Tuesday 26 April 2016

Increasing tensions between US and Russia

For The First Time US Deploys Two F-22 Raptors Close To Russia To "Deter Aggression"

Zero Hedge,

25 April, 2016

Tensions are rapidly escalating between the US and Russia following last week two fly-bys when first a Russian Su-24 "buzzed" the US missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, and just days later flew within 50 feet of a US recon plane also flying over the Baltic Sea, which some interpreted as a Russian warning to Poland. The U.S. quickly responded and complained vocally to Russia (even if Obama did not mention the incident during his phone call with Putin immediately following the incident).

Russia, in turn, promptly responded by accusing the United States last Wednesday of intimidation by sailing a U.S. naval destroyer close to Russia's border in the Baltics and warned that the Russian military would respond with "all necessary measures" to any future incidents.

Speaking after a meeting between NATO envoys and Russia, their first in almost two years, Moscow's ambassador to NATO said the April 11 maritime incident showed there could be no improvement in ties until the U.S.-led alliance withdrew from Russia's borders.

"This is about attempts to exercise military pressure on Russia," the envoy, Alexander Grushko, said. "We will take all necessary measures, precautions, to compensate for these attempts to use military force," he told reporters.

Then, immediately following Russia's abrupt response, it was the US' turn, and as we reported over the weekend, Barack Obama's nominee as the next NATO and U.S. European Command commander, Army Gen. Curtis M. "Mike" Scaparrotti , said on Thursday that Russia should be warned that its dangerous flybys of U.S. ships and planes could be met by force.

"Sir, I believe that should be known -- yes," Scaparrotti said when asked by Sen. John McCain whether Russia should be told that the U.S. would take action if American lives were endangered.

Pursuing the same line of questioning, Sen. Joe Donnelly, an Indiana Democrat, asked Scaparrotti whether the Russians should be told that 

The general responded that "we should engage them and make clear what's acceptable. Once we make that known, we have to enforce it. "I think they're pushing the envelope in terms of our resolve," Scaparrotti added. "It's absolutely reckless, it's unjustified and it's dangerous." As NATO commander, he said one of his first actions would be to review the rules of engagement for U.S. and allied forces in the region.

And just to make sure Russia has another "free option" at reckless behavior, earlier today the U.S. Air Force flew in two F-22 Raptor fighter jets to Romania as a show of strength to deter Russian intervention in Ukraine.

Two F-22 Raptor fighter jets, Photo: Reuters

For the first time in Romania, the next-generation combat aircraft F-22 Raptor, part of the US Air Force Europe mission, arrived today at Mihail Kogalniceanu military base,” the US Embassy said on its Facebook page Monday.

The fighter jets landed at the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base, near the Black Sea port of Constanta in southeast Romania, located less than 400km from the Russian military stronghold of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. A U.S. statement says they possess sophisticated sensors allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected. The fighters also have a significant capability to attack surface targets.

"These aircraft have the ability to project air dominance quickly, at great distances, to defeat any possible threat," Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray, 3rd Air Force commander, said in a release.

his is not the first time the US has sent its most modern stealth fighters to Europe: in August, the Air Force deployed four F-22s to Europe for the first time ever as part of the ERI. The fighters traveled to Germany, and also forward deployed with A-10s to Estonia, coming close to Russia's borders.

In recent months, the service has been using the F-22 often, "heavily tasked to do missions worldwide," Gorenc said of the August deployment and the F-22's role in Syria against the Islamic State group.

This was, however, the largest and closest to Russia deployment yet of the multirole fighter to the continent, officials said, a move meant to "bolster the security of NATO allies and partners in Europe" while showcasing its flexibility to fly throughout the region as well as to deter from further "Russian aggression."

What it is really meant to do is send a signal to Russia following last week's "flybys" to not do it again. Naturally, Russia will again interpret this move as merely the latest provocation - after all the US would not be delighted if Russia was sending ultramodern fighter planes to a nation located a few hundred miles away from the maindland - thereby making the likelihood of another close encounter even greater.

