Russia Warns US of 'Unpredictable Consequences' of Arms Race

The United States withdrawal from multilateral treaties can foster a large-scale arms race.

At the Conference on Disarmament held in Geneva, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Wednesday that the U.S. recent withdrawal from both the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) leads to an “Arms race” with likely worse consequences than the Cold War’s one.

RELATED: Russia, Iran: Dedicated to 'Internal Peace' in Venezuela

"Washington made no secret of an intention to have their hands free in order to build up unrestricted missile capabilities in the regions where the U.S. tends to push through their own interests," the Russian top diplomat said and explained that the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM and INF treaties "could lead to a renewed widescale arms race with unpredictable consequences."

The Rotating Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament is held by the United States, a nuclear country whose Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance Yleem Poblete accused Russia of "aggressive activities" that have shaken European security.

Lavrov responded said the U.S. stance does not favor overcoming the Conference on Disarmament's crisis and called on Western countries to properly assess the situation.

UN in Brussels @UNinBrussels "We need a new vision for arms control in the complex international security environment of today" -- @antonioguterres at Conference on Disarmament urging countries to seek security in diplomacy & dialogue, rather than weapons.

"I'm still confident that we all have enough wisdom and strength to overcome this crisis, preserve and consolidate the existing system of international agreements on arms control and non-proliferation, and complement it with new arrangements,” Lavrov said and hoped that “our Western colleagues will be in a position to properly assess the situation and set their priorities in a new way and rejoin us in the collective efforts to ensure peace and security including arms control."

In early February, the United States confirmed the suspension of the INF Treaty, a multilateral agreement signed by Moscow and Washington in 1988, which prohibited countries from manufacturing, deploying or testing both short-range (500-1,000 km) missiles and medium range (1,000-5,500 km) missiles.

According to President Donald Trump administration, however, Russia developed the 9M729 missile, which the White House has claimed violates the INF Treaty.

  • Published in World

Russia Endeavors to Keep US from Attacking against Venezuela

Moscow, Mar 7 (Prensa Latina) Russia maintains its efforts to avoid at all costs a US military aggression against Venezuela, while providing concrete and depoliticized aid to that country, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

Russia is doing everything possible to help Venezuela keep its State institutions and democracy, for which political steps are taken, measures are coordinated with our partners and the dialogue process is collaborated, the spokesperson said.

Russia is also working to reduce tensions around Venezuela. We recently discussed this with Executive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, and the negative aspects of that situation were addressed, Zakharova told Prensa Latina.

Russia offers a real humanitarian aid to Venezuela and, instead of barbed wire or barricaded materials, it supplies necessary food and medicine to the peaceful population of Venezuela that wants to get out of the crisis and develop, the diplomat said.

In addition, we refer to the efforts to not only avert a military scenario, but also avoid, even, the threat of that policy implemented against any Latin American country, the Russian Ministry spokeswoman said.

Zakharova stressed that after the failure to impose a supposed humanitarian aid to Venezuela, as happened on February 23 on the border with Colombia, the United States is looking for other ways and pretexts to attack that country, the official warned.

Despite a restriction passed by the Venezuelan Supreme Court for the departure of legislator Juan Guaido, the government avoided falling into the trap of a provocation and the self-proclaimed president passed immigration without being arrested, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

The Russian diplomat denounced the U.S.-imposed financial blockade against Venezuela and the attempts to move to a so-called Plan B, that is, create armed groups to act from Colombia, force a conflict, and then legitimize a foreign military intervention.

  • Published in World

‘We aren’t slaves’: Erdogan defies US pressure over S-400 deal with Russia, says S-500 may follow

Ankara is not a slave to an America in which Washington decides which weapons system Turkey can purchase, the country’s president proclaimed, stressing its deployment of Russia's S-400 air defense systems will proceed as planned.

Ankara’s resilience against US pressure over the purchase of the S-400 systems remains rock solid, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan clarified on Wednesday, stressing that Turkey is a sovereign nation which has the right to choose its trade partners and arms suppliers.

