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Love Affair Fades? Russia’s “Growing Concern That Trump Less Friendly Than First Thought”

February 23, 2017 Leave a comment

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This article was written by Michael Snyder and originally published at the Economic Collapse blog.

Editor’s Comment: Just when it seemed that cooler heads would prevail, and that death and destruction were less certain with new leadership, it seems that larger events are driving the new administration, and the reaction from Russia, back to a difficult and tense place. The world remains on the brink, and the powers that be have a larger agenda in the works – no one leader, cowboy or KGB boss alone can stop it. The “deep state” took out Gen. Flynn for his talk of repealing sanctions and establishment (more) friendly relations, and for fear of Trump’s boasts and attempts to do the same. And they will not stop there. Subterfuge, embedded deep government puppets, tools and operatives are all deep at work.

The larger war, the larger society build on fear and conflict, means big money, huge blocks of power, and a control over matters that elections alone could never undo, and no leader has yet unraveled or disintegrated.

It remains to be seen what will happen, and whether or not the petrodollar, oil prices or personal politics will spill over into violence, stalemate, or further escalation. But one thing is clear, there will be no straight shot deal – President Trump, his administration, and the rest of everyone in the game on both the American and Russian sides will have to very carefully weigh all options, and strive for the most beneficial and least destructive outcome. Meanwhile, a serious routing of moles, leakers and establishment lackeys needs to take place. If Trump doesn’t get them, they may get him, and Putin, all riled up.

If there is enough confusion, no one will later remember what non-sense stirred things up, but only that things reach a point of no return.

The Russian Love Affair With Donald Trump Sours As The U.S. And Russia Move Toward War

by Michael Snyder

In recent months Donald Trump has been severely criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for not being sufficiently “anti-Russia”, but the truth is that the Trump administration has not been working hard enough to repair a relationship that is now souring very rapidly.  When Donald Trump won the election in November, the Russians celebrated tremendously, because they greatly preferred Trump over Hillary Clinton.  But just because Trump was victorious does not mean that our relationship with Russia will automatically improve.  Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin both have huge egos, and it is quite easy to imagine a scenario in which things between them go very, very badly.

In fact, we may already be starting to see such a scenario play out.  As you will see below, under President Trump U.S. troops are being deployed to a very sensitive area of Poland, and they are also being sent to key areas of Bulgaria and Romania.  That is not sitting well with the Russian government, but they were much more upset when Trump insisted that Russia must give the Crimea back to Ukraine.  This is something that the Russians would never do, and they were quite stunned that Trump would even suggest such a thing.

On the flip side, the Pentagon was quite annoyed when Russian fighter jets buzzed a U.S. warship in the Black Sea just a few days ago, and when a Russian spy ship set up shop just off the coast of Connecticut recently, President Trump told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that “the greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles off shore right out of the water”.

When I first heard about that quote I thought it might be “fake news”, but it was actually reported by ABC News and a whole host of other prominent news outlets.

I know that Trump doesn’t have much of a filter, and that is a good thing when he is dealing with the mainstream media, but it can be a very, very bad thing for foreign policy.

Look, you may think that it is a good idea to blow a Russian spy ship out of the water, but you never, ever say such a thing out loud.

The Russians think like mobsters.  That means that they are quite paranoid, and it also means that they take whatever you say very, very seriously.

In a few days, most of us living in the United States will completely forget what Trump said about that Russian spy ship, but over in Russia they will remember this quote forever.

This is just how the Russians operate – they never forget, and they never, ever forgive.

When you are dealing with Russia, you have got to be very, very careful.  Unfortunately, being cautious is not one of Trump’s strengths, and the wild optimism about Trump in Russia is now being replaced by disappointment and anger

The new U.S. president has been in his role for just under a month, taking office in a transition that has been marked by chaos and missteps. And already, from the right of the political spectrum to the marginalized Russian left, a mixture of disappointment with the new U.S. president — who came into office promising to remake relations between the two countries — and a sense of vindication that Trump couldn’t be trusted after all has crept into Russian political chatter.

