I can see where what this article says could be true. My question would be: Since this is exactly what the democrats and mainstream press have been doing for many years, why is it all of a sudden criminal for somebody else to do it?
You make peace with enemies not friends; but you need really experienced pros doing it as Trump is way over his head on that as on many other subjects.
The Russians have a superior traditional culture in many respects, no kow towing to political correctness, etc.. As a tournament chess player against masters, etc. you learn to respect the Russian intellectual tradition. What's the American intellectual contribution? Pragmatism.
President Trump’s warm words for Vladimir Putin and his failure to endorse U.S. intelligence community claims about alleged Russian meddling have been called “treasonous” and the cause of a “national security crisis.” There is a crisis, says Prof. Stephen F. Cohen, but one of our own making...
AARON MATE:It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate.
The White House is walking back another statement from President Trump about Russia and U.S. intelligence. It began in Helsinki on Monday, when at his press conference with Vladimir Putin, Trump did not endorse the claim that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. After an outcry that played out mostly on cable news, Trump appeared to retract that view one day later. But then on Wednesday, Trump was asked if he believes Russia is now targeting the U.S. ahead of the midterms.
DONALD TRUMP:[Thank] you all very much. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you.
REPORTER:Is Russia still targeting the U.S. [inaudible]. No, you don’t believe that to be the case?
DONALD TRUMP:Thank you very much, everyone. We’re doing very well. We are doing very well, and we’re doing very well, probably as well as anybody has ever done with Russia. And there’s been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia. All you have to do is look at the numbers, look at what we’ve done, look at sanctions, look at ambassadors. Not there. Look, unfortunately, at what happened in Syria recently. I think President Putin knows that better than anybody. Certainly a lot better than the media.
AARON MATE:The White House later claimed that when Trump said ‘no,’ he meant no to answering questions. But Trump’s contradiction of U.S. intelligence claims has brought the Russiagate story, one that has engulfed his presidency, to a fever pitch. Prominent U.S. figures have called Trump’s comments in Helsinki treasonous, and compared alleged Russian e-mail hacking and social media activity to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. Those who also question intelligence claims or warmongering with Russia have been dubbed traitors, or Kremlin agents.
Speaking to MSNBC, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul declared that with Trump’s comments, the U.S. is in the midst of a national security crisis.
MICHAEL MCFAUL:Republicans need to step up. They need to speak out, not just the familiar voices, because this is a national security crisis, and the president of the United States flew all the way to Finland, met with Vladimir Putin, and basically capitulated. It felt like appeasement.
AARON MATE:Well, joining me to address this so-called national security crisis is Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University. His books include “Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Soviet Russia,” and “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.” Professor Cohen, welcome. I imagine that you might agree with the view that we are in the midst of a national security crisis when it comes to Russia, but for far different reasons than those expounded on by Ambassador McFaul.
STEPHEN COHEN: There is a national security crisis, and there is a Russian threat. And we, we ourselves here in the United States, have created both of them. This has been true for years, and now it’s reached crisis proportion. Notice what’s going on. A mainstream TV reporter shouts to President Trump, “Are the Russians still targeting our elections?” This is in the category “Are you still beating your wife?” There is no proof that the Russians have targeted or attacked our elections. But it’s become axiomatic. What kind of media is that, are the Russians still, still attacking our elections.
And what Michael McFaul, whom I’ve known for years, formerly Ambassador McFaul, purportedly a scholar and sometimes a scholar said, it is simply the kind of thing, to be as kind as I can, that I heard from the John Birch Society about President Eisenhower when he went to meet Khrushchev when I was a kid growing up in Kentucky. This is fringe discourse that never came anywhere near the mainstream before, at least after Joseph McCarthy, that the president went, committed treason, and betrayed the country. Trump may have not done the right thing at the summit, because agreements were reached. Nobody discusses the agreements. But to stage a kangaroo trial of the president of the United States in the mainstream media, and have plenty of once-dignified people come on and deliver the indictment, is without precedent in this country. And it has created a national crisis in our relations with Russia. So yes, there’s a national crisis.
AARON MATE:Let me play for you a clip from Trump’s news conference with Putin that also drew outrage back in the U.S. When he was asked about the state of U.S.-Russia relations, he said both sides had responsibility.
DONALD TRUMP:Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago. A long time, frankly, before I got to office. And I think we’re all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward, along with Russia, and we’re getting together, and we have a chance to do some great things. Whether it’s nuclear proliferation, in terms of stopping, because we have to do it. Ultimately that’s probably the most important thing that we can be working on.
AARON MATE:That’s President Trump in Helsinki. Professor Cohen, I imagine that this comment probably was part of the reason why there was so much outrage, not Just of what Trump said about the claims of Russian meddling in the election. Can you talk about the significance of what he said here, and how it contradicts the, the entire consensus of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment?
STEPHEN COHEN:I did not vote for President Trump. But for that I salute him, what he just said. So far as I can remember, no wiser words or more important words have been spoken by the American president about Russia and the Soviet Union since Ronald Reagan did his great detente with Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s. What Trump just did, and I don’t- we never know, Aaron, how aware he is of the ramifications of what he says. But in this case, whether he fully understood it or not, he just broke with, and the first time any major political figure in the United States has broken with the orthodoxy, ever since at least 2000. And even going back to the ’90s. That all the conflicts we’ve had with post-Soviet Russia, after communism went away in Russia, all those conflicts, which I call a new and more dangerous Cold War, are solely, completely, the fault of Putin or Putin’s Russia. That nothing in American policy since Bill Clinton in the 1990s did anything to contribute seriously to the very dangerous conflict, confrontation we have with Russia today. It was all Russia’s fault.
What that has meant, and you know this, Aaron, because you live in this world as well, it has meant no media or public dialogue about the merits of American policy toward post-Soviet Russia from Clinton, certainly through Obama. It may be changing now under President Trump. Not sure. It means if we don’t have a debate, we’re not permitted to ask, did we do something wrong, or so unwise that it led to this even more dangerous Cold War? And if the debate leads to a conclusion that we did do something unwise, and that we’re still doing it, then arises the pressure and the imperative for any new policy toward Russia. None of that has been permitted, because the orthodoxy, the dogma, the axiom, is Putin alone has solely been responsible.
So you know, you know as well as I do what is excluded. It doesn’t matter that we moved NATO to Russia’s borders, that’s not significant. Or that we bombed Serbia, Russia’s traditional ally. Or that George Bush left the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, which was the bedrock of Russian nuclear security and, I would argue, our own. Or that we did regime change by military might in Iraq and Libya, and many other things. Or that we provoked the Ukrainian crisis in 2004, and supported the coup that overthrew a legitimate, elected, constitutional president there. None of that matters. Oh, it was kind of footnotes to the real narrative. And the narrative is, is that a Russian leader Vladimir Putin in power was a horrible aggressor. Killed everybody, somehow, with secret poisons or thieves in the night who opposed him. And began this new cold or even worse war with the United States.
No historian of any merit will ever write the story that way. It’s factually, analytically, simply untrue. Now Trump has said something radically different. We got here in these dire circumstances because both sides acted unwisely, and we should have had this discussion a long time ago. So for that, two cheers for President Trump. But whether he can inspire the discussion that he may wish to, considering the fact that he’s now being indicted as a criminal for having met Putin, is a big question.
AARON MATE:So a few questions. You mentioned that some agreements were made, but details on that have been vague. So do you have any sense of what concretely came out of this summit? There was talk about cooperation on nuclear weapons, possibly renewing the New START Treaty. We know that Putin offered that to Trump when he first came into office, but Trump rejected it. There was talk about cooperating in Syria. And, well, yeah, if I can put that question to you first, and then I have a follow-up about what might be motivating Trump here. But first, what do you think concretely came out of this?
