NATO Build-up in Romania and Moldova Directed against Russia/ Russia to revive missile trains as U.S. launches European defense system/ 9 intriguing facts about the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier/ Obama Ratchets-Up to Invade Russia
The drive by the US and EU imperialism to militarily encircle and ultimately dismantle Russia and China is pushing the world closer to a devastating conflagration. The rapid and reckless militarization of Eastern Europe that occurred after the overthrow in 2014 of the Russian-backed government in Kiev, highlights the enormous dangers confronting the population of the region and of the entire world.
The recent activation at the Deveselu airbase in Romania of the first land-based element of the NATO missile defense system has provoked a harsh reaction from Moscow. Notwithstanding the declarations of various NATO officials about countering North Korean or Iranian missiles, the Russians justifiably see it as an attempt to break the nuclear deterrence status quo.
Adm. Vladimir Komoyedov, chairman of the State Duma’s defense committee, called the missile system “a direct threat to us”, and added “They are moving to the firing line […] this is not about Iran, but about Russia with its nuclear capabilities.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, quoted by news agencies, said, “This is not a defense system. This is part of a US nuclear strategic potential brought on to a periphery. In this case, Eastern Europe is such a periphery.” He then threatened, “Those people taking such decisions must know that until now they have lived calm, fairly well-off and in safety. Now, as these elements of ballistic missile defense are deployed, we are forced to think how to neutralize the emerging threats to the Russian Federation.”
The extremely volatile and dangerous nature of the developing situation is exemplified by an article that appeared in the online edition of the New York Times on the day the new missile system was inaugurated. The article quoted Russian commentator Konstantin Bogdanov, who said, “The antimissile sites in Eastern Europe might even accelerate the slippery slope to nuclear war in a crisis. They would inevitably become priority targets in the event of nuclear war, possibly even targets for preventive strikes.
“Countries like Romania that host American antimissile systems might be the only casualties,” he wrote, “whereas the United States would then reconcile with Russia ‘over the smoking ruins of the East European elements of the missile defense system.’”
Over the past two years, Romania, Poland and the Baltic states have been the scene of almost continuous rounds of military drills by the NATO armed forces. NATO strategists view these countries as a future battleground, and American troops, part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, are arduously feeling out the local terrain and infrastructure in preparation for war.
In addition to the concentration of military hardware and troops that is set to increase in the coming period, Romania is also agitating for the creation of a permanent NATO flotilla to counter Russia in the Black Sea, to be manned mainly by the Black Sea countries of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. On his visit to Bucharest on the April 21, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced his intention to join the Romanian initiative.
In a major escalation of the militarization of Eastern Europe, US and Romanian forces are involved in exercises with Moldovan troops taking place between May 2 and May 20 on the Moldavian side of the border. The exercise, dubbed Dragoon Pioneer, involves around 200 US soldiers and marks the first time in the former Soviet Republic’s history that NATO troops have entered the country, in flagrant violation of the Moldovan constitution, which stipulates its neutrality.
Moldova is engaged in an ongoing territorial conflict with the breakaway Republic of Transnistria, with which it, supported by Romania, fought a brief war in the 1990s. Transnistria enjoys the backing of Russia, which maintains a peacekeeping force of around 1,500 troops on its territory. Russian forces stationed there reacted by staging their own exercises to coincide with the American presence in Moldova. Russian units also took part for the first time in the May 9 Victory Day parade organized by the authorities in Tiraspol, a gesture condemned by Moldova as “harming bilateral relations.”
The presence of the American troops was accompanied by a propaganda campaign aimed at revising the historical role of the Soviet Red Army in the liberation of Europe from the Third Reich. American hardware was displayed in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau on both May 8 and 9, with both Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti and Party of Communists leader Vladimir Voronin stressing the “massive contribution” of the US in defeating Nazi Germany. After the end of the operations in Moldova, the US troops will reenter Romania to join Romanian, British and Moldovan soldiers in the Sarmis 16 military exercises.
The militarization of Romania and the war preparations are carried out by the imperialist powers in collusion with the local elites entirely behind the backs of the population. Nothing resembling a public debate or any mention of the immense dangers posed by these policies has taken place.
Romania was one of the first NATO countries to increase its defense budget to 2 percent of GDP, a measure demanded by the US and adopted last year in a “National Pact” overseen by the country’s president, Klaus Iohannis, and supported by all the bourgeois parties. To support the bloated military spending and comply with EU spending demands, the technocratic Government headed by Dacian Ciolos is supervising further attacks on the livelihoods of workers, including major privatization drives in mining, energy and healthcare.
