Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Gorbachev Blasts US for ‘Striving for Military Supremacy’ Amid INF Treaty Debacle

By Lilia Dergacheva – Sputnik – 17.12.2019

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty effectively put an end to the Cold War US-USSR tensions, becoming one of the key security pillars in the nuclear post-war world. However, with the fate of the treaty in jeopardy, the world may slide into a new arms race – something that Mikhail Gorbachev believes is grave and fatal.

Speaking to the Japanese newspaper Asahi, former and only USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev has accused the US of striving for military supremacy.

“What’s behind the United States’ decision to withdraw from the INF is their striving to free themselves of any obligations with respect to weapons and obtain absolute military supremacy”, he explained at length.The politician, who served as general secretary of the former Soviet Union and played a key role in bringing the Cold War to an end by reaching accords with the US on the reduction of nuclear weapons, considers such an aim to be dangerous and unattainable.

“That is an illusory aim, an unfulfilled hope. Hegemony by one single country is not possible in today’s world. The result would be destabilisation of the global strategic situation, a new arms race and all the randomness and unpredictability of global politics”, 88-year-old Gorbachev told the newspaper in an interview in Moscow, shortly after the US announced its intention to backtrack on the deal.

“The main thing is to act so as not to allow the world to slide towards an arms race, to a confrontation, and to hostility”, Gorbachev said.

“We have to stop working on pipe dreams, and engage with realpolitik. We don’t need an apocalypse! We need peace!” he exclaimed emotionally.”Despite everything, I believe that this is still within our capabilities”, he expressed his fervent hope, adding that otherwise, the security of every country, “including the US”, is at stake.

He reminded the interviewers about the two sides’ work on the INF Treaty, bringing up what the US and the Soviet Union agreed on during their first meeting in Geneva – that “a nuclear war is not acceptable and there will be no winners in a nuclear war”.

“We announced that we had to get rid of nuclear weapons. This is something I am still praying for”, stressed Gorbachev, having earlier expressed his concerns to Wall Street Journal reporters about the pitfalls of nukes, stressing that they may be launched by mistake or end up in terrorists’ hands.The politician lamented that out of the three major pillars of global strategic stability – the ABMT, INF, and START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) – only one is left, “but even the fate of the New START, which was signed in 2010, is becoming unclear”, Gorbachev stressed.

On Thursday, the United States successfully tested an INF-banned ground-based intermediate-range missile in California. According to the Defence Department, the missile flew more than 498 kilometres (310 miles) before it was downed just over the ocean.

The INF Treaty, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, was terminated on 2 August 2019, at the US’ initiative, with America having formally suspended its obligations under the deal six months prior. The treaty will expire in February 2021, but its extension is strongly doubted due to the US’ position on the matter.

Russia and the United States have traded barbs, accusing each other of violating the 1987 deal, which barred any ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,417 miles).

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Pentagon Test Fires 2nd INF-Banned Missile Over Pacific Ocean

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 12/14/2019

A week after Russia’s President Putin said he is ready to extend the New START nuclear arms reduction pact with the United States “without preconditions” by year’s end, in an attempt to save it after the recent collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the Pentagon has conducted another test of a previously banned ballistic missile.

Thursday’s test-firing marks the second missile to be tested which would have fallen under the INF ban, which the Trump administration withdrew from earlier this year. The first test had taken place in August, during which time Putin said Russia will be forced to deploy banned missiles if the US does.

Video footage of this week’s test, like the one in August, was made public. The ground-launched missile reportedly few over the Pacific Ocean.

“The Department of Defense conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile at approximately 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time, today, Dec. 12, 2019, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver said.

Carver indicated the missile tested “terminated in the open ocean after more than 500 kilometers of flight. Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.” Crucially, the INF Treaty had specifically banned land-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

The other interesting element to the timing is that it came a mere two days after a rare visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the White House, where arms control treaties were reportedly discussed with President Trump.

Few other details of the launch were given, per the AP:

The prototype missile was configured to be armed with a non-nuclear warhead. The Pentagon declined to disclose specifics beyond saying thew missile was launched from a “static launch stand” at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and landed in the open ocean.

A statement by Defense Secretary Mark Esper has many worried the new tests and collapse of arms control treaties could trigger a new arms race with Russia.

Esper was asked at a briefing Thursday specifically about the possibility of placing US missiles in Europe, long a “worst-fear” scenario which the INF protected against. He responded:

“Once we develop intermediate-range missiles, and if my commanders require them, then we will work closely and consult closely with our allies in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere with regards to any possible deployments.”

For Moscow’s part, addressing a Russian defense meeting last week, Putin made an apparent appeal to the West, saying that he hopes to avoid a new arms race with the US and its allies, and vowed to in good faith refrain from deploying intermediate and shorter range missiles there where there are none.