“It’s done. There can never be a turning back. This would not be ethical, it would be immoral. Nobody should ask us to lick up what we spat,” Erdogan told Kanal 24.

We’re an independent country, not slaves.

The fuss over the Russian deal is now even forcing Turkey to consider upgrading to the next-generation of Russian air defense systems, the S-500, once it enters Russian military service sometime in 2020, Erdogan said.

Also on Talks on Patriot missiles get rocky, no step back from deal with Russia – Erdogan...

Claiming the need to protect NATO interoperability and to conceal the technical characteristics of US hardware from the Russians, and specifically with the Lockheed Martin F-35s, Washington has been using coercive diplomacy against Ankara, trying to force it to back down from its S-400 deal. The US insists Turkey should instead spend $3.5 billion on US Patriot missiles, an offer Ankara has repeatedly turned down in the past but is now vaguely considering if the conditions were suitable.

Also on Pentagon threatens Turkey with ‘grave consequences’ for buying Russian S-400...

The S-400 remains “a problem to all of our aircraft, but specifically the F-35,” Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday arguing that the US should stop the stealth fighter transfer to Turkey and “forfeit” sales of other military technology to its NATO ally, if Ankara deploys the Russian-made defensive weaponry as expected in July. Earlier this week a Pentagon spokesman warned of “grave consequences” and of “broader implications" unless Turkey cancels the purchase.

  • Published in World

Russia suspends INF Treaty with US - Kremlin

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree enacting Russia’s suspension of the INF Treaty, a move that was announced after a similar decision by the US. The weapons control agreement was set to expire in less than six months.

Russia is putting on ice the Cold War-era agreement, which resulted in significant demilitarization of the European continent. The US will be formally notified about the decision.

The INF Treaty may be revived if the US “eliminates its earlier violations of its obligations” under the deal, according to the decree published by the Kremlin on Monday. Otherwise it will simply expire and cease to exist.

Also on The art of no deal: Why can’t Washington reach agreements with...anyone?...

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty came into force in 1988 and banned both the Soviet Union and the US from developing and deploying land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. The agreement was signed to de-escalate tensions in Europe, where both countries had dozens of such missiles deployed, posing a risk of an accidental nuclear exchange. The missiles only needed minutes to reach their targets, leaving a very small window for the other side to decide whether a detected attack was a real one, requiring immediate retaliation, or a false positive.

The preservation of the agreement had been under threat for over a decade, with both sides complaining about the other not fully complying with its terms. The US claimed that Russia had secretly developed a missile that violated the INF – an accusation that Moscow denies.

Russia had two major complaints. One is that the US’ use of intermediate-range missiles in the development of anti-missile technology still meant that it was deploying and testing banned missiles.

The other was that the creation of AEGIS Ashore, a ground-based version of the naval system, which can fire Tomahawk cruise missiles in addition to missile interceptors. The US insists that AEGIS Ashore launchers in Romania and Poland are purely defensive, but Moscow sees them as potential launching pads for an attack on Russian territory.

Last year, the Trump administration announced that unless Russia destroys its stockpiles of the missile that the US claims to be in violation of the treaty, Washington would withdraw from the INF. With negotiations failing to resolve the situation, the US announced its formal suspension of the treaty in early February.

Russia said it would do the same and accused the US of duplicity, saying Washington was using its claim about the Russian missile as a pretext to abandon the deal, which it no longer finds convenient.

Also on Putin’s response to US quitting INF treaty ‘legitimate’ but regrettable – Ron Paul...

Moscow says it has no intention of building and deploying intermediate-range, nuclear-capable missiles on its land, unless the US does so first. But if it does, Russia has both the technology and the production capacity to respond swiftly and restore parity in nuclear forces, President Putin warned in his latest State of the Nation address. He warned that Russian missiles would target not only American missiles in Europe, but also “centers of decision” from which an order to deliver a strike against Russia may be issued.

