Washington, noted Arbatov adding that such decisions and arguments are usually discussed during the meeting of working groups – while now the issue has reached the presidential level.

At the same time Russian Air Force possesses a unique X-101 cruise missile – that could be adopted for surface launch – with some reports indicating its maximum range to be over 5,500 kilometers, in which case this missile would not fall under conditions of the INF Treaty either.

Timing is everything?

The situation in the world has greatly changed over the years and today Moscow and Washington remain the world’s only capitals that imposed restrictions on themselves in this regard. In the meantime Russia has several nuclear states in proximity to its borders that already have such medium-range missiles (China, India, Pakistan and probably Iran and North Korea) that can potentially strike Russian territory, whereas the US has no such neighbors.

The New York Times broke to the world on Monday that President Barack Obama sent a letter to Vladimir Putin, in which Russia is accused of testing a surface-to-surface cruise missile with an excessive range.

The first tests of those missiles were conducted back in 2008, the report suggests, and it took the Obama administration 3 years to conclude that they were a compliance concern. But the question of possible treaty violation was raised by the State Department’s arms control officials only in 2013.

When reports of Russia’s ground-based tests re-emerged in January 2014, the US administration wasn’t ready to comment on the issue or draw any conclusions and media attention to the issue at that particular time.

The US is obviously trying to force Russia out of the INF Treaty to have a pretext for further augmentation of its military presence in Europe, expert of the Institute of International Security Problems, Valery Fenenko shared with RIA news agency.

“A lukewarm conflict between Russia and the US has been drawing on since 2007. In my opinion, Americans are pushing Russia to step out of the treaty,” Fenenko opined.

Soviet medium-range mobile RSD-10 Pioneer (SS-20) missile system (Image from wikipedia.org)

Soviet medium-range mobile RSD-10 Pioneer (SS-20) missile system (Image from wikipedia.org)

 

He believes that the accusations of the INF Treaty violation is a part of American strategy of spreading anti-ballistic missile defense shield in Europe.

“Some American and Russian analysts expected Russia to respond to the imposed sanctions with threatening rhetoric towards the EU, and an obvious and harsh step of quitting the INF Treaty but that never happened,” explained Fenenko, adding that now Washington wants to fulfil the aim in a different manner.

“If Russia re-deploys medium and short range missiles that would be a direct threat to EU member states, both Eastern and Western European countries,” the expert concluded.

Fenenko specifically stressed that both Russia and the US never stopped development of such missiles because the INF Treaty does not prohibit this.

“Americans are in a much easier situation in this regard. They have allies France and the UK that haven’t signed the INF Treaty. These countries have cruise missile projects of their own that could be easily be transformed into surface-to-surface missiles,” Fenenko said.

Russia could try to impose a moratorium on the Treaty until France and UK sign the document, “but there is no chance they would sign, so that would be the end of the treaty,” Fenenko concluded.

Washington uses the alleged INF Treaty violation to boost global tensions in the background of the Ukrainian crisis and sanctions imposed on Russia, Andrey Koshkin told RT, military political analyst at Plekhanov Academy in Moscow.

“This is interconnected with the crisis situation being created by the Americans themselves,” estimated Koshkin, adding that Washington is launching a political assault on Moscow from every direction “to hype up the tensions.”

“They try to blame Russia every morning, every evening, every night – this is a salvo of accusations. They try to get western public accustomed to blaming Russia,” Willy Wimmer, the former State Secretary of the German Ministry of Defense, told RT.

 

 

Kiev forces fire ballistic missiles into E. Ukraine – US media

                                    

 

 
In the past two days Kiev’s forces have launched several short-range ballistic missiles into areas in east Ukraine controlled by self-defense forces, CNN reports, citing US government sources.

The move “marks a major escalation” in the Ukrainian crisis, CNN said.

Three US officials confirmed to me a short time ago that US intelligence over the last 48 hours has monitored the firing of several short-range ballistic missiles from territory controlled by Ukraine government forces into areas controlled by the pro-Russian separatists,” Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, said in a live report.

Short-range ballistic missiles can carry warheads of up to 1,000 pounds (450 kg) and are capable of killing dozens of people at a time, Starr said.

