US, Norway to Inspect Russia’s Air Space

Boeing OC-135B Open Skies flies unarmed observation flights over the territories of the members of the Open Skies Treaty

02:50 25/08/2014 
 

MOSCOW, August 25 (RIA Novosti) – A group of US and Norwegian aviation inspectors plan to fly over Russia’s and Belarus’ territory this week under The Treaty on Open Skies, acting head of the Defense Ministry’s National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center told journalists Sunday.

“Between August 25 and August 30 of this year, as part of The Treaty on Open Skies, a join mission of the United States and Norway will conduct a flight over the territory of a group of member-states [Belarus and Russia] on board an American OC-135B observation aircraft,” Ruslan Shishin said.

“During the flight along the agreed course, Russian and Belarusian experts on board the plane will control the compliance with the strict agreed flight parameters and the use of the surveillance equipment identified in the Treaty,” he said.

The Boeing OC-135B Open Skies flies unarmed observation flights over the territories of the members of the Treaty.

The Treaty on Open Skies was signed on March 24, 1992, in Helsinki and currently applies to 34 countries. It came into force a decade later and established a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the entire territories of its participants.

The Treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants a direct role in gathering information about areas of concern to them. During the observation flights, the aircrafts fitted with sensors and cameras collect image data that can be shared among all signatories to support the monitoring of compliance with existing or future arms control treaties.

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US to Stop Using Soyuz Spacecraft, Invest in Domestic Private Space Industry – Reports

Launch of Soyuz-2 Rocket

12:28 22/08/2014 
 

MOSCOW, August 22 (RIA Novosti) – NASA is expected to sign a multibillion-dollar deal with a private company to launch US astronauts from the United States instead of paying Russia to use its Soyuz spacecraft, according to The Washington Post.

“In the coming weeks, NASA is expected to announce its long-awaited solution: a multibillion-dollar contract to build a US spacecraft, which could help reignite a struggling American space program,” the newspaper reported.

It went on to say that the contract would enable the United States to launch astronauts from its own soil instead of paying in excess of $70 million for a seat on the Soyuz.

At the moment, three contenders for the contract with NASA are named – SpaceX, Sierra Nevada and Boeing – but they have yet to prove their ability to safely fly humans into orbit. The company that will end up striking a deal will also have to pass NASA’s certification program, which could take years.

SpaceX and Boeing have developed capsules that can take astronauts to space, while Sierra Nevada has come forth with a “space plane,” resembling a miniature version of the space shuttle that can land on runways.

Attempts at launching a commercial space program were made during the presidency of George W. Bush but President Barack Obama’s administration did not show much support for the initiative, causing time delays.

NASA hopes to carry out two trips to the International Space Station (ISS) a year on average.

Initially, NASA intended to launch the first astronauts under the commercial crew program by 2015, however, budget issues postponed it until 2017.

Syria’s Chemical Weapons Destroyed on US Vessel Cape Ray – Pentagon

The Field Deployable Hydrolysis System used to destroy and neutralize chemical weapons sits aboard the MV Cape Ray before its deployment from the NASSC0-Earl Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, January 2, 2014.

03:38 19/08/2014 

WASHINGTON, August 19 (RIA Novosti) – Teams aboard the US ship MV Cape Ray have finished neutralizing materials from Syria’s declared chemical stockpile, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said on Monday.

“This morning, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called Navy Captain Rich Dromerhauser aboard the US ship MV Cape Ray to congratulate the ship’s crew on finishing their unprecedented work of neutralizing, at sea, the most dangerous chemicals in Syria’s declared stockpile,” Kirby said.

Hagel called the work of the crew aboard Cape Ray an important and enduring contribution to global security, according to Kirby.

“While the international community’s work to completely eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons program is not yet finished, the secretary believes this is a clear demonstration of what can be achieved when diplomacy is backed by a willingness to use military force,” the Pentagon representative said.

A week ago, Pentagon reported that military and civil experts on board of the MV Cape Ray successfully destroyed the entire stockpile of deadly sarin gas shipped out of Syria and that the teams were working to neutralize some 20 tons of chemical materials used to make sulfur mustard, another lethal gas, commonly referred to as mustard gas.

In October 2013, Syria agreed to Russia’s proposal to hand over its chemical arsenal. Some 1,300 tons of chemical weapons agents were transferred to international ships to be destroyed under the agreement. In return, the United States scrapped its plans of an airstrike against the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, who Washington accused of using chemical weapons against civilians.

The destruction of the chemicals aboard the Cape Ray began on July 7 under the aegis of UN’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Two shipboard field deployable hydrolysis systems on the American ship transformed the material into low-level hazardous industrial waste. The byproducts will be processed by facilities in the United Kingdom, the United States and Finland.