Romanian Air Force chief of staff Maj. Gen. Laurian Anastasof voiced concerns about Russia's presence in the region. He said that if a Russian plane took off from an air base in Crimea and went 100 kilometers (62 miles) beyond Crimea's borders "that can trigger worries of the (NATO) alliance."

Anastasof said that if an unidentified aircraft comes within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of Romania's airspace, NATO'S procedure "obliges us to scramble planes up in the air, a scenario that had already happened four times this year." He said no Russian plane had come close to Romania's airspace.

The U.S. fighter jets, which arrived from Britain, will leave Romania later Monday. They are part of the Operation Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. commitment to NATO's collective security and regional stability.

The Raptors deployed to RAF Lakenheath, England, earlier this month, and will continue training in Europe until May. Their mission is funded through the European Reassurance Initiative — a Pentagon effort designed to allay European partners' fears about Russian aggression in the region.

From 4 days go.The Daily Mail has the headlines right

Russia Warns US Military: "We Will Take All Necessary Measures"

21 April, 2016

If you were wondering what the immediate U.S. response would be to the embarrassing incident that took place in the Baltic Sea last week between Russian fighter jets and a U.S. destroyer, the answer is absolutely nothing.

In case you missed it, the USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) was conducting flight operations with a Polish helicopter when the two Russian jets approached at aggressive speeds and buzzed the Navy destroyer as the helicopter was taking off from the destroyer’s flight deck. Not once, not twice, but several times.

For the first time in almost two years, Moscow's ambassador spoke to NATO representatives and said that the April 11 incident that prompted Russian fighter jets to fly within 30 feet of a U.S. destroyer showed there could be no improvement in ties until the U.S.-led alliance withdrew from Russia's borders.

Speaking after a meeting, a special envoy representing Russia said, "This is about attempts to exercise military pressure on Russia. We will take all necessary measures, precautions, to compensate for these attempts to use military force."

According to a report, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute pressed Russia about the incident, warning it had been dangerous.

"We were in international waters," a NATO diplomat reported Lute as telling Grushko during the NATO-Russia council meeting.

U.S. Signals Support For Formal NATO Black Sea Presence


Obama Requests Military Support for Possible War Against Russia

by Eric Zuesse

Die USA planen eine dauerhafte Panzerbrigarde an der NATO-Ostgrenze. (Foto: dpa)
24 April, 2016

According to an April 23rd article carried by Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (German Economic News), U.S. President Barack Obama is “demanding the active deployment of the Bundeswehr [Germany’s armed forces, including their Army, Navy, and Air Force] to NATO’s eastern borders” at Poland and the Baltic republics, to join the quadrupling of America’s forces there, on and near the borders of Russia. This is an extreme violation of what Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to when he ended the Soviet Union and its NATO-mirror organization the Warsaw Pact, but it’s actually culminating a process that began shortly after he agreed to America’s terms, which included that NATO “not move one inch to the east.”

Furthermore, DWN reports that on April 25th, the U.S. President will hold a summit meeting in Hannover, Germany with the leaders of Germany (Angela Merkel), Italy (Matteo Renzi), France (Francois Hollande), and Britain (David Cameron). The presumed objective of this meeting is to agree to establish in the NATO countries bordering on Russia a military force of these five countries, a force threatening Russia with an invasion, if or when NATO subsequently decides that the ‘threat from Russia’ be ‘responded to’ militarily.

NATO’s encirclement of Russia with forces hostile to it is supposedly defensive — not an offensive operation — against Russia and is presented as such by our media.   During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis,  J. F. Kennedy didn’t consider Nikita Khrushchev’s plan to base nuclear missiles in Cuba to be ‘defensive’ on the USSR’s part — and neither does Russia’s President Vladimir Putin consider America’s far bigger operation of surrounding Russia with such weapons to be ‘defensive’.  The U.S. government, and NATO, act as if Russia is threatening them rather than them threatening and encircling Russia — and their news media transmit this lie as if it were a truth and one worthy of being taken seriously.  In actual fact, NATO has already expanded right up to Russia’s western borders.
Obama is thus now adding to the economic sanctions against Russia that he had imposed because of Russia’s alleged ‘seizure’ of Crimea from Ukraine after the US and EU engineered coup overthrew Russia’s ally Viktor Yanukovych who had led Ukraine until the coup in February 2014.

