Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

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

Hillary Clinton: Trump’s INF Treaty Withdrawal is “Gift to Putin”

Sputnik – 07.02.2019

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington would suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and begin a six-month withdrawal process. The following day Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Moscow was providing a mirror response.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has slammed the Trump administration’s decision to pull out from the INF Treaty as a “gift to [Vladimir] Putin”.

Speaking at an event hosted by Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and its Institute of Politics and Public Service on Wednesday night, she claimed that the current administration withdrew “without really holding Putin accountable for his cheating on the treaty”.

“I think there is agreement, it started in the Obama administration, that the Russians were not only developing intermediate-range capacity, but deploying it — and so, when that happens… it seems to me that you want to do some public diplomacy. We clearly have pictures and we clearly know a lot about their cheating, and we should have done a better job in making it abundantly clear, not only to the American people but the Russian people, and Europeans, and others who are on the front lines, that the Russians were evading responsibilities in the INF”, Clinton said.

She went on to tell the crowd that instead of demanding talks on the matter, the US decided to pull out, and claimed that Russia was going “to go forward and develop even more of these” weapons.

Looking at the situation from a global perspective, Clinton suggested that the world could face some bleak prospects following the collapse of the landmark treaty:

“It increases the unpredictability, and I believe the danger, that can come from throwing around more missiles and weapons of all kinds, but particularly nuclear ones, within the European theatre. […] The last thing the world needs right now is a nuclear arms race”.

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington would be suspending its obligations under the INF Treaty starting on 2 February.

He further said that the accord would be entirely terminated if Russia doesn’t meet Washington’s demands regarding the alleged treaty violations, namely to destroy all ground-based 9M729 missiles and their launchers, as well as other associated equipment that purportedly breached the agreement.

Pompeo stated that Russia has six months to save the deal while the US goes through the process of withdrawing from it.

Shortly after the withdrawal announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, during which the head of state said that Moscow was suspending its obligations under the INF Treaty in response to Washington’s move. While saying that Moscow was still open to negotiations, President Putin instructed the ministers not to initiate talks on the matter.

In addition, President Putin stressed that the use of target rockets and the deployment of Mk 41 launchers in Europe since 2014 by the United States was a direct violation of the arms control treaty and reiterated that Moscow had been fully complying with the agreement.

Putin further emphasised that notwithstanding reciprocal measures, Russia should not and would not be drawn into an arms race.

In December, the US gave Russia a 60 day warning about withdrawing from the treaty, asking Moscow to return compliance by destroying the missiles that allegedly violate the treaty. The 60 days were up at the beginning of February.

The United States has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the 1987 treaty with the development of its 9M729 ground-based missile systems (known as the SSC-8 under US classification), which Washington claimed had a range of over 1,000 km, while the agreement bans missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.

Moscow has vehemently denied the claims, citing a lack of proof, and stressed that the range of these weapons was 480 km, which is in full compliance of the INF.

The INF Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union and the US, and envisages the destruction of all nuclear-armed ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres (about 300 to 3,400 miles).

February 7, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , | 4 Comments

Russia rejects US demand to destroy new missile system

Press TV – January 21, 2019

Russia has rejected a US demand for Moscow to destroy a new cruise missile system, a weapon Washington alleges is in violation of the landmark Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Monday it was unacceptable for Washington to demand Moscow destroy its SSC-8/9M729 cruise missile, denying the missile system is in breach of INF.

INF was a Cold-War era treaty signed in 1987 that eliminated all nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges of 1,000–5,500 km (620–3,420 mi).

Ryabkov also said Russia has proposed putting on a demonstration of the missile for the United States, the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

“We are ready to show unprecedented transparency on the 9M729 missile, which alarms the Americans so much. We offered them a presentation and a briefing on the missile, which absolutely does not follow from the content of the treaty itself,” he said.

“But at the same time, we insist that the Americans take practical steps to alleviate our concerns on the Aegis Ashore systems, deployed in Romania, whose deployment is also scheduled in Poland soon.”

The statement comes after earlier in the day US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood called on Russia to “verifiably destroy” the missiles in order to save the INF treaty and accused Moscow of destabilizing global security.

Wood said the system was capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads and represented a “potent and direct threat to Europe and Asia” as it had a range of 500 to 1,500 kilometers (310-620 miles).

“Unfortunately, the United States increasingly finds that Russia cannot be trusted to comply with its arms control obligations and that its coercive and malign actions around the globe have increased tensions,” Wood told the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament.

US President Donald Trump’s administration last week rejected an offer by Moscow to save the INF treaty, claiming it could not be properly verified, setting the stage for Washington to withdraw from the pact next month.

Moscow has refuted the US allegations, pointing out that Washington has provided no proof that Russia has, in fact, violated the treaty by deploying the missiles.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that Washington’s stance on the INF jeopardizes further nuclear disarmament and the sustainability of the non-proliferation treaty.

Ties between Moscow and Washington have plummeted to levels not seen since the Cold War due to the two countries’ disputes over the crises in Ukraine and Syria and after US officials accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Western countries have levied broad economic sanctions against Moscow over its support for pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

US intelligence agencies allege that Russia had influenced the US presidential election in November that year to help Trump get elected, an allegation that the US president and Russia have strongly denied.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Debris of INF treaty will fall far and wide

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | January 17, 2019

The US-Russia talks in Geneva regarding the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty have ended in failure. In a final call to salvage the treaty, Moscow offered that American experts could inspect a new suspect Russian missile, which Washington has been citing as the alibi for its decision to quit the treaty, but the US point-blank rejected the offer and instead went on to reconfirm that it intends to suspend observance of the cold-war era pact with effect from February 2.

We are entering uncharted waters in regional and international security. Russia anticipates increased US deployments near its borders. In an interview with government-daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Tuesday, “In general, our analysis shows that the American presence near our borders will grow… As for Russia’s western borders, we note the course for the growth of military presence of the US and other NATO members in their vicinity. In 2019, placement of multinational battalion tactical groups in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland will continue. At the same time, Brussels does not hide the fact that its main goal is to contain our country. The strengthening of the European segment of the US global missile defense system continues. The inauguration of the missile defense complex in Poland in addition to the already functioning one in Romania is expected in 2020.”

Equally, new faultlines are appearing. Moscow anticipates further US missile deployments to Northeast Asia – specifically, Japan. Moscow estimates that it is unrealistic to expect Japan to adopt an independent foreign policy. This geopolitical reality in Northeast Asia is in turn casting shadows on the recent improved climate in Russo-Japanese relations. (See my blog Russia tamps down the Kuril hype.)

Following the foreign-minister level talks in Moscow on Monday between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono, the latter showed reluctance to hold a joint press conference, underscoring the rapidly changing climate of ties between the two countries. Lavrov’s remarks to the media later signaled a marked toughening of the Russian stance on the territorial dispute over Kuril Islands.

Lavrov demanded an outright Japanese recognition of Russian sovereignty over all the islands in the Kuril chain as part of the outcome of World War 2, as accepted under international treaties and by the UN – “Japan’s indisputable recognition of the entirety of results of World War 2, including Russia’s sovereignty over all of the islands of the southern Kuril chain,” as Lavrov put it.

Lavrov said Japanese domestic legislation must accordingly be changed in consultation with Russia. He added, “This is our base position and without steps in this direction it is very difficult to expect movement forward on other issues (such as peace treaty).”

Evidently, in the developing post-INF treaty scenario, Japan’s security alliance with the US now becomes a major hurdle in Russo-Japanese relations. Lavrov specifically pointed a finger at this: “The 1956 Declaration was signed when Japan did not have a military alliance treaty with the US. The treaty was signed in 1960, after which our Japanese colleagues departed from the 1956 Declaration. Now that we are resuming talks on the basis of this declaration, we must consider the drastic change that has taken place in Japan’s military alliances since then. At today’s talks we devoted attention to the US efforts to develop a global missile defence system in Japan with a view to militarising that part of the world and also to the actions that the US formally justifies by citing the need to neutralise the North Korean nuclear threat. In reality, these actions are creating security risks for Russia and China.”

Interestingly, Lavrov brought in the common concern of Russia and China with regard to the US-Japan security alliance and the American missile deployments to Japan. This is a snub to Tokyo inasmuch as recently, Abe’s aide in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (which Abe heads) had made a provocative statement that the US should be interested in concluding a treaty between Russia and Japan, as this would “strengthen the bloc” to contain China. Lavrov called it an “outrageous statement” and put across as bluntly as he could the Russian indignation over any Japanese ploy to create misperceptions regarding Russia-China relations:

“The problem is that the president of the Liberal Democratic Party is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. We have issued a serious warning about how inappropriate such statements are. We have also inquired more broadly about how independent Japan can be in addressing any issues at all with such heavy dependence on the United States. We were assured that Japan would make decisions based on its national interests. We would like it to be that way.” (See a detailed report by China Daily titled Russia tells Japan retaking Pacific islands not on horizon.)

As much as in regard of Russia’s western borders with Europe, the Asia-Pacific also becomes a region where Moscow’s policies will be significantly influenced by the new climate in international security. This holds good for other regions, too.

Most certainly, Russia will be even more wary of any open-ended US-NATO occupation of Afghanistan. The Russian-American contestation over Turkey will become more complex. (The US missile deployment in Turkey was a core issue during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.) Again, there are reports that a massive expansion of the US bases in Qatar is unfolding (where the US Central Command is headquartered.) Qatar is a potential site for the deployment of US missile systems. Indeed, in the circumstances, Russia’s relations with Iran assume a highly strategic character. Iran’s strategic autonomy is of vital interest to Russia.

The Balkans is another region that Russian strategies will prioritize. Putin is embarking today on a visit to Serbia, which is a key ally, but where conditions may arise for a potential standoff between the West and Russia as had happened in 2014 in Ukraine. In an interview with the Serbian media, Putin came down heavily on the NATO expansion policy, which he condemned as “a misguided, destructive military and political strategy.” He accused the Alliance of “trying to strengthen its presence in the Balkans.” No doubt, a period of heightened tensions in international security lies ahead with the US decision to abandon the INF treaty.

January 17, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

States that stood up for INF Treaty have now ‘de facto blessed’ US for scrapping it – Moscow

RT | December 22, 2018

The very same nations that blasted the White House for deciding to pull out of the landmark 1987 INF Treaty have now helped to defeat the UN resolution calling for its support, the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out.

Russia expressed “disappointment” as a resolution in support of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was voted down by a narrow margin in the UN General Assembly on Friday.

Forty-three states, including China and South American countries, voted for the document drafted by Russia.

Forty-six voted against the resolution, with 78 abstaining. The US’ allies in NATO and the EU voted ‘No’ despite previously speaking in favor of keeping the arms agreement intact, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted.

These countries, especially the NATO members – contrary to their own statements about the importance of the INF Treaty – acted as its opponents.

Friday’s vote shows how the US’ allies “de facto blessed” Washington for violating the INF deal, the foreign ministry stressed.

Moscow’s envoy to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya told Rossiya 1 TV channel that prior to the vote his American counterpart, Nikki Haley, sent out a letter urging everyone to vote down the Russian draft.

As the US announced its willingness to ditch the landmark INF Treaty back in October, many European politicians defended the need to keep the existing agreement and hailed its role in nuclear disarmament. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called Washington’s decision “regrettable” as the treaty is “hugely important” to the European continent.

EU foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini referred to the embattled treaty as the “key” and “a fundamental pillar” to European security architecture and urged for it to be “preserved and fully implemented.”

The INF Treaty bans Moscow and Washington from developing and deploying ground-based missiles with ranges from 500 to 5,500 kilometers. Both sides accuse each other of violating its terms, and likewise deny any wrongdoing.

Two weeks ago, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to pull the US from the deal in 60 days “unless Russia returns to compliance.”

Russia, in turn, warned that the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty will trigger an arms race across the globe.

December 22, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-Pentagon Analyst: US INF Ultimatum Part of Plan to Boost Nuke Arms Industry

Sputnik – 06.12.2018

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s decision to suspend its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is designed to open the way for a new tidal wave of spending to satiate the US military-industrial complex, former Defense Department analyst Chuck Spinney told Sputnik.

“The [US] Military-Industrial —Congressional Complex (MICC) [is] driving the nuclear arms race that is now locking the world into a new Cold War while lowering the threshold for a hot nuclear war,” Spinney said.

US leaders want to use the withdrawal from the INF to launch even more nuclear weapons armament programs, Spinney suggested.

“What is missing from this reincarnation of past Strangelovian madness? In terms of offensive capabilities, two stand out: A new ground launched cruise missile (GLCM) and a nuclear follow-on to the Pershing II medium range ballistic missile — precisely the weapons banned by the INF treaty,” Spinney said.

However this massive nuclear modernization program was setting in motion a money stream that would continue through 2060 or perhaps even 2080, Spinney warned.

“Jobs and money will be flooding into over 400 of congressional districts as the political engineers in the MICC target the political vulnerabilities of the system of checks and balances in the United States and those of our allies with a torrent of contracts and subcontracts,” he said.

From the Russian perspective, Spinney added, the United States is sharpening its nuclear sword while strengthening is nuclear shield, which is a formula for war-fighting.

US policymakers believed they could increase the military options for fighting and winning a nuclear war by increasing the precision of their capabilities to execute and control the escalation of limited nuclear strikes, Spinney explained.

Such thinking, he added, is a return to the discredited nuclear war-fighting theories of the 1970s.

“Only this time we are sleepwalking into the same old mad theory of nuclear war-fighting without a major strategy debate,” he concluded.

The INF Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union and the United States in 1987, and prohibited either country from possessing, producing or testing ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of between 300 to 3,300 miles.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said if the United States develops weapons currently banned by the INF, Moscow would follow suit. The State Department on Tuesday said US INF obligations will be suspended in 60 days unless Russia comes into compliance. Putin said the United States has still provided zero evidence to support allegations of noncompliance.

December 6, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Putin: Russia Opposes Destruction of INF Treaty, But Will React in Proper Manner

Sputnik – 05.12.2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow is against the destruction of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but would respond accordingly if it happens. His comments come a day after the US said it would withdraw from the treaty if Russia does not return to full compliance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the United States had decided to leave the accord long before the public announcement and used alleged violations by Russia as a pretext to do it.

“This means that the decision has long been made, but it has been made sneakily. They thought we wouldn’t notice this, but this is already in the Pentagon’s budget — the creation of these missiles. But only after did they announce publicly that they were leaving,” Putin said.

“As the next step, they started to think whom they could shuffle the blame onto. Well, to say ‘Russia is to blame’ is the easiest and the most habitual thing for an ordinary Western person. This is not true, we are against the destruction of the treaty, but if it happens, we will react accordingly,” he added.

The president agreed that many other countries are still developing intermediate and short-range missiles, while Russia and the US had limited themselves under the INF Treaty. At the same time, he added that if Washington believes that it should have such weapons, Moscow will follow suit.

“This is true. Many other countries, perhaps, already a dozen of countries, are producing such weapons, while Russia and the United States have restrained themselves bilaterally. I believe our US partners think that now the situation has changed to such an extent that the United States should have such weapons as well. What answer will we provide? A simple one: then we’ll do it as well”, Putin said.

He further recalled that the US had unilaterally withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty back in 2002, which was one of the key agreements in international security.

“And they still had the audacity, they have withdrawn from the treaty calmly… without referring to anything. They just pulled out from the treaty, and called it a day. In fact, this is exactly what is happening now, but now they reflect on whom they could shuffle the blame onto for this step, which I believe is ill-considered,” Putin told reporters.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty within 60 days unless Russia returns to full compliance with the accord.

In October, President Donald Trump announced his intention to leave the treaty over Russia’s alleged violations. Russia has consistently denied any violations of the agreement, saying that the US knows very well that Moscow was abiding by the provisions of the treaty.

December 5, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Russia in Full Compliance With INF Treaty, US Side Knows Well About It – Moscow

Sputnik – 04.12.2018

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to earlier statements by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg regarding the INF treaty by stating that Moscow strictly adheres to the provisions of the arms accord.

“Russia is following the provisions of the treaty and the American side knows this well,” she said.

Earlier, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated at a press conference in Brussels on December 4 that Russia should not miss its “last chance” to preserve the key arms control agreement between Moscow and Washington. Speaking at the same conference, Pompeo said that the US would suspend its adherence to the INF Treaty in 60 days unless Russia returns to full compliance with the agreement.

The US secretary of state also announced that the US would suspend its obligations under the arms treaty for 60 days until Russia “returns to full and verifiable compliance”. He also said that the US would not produce, deploy, or test any missile that violates the treaty during this period.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump accused Russia of violating the INF treaty by building prohibited missiles and vowed to abandon it in the near future. Moscow denied Washington’s accusations, saying it abides by the accord’s provisions. Russia has called the US plans to withdraw from the INF dangerous, saying that it could draw “entire regions of the world into an arms race”.

Previously, Russia has also accused the US of violating the INF treaty by deploying launchers capable of firing prohibited missiles in Europe, which is also prohibited by the INF.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 13 Comments

US Congress’ Demands on New START Treaty ‘Unacceptable’ – Russian Ambassador

Sputnik – 30.11.2018

The demands issued by the US Congress regarding the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia are not acceptable, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov told Sputnik.

US Senator Tom Cotton and Congresswoman Liz Cheney introduced a bill on Wednesday that prevents extending the New START until the US president certifies to Congress that Russia has agreed to verifiably reduce its stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons and include its new weapons systems under the limits of the accord.

“It feels like US lawmakers mix all these issues to make it unacceptable for Russia, so that we reject them at once,” Antonov told Sputnik after the speech. “Additional obstacles and barriers are being created that prevent the extension of the New START. A tactical nuclear weapon has nothing to do with these questions.”

Following the cancellation of the G20 meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, Antonov emphasized it is important to have a conversation between the two leaders concerning developments of nuclear arms control and the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

“It is high time for President Putin and President Trump to discuss strategic stability and the future of nuclear arms control, primarily the INF Treaty and the New START,” Antonov said.

Russia still stands for continuing consultations with a view to preserve the INF Treaty as one of the cornerstones of international security, he added.

Antonov continued that reestablishing dialogue between the Russian and US defence ministries is also necessary to better bilateral ties and avoid possible conflict in the future.

Additionally, the Russian ambassador touched upon the development of a missile program by the United States and said it would impact the possibility of reaching new deals with Russia.

Antonov, who took his diplomatic post in August 2017, visited Princeton University on Thursday to give a speech as well as answer questions addressing current events on the political arena and US-Russian relations.

The New START Treaty entered into force in 2011 and covers a ten-year period with the possibility of a five-year extension. The treaty limits the number of deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, nuclear-armed bombers and nuclear warheads. The talks on extending the START Treaty have been delayed over mutual concerns about compliance.

The Trump administration has announced plans to withdraw from the INF treaty. The treaty, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, bans ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 300 miles to 3,400 miles.

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment