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The complete history of Barack Obama's second term -- click Views/Repies for top stories
 
 
 


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Beckwith

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Obama vows he's "standing up to Russian aggression" at G-7 meeting

Sean Higgins is reporting that Barack Obama and other world leaders said Sunday there would be no lifting on the economic sanctions against Russia until it reaches a formal peace agreement with the Ukraine. Obama said they were "standing up to Russian aggression."

The leaders were meeting in the small German town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the annual conference of the "Group of Seven" leading democratic industrial powers, also known as the G-7. World leaders from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Canada, were present. It was the second year in a row Russia was barred from attending.

In a joint press conference with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama said it was important to maintain "the sanctions regime to put pressure on Russian and separatist forces. ... We think that there can be a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to this problem, but it's going to require that Europe, the United States and the Transatlantic Partnership, as well as the world, stay vigilant."

At a separate news conference, European Council President Donald Tusk, who is Polish, agreed the sanctions should stay in place until Russia relents. "Our group is not only a political and economic group of interests, but first of all this is a community of values," Tusk said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said last week that they expected more assaults from Russian-allied groups. Five Ukrainian soldiers were killed in clashes Wednesday. European monitors have blamed the unrest on Russia.

Moscow has aided the Ukrainian rebels efforts with supplies and, on some occasions, its own military. It aided the efforts of Crimea-region Ukrainians to rebel in 2014, then annexed the land. World leaders have called the actions illegal and issued the sanctions in return.

The sanctions have boosted inflation in Russia and weakened the Ruble opposite other currencies. Most of the country's economic woes though are likely caused by the steep drop in energy prices, since oil and natural gas being two of Russia's main exports.

Escalation of Fighting in Eastern Ukraine -- posted Friday:


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Russia has massed heavy firepower on border with Ukraine

Maria Tsvetkova is reporting that Russia's army is massing troops and hundreds of pieces of weaponry including mobile rocket launchers, tanks and artillery at a makeshift base near the border with Ukraine, a Reuters reporter saw this week.

RussianTanks.jpg

Many of the vehicles have number plates and identifying marks removed while many of the servicemen had taken insignia off their fatigues. As such, they match the appearance of some of the forces spotted in eastern Ukraine, which Kiev and its Western allies allege are covert Russian detachments.

The scene at the base on the Kuzminsky firing range, around 50 km (30 miles) from the border, offers some of the clearest evidence to date of what appeared to be a concerted Russian military build-up in the area.

Earlier this month, NATO military commander General Philip Breedlove said he believed the separatists were taking advantage of a ceasefire that came into force in February to re-arm and prepare for a new offensive. However, he gave no specifics.

Russia denies that its military is involved in the conflict in Ukraine's east, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting forces loyal to the pro-Western government in Kiev.

Russia's defense ministry said it had no immediate comment about the build-up. Several soldiers said they had been sent to the base for simple military exercises, suggesting their presence was unconnected to the situation in Ukraine.

Asked by Reuters if large numbers of unmarked weaponry and troops without insignia at the border indicated that Russia planned to invade Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a conference call with reporters:

    "I find the wording of this question, 'if an invasion is being prepared', inappropriate as such."

The weapons being delivered there included Uragan multiple rocket launchers, tanks and self-propelled howitzers -- all weapon types that have been used in the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Kiev's forces and separatists.

The amount of military hardware at the base was about three times greater than in March this year, when Reuters journalists were previously in the area. At that time, only a few dozen pieces of equipment were in view.
 
Over the course of fours days starting on Saturday, Reuters saw four goods trains with military vehicles and troops arriving at a rail station in the Rostov region of southern Russia, with at least two trainloads traveling on by road to the base.

A large section of dirt road leading across the steppe from the Kuzminsky range to the Ukrainian border had been freshly repaired, making it more passable for heavy vehicles.

The road leads to a quiet border crossing typically only used by local residents. On the other side is Ukraine's Luhansk region, which is controlled by separatists and has been the scene of intense fighting.

Valentina Melnikova, a human rights campaigner who works closely with families of Russian servicemen, said she had information that Rostov region was being used as a staging post for troops on their way to Ukraine.
 
She said the information came from the mother of a serviceman stationed in the town of Totskoye, in the Orenburg region near Russia's border with Kazakhstan.

Melnikova said the serviceman heard from commanders that "they are going to be transferred to Rostov region after May 20 and then to Ukraine. They signed papers about non-disclosure of information and about acting voluntarily.

"Of course it was an order. How could it be voluntarily? They are servicemen," said Melnikova, who runs the Moscow-based Alliance of Soldiers' Mothers Committees.

Her account could not be independently verified by Reuters.

In some cases where Russian citizens have been captured in Ukraine by forces loyal to Kiev, Russian officials have said they were there of their own accord and were either on leave from the armed forces or had quit the military.
 
More military hardware trundles into the Matveev Kurgan railway station on goods trains every day.

A train that pulled in on Tuesday was carrying 16 T-72 tanks, and a number of military trucks.

A local woman who was at the station with a pre-school age girl looked at the tanks on flat-bed rail cars, sighed, and said: "Nothing surprises me any more."

Over the four days, trains arrived delivering a total of at least 26 tanks, about 30 Uragan launchers, dozens of trucks as well as several armored personnel carriers and self-propelled howitzers.

On two occasions, after the trains had been unloaded, reporters followed the column of vehicles to the firing range -- a location that has already been linked indirectly to the fighting in Ukraine.

