Edging closer to conflict: NATO seeks largest troop build-up to place on the Russian border since the Cold War

October 2016BRUSSELS/ MOSCOW NATO will press allies on Wednesday to contribute to its biggest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the Cold War as the alliance prepares for a protracted quarrel with Moscow. With Russia’s aircraft carrier heading to Syria in a show of force along Europe’s shores, alliance defense ministers aim to make good on a July promise by NATO leaders to send forces to the Baltic States and eastern Poland from early next year. The United States hopes for binding commitments from Europe to fill four battle groups of some 4,000 troops, part of NATO’s response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and concern it could try a similar tactic in Europe’s ex-Soviet states.
France, Denmark, Italy and other allies are expected to join the four battle groups led by the United States, Germany, Britain and Canada to go to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, with forces ranging from armored infantry to drones. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the commitments would be “a clear demonstration of our transatlantic bond.” Diplomats said it would also send a message to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has complained that European allies do not pay their way in the alliance.
The battle groups will be backed by NATO’s 40,000-strong rapid-reaction force, and if need be, further follow-on forces, for any potential conflict, which could move into Baltic states and Poland on rotation. The strategy is part of an emerging new deterrent that could eventually be combined with missile defenses, air patrols and defenses against cyber attacks. However, the alliance is still struggling for a similar strategy in the Black Sea region, which Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said is becoming a “Russian lake” because of Moscow’s military presence there. Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey are expected to soon come forward with a plan to increase naval and air patrols in the area, as well as a multinational NATO brigade in Romania.


For the Kremlin, the U.S.-led alliance’s plans are already too much given Russia’s grievances at NATO’s expansion eastwards. Stoltenberg denied going too far. “This is a credible deterrence, not to provoke a conflict but to prevent conflict,” he told reporters on Tuesday. Next year’s deployments have taken on greater symbolism since Russia pulled out of several nuclear disarmament agreements in the past two months while moving nuclear-capable missiles into its Baltic exclave in Kaliningrad. The so-called Iskander-M cruise missiles can hit targets across Poland and the Baltics, although NATO officials declined to say if Russia had moved nuclear warheads to Kaliningrad.
“This deployment, if it becomes permanent, if the presence of nuclear weapons were confirmed, would be a change in (Russia’s) security posture,” the United States’ envoy to NATO, Douglas Lute, said. Tensions have been building since Crimea and the West’s decision to impose retaliatory sanctions, but the breakdown of a U.S-Russia brokered ceasefire in Syria on Oct. 3, followed by U.S. accusations that Russia has used cyber attacks to disrupt the presidential election, have signaled a sharp worsening of East-West relations.
EU leaders met last week to consider fresh sanctions over Russian bombing of civilian areas in Aleppo and NATO’s Stoltenberg said he fears the Russian warships heading to the Mediterranean could launch new attacks on the Syrian city. Even before the break down of the Syrian ceasefire, Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended a treaty with Washington on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium, signaling he was willing to use nuclear disarmament as a new bargaining chip in disputes with the United States over Ukraine and Syria.  –Metro

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NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corp begins major training exercise – Spain incurs NATO’s ire for refueling Russian ships

October 2016 UNITED KINGDOM The headquarters (HQ) of NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) began Exercise ‘Trident Juncture 16’ (‘TJ16’) at Royal Air Force (RAF) St. Mawgan in Cornwall on 24 October. The exercise, which lasts 10 days, is a major command post exercise that will certify HQ ARRC as a NATO Land Forces HQ in advance of it assuming the role as part of the NATO Response Force (NRF) 2017.
‘TJ16’ is also testing the NATO Joint Force Command HQ in Naples in preparation for it assuming the role as HQ of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) 2017. HQ ARRC, for which the United Kingdom is the framework nation, will provide the Land Component Command of VJTF 17.