“Russia is not interested in triggering an arms race or deploying missiles where there are none,” Putin said. He also invited the US and European countries to join a Russian proposed moratorium on such new deployments and weapons. So far only France has greeted the proposal positively. Indicating the offer is conditional, he warned, “No reaction from other partners followed. This forces us to take measures to resist the aforesaid threats.”

December 14, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Russia dials back peace talks with Japan

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | November 23, 2019

Russia-Japan territorial disputes surged at a meeting of foreign ministers of the two countries, Toshimitsu Motegi and Sergey Lavrov, at Nagoya, Japan, on November 22 on the sidelines of a G20 foreign ministers’ gathering.

Lavrov publicly threw cold water on the Japanese spin that Tokyo is engaged in “persistent talks” with Russia on a peace treaty bringing the two countries’ World War 2 hostility to a formal ending.

Lavrov emphatically stated that any forward movement on a peace treaty will have to be within the ambit of the Russia-Japan 1956 joint declaration, which, as he put it, “clearly states that first Russia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over all our lands, including those territories, are recognised, thus recognising the results of World War II, and then everything else will possibly be discussed.”

In plain terms, according to Lavrov, Moscow may consider discussing a peace treaty only after Tokyo unequivocally recognises Russian sovereignty over Kuril islands and territories that came under Russian control in the Far East during World War 2.

Japan’s stance, on the contrary, can never converge on that point. Wouldn’t Moscow have known it already? Of course, Lavrov has only reiterated a consistent Russian stance.

Tokyo has been baiting Moscow with the proposition that a peace treaty will open the door to large-scale investments by Japanese companies for the development of the Russian Far East (which is a national priority for the Kremlin.)

Tokyo has also been smart, projecting Russian President Vladimir Putin as a strong but pragmatic statesman who is willing to make territorial concessions to attract Japanese investments.

But it takes two to tango and up to a point Moscow acquiesced with the Japanese enthusiasm that the two countries could be settling the Kuril issue — although making territorial concessions will be a highly emotive issue for the Russian public opinion.

Moscow probably pinned hopes that a relaxed climate of relations might wean Tokyo away from the US strategic orbit — although the likelihood of Japan shaking off the US security umbrella will remain zero for the conceivable future.   

At any rate, that tango has ended and realism prevails, with the regional security climate in the Far East visibly darkening with the recent US cruise missile tests and the Pentagon’s plan to deploy new missiles in Japan following its exit from the INF Treaty (which had banned the  intermediate-range missiles previously.)

Moscow is alert to the emergent threats to its strategic assets in the Russian Far East due to the US deployment. Importantly, Tokyo appears to be open to the proposed US missile deployments, which would further cement the US-Japan military alliance.

Unsurprisingly, Moscow has linked the regional security scenario to its territorial disputes with Japan. To quote Lavrov, “The military alliance with the US, of course, represents a problem when it comes to taking Russian-Japanese relations to another level. I will remind you that when the 1956 declaration was being coordinated, the USSR said back then that everything may be implemented, and this declaration may be fully implemented only in the context of discontinued US military presence on Japan’s territory.”

Lavrov added, “Japanese colleagues have received a list of Russia’s specific security concerns which emerge because of the increasing and strengthening Japanese-US military-political alliance. So our Japanese colleagues promised to react to those concerns. We will wait for their response and continue discussions.”

Lavrov also chose the G20 FMs’ forum at Nagoya to present Russian concerns over the security climate in the Far East. He said, “As for the US behaviour in the world, including in the Asia-Pacific region, in its relations with Japan, the United States does not hesitate to publicly acknowledge that Russia and China are the main threat to it and that all its military alliances with Japan, Australia and the Republic of Korea will be built proceeding from these threats and challenges.

“But, of course, we pointed out at a meeting with the Japanese foreign minister that this ran counter to the assurances, which Japan gives us that the Japanese-US military and political alliance is not aimed against the Russian Federation.” (TASS

Meanwhile, Russia is speeding up the construction of military dormitories on the Southern Kuril Islands. A spokesman for Russia’s Eastern Military District said this week that military personnel would settle into the dormitories on Iturup and Kunashir by the end of 2018 and that more dormitories would be built and commissioned in 2019.

The Eastern Military District, which was formed in 2010 under a presidential decree, is headquartered at Khabarovsk in Siberia near the Chinese border and is one of the four operational strategic commands of the Russian Armed Forces.

The new US missile deployments in the Far East are of common concern to Russia and China. In August, Russia and China sought a meeting of the UN Security Council over “statements by US officials on their plans to develop and deploy medium-range missiles”.