The drive towards war and the endless austerity measures are growing increasingly incompatible with the thin veneer of parliamentary democracy that was established by the new ruling classes in Eastern Europe after the restoration of capitalism in the 1990s. The admission last year by former Social Democratic President Ion Iliescu that his administration participated in the CIA torture program, and that it was done without blinking an eye in order to secure the country’s admission to NATO, should serve as a stark warning to the working class as to the criminal character of these ruling oligarchies. A return to the naked dictatorial forms of rule that prevailed before the Second World War is more than a theoretical possibility.
Putting ICBMs onto railcars to make them both mobile and incognito seems like a perfectly logical response to the emplacement of NATO missiles close to Russia’s borders.
However, I had hoped that the days of Mutually Assured Destruction and targeting each other’s populations with armageddon-inducing levels of nuclear devastation were a thing of the past; sadly it appears that the old Cold War scenarios and attitudes hadn’t been scrapped but merely mothballed and now the dust has been blown off them, a new coat of paint applied and hey presto, we are straight back to the bad old days.
However, people today are more sophisticated, they know that ‘duck and cover’ was a waste of time and should a nuclear conflict occur, there will be no Hollywood-style ending where the good guys prevail, rather, everyone dies and future generations can only guess at what happened by studying the archaeological evidence that survived.
Personally, I doubt anyone would ever deliberately start a thermonuclear war. Many would argue that all sides being armed to the teeth with nuclear WMDs actually makes the world safer as belligerents have to consider the thermonucler destruction that might ensue if they were to start a conflict and that fact alone makes them far more reticent about becoming aggressive.
I have a hard time with that viewpoint and also have a hard time seeing any increase in nuclear weapons capabilities as a good thing, not least because there are countless other ways to spend the money that would benefit the world and it’s peoples far more than adding to the already massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons.
Viktor Lovotkin, Russia Beyond The Headlines
Russia to revive missile trains as U.S. launches European defense system
Russia is reviving the production of military trains with missiles, or, as the military call them, combat rail-based missile systems.
The new Barguzin rail-based missile system will be employed by the Russian armed forces no earlier than 2020 and will be equipped with six missiles, Colonel General Sergei Karakayev, the commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces, has said.
The decision of the Russian leadership to revive the production of rail-based missile systems may be interpreted as yet another response to the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system in Europe, which is able to launch Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles, in addition to interceptor missiles. Moscow considers the system a threat to its security.
New train-based missile
Three divisions of combat rail-based missile systems (four regiments in each and 12 trains carrying three Molodets strategic missiles) were already in service in the Soviet/Russian Strategic Missile Forces from 1984 to 2007.
The new rail-based missile systems will be equipped with the MS-26 Rubezh multiple-warhead missile, which is lighter, but no less efficient than the Molodets.
The Rubezh was created by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, which has designed all the country’s domestic solid-fuel strategic missiles, such as the Topol-M, Bulava and Yars.
Old combat rail-based missile systems were in service from 1984 to 1994, entering their route from the Kostroma (200 miles northeast of Moscow) and Penza (400 miles southeast of Moscow) regions, as well as from the Krasnoyarsk Territory (2,500 miles east of Moscow).
But in the early 1990s, under the agreement between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the missile trains were immobilized and did not leave their deployment regions. In 2007, they were completely taken out of service.
Why were they discontinued?
The solid-fuel rocket missile Molodets produced, which was produced by the Pavlograd Mechanical Plant, located in Ukraine (then part of the USSR), did not have a very long service life (its warranty coverage from the plant quickly expired).
After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the signing of the START I treaty by Ukraine in 1992, Kiev was not allowed to produce strategic missiles. There were no other train-based missiles to replace them with.
In addition, missile trains were very heavy (just one missile weighed more than 110 tons) requiring three locomotives to pull them. Additionally, maintenance crews had to be called out to strengthen the railway embankments each time the trains were used – a constant irritant to the management of the Ministry of Railways.
At the same time, although combat rail missile systems were indistinguishable from conventional refrigerated trains from the ground, from space they were still identifiable. No other freight train had three diesel or electric locomotives.