Russia: Meanwhile, concerns about government stability ahead of the 2018 presidential election are driving Vladimir Putin into reforms of Russia’s security apparatus. Mark Galeotti surveys changes that could substantially re-orient Moscow’s internal security and espionage posture. –Janes


Spain incurs NATO members’ ire: Spain is facing international anger as it apparently prepares to refuel a flotilla of Russian warships due to step up strikes against the beleaguered city of Aleppo. Politicians and military figures condemned the support from a NATO member, while the head of the alliance indicated Madrid should rethink the pit stop.
Warships from an eight-strong group led by the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov will take on fuel and supplies from the port of Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, after passing through the Straits of Gibraltar on Wednesday morning, Spanish papers reported. NATO officials expect the flotilla to then sail onward to the eastern Mediterranean and escalate air strikes on the only major rebel-help city remaining in Syria, where 275,000 people are trapped. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, said the carrier group, which passed through the English Channel last week, could be used to bomb civilians in the city.
He said: “It’s for each nation to decide whether these ships can get supplies and be fueled in different harbors along the route towards the eastern Mediterranean. “But at the same time we are concerned, and I have expressed that very clearly, about the potential use of this battle group to increase Russia’s ability and to be a platform for air strikes against Syria. “This is something I have conveyed very clearly before and I repeat those concerns today. I believe that all NATO allies are aware this battle group can be used to conduct air strikes against Aleppo and Syria.”
Spain regularly refuels Russian warships at the North African port, which it says is not covered by NATO treaties. At least 60 Russian military craft have made technical stops at the Spanish enclave since April 2010, when the naval base was opened up to serve ships from other nations. Sir Gerald Howarth MP, a former Defense Minister, said it would be “wholly inappropriate” for a NATO member to refuel the Russian vessels. Lord West, a former head of the Royal Navy, added: “There are sanctions against Russia and it’s an extraordinary thing for a NATO ally to do.”  –Telegraph

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North Korea weeding out fortunetellers for doomsday prophecies of state’s future

October 2016NORTH KOREANorth Korea is conducting purges of fortunetellers and others who engage in superstitious activity as the country continues to crack down on escapees. People engaged in fortunetelling, an illegal activity, are the target of arrests because of their predictions of the state’s future, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday.
Soothsayers have said in 2017 North Korea may wage a nuclear war, another natural disaster may strike the country, or a dormant volcano in Mount Paektu may erupt, according to the report. Other fortunetellers are saying Kim Jong Un could conduct a massacre or some other “unimaginable event,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told RFA.
Faced with tough choices in their impoverished country, more North Koreans, including senior officials, rely on soothsayers to identify important information for their future. But as their influence grows, North Korean fortunetellers are being taken into state custody. RFA’s source said four soothsayers in the flood-hit region of Musan County in North Hamgyong Province were arrested for their practice, along with 40 North Koreans who then spread the fortunetellers’ claims across their communities.
Sources in North Korea told Radio Free Asia more than 300 people were also recently arrested in flood-hit regions while they were attempting to flee the country. Diarrheal disease and acute respiratory infections have been reported in disaster areas after massive flooding took place from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2. North Korea has reported the floods are the worst since World War II and that hundreds of thousands of people have been forced out of their homes. Kim Jong Un has yet to visit the disaster zone.  –UPI


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‘Once the three countries of the East come together, Russia, China and India, they can correct the U.S. power imbalance’