STEPHEN COHEN:Well, look, I know a lot, both as a historian, and I’ve actually participated in some about the history of American-Russian, previously Soviet, summits. Which, by the way, this is the 75th anniversary of the very first one, when Franklin Roosevelt traveled to Tehran to meet Stalin. And every president, and this is important to emphasize, every president since Roosevelt has met with the Kremlin leader. Some many times, or several times. So there’s a long tradition. And therefore there are customs. And one custom, this goes to your question, is that never, except maybe very rarely, but almost never do we learn the full extent and nature of what agreements were made. That usually comes in a week or two or three later, because there’s still the teams of both are hammering out the details.
So that’s exactly what happened at this summit. There was no conspiracy. No, you know, appeasement behind closed doors. The two leaders announced in general terms what they agreed upon. Now, the most important, and this is traditional, too, by meeting they intended to revive the diplomatic process between the United States and Russia which has been badly tattered by events including the exclusion of diplomats, and sanctions, and the rest. So to get active, vigorous diplomacy about many issues going. They may not achieve that goal, because the American media and the political mainstream is trying to stop that. Remember that anything approaching diplomatic negotiations with Russia still less detente, is now being criminalized in the United States. Criminalized. What was once an honorable tradition, the pursuit of detente, is now a capital crime, if we believe these charges against Trump.
So they tried to revive that process, and we’ll see if it’s going to be possible. I think at least behind the scenes it will be. Obviously what you mentioned, both sides now have new, more elusive, more lethal, faster, more precise nuclear weapons. We’ve been developing them for a long time in conjunction with missile defense. We’ve essentially been saying to Russia, you may have equality in nuclear weapons with us, but we have missile defense. Therefore, we could use missile defense to take out your retaliatory capacity. That is, we could stage the first strike on you and you would not be able to retaliate.
Now, everybody who’s lived through the nuclear era knows that’s an invitation to disaster. Because like it or not, we’ve lived with a doctrine called MAD, Mutual Assured Destruction, that one side dare not attack the other with a nuclear weapon because it would be destroyed as well. We were saying we now have this primacy. Putin, then, on March 1 of this year, announced that they have developed weapons that can elude missile defense. And it seems to be true. In the air and at sea, their dodgy, darty, quick thing- but they could avoid our missile defense. So where we are at now is on the cusp of a new nuclear arms race involving more dangerous nuclear weapons. And the current START, New START Treaty will expire, I think, in three or four years. But its expiration date is less important that the process of talking and negotiating and worrying officially about these new weapons had ended.
So essentially what Trump and Putin agreed is that process of concern about new and more dangerous nuclear weapons must now resume immediately. And if there’s anybody living in the United States who think that that is a bad idea they need to reconsider their life, because they may be looking into the darkness of death. So that was excellent. Briefly. What I hope they did- they didn’t announce it, but I’m pretty sure they did- that there had been very close calls between American and Russian combat forces and their proxies in Syria. We’re doing a proxy war, but there are plenty of native Russians and Americans in Syria in a relatively small combat cell. And there have been casualties. The Russians have said at the highest level the next time a Russian is killed in Syria by an American-based weapon, we will strike the American launcher. If Russia strikes our launching pads or areas, whether on land or sea, which means Americans will be there and are killed, call it war. Call it war.
So we need to agree in Syria to do more than, what do they call it, deconfliction, where we have all these warnings. It’s still too much space for mishap. And what I hope it think Trump and Putin did was to try to get a grip on this.
AARON MATE:Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus at at Princeton University and New York University, thank you. And stay tuned for part two. I’m Aaron Mate for The Real News.
There is much to criticize the Russian president for, says Professor Stephen F. Cohen of Princeton and NYU, but many US political and media claims about Putin are false – and reckless...
AARON MATE:It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate. This is part two with Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton. In part one we talked about the uproar over the Trump-Putin summit, and Trump’s comments about the U.S.
intelligence community and about cooperation with Russia. Now in part two we’re going to get to some of the main talking points that have been pervasive throughout corporate media, talking about the stated reasons for why pundits and politicians say they are opposed to Trump sitting down with Putin.
So let me start with Jon Meacham. He is a historian. And speaking to CNN, he worried that Trump, with his comments about NATO calling on the alliance to pay more, and calling into question, he worried about the possibility that Trump won’t come to the aid of Baltic states in the event that Russia invades.
JON MEACHAM:And what worries me most is the known unknown, as Donald Rumsfeld might put it, of what happens next. Let’s say Putin- just look at this whole week of the last five, six days in total. What happens if Putin launches military action against, say, the Baltics? What, what is it that President Trump, what about his comments that NATO suggest thar he would follow an invocation of Article 5 and actually project American force in defense of the values that not only do we have an intellectual and moral assent to, but a contractual one, a treaty one. I think that’s the great question going forward.
AARON MATE:OK. So that’s Jon Meacham speaking to CNN. So, Professor Cohen, putting aside what he said there about our intellectual values and strong tradition, just on the issue of Trump, of Putin posing a potential threat and possibly invading the Baltics, is that a realistic possibility?
STEPHEN COHEN:So, I’m not sure what you’re asking me about. The folly of NATO expansion? The fact that every president in my memory has asked the Europeans to pay more? But can we be real? Can we be real? The only country that’s attacked that region of Europe militarily since the end of the Soviet Union was the United States of America. As I recall, we bombed Serbia, a, I say this so people understand, a traditional Christian country, under Bill Clinton, bombed Serbia for about 80 days. There is no evidence that Russia has ever bombed a European country.
You tell me, Aaron. You must be a smart guy, because you got your own television show. Why would Putin want to launch a military attack and occupy the Baltics? So he has to pay the pensions there? Which he’s having a hard time already paying in Russia, and therefore has had to raise the pension age, and thereby lost 10 percentage points of popularity in two weeks? Why in the world can we, can we simply become rational people. Why in the world would Russia want to attack and occupy Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia? The only reason I can think of is that many, many of my friends love to take their summer vacations there. And maybe some crazy person thinks that if we occupy it, vacations will be cheaper. It’s crazy. It’s beyond crazy. It’s a kind-.
AARON MATE:Professor Cohen, if you were on CNN right now I imagine that the anchor would say to you, well, okay, but one could say the same thing about Georgia in 2008. Why did Russia attack Georgia then?
STEPHEN COHEN: I’m not aware that Russia attacked Georgia. The European Commission, if you’re talking about the 2008 war, the European Commission, investigating what happened, found that Georgia, which was backed by the United States, fighting with an American-built army under the control of the, shall we say, slightly unpredictable Georgian president then, Saakashvili, that he began the war by firing on Russian enclaves. And the Kremlin, which by the way was not occupied by Putin, but by Michael McFaul and Obama’s best friend and reset partner then-president Dmitry Medvedev, did what any Kremlin leader, what any leader in any country would have had to do: it reacted. It sent troops across the border through the tunnel, and drove the Georgian forces out of what essentially were kind of Russian protectorate areas of Georgia.
So that- Russia didn’t begin that war. And it didn’t begin the one in Ukraine, either. We did that by [continents], the overthrow of the Ukrainian president in 14 after President Obama told Putin that he would not permit that to happen. And I think it happened within 36 hours.
