Putin to deploy new hypersonic missile system as arms race escalates

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday his army would deploy a new hypersonic nuclear-capable missile system next year, upping the ante in a high-tech arms race with the U.S. Mr. Putin made the announcement at a Kremlin meeting following tests of the hypersonic system known as Avangard. “The test was completely successful: all technical parameters were verified,” Mr. Putin said, according to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency. “Starting from next year, in 2019, a new intercontinental strategic system Avangard will enter service in the Russian army and the first regiment in the Strategic Missile Troops will be deployed,” Mr. Putin said. The Avangard is a strategic intercontinental ballistic missile system equipped with a gliding hypersonic maneuvering warhead. Hypersonic warheads travel faster than traditional ballistic missiles. They reach speeds of Mach 5 or five times the speed of sound, about one mile per second.

Trump turns tables, scores wins over Russia

President Trump’s often-criticized effort to forge better relations with Russia has morphed into a confrontational stance that this week scored economic and national security wins. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that her government is backing construction of a shipping depot for importing liquefied natural gas from the U.S., bowing to Mr. Trump’s demand that she loosen Russia’s grip on the country’s energy supply. Mr. Trump then went directly after Moscow. He announced that the U.S. was pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that for the past 31 years limited the development and deployment of missile or launch systems that can threaten Russia’s European neighbors. The president accused Russia of violating the missile system ban for years and, to the Kremlin’s dismay, vowed to force an expensive new arms race. Russian President Vladimir Putin was riled. At a meeting Tuesday in Moscow with National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, Mr. Putin described the developments as “unprovoked moves that are hard to call friendly.” He said a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Trump was in order. Later, Mr. Trump said he is willing to sit down with Mr. Putin when the two men are in Paris next month for events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. “It hasn’t been set up yet, but we probably will” meet, Mr. Trump said at the White House. When he last faced off with Mr. Putin at a July summit in Helsinki, Mr. Trump was roundly criticized for being too soft and timidly accepting the Russian’s denial that his country meddled in the 2016 presidential election. In Paris, Mr. Putin might be looking to reset the relationship. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce told The Washington Times that he welcomed the advances against Russia, saying the LNG terminal would help make Germany “less vulnerable to Russian manipulation.” The California Republican backed up Mr. Trump on quitting the nuclear missile treaty. “The Russians have been violating INF for years, making this deal unsustainable. We need durable arms control agreements,” he said. Russia’s violations of the missile system ban go back 10 years, with allegations of cheating leveled by the Obama administration and European leaders.