Putin ups the stakes in the geopolitical chess game of global domination. The Russian propaganda machine has gone into over-drive to paint a picture to Eastern countries, like India and China, that the U.S. really cares nothing about them.
October 2016RUSSIA/INDIA The biggest achievement of the just concluded BRICS summit in Goa was the revival of Russia- India friendship. This will promote peace and stability in Asia and the world. Russia and India together can change the equations of power between the east and the west toward restoring the balance of power in the world. In the last two centuries, this equation has been heavily tilted to the west resulting in western domination and its offshoot, American hegemony. This imbalance is the main cause of turmoil and instability in the world. Once the three major countries of the east; Russia, China and India come together then they can correct the imbalance and promote peace and harmony in the world.             
 Russia has been India’s most trusted and time tested friend. Western countries always tried to weaken and contain India. British colonialists partitioned India and created an artificial country, Pakistan, with two parts East and West Pakistan separated by a thousand miles of Indian Territory. Except for weakening and containing India, such an unnatural country had no other relevance. The Bengalis of East Pakistan had nothing in common with the Punjabis of West Pakistan except both were Muslims. By this token, there should be only one country for the Muslims of the whole world. Even the Arabs, who have lot more common than the Bengalis and the Punjabis, have many separate countries.    
Finally, with the Russian help, India was able to dismember the artificial country and at least two more natural countries, Bangladesh and Pakistan came in to existence. Whereas, the Bengalis were happy to be free from the Punjabis, the Punjabis seemed equally happy to get rid of them. However, many Punjabis in Pakistan have not gotten rid of their artificiality. They disown their mother tongue and keep claiming that Urdu is their mother tongue. They still subscribe to the British false propaganda that Punjabi is the language of the Sikhs. Some Punjabi lovers in Pakistan complain that they have been accused of being agents of the Sikhs. The British used every issue they could to divide the people. In Punjab they used language to divide the Punjabis which ultimately led to the partition of India. They incited the wrong feelings that Punjabi was the language of the Sikhs, Urdu was language of the Muslims and Hindi was language of the Hindus. The fact is that Punjabi was language of the Punjabis long before the Sikh religion came into existence.    

Deep down, the West has never trusted India. It has always considered India as a potential adversary. Even Obama has called India and China American competitors. America and other Western countries have never trusted India with their advanced technology or weaponry. Compared to this Russia has always given its best weaponry and technology to India. Russia is giving its most sophisticated missiles, the S- 400. It is also giving India its most advanced nuclear submarines, the Akula-2. Russia has helped India to develop its technology, including nuclear technology.
Besides, S-400 missiles and Akula-2 nuclear submarines, Russia is giving many other advanced weapons and technology to India. Some of these are; Sukhoi SU-30 MKI super fighter jets, Mig 35 to replace 200 Mig21 and Mig27 planes and Kamov-28 helicopters. Russia is also giving four multiple purpose frigates equipped with BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles. Russia and India will jointly develop the 5th generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and Kamov Ka-226 light helicopters. Russia is also developing radio electronic weapons and may share their technology with India. Even today, in the field of advanced weaponry, Russia continues to hold the lead. Same is true of the nuclear war heads. Russia has the largest stockpile of those in the world. Russia will continue to help with the completion of the unit three and the unit four at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. –Pravda

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Saudi Arabia and Iran are heading for an all-out-war in Yemen

October 2016YEMENBlood continues to stain the sands of the Middle East. There are the well-known civil wars in Syria, Iraq and Libya, along with terror incidents in Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and elsewhere. Less attention is paid to the creeping conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war that threatens to descend into full-scale war and suck in other countries, including the United States. A three-day ceasefire was attempted last week but it expired without halting the fighting. Reinvigorated diplomacy that will culminate in a power-sharing agreement is needed to halt the slide to civil war and avert a humanitarian catastrophe.
Yemen is a relatively young state, formed in 1992 when the Yemen Arab Republic of the north and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in the south unified. President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced out in 2011 as the political situation deteriorated and he handed over power to Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. The transition did not quell the violence and Saleh, backed by Houthi rebels that enjoyed support from Iran, decided that his abdication was a mistake. He and his allies won back the capital, Sanaa, in 2014. Hadi did not give up, however; with backing from the government of Saudi Arabia, his forces took control of the key commercial port of Aden and territory in southern Yemen. It is estimated that nearly 10,000 people have died in the fighting, almost half civilians.
The domestic struggle is now a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which means that the U.S. is also involved as an ally of Riyadh. While Washington is concerned about the spread of Iranian influence in the region, it is not as worried as Saudi Arabia, which sees its struggle with Iran as a zero-sum contest. Nevertheless, the U.S. backs the Saudi government to reduce concern in Riyadh about a tilt in American thinking in the aftermath of the Iranian nuclear deal, which the Saudis opposed, as well as to secure Saudi support for the fight against Islamic State radicals in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. also worries about the strength of al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula. In the past, it has operated in southern Yemen and while the Saudi-backed forces now control much of that territory, it enjoys a relatively safe haven in the area between the two fighting forces. Until last year, the U.S. operated special operations out of the north but those efforts have been scaled back as the civil war intensified. Now, U.S. and Saudi forces operate more closely together, and their entanglement risks widening the conflict.
Earlier this month, Saudi forces attacked a funeral in Sanaa that a key politician was thought to be attending. More than 140 people were killed and hundreds of others wounded. This horrific strike was only the exclamation point on an increasingly brutal air campaign that has had terrible humanitarian consequences. The Saudis blamed the Houthis for using civilian facilities as shields for their military, but that rationalization had run its course. After the attack on the funeral, Houthi forces responded with two missile attacks on U.S. naval vessels in the area, which missed.