  • Published in World

Salisbury poisoning: One year on, still no evidence of Novichok nerve agent use disclosed to public

On March 4, 2018, former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were ‘poisoned by a nerve agent’ in Salisbury, UK. Many details do not match up and what happened in reality remains a mystery (though we all know the villain, thanks).

It was on March 4, 2018 that the Skripals were admitted to a hospital in Salisbury. Within days, British Prime Minister Theresa May would claim they had been poisoned by a nerve agent called “novichok” and that it was “highly likely” the Russian government was behind the hit.

A war of words, sanctions and diplomatic expulsions followed, with relations between London and Moscow at their worst since the Cold War, and maybe worse than that. There has been no shortage of often fanciful theories emanating from UK officialdom and NATO-backed “open-source detectives” such as Bellingcat, but none have taken the world closer to knowing what actually happened.

Skripal saga, one year on: What is still shrouded in mystery

Official narrative: Russia did it!

Right from the start, the UK government, friendly media, and its NATO allies starting with the US, latched onto the alleged (more on that shortly) poisoning as the work of Russian intelligence. The “novichok” nerve agent, they said, was only made by Russia. No one else could have possibly done it. By September, the official narrative was that two military intelligence (GRU) officers had flown in directly from Moscow, allegedly left traces of the poison in their hotel room, and were caught on CCTV cameras in Salisbury on March 4. They supposedly poisoned the Skripals by smearing the nerve agent on the doorknob of their home.

Also on ‘Highly likely’ motto: West goes on offensive against Russia for Skripal poisoning");">

There is just one tiny problem with it all: None of it makes sense, given the evidence actually available to the public. Nor was any other evidence provided to the Russian government.

London peddles lies, Moscow says

Both the Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Ministry categorically denied that Russia had anything to do with the events in Salisbury. In April, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the alleged poisoning was a “false-flag incident…beneficial for, or perhaps organized by, the British intelligence services in order to mar Russia and its political leadership.”

Also on UK accusation of Russians in Skripal case ‘cocktail of lies’ timed with Idlib false flag op – Moscow...

Moscow’s envoy to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Alexander Shulgin listed eight major lies in the official UK story in April.

British media have produced some 100 theories on what exactly happened in Salisbury, widely citing various anonymous leaks – but no real evidence has been brought up, Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko told RT in September, “The major argument of the British government that only Russia is capable of producing this kind of poison is simply not correct,” he said.

Russia repeatedly said that it was willing to assist in the investigation, if Britain were to follow the rules on how such things are done. Instead, all Russian requests were stonewalled by London as it was rallying allies to punish Russia for what had happened.

So what is ‘novichok’?

The deadly nerve agent was developed in the Soviet Union in the 1970s under a program called Foliant and dubbed “novichok” (newcomer). It’s formula and manufacturing process has been known to weapon experts in the West for decades, including from people involved in its invention, who moved outside of Russia after the USSR collapsed.

Czech President Milos Zeman also debunked the UK claim that only Russia made novichok, saying in May that his country had also made a small batch and destroyed it. This should have blown the UK accusations right out of the water, but London simply shifted the narrative, saying that it was confirmed the novichok came from Russia. It wasn't and, according to OPCW, cannot be traced to its origin due to high purity of the poison.

Skeptics of the official UK narrative pointed out that the chief British chemical and bioweapons laboratory is just a few miles down the road in Porton Down.

Also on Keep calm & blame Russia: RT’s story of inconvenient facts surrounding Skripal saga (VIDEO)...

No one has offered a coherent explanation of how the fast-acting deadly nerve agent, supposedly sprayed onto Skripal’s doorknob in the morning, caused him and his daughter to pass out many hours later, did not kill either of them, and did not harm anyone else.

What happened to the Skripals?

Sergei Skripal was a former Soviet and Russian intelligence officer, arrested in 2004 and convicted of high treason for spying for the West. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, but was released in 2010 and sent to the UK as part of a spy swap. He was settled in Salisbury.