The Russians, like them or not, feel that they have been lied to and betrayed. They use this word, predatl’stvo, betrayal, about American policy toward Russia ever since 1991, when it wasn’t just President George Bush, all the documents have been published by the National Security Archive in Washington, all the leaders of the main Western powers promised the Soviet Union that under Gorbachev, if Gorbachev would allow a reunited Germany to be NATO, NATO would not, in the famous expression, move two inches to the east.
Now NATO is sitting on Russia’s borders from the Baltic to Ukraine. So Russians aren’t fools, and they’re good-hearted, but they become resentful. They’re worried about being attacked by the United States. In fact, you read and hear in the Russian media daily, we are under attack by the United States. And this is a lot more real and meaningful than this crap that is being put out that Russia somehow attacked us in 2016. I must have been sleeping. I didn’t see Pearl Harbor or 9/11 and 2016. This is reckless, dangerous, warmongering talk. It needs to stop. Russia has a better case for saying they’ve been attacked by us since 1991. We put our military alliance on the front door. Maybe it’s not an attack, but it looks like one, feels like one. Could be one.
AARON MATE:OK. And in a moment I want to speak to you more about Ukraine, because we’ve heard Crimea invoked a lot in the criticism of Putin of late. But first I want to actually to ask you about a domestic issue. This one is it’s widely held that Putin is responsible for the killing of journalists and opposition activists who oppose him. And on this front I want to play for you a clip of Joe Cirincione. He is the head of the Ploughshares Fund. And this is what he said this week in an appearance on Democracy Now!.
JOE CIRINCIONE:Both of these men are dangerous. Both of these men oppress basic human rights, basic freedoms. Both of them think the press are the enemy of the people. Putin goes further. He kills journalists. He has them assassinated on the streets of Moscow.
Donald Trump does not go that far yet. But I think what Putin is doing is using the president of the United States to project his rule, to increase his power, to carry out his agenda in Syria, with Europe, et cetera, and that Trump is acquiescing to that for reasons that are not yet clear.
AARON MATE:That’s Joe Cirincione.
STEPHEN COHEN:I know him well. It’s worse than that. It’s worse than that.
AARON MATE:Well Yes. There’s two issues here, Professor Cohen. One is the state of the crackdown on press freedoms in Russia, which I’m sure you would say is very much alive, and is a strong part of the Russian system. But let’s first address this widely-held view that Putin is responsible for killing journalists who are critical of him.
STEPHEN COHEN:I know I’m supposed to follow your lead, but I think you’re skipping over a major point. How is it that Joe, who was once one of our most eminent and influential, eloquent opponents of nuclear arms race, who was prepared to have the president of the United States negotiate with every Soviet communist leader, including those who had a lot of blood on their hands, now decide that Putin kills everybody and he’s not a worthy partner? What happened to Joe?
I’ll tell you what happened to him. Trump. Trump has driven once-sensible people completely crazy. Moreover, Joe knows absolutely nothing about internal Russian politics, and he ought to follow my rule. When I don’t know something about something, I say I don’t know. But what he just said is ludicrous. And the sad part is-.
AARON MATE:But it’s widely held. If it’s ludicrous-. But widely held, yeah.
STEPHEN COHEN:Well, the point is that once distinguished and important spokespeople for rightful causes, like ending a nuclear arms race, have been degraded, or degraded themselves by saying things like he said to the point that they’re of utility today only to the proponents of a new nuclear arms race. And he’s not alone. Somebody called it Trump derangement syndrome. I’m not a psychiatrist, but it’s a widespread mania across our land. And when good people succumb to it, we are all endangered.
AARON MATE:But many people would be surprised to hear that, because again, the stories that we get, and there are human rights reports, and it’s just sort of taken as a given fact that Putin is responsible for killing journalists. So if that’s ludicrous, if you can explain why you think that is.
STEPHEN COHEN:Well, I got this big problem which seems to afflict very few people in public life anymore. I live by facts. I’m like my doctor, who told me not long ago I had to have minor surgery for a problem I didn’t even know I had. And I said, I’m not going to do it. Show me the facts. And he did. I had the minor surgery. Journalists no longer seem to care about facts. They repeat tabloid rumors. Putin kills everybody.
All I can tell you is this. I have never seen any evidence whatsoever, and I’ve been- I knew some of the people who were killed. Anna Politkovskaya, the famous journalist for Novaya Gazeta was the first, I think, who was- Putin was accused of killing. I knew her well. She was right here, in this apartment. Look behind me, right here. She was here with my wife, Katrina vanden Huevel. I wouldn’t say we were close friends, but we were associates in Moscow, and we were social friends. And I mourn her assassination today. But I will tell you this, that neither her editors at that newspaper, nor her family, her surviving sons, think Putin had anything to do with the killing. No evidence has ever been presented. Only media kangaroo courts that Putin was involved in these high-profile assassinations, two of the most famous being this guy Litvinenko by polonium in London, about the time Anna was killed, and more recently Boris Netsov, whom, it’s always said, was walking within view of the Kremlin when he was shot. Well, you could see the Kremlin from miles away. I don’t know what within the view- unless they think Putin was, you know, watching it through binoculars. There is no evidence that Putin ever ordered the killing of anybody outside his capacity as commander in chief. No evidence.
Now, did he? But we live, Aaron, and I hope the folks who watch us remember this. Every professional person, every decent person lives or malpractices based on verified facts. You go down the wrong way on a one-way street, you might get killed. You take some medication that’s not prescribed for you, you might die. You pursue foreign policies based on fiction, you’re likely to get in war. And all these journalists, from the New York Times to the Washington Post, from MSNBC to CNN who churn out daily these allegations that Putin kills people are disgracing themselves. I will give you one fact. Wait. One fact, and you could look it up, as Casey Stengel used to say. He was a baseball manager, in case you don’t know.
There’s an organization called the Committee to Protect American Journalists. It’s kind of iconic. It does good things, it says unwise things. Go on its website and look at the number of Russian journalists killed since 1991, since the end of the Soviet Union, under two leaders. Boris Yeltsin, whom we dearly loved and still mourn, and Putin, whom we hate. Last time I looked, the numbers may have changed, more were killed under Yeltsin than under Putin. Did Putin kill those in the 1990s?
So you should ask me, why did they die, then? And I can tell you the main reason. Corrupt business. Mafia-like business in Russia. Just like happened in the United States during our primitive accumulation days. Profit seekers killed rivals. Killed them dead in the streets. Killed them as demonstrations, as demonstrative acts. The only thing you could say about Putin is that he might have created an atmosphere that abets that sort of thing. To which I would say, maybe, but originally it was created with the oligarchical class under Boris Yeltsin, who remains for us the most beloved Russian leader in history. So that’s the long and the short of it. Go look at the listing on the Committee to Protect Journalists.
AARON MATE:OK. So, following up on that, to what extent- and this gets a bit into history, which you’ve covered extensively in your writings. To what extent are we here in the West responsible for the creation of that Russian oligarchal class that you mentioned? But also, what is Putin’s relationship to it now, today? Does he abet it? Is he entrenched in it? We hear, often, talk of Putin possibly being the richest person in the world as a result of his entanglement with the very corruption of Russia you’re speaking about. So both our role in creating that problem in Russia, but then also Putin’s role now in terms of his relationship to it.
STEPHEN COHEN:I’m going to give you a quick, truncated, scholarly, historical perspective on this. But this is what people should begin with when they think about Vladimir Putin and his 18 years in power. Putin came to power almost accidentally in 2000. He inherited a country whose state had collapsed twice in the 20th century. You’ve got to think about that. How many states have collapsed that you know of once? But the Russian state, Russian statehood, had collapsed once in 1917 during the revolution, and again in 1991 when the Soviet Union ended. The country was in ruination; 75 percent of the people were in poverty.