“Is Trump already out of fashion?” the independent Russian journal Russkaya Fabula asked on Wednesday — the same day that the Trump administration was dealing with the fallout stemming from revelations about National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador. The site pointed to a small demonstration by hard-line nationalists this week, which picketed a major state-run news outlet and demanded the end of the “cult of Trump” in Russian media.

And in a sign of how far things have already deteriorated, Putin has ordered state media over in Russia to cut back on their coverage of Trump

The Kremlin ordered state media to cut back on their fawning coverage of President Donald Trump, reflecting a growing concern among senior Russian officials that the new US administration will be less friendly than first thought, three people familiar with the matter said.

Just before Trump took office, Barack Obama aggressively moved U.S. troops toward the Russian border, and I highly criticized him for that.

So now that Trump is doing the exact same thing, I have to be critical of him as well.  Somebody needs to tell Trump that stationing 1,000 U.S. troops in northeastern Poland is not going to help our relationship with Putin…

The US Army’s Europe headquarters located in Wiesbaden, Germany announced late Saturday that 1,000 US troops and their vehicles would be sent to northeastern Poland at the end of March.

The unit – part of 4,000 US troops being deployed in rotation along NATO’s eastern flank  under its “Atlantic Resolve” mission – will be located at Orzysz.

That particular Polish city is less than 90 miles from the extremely sensitive Russian city of Kaliningrad.

If I was Trump, this is something that I would not have done.

At this point, the Russians are not quite sure what to make of Trump.  In fact, they have even gone so far as to prepare a “psychological dossier” on him to help Putin prepare for his first meeting with Trump…

A dossier on Donald Trump’s psychological makeup is being prepared for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser.

Unfortunately, Trump tends to listen to those in his immediate vicinity, and in Washington he is surrounded by war hawks that absolutely hate Russia.  The following comes from Pat Buchanan

The anti-Putin paranoia here is astonishing.

That he is a killer, a KGB thug, a murderer, is part of the daily rant of John McCain. At the Munich Security Conference this last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham promised, “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the a– in Congress.”

Members of Congress such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham are playing a very dangerous game.

It is okay to be critical of Russia, but if you are constantly making inflammatory statements all the time that is just going to push us toward war.

And as I explained in my latest book, we do not want a war with Russia.

For years, the Russian military has been laser-focused on preparing for a war with the United States, while at the same time the U.S. military has been primarily focused on fighting wars in the Middle East.

So the Russians have been working very hard to upgrade their strategic nuclear arsenal, and at this point their arsenal is far superior to ours.  The following comes from an article that I came across earlier today

Russia is constantly improving its nuclear deterrence and is very close to deploying new technologically-advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles which can defeat any US missile defense systems, a Russian deputy prime minister said in an interview.

“These weapons will soon appear in our armed forces,” Dmitry Rogozin told Rossiya-1 TV on Sunday. While not naming the new ICBM, the deputy PM in charge of the defense industry said the missile will have the capacity to penetrate any American air defenses.

“These weapons are able to clear the United States’ missile defense both of today and of tomorrow – and even of the day after tomorrow,” Rogozin said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to rely on weapons systems that were developed in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Russians are a very dangerous foe, and it is in our national interest to try to have a positive relationship with them.

There are going to be times when we strongly disagree with what the Russians are doing, but our interactions with them should always be focused on trying to avoid a nuclear conflict.

So yes, we should let the Russians know when we are upset about something, but constantly making provocative and incendiary statements is a recipe for disaster.

Hopefully our leaders will start to realize this very soon, because right now our relationship with Russia is deteriorating very rapidly.

This article was written by Michael Snyder and originally published at the Economic Collapse blog.

Four Dead Russian Diplomats in Three Months

February 23, 2017 Leave a comment

putin

Source: The Duran

Vitaly Churkin was one of the wisest voices in international diplomacy.  His voice will no longer echo in the halls of the United Nations. Articulate, polite yet commanding, wise yet affable, he oversaw some of Russia’s and the world’s most important events in a position he occupied since 2006.