British authorities said both Sergei and his daughter Yulia – a Russian citizen who came to visit her father – had survived the attack, and were eventually released from hospital. Sergei has not appeared in public. Yulia issued one public statement through the British police, and appeared in a strange television interview with Reuters in May, asking for no Russian officials or family to contact her.

Russian diplomats were never given access to their citizens. The embassy in London described Yulia’s statement as suspicious and possibly not genuine. Her cousin Viktoria thought the same, and tried to get a visa to visit the Skripals in the UK. She was denied.

From that point, the Skripals vanished. Their relatives have heard not a peep, and there were even rumors they had been relocated to the US and been given new identities.

Also on Double agent Skripal & daughter have ‘not spoken to family in Russia since poisoning’ – niece to RT...

The Amesbury twist

On July 4, British police reported that a local couple was poisoned in Amesbury, a town in Wiltshire not far from Salisbury. Charlie Rowley, 45, recovered. His partner, 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess, died in the hospital.

Sturgess and Rowley reportedly fell ill after finding a bottle of Nina Ricci perfume in a waste bin. The perfume, which was still in the wrapper, was supposedly laced with novichok. The question remains how the bottle ended up there (still deadly, four months later). The UK police later said they were unable to confirm whether the novichok nerve agent to which the couple were exposed in Amesbury was from the same batch used to poison the Skripals in Salisbury. The plot thickened.

The unlikely first responders

Early reports of the Skripal “poisoning” mentioned “an off-duty nurse who had worked on the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone” providing first aid to the pair after they were found unconscious on a bench in the public park. It wasn’t until months later that she turned out to be none other than Colonel Alison McCourt, currently the chief nursing officer in the British Army. Her 16-year-old daughter Abigail assisted with first aid, and was put up for an award. Despite not having any protective gear, neither of the McCourts suffered any symptoms from what was supposedly one of the deadliest nerve agents going.

Also on First responder in Skripal poisoning turns out to be Britain’s most senior military nurse...

Despite spending over £10 million ($13.2 million) on the probe into the Salisbury and Amesbury cases, the UK government had produced little or no evidence to the public of the “highly likely Russia” hypothesis by August.

The curious case of Petrov & Boshirov

As more and more information put pressure on the official narrative, the intrepid Atlantic Council-backed “open-source” sleuths at Bellingcat pounced on the case, finding two Russians who were in Salisbury on March 4, naming them as suspects and accusing them of being GRU.

Putin responded by saying that both men were civilians, and called on them to appear in public. So they did, giving an interview to RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan on September 13. They insisted they were just friends, civilians, tourists who went to Salisbury to visit the famous cathedral, and denied having any connection to the perfume bottle.

Former Scotland Yard detective Charles Shoebridge was skeptical the duo would be spies, telling RT they had “absolutely left what seems to be a very reckless and clear trail of evidence, which almost seems to be designed, or at least would almost inevitably lead to the conclusions that the police and the authorities have come to today.” That is, pointing to Russia.

Bellingcat’s rabbit hole

Meanwhile, the “detectives” at Bellingcat were not satisfied with “identifying” Petrov and Boshirov. They set out to prove the men were actually super-secret Russian spies.

Boshirov, they claimed in late September, was really highly decorated commando Colonel Anatoly Chepiga, and Petrov was likewise a distinguished military physician Aleksandr Mishkin. Not stopping there, they also claimed the Russian security services had pressured the UK to issue visas to spies, and even that there was a “third suspect,” one Sergey Fedotov, who might have also been involved in Brexit somehow.

Sanctions first, proof later

British allies in Europe and across the Atlantic did not wait for evidence to act against Moscow. They quickly expelled over 150 Russian diplomats, including from the mission to the UN.

In late March, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US was satisfied to take Britain’s word for what happened in Salisbury. Washington later also imposed drastic sanctions against Russia, accusing it of “chemicals weapons use.”