Last month, Putin disclosed that Moscow is helping China build a system to warn of ballistic missile launches. Putin said “this is a very serious thing that will radically enhance China’s defence capability”. Since the cold war, only the US and Russia have had such systems, which involve an array of ground-based radars and space satellites. The systems allow for early spotting of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

China will find Lavrov’s remarks at Nogaya to be very reassuring. It is a safe bet that the Russia-Japan normalisation will be an excruciatingly slow process, which in turn works fine for China in geopolitical terms. Lavrov also had a meeting with Wang Yi, Chinese Councilor and Foreign Minister, at Nogaya.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Secret NATO Military Exercises in Germany Drill Nuclear War Scenario – Report

By Oleg Burunov – Sputnik – 19.10.2019

NATO allies are holding secret military exercises in Germany, which aim to drill a nuclear war scenario, the German newspaper Kronen Zeitung reports.

During the drills, codenamed “Steadfast Noon”, the military personnel utilise warplanes which could be equipped with nuclear weapons in the event of a war.

The Luftwaffe is represented in the drills by Tornado fighter jets from the 33rd Tactical Squadron; it is stationed at Buchel Air Base where the US-made B61 nuclear bombs are currently stored.

In case of an emergency, the B61 warheads will be installed on the Tornadoes as part of Germany’s “nuclear participation” in a NATO mission to counter an adversary, according to Kronen Zeitung.

Collapse of INF Treaty

The newspaper claims that “the danger of a nuclear war scenario is currently much higher than in the past three decades” due to the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the US and Russia this summer.

The two countries have repeatedly accused each other of violating the Cold War Era treaty, and after announcing in February 2019 that it would suspend its participation in the arms control treaty, the US formally withdrew from the accord on 2 August.

Russia says allegations that it violated the INF Treaty are unsubstantiated and accuses the US of violating the treaty by deploying defence systems in Europe with launchers capable of firing cruise missiles at ranges prohibited under the agreement.

Signed in 1987, the INF Treaty required the two countries to eliminate and permanently refrain from the development of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,417 miles).

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Three Arab-language media interview Russia’s President Putin

RT | October 13, 2019

Excerpts:

Moscow is supporting Damascus to ensure that extremists never reach Russia’s borders

Damascus has to take responsibility for the country’s political and social problems, but these internal issues would not be resolved by allowing Syria to be overrun by extremists, Putin told RT Arabic, explaining Russia’s rationale for entering the conflict there in September 2015.

“We came to Syria to support the legitimate government… It does not mean that they do not have internal problems… It does not mean that the current leadership is not responsible for what is going on there. They are, but it does not mean that we were to allow terrorist organisations to capture Syria and to establish a terrorist pseudo-state there.”

“We still remember what happened in Russia’s North Caucasus region not that long ago,” Putin said, referring to the bloody conflicts in Chechnya and making the case for protecting Russian borders from terrorism spill-over.

“We could not allow militants to move to former Soviet republics. We do not have hard borders or a visa regime with them. We could not allow militants to infiltrate Russia from there.”

Supporting “rebels” in the Middle East and North Africa, like Washington and its Gulf and European allies has routinely done, has had disastrous effects for global security, Putin pointed out. The invasion of Iraq led to an insurgency that later created Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS), he said, and NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” in Libya created a “chaos and confusion” that is still seen today.

‘Syria must be free of foreign military presence’

Russia will be least affected if US exit from INF treaty brings back arms race, Putin says

A renewed arms race between the US and Russia would be bad for the world but Moscow won’t be dragged into excessive military spending, as it has already developed next gen weapons of “unmatched” capabilities, Vladimir Putin said.

The Russian president discussed Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at a joint interview with RT Arabic, UAE-based Sky News Arabia and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya broadcasters.

“I do understand the US concerns. While other countries are free to enhance their defenses, Russia and the US have tied their own hands with this treaty.”

However, Putin pointed out that “it was not worth ruining the deal,” which helped the US and Russia by precluding the fielding in Europe of ground-based missiles with a range of between 500km and 5,500km, and which remained the cornerstone of security on that continent since 1987. “I believe there were other ways out of the situation,” he added.
Also on rt.com Russia offers NATO a moratorium on missile deployment, but won’t sacrifice its own security to prove its goodwill

The New START Treaty, which came into effect in 1994 and limits the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers possessed by the two countries, is the final element that could “prevent us from falling back into a full-scale arms race,” Putin warned.

That deal expires in 2021 and, “to make sure it is extended, we need to be working on it right now,” he said.

But if an arms race couldn’t ultimately be avoided, the President assured interviewers that “Russia will be the least affected party because… we already have the next generation of weapons, and these are unprecedented, with unmatched capabilities. We have done our homework. We do not need to rush now and can calmly think of what can be done next.”

An arms race is a bad thing, and it will not be good for the world. However, we will not be dragged into exorbitant budget-spending games.

