Vladimir Putin is striking at the heart of the West
Ukraine: Deep in the flat and featureless landscape of eastern Ukraine, it is all too possible that the outline of World War III is taking shape. Whipped up by the Kremlin propaganda machine and led by Russian military intelligence, armed men are erecting road blocks, storming police stations and ripping down the country’s flag.
They are demolishing not just their own country — bankrupt, ill-run and beleaguered — but also the post-war order that has kept most of Europe and us, here in Britain, safe and free for decades.
His target is our inability to work with allies in defense against common threats. The profoundly depressing fact is that the events of the past few months, as Russia has annexed the Crimea and suppressed opposition in Ukraine, have shown the West to be divided, humiliated and powerless in the face of these land grabs.
We are soon to face a bleak choice. We can chose to surrender any responsibility we have to protect Ukraine and the Baltic states — almost certainly Putin’s next target — from further Russian incursion. Or we can mount a last-ditch attempt to deter Russia from furthering its imperial ambitions.
If we do choose to resist Putin, we will risk a terrifying military escalation, which I do not think it an exaggeration to say could bring us to the brink of nuclear war.
Putin knows that. And he believes we will choose surrender. For the real story of recent events in Ukraine is not about whether that country has a free-trade deal with Brussels or gets its gas from Moscow.
It is about brute power. It is about whether Putin’s Russia — a rogue state on Europe’s doorstep — can hold its neighbors to ransom, and whether we have the will to resist him. So far the answer to the first question is yes. And to the second a bleak no.
The Russian leader believes the collapse of the Soviet Union was a ‘geopolitical catastrophe’. He believes Russia was stripped of its empire by the West’s chicanery. And quite simply, he wants it back.
Putin has presented the Ukrainian leaders with an impossible choice. Either they consent to the dismemberment of their country. Or they fight a war they cannot win. Ukraine’s ill-trained, ill-equipped and ill-led soldiers are quite unsuited to deal with the fraught challenge facing them.
Any bloodshed against a single Russian soldier will give Putin a pretext to use his military might. For her part, Russia has played a brutally clever game. She has deliberately sought to humiliate and destabilise Ukraine.
Now Putin can claim his soldiers must be allowed to intervene because the very social disorder his outriders have engineered demonstrates that the authorities cannot maintain order. Having taken Ukraine, he will turn his attention to the Baltic states. Members of the EU and NATO, their lawful societies, elections and thriving economies are an implicit rebuke to those who preside over sleaze and brutality in Russia.
Now Putin sees a chance to humiliate them — and the West. He does not need to invade, just to provoke. Using social division and agitation he will raise the pressure — whether economic or political — on one or more of the Baltic states until it becomes unbearable.
NATO and the EU — on current form — will merely appeal for dialogue and threaten sanctions. But nothing will happen. Which means the Baltics will buckle, and Putin will take back lands which he believes are rightly Russia’s.
That will be the end of NATO — and the dawn of a terrifying new world in which international rules count for nothing and the strong dominate the weak. Russia — ruthless and greedy — can play divide and rule for decades to come. source – Daily Mail UK
Evidently, all of Obama’s pink line threats against Russia to leave Ukraine alone has created a Russia that in no way fears American reprisal of any kind. Probably because they know that there is none coming. Sleep safe, America, the community organizer has got this.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Russian fighter jet made multiple, close-range passes near an American warship in the Black Sea for more than 90 minutes Saturday amid escalating tensions in the region, U.S. military officials said Monday.
In the first public account of the incident, the officials said the Russian Fencer made 12 passes, and flew within 1,000 yards of the USS Donald Cook, a Navy destroyer, at about 500 feet above sea level.
The U.S. warship issued several radio queries and warnings using international emergency circuits, but the Russian aircraft did not respond.
“This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with international protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries,” said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.
The fighter appeared to be unarmed and never was in danger of coming in contact with the ship, said the officials. The passes, which occurred in the early evening there, ended without incident. A second Russian fighter jet flew at a higher altitude and was not a concern, said Warren.
A U.S. military official also said that a Russian Navy ship, a frigate, has been shadowing the U.S. warship, remaining within visual distance but not close enough to be unsafe. The official was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. source – AP
Ukraine: Shock satellite images reveal how Russia has amassed 40,000 troops, tanks and fighter jets just 30 miles from the Ukrainian border. NATO, which released the photographs, claimed the military forces could invade within just 12 hours if given orders from Moscow. The photos have provoked a furious diplomatic row between NATO and the Kremlin, which claims they were taken last year. But Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen insisted the threat was real.
Troops had been spotted at more than 100 sites, he said, many of which appeared to be fields and not established bases. ‘Russia is stirring up ethnic tensions in eastern Ukraine and provoking unrest,’ he added. ‘And Russia is using its military might to dictate that Ukraine should become a federal, neutral state. That is a decision which only Ukraine as a sovereign state can make.’
Several images dated March 26 and taken around the Russian town of Belgorod, 25 miles from the Ukraine border, showed units of a motorised rifle regiment, Mil Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters, tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, supply and transport vehicles, according to NATO.
They were taken by a commercial satellite firm called Digital Globe and also showed units of a motorised rifle regiment, a ‘probable’ anti-tank battalion and artillery on March 27. There are even field hospitals, it was claimed. source – Daily Mail UK
U.S. intelligence agencies now have detailed information that Russia has amassed the kind of forces needed for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But the Obama administration hasn’t shared with Ukraine the imagery, intercepts, and analysis that pinpont the location of the Russian troops ready to seize more Ukrainian land.