Bellingcat, a British-based group of volunteers who use social media to investigate conflicts, analyzed postings by Russian soldiers on social network accounts, including geo-location tags on photos, and concluded that some of those in Ukraine had earlier been at the Kuzminsky range.

A former Russian soldier said last year, when he was on active military service, that he underwent training at the range and was later sent up to the Ukrainian border. Once at the border he was ordered to fire Grad rockets, although he said he could not be certain they were fired into Ukraine. He also said some members of his unit had crossed into Ukraine.

"That's a very big firing range. We studied for two weeks, we had a quick course. After that we got the order and went to the border," said the former soldier, who did not want to be identified because the operation has not been made public.



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2 Russian nuclear bombers entered Alaska airspace, report says

FoxNews.com is reporting that two nuclear-capable Russian bombers reportedly intruded into the U.S. air defense zone near Alaska last week.

The Washington Free Beacon, citing defense officials, reports the tu-95 Bear H bombers flew into the zone on April 22, but no U.S. jets were dispatched to intercept them.

Bear.jpg

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for NORAD, declined to confirm the incursion to The Times, but said that no jets were dispatched to intercept intruding aircraft.

The incident was the first Russian bomber incursion of a U.S. or Canadian air defense zone this year. It likely signals the start of Russia's long-range aviation training cycle, officials said.

U.S. and Canadian jets intercepted Russian bombers at least six times last year, while intruding Russian long-range aircraft were detected on 10 occasions, Davis said.
 
Senior military officials have said that Russia has increased bomber flights near U.S. coasts as part of a strategic messaging and influence operation.

Northern Command commander Adm. William Gortney told reporters earlier this month that Russia is developing a more capable military than the former Soviet Union. Both flight missions and numbers of locations for the flights "have gone up," Gortney said.

The latest bomber mission near Alaska was described as provocative and dangerous by the Pentagon. At that time, a U.S. RC-135 intercepted the bomber.



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Obama "frankly surprised' it took this long for Russia to cross his red line on missiles to Iran

Daniel Bassali is reporting that Barack Obama said that he was "not surprised" Russia sold an advanced missile system to Iran in the midst of his negotiations with the Ayatollah to prevent Iran's nuclear facilities from making a bomb. He went even further to say that he expected the deal to happen a lot sooner than it did. Obama said yesterday:

"I'm frankly surprised that it held this long given that they were not prohibited by sanctions from selling these defensive weapons,"

The sanguine comments from Obama are surprising considering the negative effects his administration said it would cause.

"He's sort of thanking Russia," CNN's Jim Sciutto said.

Standing beside Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Obama downplayed the development, which has been viewed as a threat to the coalition seeking a deal with Iran. Previously, however, the administration made it clear they strongly objected the sale of the missile system to the Ayatollah.

The Free Beacon's Adam Kredo pointed out that the sale crossed another red line for Obama.

"One senior Obama administration official speaking in 2010 described the S-300 sale as a 'red line' for the United States that 'couldn't be crossed,' according to Foreign Policy," Kredo said.

The Obama administration official ‘made clear to Medvedev and other Russian officials that the sale of the S-300 to Iran was a red line that couldn't be crossed."

The Iranian regime has for years wanted to get their hands on the S-300 air defense missile system. The missile system could help Iran defend their nuclear facilities from an air strike if nuclear negotiations were to fail and could lead to Iron instigating more chaos in the Middle East.

"We think given Iran's destabilizing actions in the region, in places like Yemen or Syria or Lebanon, that this isn't the time to be selling these kinds of system to them," State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said. "So in general, that's what our concerns are based on."

The sale is sure to help both nations currently under stiff sanctions from the United States.

"They are selling missiles to defense nuclear sites in the middle of a nuclear negotiation; that's not nothing," Sciutto said.

If this goes through that means that Israel may well not be able to take out the nuclear bomb building facilities. It has been a "red line" for years because it virtually will guarantee Iran free pass to the bomb, and what comes next will not be pleasant.


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Russian tanks roll into Ukraine

Geoffrey Norman is reporting that The shaky cease-fire in Ukraine may be falling completely apart.  Reuters is reporting that:

A column of 32 tanks, 16 howitzer artillery systems and trucks carrying ammunition and fighters has crossed into eastern Ukraine from Russia, the Kiev military said on Friday.

"The deployment continues of military equipment and Russian mercenaries to the front lines," spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in a televised briefing referring to Thursday's cross-border incursion.

The report of a new Russian movement of armor across the border follows a charge on Thursday by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine that Kiev government forces had launched a new offensive - which Kiev immediately denied.

Some 4,000 people have been killed in the fighting. The cease fire has been in effect for two months but:

... has looked particularly fragile this week, with separatists and the central government accusing each other of violations after separatist leaders held elections in self-proclaimed 'people's republics' last Sunday.


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Russia deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Crimea

Bill Gertz is reporting that Russia is moving tactical nuclear weapons systems into recently-annexed Crimea while the Obama administration is backing informal talks aimed at cutting U.S. tactical nuclear deployments in Europe.

Three senior House Republican leaders wrote to Barack Obama two weeks ago warning that Moscow will deploy nuclear missiles and bombers armed with long-range air launched cruise missiles into occupied Ukrainian territory.

"Locating nuclear weapons on the sovereign territory of another state without its permission is a devious and cynical action," states the letter signed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R., Calif.) and two subcommittee chairmen.

"It further positions Russian nuclear weapons closer to the heart of NATO, and it allows Russia to gain a military benefit from its seizure of Crimea, allowing Russia to profit from its action."

Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months "has escalated his use of nuclear threats to a level not seen since the Cold War," they wrote.