 U.S. liberal progressive foreign policy destroying the world: How can the U.S. ever really be considered a legitimate broker of peace in the Middle East when it is involved in, and appears to be fanning so many conflicts in Arab nations?
The U.S. retaliated with three missile strikes on radar facilities in Yemen. The escalation of the violence has been sobering. It prompted U.N. envoys to broker a three-day ceasefire. That proved to be a ceasefire more in name than fact, with both sides violating the accord at will. The Hadi government accused the Houthis of nearly 1,000 mortar and armed attacks in the last 24 hours of the ceasefire alone. Hopes that the original agreement could be extended were dashed, but while the Houthis seek a negotiated settlement to the conflict, they seem unwilling to continue the truce.
That process may get a boost from the U.S., which is increasingly concerned about being sucked into war. U.S. officials have gone to pains to note that cruise missile strikes on the radar facilities do not indicate support for coalition operations in Yemen at large or in the Red Sea, adding that the U.S. is “not intending to be brought into the war in any fashion.” They were, as U.S. President Barack Obama explained, “limited and proportionate strikes” and acts of self-defense.


It’s unclear how much influence the U.S. has over Saudi Arabia’s decision-making in a theater so close to the latter. But it is equally uncertain whether Riyadh can prosecute the war without U.S. support and that may be the lever that prompts renewed diplomacy. Riyadh retains leverage of its own. It has imposed a blockade on Yemen that threatens a humanitarian crisis: according to the United Nations, half of Yemen’s population, or some 14 million people, do not have enough to eat.
A power-sharing arrangement between Hadi and Saleh is the only sustainable solution, but that requires Saudi Arabia to acknowledge Iranian influence in Yemen. But influence is not the same as control. Saudi Arabia should back a deal that empowers Yemeni nationalists who will be equidistant from Riyadh and Tehran. That is the best deal for all sides in the Yemen conflict, as well as the parties that back them.  –Japan Times

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As the world drifts toward an uncertain abyss: fears escalate that a global conflict involving Russia is about to begin

When the mainstream media starts talking about the possibility of an imminent nuclear war with Russia, it’s time for all of us to be concerned. In one crucible moment, all our follies about this life could be swept away like chaff in the wind. 
October 2016 WASHINGTON/MOSCOWExperts warn that if Russia would unleash just five of its SS-18 missile, also known as the Satan, it could destroy the east coast of the US and kill more than 4 million people. Russia is believed to have 55 Satans, its most powerful missile, part of the largest nuclear stockpile in the world which could make the nuclear bombs dropped during World War II on Japan pale in comparison. Just one SS-18 missile, in an apocalyptic nuclear strike, could wipe out 75 percent of New York for thousands of years, Dr Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, warns. He explains that the SS-18 missiles could carry nuclear warheads with payloads of up to 20,000 kilotons, Dailystar reports.
It is a thousand times more than powerful than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Roberts says at maximum payload, a direct hit on New York is capable of killing 4.5 million people, and injuring another 3.6 million. It would send radioactive fallout spreading over 600 miles. It could also be armed with 10 smaller nukes of 550 kilotons each that can spread across a wide area and almost impossible to intercept. Roberts, in an article for the Centre for Research on Gloablization, warned Russia could easily annihilate NATO and such an attack could lead to the total collapse of the western alliance. Based on FEMA predictions from the Cold War, the targets of a Russian nuclear attack would include cities with huge populations such as New York, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston, Jacksonville and Washington DC.

