Russian aggression

Poland agrees to house 1,000 U.S. troops on its soil amid Russian mischief

President Trump on Wednesday said Poland has agreed to base about 1,000 U.S. troops on its soil, further solidifying the American-Polish relationship in the face of Russian mischief in Eastern Europe. Polish President Andrzej Duda said the final number of U.S. troops in his country will be decided by Mr. Trump, who earlier suggested up to 2,000. American taxpayers will not pay a dime for the infrastructure needed to house and support the soldiers, Mr. Trump said. “The Polish government will pay for this,” he said in a joint press conference with Mr. Duda in the White House Rose Garden. Mr. Trump suggested that the troops would be transferred from foreign bases such as those in Germany rather than from the U.S. The president said he was not trying to punish Germany, though he chided its leaders for purchasing natural gas from Poland’s neighbor, Russia. “I just will tell you, very strongly, I think Germany is making a tremendous mistake by relying so heavily on the pipeline,” Mr. Trump said. The troop transfer follows similar actions to beef up NATO defenses against Russia, which has alarmed the West with its forays into Ukraine and saber-rattling in Eastern Europe. “Increasing U.S. forces in Poland is a strong deterrent against Russian aggression in Eastern Europe,” said Sen. John Boozman, Arkansas Republican. Despite frictions, Mr. Trump said he is hopeful that Poland and the U.S. can develop a fruitful relationship with Russia. Mr. Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting this month in Osaka, Japan.

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Russian fighter jet intercepts US Navy plane

A US Navy reconnaissance aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet Monday in an unsafe and unprofessional manner, according to three US defense officials and a statement from the Navy. During an encounter that lasted a total of 25 minutes, the Russian SU-27 jet passed directly in front of the US EP-3 aircraft at a high speed, the officials said. The US crew reported turbulence following that initial interaction in which the direct pass occurred. The SU-27 then made a second pass of the US plane and applied its afterburner while conducting a banking maneuver, which is believed to have caused a vibration that was experienced by the American crew. “This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk. The intercepting SU-27 made an additional pass, closing with the EP-3 and applying its afterburner while conducting a banking turn away. The crew of the EP-3 reported turbulence following the first interaction, and vibrations from the second,” according to a statement from the US Navy. Officials so far, have not been able to estimate how close the Russian aircraft came to the US plane, but described the flight behavior of the Russians as the key factor in making the determination the encounter was unsafe. US officials were not initially aware of whether the Russian aircraft was armed. The Navy EP-3 was operating out of Souda Bay, Greece, according to Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon. The Navy plane had its transponder on for the duration of the mission but there was no communication established or attempted between the Russian and US aircraft, Pahon said. A Twitter account for the Russian embassy in the US posted a brief statement about the encounter on Monday saying the fighter jet “followed all necessary safety procedures.” “The Su-27 jet’s crew reported identifying the #US EP-3 Aries spy plane and accompanied it, preventing a violation of Russian airspace and followed all necessary safety procedures,” the tweet said. The last reported unsafe intercept of a US Navy aircraft by a Russian jet occurred in January when a Russian Su-27 jet flew within five feet of a US Navy EP-3, forcing the Navy plane to fly through its jet wash. The US Navy deemed that intercept unsafe and unprofessional. Following that incident, the US State Department issued a statement accusing the Russians of “flagrantly violating existing agreements and international law.” In May, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet performed an “unprofessional” intercept of a US Navy P-8 surveillance plane while it was flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea. The Russian jet came within about 20 feet of the US aircraft, one official said, adding that the encounter lasted about nine minutes. That intercept was described by officials as safe but unprofessional..

‘They beat our a–es’: Russian mercenaries talk about humiliating defeat by US in reportedly leaked audio

Leaked audio recordings said to be of Russian mercenaries in Syria capture expressions of lament and humiliation over a battle in early February involving US forces and Russian nationals. Published by Polygraph.info — a fact-checking website produced by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, news organizations that receive funding from the US government — the audio recordings paint a picture of Russian mercenaries essentially sent to die in an ill-conceived advance on a US-held position in Syria. Polygraph says the audio recordings are from a source close to the Kremlin. The Pentagon has described the attack as “unprovoked” and started by forces loyal to the Syrian government that crossed over the Euphrates River, which functions as a border between US-backed troops and Russian-backed ones. The Pentagon says that about 500 troops began to fire on the position and that the US responded with air power and artillery strikes. The audio from Polygraph seems to confirm that while giving some insight into the feelings of the defeated forces. Also apparent in the audio is displeasure with how Russia has responded to the situation. Initially, Russia denied that its citizens took part in the clash. Later, a representative said five may have died. Last week, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the fight left “several dozen wounded” and that some had died. The audio recordings, in which voices can be heard saying 200 people died “right away,” appear to back up reports from Reuters, Bloomberg, and the Pentagon that roughly 100 — if not more— Russians died in the fight. Reuters has cited sources as saying the advance’s purpose was to test the US’s response. Russia is thought to use military contractors in Syria rather than its military — experts speculate it’s to maintain deniability for acts of war and conceal the true cost of fighting from the Russian people. The Washington Post reported last week that US intelligence reports with intercepted communications showed that a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin told a senior Syrian official he “secured permission” from the Kremlin before the advance on the US forces. The accounts in the audio also align with reports of how the battle went down, depicting an unprepared column of troops meeting an overwhelming air response before helicopter gunships strafed the remaining ones.

