Tag: Moscow

Estonia yet to receive an invitation from Russia to observe Zapad

Russian Embassy, Tallinn, Estonia

Estonia has not received an invitation from Russia to observe Zapad, a large-scale joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise to take place in September. Russian authorities, however, will present the exercises to military attaches accredited to other countries’ diplomatic missions in Moscow at a separate event.

“Military attaches accredited to Moscow have been invited to attend an event at Luga Training Camp on Sept. 18-19, in the course of which Russia will present the Zapad joint military exercise,” Ministry of Defence spokesperson Susan Lilleväli told BNS on Wednesday. “The Estonian defense attaches are ready to take part in the event.”

The joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise will be held in the territory of both countries from Sept. 14-20. The exercise has sparked concern in other countries as, in similar exercises in 2009 and 2013, Russia, among other things, allegedly rehearsed an attack on its neighbors.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in mid-July that, “based on previous experiences related to previous exercises, we have every reason to believe that substantially more troops are participating than the official reported numbers.” He encouraged Russia to allow NATO observers to monitor the maneuvers.

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik has expressed the same concern, telling weekly Maaleht in July that Russia should declare the exercise on the basis of the Vienna Document, according to which any exercise involving more than 9,000 participants should be declared. Russia has stated that 13,000 troops will be participating in the September exercise.

Belarus has sent invitations to Estonia and other countries, which Estonia has already chosen to accept, to observe the exercise on its territory. It has not offered any details, however.

 

German foreign minister warns New START and INF Treaties termination will affect Europe

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP

The termination of the Treaties on missile armament cuts and liquidation will affect Europe’s security, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Wednesday.

Germany’s top diplomat made this statement after a meeting with experts of the Commission on Challenges to Deep Nuclear Weapons Cuts from Russia, the United States and Germany.

“The possible termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the non-prolongation of the New START Treaty [the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms] are what will eventually threaten Europe, in the first place,” Gabriel said.

The German foreign minister also said he shared the experts’ opinion that “the worst Cold War mistakes are repeated” and the world is at the stage of “Cold War 2.0.”

According to him, European countries should become active participants in the disarmament discussion.

“Germany should speak more actively with the United States, with Russia about this within the NATO framework,” the foreign minister said.

At the same time, Social Democrat Gabriel again lashed at the Conservatives in the German government who advocated a sharp increase in defense spending.

“In this regard, it is more important to double the efficiency of expenditures rather than their volume,” he said.

“I expect that the political leadership in [the Christian Democratic/Christian Social] Union won’t yield to the militarist logic [of US President Donald Trump] and this is what exactly is taking place now,” the German foreign minister said, noting that such policy could become a problem for Berlin.

 

 

 

 

UK, Norway Observers to Fly Over Russia Under Open Skies Treaty

Antonov An-30 Romanian Air Force

Experts from the United Kingdom and Norway will conduct an observation flight over Russia under the Open Skies Treaty on August 24-28, Russia’s National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center head said Monday.

The plane and the equipment onboard have passed international certification, eliminating the use of technology not covered by the treaty. Russian experts will control the adherence to the treaty during the flight.

“During the August 24-28 period, a mission from Norway and the United Kingdom will conduct an observation flight over the Russian territory on a Romanian AN-30 [NATO reporting name Clank] observation plane within the framework of the Open Skies Treaty,” Sergei Ryzhkov told reporters.

The 34-nation Treaty on Open Skies was signed in 1992 in Finland and currently applies most NATO member states, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, and Sweden. The treaty establishes a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territory of its participants with the aim of boosting transparency of military activities.

 

Russian plane makes observation flight over CIA, Pentagon and White House

Marina Listyeva/TASS

WASHINGTON, August 10. /TASS/. A Russian aerospace force plane on Wednesday performed an observation flight over central Washington and the suburbs of the US capital city, including Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency, the US Congress and the White House, CNN said later in the day citing two anonymous sources informed about this flight made under the Open Skies Treaty.

The flight’s route

According to CNN and Politico, it was a regular observation flight under the Open Skies Treaty. A Russian Tu-154M plane flew over over the Joint Base Andrews in Maryland which is used to receive aircraft of foreign leavers arriving in the United States and organize flights of the US leader. After that, the Russian plane was to fly over Bedminster, New Jersey, where President Donald Trump is spending his vacations. And finally, the Tu-154M allegedly flew over the countryside residence of US leaders in Camp David, Maryland, near the Wright-Patterson air force base in Ohio and near the Mount Weather emergency operations center in Virginia.

Reaction of US administration

Meanwhile, a US State Department official confirmed to TASS that the path of the observation flight had been completely agreed by Washington and Moscow. Moreover, the US side took part in the development of the flight’s route, she said.