In a related development, the Obama administration is funding non-official arms control talks with Russia through a Washington think-tank that are aimed at curbing U.S. tactical nuclear arms in Europe.

The first round of talks was held in Vienna Monday and Tuesday.

Critics say Obama administration arms control officials at the State Department and Pentagon are using the informal nuclear talks as groundwork for future tactical nuclear arms cuts.

Such cuts are likely to be opposed by NATO allies, especially in Eastern Europe, worried by growing Russian military threats to the continent.

Regarding the nuclear deployments to Crimea, Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R., Okla.) first disclosed last month that Putin had announced in August his approval of deploying nuclear-capable Iskander-M short-range missiles along with Tu-22 nuclear-capable bombers in Crimea, located on the Black Sea.

"The stationing of new nuclear forces on the Crimean peninsula, Ukrainian territory Russia annexed in March, is both a new and menacing threat to the security of Europe and also a clear message from Putin that he intends to continue to violate the territorial integrity of his neighbors," Inhofe stated in a Sept. 8 op-ed in Foreign Policy.

In their Sept. 23 letter to the president, McKeon, Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces, and Rep. Michael Turner (R., Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee on tactical air and land forces, noted Russia's violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty by building a banned cruise missile. The missile has been identified by U.S. officials as the R-500.

The lawmakers said the Russian nuclear deployment in Crimea represents the "clear, and perhaps irrevocable tearing" of the 1997 agreement between NATO and Russia that allowed Russia to maintain a military presence within the alliance.

Continue reading here . . .


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Russian nuclear bombers buzz Alaska and Northern Europe

Bill Gertz is reporting that while Barack Obama was agonizing about the "war on women," Russian strategic nuclear bombers carried out air defense zone incursions near Alaska and across Northern Europe this week in the latest nuclear saber rattling by Moscow.

BearBomberIntercept.jpg

Six Russian aircraft, including two Bear H nuclear bombers, two MiG-31 fighter jets and two IL-78 refueling tankers were intercepted by F-22 fighters on Wednesday west and north of Alaska in air defense identification zones, said Navy Capt. Jeff A. Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. Two other Bears were intercepted by Canadian jets on Thursday.

"The group of Russian aircraft flew a loop south, returning westward toward Russia," Davis told the Free Beacon.

A day later two more Bear bombers were intercepted by Canadian CF-18 jets in the western area of the Canadian air defense identification zone near the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska, he said.

The Russian bombers did not enter U.S. airspace but flew within 63 miles of the Alaskan coast and 46 miles of the Canadian coastline, Davis said.

In both instances, the Russian bombers did not enter sovereign airspace, he added, noting the Russian aircraft flew within about 55 nautical miles of the Alaskan coastline, and within about 40 nautical miles of the Canadian coastline.

One defense official said the Russian bomber activity appeared timed to the visit to the United States and Canada by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The Ukrainian leader was in Ottawa for meetings with Canadian leaders on Wednesday. He met with President Obama on Thursday.

Ukraine is locked in a battle with Moscow over the Russian military annexation of Crimea and continuing backing of pro-Russian Ukrainian militias in eastern Ukraine.

Over Europe on Tuesday, two Bear H bombers conducted practice strategic bombing runs on Tuesday and were met by interceptor jets from Norway, Denmark, Britain, and Netherlands, defense officials told the Free Beacon.

"NATO jets … were scrambled to visually identify unknown aircraft approaching allied airspace," said a NATO military officer who confirmed details of the incident.

"The approaching aircraft were identified as two Tu-95 Russian Bear H bombers," he said. "The Russian flights originated in the Barents Sea and went through international airspace down to the North Sea off the Dutch coast."

The Russian aircraft flew in international airspace "close to NATO territory" but did not violate allied airspace, the officer said.

The NATO jets were scrambled as a response to the approach of unidentified aircraft, the officer said.

The type of NATO jets involved in the intercepts was not provided. The Telegraph reported that British Royal Air Force Typhoon jets took part.

"This is a standard procedure because these flights also pose a potential risk to civil aviation given that the Russian military often do not file flight plans, or use their on-board transponders," he added. "This means civilian air traffic control cannot identify these aircraft nor ensure there is no interference with civilian air traffic."

The officer said similar intercepts have taken place in the past. "NATO jets routinely identify, intercept, and escort Russian military planes that fly unannounced in international airspace but close to allied borders," he said, noting the missions are "entirely defensive."

"The event that occurred on 16 September shows NATO aircraft from several allies cooperating and coordinated by national and allied air command and control centers in a mission that reflects NATO's readiness and determination to ensure collective security," he said.

In a related development, Sweden's military on Friday confirmed that two Russian Su-24 fighter-bombers violated the country's airspace on Wednesday. A Gripen jet fighter was scrambled to intercept the jets.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called the Russian jet incident "the most serious aerial incursion by the Russians during my years as foreign minister," Sweden's news outlet The Local reported Friday.

Russia's strategic aviation forces have sharply increased flights in recent months in Asia, near Alaska, Canada, and the United States and Europe.

The flights were carried out amid growing tensions with Russia over its military annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and continuing covert military destabilization of eastern Ukraine.

The NATO alliance announced earlier this month that it is creating a rapid response military force in Eastern Europe to counter the growing threat of Russian intervention.

"Russia's aggressive actions against Ukraine have fundamentally challenged our vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace," NATO said in a concluding statement Sept. 5.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a former Alaskan Air Command commander with experience in Russian strategic flight incursions, said the increased bomber activity appears related to nuclear activities.