The reason for Russia obtaining those state-of-the-art weapons, despite being only sixth globally in terms of military spending – behind the US, China, Saudi Arabia, UK, France and Japan, is “focused research on priority areas,” he explained.

Read/watch the full interview here.

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

US Reprehensibly Inciting New Global Arms Race

Strategic Culture Foundation | August 23, 2019

Russia and China are right to condemn the testing this week of an INF-busting new missile by the US. Washington is brazenly jeopardizing global security under the usual cynical guise of “defense”.

Washington launched a ground-based cruise missile off the coast of California. It was reportedly a Tomahawk-type nuclear-capable warhead, but the Pentagon said it was conventionally armed. The projectile apparently succeeded in hitting its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight. The testing of such a missile would have been banned by the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty which the US officially withdrew from on August 2.

The INF, first signed in 1987, banned the testing and deployment of missiles within the range of 500-5,500 kms.

It is inconceivable that the latest weapon could not have been in the long-term works for development prior to the three-week period since the INF was abandoned. In others words, the abrogation of the treaty was long-anticipated by Washington, which belies US claims over recent months that it was crashing out of the INF due to alleged Russian violations. The US wanted out of the treaty. Now that it is freed from restriction, the prompt deployment of the cruise weapon off California seems to confirm the ulterior agenda.

Previously, Pentagon chief Mark Esper indirectly admitted this ulterior agenda when he told Senate hearings that the purpose for scrapping the INF was for the US to be able to confront China.

This week Esper said the missile testing was aimed at sending Beijing a message that the “US is capable of deterring China’s bad behavior”.

So, let’s have some honesty here. Washington just ripped up an important arms-control treaty for global security, not because of alleged Russian violations, but rather because the US wants to give itself a free hand to expand its short and medium-range arsenal to challenge China.

Indeed, Esper also remarked during a recent trip to Australia that the US intends to deploy INF-type ground-based missiles in Asia.

Admittedly, China is reckoned to have an arsenal of short and medium-range missiles. Beijing was not a party to the INF, so technically it is not in breach of its restrictions. But a crucial distinction is that such Chinese weapons do not pose a threat to the US mainland. Whereas US intentions of moving similar ballistic warheads to land bases in Asia do pose an imminent threat to China, as well as to Russia.

The US and its NATO allies claim they do not want to start a new global arms race. Washington says it is not planning to deploy INF-type warheads in Europe. However, the type of launcher used this week and which is already deployed in Romania and, it is believed, in Poland as well, could be used sometime in the near future to fire nuclear-capable missiles at Russia.

Washington is thus recklessly shifting the balance of power and undermining the global architecture for security against nuclear war.

Both Russia and China have deplored the risk of a new arms race being incited by the US.

Perhaps this kind of arms race is exactly what Washington is seeking, despite claims to the contrary. The nefarious calculation is that Russia and China will be diverted from economic development by being forced into responding in kind to new threats from the US.

After all, with its presumed license to rack up never-ending national debt, American strategic planners may feel that they can impose crippling economic costs on geopolitical rivals Russia and China.

The Chinese government said it best this week when it commented that the US “must give up its Cold War mentality”.

The endemic premise in Washington is that Russia, China and other states are mortal threats to the US. The official American view of the world is relentlessly paranoid about enemy states, which are allegedly harboring malign designs to the destroy the US.

Of course such cynical, nihilistic thinking is necessitated by the fundamental operating need of US capitalism and its addiction to the military-industrial complex. War is good, peace is bad, so goes the Orwellian American credo, albeit never outrightly stated as such. If the US were to somehow make peace with the world and enter into normal friendly international relations, then its $700-billion-plus annual spending on the military would cease to exist from lack of “justification”, and with that would follow the calamitous implosion of its militarized capitalist economy.

An arms race for the US state planners is like finding a drug-fix for a junkie. It is damnable that Washington is tearing up arms control treaties and jeopardizing global security in order to gratify its dysfunctional systematic dependence on insecurity, tension, conflict and ultimately war.

The undoing of arms controls treaties by the US, first the ABM in 2002, then the INF this year, next perhaps the New Start treaty expiring in 2021, is reprehensible. But what is more reprehensible is the underlying ideology that impels that. American citizens have to address that root ideological disease, otherwise the world will continually be in peril of war.

August 23, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Banned missile test reveals all you need to know about US foreign policy

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | RT | August 21, 2019

A recent missile test confirmed by the Pentagon is stoking fears of a newly established arms race which would include, among others, Russia and China.

On August 18, North Korea tested a previously banned ground-launch missile with a range of over 500km, sending the entire world into an enormous, frenzied panic. Oh no, it was the United States which in fact tested the missile to the sound of crickets over Western media discourse.

The missile in question was likely a Tomahawk missile (at a cost of at least $1.4 million per missile, but then again you can’t put a price on wanton death and destruction), which is typically launched from ships and submarines – as we saw in Trump’s infamous April 2017 Syria strike.