Churkin had to face a great deal of hostile criticism from both the Bush and Obama administrations during his time at the UN, but he always did so with grace. He never failed to explain the Russian position with the utmost clarity.

Standing next to some of his colleagues, he often looked like a titan in a room full of school children.

His death, a day before his 65th birthday, is a tragedy first and foremost for his family, friends and colleagues. It is also a deeply sad day for the cause of justice, international law and all of the principles of the UN Charter which Churkin admirably upheld in the face of great obstacles.

His death however raises many uncomfortable questions…

Here are 5 things that must be considered:

1.  A Macabre Pattern Has Emerged

Beginning in 2015, there were several deaths within the Russian Diplomatic corps and a special Russian Presidential adviser.

–LESIN

First there was Russia’s RT founder and special adviser to President Putin, Mikhail Lesin. He died in November of 2015 in his hotel room. Reports said that he appeared discombobulated during his last sighting before he died. Later it emerged that he died of a blunt head trauma. Drinking was blamed, but many questions were left unanswered.

–MALANIN

Earlier last month, Andrei Malanin, a Senior Russian Diplomat to Greece was found dead in his bathroom. The causes of death remain unknown.

–KADAKIN

Just last month, Russia’s Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, an always prestigious role, died of a heart attack, although no one was aware of any previous health issues.

–KARLOV

In December of last year Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey was assassinated by a lone jihadi gunmen in an art gallery.  There was no effective security as the killer simply walked up to Ambassador Andrei Karlov and shot him multiple times in the back.

–CHURKIN

Vitaly Chirkin is the highest profile member of Russia’s diplomatic corps to die in recent years.

2. A Motive For Foul Play?

Each of the recently deceased Russian Ambassadors were high profile targets for miscreants and criminals, whether state actors, mercenaries or fanatics.

Lesin was a instrumental in the creation of RT, a news outlet which has come under constant attack from the western establishment.

Malanin had overseen a period of warming fraternal relations between Greece and Russia at a time when Greece is feeling increasingly alienated from both the EU and NATO.

Karlov is said to be responsible for helping to facilitate the rapprochement between Presidents Erdogan and Putin.

Kadakin oversaw a period of renewed tensions between India and Pakistan at a time when Russia was trying to continue its good relations with India whilst building good relations with Pakistan.

On the 31st of December, 2016, Churkin’s resolution on a ceasefire in Syria passed in the UN Security Council after months of deadlock. The resolution is still in force.

Anyone who wanted to derail the diplomatic successes that the aforementioned men achieved for Russia would have a clear motive to extract vengeance.

3. Who Stands To Gain?

In the matter of Karlov, any derailment of restored Russo-Turkish relations would be good for those happy for Turkey to continue her support of jihadists in Syria rather than moving towards accepting a Russian and indeed Iranian brokered peace process which respects the sovereignty of Syria as Russia and Iran always have, but Turkey has not.

In the case of Lesin, anyone wanting ‘vengeance’ for RT’s popularity would be able to say that a kind of former media boss was taken down.

For Malanin, many fear that if ‘Grexit’ happens, Russia will become an increasingly important partner for Greece. The EU would not like one of its vassal states enjoying fruitful relations with Russia, a country still under sanctions from Brussels.

For Kadakin, it is a matter of interest for those wanting Pakistan to continue favouring western powers and not wanting Russia to be able to mediate in conflict resolutions between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Churkin had come to dominate the UN in ways that his counterparts on the Security Council simply could not. No one really stood a chance in a debate with Churkin. His absence leaves open the possibility for a power vacuum that would makes other peoples’ jobs easier.

4. Where The Deaths Took Place

Each death took place on foreign soil. Mr. Karlov’s killing in particular, exposed the weakness of his security contingent. If security was that weak in a comparatively volatile place like Turkey, it goes without saying that security in states considered more politically stable would be even more lax.