That’s a pretty standard response for something like this.  Clearly the Russians were totally unprepared..  To see a profanity-laced transcript of their reaction to what happened, click on the text above.

Gregg Jarrett: Donald Trump Jr. has broken no law

Erasmus, the noted classical scholar, described lawyers this way: A most learned species of profoundly ignorant men. He had a point. How else do you explain the wild pronouncements of lawyers like Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter and Senator Tim Kaine, D-Virginia? Each have suggested Donald Trump Jr. committed treason by meeting with a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. All three lawyers earned their degrees at Harvard or Yale. Yet, they appear to have slept through their class on constitutional law. Treason is defined in Article 3 of the Constitution and codified in 18 USC 2381: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, either levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort with the U.S. or elsewhere.” Meeting with a Russian lawyer is not treason. The U.S. is not at war with Russia. Even if the president’s son received information from the Russian government or otherwise collaborated with foreign officials, it constitutes neither waging war against the U.S. nor aiding the enemy. If it were otherwise, a myriad of Republican and Democratic Senators who admit meeting with the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, might be somehow guilty of treason. In these meetings, information is surely exchanged. No one has ever suggested it rises to the level of criminality. Indeed, it is what diplomats and foreign officials do. It is what our own officials do in foreign lands. Even if the Trump campaign had acted on information provided by the Russian lawyer, it would still not constitute treason. Even conspiring to subvert the government does not rise to the level of treason. Under our Constitution, Americans are permitted to speak against the government, undermine political opponents, support harmful policies or even place the interests of another nation ahead of those of the U.S. You would think these lawyers, however misguided by their political prejudices, would nevertheless comprehend such a fundamental principle of constitutional and statutory law. Clearly, they do not. Each harbor their own biases which have blinded them to the law. Tribe and Painter sued President Trump within days of his taking office. They claim his many business dealings violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. Their case is without merit. Kaine might be described as a “sore loser,” having lost the presidential election as Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate. Before perpetuating the treason canard, these lawyers should reread the famous 1953 case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. They were convicted of espionage after providing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. They were not charged with treason because the U.S. was not “at war” with the Soviets. So let’s dispense with all this silliness over treason. Now, amid the cacophony of claims that the Trump campaign committed the criminal offense of “collusion” with the Russians, no one has managed to point to a statute that makes colluding with a foreign government in a political campaign a crime. Why? Because it cannot be found anywhere in America’s criminal codes. As explained in an earlier column, “collusion” is a loaded word conjuring all manner of incriminating behavior. Yet, it exists only in anti-trust laws which forbid price fixing and other anti-competitive activities under Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Collusion has nothing whatsoever to do with elections and political campaigns. Of course, that inconvenient fact has not stopped politicians, pundits and journalists from either misunderstanding the concept and/or misconstruing its application to the Trump-Russia hysteria. It also renders special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation meaningless. He is tasked with finding a crime that does not exist in the law. It is a legal impossibility. The only conceivable crime tangentially related to collusion is found at 18 USC 371, entitled “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.” It makes it a felony for two or more persons to enter into an agreement to interfere or obstruct a lawful function of the government. An election would be a lawful government function. However, it must be done by “deceitful or dishonest means.” So let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Russian lawyer provided information damaging to the Clinton campaign and the Trump campaign then acted on the material by disseminating it to the public. How is that deceitful or dishonest? It is not. But this is not what happened, as best we know. According to Trump Jr., the lawyer offered no information at all. Indeed, the lawyer insists the subject of the campaign was never broached. Let’s play another “what if.” What if the Russian lawyer handed Trump Jr. a file and said, “here is information which we hacked from the DNC and the Clinton campaign?” If the president’s son accepted the file, then he could be accused of knowingly receiving stolen property. But again, there is no evidence this ever happened. It is worth remembering that the hacked information was not made public by Wikileaks until after the June 9th meeting. Months later, in October, the U.S. government officially acknowledged Russian interference in the election. There is one final law to be considered. Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, soliciting and/or receiving foreign donations is prohibited (11 CFR 110.20). This includes “money or other thing of value.” Is information, by itself, a “thing of value?” One could attempt to make that argument, but it has never been interpreted that way. To the contrary, the law specifically states that “services” are not contributions and that foreign nationals are permitted to volunteer their services to U.S. political campaigns. Moreover, campaign election laws are rarely the subject of criminal prosecutions. The vast majority of cases are civil violations resulting in fines. But again, both Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer agree that no information related to the presidential campaign was conveyed. If true, this statute is inapplicable. As much as President Trump’s opponents may wish it to be, it is not a crime to meet with a Russian. Nor is it a crime to meet with a Russian lawyer or government official. Even gathering information from a foreign source is permissible. Unwise and ill-advised, yes. Illegal, no. Until such time as Congress decides to pass a bill – and the president signs it into law – criminalizing “collusion” with a foreign government in an American political campaign … no law has been broken here.