It sounds like a waste of money (to me, anyway) but there’s a reason why Tomahawks cost a fortune. According to Popular Mechanics, a modern-day Tomahawk is guided by GPS and has the capacity to store coordinates for several targets. If a primary target was destroyed by friendly strikes, it can “take a picture of the damage done and loiter nearby until planners decide to re-attack the target or send the missile to attack an alternate.”

I think this is what some commentators are referring to when they speak of US weapons systems as being more “humanitarian” than its adversarial counterparts. One day it may even wait while you finish your meal before it decides to rain down on you and your family.

Under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, weapons with a range between 500km (310 miles) and 5,500km (3,417 miles) were banned. As we know, the US ripped up the treaty in spectacular fashion and within weeks began escalating tensions right across the geopolitical chessboard. Analysts are right to fear that these events are kick-starting a new cold war and arms race.

Despite nonsensical claims that Donald Trump was elected to represent Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests in the United States, this move is a colossal slap in the face of Russia-US relations. This is in part due to the use of the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System, as these launchers are positioned at US missile defense sites in Poland and Romania.

This positioning was already seen as a violation of the INF Treaty. In 2016, Putin issued a direct warning against the sequence of events which continues to unfold before our eyes, saying at the time:

“They say [the missile systems] are part of their defense capability, and are not offensive, that these systems are aimed at protecting them from aggression. It’s not true… the strategic ballistic missile defense is part of an offensive strategic capability, [and] functions in conjunction with an aggressive missile strike system.”

“How do we know what’s inside those launchers? All one needs to do is reprogram [the system], which is an absolutely inconspicuous task,” Putin added, claiming that essentially, a ‘defensive’ missile system can very quickly become an offensive system.

This is further compounded by the fact that the Pentagon claimed the missile was “conventionally configured” – in other words, not nuclear-equipped. But it wouldn’t take a genius to see how the US military could eventually begin firing nuclear-equipped missiles at similar length.

And don’t get me started on the hypocrisy of Washington’s actions. While repeatedly denouncing North Korea for launching missiles, the US (and it’s media arm) are seemingly quiet about the fact that the US not only is testing missiles that could pulverise North Korea, but that the US is one of the only nations in the world that actively tests missiles and deploys them for practical use in a number of theatres. North Korea – currently bombing no one – is branded as a rogue threat to global security, while the US, which, generally speaking, bombs more countries than can be counted on one hand, is allowed to exit treaties and test intermediate range missiles all with free reign.

Of course, Russia was not naïve enough to think that these events were not going to unfold. Russia had already suspected that the US would quit the INF Treaty, and the speed with which it has begun testing banned missiles seems to give Russian officials the impression that these tests were in the pipeline for some time.

It is difficult to see how all of this fits in with Trump’s view of himself as the world’s best dealmaker, and the extent to which these are all just ploys for him to create new deals. Just as Trump has used maximum pressure on Iran to try to forcibly drag Tehran to the negotiating table (presumably, to establish a new deal which includes, for example, Iran’s missile tests), there are more than enough indications that one of Trump’s aims is to draw up a new treaty which would include Beijing, as well. Beijing, of course, is not having any of this proposal.

As I wrote two weeks ago, the US likely abandoned the INF Treaty because it placed no constraints on China, examining statements such as this one from Defense Secretary Mark Esper, that “80 percent plus of their [Beijing’s] inventory is intermediate range systems, so that shouldn’t surprise them that we would want to have a like capability.”

At the time, a Sydney-based think tank released a pretty damning report concluding that China’s “growing arsenal of accurate long-range missiles poses a major threat to almost all American, allied and partner bases, airstrips, ports and military installations in the Western Pacific.”

As if the US required further support for the idea that it needs to boost its missile capabilities, the report further stated that: “As these facilities could be rendered useless by precision strikes in the opening hours of a conflict, the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] missile threat challenges America’s ability to freely operate its forces from forward locations throughout the region.”

I imagine some of you are by now growing tired of listening to me blaming most geopolitical problems on the United States, but in all honesty, it simply becomes too easy after a while. North Korea is a perfect example. According to Trump himself, Kim Jong-un has said he will stop missile-testing if the US stops its joint military drills with South Korea. This is something many of us have said countless times, but no one will listen.

So, in most cases, you have the US instigating the problem, the US continuing the problem, and most importantly, the US reneging on its word multiple times and exiting agreements left and right, and the rest of the world is left to its own devices to determine how best to move forward.

Recently revealed documents have quite clearly established that the US made multiple promises to the Soviet Union that NATO would expand “not one inch eastward.” NATO not only continues to expand, but so too might its intermediate range missile capabilities as happily provided by the US directly on Russia’s border.