Putin said- and this obsesses him. If you want to know what obsesses Putin, it’s the word ‘sovereignty.’ Russia lost its sovereignty- political, foreign policy, security, financial- in the 1990s. Putin saw his mission, as I read him, and I try to read him as a biographer. He says a lot, to regain Russia’s sovereignty, which meant to make the country whole again at home, to rescue its people, and to protect its defenses. That’s been his mission. Has it been more than that? Maybe. But everything he’s done, as I see it, has followed that concept of his role in history. And he’s done pretty well.
Now, I can give you all Putin’s minuses very easily. I would not care for him to be my president. But let me tell you one other thing that’s important. You evaluate nations within their own history, not within ours. If you asked me if Putin is a democrat, and I will answer you two ways. He thinks he has. And compared to what? Compared to the leader of Egypt? Yeah, he is a democrat. Compared to the rulers of our pals in the Gulf states, he is a democrat. Compared to Bill Clinton? No, he’s not a Democrat. I mean, Russia-. Countries are on their own historical clock. And you have to judge Putin in terms of his predecessors. So people think Putin is a horrible leader. Did you prefer Brezhnev? Did you prefer Stalin? Did you prefer Andropov? Compared to what? Please tell me, compared to what.
And by the way, that’s how that’s how Russians-. You want to know why he’s so popular in Russia? Because Russians judge him in the context of their own what they call zhivaya istoriya, living history; what we call autobiography. In terms of their own lives, he looks pretty darn good. They complain out him. We sit in the kitchen and they bitch about Putin all the time. But they don’t want him to go away.
AARON MATE:All right. Well, on that front, we’re going to wrap this up there. Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton. His books include “Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Soviet Russia,” and “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.” Professor Cohen, thank you.
STEPHEN COHEN:You forgot one book.
AARON MATE:I did not say I was reading your, your complete bibliography.
STEPHEN COHEN:It’s called-. It’s called “Confessions of a Holy Fool.”
AARON MATE:Is that true? Or are you making a joke.
STEPHEN COHEN:Somewhere in between. [Thank you, Aaron.]
AARON MATE:Professor Cohen, thank you. And thank you for joining us on The Real News.
Anderson Cooper: This is a tale of two White Houses CNN
Published on Aug 2, 2018
A handful of top US national security officials said that Russia is continuing to pursue its efforts to interfere in the US political system and President Donald Trump has directed them to make countering election interference a top priority.
Published on Aug 2, 2018
A handful of top US national security officials said that Russia is continuing to pursue its efforts to interfere in the US political system and President Donald Trump has directed them to make countering election interference a top priority.
‘Bill From Hell’: Russia Sanctions Text Released by Congress RT America
Published on Aug 15, 2018
Congress has released the text of what its authors are calling the Russia sanctions bill from hell and although relations with Russia are already considered to be near an all-time low. RT America’s Anya Parampil explains how the bill would further damage ties. Scottie Nell Hughes analyzes with Dan Kovalik, professor of international human rights at the University of Pittsburgh.
Over the past half year the West has increasingly taken note of the significantly heightened pace of both Chinese and Russian military spending and surprising leaps forward in terms defense tech advances.
Even when Chinese or Russian systems fail, as with recent news of a nuclear-powered cruise missile touted by Putin as having "unlimited range" but now apparently lost at the bottom of the sea, Western press takes notice, and a number of Pentagon officials have also warned especially of rapidly advancing Chinese systems.
Increasingly, the two powers are cooperating more directly as with Russia's upcoming military games, said to be the largest such exercise since the Soviet Union, where China is set to participate my sending a mass contingency of elite troops.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) the People's Liberation Army (PLA) will participate by sending about 3,200 elite forces troops, along with 30 fix-wing aircraft and helicopters to the Russian-hosted exercises.
Russia's biggest military games in 35 years, called the Vostok 2018 exercises, are set to begin at the Tsugol training range in Russia’s Far East Trans-Baikal region on September 11, and are scheduled to go through the 15th.
Crucially, one major element to the games sure to attract the attention of Washington military planners is the inclusion of simulated nuclear weapons attacks. Both countries are among the world's major longtime nuclear armed powers, and both happen to be in the midst of soaring tensions with the United States — Russia the target of sanctions and wide-ranging accusations of election meddling, and China in a trade war that sees no signs of abating.
The SCMP cites one Beijing based military expert, Zhou Chenming, to explain that the PLA is seeking to gain greater military experience as its last major combat theater stretches all the way back to the Vietnam War.
Additionally, Zhou told the SCMP, “China also wants to show its support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is facing various diplomatic challenges, especially criticism from the US Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo] over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.” The Chinese military expert further cited that the games' site location was chosen carefully and deliberately with this in mind.
“Putin wants to use the Russian military’s war games with the PLAto show its military muscle, but he doesn’t want to irritate the United States too much and raise the possibility of a misjudgment by the Trump administration, so he chose the less sensitive Trans-Baikal region in the Far East, far from US allies in Europe,” Zhou said.
In response to the impending Vostok-18 games Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said, "We urge Russia to take steps to share information regarding its exercises and operations in Europe to clearly convey its intentions and minimize and potential misunderstanding."
The US defense official further indicated the games will be closely watched by U.S. intelligence agencies due to Russia's willingness to simulate nuclear combat. "It's their strategic messaging," the Pentagon official said of both Russia and China.
There's also reports that both countries are experimenting with the development of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons, which of further concern for US defense preparedness.
Earlier this week Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu announced the exercises would be the largest since the Soviet Union conducted its Zapad-81 maneuvers, which saw the deployment of hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops and logistics staff.
"This is the largest armed forces training event since the Zapad-81 maneuvers, it has acquired the status of an international exercise and is of unprecedented scale both in terms of spatial scope as well as the strength of military command and control entities, troops, and forces involved," Shoygu said, while also announcing the Chinese PLA would participate, as well as auxiliary units from the Mongolian armed forces.
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More details have emerged revealing just how extensive the joint China-Russia week long 'Vostok' war games will be, set to kick off Tuesday, which is to involve a combined total of 300,000 troops, 36,000 military vehicles, 1,000 aircraft, two Russian naval fleets and all airborne units, along with a contingent from China, a clear sign to the west of just how close military ties between the two nations have become.
The two powers are cooperating in the military games, said to be the largest such exercise since 1981 under the Soviet Union. During Vostok, China is to deploy an unprecedented number of its People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops and equipment, which also constitutes the first time a country not from the former Soviet bloc has conducted joint games with Moscow and on Russian soil.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) China has sent about 3,200 PLA elite forces troops, along with 30 fix-wing aircraft and helicopters to deploy during the exercises.
And a new Financial Times report describes that the joint deployment will include"Hundreds of Russian and Chinese tanks, attack helicopters, fighter jets and thousands of soldiers..." in "a show of strength and friendship between Asia’s two largest military powers".
Image via Tribune India/iStock
In total it's expected that 300,000 troops and close to 40,000 vehicles will participate in Vostok, which is to coincide with talks between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in Vladivostok on Tuesday. This further includes another hundreds of aircraft and helicopters.
President Putin has of late sought closer relations with China, which Russia shares a massive 4,200km border with, amidst both countries experiencing deep tensions with the West, including US sanctions against Moscow and a growing trade war between China and Washington. Over the past century the powerful neighbors have laid claim to contested energy resources in border areas at different times, resulting in sporadic conflict, in spite of for most of the 20th century sharing communist ideology.