More winning!!  For more, click on the text above.     🙂

Analysis: Putin’s Gun vs. Obama’s Pen

In international relations, an effective message needs both constructive content and form. Consider the latest messages by President Obama and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, on Syria. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported the Obama administration’s warnings that it may arm Syrian rebels with advanced weaponry. One unnamed U.S. official told the Journal that this will “up the ante, if needed” to push Russia to force Assad toward political reform. But also on Tuesday (and the day before), President Putin was sending his own message: He deployed two fighter jets and a military helicopter to harass a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea. Training with a Polish helicopter crew, the destroyer had to suspend operations. The contrast is striking: President Obama deploys unnamed officials to offer qualified statements to reporters. President Putin turns a U.S. Navy vessel in international waters into a combat-exercise prop. The contrast matters for reasons beyond national pride: It informs the ongoing struggle for Syria’s future and the global balance of power. With Syria’s February ceasefire now in ruins, in the civilian rubble of continuing Putin-Khamenei-Assad attacks, President Obama wants some stability. By threatening to escalate support to U.S.-aligned rebels, Mr. Obama hopes to accomplish two things. First, he wants to pressure Putin toward concessions, at the talks currently under way in Geneva, on a timeline for Assad’s withdrawal. Second, he seeks to persuade the Sunni Arab monarchies and Turkey not to increase their independent lethal support to Syrian rebels. Today, the Sunni monarchies have very little faith in President Obama. Even Obama himself knows this (although he likes to pretend he doesn’t) and worries that the monarchies might soon start funding such groups as the al-Qaeda subsidiary known as Jabhat al-Nusra. Saudi Arabia is far from a good ally, of course, but if the kingdom continues to draw away from U.S. influence, the politicized sectarianism now driving Middle East chaos will get much worse, and the world, from Brussels to the U.S., won’t be insulated from that chaos. Sadly, President Obama’s message won’t be read in Riyadh and Moscow (and every other capital) as a meaningful threat, but as his signature acknowledging exceptional strategic weakness. And that’s why President Putin likes his sharply contrasting messaging. Putin’s Syria strategy is relatively simple. First, he fuels President Obama’s delusion that Russia doesn’t need strong U.S. pressure in order to make compromises in Syria. (Note Putin’s constant deployments of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov into absurd press conferences with Secretary of State John Kerry, and stunts such as Russia’s military-withdrawal feint last month.) Second, Putin continues to focus on securing Assad as a servant of Russian imperium. As I explained last October, President Putin’s military operations in Syria have always sought an an Assad safe zone in the country’s west. Third, by throwing occasional air strikes at Daesh headquarters in Raqqa, Putin feeds Western delusions that Russia shares our interest in confronting the death cult. But when it comes to it, Putin has deliberately left Daesh alone. After all, by allowing Daesh to retain a presence in the provinces of Northern Aleppo, Ar-Raqqah, and Deir ez-Zor, Putin allows Daesh to retain its Euphrates rat lines from Iraq to Syria to Turkey — and thus also into Europe. By keeping Daesh in power, Putin retains the golden offer he can dangle before President Obama: Accept my domination of Syrian politics (i.e., let Assad stay and cease support for the rebels), and only then will I help you confront Daesh threats to European cities. Ultimately, the message being sent in the Baltic Sea is central to this strategic showdown. Russian air crews are flying exceptionally dangerous maneuvers with decrepit equipment. Putin knows this; that he continues to deploy these capabilities in an increasingly aggressive manner, thus risking a military conflagration, illuminates his deeper strategic confidence. In 2016, he is so confident in President Obama’s weakness that he gambles with the lives of U.S. military personnel without fear. We’ve come gone 180 degrees from 2008, when President Bush deterred Russian escalation in Georgia by parking U.S. military transport planes at Tbilisi airport. Eight years later, as Putin continues to double down against Obama’s anti-realism, our adversaries, from Europe to Asia, are sensing the vacuum. We must face Putin down. This weekend, President Obama should suspend U.S. participation in the Geneva talks and immediately provide — rather than have aides anonymously discuss the possibility of providing — advanced weapons to rebels aligned with the Free Syrian Army. Doing so would confront Putin at his own game, and make it clear the U.S. understands that power is vested in action, not in words. – Tom Rogan writes for National Review Online and Opportunity Lives. He is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and a senior fellow at the Steamboat Institute. He tweets @TomRtweets. His homepage is http://www.tomroganthinks.com

Daesh is just another name for ISIS/ISIL..