Also on rt.com:

‘One possible conclusion’: US banned-missile test apparently in works long before leaving INF

August 21, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

‘We don’t fall for provocations’: Moscow won’t jump the gun after US missile test, says deputy FM

RT | August 20, 2019

Russia will not fall for US “provocations” and be dragged into an “expensive arms race,” a senior diplomat said. Washington had earlier test-fired a cruise missile that was banned under the now-defunct INF Treaty.

The Pentagon’s recent cruise missile test is “regretful” as it shows that “the US has clearly embarked on a path of inciting military tensions,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said.

Over the weekend, the US test-fired a ground-based cruise missile that hit a target more than 500km away. Such weapons would have been banned under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which outlawed all ground-based missiles with the range of 500km to 5,500km, as well as their launchers. Washington officially withdrew from the agreement earlier this month, citing alleged violations by Russia, and Moscow followed suit.

Ryabkov said that the new test by the US proves that it was actually the Pentagon that has been secretly violating the INF Treaty. “There can’t be more striking and obvious proof that the US has been developing such systems for a long time,” he told reporters, adding that Moscow will not jump the gun in response.

“We have been assuming this turn of events. We will not allow ourselves to be dragged into an expensive arms race.”

“We don’t fall for provocations.”

The diplomat reiterated that if Russia ever obtains missiles that were previously banned under the INF Treaty, it will not deploy them unless the US does so first.

During his trip to France on Monday, President Vladimir Putin had said that if short- and mid-range missile systems are “produced by the US,” Moscow will do the same. Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that Russia will deploy such missiles only if Washington does so in Europe or Asia-Pacific.

August 21, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

New US Pentagon Chief – Vested Interest in War & Conflict

Strategic Culture Foundation | July 19, 2019

Mark Esper is expected to be confirmed in coming days as the new US Secretary of Defense. His appointment is awaiting final Congressional approval after customary hearings this week before senators. The 55-year-old nominee put forward by President Trump was previously a decorated Lieutenant Colonel and has served in government office during the GW Bush administration.

But what stands out as his most conspicuous past occupation is working for seven years as a senior lobbyist for Raytheon, the US’ third biggest military manufacturing company. The firm specializes in missile-defense systems, including the Patriot, Iron Dome and the Aegis Ashore system (the latter in partnership with Lockheed Martin).

As Defense Secretary, Esper will be the most senior civilian executive member of the US government, next to the president, on overseeing military policy, including decisions about declaring war and deployment of American armed forces around the globe. His military counterpart at the Pentagon is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, currently held by Marine General Joseph Dunford who is expected to be replaced soon by General Mark Milley (also in the process of senate hearings).

Esper’s confirmation hearings this week were pretty much a rubber-stamp procedure, receiving lame questioning from senators about his credentials and viewpoints. The only exception was Senator Elizabeth Warren, who slammed the potential “conflict of interest” due to his past lobbying service for Raytheon. She said it “smacks of corruption”. Other than her solitary objection, Esper was treated with kid gloves by other senators and his appointment is expected to be whistled through by next week. During hearings, the former lobbyist even pointedly refused to recuse himself of any matters involving Raytheon if he becomes the defense boss.

As Rolling Stone magazine quipped on Esper’s nomination, “it is as swampy as you’d expect”.

“President Trump’s Cabinet is already rife with corruption, stocked full of former lobbyists and other private industry power players who don’t seem to mind leveraging their government positions to enrich themselves personally. Esper should fit right in,” wrote Rolling Stone.

The linkage between officials in US government, the Pentagon and private manufacturers is a notorious example of “revolving door”. It is not unusual, or even remarkable, that individuals go from one sector to another and vice versa. That crony relationship is fundamental to the functioning of the “military-industrial complex” which dominates the entire American economy and the fiscal budget ($730 billion annually – half the total discretionary public spend by federal government).

Nevertheless, Esper is a particularly brazen embodiment of the revolving-door’s seamless connection.

Raytheon is a $25 billion company whose business is all about selling missile-defense systems. Its products have been deployed in dozens of countries, including in the Middle East, as well as Japan, Romania and, as of next year, Poland. It is in Raytheon’s vital vested interest to capitalize on alleged security threats from Iran, Russia, China and North Korea in order to sell “defense” systems to nations that then perceive a “threat” and need to be “protected”.

It is a certainty that Esper shares the same worldview, not just for engrained ideological reasons, but also because of his own personal motives for self-aggrandizement as a former employee of Raytheon and quite possibly as a future board member when he retires from the Pentagon. The issue is not just merely about corruption and ethics, huge that those concerns are. It is also about how US foreign policy and military decisions are formulated and executed, including decisions on matters of conflict and ultimately war. The insidiousness is almost farcical, if the implications weren’t so disturbing, worthy of satire from the genre of Dr Strangelove or Catch 22.