A global war is imminent and could begin in two weeks, a Russian official predicted, as Russia starts air attacks on Aleppo. On Sunday, the three-day humanitarian ceasefire in Aleppo ended, but residents did not leave the war-torn city’s eastern area. CNN reports that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it was not aware of any resident who left Aleppo using any of the eight approved evacuation routes. Residents opted not to leave because they fear being ambush on the routes or suspect the Syrian and Russian governments encourage evacuations to clear rebels from the area. Fight resumed on Sunday as mortars peppered Khan Touman, a southern village of Aleppo, USA Today reports. The missiles were Grad rockets freshly supplied by backers of the Syrian government. During the three-day ceasefire, relief agencies failed to bring aid to the eastern districts of Aleppo held by rebels because of lack of security guarantees from both warring parties, causing the cancellation of planned medical evacuations, VOA reports.  –International Business Times


From, Infowars.com: Top British General, the Former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, Sir Richard Shirreff, stated, “’A Russian attack on the Baltic states puts America at war with Russia—meaning nuclear war, because Russia integrates nuclear weapons into every aspect of its military doctrine…’ And don’t think Russia would limit itself to the use of [only]  tactical nuclear weapons…nuclear release by the Russians would almost certainly precipitate…the end of life as we know it….’”
From,  Reuters: “A senior diplomat said: ‘They [Putin] are deploying all of the Northern fleet and much of the Baltic fleet in the largest surface deployment since the end of the Cold War.’ This is not a friendly port call. In two weeks, we will see a crescendo of air attacks on Aleppo as part of Russia’s strategy to declare victory there.


Wall Street Journal – MOSCOW—Russian authorities have stepped up nuclear-war survival measures amid a showdown with Washington, dusting off Soviet-era civil-defense plans and upgrading bomb shelters in the biggest cities. At the Kremlin’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Cold War is back. The country recently held its biggest civil defense drills since the collapse of the U.S.S.R., with what officials said were 40 million people rehearsing a response to chemical and nuclear threats. Videos of emergency workers deployed in hazmat suits or checking the ventilation in bomb shelters were prominently aired on television when the four days of drills were held across the country. Students tried on gas masks and placed dummies on stretchers in school auditoriums.
The capital’s civil-defense plans are also being upgraded, said Andrey Mishchenko, deputy head of the ministry. “An inventory was taken in Moscow of the city’s underground spaces, in order to allow us to plan for sheltering 100% of the city’s population,” he said, as reported by state news agency RIA Novosti. In parallel, commentators on state-dominated airwaves issued some of the shrillest anti-American rhetoric in years. “Russia is sick of America’s arrogant lies,” influential commentator Dmitry Kiselyov said this month after a Syrian peace plan collapsed.
After a mistaken strike by U.S.-led coalition warplanes on Syrian troops in September, Russia’s Defense Ministry warned that its air defense systems could shoot down any American plane that threatened its own forces. And when a Russian tabloid wrote that government officials had been asked to take their children back from the prestigious preparatory schools and universities they attend in Britain, France and the U.S., speculation swirled about preparation for all-out war with the U.S.
The rhetoric reinforces Russians’ idea that their country is a superpower on par with the U.S. It also offers a distraction from an economic recession and from President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings, which have dipped from recent highs. The threat of nuclear war also keeps the population pliant and uncritical, said Lev Gudkov, head of the Russian polling group Levada-Center. “Most people believe that the Third World War has begun, but right now we are still in the cold phase of the war, which may or may not turn into a hot war,” he said. “And during war, you have to support your country’s authorities.” –Wall Street Journal


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Hillary Clinton: Our long national nightmare is just beginning

