Russia denounces NATO fight against non-existent threat

Moscow, Feb 17 (Prensa Latina) Russia called on yesterday the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to give up waste war expenses against a non-existent threat and European countries to demonstrate political independence to hold talks with Moscow.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushenko estimated that Europe must apply concrete measures to improve relations with this country and change its systemic position for a bilateral dialogue, indicated the RBK agency, cited by capital television.

NATO, in addition, must put an end to attempts at involving this State in a security scheme of the Cold War era and set aside its insistence on materializing a Russian containment policy, said the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Europe must also be able to apply an independent policy, without looking at the US all the time, assured Grushenko at the 56th session of the Munich Security Conference.

The creation of a global security scheme is impossible without Russia's participation; therefore, the West must seek ways for greater collaboration with Moscow, deemed the diplomat.

The aforementioned conference is attended by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as top leader of Russia's delegation to a forum that still recalls the thrilling speech given by President Vladimir Putin in 2007, which leaders consider it historic.

On that occasion, Putin spoke openly about the end of unipolarity and the causes for considering that concept as a political and morally unfeasible step for humanity.

Media outlets commented here that the Munich Security Conference was far from fulfilling its function as a tranquilizer pill to reduce tensions among Western countries and the world.

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Trump Wants US To Be World's Most Powerful Nuclear Force

"We have the super-fast missiles — tremendous number of the super-fast. We call them 'super-fast,' where they’re four, five, six, and even seven times faster than an ordinary missile", Trump noted.

U.S. President Donald Trump stated at a White House Business Session with governors on Monday that he is seeking to make the U.S. the world's most powerful nuclear force. Trump's comments come just a few months after he abandoned the arms control treaties with Russia and China, something that was widely criticized across the world.

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"Now, at the same time, Russia and China both want to negotiate with us to stop this craziness of spending billions and billions of dollars on nuclear weapons", Trump said. 

However, Trump was not sold, stating that he was intending to "create, by far, the strongest nuclear force anywhere in the world".

The U.S. President boasted that his country's armed forces currently possess "super-fast missiles", a reference to the new supersonic projectiles that have been recently developed. 

"We have the super-fast missiles — tremendous number of the super-fast. We call them 'super-fast,' where they’re four, five, six, and even seven times faster than an ordinary missile", Trump noted.

"We need that because, again, Russia has some. I won't tell you how they got it. They got it, supposedly, from plans from the Obama administration when we weren't doing it. And that’s too bad. That’s not good. But that's how it happened. And China, as you know, is doing it".

The statement by the president comes a year after Washington decided to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia and started testing new missiles operating at previously banned ranges. The US claimed that Moscow had been violating the accord by developing its 9M729 missile, which allegedly breaks the conditions of the treaty.

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Pompeo names ‘the central threat of our times’ and guess what it is… It’s the Chinese Communist Party

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has labeled the Chinese Communist Party “the central threat of our times,” two weeks after President Donald Trump signed the “biggest deal there is” with Beijing.

Speaking at a conference with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in London on Thursday, Pompeo stated that "while we still have to be enormously vigilant about terror… challenges all across the world... the Chinese Communist Party presents the central threat of our times." The State Secretary then outlined the multiple avenues the US is taking to counter China’s growing influence - right after he admitted that there’s “huge opportunity” for business there.

“...Whether it’s at the World Trade Organization, or whether it’s in how we handle infrastructure and technology, or it’s how we ensure we have the military capabilities...we have to collectively, the West, ensure that the next century is governed by these Western democratic principles.”

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Pompeo’s declaration is a starker one than President Trump’s hot and cold statements on Beijing. While the president has overseen a two-year trade war with China, and has accused the country of currency manipulation, stealing intellectual property, and interfering in elections, he has also hailed a recently-signed trade deal with Beijing, and described Chinese President Xi Jinping as a man who “truly loves his country.”

As Trump plays politics with Xi, the consensus in Washington toward China has hardened. The Pentagon created a new job posting in June, aimed squarely at developing ways to oppose China’s rise. The man who took it, Chad Sbragia, said in November that “strategic competition with China really is the defining challenge of our generation.”

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That’s on top of Defense Secretary Mark Esper calling for more US bases in the Pacific region to challenge China’s maritime power, and referring to the Indo-Pacific as “our priority theater.” Esper’s acting predecessor, Mark Shanahan, reportedly told the Pentagon’s leaders that Washington’s priority had shifted away from the global war on terror to “China, China, China.”