Again it must be said that a non-biased detective might say that the only pattern which has emerged is that many people in the Russian diplomatic corps and related institutions have heart attacks. Maybe they eat fatty foods every day and drink and smoke too much. But if this was this case, why are the heart attacks all on foreign soil?

If all of the former Ambassadors except Karlov were really in bad health, is it really just a coincidence that none of these men had a health scare on Russian soil? Again, a pattern has emerged.

5. The Ethics of Speculation?

Many will say that it is too early to suspect foul play. Indeed, I must make it clear that this is simply speculation based on a pattern of tragic and at times unexplained events, combined with the objective reality that because of Russia’s recently elevated profile as a born-again geopolitical superpower, Russia is a bigger target for international criminals than it was in the broken 1990s or the more quiet early 2000s.

When such events happen, one’s duty is to speculate so that better health and  safety precautions are taken to ensure the wellbeing of Russia’s important diplomats. Furthermore, if foul play is a factor, it means that such seemingly unrelated events must be investigated more thoroughly.

Russia has historically suffered from invasion, revolution and more recently from immense international pressure. The Russian people, like Russia’s ambassadors are entitled to the peace and long lives deserved by any member of a country that has suffered for too long.

Russian UN Ambassador Dies Unexpectedly in New York, As Russian Warship Trawls U.S. Shores

February 22, 2017 1 comment

churchin

In a world where nothing is coincidence…

Yet another Russian diplomat has died unexpectedly at a time when tensions between East and West are great, and when there is a great deal of subterfuge going on behind the scenes.

Few could forget the shocking video of Andrei Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, being shot at an art gallery podium in Turkey by a man who was supposed to be on his security detail. Russian and Turkish leaders both suggested that it was an attempt to undermine cooperation and potential peace agreements over Syria.

Only hours after that event took place in December, a second Russian diplomat, Petr Polshikov, was reportedly found dead from a gun shot wound in his Moscow apartment. No further details have emerged, but a great deal of speculation was fueled as to what was really going on.

Now, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, has “unexpectedly” dropped dead – one day before his 65th birthday from an apparent heart attack, though an autopsy and further determination of the cause of death could be forthcoming.

According to Reuters:

Russia’s combative ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died suddenly in New York on Monday after being taken ill at work, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry gave no details on the circumstances of his death but offered condolences to his relatives and said the diplomat had died one day before his 65th birthday.

It declined to comment on reports that Churkin had been taken to a hospital shortly before his death.

A U.S. government official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the case, said that Churkin had died of an apparent heart attack.

A federal law enforcement official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said that there appeared to be nothing unusual about the ambassador’s death.

[…]“Ambassador Churkin remained at his work post until the last minute. He devoted his whole life to defending the interests of Russia and was to be found on the very front lines and in the most stressful posts.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard has been tracking a Russian spy ship that is trawling off the East Coast – and quite near to an American submarine base in Connecticut and to the borders of United States territorial waters in general.

Surely, there is no reason for concern there… because it’s ‘not a direct threat.’

According to the Courant.com:

The military tracked a Russian spy ship moving up the East Coast to within 30 miles of the Naval Submarine Base in Groton Wednesday and some political figures called the maneuver another aggressive action by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“At this point there’s not a violation of international waters. Unless that happens you aren’t going to see any aggressive pushback, but it’s something that has us on high alert,” U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, told The Courant.

Two retired Navy submarine commanders downplayed the Russian presence, saying the ship presents little threat to U.S. security. Such Russian intelligence ships routinely patrol areas outside U.S. naval bases and track U.S. and allied forces’ naval exercises.

[..]

“The U.S. Coast Guard is aware of a Russian Federation-flagged vessel transiting international waters off the East Coast of the United States, as we are of all vessels approaching the U.S. The ship has not entered U.S. territorial waters, which extend 12 miles out to sea,” the Coast Guard said in a statement. “We respect freedom of navigation exercised by all nations beyond the territorial sea of a coastal state consistent with international law. The Coast Guard continues to coordinate with federal agency partners to monitor maritime contacts operating in the vicinity of U.S. shores.”

Curiously, there have been other assassinations taking place as well.

While the mainstream media and deep state figureheads have been busy assassinating President Trump’s character, covert operations have been taking place around the world.

The half brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un – said to be at odds with the premiere – was just assassinated in a Malayasian airport in a bizarre series of events that involved two women apparently putting a cloth around his face and/or spraying some sort of aerosol on the exiled potential heir.

As SHTF reported, the two women told police they thought they were taking part in a viral prank video – and may well have been unwitting of their role in his death. Either way, the unconventional hit was capture on CCTV video for all the world to see.

This isn’t just about North Korea, though. Clearly, “they” can get to anybody, anytime, by whatever means they please:

While it has been presumed that Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of the dictator, was killed by North Korea, given their long history of cutthroat politics and petty reasons for assassinating dissenters among their ranks, there may well be more to the story.

Big things are in the works. China is reportedly cutting off billions of dollars of coal that it sells to North Korea, which will put tremendous pressure on the regime. Meanwhile, the new regime in the U.S. could eye the Hermit Kingdom as a new, easy enemy to rally around – particularly given that North Korea was listed as a member of the so-called “Axis of Evil” back during the last Bush Administration.

Who, exactly, is chasing whose tail?

That much remains a mystery.

Are Russian diplomats dropping like flies because the CIA or other covert agency are targeting them – as one ex-CIA official blatantly called for on television – or could someone within Putin’s Administration be culling internal opponents to some agenda? Perhaps there are other motives, as well. Or perhaps, it is just another individual taken by the toll of stress and overwork.

Is Churkin’s death just another part of life, or is it more writing on the wall that things are anything but normal in the current state of affairs?

Top Iranian General to U.S.: Stop Making Threats You Can’t Back Up

February 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei iran

TEL AVIV – A top general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards over the weekend warned the U.S. to “be wise” and “avoid threats” against the Islamic republic.

“The U.S. statesmen should be very wise and avoid threatening Iran, because the entire world has admitted this fact that the Americans cannot do such a thing,” said Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, chief of the IRGC’s ground forces, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.  Pakpour was referring to alleged threats of “military aggression” against Iran, Fars reported.

“Hence, they are unlikely to do such a move because it is unwise,” he added.

The IRGC’s deputy commander for political affairs, Rasul Sanayee Rad, echoed Pakpour’s comments, saying on Iranian state TV on Friday that, “today we are enjoying deterrence, meaning that we have dissuaded the enemy from attack.”

The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on 25 entities connected to Iran’s missile program after ballistic missile tests were carried out in January, violating UN Resolution 2231.

National Security Adviser Mike Flynn warned that he was “putting Iran on notice” following the tests and President Donald Trump vowed that “nothing is off the table” if the Islamic Republic refused to toe the line.

Ignoring U.S. warnings, Pakpour also said Saturday that the Revolutionary Guards would go ahead with its plans to launch military drills next week that would include rockets.

“The maneuvers called ‘Grand Prophet 11’ will start Monday and last three days,” Pakpour told a news conference.

Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday told an international security conference in Munich that Tehran was “the leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

“Thanks to the end of nuclear-related sanctions under the [deal], Iran now has additional resources to devote to these efforts,” Pence said.

“Let me be clear again: Under President Trump the United States will remain fully committed to ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon capable of threatening our countries, our allies in the region, especially Israel,” the vice president added.

Earlier this week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed resistance to Trump’s “measures and threats” and mockingly thanked the president for saving Iran a great deal of trouble by “revealing the real face of America,” characterized by “political, economic, moral and social corruption.”

Russia’s new ICBMs can ‘rip apart’ US anti-missile systems – Deputy PM Rogozin

February 21, 2017 Leave a comment

“These weapons will soon appear in our armed forces”

Russia’s new ICBMs can ‘rip apart’ US anti-missile systems – Deputy PM Rogozin

RT

Russia is constantly improving its nuclear deterrence and is very close to deploying new technologically-advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles which can defeat any US missile defense systems, a Russian deputy prime minister said in an interview.