Even though Western-sponsored polls in Crimea, both before and after the coup, had shown higher than 90% support by Crimeans for rejoining with Russia, right after Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia, Obama slapped sanctions against Russia. Nuclear weapons were prepared, both on the U.S.-EU side and on the Russian side, for a possible nuclear war.

This is no mere restoration of the Cold War (which was supposedly based on the capitalist-communist ideological disagreement); it’s getting forces into position for a possible invasion of Russia, pure-and-simple — raw conquest — though no major news-media in the West are reporting it as being such.

The current preparation doesn’t necessarily mean a nuclear war will result from them. Russia might accept whatever the demands ‘the West’ makes of it and thus lose its  sovereignty.  Alternatively, if Russia stands-its-ground and refuses to yield up its national sovereignty,‘the West’ (the U.S.leadership, and the leaderships in its allied countries) could cease with its evermore-ominous threats and simply withdraw from Russia’s borders.

Basically, by 2013 
the U.S. leadership had decided to take over Ukraine and refused to acknowledge the rights of the Crimean people to reject the new dispensation in Kiev and decide on its own future — and, by late February 2014, Russia’s leadership decided toprotect them against the type of invasion that subsequently occurred in Ukraine’s former Donbass region, where the opposition to Obama’s coup was even more intense.

The West keeps asserting that Russia is somehow in the wrong here.  However, since even the head of Stratfor has called what Obama did in Ukraine the most blatant coup in history”, and since the fact that it was a U.S. coup has been documented extensively on cellphone and other videos, and in the most thorough academic investigation that has been performed of the matter — and was even acknowledged by Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko, a participant in the coup, to have been a coup — and since evidence survives on the Internet of the U.S. Embassy’s preparations as early as 1 March 2013 for the February 2014 coup; and since even the U.S. government’s hired polls showed that Crimeans rejected overwhelmingly the U.S. coup and supported rejoining Russia; the question still needs to be answered: What is the basis of the West’s aggressive actions threatening Russia’s national security other than its own imperialist ambitions towards Russia camouflaged with the lies about an aggressive Russia and an aggressive President Putin the Western mass media have been bombarding the public with?  And, that’s a very worrisome basis — worrisome regarding, essentially, a type ofdictatorship in the West, rather than any dictatorship outside it.   The aggression and the threat here seem clearly to be coming from the West, against the East.

Back in January, Russian President Vladimir Putin had once again called out American President Barack Obama on Obama’s big lie that America’s “ABM” weapons to disable in-flight nuclear missiles were being installed in Europe in order to protect Europe against Iranian nuclear missiles.  Now, however, while the U.S. acknowledges that Iran doesn’t have, and won’t have, any nuclear missiles, Obama is stepping up (instead of ending) those same ABM installations in Europe, close to Russia’s borders.  The only real reason they have been installed, as Putin argues, is in order to enable a sudden nuclear attack against Russia capable of disabling Russia’s retaliatory capacity in a matter of minutes.

The only rational response by the Western public to what Obama and his foreign allies are doing is to recognize what is actually happening and to take action against their own leaders, before this increasingly high-stakes confrontation becomes terminal.  In this instance, the people of the countries that comprise the political West need to defend themselves against their own national leaders. This is a situation that is frequently encountered in dictatorships.

The key questions are not being asked in the Western press, however; they are being ignored by it.  Unless these questions are publicly dealt with — and soon — the answer to them all could well be terminal for millions of civilians in Europe and elsewhere.

The closer things get to a nuclear war, the more difficult it is for either side to back down from it — and this is especially the case with the aggressor, most especially when it falsely claims that it is being aggressed-against.

This is the reason why the lies peddled by the political leadership of the West urgently need to be exposed.

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