The new anti-China consensus is enshrined in official Pentagon policy too. The Department of Defense’s 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDA) described China as “predatory,” and a “strategic competitor” requiring “increased and sustained investment.”

China, for its part, has consistently rejected the US’ protestations. Beijing accused the US of “interference” for passing a military funding bill late last year that included a reference to “long-term competitive strategies” regarding “strategic competition” with China. The bill also provided military support for Taiwan and voiced support for the Hong Kong protesters. China’s Defense Ministry accused the leaders in Washington of harboring a “Cold War mentality” and “hegemonic logic.”

So, Pompeo’s words in London seem to be in line with the strategy, as he even expanded his idea, slamming what he believes will become Beijing’s tool of influence – Huawei telecommunications company.

“When you allow the information of your citizens or the national security information of your citizens to transit a network that the Chinese Communist Party has a legal mandate to obtain it creates risk,” Pompeo said, while sitting next to a man whose country allowed Huawei to have a role in its 5G system.

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Invincible weapon? Russia’s advanced HYPERSONIC GLIDER Avangard now in military service

The advanced Russian nuclear hypersonic glider entered combat service on Friday with the first regiment of Avangard-armed missiles now operational, the defense minister reported.

Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, who reported the development to President Putin on Friday, said Avangard deployment was “a signatory event for the country and the armed forces.”

The Russian military armed legacy silo-based UR-100N ICBMs, also known as the Stiletto, with the cutting-edge warheads meant to penetrate heavy anti-ballistic missile defenses.

Russia’s Avangard hypersonic glider final test launch...

The glider is one of several weapons systems meant to boost Russian nuclear deterrence, which were announced by President Vladimir Putin last year. The build-up is meant to counter Washington’s development of ABM technologies, which Russia sees as a national threat.

The Russian president believes Russia’s nuclear forces need to be strong enough to dissuade any temptation that US military strategists may have to deliver a pre-emptive strike against Russia during a possible crisis. The missile regiment is reportedly deployed in the Orenburg region.

Avangard has reportedly been in development since at least the mid-1980s, with first tests coming sometime around 2004. The specifications and even the appearance of the top-secret weapon remain classified. Russian officials said it can maintain controlled flight through the atmosphere at speeds of up to Mach 20.

Unconfirmed reports claim that the nuclear device it can deliver may be as powerful as 2 megatons, which would be considered overkill for traditional modern nuclear warheads.

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ICYMI: Pulling troops out of Syria leads to geopolitical whack-a-mole for Trump (VIDEO)

Donald Trump pulled US troops out of north-eastern Syria, claiming he wants to put an end to America’s ‘endless wars.’ Unfortunately, it’s not that easy and he started a game of geopolitical whack-a-mole.

While bringing troops home might sound like a good idea, the US President soon found himself having to put out fires at every turn. He faced accusations of betraying one ally, threatened another, and was then attacked by friends and foes back home.

ICYMI asks whether there might be a very good reason why those wars are ‘endless.’

CYMI: Syria Pullout: Geo-pol Whack-a-Mole...

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‘We don’t need aircraft carriers, we need weapons to sink them with’ – Russian defense minister

The US may have a military budget that far exceeds that of Russia, but it doesn’t matter since the Russian military is there to defend the country, not attack other nations, the Russian defense minister said.

Russia’s military budget received a hike a few years ago for a massive rearmament program, but has been rolled back in recent years. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated Russia to be the world’s sixth biggest defense spender in 2018, behind the US, China, Saudi Arabia, India, and France. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has been showered with money under the Trump administration, dwarfing other nations’ military budgets.

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But the man in charge of the Russian Defense Ministry says his fellow Russians have no reasons to worry, because their taxpayer rubles are well spent.

“The US spends huge amounts of money on private military contractors, on aircraft carriers. Well, does Russia really need five to ten aircraft carrier strike groups, considering that we do not intend to attack anyone?” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told a Russian newspaper.

We need the means we could use against the enemy’s carrier strike groups should our country come under attack. They are far less costly and more efficient.

The minister also criticized Washington for its habit of justifying its military interventions throughout the world by the interests of the people living in the nations it targets.

“In which of the nations they went ‘to bring democracy’ did democracy flourish? Was that Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria?” Shoigu said. “And one certainly can forget about sovereignty and independence after American involvement.”