President Obama has repeatedly and publicly expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people—and warned Russian leader Vladimir Putin that there will be consequences if he takes over any more Ukrainian territory. Yet Obama’s administration has so far been reluctant to hand over the kind of intelligence the Ukrainians could use to defend themselves. U.S. officials and members of Congress briefed on the crisis in Ukraine tell The Daily Beast that senior U.S. military officers have been instructed to refrain from briefing their Ukrainian counterparts in detail about what the United States knows about the Russians troops amassing on the border.
“I am not confident we are sharing any of that kind of information,” said Rep. Michael Turner, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee that oversees NATO and U.S. tactical air and land forces. “It’s clear we are not giving them critical military advice about the Russian capability on their border and the best utilization of the Ukrainian military to counter that.”
Instead, the U.S. intelligence community’s detailed analysis of a potential Russian invasion has been shared only with the Congress, American policy makers, and members of the Obama administration. The analysis includes details such as the geographic location of specific Russian units and predictions for how those units would be used in combination for a potential invasion.
That’s the sort of information that would be invaluable for any military preparing for a possible incursion. But it would be particularly useful to the fledgling government in Ukraine that lacks the satellites, sensors and intercept technology to learn the details of the military force that looks like it is about to invade its territory. Ukraine’s military is severely outmatched by Russia’s, but detailed intelligence on the location and composition of Russia’s invading force could advantage the Ukrainians in defending its eastern cities nonetheless.
And while any decision about an invasion is Putin’s alone, the signs are mounting that an invasion is near. Congressional staffers briefed on the matter say U.S. intelligence agencies have detected the supply lines needed for an invasion. Battlefield hospitals and mobile medical units have accompanied the infantrymen, tank columns and artillery units amassing at the border as well. When Russia announced military exercises near Ukraine in February, the U.S. intelligence community did not see such supply lines or medical units. source – Daily Beast
WASHINGTON – The phrase “faster than a speeding bullet” just took on a whole new meaning.
“An electromagnetic rail gun is a gun that uses just electricity — no gun powder — and, oh, by the way, can shoot a projectile like this, well over 100 miles at Mach 7,” said Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, the Chief of Naval Research, which developed the rail gun. “Seven times the speed of sound.”
An electromagnetic pulse propels a projectile down the barrel, creating a fireball of molten steel. The projectile sheds its steel cladding, and, in video released for the first time Monday, it smashes into a dummy warhead that represents an incoming missile. An explosion is caused by the sheer force of the impact.
“This is a lab gun, and it shoots a slug about this big,” Klunder said, holding up a slug. “So think about that. A slug that big — a slug that big going Mach 7 puts a hole through six half-inch steel plates this big. Just this little slug.”
“There’s not a thing in the sky that’s going to survive against that,” Klunder added. source – CBS News
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North and South Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells into each other’s waters Monday in a flare-up of animosity that forced residents of five front-line South Korean islands to evacuate to shelters for several hours, South Korean officials said.
The exchange of fire into the Yellow Sea followed Pyongyang’s sudden announcement that it would conduct live-fire drills in seven areas north of the Koreas’ disputed maritime boundary. North Korea routinely test-fires artillery and missiles into the ocean but rarely discloses those plans in advance. The announcement was seen as an expression of Pyongyang’s frustration at making little progress in its recent push to win outside aid.
North Korea fired 500 rounds of artillery shells over more than three hours, about 100 of which fell south of the sea boundary, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said. South Korea responded by firing 300 shells into North Korean waters, he said.
No shells from either side were fired at any land or military installations, but Kim called the North’s artillery firing a provocation aimed at testing Seoul’s security posture. There was no immediate comment from North Korea.
In Washington, White House spokesman Jonathan Lalley called North Korea’s actions “dangerous and provocative” and said they would further aggravate tensions in the region.
There is worry in Seoul that an increasingly dissatisfied North Korea could repeat the near-daily barrage of war rhetoric it carried out last spring, when tensions soared as Pyongyang threatened nuclear strikes on Washington and Seoul in response to condemnation of its third nuclear test.
Residents on front-line South Korean islands spent several hours in shelters during the firing, and officials temporarily halted ferry service linking the islands to the mainland. Kang Myeong-sung, speaking from a shelter on Yeonpyeong island, which is in sight of North Korean territory, said he didn’t hear any fighter jets but heard the boom of artillery fire. source – AP
The Wimp Factor
In over his head and badly in need of a distraction, US President Barack Obama yesterday issued a pusillanimous message of reassurance to Russia by telling Putin that “we have no interest in encircling Russia.” America has the strongest, most amazing military on the face of the earth, what we don’t have is a leader. Putin knows this, and he will take the Ukraine.
CBS News: President Obama, in an interview in Rome with “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley, said Russia must take steps now to reduce tensions over Ukraine.
“It’s well known and well acknowledged that you’ve seen a range of troops massing along that border under the guise of military exercises. But these are not what Russia would normally be doing. And, you know, it may simply be an effort to intimidate Ukraine or it may be that they’ve got additional plans,” Mr. Obama said.
To resolve and de-escalate the situation right now, Mr. Obama said Russia needs “to move back those troops and to begin negotiations directly with the Ukrainian government, as well as the international community.”
“What I have repeatedly said is that he may be entirely misreading the West,” Mr. Obama continued. “He’s certainly misreading American foreign policy. We have no interest in encircling Russia and we have no interest in Ukraine beyond letting the Ukrainian people make their own decisions about their own lives.”
He continued, “And it is true that we reject the notion that there is a sphere of influence along the Russian border that then justifies Russia invading other countries. Certainly they’re going to have influence because of trade and tradition and language and heritage with Ukraine. Everybody acknowledges that. But there’s a difference between that and sending in troops, and because you’re bigger and stronger taking a piece of the country – that is not how international law and international norms are observed in the 21st century.” source – CBS News