How is Esper’s advice to the president about tensions with Russia, Iran, China or North Korea, or any other alleged adversary, supposed to be independent, credible or objective? Esper is a de facto lobbyist for the military-industrial complex sitting in the Oval Office and Situation Room. Tensions, conflict and war are meat and potatoes to this person.

During senate hearings this week, Esper openly revealed his dubious quality of thinking and the kind of policies he will pursue as Pentagon chief. He told credulous senators that Russia was to blame for the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. That equates to more Raytheon profits from selling defense systems in Europe. Also, in a clumsy inadvertent admission he advised that the US needs to get out of the INF in order to develop medium-range missiles to “counter China”. The latter admission explains the cynical purpose for why the Trump administration unilaterally ditched the INF earlier this year. It is not about alleged Russian breaches of the treaty; the real reason is for the US to obtain a freer hand to confront China.

It is ludicrous how blatant a so-called democratic nation (the self-declared “leader of the free world”) is in actuality an oligarchic corporate state whose international relations are conducted on the basis of making obscene profits from conflict and war.

Little wonder then than bilateral relations between the US and Russia are in such dire condition. Trump’s soon-to-be top military advisor Mark Esper is not going to make bilateral relations any better, that’s for sure.

Also at a precarious time of possible war with Iran, the last person Trump should consult is someone whose corporate cronies are craving for more weapons sales.

July 19, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

The « American Party » within the institutions of the European Union

By Manlio Dinucci | Voltairnet | March 20, 2019

« Russia can no longer be considered as a strategic partner, and the European Union must be ready to impose further sanctions if it continues to violate international law » – this is the resolution approved by the European Parliament on 12 Mars with 402 votes for, 163 against, and 89 abstentions [1]. The resolution, presented by Latvian parliamentarian Sandra Kalniete, denies above all any legitimacy for the Presidential elections in Russia, qualifying them as « non-democratic », and therefore presenting President Putin as a usurper.

She accuses Russia not only of « violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia », but also the « intervention in Syria and interference in countries such as Libya », and, in Europe, of « interference intended to influence elections and increase tensions ». She accuses Russia of « violation of the arms control agreements », and shackles it with the responsibility of having buried the INF Treaty. Besides this, she accuses Russia of « important violations of human rights in Russia, including torture and extra-judicial executions », and « assassinations perpetrated by Russian Intelligence agents by means of chemical weapons on European soil ».

After these and other accusations, the European Parliament declared that Nord Stream 2 – the gas pipeline designed to double the supply of Russian gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea – « increases European dependence on Russian gas, threatens the European interior market and its strategic interests […] and must therefore be ended ».

The resolution of the European Parliament is a faithful repetition, not only in its content but even in its wording, of the accusations that the USA and NATO aim at Russia, and more importantly, it faithfully parrots their demand to block Nord Stream 2 – the object of Washington’s strategy, aimed at reducing the supply of Russian energy to the European Union, in order to replace them with supplies coming from the United States, or at least, from US companies. In the same context, certain communications were addressed by the European Commission to those of its members [2], including Italy, who harboured the intention to join the Chinese initiative of the New Silk Road. The Commission alleges that China is a partner but also an economic competitor and, what is of capital importance, « a systemic rival which promotes alternative forms of governance », in other words alternative models of governance which so far have been dominated by the Western powers.

The Commission warns that above all, it is necessary to « safeguard the critical digital infrastructures from the potentially serious threats to security » posed by the 5G networks furnished by Chinese companies like Huawei, and banned by the United States. The European Commission faithfully echoes the US warning to its allies. The Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, US General Scaparrotti, specified that these fifth generation ultra-rapid mobile networks will play an increasingly important role in the war-making capacities of NATO – consequently no « amateurism » by the allies will be allowed.

All this confirms the influence brought to bear by the « American Party », a powerful transversal camp which is orienting the policies of the EU along the strategic lines of the USA and NATO.

By creating the false image of a dangerous Russia and China, the institutions of the European Union are preparing public opinion to accept what the United States are now preparing for the « defence » of Europe. The United States – declared a Pentagon spokesperson on CNN – are getting ready to test ground-based ballistic missiles (forbidden by the INF Treaty buried by Washington), that is to say new Euromissiles which will once again make Europe the base and at the same time, the target of a nuclear war.

March 26, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Former UN Arms Inspector: Europe as Much to Blame for Demise of INF Treaty as US

Sputnik –  06.03.2019

WASHINGTON – The European member nations of NATO are as much to blame for the destruction of the intermediate Nuclear-Forces (INF) Treaty as the Trump administration, former United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector on Iraq Scott Ritter told Sputnik on Tuesday.

“Europe is as much to blame for the demise of the INF Treaty as is the US,” Ritter said. “NATO’s slavish echoing of the US accusations void of any demonstrable proof that the US claims had any validity provided the diplomatic cover the US needed to proceed to withdraw from the treaty.”

On Monday, the Kremlin press service said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree suspending Russia’s obligations under the INF Treaty until the United States resumes its compliance with the agreement. Putin’s decree came into effect on the day it was signed.

The United States formally suspended its obligations under the INF Treaty last month and gave Russia six months to comply with its demands, prompting Russia to do the same.

Putin said Moscow did not want a costly arms race but ruled out any new talks on arms controls, saying all earlier proposals remained on the table.

Ritter pointed out that the Trump administration had falsely accused Russia of being in violation of the INF Treaty.

“The US demands vis-à-vis the 9M729 missile were unreasonable. The missile had not been demonstrated to be in violation of the INF Treaty. US accusations were not backed up with any evidence that corroborated the claimed violations,” he said.

There were measures that could have been taken to ascertain whether the 9M729 was in compliance with the INF Treaty, such as a technical inspection of the missile itself, Ritter pointed out. However, the US government refused to pursue those options, he said.

Instead, the US government declared “the Russians to be non-compliant, and demanding that the 9M729 be destroyed. This was an unrealistic and unreasonable demand, purposefully designed to prompt a Russian refusal and as such trigger a US withdrawal — which was the goal all along,” he said.

The US already had the physical infrastructure in place to deploy INF systems in Europe. The Mk 41 Aegis Ashore sites in Poland and Romania could be modified to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles with little effort, Ritter pointed out.

“It seems NATO has little or no institutional memory … NATO doesn’t seem to have woken up to this reality, and the fact that these facilities are in two nations that welcome this kind of anti-Russian provocation means that local protests are unlikely,” he said.

If the US seeks to develop a new INF-type system along the lines of the former Pershing II missile, then the issue will become more complicated, Ritter cautioned.

“It is unlikely any European nation would allow a new INF system to be deployed on its soil, and the consensus-driven reality of NATO is such that getting unanimous consent for such deployment is unlikely,” he said.

Europe was given a reprieve from the reality of living under the threat of imminent nuclear destruction by the INF Treaty, but that era has now ended, Ritter warned.

“Now they will once again know what that nightmare is like. Europe will need to relearn the lessons from the 1980s. The INF Treaty was a unique agreement forged out of the reality of US-Soviet arms control talks during the height of the Cold War. This environment is not likely to be replicated,” he said.

It was unrealistic to think the INF Treaty could be brought back to life, Ritter explained.

“Any effort to create a new treaty vehicle involving China, India, Pakistan, etc. would have to be linked to US and Russian strategic weapons as well. This kind of broad-based multilateral approach to nuclear arms control is virtually impossible to consider under current global conditions,” he said.

In this Aug. 29, 2017, file photo, Japan Air Self-Defense Force demonstrates a training to utilize the PAC-3 surface to air interceptors at the U.S. Yokota Air Base on the outskirts of Tokyo

Moreover, without the INF Treaty, it is likely that the New START Treaty will be scrapped as well, Ritter pointed out.

“There is not the kind of diplomatic foundation for meaningful arms control talks between Russia and the US, and one is not likely to exist while Trump remains president,” he said.

Ritter was one of the first INF inspectors and was assigned to the Votkinsk Portal Monitoring Facility from June 1988-July 1990. He also carried out other INF inspections, as well as handled other treaty-related tasks.

See also:

Japan to Host US Missiles Despite Russian Claim That They Violate the INF Treaty

March 6, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Tulsi Gabbard presents bill to stop Trump from pulling out of INF treaty

RT | February 15, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has introduced a bill to Congress which would prevent President Donald Trump from withdrawing the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

Speaking at a press conference on Friday morning, Gabbard said that Trump’s decision to pull out of the 1988 treaty was “reckless,” was “exacerbating a new Cold War” with Russia, and could spark another arms race.

“Walking away from this agreement doesn’t solve our problems, it makes them worse. It doesn’t bring us closer to peace, it moves us closer to war,” she said.

Gabbard said she was introducing the bill, called the “INF Treaty Compliance Act,” not only to prevent the escalation of a new Cold War, but to “stop more American taxpayer dollars from being wasted on military adventurism that makes our people and our country less safe.”

She said that rather than scrapping the treaty, the US should be working to expand it and bring in other countries, including China.

The bill would prohibit “a single taxpayer dollar from being used for weapons that would breach the treaty,” she said.

The bill is co-sponsored by three of Gabbard’s House colleagues including freshman congresswoman Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Both Washington and Moscow have repeatedly accused each other of violating the terms of the nuclear pact — and earlier this month, Russia said it would quit the treaty in a “mirror response” to Trump’s decision.

February 15, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | 2 Comments