Thursday, 3 May 2018

NATO encroachments on Russian border

NATO Enters Black Sea Near 

Russia’s Borders
On Tuesday evening, the ships of the second permanent naval group of NATO have entered the Black Sea.

Russ Fort,

2 May, 2018

The group, which is currently located near Russian borders, includes frigates of the naval forces of Spain, Turkey and Germany. The flagship is the British missile destroyer HMS Duncan.

There are specific treaties which govern how many, and for how long, NATO ships may be in the Black Sea, despite that Romania is a NATO partner. The US has recently violated this treaty, and was called to task on it.

As a result, what becomes of this Martime Group 2 deployment will be an interesting development, especially in light of growing US-Russia tensions over Ukraine and Syria.NATO Enters Black Sea Near Russia’s Borders

US deploys antitank missiles to Russia
30 April, 2018

The United States military has deployed antitank missiles to the Russian border, amid deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow.
The American-made Javelin antitank missiles arrived in Ukraine on Monday, the RFE/RL confirmed. reports: A shipment of lethal aid would appear to deepen U.S. involvement in the simmering conflict and mark at least a symbolic victory for Ukraine in its effort to maintain Western backing in the ongoing conflict.
After months of heated debate in Washington and, reportedly, much reluctance on the part of U.S. President Donald Trump, the White House was said to have approved the Javelin sale in December.

That announcement sparked a sharp rebuke from Moscow, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accusing the United States of “fomenting a war.”

Two sources who wished to remain anonymous as they were not authorized to speak publicly about it — one in Ukraine and the other in the United States — confirmed the Javelin deliveries to RFE/RL ahead of the State Department announcement.

Neither disclosed when the missile systems arrived in Ukraine, whether all the promised missiles and launchers had been sent or where they were being stored; or whether Ukraine’s military had begun training on Javelins. But one of the sources added that the Javelins were delivered “on time.”

The State Department provided no details beyond the confirmation of the delivery.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has lobbied hard to Western officials for more weapons, in addition to limited supplies of nonlethal aid from Washington and European allies so far and U.S. approval of commercial weapons sales.

Reached on April 30, Poroshenko’s office did not comment on the reported delivery of Javelins.

A $47 million U.S. military-aid package approved last year and confirmed in March specified 210 Javelin antitank missiles and 37 Javelin launchers, two of them spares, for Kyiv.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in December that U.S. military assistance to Ukraine was intended to bolster that country’s ability to “defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression.”

Kyiv and Western governments say Moscow has armed and coordinated Ukrainian separatists as well as provided Russian fighters to help wrest control of swaths of territory that border Russia since Moscow seized Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.

The Javelins’ delivery is likely to spur a response from Moscow, which rejects accusations of involvement despite mounting evidence that includes weapons movements and cross-border artillery barrages, captured Russian troops, and intercepted communications.

Responding to the approved delivery of the missiles to Kyiv in December, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said arming Ukraine would further inflame tensions between Moscow and Washington and push Ukraine “toward reckless new military decisions.”

Since 2015, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with $750 million in nonlethal aid, including Humvees, night-vision equipment, and short-range radar systems.

There has been a recent uptick in fighting between Ukrainian soldiers and Russian-backed separatist forces, according to reports from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission (OSCE SMM).

A 3-year-old cease-fire deal known as Minsk II has helped to reduce the intensity of the fighting, but it has not ended the war.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in March that while the Javelin sale would “contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Ukraine” and “help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

Russian Su-27 intercepts US spy plane over Baltic

A Russian air force Sukhoi Su-27 aircraft (file photo)
A Russian air force Sukhoi Su-27 aircraft (file photo)
2 May, 2018

A Russian fighter jet has intercepted a US spy plane over the Baltic Sea, in an operation that American officials say was "unprofessional."
The incident took place on Tuesday, when a Russian Sukhoi Su-27 jet flew within 20 feet of a US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane flying off Russian coast.
American officials said that pilots onboard the Poseidon did not feel threatened by the Russian jet's maneuver.
A Navy spokesman declined to release the details but described the encounter as "safe."
"Due to standing DOD policy, we do not release the details of safe interactions," said Lieutenant Commander Zach Harrell, a spokesman for US Naval Forces Europe. "If an unsafe interaction occurs in the future, we will be sure to provide you more information at that time."
Commonly referred to as the Pentagon’s most effective submarine hunting weapon, the P-8 aircraft is capable of using torpedoes, depth charges, SLAM-ER missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and other weapons.
Russia has been critical of the US military's presence near its territorial waters in the Baltic and Black seas, often using close fly-bys to keep American boats and aircraft away.
The last of such encounters happened in late January, when a US EP-3 Aries plane was intercepted by a Russian Sukhoi SU-27 fighter jet over international waters.
US military officials said then that the intercept was “unsafe,” accusing the Russian pilot of cutting "directly through the EP-3's flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the SU-27's jet wash.”
The Russian Defense Ministry, however, rejected Washington's account of the encounter, saying the interception "took place in strict accordance with international rules of airspace use."
The ministry blamed the US plane for flying too close to Russian airspace.
The Kremlin has repeatedly censured what it perceives as mounting anti-Russia hysteria and Russophobia in Europe, and calls NATO's military buildup at its doorstep a threat to its national security

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