"They are having a very aggressive nuclear readiness exercise now as a show of force," McInerney said. "Whereas the U.S. has been on a path of nuclear zero which they think is ridiculous."

McInerney added: "The Russians sense weakness in American leadership and they are trying to intimidate us and show us that our nuclear deterrent forces are vulnerable to Russian nuclear forces."

Other recent Bear bomber incidents included a practice cruise missile attack by two bombers off the coast of Canada earlier this month. That incident appeared timed to the NATO summit meeting in Wales.

The U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command in August stated that Russian strategic nuclear bombers sharply increased incursions into U.S. air defense zone.

More than 16 bomber flights were tracked and intercepted by U.S. and Canadian jets during a 10-day period that month.

The new aggressive military posture appears to be an element of Russian President Vladimir Putin's policy of seeking to return Russia to its Soviet empire status.

Russia, under Putin, is engaged in a large-scale nuclear buildup that includes new missiles, submarines, and a new bomber.

On Sept. 10, the Russian navy conducted a test firing of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile.

State-run Interfax-AVN news service reported earlier this week that nuclear cruise missile firing Russian Tu-95 Bear Bombers and Tu-22 Backfire C bombers completed missions that involved "snap readiness checks" in the Pacific.

Russian military forces also are bolstering forces in the arctic as part of Moscow's efforts to secure resources in the region.

Two military bases are being built at Wrangel Island, on the arctic Chukchi Sea north of the Russian Far East, and on Cape Schmidt, also on the Chukchi Sea, the Moscow Times reported Sept. 8.

The report said the bases were part of Moscow's efforts to restore the Soviet military presence in the resource-rich arctic.

Russia also is deploying new attack submarines to the region.



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Russian General wants to bring back pre-emptive nuclear strike option against NATO

Oliver Lane is reporting that a senior Russian General has called for military doctrine to be redefined to include the possibility of pre-emptive nuclear strikes against foreign powers, and that the enemies of Russia should be specifically defined in the document, reports Russian language news agency Interfax.

His concerning statement comes in response to the "eastward expansion" of NATO and plans by the United States to deploy missile defence systems in Eastern Europe. Interfax quotes Retired Army General Yuri Yakubov as saying: "This strategic document for the country should in the first place clearly identify the potential enemy of Russia, which is not in the military doctrine of 2010. In my view, our main enemy is the United States and the North Atlantic bloc [NATO].

"In particular, in my opinion, you need to carefully consider the forms and methods of the operation of Aerospace Defence, in close cooperation with strategic nuclear deterrence forces, the Strategic Missile Forces, strategic aviation and the Navy. Thus it is necessary to study the conditions under which Russia could use the Russian strategic nuclear forces (SNF) pre-emptively.

"A couple of years ago the United States and NATO at all levels stated that the North Atlantic bloc, the West in general are not the enemy of Russia. And what do we see now? Deployed against us is a real information war, with Russia deliberately shaped as a foe of the West, with far reaching goals.

"And most importantly, our borders are roughly base [sic] the United States and NATO. These global changes and challenges, in my opinion, should be clearly reflected in a revised military doctrine."

Russia's military doctrine, which governs the way its armed forces react to events and crises was last defined in 2010 and made no specific mention of nations the Russian Government considered it's enemies. It also reserves the right to "use nuclear weapons in response to use against it or its allies of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as in response to large-scale aggression using conventional weapons, a threat to the very existence of Russian state."

News of General Yabubov's comments comes ahead of the NATO conference starting in Wales tomorrow. The meeting is to be dominated by discussions about the situation in Ukraine, which has worsened despite the recent ceasefire.

Former Warsaw pact countries that are now members of Nato, such as Poland, are calling for a much tougher line against Vlamir Putin. They are concerned that a resurgent Russia may attempt to recreate its old Soviet empire, using Russian ex-patriots in Eastern European countries.

So far, the West has been muted in its response to the situation in Ukraine, preferring to target sanctions on individual supporters of Vladimir Putin. This is because countries like Germany are heavily reliant on Russian energy and are very keen to see the situation defused.

Putin himself did not agree to today's ceasefire, claiming he was not a party in the conflict. Meanwhile Barack Obama is in Estonia shoring up jittery allies of the US including Latvia and Lithuania.


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Russian armored columns said to capture key Ukrainian towns

Annie Gowen and Anne Gearan are reporting that Russian soldiers, tanks and heavy artillery began rolling into southeastern Ukraine in earnest Thursday, the Ukrainian government said, as well-armed detachments captured key towns, burned buildings and sent the underequipped Ukrainian forces into full retreat -- a show of military force that the United States now considers an invasion in all but name.

U.S. officials began saying privately for the first time Thursday that they consider the escalation of recent days tantamount to a Russian invasion, but President Obama stopped short of using the term at a news conference late in the afternoon. He said the United States will continue to rely on sanctions in an effort to deter Russia.

"Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine," he said. "Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."

But he said the problem will not be solved with U.S. or outside military action. "A military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming," he said.

Buttressing the Ukrainian accounts, NATO released satellite images Thursday of what it said were Russian artillery, vehicles and troops in and around eastern Ukraine. One image showed what NATO officials said was a convoy with self-propelled artillery in the area of Krasnodon, inside territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists, on Aug. 21.

RussiaInvasion.jpg

"There is no doubt that this is not a homegrown, indigenous uprising in eastern Ukraine. The separatists are backed, trained, armed, financed by Russia," Obama said.

Russian actions will be a main topic for the summit of NATO leaders next week in Wales, Obama said.