October 2016WASHINGTON In less than three weeks, get used to hearing about president-elect Hillary, she and her husband Bill are heading back to the White House in January for a third co-presidential term – by fair or foul means. What’s coming should terrify everyone. She’ll largely be calling the shots this time, surrounded with like-minded neocons, war lords, recycled Wall Street crooks, and other assorted miscreants. The most perilous time in world history is about to worsen with her as US president. Expect America’s war on humanity to escalate dramatically, perhaps striking US soil for the first time since war with Britain in 1812.
It involved land and naval battles, lasting over two-and-a-half years. British forces occupied Washington, setting public buildings ablaze, including the White House (then called the Presidential Mansion) and Capitol Hill. It was skirmish-like compared to what’s coming if Hillary confronts Russia and China belligerently, risking possible nuclear war, turning cities like Washington to smoldering rubble if launched. Major flash-points in Syria, Ukraine and the South China Sea could ignite US/Sino-Russia conflict, a potential doomsday scenario. Uninformed, indifferent and distracted Americans don’t realize the clear and present danger.
Moscow justifiably fears tens of thousands of US-led NATO combat troops in Eastern Europe. Mobilized provocatively near its border could be prelude for explosive war like nothing matching it earlier. Conflicts in Syria and Ukraine could ignite it. So could increasing US provocations in the South China Sea, Pentagon warships challenging Beijing’s right to its own waters and territory. On Friday, US navy guided missile destroyer USS Decatur sailed perilously close to China’s Nansha Islands – without entering their 12 nautical mile territorial limits. Beijing called the incident “illegal” and “provocative.” Two Chinese warships warned America’s vessel to leave. China’s military announced increased air and sea patrols as needed – to protect its waters and territory from potential hostile acts.

Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said America “severely violated China’s sovereignty and security interests” – calling the latest action “an extremely irresponsible provocative act.” “The US intentionally created and exaggerated tensions. Beijing will continue to closely watch the maritime and air situation and will take all measures that are necessary to defend China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime interests.” The action was Washington’s latest provocation, following numerous earlier ones, four in 2016 alone, last occurring in May.
Will things escalate dangerously with Hillary as US president? Will China be more threatened than already? Will America again wage war in Asia, last time losing to Vietnam, China a much more formidable challenge? Will Hillary attack Russia – perhaps using a 9/11 type false flag as pretext for naked aggression? Washington’s rage for global dominance threatens everyone, everywhere, especially with an emotionally unstable war goddess in charge. Will Americans only awaken to the threat when it’s too late to matter? Will Hillary’s ascension to power doom us all?  –The People’s Voice

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U.S. allies worry: Russia’s missile exercise may be tip of nuclear iceberg

October 2016 MOSCOW Russia deployed nuclear-capable missiles this month to its territory in the Baltic Sea, its latest aggressive move with nuclear weapons that alarms the West. Worrisome signs include increased talk about using nuclear weapons, more military maneuvers with nuclear arms, development of advanced nuclear munitions and public discussion of a new war doctrine that accelerates the use of such weapons.
“Russia is exercising its military forces and its nuclear force more offensively than it used to do,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington. How to respond “is hotly debated in NATO,” he said. “Eastern European countries want a robust response, even on the nuclear side,” Kristensen said. “Western countries want NATO to take conventional steps. There’s a lack of appetite in NATO overall to go too gung-ho in the nuclear realm right now.”
Though the United States and Russia have comparable arsenals of long-range nuclear weapons, the United States has eliminated all but 500 low-yield warheads in its short-range arsenal. By contrast, Russia has modernized its short-range weapons in recent years and accumulated about 2,000 low-yield warheads, according to a study by Kristensen. The temporary deployment in Kaliningrad, which Russia retained after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, was part of a training exercise, according to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.


Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite called the deployment an “open demonstration of power and aggression against not the Baltic States but against European capitals.” A senior Obama administration official told USA TODAY the United States and its European allies are closely monitoring the situation in Kaliningrad and encouraged Russia to refrain from actions that increase tensions with its neighbors. The official did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. The official pointed out that last month, Russia pulled out of a joint U.S.-Russian agreement to monitor each other’s disposal of plutonium fuel from dismantled nuclear weapons. Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling risks creating miscalculations and misunderstandings in a crisis, the official said. Senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have complained about Russia’s lack of compliance with its obligations under the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. The treaty bars the production, testing or deployment of ground-based missiles with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles.