A Moscow correspondent for another American television network, ABC, tweeted Tuesday that the Kiev forces fired three ballistic missiles at self-defense forces near the town of Snezhnoe (Snizhne in Ukrainian) in the Donetsk Region. According to Kirit Radia, this is what a US official told ABC’s Pentagon digital journalist Luis Martinez.

Radia added that according to the official, it is likely that Ukrainian forces use such missiles since they do not want to risk their planes being shot down by sending them to the area.

The CNN gave no details regarding the exact missiles’ launch and impact point.

“In fact, the US is holding this information right now fairly tightly, officials say, because they are in an awkward position: these are, you know, the so-called ‘good guys’ firing ballistic missiles, Ukraine government forces,” Starr said on air.

 

So far, there has been no official reaction from Kiev and Moscow. The question now is how Washington – which has strongly backed the Kiev government – will comment on the revelations, CNN’s correspondent said.

Earlier this week, the US State Department released satellite images via email which it said act as “evidence” that Russia was firing rockets at Ukrainian troops across the border. Russia’s Defense Ministry stated in response that the “fake” images were created by American advisers “with close links to Ukraine’s Security Council.”

Will we see the satellite imagery of the Ukrainians firing against the separatists? That may be a very tricky political question for the US intelligence community today,” CNN’s Starr said.

However, CNN’s correspondent in Donetsk, Nick Paton Walsh, said he had heard nothing of ballistic launches in the area and nothing of that kind has been openly discussed. He added, though, that it is no secret that both sides of the conflict were using “very heavy weaponry” against each other.

Russian military experts say that if the Ukrainian military did use ballistic missiles, most likely they would be Tochka-U (NATO Designation SS-21 Scarab).

Viktor Murakhovsky told RT that the military possibly used the missile against a fixed target, such as the militia’s staff headquarters.

I’m talking about the Tochka-U tactical ballistic missile on a wheeled chassis, which the Ukrainian army has in its arsenal. It’s a Soviet-designed and produced missile. It may have a high-explosive fragmentation warhead or a disintegrating warhead,” Murakhovsky said.

Anatoly Tsyganok, the head of the Military Forecasting Center in Moscow, agreed that the Ukrainian army could have used the Tochka-U missile.

The news broke amid growing tensions between Washington and Moscow over the ongoing violent confrontation in Ukraine.

The US, giving strong backing to the Kiev government, has repeatedly accused Russia of supporting anti-government separatist forces in east Ukraine and supplying them with arms – an accusation Russia has strongly denied. Last week, US government officials claimed that Russia was firing artillery across the border into Ukrainian territory, but refused to provide any hard evidence besides some pictures captured by a civilian satellite, which were rebuffed by Russia’s Defense Ministry.

So far the US has failed to back its statements with any trustworthy proof, mainly referring to some images, “commons sense” and social media.

Charges and counter charges between the two powers have been boiling following the tragic accident with Malaysian Airlines Boeing-777 that crashed in Ukraine on July 17. The very next day after the incident, long before experts arrived at the scene and a probe was launched, President Barack Obama said that America had “increasing confidence” that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from militia-controlled territory. US intelligence said later that it found no direct link between Russia and the plane disaster. But, still, the blame-game continued with Russia being accused of “creating conditions” that led to the incident.

A fresh bunch of accusations were thrown at Moscow on Tuesday, with Obama stating that Russia was not cooperating with the international investigation of the plane crash.

Chief of the Air Force General Staff Igor Makushev and Head of the Main Operations Directorate of the HQ of Russia’s Armed Forces Andrei Kartapolov (from right to left) at the news conference on the crash of the Boeing 777 passenger airliner in Ukraine.(RIA Novosti / Vadim Savitskii)

Chief of the Air Force General Staff Igor Makushev and Head of the Main Operations Directorate of the HQ of Russia’s Armed Forces Andrei Kartapolov (from right to left) at the news conference on the crash of the Boeing 777 passenger airliner in Ukraine.(RIA Novosti / Vadim Savitskii)

 

Russia on the contrary has been calling for a transparent and impartial investigation of the tragedy from the very beginning. Russia’s Defense Ministry presented its own evidence on the movements of Ukrainian military before and after the tragedy, including surface-to-air missile systems, and a fighter jet that had been tracking the civilian aircraft. During the press conference, Russian military posed a number of questions to Kiev and Washington answers to which could shed light on what really happened on that day and help the international investigation. Those questions however were left unanswered with western media and politicians instead blaming Russia of not willing to use its “influence” on anti-Kiev forces whom they accused of hampering the investigation despite the fact that it was Kiev’s forces who intensified the military operation in the direct vicinity of the crash site.