The Russian Defense Ministry reiterated its position again Thursday, saying no Russian military units had taken part in action in Ukraine, according to the Russian news agency Interfax. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that lists of Russian military units circulating on the Internet are fake. Russia has previously admitted that 10 of its paratroopers were captured in Ukraine, but said they were there because they wandered into the country by mistake.



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Russian strategic bombers conduct more than 16 incursions of US air defense zones

Bill Gertz is reporting that Russian strategic nuclear bombers conducted at least 16 incursions into northwestern U.S. air defense identification zones over the past 10 days, an unusually sharp increase in aerial penetrations, according to U.S. defense officials.

The numerous flight encounters by Tu-95 Russian Bear H bombers prompted the scrambling of U.S. jet fighters on several occasions, and come amid heightened U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine.

Also, during one bomber incursion near Alaska, a Russian intelligence-gathering jet was detected along with the bombers.

"Over the past week, NORAD has visually identified Russian aircraft operating in and around the U.S. air defense identification zones," said Maj. Beth Smith, spokeswoman for U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Smith called the Russian flights "a spike in activity" but sought to play down the threat, stating the flights were assessed as routine training missions and exercises.

The bomber flights took place mainly along the Alaskan air defense identification zone that covers the Aleutian Islands and the continental part of the state, and one incursion involved entry into Canada’s air defense zone, Smith said.

The Russian strategic aircraft included a mix of Tu-95 Bear H heavy bombers and Tu-142 Bear F maritime reconnaissance aircraft, she said, adding that one IL-20 intelligence collection aircraft was detected during the flight incursions over the past week to 10 days.

RussianBearBomber.jpg

The bomber flights are the latest case of nuclear saber rattling by the Russians.

However, other defense officials said the large number of aerial incursions is very unusual and harkens back to the Cold War, when Soviet bombers frequently sought to trigger air defenses along the periphery of U.S. territory as preparation for a nuclear conflict.

Moscow, under strongman President Vladimir Putin, is engaged in a major buildup of its strategic nuclear forces. The modernization includes new missiles of several ranges, new strategic missile submarines, and new long-range bombers.

As for its long-range aviation flights near U.S. coasts, Russia has been sharply increasing the activities, especially in the Pacific Northwest near Alaska, Canada, and the West Coast.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported that two Bear bombers flew within 50 miles of the California coast on June 9 -- the closest the Russians have flown their nuclear-capable bombers since the days of the Cold War. A U.S. F-15 intercepted the bombers.

A defense official disagreed with the spokeswoman on the increased bomber forays. Russian strategic nuclear forces appear to be "trying to test our air defense reactions, or our command and control systems," said an official familiar with reports of the incursions.

"These are not just training missions," the official added.

Northern Command and NORAD in the past frequently sought to dismiss the Russian bomber incursions as non-threatening as part of the Obama administration’s conciliatory "reset" policy of seeking closer ties with Moscow.

The Pentagon and other commands, however, have toughened rhetoric toward Russia and its activities after the Russian military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in June.

Relations between Washington and Moscow have soured. The State Department last month accused Moscow of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty by developing a new cruise missile.

Moscow dismissed the charges as untrue.

Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, expressed concerns about the increase in Russian strategic nuclear activities during a speech in Washington June 18.

Haney said Russian nuclear activities coincided with recent tensions over Ukraine and included the test launch of six air-launched cruise missiles in a show of force.

A Russian Defense Ministry statement on the cruise missile test launches said a Tu-95 bomber "is capable of destroying the critical stationary assets of an enemy with cruise missiles, in daytime and nighttime, in any weather and in any part of the globe."

Moscow also conducted several large-scale nuclear war games in May, Haney said.

"Additionally, we have seen significant Russian strategic aircraft deployments in the vicinity of places like Japan, Korea, and even our West Coast," Haney said at a defense industry breakfast.

"Russia continues to modernize its strategic capabilities across all legs of its triad, and open source [reporting] has recently cited the sea trials of its latest [missile submarine], testing of its newest air-launched cruise missile and modernization of its intercontinental ballistic force to include its mobile capability in that area," he said.

Russia’s recent Cold War-level aerial encounters over the Pacific near Alaska followed an earlier U.S.-Russian aerial duel in Europe.

U.S. officials confirmed that an RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic intelligence gathering aircraft was forced into violating Swedish airspace by a Russian fighter jet July 18. The U.S. jet was seeking to evade the Russian interceptor jet at the time.

That encounter took place a day after Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by a missile over eastern Ukraine.



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World has descended into chaos under Obama


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"On a profound and visceral level Obama is scared of Putin"

Col. Ralph Peters argues that in regard to the situation in Ukraine there’s so much more Obama could do to affect Putin, but he feels that on a profound and visceral level that Obama is scared of Putin and thus he’s making these meaningless statements.

Peters also points out that the major difference between Putin and Obama is that Putin believes in Russia and its destiny and Obama does not believe in American greatness or its destiny.

Cartoonist Ramirez concurs:

Ramirez-2014-7-22.jpg


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There goes the missile launcher

Heading back to Mother Russia with two missiles missing.


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Reply with quote  #115 

Oops! -- "We shot down a civilian plane"

Well, what's Mr. "flexibility" gonna do now?

Nothing!

Obama never does anything but blame others for his screw-ups and go to fundraisers.


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Reply with quote  #116 

Way to go, Barry! -- Russia "jacks" the space station

Reuters is reporting that Russia is to deny the US future use of the International Space Station beyond 2020 and will also bar its rocket engines from launching US military satellites as it hits back at American sanctions imposed over Ukraine crisis.