A Carnegie Moscow Center analyst, Alexander Gubuev, summarizes why the West will closely monitor the games with increased alarm, per FT:
“This is pretty huge. These major exercises are designed to simulate responses to aggression from external enemies. For decades, China has been considered one of those potential threats. Thus, to invite them to participate suggests that now they are seen as allies against other aggressors.”
The exercises, which are annual and held in different regions which Moscow considers among four strategic military sectors, are designed to simulate an attack on a foreign power.
“Both Beijing and Moscow are looking to demonstrate that trade wars and sanctions will only push them to develop new alliances," comments senior analyst Florence Cahill for a risk consultancy group as cited in FT. And explained further, “As long as their prevailing worldview is shaped by an animus towards a US-led international order, co-operation on all levels between Moscow and Beijing will likely be more pronounced than competition between them.”
What is widely reported to be a growing personal friendship between Presidents Putin and Xi is also said to be driving increased closeness in military relations between the two powers.
Crucially, with NATO expanding up to Russia's Western border and with "non-aligned" Scandinavian countries Sweden and Finland increasingly cooperating in NATO war games, one major element to the games sure to attract the attention of Washington military planners is the inclusion of simulated nuclear weapons attacks.
Both Russia and China are among the world's major longtime nuclear armed powers, and both are experiencing soaring tensions with the United States.
In response to the impending Vostok-18 games Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon announced late last month, "We urge Russia to take steps to share information regarding its exercises and operations in Europe to clearly convey its intentions and minimize and potential misunderstanding."
Prior Pentagon reports suggest the games will be closely watched by U.S. intelligence agencies especially due to Russia's willingness to simulate nuclear combat.
Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s general staff, described some of strategic maneuvers to be employed in the games: “There are plans to practice massive air strikes, cruise missile training, defensive and offensive operations, raids, and bypass manoeuvres."
Image via NYT
Gerasimov described further, “Aircraft will practice support to an offensive mounted by ground forces and beach defense. Planes and helicopters will practice bombings and [the] use of air-launched missiles.”
Meanwhile Russia's foreign ministry has sought to downplay the significance of the sheer volume of forces deployed for Vostok-2018 as well as Chinese cooperation. Spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, said: “Unfortunately, we are used to the allegations that Russia is preparing for some big conflict. We have been hearing such statements from Nato representatives and some of its members. But there are absolutely no grounds for that.”
Apart from China, a contingent of Mongolian troops will also be part of the games.
No doubt, both Russia and China relish the opportunity of flexing military muscle just as US threats are heating up and tensions are at boiling point over Syria, where both countries have condemned past American and Western military actions targeting the Assad government.
Russian Warships Hold Drills in Bering Sea in Huge Military Exercise
September 14, 2018 by Reuters
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) and Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov oversee the Vostok-2018 (East-2018) military drills at Tsugol firing range in Zabaikalsky Region, Russia September 13, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTER
MOSCOW, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Russian warships held drills in the Bering Sea which separates Russia from Alaska, part of Moscow’s biggest military maneuvers since the fall of the Soviet Union, footage aired by the Ministry of Defence showed on Friday.
The Vostok-2018 (East-2018) drills, which run until Sept. 17, are taking place in Siberia and in waters off Russia’s eastern coast, involving 300,000 troops, over 1,000 military aircraft and two naval fleets.
The drills are taking place at a time of heightened tension between the West and Russia, and NATO has said it will monitor the exercise closely, as will the United States which has a strong military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
President Vladimir Putin inspected the war games on Thursday, vowing in a speech to soldiers to strengthen the Russian army and supply it with new generation weapons and equipment.
Putin said Russia was a peaceful country ready for cooperation with any state interested in partnership, but that it was a soldier’s duty to be ready to defend his country and its allies.
The Ministry of Defence aired footage on Friday of the Northern Fleet’s Vice-Admiral Kulakov destroyer and the Alexander Obrakovsky landing ship taking part in a mock-up rescue operation in the Bering Sea.
Other footage showed scores of paratroopers leaping from a plane and descending from helicopters by ropes in the eastern Siberian territory of Zabaikalsk.
The ministry also broadcast clips of missiles being launched from its S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile system and its Buk medium-range missile system.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth Editing by Andrew Osborn)
Good work Mr. President! You have now managed to lay the groundwork for a grand Chinese-Russian alliance. The objective of intelligent diplomacy is to divide one’s foes, not to unite them.
This epic blunder comes at a time when the US appears to be getting ready for overt military action in Syria against Russian and Syrian forces operating there. The excuse, as before, will be false-flag attacks with chlorine gas, a chemical widely used in the region for water purification. It appears that the fake attacks have already been filmed.
Meanwhile, some 303,000 Russian, Chinese and Mongolian soldiers are engaged in massive maneuvers in eastern Siberia and naval exercises in the Sea of Japan and Sea of Okhotsk. The latter, an isolated region of Arctic water, is the bastion of Russia’s Pacific Fleet of nuclear-armed missile submarines.
Interestingly, President Vladimir Putin, who has attended the war games with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, just offered to end the state of war between Russia and Japan that has continued since 1945. He also offered some sort of deal to resolve the very complex problem of the Russian-occupied Kuril Islands (Northern Territories to Japan) that has bedeviled Moscow–Tokyo relations since the war. The barren Kurils control the exits and entry to the Sea of Okhotsk where Russia’s nuclear missiles shelter.
In the current war games, Russia has deployed 30,000 military vehicles and 1,000 combat aircraft. China contributed 3,200 troops, 30 warplanes and naval units. Most of the equipment deployed in Vostok-18 was state of the art. Russia’s and China’s infantry, artillery and armor appeared impressive and combat ready – or as we in the US Army used to say, ‘STRAC.’
Why were these huge exercises being held in remotest eastern Siberia? First, so China could contribute forces close to its territory. Second, as a possible warning to the United States not to invade North Korea, which is just to the south and abuts on both China and Russia. Third, as a demonstration of the improved effectiveness of Russia and China’s military and as a warning to the US and its NATO satraps not to pick a fight with Russia over Ukraine, Syria or the Black Sea.
On a grander scale, Beijing and Moscow were signaling their new ‘entente cordiale’ designed to counter-balance the reckless military ambitions of the Trump administration, which has been rumbling about a wider war in Syria and intervention in, of all places, Venezuela. The feeling in Russia and China is that the Trump White House is drunk with power and unable to understand the consequences of its military actions, a fact underlined by recent alarming exposés about it.
Russia and China appear – at least for now – to have overcome their historic mutual suspicion and animosity.
In the over-heated imagination of many Russians, China often appears to be the modern incarnation of the Mongol hordes of the past that held ancient Rus in feudal thrall. Russians still call China ‘Kitai’, or Cathay.
For the Chinese, Russia is the menacing power that stole large parts of eastern Siberia in the 19th century. Today, Russia frets that China’s 1.4 billion people will one day swamp the Russian Far East which has only 6.2 million inhabitants spread over a vast, largely empty region which is one of the world’s least inhabited.
In the 1960’s, after the Soviet Union and China became ideological antagonists, the two sides frequently clashed along their border rivers, Amur and Ussuri. They almost stumbled into a full-scale war on their 4,000 km border– at a time when the US had invaded Vietnam supposedly to ‘halt Chinese-Soviet aggression.’ The CIA was as ill-informed back then as it is today.
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping attended the grand display, along with their senior military staffs. This week-long martial event, Russia’s largest war games in almost four decades, overshadowed the smaller military exercise being staged by NATO in Ukraine.
The message from eastern Siberia was clear: Washington’s reckless hostility and bellicosity is causing its foes to band together. A full third of the Russian Army just moved from Europe to the Far East for the war games. The Chinese dragon of which Napoleon warned is awakening.
