Reveal News & The Daily Star & TASS & The Wall Street Journal – 2017-03-30 23:26:02
Imagining a War with Russia
(March 23, 2017) — Since President Donald Trump took office, we’ve heard plenty about Russia. Some have said tensions with the country could lead to conflict — even another world war. In this podcast special, Reveal host Al Letson talks to former top NATO commander Richard Shirreff, who also spells out these fears — which are very real for him — in his new novel.
Listen to Podcast here.
Russia Warns of ‘Nuclear War’ Unless
US Backs Down over Missiles in Europe
Henry Holloway / The Daily Star
(March 28, 2017) — Pentagon missiles in Europe and warships patrolling Russia’s borders could lead to nuclear war, warned Vladimir Putin’s military bosses. The anti-ballistic missile system (ABM) is provoking a “new arms race” and scuppers Russia’s ability to defend itself from a nuke strike, they said. Russian military bosses warned the ABM “lowers the threshold for use of nuclear weapons” and increases the risk of “sudden nuclear attack”.
“The presence of the global ABM system lowers the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, because it gives the US the illusion of impunity for using strategic offensive weapons from under the protection of the ABM ‘umbrella,'” said Viktor Poznikhir, top brass for the Russian general staff. He added: “The ABM shield is a symbol of the build-up of rocket forces in the world and a trigger for a new arms race.”
Scientists previously warned the US’s new nuclear weapons could force Putin’s hand into a nuclear conflict.
Poznikhir said: “The presence of American ABM sites in Europe and ABM-capable ships in the seas and oceans close to Russia’s territory creates a powerful clandestine potential for delivering a surprise nuclear missile strike against Russia.”
US attempts to trump Russia and China are heighting the risk of nuclear war, the Kremlin warned. The stark warning came at a nuclear disarmament conference in Geneva.
Poznikhir said the US missile shield “narrows down the opportunity for nuclear reduction dialogue.” He said the Pentagon is developing the missile system to face Iran and North Korea, but ignoring objections raised by Russia.
Russia warns the US will have 1,000 missiles at its fingertips which could pose a threat to them by 2020.
Top Military Brass Warns US Missile
Defense Ships in Black and Baltic Seas Can Hit Russia
GENEVA (March 28, 2017) — US naval groups in the Black and Baltic seas are capable of hitting targets in Russia West of the Ural mountains with Tomahawk cruise missiles having a range of 2,500 kilometers, the deputy chief of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operations Directorate, Lieutenant-General Viktor Poznikhir, told a joint Russian-Chinese news briefing on missile defense issues at the disarmament conference in Geneva on Tuesday.
“Missile defense ships in the Black and Baltic seas pose a threat to facilities in the European part of Russia, because it is unclear what missiles the Mk-41 launchers carry at a given moment,” Poznikhir said.
He said the US cruisers and destroyers armed with interceptor missiles are also suitable for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles having a range of 2,500 kilometers.
“Each Ticonderoga class cruiser has 128 Mk-41 launchers that can be loaded with interceptor missiles or Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Arleigh Burke destroyer has 96 launchers. Potentially the US missile defense ships can be armed with more than 1,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles,” Poznikhir said.
The missile defense bases in Romania and Poland, he said, are equipped with similar universal launchers Mk-41.
“All speculations to the effect the ground-based Mk-41 launchers are allegedly unable to launch cruise missiles do not hold water. The interceptors at the missile bases in Europe can be stealthily and promptly armed with Tomahawks that can attack targets in the whole of Russia’s European part,” Poznikhir said.
“It should be remembered that the possibility of using the naval missile launchers on the ground for accommodating the Tomahawk cruise missiles is a crude violation of the 1987 INF treaty. Russia has more than once notified its US partners of its concerns about such violations of international commitments. There has been no response to this day, though,” he stated.
Some 20 Topol-M, Yars Mobile ICBM Systems
Take Part in Massive Central Russian Drills
(March 28, 2017) — MOSCOW, March 28. /TASS/. Over 20 road-mobile Topol-M and Yars intercontinental ballistic missile systems are being deployed in the field during large-scale exercises currently under way in Central Russia, the Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday.
The exercise of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) began in Central Russia’s Ivanovo Region on Monday night.
“In one day, about 20 Topol-M and Yars missile systems are to be deployed in the field,” a defense ministry spokesperson said.
The exercise will also involve more than 3,000 servicemen and more than 200 pieces of military hardware. During the drills, RVSN’s anti-terrorism units will train measures to detect, block and eliminate militant groups.