Russian officials have employed similar nuclear threats since the seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea province in 2014. In March 2015, while Denmark considered participating in a NATO missile shield, Russia’s ambassador to Copenhagen, Mikhail Vanin, told the newspaper Jyllands-Posten that Danes should consider that such a move would prompt Russia to target Danish warships with nuclear missiles. In August 2014, after the Crimean invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin reminded an audience at a youth camp “that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers,” and “it’s best not to mess with us.”
Analyst Peter Doran of the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington said Russia’s foreign policy and war-fighting strategy are “evolving faster than our responses can keep up.” Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said NATO officials and other observers disagree on whether the rhetoric and surge in nuclear activity is a bluff to counter superior NATO forces, or part of a new Russian strategy that combines nuclear threats, conventional warfare and low-yield nuclear weapons in the battlefield against NATO forces that are more numerous and technologically advanced. “If you’re Vladimir Putin, you’re making an effort to portray Russia as a superpower,” Pifer said. “The only asset Russia has as a superpower is lots of nuclear weapons.”  –USA Today

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Given the state of affairs, nuclear war with Russia won’t start tomorrow, or next week – but it could happen soon

No generation ever expects their nation’s actions will lead to a global conflict. We are not days or even weeks away from a possible nuclear conflict between Russia and the U.S. – and that’s reassuring. However, we are one or two events away from a scenario that could spiral into a nuclear exchange between the Kremlin and Washington – and that’s what so frightening. 
October 2016WASHINGTON/MOSCOWFears of World War 3 starting at any moment have gotten so bad that even Russian officials are stockpiling necessities and advising others to do the same — in case there is a nuclear war. In fact, while NATO and Western leaders talk excitedly about a possible invasion of Europe by an aggressive Russia, many in that country believe that an attack might be coming from the West. One Russian official even thinks that a nuclear war might break out between the United States and Russia before the American presidential election.
The Daily Beast reported this week that at least one Russian official believes tensions between the United States and Russia are so heightened that it would take very little to set off a major military altercation. Sergei Markov, a member of the Civic Chamber (a government oversight and consultative institution in Moscow), fears World War 3 might start soon. Duma Deputy Vadim Dengin also expressed concern, but he was hopeful that there would not be a war with the United States. “I cannot understand why the West cannot just leave us in peace, let us be,” he said. “Americans should realize that it will be their children looking for shelters, too, if they are serious about attacking Russia.”
Russia has engaged in hundreds of military drills in the past five years, claiming that it has done so due to the aggressive actions by the United States and its NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) allies. NATO has not only placed missile defense systems in Eastern Europe but has also increased troop strength along Russia’s western border. As for the United States itself, diplomatic maneuverings and economic sanctions against Russia since the 2014 annexation of Crimea and threats to invade neighboring Ukraine have kept matters tense between the two powers.

Russia, which has been under an intense re-militarization since the turn of the millennium, has used those mentioned above and other incidents and political squabbles to justify its push re-establish itself as a world military power. At the same time, news reports of impending nuclear war or World War 3 have been rampant in Russia, as was reported by the Inquisitr, many laced with admonishments for the public to prepare. In the last few weeks, such reports have grown increasingly ominous. Not only has state-controlled media pushed stories of nuclear war preparedness, such as going so far as to ask if citizens knew where the nearest bomb shelter was located, but Russian President Vladimir Putin himself went on national television to advise people to obtain gas masks and scout out their nearest nuclear shelter.
And, as The Daily Beast reported, orders were sent by the Ministry of Emergency Situations to ensure that the stadium being built for World Cup 2018 was equipped with shelters to be used in wartime. Still, not all believe that all the saber-rattling, re-armament, and constant military exercising is about actual preparation for a coming war. Experts believe it is simply President Putin and the Russian government’s way of instilling a sense of urgency in the people about a perceived danger, one that would justify more military spending. In fact, the military’s budget will take precedence in the upcoming Duma session.  –Inquisitr