“These weapons will soon appear in our armed forces,” Dmitry Rogozin told Rossiya-1 TV on Sunday. While not naming the new ICBM, the deputy PM in charge of the defense industry said the missile will have the capacity to penetrate any American air defenses.

“These weapons are able to clear the United States’ missile defense both of today and of tomorrow – and even of the day after tomorrow,” Rogozin said.

Rogozin also noted that the existing Russian nuclear deterrent forces, made up of various missiles including the Soviet-era R-36M2 Voevoda (SS-18 Satan) ICBMs, which he described as “very reliable,” will remain in use until the latest arsenal becomes operational.

While the weapon of the future wasn’t named, media were quick to allege that Rogozin was most likely describing the RS-28 Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, which is being introduced as part of Russia’s nuclear modernization.

Currently Sarmat is undergoing the final stages development at the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau in the city of Mias. According to reports, the new missile, weighing at least 100 tons, will be capable of carrying a payload of up to 10 tons on any trajectory.

“We can rip their air defenses apart; at the moment [the US defense shield] poses no serious military threat to us, except for provocations,” Rogozin said.

Last summer the US activated an $800 million missile shield base in Romania, which will form part of the larger Aegis-based missile defense system in Europe.

While the officially-stated purpose is to counter a potential threat from Iran, the system’s proximity to Russian borders threatens Russia’s national security by tipping the global balance of power. Moscow has taken counter measures including the deployment of Iskander missile system to its western exclave, Kaliningrad, in the wake of concerns over potentially multi-purpose “defense” installations in Europe.

The land- and sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System provides the US with missile defense against short to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Short, medium, and intermediate missiles can also be intercepted using Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

For intercontinental ballistic missiles the US uses the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD). GMD missile-defense system was developed to intercept enemy warheads prior to their entry into the atmosphere. The system consists of ground-based interceptor (GBI) missiles based throughout the West coast of the US and a radar in the state of Alaska.

In the lengthy interview about Russia’s military capabilities, Rogozin also mentioned Moscow’s state-of the art tank.

“Speaking of tanks, we definitely have an advantage, because [the T-14 Armata tank] today leaves American and Israeli tanks, not to mention European tanks, behind in terms of technical characteristics.”

First presented at the Victory Parade in Moscow on May 9, 2015, the mass production of T-14 Armata is expected to begin in 2018.

One of tank’s main advantages is its fully-automated and unmanned turret, as well as HD cameras that provide an outside view. It is capable of moving at an estimated speed of up to 90kph, more than 20kph faster than the US mainstay Abrams M1A2.

The Russian military and Uralvagonzavod engineers also promise to turn the T-14 into a completely automated system that can be operated on the battlefield using only a remote control.

The “Russia Scare” Coalition: ISIL’s “Useful Idiots”?

February 20, 2017 2 comments

 

Victory by the “Russia scare” coalition will limit America’s ability to fight ISIL, complicate efforts to win UNSC support for tough enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal and give China more leverage over both Moscow and Washington.

The turmoil surrounding Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s resignation and wider allegations of links between President Donald Trump, his campaign and Russia seems to have made a strong impression in Moscow. Many there had already calibrated initially unrealistic expectations after Mr. Trump’s initial weeks in office; recent events have tempered even these more limited ambitions. Hopes have long faded that Washington would become a Russian ally in Syria, pursue cooperative military action against ISIL, or delink the conflict in Ukraine from the wider U.S.-Russia relationship.

Still, until recently, sober voices on Russia’s television talk shows were a clear minority. Arguing that Russia would have to demonstrate its commitment to working with the United States through concrete actions, and that Moscow could not seek a new beginning while continuing to deny its involvement in the fighting in the Donbas and to engage in dangerous close encounters in the air and at sea, was unpopular. In the last few days, however, the optimistic view that Trump will simply “deliver the goods” to Russia has largely disappeared.