Russian truckers protest road tax as Putin’s base defects amid economic woes

Svetlana Titova, a 29-year-old real estate agent from Moscow, used to consider herself one of the success stories of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long rule. But as Russia’s economy buckles under the combined weight of Western sanctions and tumbling global prices for oil, the linchpin of the country’s economy, Ms. Titova and millions of Russians like her who once strongly backed Mr. Putin are feeling the strain. “I used to have plenty of money to spare at the end of the month,” Ms. Titova told The Washington Times. “But now I’m struggling to make it from one payday to the next.” While Ms. Titova was reluctant to attribute blame for her financial difficulties, Russia’s deepening economic woes are stirring up discontent even among Mr. Putin’s traditional supporters, who had kept his personal popularity sky-high despite the economy’s woes and sharp criticism of his rule from the Obama administration and many in Europe. The Russian ruble has lost around 60 percent of its value against the dollar since 2014, and the cost of living is rocketing for ordinary people. Inflation is running at around 13 percent, while real wages have gone down for the first time since Mr. Putin took power, falling almost 10 percent in the last year. At least 23 million Russians — 16 percent of the total population — are now living below the official poverty level of less than $170 a month, according to government figures. That is an increase of 3 million people in some 18 months. Last week, Anton Siluanov, Russia’s finance minister, warned that plummeting oil prices mean the government will be forced to make further cuts to its 2016 budget. Onetime Putin supporters are now hitting the road — literally — to signal their unhappiness with the status quo. The most visible indication of a growing frustration is an ongoing protest by long-distance truckers, who have threatened to blockade Moscow’s main ring road over a controversial Kremlin-backed toll. The truckers, who have set up a camp at a parking lot near Moscow, say the new road tax, which will impose a payment of around a penny per mile on trucks weighing over 12 tons, will ruin them. “The authorities want to take everything from us,” Gennady, a trucker from St. Petersburg, told The Washington Times, declining to allow his full name to be used. “They want to take our hard-earned money to line their own pockets.” Some truckers have even dared to highlight the fact that the company running the payment collection system for the new road tax is owned by the son of Arkady Rotenberg, described as an old friend and sometime-judo sparring partner for Mr. Putin. “To be honest, I thought until the very last moment that Uncle Vova was going to say there was a mistake,” trucker Ivan Alutai from the town of Petrozavodsk told the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty news service, using the Russian diminutive for Mr. Putin’s first name. “Uncle Vova has lost my trust.” The protest has the Kremlin rattled because the truckers and blue-collar workers like them have long been seen as the bedrock of Mr. Putin’s popularity. Pro-Kremlin politician Yevgeny Fyodorov, a senior member of Mr. Putin’s ruling United Russia party, has accused the United States of orchestrating the introduction of the tax to “destabilize” Russia. It’s not only the truckers who are up in arms. Teachers in eastern Siberia have also gone on strike over the nonpayment of their salaries, while doctors in central Russia have protested layoffs. In Moscow, residents of a residential building recently recorded a furious video address to Mr. Putin, whose government they accused of embarking on a costly war in Syria instead of focusing on much-needed repairs to housing stock. “Putin, it seems someone is bombing us too!” shouted the residents, as they stood in front of their crumbling apartment block. Anger is also growing among owners of small and medium businesses. “It’s not Barack Obama who is responsible for our prohibitively high interest rates,” businessman Dmitry Potapenko told a recent high-profile economic roundtable in Russia. He also accused Russian tax inspectors and economic crimes police of being “significantly worse” than the criminal gangs who terrorized Russian businesses in the 1990s. Mr. Potapenko’s outburst turned him into an overnight celebrity, and a YouTube video of his speech has so far been watched over 3 million times. While state-run media blames what it calls Western “hostility” for Russia’s mounting economic misery, members of the intellectual elite are increasingly speaking out about what they say is corruption and mismanagement by Mr. Putin and his inner circle. Earlier this month, Vladislav Inozemtsov, professor of economics at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, publicly accused Mr. Putin of squandering revenues from years of sky-high oil prices, missing the chance to drastically increase living standards for nearly 143 million people. “There have only been the same beautiful promises year after year,” he wrote in a widely discussed article published by the independent RBC business newspaper. Allegations that the family of Russia’s general prosecutor, Yury Chaika, has business links to the country’s most notorious crime gang have also sparked public anger. The Kremlin has refused to order an investigation into the accusations, which were made in an online film produced by activists with opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption organization. Although Mr. Putin’s approval ratings remain high — if the opinion polls are to be believed — widening discontent clearly has the authorities rattled ahead of parliamentary elections in September. The previous State Duma polls, held in 2011, triggered unprecedented anti-Putin protests in Moscow, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets over vote-rigging in favor of Mr. Putin’s United Russia party. In an apparent sign that the Kremlin is preparing for new mass protests, lawmakers recently rushed through a bill that gives state security officers the right to open fire on crowds. The courts have also begun to enforce strict new anti-protest legislation that stipulates up to five years in prison for repeated attendance at “illegal” demonstrations. Russia’s Interior Ministry has also increased fourfold its orders for the Soviet-designed RGS-50M grenade launcher, which fires tear gas and rubber bullets. Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Moscow and now an associate fellow at the Chatham House think tank, said there were limited avenues for popular discontent to express itself against Mr. Putin in today’s Russia. “They’ve got the television and all media locked down thoroughly,” Mr. Wood told the BBC last week. “They’ve got critics locked down thoroughly. They have recently given the police the right to fire on crowds should they wish to do so, including women and children.” But Mr. Putin will have to be vigilant to keep the unhappiness from spreading, analysts said. “In order to hold on to power, Putin has no choice but to turn the screws,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, an independent political analyst whose vote-monitoring project helped sparked the 2011 election protests. “But he won’t be able to jail just one or two people — he will need to imprison dozens or even hundreds.”