In January 2019, British authorities informed the Skripals’ neighbors in Salisbury they would be demolishing the former spy’s house, effectively destroying the crime scene without providing a shred of evidence to Russia.

Integrity Initiative

Bellingcat’s “research” was tirelessly promoted by journalists and activists who ended up being exposed in November as agents of the “Integrity Initiative,” a shadowy group working for the government-funded Institute for Statecraft. The documents unmasking the II and IFS were posted online by hackers claiming to be part of the anarchist collective Anonymous, and the “network of networks” found itself under scrutiny for smearing UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a Kremlin stooge – ostensibly as part of its noble crusade against anti-Russian disinformation.

One of the documents was the “narrative” of the Skripal affair blaming Russia for it, and reflecting entirely the official story as put forth by the government and presented in the media. Another document showed the group was advocating harsh measures against Russia as early as 2015, hoping for an incident that it could use as a trigger.

The clash of geopolitics and vested interests has done little to shed light on what actually happened to the Skripals.

  • Published in World

‘Challenging’ Russia in the Arctic: Political posturing or a war in the making?

As Russia bolsters its efforts to secure and tap the Arctic, both the UK and the US have been vowing to meet its “challenge” – a premise that could lead to war, experts say, if their naval powers could muster the capabilities.

“It’s nobody’s lake,” said US Admiral James Foggo in a recent interview with US media – the latest in a string of American warnings against Russia’s northward push. His concern is primarily for “Arctic Council nations – of which we are a member,” and which are not interested in the Northern Sea Route being exploited by adversary powers like Russia and China.

UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson recently joined the chorus of warnings, saying Britain would “stay vigilant to new challenges” by “sharpening our skills in sub-zero conditions, learning from longstanding allies like Norway or monitoring submarine threats with our Poseidon aircraft.”

But Russia is better positioned both legally and physically to oversee the Arctic and, while still dangerous, the bellicose statements carry little weight for the reality on the ice, experts have told RT.

Bravado for domestic consumption

Williamson’s promise to defend NATO’s northern flank from Russia must be viewed “in the context of current UK domestic politics,” believes security analyst and former UK army officer Charles Shoebridge. With Brexit just around the corner, Williamson is drumming up the Russia and China threats so that other European nations aren’t “tempted to turn to the EU for its security, but must continue to rely on the US and UK through NATO.”

Ultimately, he could be aiming just for political gain.

With the UK in political turmoil it often appears that Williamson is even positioning himself as a future candidate to replace Theresa May as PM.

Likewise in the US: James Foggo's “nobody's lake” comment was tellingly lacking in detail as to how exactly the US is going to keep Russia out of the Arctic, says retired colonel Mikhail Khodarenok.

“James Foggo’s statements at this point are of a purely political nature. It’s telling that he never clarified how exactly the US Navy is going to accomplish that task. Are they going to create naval groups in the Arctic Ocean, seize important coastal areas, channels, naval bases and ports? But that means war with a nuclear power, one which would see unrestricted use of weapons of mass destruction.”

Dangerous free-for-all

War can be averted, the experts believe, though the danger of escalation is very real. The situation, according to Khodarenok, is complicated by the vagueness of international law regarding the Arctic.

James Foggo’s statement is a fresh indication that the Arctic is becoming an arena of global rivalry over transport lanes and natural resources,” Khodarenok said.

World history knows no precedent of such a rivalry playing out without considering military factors.

Shoebridge, on the other hand, believes that when faced with the danger of an armed incident spiraling into “uncontrolled escalation,” cooler heads will prevail.

“Despite the confrontational language they might use, most leaders of most states want to avoid this,” he said.

Also on US plans expansion to Arctic in bid to challenge Russia, but can it?...

Questionable claims and capabilities

The US seeks to deny Russia and China the use of the Northern Sea Route – but the lane goes along the Russian coastline, which, under international law, gives Russia a degree of control over it, something Russia should lean on when defending its rights to use the waters, says Khodarenok.