Since the new Rubezh missile, which will be used on the Barguzin, is much lighter than the Molodets, one missile will be placed in one rail car. And the train, of course, will be lighter. Consequently, it will have no tell-tale signatures such as three locomotives. The load on the railway network will be lower, too. And when you consider that the sheer size of the rail network in Russia, it will be extremely difficult to locate it on its route.
Incidentally, the United States was the first to create the first rail-mobile missile system in the early 1960s. But Washington gave up on the idea due to the fact that the rail network in the United States was not as extensive as in Russia, and, moreover, the cost of a missile train was much higher than that of silo basing for Minuteman missiles.
Compliance with New START
The creation of the Barguzin rail-based missile systems does not conflict with Russia’s obligations under the New START treaty. The agreement requires each party to have no more than 700 deployed carriers and another 100 in storage facilities.
As of April 1, 2016, according to official data of the U.S. Department of State, the Russian arsenal amounted to 521 strategic missiles. So Moscow’s ability to compensate for decommissioned missiles is high enough. In addition, New START expires in 2018 and it is unknown whether it will be extended.
Russia Beyond The Headlines
9 intriguing facts about the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier
1. Unique in its class
The Admiral Kuznetsov is an aircraft-carrying cruiser – in other words, an aircraft carrier with powerful missiles. Russia is the only country in the world with such a heavily armed aircraft carrier: the aircraft carriers of other countries are essentially just floating airbases.
2. The biggest
The Admiral Kuznetsov is the biggest ship ever built in the USSR or Russia, with a displacement of nearly 62,000 tons.
3. A ship with many names
The Admiral Kuznetsov holds the record for the most name changes of any ship in Russian naval history. Initially launched as the Riga, it was renamed first as the Leonid Brezhnev, then as the Tbilisi, before finally being named for the Soviet Naval Admiral Nikolai Kuznetsov.
4. Ski jump, not a catapult
The Admiral Kuznetsov could have had a catapult launch, but for economic reasons military authorities opted for a flight deck with a ski-jump springboard for conventional takeoffs and landings of naval aircraft.
5. Aircraft wing provides onshore training
Back in Soviet times, a special onshore training center imitating an aircraft carrier’s springboard was built in Crimea for training military pilots of carrier-based aircraft. For a long time, this center belonged to Ukraine, but following the controversial events surrounding Crimea in 2014, Russia has once again taken control of the center.
6. Standing up for itself
The Admiral Kuznetsov is very well armed. It needs escort ships, too, but not as many as its American counterparts. It can defend itself if necessary: its 12 Granit anti-ship cruise missiles, six AK-630 automatic weapon systems, two Udav rocket launchers with 60 depth charges, a Kinzhal surface-to-air missile system and a Kortik gun-missile system, prevent the enemy from getting too close, whether from the air or from underwater.
7. Aircraft carrier escapes
Following the collapse of the USSR, the Admiral Kuznetsov could have been inherited by Ukraine, which claimed ownership of it. In 1991, the ship, then assigned to the Northern Fleet, underwent tests with the Black Sea Fleet in Feodosia, leaving it in Ukrainian territory. However, the first deputy commander of the Northern Fleet flew to Ukraine at once and stepped in. The vice admiral gave the order to raise the anchor immediately and head for Severodvinsk. With its navigation lights off, the ship left its harbor and spent more than three weeks sailing to its permanent base without any aircraft and without two thirds of its crew, who were off-duty at the time. Having saved the aircraft carrier, the vice admiral rightly judged that the sailors would “catch us by train,” and that the aircraft remaining at the onshore airbase would “get there by themselves.”
8. A miraculous survivor
Had the Admiral Kuznetsov stayed in Ukraine, it could have suffered the unenviable fate of its fellow ships from Project 1143. The Kiev cruiser now entertains tourists in China as a museum and hotel, while the Ulyanovsk ship was dismantled for parts. The Novorossiysk and Minsk vessels were sold to South Korea for scrap, but the latter ended up in China and also became a museum. Ukraine also sold the Varyag boat to China, which apparently intended to turn it into a floating casino. However, the Chinese government decided to rebuild it as the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier.
9. The most irreplaceable
In 2015 Russia’s military command announced that it would be at least five years before any decision was made on whether to build a second aircraft carrier. However, the country’s armament program for 2020 does not envisage the construction of an aircraft carrier, so the Admiral Kuznetsov will likely remain Russia’s only such vessel for the foreseeable future.
Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
An article published May 7th by Andrei Akulov brings together mainly Western news sources, all solid, to make the case that U.S. President Barack Obama is pushing even highly reluctant European populations to join America’s increasingly overt hostile military stance targeting Russia as the world’s chief source of alleged “aggression” that must be stopped. One of those sources is a Reuters article that states: “Only 22 percent of Finns support joining NATO, while 55 percent are opposed, a recent poll by public broadcaster YLE showed. Finnish membership of NATO would double the length of the border between the alliance and Russia and increase the NATO presence in the Baltic Sea.” Yet, still, according to that Reuters article, Finland will probably join NATO, regardless of what the Finnish population want. This is supposedly how ‘democracy’ functions nowadays.
America is installing in Europe a new system that’s designed to block Russia’s ability to retaliate against a nuclear attack, but Obama sold it to European nations saying it will protect them against a nuclear attackfrom Iran. Now that Obama’s own agreement with Iran will assure that, for at least a decade, there won’tbe any nuclear weapons in Iran, he continues this deception as if the public are mere fools — and he’s not being called to task for it (except by Russia’s President).
In U.S. President Obama’s definitive statement on U.S. military policy, his National Security Strategy 2015, he cited Russia on 17 of the 18 occasions where he used the term “aggression” or its equivalents. He even played upon the old Cold-War-era anti-communist, and sometimes even anti-Semitic, charges that the Soviet Union characteristically lied, when Obama strung together there a statement about Russia that sounded just the same as such “red-scare” literature, except only using this time the term “Russia,” where American far-rightists back in the 1950s had referred to the USSR or Soviet Union. He said:
“And we will continue to impose significant costs on Russia through sanctions and other means while countering Moscow’s deceptive propaganda with the unvarnished truth. We will deter Russian aggression, remain alert to its strategic capabilities, and help our allies and partners resist Russian coercion over the long term, if necessary.”
If that’s not multiply hostile, then what is? It’s certainly not the type of thing one would allege if one is attempting to negotiate with a competitor, instead of to coerce an enemy — which is by now the second-term Obama Administration’s clear position regarding Russia. He had simply deceived the American public when he claimed during his re-election campaign to disagree with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s statement about Russia, “This is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.” His alleged disagreement with Romney about that was one of the reasons Americans re-elected Obama. But then, Obama promptly turned to planning the coup against Ukraine, which started to be activated on 1 March 2013 and wasn’t completed until 27 February 2014. (And the top officials at the EU were then shocked to learn that it had been a coup. But nonetheless, they participate in the sanctions against Russia, for, essentially, defending itself against them, and against the U.S.)
In the lying-department, Obama — despite his claiming that he’s “countering Moscow’s deceptive propaganda with the unvarnished truth” — vastly beats-out Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin there. As I had previously documented, “The Entire Case for Sanctions Against Russia Is Pure Lies”. What that article documents is: before Russia ‘seized’ Crimea (which until 1954 had been part of Russia, and which had had Russia’s main naval base since 1783, and where the population were overwhelmingly opposed to having been transferred to Ukraine in 1954 by the Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev), Obama had violently overthrown the democratically elected President of Ukraine, for whom 75% of Crimeans had voted, and then Obama’s goons started directly attacking Crimeans, virtually terrorizing them to flee from the newly installed Kiev government. But as you’ll see in that article exposing the entire case for sanctions against Russia, Obama’s lies about Crimea are even broader than that, and he needs these lies as his ‘justification’ for what he’s now doing along Russia’s borders: installing U.S. nuclear weapons against Russia.
Obama now is going beyond mere “sanctions,” to real military preparation for an invasion of Russia. And that’s what Akulov’s frightening, but well-documented, article reports about.
On May 12th, Stuart Hooper at 21st Century Wire headlined, “New Arms Race Begins: US Launches European Missile Shield in Romania”. So: not only is the U.S. placing nuclear missiles on Russia’s borders, but it’s also placing there anti-missile missiles, to destroy outgoing Russian missiles that could be flying in retaliation against America’s attack.
And, then, when Russian President Vladimir Putin responds to that type of aggressive move, by his moving Russian forces to Russia’s own borders to deter NATO’s aggression, Obama and his propagandists blame Putin for threatening ‘aggression against a NATO member’.