“The United States is notified ahead of time of the intended flight path of observation flights, participates in the development of agreed flight plans, has U.S. observers on the aircraft during the flight, and receives a copy of the imagery taken by the Russian aircraft at the conclusion of the mission,” she stressed. “The Treaty does not preclude an observed State Party from taking mitigation measures at sensitive sites on the ground.”

According to the official, since 2002, when the Open Skies Treaty came into force, “over 1,300 flights have been conducted.” “The Open Skies Treaty is a confidence and security building measure that seeks to enhance military transparency by allowing the 34 States Parties to conduct observation flights over other Treaty partners,” she said. “It contributes to Euro-Atlantic security by allowing the collection of imagery and information on military forces and supporting the verification of compliance with arms control agreements.”

About the treaty

Developed with Moscow’s active participation, the Treaty on Open Skies was signed in 1992 and came into force in 2002. It currently has 34 member states. The treaty establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. Observation flights are made over the territories of the United States, Canada, European countries, and Russia. The main purposes of the open skies regime are to develop transparency, render assistance in monitoring compliance with the existing or future arms control agreements, broaden possibilities for preventing crises and managing crisis situations within the scope of the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other relevant international organizations. Subsequently, it is contemplated to apply the open skies regime to new fields, such as environmental protection.

In practical terms, the treaty allows signatory states to perform observations flights over any part of the observed state party’s territory to monitor military activities in conformity with the agreed quotas of such missions. The treaty regulates observation flights procedures, establishes a mechanism of control over its observance, sets requirements to the aircraft and observation equipment.

This year, Russia and Belarus have the right to conduct 42 observations missions over the territories of the treaty’s member states. Over signatories to the treaty plan to perform 34 observation missions over Russia in 2017.

Despite the fact that the treaty in general has proved to be an efficient instrument of building up trust and exercising control over the implementation of weapons reduction agreements, its efficiency has been going down in the recent time due to the decision of NATO member states to conduct no such flight over each other’s territories, the Russian foreign ministry said, adding that now Russia has to rely only on its own capacities of getting required information concerning the territory of these countries. Such situation, according to Moscow, tilts information balance and harms the treaty and runs counter to its spirit.

 

NATO could take new decisions if Russia ups military activity: Polish FM

Russian T-90 Main Battle Tanks

NATO will likely respond with new decisions – further to those taken to bolster its eastern flank last year – should Russia increase military activity, Poland’s foreign minister told the wPolityce portal.

At a summit in Warsaw last year, NATO decided to send four multinational battle battalion groups, each around 1,000 strong, to Poland and three Baltic countries which feared Russian aggression following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

“For today that number is enough,” Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski was cited by wPolityce as saying. He added: “It is a (military) presence … to deter any conflict similar in intensity … to what we dealt with in Crimea”.

“But if there is an escalation in Russia’s behaviour then NATO will probably take new decisions”.

The article in wPolityce came after a detailed interview with Waszczykowski was publishied in Russian daily Kommersant.

Waszczykowski told the Russian paper that “neighbouring Russia is difficult because of military threat, provocation in the Baltic and Black Seas”.

Witold Waszczykowski

“But on the other hand it is a promising neighbour, Russia is a huge market,” he told Kommersant.

“If a democratic government ready to work with the European Union were in power in Russia, it would be ideal for us. But, unfortunately, the current rulers in Moscow have imperial ambitions, are undermining international order, questioning the need for NATOs existence, and trying to build new security architecture”.

In the interview for Kommersant, which a number of Russian media outlets commented on, Waszczykowski also discussed gas, as Warsaw seeks to reduce its energy dependency on Russia, a new Polish law to remove monuments to Soviet soldiers from public spaces, and a possible meeting with his Russian counterpart. (vb/pk)

 

Russian Special Operations Forces

Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (SSO VS RF) (Russian: Силы специальных операций Вооружённых Сил Российской Федерации (ССО ВС РФ)) are components of the Russian General Staff Special Operations Command

This is a specially created unit of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the formation of which began in 2009 during a large-scale reform of the Russian Federation Armed Forces (2008–2020).

The Forces are a highly mobile, well-trained and equipped, constant combat readiness special operations force of the Russian Ministry of Defense, designed to perform specific tasks in order to protect the interests of Russian Federation (with application of military force, by necessity), both within the country and abroad, in peacetime and in wartime.

Russian Ministry of Defense defines the term “special operation” as follows: “Special operation of troops (forces) is a complex of special actions of troops (forces), coordinated by objectives and tasks, time and place of execution, conducted according to a single concept and plan in order to achieve certain goals. Special actions of troops (forces) are activities carried out by specially designated, organized, trained and equipped forces, which apply methods and ways of fighting not typical for conventional forces (special reconnaissance, sabotage, counter-terrorist, counter-sabotage, counterintelligence, guerrilla, counter-guerrilla and other activities)”.

In 2009, as a part of the comprehensive reform of the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces, Special Operations Directorate, directly subordinated to the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, was created on the basis of the military unit 92154 in the Moscow region. At the beginning of 2012 by the initiative of the Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov The Special Operations Directorate was reorganized as the Special Operations Command, which was followed by plans to upscale the Forces manpower up to 9 special purpose brigades.

In March 6, 2013 the Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov announced the beginning of the Special Operations Forces creation. While speaking to foreign military attaches in Moscow, he said: “After reviewing the practice of the formation, training and the use of special operations forces in the leading countries of the world, Russia’s Defense Ministry has also begun to create them… A corresponding command was created, which is engaged in planning work and implements plan of training of the Armed Forces… A suit of documents was already developed to determine the direction of development, methods of training and application of these forces “.

In March 15, 2013, according to Russian media reports, creation of the Special Operations Center of the Ministry of Defense of Russia for around 500 professional soldiers has begun in the suburban village of Kubinka-2. Formation of the Center was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013. The center is directly subordinated to the Special Operations Forces Command of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

In March 23, 2013 during the meeting of the Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu with the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, Valery Gerasimov said that Special Operations Forces have been created as a part the Armed Forces and that they are being trained for missions not only inside the country but also abroad.

In the end of April 2013 units of Special Operations Forces conducted a special tactics exercise at Elbrus mountains at the height of 4,5 kilometers. The exercise was dedicated to practice transportation of one of the SSO units by military transport aviation and army aviation, as well as air insertion of personnel and cargo into target area.

Colonel Oleg Martianov, currently a member of the board of the Military-Industrial Commission of the Russian Federation, was one of the founders and the first commander of the SSO.

The SSO personnel consists exclusively of officers and professional soldiers.

Operations

  • In 2014, unidentified men with military weapons began blockading Ukrainian bases in Crimea, and on February 27, around 50 men seized the Crimean parliament building. While claiming to be a local militia, this well-armed and highly professional unit turned out to be the first deployment of operators from the KSO.
  • Special Operations Forces of Russia are involved in Syria for target acquisition for Russian Air Force combat planes and for other purposes, such as the training of Syrian government troops, elimination of fighters and destroying critical enemy objects. During the liberation of Palmyra a Special Operations Forces officer has been killed.

Structure

  • Special Purpose Center “Senezh”;
  • Special Purpose Center “Kubinka-2”.
  • 344th Army Aviation Combat Training Center, Torzhok air base.

 

 

 

US-Russia relations may deteriorate further — Tillerson

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

The Russian-US relations are at their historic low and may deteriorate further, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday.

“As I indicated in my first trip to Moscow in meetings at the Kremlin with President Putin, following those meetings, the relationship was at a historic low since the end of the Cold War, and it could get worse,” he told reporters.

“And the question, I think, of the events of the last week or so, is it getting worse or can we maintain some level of stability in that relationship, and continue to find ways to address areas of mutual interest and ways in which we can deal with our differences without those becoming open conflicts, as well?” the US top diplomat added.

He named fight against terrorism as “one area of mutual interest.”

“We’ve chosen the theater in Syria as a place in which we test our ability to work together. We share the common view of ISIS (an extremist group, outlawed in Russia – TASS) as a threat to both of our countries and so we are committed to the defeat of ISIS, Daesh, other terrorists organizations,” Tillerson said.

Speaking about the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the US Secretary of State called for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, saying that this issue was directly related to easing and eventually lifting the sanctions against Moscow.

“In the Ukraine, we have been very consistent in our messages to Russia,” Tillerson said, adding that the Minsk Accords “must be achieved, they must be implemented, otherwise nothing can be done about the sanction situation in Ukraine.”

 

 

 

Kremlin concerned over expansion of alliances rather than neighbors’ relations with U.S.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Credit: Sergey Guneev.

Moscow respects its neighboring countries’ relations with the United States but is concerned over the expansion of military infrastructure towards the Russian borders, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

While commenting on the US Vice President Michael Pence’s visit to the Baltic States and Georgia, Peskov said that the countries in question are independent states having the right to develop relations with other countries as they wished. “There is no issue [for Russia] in that, and there can never be,” he added.

“Such cooperation only becomes a problem for us when it leads to the expansion of various alliances and their military infrastructure towards our borders,” the Russian presidential spokesman went on to say. “This is what causes us concern. We certainly respect our neighboring countries’ relations with the United States, as well as with other countries,” Peskov said.

When asked to comment on Pence’s statement in which he said that Moscow’s decision to reduce the US diplomatic staff would not deter Washington’s commitment to its security and the security of its allies, Peskov stressed that “this decision [to reduce the staff at the US diplomatic missions in Russia – TASS] has nothing to do with security.” “This is why I would refrain from commenting the US vice president’s statement, I don’t see the connection,” the Kremlin spokesman noted.

 

 

 

Senator McCain says he is not surprised by expulsion of US diplomats from Russia

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

US Republican Senator John McCain is not surprised by Moscow’s decision to send hundreds of US diplomats from Russia after the US Congress adopted a bill providing for further tightening of the regime of unilateral sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.

“Not surprising Putin throws out US diplomats, but he & his cronies will still pay price for attacking our democracy,” the senator wrote on Twitter.

McCain is one of those senators who are most critical of Russia. The lawmaker repeatedly called for new anti-Russian sanctions.

On July 28, the Russian Foreign Ministry proposed the US party to “equal the number of diplomatic and technical staff members working in the US Embassy in Moscow and in consulates general in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok to the exact number of Russian diplomats and technical staff members who are working in the US before September 1.” “This means that the total number of staff working in US diplomatic and consulate entities in Russia will be reduced to 455 people,” the ministry said in a statement. “In case the US authorities take new unilateral actions to reduce the number of our diplomats in the US, it will be responded in kind.”

In addition to that, Russia is suspending the use of the warehouses and the property in Serebryany Bor in Moscow by the US Embassy as of August 1.

On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted in an interview with VGTRK host Vladimir Solovyov that a total of 755 US diplomats are to leave Russia.

Putin expels 755 diplomats in response to US sanctions

(AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, pool)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that 755 U.S. diplomats will be expelled from Russia by Sept. 1, according to an interview on Russian television.

The expulsions had been announced Friday in response to a new law passed in Congress that expanded sanctions, but Sunday’s statement was the first time a large number of Americans were confirmed as involved.

It was “a regrettable and uncalled for act,” a State Department official told The Associated Press. Earlier, a State Department official told Fox News, “It is our policy to not comment on the number of individuals serving at our missions abroad.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it is ordering the U.S. Embassy to reduce the number of embassy and consular employees in the country to 455.

“I decided it is time for us to show: We do not intend to leave U.S. actions unanswered,” said Putin, according to Interfax News Agency.

The U.S. has taken an “unprovoked step towards worsening bilateral relations,” Putin added.

He also said that Russia could consider other options in response to the U.S., but that he hoped it would not come down to that.
Putin noted the recent creation of a de-escalation zone in southern Syria as one example of how the countries have worked together.

However, in terms of general relations, Putin said: “We have waited long enough, hoping that the situation would perhaps change for the better. But it seems that even if the situation is changing, it’s not for anytime soon.”

The new American sanctions were in retaliation both for Russia’s takeover of Crimea in 2014 and Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: FOX News.

US sanctions against Russia are ‘illegal’ says Putin in Finland [VIDEO] In Russian with English Text

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the proposed US sanctions against Russia violate international law, speaking at a joint press conference with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto in Savonlinna, yesterday.

“Sanctions are illegal from the point of view of international law, they violate the principle of international trade by World Trade Organization,” Putin said, adding that Russia “is very patient now, but at some point we will have to answer to this.”

Putin is on an official visit in Finland to mark the 100th anniversary of the country’s independence. Later on the day Putin and Niinisto will attend an opera production from the Bolshoi Theatre at the Olavinlinna Castle.

President Sauli Niinistö and President Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin, Russian President (Russian):

“I don’t consider it as an investigation. The investigation implies getting the full consequences and studying the reasons, listening to different sides. All we see now is the increase of anti-Russian hysteria, most probably they are using Russophobia in an internal political fight, in this case the fight between President Trump and his opponents inside the United States.”

“It is a pity that Russia – Our relationships are being sacrificed for solving issues inside the US. Do I regret the worsening of relations with the US? I can answer directly. Of course, we deeply regret it.”

“When we are talking about the borders of US legislation, I should say, I have been talking about it for a long time, since 2007 in Munich, I think. That is exactly what I said. This practice is not acceptable; it destroys international relationships and international law. We have never agreed on that, and never will agree on that. And it depends on other states’ sovereignty and readiness to protect their own interests, how they react on that themselves.”

“If the same will happen in this case, it will be even more regretful, since it will be aggravated action and especially cynical, as I would say.”

“It is a clear attempt to use the geopolitical advantages in competitive fight with the goal to serve its economic interests at the expense of its partners.”

“We can see that we have been constantly provoked during the last few years. A lot of our diplomats have been expelled with no reason. Diplomatic property has been taken away, which is unthinkable as it contradicts the basic norm of international law in diplomatic relationships.”

“Sanctions are illegal from the point of view of international law, they violate the principle of international trade by World Trade Organization. As you know we are being very patient now, but at some point we will have to answer this. It is impossible to endlessly accept the rudeness directed at our country.”

“In any case, regardless of what is happening now, we will have to achieve some elements of cooperation and agreements.”