Besides, while Foggo wants Russia and China out of the “nobody's lake,” he admits American companies can’t use it either, since their vessels are too big for local conditions. Besides, Russia is the only world power with a significant icebreaker fleet, which makes it the only one capable of rendering aid to ships that have an emergency while sailing there.
On top of that, Russia has been reviving its military installations that guard the area, including radar arrays and permanent military bases. Abandoning those is not an option, since that would mean losing a vital strategic foothold.

For Russia the Northern Sea Route has defense significance as well, since it provides access to all of the world’s oceans, as well as the ability to maneuver between theaters relying only on the capabilities of the Russian Navy.

At the end of the day the only ones undoubtedly standing to profit from the opening of the Arctic arena are military industrial contractors – with the US 2nd Fleet revived for the sole purpose of containing Russia’s Arctic ambition, Navy contracts are bound to follow.

Also on Cold War is good for business: US contractors rejoice at the new Red Scare...

  • Published in World

Cold War is good for business: US contractors rejoice at the new Red Scare

US politicians and media peddling scary stories about Russia and China may have a more pedestrian motive than defending 'American values and way of life' – a return to the halcyon days of the Cold War and the Pentagon gravy train.

If there's one thing mainstream Democrats and Republicans agree upon, it's that Russia and China are the new global threat, ready to pounce at the first sign of a week spot in American defenses to topple the benevolent US dominance of the globe.

If there's another – never on the record, of course – it's that war is good for business. Not actual war, what the Pentagon calls 'kinetic military action', as that would be destructive. The ideal conditions for the political class in Washington is the bygone Cold War, when it could funnel billions of dollars in taxpayer money to defense contractors, with these corporations repaying the largesse with hefty contributions to politicians.

War hawks mourn ‘underfunded’ US military that could ‘lose next war’ against Russia or China

With a military budget of $717 billion in 2019 – which is about four times that of China and 15 times that of Russia – Washington war hawks are still lamenting how the "underfunded" US military could lose the next war against either. There's only one way to avoid that – spend more.


F-35: Pie in the Sky

As the US aggressively asserted the right to intervene anywhere around the world, Russia and China began rebuilding their air forces and augmenting them with new-generation warplanes. For the US Air Force and the aerospace industry, this was like the answer to three decades of prayer.

Lockheed finally had the justification for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which produced the first prototype in 2006. There were only two tiny little problems with the F-35: nobody could get the plane to actually work as intended, and it was incredibly expensive. The total lifetime program cost was estimated at $1.5 trillion in 2015 dollars, the bulk of which would be for "operations and sustainment."

The most expensive Pentagon project to date is plagued by some of the most expensive problems – but while Lockheed Martin could not make the F-35 actually work as advertised, it did manage to spread its production over 45 US states, ensuring the program is almost impossible to kill politically. Powerful Republican senators have thrown their weight behind the F-35, warning the Pentagon against taking funding away from it in favor of a simpler F15X update proposed by Boeing.

Also on US military grounds its entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets in the wake of South Carolina crash...

Lucrative digital battlegrounds

The looming shadow of the 'Russian hacker', infiltrating (not really) American political parties and power grids, has spurred the push for cyber security – and the contracts to go with it.

Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), a program that seeks to provide the US military with secure cloud services, has attracted big tech with its $10 billion contract – which Amazon now seems increasingly likely to win, thanks to its reported inroads with the US administration. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was unapologetic, saying the US is a "great country" that "needs to be defended." Executives at the other two big-name contenders – Microsoft and Google – were equally enthusiastic, with the Microsoft president vowing to give all the tech the company creates to the "ethical and honorable" US military.

Rank-and-file employees, however, were up in arms. Those at Microsoft penned an open letter saying they had joined the company hoping the tech they create would not "cause harm or human suffering." Employee outcry at Google caused it to drop JEDI altogether, despite company leadership's enthusiastic support.