This bizarreness extends even beyond that, however, to NATO’s mocking Putin for being concerned at all about America’s antimissile system, which is also called “Ballistic Missile Defense” or BMD. A NATO Web-posting in October 2015 was headlined, “How Putin uses missile defence in Europe to distract Russian voters”, and it said:
The logic behind one of Russia’s classic grievances against the West – the deployment of ballistic missile defence (BMD) in Europe – has remained largely unexplained. …
Since the United States officially announced the deployment of BMD in Europe in 2004, Russia has persistently referred to the project, run by NATO, as a demonstration of anti-Russian intent. …
Moscow’s confrontational position on missile defence has proven politically expedient for a Russian government that has built its legitimacy on the necessity to defend Russia from external enemies. Now, when Russia is entering [due to Obama’s economic sanctions etc.] a full-fledged economic crisis that could affect the political allegiances of the Russian population [oh, sure: perhaps turn those ‘allegiances’ toward America instead?], the Kremlin needs to revive the issue of BMD – a welcome enemy that contributes to the justification for government survival. …
The justification that Russia has to protect itself from the external threat strengthens the need to maintain a strong, centralised government.
To extend this fantasyland even farther into the bizarre, that presentation went on to allege that the Russian population were simply being deceived by Putin into thinking that America’s anti-missile system would endanger their security:
The strategy to portray BMD as a threat to the Russian population seems effective. A survey conducted by the Russian polling organisation Levada centre in 2007 and again in 2010 revealed that the majority of the Russian constituency believed that the US construction of BMD in Europe presents a larger threat to Russia than the acquisition of offensive military capabilities by Iran or North Korea.
The 2010 Levada poll showed that 55 per cent of the respondents believed that the number one threat to Russian security was the deployment of US BMD in neighbouring states. Only 13 per cent of the respondents stated that Iran’s nuclear programme represented the main threat to Russia and 13 per cent indicated that the main threat was North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons.
The 2010 Levada survey could be analysed together with another 2010 Levada poll that confirmed the deeply engrained perception of America’s hostile intentions among Russians. Some 73 per cent of the polled Russians indicated that the United States was an aggressor that sought to establish control over all states. …
Reconstructing the image of the United States as a Cold War type aggressor facilitated this perception and justified running again on the basis of the need to protect the Russian people from external enemies.
Hence, castigating the United States and NATO again became an effective strategy to win votes. …
BMD has become a political, rather than military, tool for distraction that helps to convince the Russian population of the need to focus on protecting the Russian state, rather than their economic livelihoods.
Then, the U.S. National Public Radio network, NPR — the most trusted news-source by the American public — served up, on its Morning Edition program, 13 May 2016, a segment, “To Defend NATO, U.S. Sets Up Missile Defense Systems In Eastern Europe”, which pushed the line that, “The U.S. is trying to reassure the Russians that the defense systems are not a threat” (so as to fool the U.S. public into thinking that the U.S. government really cares about what the Russian people think, and would be reluctant to turn Russians into nuclear char if it ‘has to’ do so). This segment closed with NPR’s Moscow correspondent saying, “You know, most of people I’ve talked to so far say they’re not worried about it, and some … say that it’s because they trust that President Putin will take whatever steps are needed to make sure that Russia’s safe. A few of the younger people I spoke with though said that they don’t feel any particular danger from NATO and that they don’t believe that NATO is out to start a war.” No mention was made there of the polling, by Levada and others, which showed that the attitudes that NPR’s Moscow propagandist says “they’re not worried about it,” run overwhelmingly in the opposite direction. But, after all, isn’t this inevitable: for example, how did the American people feel about Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev’s plan to place Soviet missiles in Cuba, 90 miles from America’s border, in 1962? And what Obama-NATO are doing here to Russians is vastly bigger and vastly worse than that. But NPR miraculously reports that Russians are “not worried about it.” Americans are being fed lies like this all the time — it’s like “Saddam’s WMD” were in 2002; it’s the lying by government and media, that has become routine in America.
It’s a 1984-type world, where aggression by one’s own nation doesn’t exist, and where defense by the ultimately targeted nation, against that aggression, is itself called ‘aggression’ (or even attacked as being promoted in order to “strengthen the need to maintain a strong centralised government”: i.e, as some shading of that deceased ideological ogre, communism) — and European nations go along with this cockeyed reasoning, in order to participate not only in economic sanctions against that ultimately-targeted nation, but to participate in NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve, joining in this rabidly lying aggression against Russia, after having already participated in the lying economic sanctions against that same target.
What does this say about today’s United States government? And what does it say about Europe?
It says a lot. That’s for sure.