Definitely something to keep an eye on…

Obama’s Continues Failed Foreign Policy, and Stubborn Appeasement of Moscow

President Barack Obama’s administration has been working behind the scenes for months to forge a new working relationship with Russia, despite the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little interest in repairing relations with Washington or halting his aggression in neighboring Ukraine.

Of course not.  Vlad wants nothing to do with Obama.  He sees Obama for who he is; a weak, limp-wristed, metro-sexual, loser that is kissing up to him.  And Vlad wants no part of that.  Can’t blame him one bit.

Russian minister says US must abandon claim to ‘eternal uniqueness’

The Russian foreign minister issued a blistering attack on the West and NATO on Saturday, accusing them of being unable to change their Cold War “genetic code” and saying the United States must abandon its claims to “eternal uniqueness.”

Red Russia rising.. Glad to see Germany actually calling them on their “crimes” in Ukraine. Unlike Obama and Sec. John Kerry, it would appear at least Germany has a spine. Vlad is just a short thug who is bullying eastern Europe..and is now sending his foreign minister to the UN to justify to the world his actions…using old Soviet-era playbook rhetoric. If we don’t stand solidly WITH Ukraine during this period, history WILL repeat itself..

US accuses Russia of violating 1987 missile treaty

US accuses Russia of violating 1987 missile treaty

What?  Russia violating treaties it signed?  Violating international law?  Invading Ukraine and annexing part of it (Crimea)?  Actively support terrorists who shot down a civilian airline carrying hundreds of civilians and NOT so much as apologize for it?  Nahhh… Perish the thought!  Does anyone seriously think that Vlad gives a flying flip what the UN, NATO, or for that matter Obama, thinks about what he is doing?  His troops annexed a part of a sovereign nation, and is firing missiles into the what’s left of the northern part of that same country…and nobody is lifting a finger to so much as wag at it Vlad the invader.  Besides, Obama is so weak and impotent, that Vlad is simply ignoring him.  Russia violates a missile treaty signed by Reagan and Gorbachev, and Obama’s response?  Let it fester for a few years (and not even disclose it to we-the-citizens whom Obama works for), and then send his counterpart a letter….while simultaneously reducing the size of our Army to pre-WW II levels.  No wonder Vlad says he considers the “matter closed.”  Of course he does.  He probably got the letter, crumpled it up, took his shirt off (for another nauseating photo op), and went for the 3 point shot at the trash can on the other side of his office.  “Matter closed” indeed.  And just in time for Obama to get the heck out of D.C. (again) and go on a gazillion-dollar 3 week vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, courtesy of we-the-taxpayer….all while Christians are being exterminated in Iraq, Israel is in Gaza, and our borders are being over-run by hundreds of thousands of illegals claiming that Obama will take care of them (gee.. I wonder who gave them THAT idea).  And the man has the nerve to criticize Congress for taking its regularly scheduled vacation/recess.  Wow..  Enjoy your vacation, Mr. President.  Tool..