On Tuesday however, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko finally said that Kiev is ready for a cease-fire at the MH17 crash site, as was demanded by the UN Security Council resolution on July 21. The local militia in the meantime confirmed they were ready to further cooperate with international experts investigating the crash.

‘Fake’: Russian Defence Min rebuffs US sat image claims

                                                       

 
 
 
Courtesy of US State Department

Courtesy of US State Department

The authenticity of the images is impossible to prove, the ministry added.

The Defense Ministry stated that the images posted by the US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt on his Twitter account, allegedly proving the shelling of Ukraine from Russian territory, are “fake,” ITAR-TASS reports.

“These materials were posted to Twitter not by accident, as their authenticity is impossible to prove – due to the absence of the attribution to the exact area, and an extremely low resolution. Let alone using them as ‘photographic evidence’,” Igor Konashenkov, the official representative of the ministry, stated.

“Pictures” like this, the general continued, “have also been provided by Kiev representatives as an excuse for the usage of heavy artillery and other weaponry by the Ukrainian army – against the country’s civilian population.”

“Last Friday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Valery Geletey again tried to add a sensational side to photo collages like this in the Ukrainian media – in vain. But on Sunday, the US ambassador to the Ukraine joined in, posting those satellite images on his Twitter page, which secured him the attention of the loyal Ukrainian media,” the Russian ministry said.

This scheme is called “an informational merry-go-round,” Konashenkov added, using an expression commonly uttered in Russia relating to feeding the information to the media.

“It’s no secret to anyone that fakes like this are made by a group of US counselors staying in the Kiev building of the Security Council, led by General Randy Kee,” he noted.

The general outlined the cycle as follows: the US counselors in the Kiev feed the disinformation to the Ukrainian media, with the news being taken by the Washington official representatives and presented as statements.

Afterwards, the Ukrainian media cite the US authorities and publish articles like as “objective.”

Russian ‘Blackwater’? MPs call for local security industry loophole

Russian 'Blackwater'? MPs call for local security industry loophole

RT

Nationalist party LDPR deputies have drafted a law on private military companies to the regional legislature of North Russia’s Pskov. If approved, the draft will be forwarded to the federal parliament.

The authors of the document claim it was born out of the necessity for capable and specialized commercial organizations to enforce national interests in cases when international politics or law prevent the government from using regular military forces.

“The crisis in Ukraine in which the provisionary government in Kiev is actively using Western military contractors in its interests, demonstrate the acute necessity for similar institutions in Russia,” reads the explanatory note published by the Pskov regional legislature.

According to the lawmakers, there are over 450 private military contractors in the world, with 70 percent of the services provided by the US and British companies. These firms solve many foreign policy problems for Western governments, and at the same time bring additional taxes to their national economies.

Representatives of the Liberal Democratic Party hold that Russia has a tremendous potential for expansion in the international market of private military contracts. The lack of proper legislation not only prevents this from happening, but also leads to the situation when some events inside Russia, such as international sports competitions, are serviced by Western military companies.

The prepared draft suggests introducing amendments to the current Criminal Code that directly bans the organizing of or participating in non-state armed groups. They also suggest changes to the Federal Law on Weapons that would allow military contractors to buy and use firearms and various items of military hardware.

The deputies want the Federal Security Service to license private military firms and control all of their activities. According to the sponsors of the bill, this would make the contractors controllable and accountable for their actions and create conditions for further development of the sector.

Apart from the economic and political benefits of the bill, the lawmakers point to its social component. The private military companies could be manned by veterans of the Russian military forces, law enforcement and state security structures. This step would help people who leave the service and provide them with means, without additional burdens to the state budget.

A broader program on the development of private military contractors would create workplaces and stimulate the development of the national military-industrial complex, the LDPR deputies state.

In comments to the RIA Novosti news agency, the head of the State Duma’s committee for defense, MP Frants Klintsevich (United Russia), said that the law was timely and needed. However, he emphasized that the regional legislature could not pass the law by itself and added that United Russia was preparing its own bill on private military companies together with the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior.

The MP declined to give any deadline for preparation of United Russia’s draft.