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
Washington (AFP) – Nearly 100,000 Russian forces have massed on Ukraine’s border, a top Ukrainian defense official told an American audience Thursday, giving a number far higher than US military estimates.
“Almost 100,000 soldiers are stationed on the borders of Ukraine and in the direction … of Kharkiv, Donetsk, ” Andriy Parubiy, chairman of Ukraine’s national security council, said via a webcast from Kiev.
“Russian troops are not in Crimea only, they are along all Ukrainian borders. They’re in the south, they’re in the east and in the north,” Parubiy said.
After its intervention in the Crimean peninsula, Russia is plotting to foment separatist sentiment elsewhere and Kiev fears a possible incursion in the country’s east, he told the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.
Parubiy said any day “we might see a huge attack on the territory of continental Ukraine and we are getting ready for it.” Although US defense officials have put the number of Russian troops closer to 20,000, a US lawmaker said Thursday that much stronger Russian forces had deployed towards Ukraine’s border.
“Over the past week we’ve seen the buildup of up to 80,000 additional Russian troops,” Representative Mike Turner said in a statement.
Turner said the force included large numbers of armored vehicles, battle tanks, artillery, helicopters and planes. The Republican lawmaker accused the White House of withholding “critical” information about the full scope of Russian troop movements and demanded the administration reveal what it knows to help “vulnerable allies.”
Pentagon officials previously have said more than 20,000 Russian troops — including airborne units and armored vehicles — have deployed along Ukraine’s border, a force big enough to seize control of the eastern region. source – Yahoo News
Crimea, Ukraine – In its invasion and annexation of Crimea, Russia has seized 51 vessels belonging to the Ukrainian navy, according to information compiled by Dmitry Tymchuk, director of the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv.
Among the Ukrainian vessels reportedly captured by the Russians are submarine Zaporizhia, management ship Slavutych, landing ship Konstantin Olshansky, landing ship Kirovohrad, minesweeper Chernihiv and minesweeper Cherkasy.
The Cherkasy was the last of the ships to have been overtaken following weeks of threats and ultimatums to surrender. It was finally chased down and overtaken by the Russian navy on March 25 after failing to slip past a blockade of two ships intentionally sunk by the Russians to trap it and other vessels in a narrow gulf, keeping them from escaping into the Black Sea.
As of March 26, just 10 Ukrainian vessels remained in its navy’s possession, including frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy, gunboat Skadovsk, intelligence ship Pereyaslav and diving vessel Netishin. source – Kyiv Post
Obama has been relentless in his quest to slash the US Military budget, and it is now paying dividends for our enemies. As the United States has lost its foothold in Latin America, Russia, China and Iran have stepped in to fill that void. The balance of power in the world is going through a major shift right now as America begins to take a back seat.
The Hill: Away from the conflict in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is quietly seeking a foothold in Latin America, military officials warn. To the alarm of lawmakers and Pentagon officials, Putin has begun sending navy ships and long-range bombers to the region for the first time in years.
Russia’s defense minister says the country is planning bases in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, and just last week, Putin’s national security team met to discuss increasing military ties in the region.
“They’re on the march,” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said at a Senate hearing earlier this month. “They’re working the scenes where we can’t work. And they’re doing a pretty good job.”
Gen. James Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command said there has been a “noticeable uptick in Russian power projection and security force personnel” in Latin America.
“It has been over three decades since we last saw this type of high-profile Russian military presence,” Kelly said at the March 13 hearing.
The U.S. military says it has been forced to cut back on its engagement with military and government officials in Latin America due to budget cuts. Kelly said the U.S. military had to cancel more than 200 effective engagement activities and multi-lateral exercises in Latin America last year. With the American presence waning, officials say rivals such as Russia, China and Iran are quickly filling the void. source – The Hill