Case closed!  Please feel free to forward this outstanding legal analysis by former defense attorney, and current Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett, on to family members, friends and others who have been sucked into this Russia hysteria promulgated by the dominantly liberal mainstream media.

Donald Trump Meets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko After Sanctioning Russian-Backed Separatists

President Donald Trump met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday as his administration imposed sanctions on Russian-backed separatists in the country. Trump said the two had “very, very good discussions,” calling Ukraine “a place that we’ve all been very much involved in.” Behind the scenes, the White House revealed that Trump and Poroshenko discussed support for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions on two Russian officials and several separatists in Eastern Ukraine to support the Ukrainian amidst ongoing Russian-backed conflicts in the region. “This administration is committed to a diplomatic process that guarantees Ukrainian sovereignty, and there should be no sanctions relief until Russia meets its obligations under the Minsk agreements,” Mnuchin said Tuesday. Poroshenko said it was a “great pleasure” to meet with Trump to discuss issues important to Ukraine and called the president a “supporter and strategic partner” of the country. “We’re really fighting for freedom and democracy,” he said.

We’re thrilled to hear Trump is meeting with Petro!  Excellent!!    🙂

Russian jet intercepts US bomber over Baltic Sea

A U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber flying a “routine mission” in international airspace over the Baltic Sea was intercepted by a Russian jet on Tuesday, a Pentagon spokesman said. The U.S. bomber was still up in the air Tuesday afternoon and the crew had not been debriefed about the incident, meaning it was not yet known exactly how close the Russian Su-27 fighter jet came to the U.S. plane, Capt. Jeff Davis said. The bomber was deployed to the U.K. from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana earlier this month, U.S. European Command told Fox News. The “vast majority” of Russian intercepts with U.S. forces are safe and professional, Davis said. But Tuesday’s intercept is just the latest example of aggressive Russian actions aimed at the U.S. military and homeland. In May, a pair of Russian Bear Bombers entered Alaska’s “air defense zone” escorted by two Russian jets. That instance followed several consecutive nights in April when Russian spy planes and bombers buzzed Alaskan airspace. In February, The Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov traversed the U.S. East Coast and approached a Navy submarine base in Connecticut. There have also been several instances of Russian jets buzzing Navy ships at sea. The U.S. bomber intercepted Tuesday arrived days ago in the region to take part in the annual Baltic training operation called “Baltops.” There are 14 allied countries participating in the annual military exercise which includes 6,000 personal, 50 aircraft, 56 ships and submarines. The exercise also includes live fire training. Some ships will be sailing from Poland to Germany.

Russia tests Zircon hypersonic missile system, which it says makes U.S. defenses obsolete

Russia declared today its first test of a hypersonic missile, a year ahead of schedule. Defense analysts proclaimed the test made U.S. missile defense systems obsolete. American missile defense has been a thorn in the side of the Kremlin since the days of Ronald Reagan’s SDI, or Strategic Defense Initiative. One could argue that SDI broke the back of the Soviet Union financially and technologically and forced Gorbachev to realize the U.S.S.R. could not beat America in a missile defense arms race. The Russian international news site Sputnik suggested the missile, named Zircon, could be installed on Pyotr Veliky, the country’s nuclear-powered missile strike ship. Analysts stated the missile concept can fly at 4,600 miles per hour — that’s 6 times the speed of sound — and would be practically impervious to missile defense systems, reported The Independent. Military analyst Vladimir Tuchkov told Sputnik: “It (the Zircon missile system) is expected to be added into Russia’s arsenal between 2018 and 2020.” China and Russia have searched for asymmetric weapons that can defeat American carriers that project power and missile systems that protect the homeland against foreign nuclear attack. Hypersonic missiles are part of this effort and are here to stay as a quantum leap in destructive military firepower.