Russia's deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced a series of punitive measures on Tuesday against the US in response to sanctions imposed after Russia annexed Crimea.

The two countries have long cooperated closely on space exploration despite their clashes in foreign policy.

The Space Station is manned by both American and Russian crew, but the only way to reach it is by using Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

The US is keen to keep the $100 billion (£600) ISS flying until at least 2024, four years beyond its original target.

At a time when Moscow is struggling to reform its accident-plagued space programme, Mr Rogozin said US plans to deny export licences for some high-technology items were a blow to Russian industry. "These sanctions are out of place and inappropriate,” Mr Rogozin said. "We have enough of our own problems.”

Moscow's response would affect NK-33 and RD-180 engines which Russia supplies to the US, Mr Rogozin said. "We are ready to deliver these engines but on one condition that they will not be used to launch military satellites,” he said.

RD-180 engines are used to boost Atlas 5 rockets manufactured by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing that holds a virtual monopoly on launching U.S. military satellites.

Mr Rogozin said Moscow was planning "strategic changes" in its space industry after 2020 and aims to use money and "intellectual resources" that now go to the space station for a "a project with more prospects".

The pre-Obama NASA conceived of, designed, built, launched and placed the space staion into orbit -- and now, because of Obama's poorly thought out sanctions -- it appears that the Russians just told Obama it's theirs.

Did Obama really believe there would be no blow-back from his sanctions?

Most high school students understand that for every action there is a reaction -- not Obama and his collection of foreign policy "geniuses."


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Russia moves warplanes into Ukraine attack position

Chriss W. Street is reporting that Russia moved dozens of Mig-29 and Su-27 fighter aircraft and Tu-22 bombers from a Simferopol district airbase to the western coast of the Crimean peninsula on May 3rd following the bloody clashes between pro- and anti-Russian groups in the southern coastal city of Odessa where 42 people were killed and 125 injured the day before. 

Despite some success by Ukrainian security forces in dislodging separatists in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russia groups stormed the Ukrainian Security Service building in the eastern city of Donetsk Sunday, looting weapons and burning the Ukrainian flag, according to the Sunday London Times.

Pro-Russian groups still control more than a dozen buildings in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Stratfor Global Intelligence service estimates there are no more than a couple of hundred well-armed militia currently occupying buildings and manning checkpoints throughout eastern Ukraine, but there are thousands of unarmed civilians supporting the separatists in their strongholds in the two easternmost provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk. A standoff has ensued between the separatists and Ukrainian security forces in anticipation of the upcoming May Day holidays on May 9-11, a high point of Soviet nostalgia in the region.

Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov said April 30 that the country's security forces are unable to "take the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions under control," adding that the Ukrainian army has been put on combat alert.

Despite an agreement in Geneva for the separatists to disarm in exchange for constitutional protections for minorities, neither side has made any meaningful changes on the ground. Ukraine is interested in maintaining territorial integrity, and Moscow's main imperative is to keep Ukraine neutralized from meaningfully integrating with the West.

The Ukrainian Parliament is currently deliberating a referendum on the decentralization of power, possibly to coincide with Ukraine's presidential elections set for May 25. Russia had previously said it would not recognize these elections, but in an April 29 interview with Russian daily Gazeta.ru the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow could recognize the elections "depending on how they are held."

Moscow has 40,000 Russian troops massed along the Ukrainian border, supposedly mobilized under the pretense of military exercises. Stratfor believes that the threat of military intervention is much more effective as a source of leverage for Russia: "The immense logistical and political constraints involved in actually invading Ukraine likely preclude direct Russian action."

Russia increased its military exercises near the border after Ukrainian forces began their anti-terrorism activities, compelling Kiev to back down from carrying out such operations and relinquishing checkpoints the military previously seized.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on April 28 and said that Russia would not intervene in Ukraine militarily as long as Kiev does not use its own military against unarmed civilians. However, after the horrific violence in Odessa, Russia has moved its aircraft into attack positions for if the Ukrainian military continues to advance.


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Putin halts all talks with Team Obama

Josh Rogin is reporting that since the invasion of Crimea, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama have had regular phone calls in an often half-hearted attempt to deescalate the ongoing crisis inside Ukraine. But as the U.S. and EU prepare to unveil new sanctions against Russia, Putin has decided the interactions should stop. The Kremlin has ended high-level contact with the Obama administration, according to diplomatic officials and sources close to the Russian leadership. The move signals an end to the diplomacy, for now.

"Putin will not talk to Obama under pressure," said Igor Yurgens, Chairman of the Institute for Contemporary Development, a prominent Moscow think tank, and a close associate of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. "It does not mean forever."

Obama and Putin last spoke over the phone on April 14, a call that the White House said was initiated at Moscow's request. Obama urged Putin in the call to end Kremlin support for armed, pro-Russian activists creating unrest in eastern Ukraine. Obama also warned that the U.S. would impose more "costs" on Russia if Putin continued his current course. According to the Kremlin's readout of the call, Putin denied Russian interference in eastern Ukraine and said "that such speculations are based on inaccurate information."

Obama and Putin have spoken to each other about Ukraine regularly over the past weeks, including calls on March 28, March 16, and March 6. But that these calls are now on hold for the indefinite future, due to their lack of progress and frustration on both sides.

On Friday, Kerry warned that new round of American financial assaults on Russia were on the way. "We are putting in more sanctions, they will probably come Monday at the latest," he said in a private meeting in Washington, according to an attendee. Russian businesses and individuals close to Putin would be on the sanctions list, he added.