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He added that the US doesn’t seem to be losing its appetite for ruining other nations, be it through military intervention or other means.

“Our Western colleagues love to accuse Russia of waging ‘hybrid wars’ or whatever. Well, I say [the] West is the one conducting actual hybrid warfare. The US now is about to leave Afghanistan in half-ruins and at the same time they work hard to stir things in Venezuela – all for the ‘triumph of democracy’ of course.”

The US tried this year to topple the Venezuelan government by supporting Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president of the Latin American country. His pretendership, however, has not been that successful. His two attempts at triggering a large-scale public uprising and ousting President Nicolas Maduro fizzled despite Washington’s promise that it would lift crippling economic sanctions against Venezuela once their man takes control.

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There are no independent countries in the world, Putin says

Europe can’t oppose the US deployment of missiles, even if it is contrary to their interests, because no country can be truly independent these days, Vladimir Putin believes.

The Russian president thinks “the modern world is the world of interdependency” and there are no truly independent countries these days.

“Do you think European countries want missiles in Europe? Nobody wants it. But they keep silent. Where is their sovereignty?” Putin asked during his visit in Sochi.

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The EU Parliament, he said, makes more decisions on behalf of the member countries than “the Supreme Soviet of USSR on behalf of constituent republics” back in the days.

There are no fully independent states in the world.

On Thursday leaders from Russia, Turkey and Iran gathered in the Black Sea city of Sochi to discuss ways of ending Syria’s crisis. The talks were held amid hostile talk emerging from a meeting of the US and its allies in Warsaw, where they talked about their take on the Middle East.

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During the meeting in Sochi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani expressed doubts over Washington’s plan to remove troops stationed with Kurdish forces in northern Syria. But Putin seemed to be the most optimistic that the move would actually happen soon.

After the summit on Syria ended, Putin stayed on in Sochi to hold talks with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

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‘Most Americans have no idea’: With all eyes on Russia, China spends millions influencing US

China has unleashed a massive multi-pronged propaganda effort across the US, using a combination of money and influence to sway key policy and opinion-makers, says a new Congress-backed report.

Completed at the behest of US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the 39-page report focuses on United Front, an umbrella organization for Beijing’s soft power, which lead author says has dramatically expanded under the rule of Xi Jinping.

“United Front work serves to promote Beijing’s preferred global narrative, pressure individuals living in free and open societies to self-censor and avoid discussing issues unfavorable to the Chinese Communist Party, and harass or undermine groups critical of Beijing’s policies,” states the report.

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According to the report, prominent US institutions, such as Johns Hopkins University, and think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, Brookings Institution and the Carter Center are either receiving funding directly from various arms of the Chinese government, or cooperating on projects financed by United Front.

"Beijing seeks to outsource its messaging in part because it believes foreigners are more likely to accept propaganda if it appears to come from non-Chinese sources," says the report.

The Chinese government is also nurturing a network of “grassroots” organizations, such as the 142 US-based Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSA) and over 100 Confucius Institutes. Nominally, these organizations promote cultural exchange, and access to Chinese language, connections and culture, but according to the report, in actual fact they serve as a front for intelligence recruitment and activities, and a vehicle for ruthless promotion of Chinese agendas, including in its dealing with geopolitical adversaries, such as Taiwan.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) May 16, 2018. © Joshua Roberts 

"Most Americans and many members of Congress have no idea of the range of activities undertaken by this Chinese Communist Party web," Larry Wortzel, a member of the Congress commission told the Washington Free Beacon.

Wortzel said that Congress has been briefed about the findings, and called for more Chinese-backed organizations to be given the foreign agent designation, which would bring their intent out into the open.

Such complacency about China is made starker by paranoia over Russia, where even a casual connection to Moscow is sufficient for insinuations of treason. Prominent Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein, who has enjoyed close connections with the very quasi-governmental entities listed in the report, employed a Chinese spy on her staff for 20 years. The discovery of the agent has had almost no repercussions on her political career.

With China singled out as a political rival by Donald Trump, the current administration has tried to whip up a level of alarm. National Security Advisor John Bolton said that China was potentially involved in meddling in the upcoming US election. But so far, the concern has not taken hold, with the US media much impressed with the supposedly tangible villainy of Vladimir Putin over the nebulous Chinese threat.

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