The Great Gas Game: Vesti Presents a New Documentary Film About Pipelines and Power Vesti News
Published on Sep 16, 2018
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Russia and the West are facing the worst crisis since the Cold War. According to US Special Envoy Amos Hochstein, Washington's goal is to reduce Russia's gas market share in Eastern Europe by 20% by 2020. Russia cannot be allowed to build a gas pipeline that would bypass Ukraine, as it would pose a threat to Europe's energy security
U.K. to Step Up Arctic Patrols to Counter Russian Polar Threat
September 30, 2018 by Bloomberg
A Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker escorts ships on the Northern Sea Route, July 14 2016. Photo credit: knyazev vasily / Shutterstock
By Kitty Donaldson (Bloomberg) — The U.K. will send Royal Marines to Norway’s Arctic training program because of the growing threat of Russian aggression in the area as the polar cap melts.
Some 800 marines will be deployed to Norway and four Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter planes will patrol Icelandic Skies, Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson told his ruling Conservative Party’s annual conference on Sunday. He also said he’ll boost training to tackle the threat of Kremlin-sanctioned cyber attacks.
The defense secretary is responding to British analysis which shows Russian submarine activity in the north Atlantic Ocean has almost reached Cold War levels. From 2020 the new P-8 Poseidon submarine-hunting aircraft will also be deployed.
“As the ice melts and new shipping routes emerge, the significance of the high north and Arctic region increases,’’ Williamson told delegates in Birmingham, England. “Russia, with more submarines operating under the ice and ambitions to build over 100 facilities in the Arctic, are staking a claim and militarizing the region. We must be ready to deal with all threats as they emerge.’’
Diplomatic relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia are at the lowest level since the height of Cold War in the 1970s, following the use of a weapons-grade nerve agent on British soil and Russia’s subsequent denials of involvement. At the United Nations Genera Assembly last week, Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of “flagrantly” breaching international norms.
Williamson said the government’s listening post at GCHQ will train 2,000 defense cadets in protecting small Internet networks from cyber attack.
U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison on Tuesday warned that the U.S. could be forced to "take out" missiles Russia is developing that violate a Cold War-era treaty. If completed, the 9M729 Russian missile system could give it the capability to launch a missile strike on Europe with little or no notice, the Associated Press reported.
"It is time now for Russia to come to the table and stop the violations," Hutchison told reporters in Brussels, where US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis would later meet his NATO counterparts. She added that if the system became operational, the U.S. "would then be looking at the capability to take out a missile that could hit any of our countries in Europe and hit America."
The Novator 9M729 missile system
Hutchison also urged Russia to cease development of the missile system, which fits into a class of banned weapons under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
"There will come a point in the future in which America will determine that it has to move forward with a development phase that is not allowed by the treaty right now," Hutchison said.
Earlier in the day, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged Russia to be more transparent, and explain its alleged breaches of the INF Treaty.
She also noted that the US had no intentions of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), adding, however, that it might occur because of Russia. The pact bans countries from developing land-based cruise missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,410 miles. NATO officials have said the nascent Russian system fits into that category, the AP reported.
According to the US, the new Russian 9M729 missile systems violate the conditions of the pact, as they give Russia the possibility of launching a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice.
Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Ministry has said that the 9M729 missiles correspond to Russia's obligations under the INF Treaty and have not been upgraded and tested for the prohibited ranges. Moscow also noted that Washington had never provided any evidence that Russia had violated the agreement because such proof does not exist. Earlier in July, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that the United States is violating the treaty by deploying in Europe missile defense systems with launchers, which might be used for firing Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Hutchison's comments come a day before Defense Secretary James Mattis was scheduled to meet with other NATO officials. Mattis said he intends to bring up the missile issue during the meeting according to the AP.
Concerns over the missile system mark the latest sign of tensions between Russia and the rest of the world. Most recently, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia after the intelligence community determined that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Multiple Russians have since been charged in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into election meddling.
Trump’s ambassador to NATO sets off diplomatic incident with a nuclear edge
Michael Birnbaum, Paul Sonne
1 hr ago
BRUSSELS —The U.S. ambassador to NATO set off alarm bells Tuesday when she suggested that the United States might “take out” Russian missiles that U.S. officials say violate a landmark arms control treaty.
Although Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison’s comments were somewhat ambiguous, arms control experts said they could be interpreted to mean a preemptive strike. Such a move could lead to nuclear war.
Only after the comments drew a furious response from the Russian Foreign Ministry did Hutchison clarify on Twitter that she “was not talking about preemptively striking Russia.” But the diplomatic damage was already done.
“The impression is that people making such claims are unaware of the degree of their responsibility and the danger of aggressive rhetoric,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters, the Interfax news agency reported. “Who authorized this lady to make such allegations? The American people? Do ordinary Americans know that they are paying out of their pockets for so-called diplomats who behave so aggressively and destructively?”
Russia denies violating the treaty.
Asked during a news conference at NATO headquarters what the United States might do about a new class of Russian missiles that appear to violate the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Hutchison said, “The countermeasures would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty.”
Before Hutchison clarified her position, more than nine hours after her initial remarks, it was unclear whether she meant that the United States would target Russia’s banned missile installations if Moscow doesn’t come back into compliance, or whether she was warning that the United States would enhance its missile defenses so it could take out any banned missiles Russia decided to launch at U.S. or allied targets. The United States currently has limited ability to defend against cruise missile threats.
“The question was what would you do if this continues to a point where we know that they are capable of delivering” the banned missiles, Hutchison said. “And at that point we would then be looking at a capability to take out a missile that could hit any of our countries in Europe and hit America in Alaska.”
The treaty, which the United States and the Soviet Union signed in 1987, prohibits the production and deployment of nuclear and conventional missiles that fly from 500 to 5,500 kilometers. It applies to ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles.
NATO defense ministers plan to address the alleged Russian violations at a Brussels meeting on Wednesday and Thursday.
Hutchison, a former Republican senator from Texas, has been President Trump’s ambassador to NATO for just over a year.
“She does threaten preemption. She just didn’t mean it,” said Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
“Welcome to NATO! You have one job: to not start nuclear war with Russia,” he joked. “As an expert, I am used to politicians, including politicians who have been appointed as ambassadors, badly mangling simple things. So my default assumption was that she was badly mangling pretty common talking points.”
Hutchison’s comments set off a flurry of anxiety on Twitter, where arms control experts speculated about what she meant. Several pointed out that taking “countermeasures” against undeployed missiles that are still in development by definition would be a preemptive strike.
Russia has long feared that U.S. missile shields could be used covertly to preemptively target the man who controls the Russian nuclear arsenal — Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although U.S. officials have long denied that is the purpose of their missile defense efforts, Hutchison’s comments fed directly into the Russian concerns.
Zakharova said that Russian military experts were preparing a more technical response to Hutchison.
During the final years of the Obama administration, the State Department regularly stated that Russia was violating the treaty but stopped short of specifying which Russian weapon was going against the pact. Last year, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Russia had violated the treaty’s “spirit and intent” by deploying a ground-based cruise missile.
Russia has accused the United States of violating the treaty with its Aegis Ashore missile defense installations in Romania and a similar installation still in the works in Poland, claiming that those platforms could launch Tomahawk cruise missiles in violation of the treaty. The United States has denied those accusations, saying the system launches only SM-3 interceptor missiles not covered by the pact.