Diplomatic sources close to the process confirmed that Putin is not interested in speaking with Obama again in the current environment. The two leaders might talk again in the future but neither side is reaching out for direct interaction, as they had been doing since the Ukraine crisis began. The failure of the agreement struck last week in Geneva between the contact group of the U.S., EU, Russia, and Ukraine has made further direct Washington-Moscow interactions moot.

Other top U.S. officials are also now out of direct contact with their Russian interlocutors. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is also getting the cold shoulder from his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu. Pentagon officials have reached out to Russia on Mr. Hagel's behalf within the past 24 hours but have not gotten any response, according to Pentagon Spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren.

That leaves the channel between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as the only semi-functioning high-level diplomatic channel between Washington and Moscow. But even that often-frosty relationship has further chilled as the two sides hurled insults and accusations this week.

After speaking over the phone Monday and then again Tuesday about the now defunct Geneva agreement on Ukraine, Kerry and Lavrov are now conducting diplomacy through the press -- and leveling harsh and undiplomatic charges against one another.

Kerry appeared at the State Department press room Thursday afternoon to declare publicly that Russia was not keeping its word.

"For seven days, Russia has refused to take a single concrete step in the right direction," Kerry scolded. "Not a single Russian official, not one, has publicly gone on television in Ukraine and called on the separatists to support the Geneva agreement, to support the stand-down, to give up their weapons, and get out of the Ukrainian buildings. They have not called on them to engage in that activity. "

Kerry also lashed out at Russia Today, the Kremlin-sponsored television network, which Kerry said spends all its time "to propagandize and to distort what is happening or not happening in Ukraine."

"Instead, in plain sight, Russia continues to fund, coordinate, and fuel a heavily armed separatist movement in Donetsk," Kerry accused.

Lavrov publicly responded, "The U.S. is trying to pervert everything that is going on in Ukraine."

On Friday, Kerry summed up his recent interactions with his Russian counterpart,  "I've had 6 conversations with Lavrov in the last few weeks. The last one was Kafka-esque... It was bizarre."

Here is Putin's response to Obama's "sanctions" -- Russia jets fly low over Ukraine.


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Reply with quote  #119 

While Obama decimates the military -- the Pentagon is deploying troops to thwart Russia

Tom Vanden Brook is reporting that the Pentagon is sending about 600 troops to Eastern Europe in response to Russia's incursion into Ukraine, Rear Adm. John Kirby announced Tuesday.

The first contingent of 150 soldiers from the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Italy, will arrive in Poland on Wednesday to conduct infantry exercises. Another 450 soldiers will be deployed to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for similar duty. The American forces will be replaced to ensure a continual presence in the region.

"Russia's aggression in Ukraine has renewed our resolve to strengthening NATO's defense plans and capabilities, and to demonstrate our continued commitment to collective defense in reinforcing our NATO allies in Central and Eastern Europe," Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.

The move drew measured praise from Rep. Buck McKeon, a California Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

"This as a small step in the right direction," McKeon said. "By rearranging U.S. forces already deployed in Europe, the president is doing something, however incremental, to reassure our allies. It might have more deterrent value if he included the Ukrainian military in the exercises. It remains to be seen if this move of 600 troops comes in time to make an impression on the tens of thousands of Russian troops on Ukraine's borders."

Russia annexed Crimea, taking control of key port facilities on the Black Sea, and has been accused by U.S. officials of sending forces elsewhere into eastern Ukraine to destabilize the country.

The token presence of U.S. troops in Poland, a NATO ally bordering Ukraine, and the Baltic nations, also NATO allies, could not repel a Russian invasion or eject them from Ukraine. Russia has massed about 40,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border.

nato.jpg

"What would be very helpful is if they removed their forces off that border and took concrete actions to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine," said Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary.

The presence of U.S. soldiers raises the stakes for Russia in Poland and the other countries if it moves against them militarily. Wounding or killing an American soldier there could risk a major war.

There are about 67,000 U.S. troops in Europe and 12,000 civilians, according to U.S. European Command. The Cold War peak was 400,000 troops, in 1955 and it dropped to about 100,000 several years ago.


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Kerry fights Pentagon move to block Russian spy plane from American skies

Eli Lake is reporting that the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. military and American intelligence agencies have quietly pushed the White House in recent weeks to deny a new Russian surveillance plane the right to fly over U.S. territory. This week, the White House finally began consideration of the decision whether to certify the new Russian aircraft under the so-called "Open Skies Treaty." And now the question becomes: Will the spies and generals get their way?

As the United States and Russia face off publicly over Ukraine, behind the scenes, Barack Obama’s national security cabinet is having its own quiet feud over a long-standing agreement to allow Russian surveillance flights over U.S. airspace.

The spies and the generals want to deny the Russians the overflight rights for its latest surveillance planes. The State Department, which ultimately makes that decision, has favored such certification. On Wednesday an interagency meeting of senior officials failed to reach consensus, delaying the decision until Obama takes it up with the National Security Council, according to U.S. officials involved in the dispute.

At issue is the Open Skies Treaty. First signed in 1992 and finally ratified in 2002, the treaty adopted by 34 nations allows the safe passage of planes equipped with advanced cameras and sensors that give governments the imagery and data they use to assess everything from compliance with arms control treaties to troop movements.

On April 15, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, and the Republican chairman of that panel’s subcommittee that oversees the U.S. nuclear arsenal, Rep. Mike Rogers from Alabama, urged Obama to deny Russia the right to fly its new planes over U.S. airspace.