Why the risks of nuclear war are increasing: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling and military brinkmanship have upended the rules that long governed relations between Moscow and Washington, presenting the United States with a dangerous dilemma.  The next U.S. president will inherit an increasingly fraught relationship with Russia in which Washington’s attempts to deter Mr. Putin have mostly failed. Moscow’s decision this month to pull out of a landmark agreement on disposing tons of weapons-grade plutonium, coupled with recent reports that Russia deployed new nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, underscore how Mr. Putin is flexing Russia’s power in new and often unpredictable ways.
U.S. and European officials are increasingly alarmed over Putin’s willingness to risk military confrontation and threaten the use of his country’s nuclear arsenal over issues the West sees as unrelated and separate. That makes it devilishly difficult for the United States and its European allies to find an effective response to Mr. Putin’s audacious tactics that in recent years range from Russia’s annexation of Crimea, to its air war in support of the Syrian regime, to its suspected hacking of America’s presidential election.
“It very much feels like we are entering a very troubled and dangerous phase in this bilateral relationship,“ said Julianne Smith, a former senior Pentagon official who now advises Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. President Barack Obama’s successor will have to choose from a range of unpleasant and risky options when it comes to handling a resurgent Russia. A more conciliatory stance, aimed at cutting a grand bargain with Russia focused on Ukraine, would defuse tensions in the short term but at the cost of emboldening Mr. Putin. A more hawkish line — like the one championed by Ms. Clinton — would risk escalation, with the chance of a military showdown in Syria or the Baltics.
The reports of the Iskander missile deployment to the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad “represent the latest in a series of announcements and actions from Russia that call into question Russia’s commitment to minimizing the world’s most dangerous nuclear materials, and undermine the long path toward disarmament,” a senior U.S. official told Foreign Policy. Russia in recent years has expanded the scenarios in which its nuclear arsenal could be used. While running for election in 2012, Mr. Putin elevated the role of nuclear weapons, implying that they might even be used in a conventional war. Mr. Putin has since announced plans to modernize all three legs of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.
In March, Mr. Putin said he had been ready to place nuclear forces on alert over the fate of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine. Asked if Russia was prepared to bring its nuclear weapons into the conflict, Mr. Putin told state television: “We were ready to do it. I talked with colleagues and told them that this (Crimea).  –Post Gazette

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Raising the Stakes: U.S. to station 300 Marines in Norway as tensions rise with Russia

October 2016NORWAY Russia expressed surprise Friday about the mooted deployment of U.S. troops in neighboring Norway. “Taking into account multiple statements made by Norwegian officials about the absence of threat from Russia to Norway, we would like to understand why Norway is so much willing to increase its military potential, in particular through the stationing of American forces in Vaernes,” Maxime Gourov, the spokesman at the Russian embassy in Oslo said in an email sent to AFP.
Vaernes lies about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from the Russian-Norwegian frontier. On October 10, the Norwegian defense ministry said its military and that of the United States were holding preliminary discussions about the possibility of such a deployment and about “additional training and storage. It may be something that is carried out on a rotational basis… (but) there is no question of permanent deployment,” a ministry spokesman, Ann Kristin Salbuvik, told AFP. The tentative discussions take place against a backdrop of increasing tensions between Russia and the West, notably over Ukraine and the conflict in Syria.

Also on October 10, the Norwegian newspaper Adresseavisen said the Pentagon wanted to station 300 U.S. Marines at Vaernes and that this could take place in January. The U.S. has vast amounts of military equipment prepositioned in Norway, notably in tunnels dug into mountains. “Having a rotational presence in Norway enhances the collective ability of our two forces to work together,” Niel Nelson, the US general in charge of the Marine Corps in Europe and Africa, was quoted as saying by American media this week. Before joining NATO in 1949, Norway allayed Russian fears by undertaking not to open its territory to foreign combat troops so long as Norway was not attacked or threatened with attack.
This pledge was later amended to allow foreign troops to conduct maneuvers in Norway. “The policy of non-stationing (of foreign troops), which even withstood the test of the Cold War, has always been an advantage for Norway as a partner over other NATO countries,” said Gourov. In July, NATO announced it would deploy, also on a rotational basis, four multinational battalions to Poland and to Baltic states to deter any Russian incursion.  –The Local

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