In total, RVSN’s checks to sum up the results of the winter training period will involve more than 10,000 servicemen and 1,000 military vehicles from over 35 military formations.
Planned Russian Exercises in September Sow NATO Worries
Biggest Baltic exercises ever come at same time as drills in Sweden, raising concerns over risk of miscalculation
Julian E. Barnes / The Wall Street Journal
BRUSSELS (March 28, 2017) â€”Western military commanders are concerned that large-scale Russian military exercises near the Baltic states in September pose heightened risks for a miscalculation that could lead to a crisis, allied officials said.
The Russian exercises, which Western officials estimate will involve nearly 100,000 troops, will be the first to roll out after the new North Atlantic Treaty Organization force in the region reaches full strength. They will also take place at the same time as military drills by Western forces in Sweden, across the Baltic Sea.
US and NATO officers have warned this year’s version of Russia’s annual Zapad exercises could create more tensions than they have in years, even recalling those that arose during the Cold War.
NATO diplomats and their Russia counterparts will hold a meeting Thursday of the NATO-Russia Council, the alliance announced Tuesday. While the Zapad exercises aren’t on the agenda, the ambassadors are expected to discuss Russia’s military buildup in the region, particularly in its Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad, and as well as details about the continuing deployment of the NATO force in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
The US troops committed to that NATO force will arrive at their training base in Poland on Saturday. German troops are in place in Lithuania and the entire force is due to be operational by the summer. The alliance force is relatively small at roughly 4,000 troops, but Moscow has criticized it as destabilizing.
For the Russians, the Zapad exercises will be a chance to practice detecting, jamming and targeting allied forces with drones and advanced artillery, while spreading disinformation about its forcesâ€”techniques they employed in Ukraine. But they will also offer the US and its allies a window on how Russia undertakes such efforts.
The Baltic states have raised particular concerns about the Zapad exercises, which are being conducted jointly by Russia and Belarus. Lithuania’s president has said they show Moscow is preparing for war with the West. Allied officials have noted that Russia used military exercises to hide preparations for the annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Many officials are on edge that an error by an alliance or Russian soldier, such as misreading a drill as an aggressive act, could quickly escalate into a crisis if one side were to respond with force. An incident such as a crashed jet fighter could also raise questions about whether an accident or aggression by the other side occurred.
Senior NATO and American officials say they have precautions in place to minimize the chance of miscalculations. NATO forces will avoid holding exercises close to the Russian border during the Russian drill.
“We will be alert, we will be very vigilant. But we don’t want it to turn into a face-off during their biggest exercise of the year,” said Gen. Ben Hodges, the top US Army commander in Europe, said at a recent training event for the American unit joining the NATO force.
While US forces are “designed not to provoke a conflict but to prevent a conflict,” an official with the US European Command said Tuesday, Russia “continues to increase the intensity of its military activity while operating with an inadequate level of transparency.”
Alexander Grushko, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, declined to comment on the Zapad exercises. But he said the flexible format of Thursday’s meeting with the alliance would allow consideration of “issues related to regional security” and other military activities. Russian officials have expressed hope that the alliance and Moscow are moving to more regular meetings.
September is the traditional month for military exercises and Sweden, a close NATO partner, is planning its biggest military exercise in two decades at the same time.
The Swedish exercise will involve the US and more than a half-dozen NATO allies. Some 19,000 troops will be involved in practicing for the territorial defense of Sweden, including Gotland Island, which US officials consider critical for ensuring allied access to the Baltic States.
Swedish officials said they were aware of the Zapad exercises and would be using caution to ensure no errors occur.
The US contribution to the NATO force is planning its own exercises, including an August drill with Polish and Lithuanian forces to simulate an operation to keep open the Suwalki Gap on the two countries’ border in the event of a Russian incursion.
In an effort to avert miscalculations, the top NATO commander, US Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, will take peacetime control of strategic communications, exercises and force posture.
NATO has long criticized Russia for not opening its exercises up to observers and has said it is far more transparent with its drills. The two sides have been briefing each other in the NATO-Russia Council sessions about exercises.
Russia has said the Zapad exercise will involve 3,000 troops, below the number requiring notification. Retired Gen Philip Breedlove, the former top NATO commander, has estimated 100,000 troops, however, and alliance officials have said it would be the largest exercise ever on the border of the Baltic states.
Write to Julian E. Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org
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