Artificial Intelligence

The for-profit patriotism at Amazon and Microsoft is bound to be rewarded with even more contracts in the coming years, because the Pentagon believes it has some catching up to do with Russia and China when it comes to artificial intelligence. The DoD's first AI strategy, while loose on wording, clearly outlines who the main adversaries are.

The known investment figures are relatively minor so far – as far as Washington's gargantuan defense budgets go. For example, in July 2018, IT consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton was awarded an $885 million to work on AI programs over the next five years, and the Pentagon requested $93 million in 2019 for Project Maven – which aims to develop algorithms for automatic analysis of drone footage. Google was working on that one, but now says it won't renew the contract due to disastrous employee backlash – even though backing out means losing on potentially bigger IT-related defense contracts to come.

With Trump just recently ordering a boost in AI development for the sake of American dominance, those contracts are certain to keep rolling in in the foreseeable future.

Naval friction

The US answer to Russia venturing into the Arctic was to reestablish the 2nd Fleet – created in 1950 as a Cold War-era check on Soviet activity in the Atlantic and disbanded by the Obama administration in 2011 to cut expenses. Apparently, no expense is too much when the threat of Russian submarines is – according to 2nd Fleet chief Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis – "real," and Russians seek to tap the resources the US wanted for itself and its allies.

The US Navy also needs to keep up its "freedom of navigation operation" at the Chinese shores, and "rebuilding" the fleet is one of Trump's staple defense promises. As an example of the accelerated – and rewarding – build-up, the Navy signed a contract worth a whopping $14.9 billion with shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls for two Ford-class aircraft carriers. In another throwback to the good old days, this is the first time since the 1980s more than one of these has been commissioned simultaneously.

The two ships will replace aging ones, keeping the number of active dedicated carriers in the US service at 11 – while China has two, and Russia one.

The final frontier

Another Trump staple, the Space Force, is shaping up to be a fount of profit for the enterprising contractor, though the new branch of the US military is still in the early stages of its creation.

While no deals have been made with the Space Force specifically in mind, there is profit to be had in it for companies like Lockheed Martin. In 2018, Lockheed was contracted to create three satellites that can survive counter-space weaponry, for $2.9 billion – and as America's "adversaries are training forces and developing technology to undermine our security in space," as Trump put it, more of that is bound to come.

Also on Trump signs directive to create not-so-‘equal’ Space Force as part of Air Force...

Way back in 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower – who commanded US forces in Europe during WWII – warned in his farewell speech about the dangers of a "military-industrial complex" dictating government priorities and foreign policy. He spoke from experience: the 'Red Scare' of the 1950s had already driven the US into an arms race based on the 'bomber gap' and 'missile gap' favoring the USSR – both of which turned out to be entirely imaginary.

"We were doing things we didn't need to do. We were building things we didn't need to build. We were harboring fears we didn't need to harbor," President Lyndon Johnson told a gathering in 1967.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • Published in World

Russia Denounces Deployment of US Forces near Venezuela

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday denounced the deployment of special commandos and military equipment from the United States near the border with Venezuela, and the preparations for a provocation, according to the most demanding rules of ''the military manual''.

Special forces and military equipment have been deployed near Venezuelan territory, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted.

She also referred to plans by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to supply weapons and ammunition to Venezuelan opposition.

The purchase of weapons and ammunition will take place in an Eastern European country and includes big-caliber machineguns, grenade launchers and portable antiaircraft systems, the spokeswoman denounced.

The military equipment will be supplied to Venezuela in early March, in several batches that will be delivered on a territory near the border of that country by cargo planes from an international company, Zakharova noted.

For that action, planes manufactured by the Ukrainian company Antonov are expected to be used, she clarified.

Zakharova pointed out that a large-scale provocation is expected on Saturday, as Washington has called and promoted a convoy of humanitarian aid that will try to cross the Venezuelan border, she stated.

That action might cause a clash between opponents to and supporters of the Venezuelan government, and would be aimed at creating a pretext for an action of force in order to oust Venezuela's legitimate president, Nicolas Maduro, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman warned.

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed