Thousands of Russian private contractors fighting in Syria

Visitors and Russian military police officers walk toward the Citadel, Aleppo’s famed fortress. Russian news outlets say thousands of Russians have been deployed in Syria by a shadowy, private military contractor since 2015. When President Vladimir Putin announced Monday Dec. 11, 2017, that Russia’s campaign in Syria was drawing to a close, he did not mention this secret force.

 

MOSCOW (AP) — Before he was killed by a sniper in Syria at age 23, Ivan Slyshkin wrote a poignant message on social media to his fiancee: “We will see each other soon — and I will hold you as tight as I possibly can.”

But Slyshkin’s name won’t be found among the Russian Defense Ministry’s official casualties in the fight against Islamic State extremists. That’s because the young man who left his hometown of Ozyorsk in the Ural mountains was one of thousands of Russians deployed to Syria by a shadowy, private military contractor known as Wagner, which the government doesn’t talk about.

Slyshkin’s gravestone depicts him holding a machine gun, according to a local news website Znak.com that sent a reporter to his March 2 funeral in Ozyorsk, where friends said he joined Wagner to earn money to pay for his wedding. Continue reading

Europe at the Crossroads

MUNICH/BERLIN(Own report) – The organizers of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), one of the world’s most important military policy conferences, are urging that the EU’s transformation into a war alliance be accelerated. The European Union of states should be able to take on “missions,” similar to the 2011 military operation against Libya, at any time, according to a recent report by the Munich Security Conference, the McKinsey management consulting firm and the elite Hertie School of Governance. Not only drastic increases in the military budgets are being demanded of the EU members, but, above all, investments in modern military equipment. The authors of the report not only emphasize the harmonization of European weapon system standards but are also demanding that EU-states invest more in research, and to a growing extent, involve universities, branches of civilian industries and so-called start-up enterprises. According to the MSC Chairman, the German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, these are “essential” decisions, because it is “unsustainable” for the EU to continue to rely on US “protection.”

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Has Iran given cruise missiles to Hizballah as well as Yemen’s Houthis?

 

The maiden operational launch of Iran’s Soumar Kh-55 cruise missile was apparently entrusted to Yemen’s Houthis against a UAE target. Has it been given to Hizballah, another Iranian proxy?

Yemen’s Houthi rebels last week showed on their TV channel video footage of Iran’s most highly advanced Soumar.Kh-55 cruise missile, which can carry a nuclear warhead.  They claimed to have fired it at the unfinished Abu Dhabi power plant on Dec.3. The United Arab Emirates refuted this claim, saying that any missile reaching their air space would have been intercepted by advanced Emirati air defenses. Continue reading

Former Kremlin Foreign Policy Advisor Karaganov: We Are In A New More Perilous Cold War

Sergey Karaganov (Source: Karaganov.ru)

 

Former Kremlin Foreign Policy Advisor Sergey Karaganov stated that the world is living in a new Cold War, which is worse than the previous one.[1] “Nowadays the risk of war is much greater than in the past. One of the reasons is that there is no system of agreements, no hot lines and no channels for consultation between the defense ministries. We have prevented a war in Europe by disrupting plans to involve Ukraine into Western alliances. If Ukraine had become a member of NATO, a war would have become unavoidable,” said Karaganov.

He further stated that Russia and China are the “main providers of security” in the world today, explaining that China is providing economic security, while Russia is providing military-strategic security. According to Karaganov, Europe is becoming increasingly focused on itself, while America is destabilizing the world. He then added that multipolarity that Russia had vigorously promoted in order to destroy the unipolar American system is no longer a goal in itself. “Now it is just a transitional period in the history of international relations,” said Karaganov.

Following are excerpts from Karaganov’s interview:[2]

Russia And China Are The Main Providers Of Security In The World Today

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EU takes step towards closer defence cooperation

 

The EU will move towards closer defence ties Monday with more than 20 states signing a landmark pact that aims to boost cooperation after Brexit and counteract Russian pressure.

Similar efforts to deepen military links have been frustrated for decades, partly by Britain’s fierce opposition to anything that might lead to a European army. Continue reading

Anti-establishment billionaire vying to become Czech Republic’s next prime minister

 

The last time an anti-establishment billionaire made waves in pre-election polls, the major media scoffed and wrote it off and it became fodder for late-night talk show hosts.

We all know how that turned out. Continue reading

US Army Is Preparing For Decades Of Hybrid Wars

 

Released on Monday, the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, drafted a new strategy for how US ground forces will operate, fight, and campaign successfully across multiple domains—space, cyberspace, air, land, maritime—against all enemies in the 2025-2040 timeframe.

The new strategy calls for “super-empowered individuals and small groups”, who are mobile and can simultaneously fight in every domain of warfare, which will replace the conventional large units like today. Continue reading

Get Ready for a New Chernobyl in Ukraine

 

With the onset of winter and the increasing strain on Ukraine’s energy system, the threat of a new nuclear disaster in Central Europe is becoming more than just a theoretical danger. According to analysts from Energy Research & Social Science (ERSS), there is an 80% probability of a “serious accident” at one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants before the year 2020. This is due both to the increased burden on the nuclear plants caused by the widespread shutdowns of Ukraine’s thermal power plants (the raw material they consumed – coal from the Donbass – is in critically short supply) and also because of the severe physical deterioration of their Soviet-era nuclear equipment and the catastrophic underfunding of this industry.

Should such an incident occur, the EU would not only be faced with the potential environmental consequences, but also – given the recent introduction of visa-free travel – a large-scale exodus of Ukrainians out of contaminated areas. Continue reading

Russia’s on the Way Back

Yellen and Nabiullina

 

Russia is poised to break out of its oil-related slump and become one of the best performing emerging markets economies in the years ahead. This sleeping giant is breaking its dependence on oil prices and embraces diversified growth.

When you hear the name “Russia” you probably run for cover. Russia has been the subject of nearly continuous media coverage bordering on frenzy since the election of Donald Trump last November. Continue reading

Asset prices are high across the board. Is it time to worry?

 

With ultra-loose monetary policy coming to an end, it is best to tread carefully

IN HIS classic, “The Intelligent Investor”, first published in 1949, Benjamin Graham, a Wall Street sage, distilled what he called his secret of sound investment into three words: “margin of safety”. The price paid for a stock or a bond should allow for human error, bad luck or, indeed, many things going wrong at once. In a troubled world of trade tiffs and nuclear braggadocio, such advice should be especially worth heeding. Yet rarely have so many asset classes—from stocks to bonds to property to bitcoins—exhibited such a sense of invulnerability. Continue reading

America’s Cyber Vulnerabilities

ISTOCK.COM/MONSITJ

 

Cyber is the newest branch of warfare. Even in its baby stages, it has the potential to cripple the United States.

On the afternoon of Dec. 23, 2015, Ukrainian engineers from a Prykarpattya Oblenergo power station stared at a computer screen while the cursor progressed on its own across the monitor. The mouse on the table had not moved. But the cursor hovered over the station’s breakers, each one controlling power to thousands of Ukrainian citizens. Then, with one mouse click at a time, the hackers now in control of the power station began shutting off power to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.

At the same time, Kyivoblenergo employees watched as dozens of substations shut down, one by one. In their case, there was no phantom mouse. A computer on their network that they could not locate was being used by someone to shut down the power—and there was nothing they could do. Continue reading

Russian News Agency RIA: It Will Become Clear That The Eastern European Countries’ Fear Towards Russia Is Not Unfounded; ‘Russia Is Preparing For War’

Zapad 2017 (Source: Sputniknews.com)

 

On September 21, 2017, Russian news agency RIA published an article, titled “The West Was Right To Fear ‘Zapad-2017, For Russia Is No Longer Nice,” by journalist Irina Alksnis. According to the author, the recent Russia-Belarus joint Zapad-2017 drills (September 14-20) reflect Russian military policy towards the West.[1] Russia is preparing for war; it is preparing in earnest. And first and foremost, on the Western axis,” writes Alksnis.

The author adds that Eastern European countries understand that “the flamboyance and overtness” of Russia’s drills indicate that Moscow is guided by the classical principle “if you want peace, prepare for war”‘. However, Alksnis stresses: “The world also knows two Russian maxims: the classical one about the rifle hanging on the wall, and the modern one: ‘Russia will never again fight on its own territory’.”

Alksnis’ analysis dispenses with the usual Russian reaction to Western apprehension over growing Russian military might. This is not irrational panic, or an attempt to divert public attention but recognition that Russia has returned to the international arena as a dominant player and shed of its previous sentimentality. In other words Western fears prove the efficacy of Russia’s foreign and defense policies and should be viewed with satisfaction. Continue reading

Russia May Send 100K Troops to NATO’s Borders

In this Aug. 2, 2017, photo, Russian paratroopers mark Paratroopers Day in Moscow’s Red Square. The Russian military says major war games, the Zapad (West) 2017 maneuvers, will not threaten anyone. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

 

The exercises are part of President Vladimir Putin’s effort to demonstrate Russia’s full recovery from being a military basket case following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia’s Northern Fleet claimed to have sent about 50 ships, submarines and support vessels into the Barents and Baltic Seas in August on a series of anti-submarine, anti-mine and search-and-rescue operations, a Russian Navy spokesman told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

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Massive Russian, NATO Wargames Set To Begin Amid Mutual Accusations Of Provocation

Zapad 2017 preparations

 

As the two old, cold war adversaries, Russia and NATO, prepare to begin massive war games to show off their respective military strengths, it was the UK’s turn to accuse Russia first of “testing the West” by conducting war games on NATO’s eastern flank in its biggest military exercise in four years. Speaking on BBC’s “The Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday, U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said that Russia’s exercise “is designed to provoke us, it’s designed to test our defensesand that’s why we have to be strong. Russia is testing us and testing us now at every opportunity. We’re seeing a more aggressive Russia. We have to deal with that.”

In a testament to our hyperbolic times, Fallon’s statement also contained just a “little bit” of fake news: while Fallon said that more than 100,000 Russian and Belorussian troops are at the borders of North Atlantic Treaty Organization members, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said last month that the so-called Zapad 2017 exercise Sept. 14-20 involves 13,000 troopsand that the drills are “purely of a defensive nature” according to Bloomberg. Continue reading

U.S. to Remain Dependent on Russian Rocket Engines for Years Despite Billions Poured Into Domestic Alternatives

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is launched / Getty Images

 

Industry officials say military won’t move fully to American-built engines until at least 2024

The Pentagon will remain dependent on Russian rocket engines to launch military satellites into space through at least the mid-2020s, despite the U.S. government allocating billions of dollars to defense contractors to produce an American-made replacement.

The projection adds several years to initial targets laid out in 2014 by lawmakers and senior Air Force officials, who ordered the United States begin phasing out Russia’s RD-180 engines amid national security concerns spurred by the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea. Continue reading