As Soviet media used to say, this is not accidental. According to Western news reports, the Kremlin has encouraged Russian media to scale back their coverage of America’s new president and his administration. While President Putin’s press spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied any such instruction, Russia’s media have in fact redirected their attention to other issues, giving scant air time to Mr. Trump’s comments about Russia during his latest press conference and to separate meetings between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford with their Russian counterparts. That said, Mr. Peskov may not have been involved in issuing directions like this—though such a directive could come only from Russia’s presidential administration.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin has been more pragmatic than euphoric in his personal statements about Mr. Trump and U.S.-Russia relations, diminished enthusiasm in the Russian media may serve primarily to manage expectations more carefully. Nevertheless, if reduced enthusiasm slides into suspicion and belligerence—which can easily become mutually reinforcing—any window of opportunity in U.S.-Russia relations could close rapidly. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has already complained about a statement by Defense Secretary James Mattis that NATO should be open to dialogue “from a position of strength” by touting Russia’s military capabilities. Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu similarly criticized the Mattis comments. Some in Washington and in Moscow likely hope that exchanges like this will slow or prevent efforts to cooperate.

Those in the Congress and the media who seek to browbeat Mr. Trump over his purported Russian connection may well accomplish this and may thus have cause to celebrate their political and public relations victories. But any such triumph will be short-lived; as President Trump observed, a “business-as-usual” Russia policy would only help him politically. Getting tough on Mr. Putin would quickly disarm his critics and enable the White House to pursue other priorities without the ballast of a perceived Russian connection. Yet, victory by the “Russia scare” coalition will limit America’s ability to fight ISIL, complicate efforts to win UN Security Council support for tough enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal, facilitate Russian support for Iran if Washington opts for military action, and give China more leverage over both Moscow and Washington. That innocent Americans might die as a result of these developments seems untroubling to those who view recognition of strategic priorities as a sign of defeatism. Mr. Trump should not be shy in making this point. Should these be the consequences of the enduring U.S.-Russian hostility they advocate, the president will be able to point to today’s accusers as de facto protectors and enablers of both ISIL and Iran’s ayatollahs—and as “useful idiots” providing support to Beijing’s superpower ambitions.

Image: Flickr user Gage Skidmore

Russian company working on a lightweight stealth fighter to replace the Mig-29 and Mig35

February 20, 2017 Leave a comment

 

Russia’s RSK-MiG is working on a new lightweight fifth-generation stealth fighter to replace the Mikoyan MiG-29 and MiG-35 Fulcrum series fighters.

Called the Liogkiy Mnogofunktsionalniy Frontovoi Samolyet (LMFS)—or Light Multi-Function Frontal Aircraft in English—United Aircraft Corporation is developing the new aircraft out of its own funds, reports aviation journalist Piotr Butowski in the French-language trade journal Air and Cosmos.

The LMFS will use a canard configuration reminiscent of the now-defunct Mikoyan Project 1.44 design, which was developed in the late 1980s as the Soviet Union’s answer to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.

The aircraft will likely have an empty weight of roughly 33,000lbs and a maximum takeoff weight of 55,000lbs. The aircraft will be equipped with internal weapons bays and advanced avionics—assuming it ever reaches fruition.

As currently envisioned, the new fighter will be equipped with a pair of the Klimov VK-10M afterburning turbofans—which are advanced derivatives of the MiG-29-series’ RD-33 powerplant—rated at 22,000lb thrust each. That should enable the aircraft to reach speeds of between Mach 1.8 and Mach 2.0 with a range of 2485 miles when configured with external droptanks.

It is possible that Mikoyan may revise the design into a single-engine configuration if the PAK-FA’s next-generation izdeliye 30 engines reach a suitable level of maturity in time. There are few details available about the izdeliye 30 engines, but the new powerplant is expected to deliver 24,054lbs dry thrust and 39,566lbs of afterburning thrust.

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