Efforts by U.S. diplomats to bring Russia back into compliance with the treaty, including meetings between American and Russian officials as part of the pact’s enforcement mechanism, have so far come up short. Under direction from Congress and to ratchet up pressure, the Pentagon has begun drawing up plans for a banned missile that the United States could deploy quickly if the treaty formally falls apart.
The treaty bans only production, testing and use of intermediate-range missiles; research and development isn’t prohibited.
The dispute over the INF Treaty has also prompted the U.S. military to consider stepping up defenses against cruise missile threats from Russia in Europe. The Pentagon had drawn up a draft of the Trump administration’s new missile defense policy early this year, but top officials sent it back to the drawing board after demanding that it more thoroughly address the Russian cruise missile threat in Europe.
One possible step would be to stand up a better sensor network that could track any Russian cruise missiles from the moment of their launch at a European target. The Pentagon is also looking at technologies that could be put in place to shoot down missiles heading toward specific targets — an effort Hutchison might have been referencing in her remarks.
“This treaty is in danger because of Russia’s actions,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters. “All allies agree that the most plausible assessment would be that Russia is in violation of the treaty. It is therefore urgent that Russia addresses these concerns in a substantial and transparent manner.”
This is nothing new. The Cold War never really ended but the difference today is that the US president isn't a know nothing politician. He's a well seasoned businessman and strategist, and is much more intelligent then your average US politician. Putin is well aware of this.
Panel: Military Tensions in Europe Continue to Run High Between NATO, Moscow
By: John Grady
October 4, 2018 9:41 AM
A Danish soldier (left) coaches a U.S. Army Soldier with the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, as he uses a Danish M60 Machine Gun during a multinational weapons training session in Tapa, Estonia on March 10, 2018. US Army Photo
The admission of the Baltic nations of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia to NATO was the “fattest of red line” warnings to Russia to stay clear of the western European military, a transatlantic expert on foreign policy and security on Wednesday. But that move has not tempered tensions on the continent as both NATO and Moscow have stepped up military operations.
NATO is showing new resolve in that regard from stepped up security spending, the European Reassurance Initiative investment by the United States and movement of troops and aircraft to “frontline countries” on Russia’s borders.
Before the alliance was formed in 1949 it would have been unthinkable that citizens of the three Baltic nations would welcome German ground troops and its air force, but they do now as part of NATO’s rapid response deterrence to possible Russian invasion.
Looking at the same situation from Moscow’s perspective, Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, said the alliance security blanket would never have to have been put across Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia if the Kremlin had been treated differently after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
“The core of the problems was Russia was marginalized in the European security system” from that time on, he said.
Marginalization set in motion of series of events across Europe that is still playing out. One is Russia’s intense focus on what kind of neighbors are on its borders and another has been the expansion of NATO as Russia’s threats turned to aggression.
“The jury is still out,” William Hill, a professor at the National War College, said about NATO expansion making Europe more secure in the long run. The alliance is “still trying to deal with that question” of territorial defense of member states while “while still trying to operate out of area” as it is doing in Afghanistan.
An example of the continuing tensions is occurring in the Balkans where at one time the Soviets maintained a naval base. Newly named North Macedonia is expected to join the alliance over Moscow’s loud protests. This is occurring despite the disappointing turnout on an advisory referendum on pursuing NATO and European Union membership. More than 90 percent of the voters who went to the polls voted to make the moves toward the West.
Danish soldiers with the Vidar Company, Guard Hussars Regiment and U.S. Soldiers with the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, fire weapons together during a multinational weapons training session in Tapa, Estonia, March 10, 2018 as part of a rapid response readiness exercise in support of Atlantic Resolve. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III/22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Russian disinformation and false news campaigns are blamed for the low turnout, slightly more than 30 percent of those eligible.
Ivan Timofeev, director of programs at the Russian International Affairs Council, said Moscow’s concern about political leanings of the “near abroad,” referring to former member states in the Soviet Union, like Ukraine, particularly in the last five years when a pro-Moscow regime fell, have risen dramatically.
As the pro-Russian government was falling and in the chaos that followed, President Vladimir Putin seized control of Crimea, saying the turmoil threatened the Russian Black Sea Fleet station in the Ukrainian Province. He then backed separatists in the eastern part of the country with forces, arms and supplies that were opposed to the new government in Kiev.
Michael Kofman, a CNA senior research scientist, said, “Russia made a case [that it] poses a threat” to NATO and countries along its borders with its actions in Ukraine and early moves against Georgia to support Kremlin-leaning forces in two breakaway provinces.
“I think stalemate is the best condition we can hope for” in Ukraine where both the United States and Europe on one side and Russia on the other believe the cost is affordable and predictable. “The risk of miscalculation” and possible wider conflict comes with trying to forcibly breaking the stalemate, Timofeev said.
The questions for Moscow is “how long can they sustain” what they are doing in Ukraine militarily in Russia’s case and for Washington and Brussels how long can they maintain unanimity of sanctions in the West’s case, Kofman said.
Timofeev viewed the analogy of a new Cold War to describe today’s relationship as wrong. “It’s a different military environment” with China a major power, not just two sup powers. There also is “a different generation in power” who are governing in a world, including non-state actors, that is challenging established post World War II assumptions of order.
Stelzenmuller said, “As far as ‘stalemate,’ we should be so lucky” in describing the political environment in Europe. With the rise of “populist” governments in Italy most recently and Hungary almost a decade ago, “the real challenge here is the future of liberal democracies” and the European Union. These government and others like Poland’s share “an illiberal vision of Europe,” favoring autocracy.
In short, “the terrible simplifiers” across Europe and in the United States “are getting the upper hand” in shaping the future away from human rights, rule of law and economic development toward authoritarianism, she added.
The liberal democracies have been slow to defend themselves in the digital age, the panelists agreed. Examples mentioned included the 2016 American presidential election, recent results in Italy and the low voter turnout in North Macedonia.
The manipulation of big data and social media allow authoritarian governments to affect the political environment in their countries and in others that were unknown 20 years ago, Kortunov added.
While the United States’ national defense strategy identifies Russia and China as competitors, Timofeev said he didn’t see that leading to a military alliance between Moscow and Beijing.
The following is the Sept. 27, 2018 Congressional Research Service report, The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions.
The United States and Russia signed the New START Treaty on April 8, 2010. After more than 20 hearings, the U.S. Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification on December 22, 2010, by a vote of 71-26. Both houses of the Russian parliament—the Duma and Federation Council—approved the treaty in late January 2011, and it entered into force on February 5, 2011, after Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov exchanged the instruments of ratification. Reductions were to be implemented by February 5, 2018, a goal met by both parties. The Treaty is due to expire in February 2021, unless both parties agree to extend it for up to five years.
New START provides the parties with 7 years to reduce their forces, and will remain in force for a total of 10 years. It limits each side to no more than 800 deployed and nondeployed land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers and deployed and nondeployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. Within that total, each side can retain no more than 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. The treaty also limits each side to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads; those are the actual number of warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and one warhead for each deployed heavy bomber.
New START contains detailed definitions and counting rules that will help the parties calculate the number of warheads that count under the treaty limits. Moreover, the delivery vehicles and their warheads will count under the treaty limits until they are converted or eliminated according to the provisions described in the treaty’s Protocol. These provisions are far less demanding than those in the original START Treaty and will provide the United States and Russia with far more flexibility in determining how to reduce their forces to meet the treaty limits.
The monitoring and verification regime in the New START Treaty is less costly and complex than the regime in START. Like START, though, it contains detailed definitions of items limited by the treaty; provisions governing the use of national technical means (NTM) to gather data on each side’s forces and activities; an extensive database that identifies the numbers, types, and locations of items limited by the treaty; provisions requiring notifications about items limited by the treaty; and inspections allowing the parties to confirm information shared during data exchanges.
New START does not limit current or planned U.S. missile defense programs. It does ban the conversion of ICBM and SLBM launchers to launchers for missile defense interceptors, but the United States never intended to pursue such conversions when deploying missile defense interceptors. Under New START, the United States can deploy conventional warheads on its ballistic missiles, but these will count under the treaty limit on nuclear warheads. The United States may deploy a small number of these systems during the time that New START is in force.
The Obama Administration and outside analysts argued that New START strengthens strategic stability and enhances U.S. national security.
Critics, however, questioned whether the treaty serves U.S. national security interests, as Russia was likely to reduce its forces with or without an arms control agreement and because the United States and Russia no longer need arms control treaties to manage their relationship. Secretary of State-designate Tillerson offered support for the Treaty during his confirmation hearings, noting that he supports “the long-standing bipartisan policy of engaging with Russia and other nuclear arms states to verifiably reduce nuclear stockpiles” and that it is important for the United States “to stay engaged with Russia [and] hold them accountable to commitments made under the New START.” The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review confirmed that the United States would continue to implement the Treaty, at least through 2021. The Administration has not yet determined whether it will request or support an extension of the Treaty through 2026.
Adm. Foggo Warns of Russian Submarines Challenging U.S. Defenses
By: Megan Eckstein
October 3, 2018 4:31 PM • Updated: October 4, 2018 9:07 AM
A P-8A Poseidon aircraft assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 is parked on the flight line of Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland in 2016. US Navy Photo
The head of naval forces in Europe warned that Russia is preparing an underwater battlespace in the Northern Atlantic and that U.S. naval presence is more important now than any time since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Adm. James Foggo said in the second episode of his “On the Horizon” podcast that Russia’s national security policy seems to be to challenge the U.S. and its allies, and the U.S. must do all it can to ensure a rules-based international order remains in the waters in and around Europe.
Foggo, who serves as commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and commander of U.S. Naval Forces Africa, discussed how the European theater has evolved in recent years.
“Russia has renewed its capabilities in the North Atlantic and the Arctic in places not seen since the Cold War. For example, Russian forces have recently reoccupied seven for their former Soviet Union bases in the Arctic Circle,” he said.
“The improved capability of Russia to be able to project power into this region and these strategic routes from the Arctic into the North Atlantic and the GIUK Gap is something that we need to pay particular attention to.”
As for the technology the Russians are using, Foggo said “I think Russian submarines today are perhaps some of the most silent and lethal in the world, with the exception of our own – I think we still in the United States Navy hold the edge.” The Kalibr missiles that Russia has deployed from coastal defense systems, aircraft and submarines have “shown the ability to reach pretty much all the capitals in Europe from any of the bodies of water that surround Europe.”
“We know that Russian submarines are in the Atlantic, testing our defenses, confirming our command of the seas and preparing a very complex underwater battlespace to try to give them an edge in any future conflict. And we need to deny them that edge,” the admiral continued.
“So not only have Russia’s actions and capabilities increased in alarming and sometimes confrontational ways, its national security policy, I think, is aimed at challenging the United States and NATO, our allies and our partners. So I remain concerned about the potential for miscalculation – we shouldn’t ignore this – but the simple truth is that, as an alliance, NATO is stronger together.”
Foggo said in the podcast that naval forces are forward-deployed, making them the best able to provide the presence to reassure allies and “better postured to deal with and defend and maintain stability and security, and if necessary defeat any threat.”
Additionally, U.S. naval and joint forces are set to come together with allies and partners this month for one of the largest NATO exercises in decades. Trident Juncture 2018 will take place mostly in Norway and will rehearse how NATO and its partners would respond if Norway’s sovereignty were threatened.
Foggo, who will lead the exercise, said the exercise will include more than 40,000 personnel from 30 countries, with about 70 ships, 120 aircraft and 10,000 ground vehicles. He stressed the exercise will be defensive, transparent and proportionate to the threat that countries in Europe face. Particularly after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, Foggo said it was important to hold Article 5 collective defense rehearsals to ensure all countries can come together effectively in that type of contingency.
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Marines with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 18.1 prepare to bound across a road during a live-fire range at Giskas, Norway, Aug. 21, 2018. US Marine Corps Photo
THE PENTAGON – The upcoming Trident Juncture 2018 exercise will be the first opportunity to test out the premise of NATO’s new “Four Thirties” initiative – the idea that NATO may need to move a lot of people and platforms quickly to defend an ally whose sovereignty has been violated – the head of naval forces in Europe said today.
Adm. James Foggo, who heads all U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa and commands the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, said today that there are still details to work out surrounding Four Thirties, but that “we’re exercising it in spirit in Trident Juncture.”
Four Thirties is the idea that NATO should have 30 ships, 30 squadrons of aircraft and 30 combat battalions that could be ready to fight within 30 days, an initiative that Defense Secretary James Mattis pushed at the July NATO Summit.
Trident Juncture, which starts later this month, will seek to move and support 45,000 personnel, 60 ships, 120 aircraft and 10,000 ground vehicles in a simulated defense of Norway against an invading adversary.
“We’re really testing our response to an Article 5 (defense of an ally under the NATO treaty), our ability to move rapidly – the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force will move into Norway to provide Article 5 defense. And, even more importantly, we’re testing our ability to conduct operations in the 6th domain of warfare, and that is logistics, which is so important – when you have 45,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and all their kit, you’ve got to get there. So that’s several lifts of aircraft, several [roll-on/roll-off ships] or sealift ships that are coming in,” he said while speaking at an Atlantic Council event in the morning.
Without mentioning Russia by name, Foggo said, “we’re going to move all this kit quickly up into Norway, and I think that has a sobering deterrent effect on any adversary that might choose to cross a line and try to take a territory.”
Later in the day, speaking to reporters in the Pentagon, Foggo again reiterated the importance of demonstrating the ability to move and support such a large force.
“We’re going to test several different things, but probably most importantly is – as much fun as we’re going to have on the ground doing the training that Marines and soldiers and sailors and airmen like to do to get their kit out, to operate their equipment, to work with their allies and partners – this is a logistics exercise. I call it the sixth domain of warfare. Moving 45,000 people and 10,000 vehicles and 60-some-odd ships and 120 aircraft around the theater is not easy, so this is a test of our ability to do that rapidly,” he said.
“We do this well in the United States joint force, we have something called a … Time Phased Force [Deployment]. NATO is developing this same capability to move quickly, and that is a good thing because it’s recognized as something we’re going to have to do. In order to deter, you have to be present. In order to be present, you’ve got to be there – you’ve got to be there, and you’ve got to be there quickly.”
Foggo said the Marines currently have about 700 Marines operating out of Norway, an increase from the 300 Marines that were originally sent to conduct cold-weather training there. The admiral recalled a press event with Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Ronald Green, when the 300 Marines first showed up in Norway. Someone asked what good such a small force could do, and Green replied, “that’s 300 Marines today.
3,000 Marines tomorrow,” according to Foggo. Foggo added that the U.S. joint force is good at quickly surging troops and gear to a fight, and NATO is trying to emulate that capability through exercises like Trident Juncture and through its embrace of the Four Thirties idea.
Foggo said at the Atlantic Council that many details still had to be worked out – including basics such as, what kinds of ships should make up the 30 that are ready to fight? He noted the importance of variety: the ships should include combatants but also specialty ships, such as mine countermeasures ships, that have niche capabilities a larger response force may rely on. He also highlighted the need for sufficient intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to enable the movement of ships and planes into battle.