Kremlin Says NATO Jets Engaged In “Mock Missile Strikes” Against Russia
Tyler Durden / ZeroHedge
What would the US do if Russia was flying practice missile strikes with its long range bombers off the US coast and sending Russian tanks for war games in Central America?
(September 8, 2020) — The Kremlin has lashed out at US and NATO forces, saying amid the ongoing tit-for-tat intercepts over the Black and Baltic Seas, NATO is dangerously escalating its tactics to include “mock missile strikes” targeting Russian border areas.
Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu made the comments in a Russian broadcast interview on Sunday, where he noted a significant increase in foreign surveillance and provocative aerial drills in the vicinity of Russia’s airspace. Importantly he described that:
“The most alarming is that if earlier – even though not that frequently – there were mainly reconnaissance aircraft, they’ve now begun regular training flights with large numbers of planes, during which the mock missile strikes are conducted.”
Indeed within the past week the US has sent multiple B-52 bomber flights over the Black Sea in the direction of Russia’s borders, resulting in two close-up intercepts after Russian fighter jets were scrambled.
USAF video of an ‘unsafe and unprofessional’ intercept of a B-52 by a Russian SU-27 over the Black Sea.
As we described earlier, it appears the US is attempting to sweep up valuable intelligence data on Russia’s aerial sensors and communications tech in the process. Both sides typically have reconnaissance aircraft nearby when such tense encounters happen.
In late August a Russian intercept of a B-52 flight resulted in what the Pentagon slammed as “unsafe” maneuvers by the Russian side, which even limited the US bomber’s ability to change course, given the Russian aircraft reportedly came within a mere 100 feet of the bomber’s nose.
US Troops and Abrams Tanks Arrive In Lithuania For Military Drills Along Border With Belarus
(September 8, 2020) — Weeks ago, NATO formally rejected embattled President Alexander Lukashenko’s claim that the military alliance was busy building up forces along border areas with Belarus. “NATO troops are at our gates. Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and … Ukraine are ordering us to hold new elections,” he previously told supporters at a rally in mid-August.
Lukashenko reportedly deployed Belarusian national troops to the Western border in response, as tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding he step down after what they say was a “rigged” Aug.9 election ensuring the 26-year ruling strongman stays in power.
While it’s unclear the degree to which NATO forces were actually mobilizing or on alert in prior weeks, what is clear as of this weekend is that US troops are indeed next door after having freshly arrived in preparation for two months of joint drills.
Several hundred troops arrived in neighboring NATO member Lithuania for the “pre-planned” military drills, AFP reported Saturday. Crucially the drills are near the border with Belarus, and include dozens of Abrams tanks which earlier crossed the border from Poland to participate in the war games.
While Lukashenko is likely to see it as a self-validating prophecy of sorts, Lithuania’s defense ministry has stressed the war games are “pre-planned and not associated with any events in the region.”
Still, Minsk has viewed Lithuania as an external troublemaker given it immediately gave refuge to opposition head and Lukashenko rival for president Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. After she fled Belarus she’s given frequent messages of support to the mass anti-Lukashenko movement in the streets.
Meanwhile, the embattled leader who has recently witnessed tens of thousand march to the entrance of his presidential compound, has had to call in military armed vehicles in order to secure the capital amid the swelling protests.
Over the course of August and into September protests, clashes with police have gotten increasingly fierce:
He’s also touted that Putin has pledged security assistance should the situation destabilize, though it at this point remains unclear the degree Moscow would back his rule, unless Lukashenko comes under direct threat of NATO intervention.
The worst fear is that another Ukraine situation could develop, but at moment it’s unlikely that either Europe or Russia has the stomach to escalate things to that level.
US: Stop Meddling in the Internal Affairs of Belarus
US Peace Council
(September 1, 2020) — The US Peace Council (USPC) expresses its solidarity with the people of Belarus whose country is undergoing a campaign of destabilization and interference in their internal affairs by outside forces. USPC calls on all parties to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this country.
Belarus, a former constituent republic of the USSR, first declared its sovereignty in 1990 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Under its new President Alexander Lukashenko, first elected in 1994, Belarus rejected the Western-imposed “economic shock therapy” that looted the public wealth of many of the other former Soviet republics. Belarus retained state-run industry and agriculture, the social safety net, and the relative equality of the socialist period.
In 2000, Belarus and Russia established the Union State, a supranational confederation for economic integration and common defense. Russia’s missile defense system in Belarus is a critical deterrent against a NATO nuclear first strike.
In 2004, the US passed the Belarus Democracy Act overtly funding anti-government NGOs in Belarus and prohibiting loans. In that year, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia joined NATO; now post-coup Ukraine is likely on the way. The addition of Belarus to NATO would complete the US foreign policy goal of military occupation of Russia’s entire western border. The National Endowment for Democracy, the quasi-governmental US agency which does legally what the CIA does extra-legally, currently lists projects to bring “democracy” to Belarus.
The presidential election on August 9, 2020 has been seized as an opportunity by leading imperialist powers allied with a cultivated domestic opposition in Belarus to foment a “color revolution.” A coalition of opposition parties, supported by the USAID, calls for a total reorientation of the Belarusian state and society from east to west and the establishment of a neoliberal political economy. Western capitals, including Washington and Brussels, have refused to recognize the results of the election.
Lukashenko officially won with approximately 80% of the vote, amid accusations by the opposition of vote tampering and suppression of opposition candidates, along with authoritarian practices, mismanagement, and corruption. Sergei Lebedev, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States election observation mission, reports that the “legitimate … election was conducted in compliance with the Constitution and the Electoral Code of Belarus.”
The leading opposition candidate, Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, received around 10% of the official vote. She claims she had won the election and is ready to lead Belarus. After the election, Tsikhanouskaya left Belarus for Lithuania, where she met with US First Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun.
The Western media have reported massive demonstrations against the government, but have ignored pro-government demonstrations. While predominately peaceful, incidences of violence by demonstrators and security forces have been documented.
Unlike the Maidan color revolution in Ukraine, heavily armed pro-fascist elements have not been present in Belarus, although the opposition has adopted the red and white flag used during the Nazi occupation of Belarus. The opposition draws heavily from the professional class, while industrial workers have been less involved.
The situation in Belarus remains tense, but due to the government rallying support in the streets, the opposition has changed its demands from calling for regime change to now asking President Macron of France to mediate a process leading to the resignation of President Lukashenko.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov remarked: “They are trying to redraw Belarus according to their own design and offer their mediation.…” It is clear that foreign forces are trying to sow division and violence in Belarus and hope for the ouster of President Lukashenko.
The US Peace Council calls on the government of the United States and other foreign powers to cease from meddling in Belarus and to follow the principle of international law of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.
We express our solidarity with the people of Belarus in this trying time and are confident that they can resolve their differences peacefully free from foreign interference.
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