In their letter, the two lawmakers write, "We agree with the concerns expressed by the Intelligence Community and the military leadership of the Department of Defense" in their opposition to certifying the new Russian planes under the treaty.

The State Department on the other hand has argued the United States should live up to the treaty's obligations and approve the new Russian aircraft. The decision to certify the planes and their sensors has been pending since late last year, long before the Ukraine crisis began. One senior U.S. official said, "This isn’t just an issue between the United States and Russia. Our allies and partners depend on this treaty for insight into Russia because they don’t have the same capabilities as the United States."

Continue reading here . . .


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Reply with quote  #121 

Do you believe this guy?

Tweet20.jpg

"Grave concern" -- Vladimir must be trembling in his boots.



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Reply with quote  #122 

Putin declares all-out "cold war" on America

Kim Zigfeld is reporting that Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia has declared all-out cold war on the United States, and is threatening a hot conflagration in Ukraine as well.  In response, Barack H. Obama is dithering, poking his head ever deeper into the sands of cowardice, and leading America down the same dead-end street followed by James E. Carter.

On April 10th, the Putin regime shut down the Voice of America radio broadcasts in Russia, calling them “mere spam in our frequencies,” and it evicted the American Councils, which is responsible for organizing student exchanges between the USA and Russia. The same day, it was revealed that the Kremlin had willfully withheld critical information about the Boston Marathon bombers from U.S. security forces, in other words playing an important role in helping the bombings to go forward.  We learned that Russia had been ritualistically violating its nuclear arms treaty obligations, and Russia announced as well that it intended to flout U.S. sanctions against the terrorist rogue regime in Iran.

Meanwhile, NATO revealed that tens of thousands of Russian troops were massing on the Russian border with Ukraine, not engaging in any training exercises but clearly preparing to invade Russia’s smaller neighbor, which borders not one but three NATO members.  For years, Vladimir  Putin had condemned unilateral U.S. military action and insisted that Russia was a different kind of country, one which pursued its interests through  diplomacy and negotiation (Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia notwithstanding, of course).

Putin is also imposing Soviet-style approach to domestic policy. Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch has written:  “I do not recall a more dramatic silencing of the media in post-SovietRussia.”  All of the last remaining web portals inside Russia that could be counted on to fairly report the news and publish criticism of the Putin regime have come under virulent attack, and many have simply been blocked from the Internet entirely.  All significant TV news reports already come from the Kremlin, leaving Russians almost completely blind, just as they were in Soviet times.

The economic and political consequences for Russia of this reckless aggression have already been devastating.

Russia has seen more capital flight in the first quarter of this year than in all of last year, and at the end of last year economists warned that these losses were already at a devastating level. The Kremlin itself admits that Russian economic growth will all but cease this year, the value of the Russian ruble is at a historic low, meaning runaway inflation on the foreign goods that Russia needs to survive.


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Obama providing FREE high tech military equipment to Russia

Team Obama has been secretly giving Russia free Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES), a tactical force-on-force trainer, that uses a system of lasers and dummy ammunition to simulate ground combat for soldiers.

Previous item has the backstory.


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Obama gives Russia Free military equipment used by Army, Marines

Judicial Watch is reporting that behind closed doors Team Obama is giving Russia free military equipment -- also used to train American troops -- even after Barack Obama announced punitive sanctions against Moscow and, more importantly, a suspension in military engagement over the invasion and occupation of Ukraine.

The secret operation was exposed this week by members of Congress that discovered it in the process of reviewing the Fiscal Year 2014 budget and the proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget request. It turns out that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has been providing the Russian Federation with the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES), the federal legislators say. The U.S. military uses MILES for tactical force-on-force training because it has a system of lasers and dummy ammunition to simulate ground combat.

It's a crucial, military-grade technology that's similar to a "laser tag" available in some commercial markets, according to one of the outraged lawmakers (Oklahoma Republican Jim Bridenstine) that helped uncover the scandal. Bridenstine, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has joined forces with Ohio Republican Mike Turner, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, to demand an end to the program. Along with about a dozen other House colleagues they penned a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who oversees the agency carrying out the "irresponsible military equipment transfers" to Russia.

The Obama administration's planned supply to the Russian Federation is a grave mistake given the recent invasion of Ukraine launched by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, the legislators point out. "It is difficult to imagine a worse time to provide military-grade technology employed by the U.S. Marine Corps, Army, and Special Operations Forces to Russia than when it has illegally invaded Ukraine and is violating the intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty," the letter to Moniz says. "To make matters worse, it is our understanding from the budget documents that the Department has been, and continues to propose, providing this technology to Russia free-of-charge."

This is preposterous and borders on criminal if you really think about it. As if we need reminding, Congressman Turner recants Putin's "brazen disregard for the sovereignty and stability of Eastern Europe" as well as his disregard for international law. "Despite this overwhelming evidence that Putin is not our ally, it is astonishing that the Obama Administration would still provide superior, U.S. military technology to an aggressive and advancing Russia," Turner said. "The United States must seriously redirect its approach and immediately terminate all military aid to Russia."

Obama has already proven to be an international joke for his response to the worsening crisis in Ukraine. Even the mainstream media in this country has blasted the commander-in-chief's foreign policy as based on fantasy. One famously liberal magazine published a satirical article saying that the Obama administration froze Putin's Netflix account as a "major ramping up of sanctions." In a piece published a few days ago, a former veteran congressman wrote this: "The embarrassment of U.S. impotence in dealing with Russian aggression in the Ukraine is only the beginning of what will likely be a series of foreign policy disasters."

Related:  Obama is living in a world of words -- Putin is living in a world of power (video)


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