Estonia to Station US Tanks, Combat Vehicles in October

NATO troops stationed in Poland

14:33 14/08/2014 
 

TALLINN, August 14 (RIA Novosti) – Estonia’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that a US Army armored infantry company equipped with M1 Abrams tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers will be stationed in the country, Postimees newspaper reported Thursday.

Peeter Kuimet, the representative of Estonian Defense Ministry’s press service, confirmed to this to the newspaper, adding that details regarding the exact number of personnel, the date of arrival, home station and the number of tanks and other hardware are being worked out.

Earlier, US Stars and Stripes newspaper reported that in October four companies with a total of 600 troops from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry US Army Division, will be moved to Poland and the Baltic states to replace units from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, currently stationed in the region.

In April, Washington sent four paratrooper companies to Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to support its NATO allies amid the crisis in Ukraine. More than 150 troops are stationed in Estonia without heavy armament, conducting military training for local troops.

Pentagon Insists on Buying Russian Helicopters for Afghanistan – Rosoboronexport

Mi-17B5 "Hip" transport helicopters for the Afghan Army

10:07 14/08/2014
 

ZHUKOVSKY (Moscow Region), August 14 (RIA Novosti) – The Pentagon is insisting on the purchase of Russian helicopters for Afghanistan regardless of US Congress protests, the delegation head of Russia’s arms exporter Rosoboronexport told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

“Regardless of [US] congressmen’s protests, different types of substitution, switching over to US production, the American military in the Pentagon are persistently insisting on purchasing Russian helicopters,” Igor Sevastianov said at an international arms exhibition in the Moscow Region.

Russia earlier signed three contracts with the Pentagon on the delivery of more than 70 Mi-17B5 “Hip” transport helicopters for the Afghan Army.

The international Oboronexpo 2014 military technology exhibition is taking place in Zhukovsky, Moscow Region, from August 13 to 17. The event is expected to see in attendance 250 Russian firms and 11 foreign companies from Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, Germany, India, China, the United States of America, France, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland.

The expo provides an opportunity for discussions and cooperation among industry players. The equipment and hardware showcased at the exhibition can also be seen in action at a range located at the exhibition site.

Czech Republic to Send Weapons to Iraq – Czech Defense Ministry

Cargo with aid for Iraq

18:03 12/08/2014 
 

MOSCOW, August 12 (RIA Novosti) – The Czech Republic is preparing to start sending weapons to democratic forces in Iraq fighting against Islamic State (IS) militants, Jan Pejsek, a representative of the Czech Defense Ministry, told RIA Novosti Tuesday.

“At the moment, the ministry is compiling a list of supplies, and taking into account our stock. Anyway, we’re not talking about tanks and war planes. We’re talking about Czech-produced firearms and auxiliary supplies – that is what can be sent over. We’re in the early stages of the process, so I can’t expand on the subject any further,” Pejsek said.

The Czech Foreign Ministry said the weapons delivered to the Iraqi democratic forces will be used to fight against Islamic State militants. Whether the forces that use the weapons are the Baghdad forces or Iraqi Kurds is not of the primary importance, according to the ministry.

Foreign Ministry spokesman David Frous said that negotiations are currently underway to determine whether the supplies will be sent directly or via a trade contract.

Iraqi Kurds are currently being supported by the United States, which has been providing humanitarian aid and is helping to ship weapons to battle the IS extremists.

The Islamic State is a Sunni group that has been conducting an offensive in Iraq since June. The group has already taken over large parts of the country, targeting the seizure of Baghdad. Also in June, the group announced the establishment of a caliphate on the Iraq-Syria border.

Russia, Egypt Agree to Boost Military Cooperation – Putin

Russia and Egypt have agreed to expand military cooperation, Vladimir Putin announced.

19:10 12/08/2014 
 

SOCHI, August 12 (RIA Novosti) – Russia and Egypt have agreed to expand military cooperation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday after talks with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

“We actively develop our military cooperation. We signed a protocol on the issue in March. We sell our weaponry to Egypt. We agreed to expand this cooperation,” the Russian leader said.

Moscow and Cairo discussed the deliveries of high-tech Russian military products, including 24 Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets, as well as its Kornet anti-tank missile systems, and Kamov Ka-25, Mil Mi-28 and Mi-25 attack helicopters.

The Egyptian president arrived in Russia Tuesday, on his first official visit since he was elected in May 2014. The two leaders planned to discuss the implementation of joint economic projects, including the possible creation of a free-trade zone between Egypt and countries of the Customs Union, and the settlement of the conflict in the Gaza Strip. In February, when he was still Egypt’s defense minister, Sisi met with Putin in Moscow.

The United States, the European Union and their allies introduced several rounds of targeted sanctions against Russian companies and individuals after Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March, and followed up with sectoral sanctions targeting Russia’s defense, energy and banking sectors in July. In response, Russia started looking for alternative markets for its products, including in Asia and the Middle East.