Russia Says U.S. Seeks ‘Absolute Dominance’ in Military, but Putin Won’t Allow It
BY TOM O’CONNOR ON 5/03/21 AT 5:53 PM EDT
Russia has said that the United States is seeking to attain total hegemony in military might, but Russian President Vladimir Putin was working to ensure that would never be the case.
Speaking with the RIA Novosti news outlet, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova evaluated the recent efforts by U.S. President Joe Biden to expand the Pentagon’s anti-missile infrastructure by spending an estimated $18 billion for new interceptors in Alaska.
She argued this project, along with new defensive and offensive systems deployed abroad, “can and is already leading to serious consequences in the security sphere.”
“It is upsetting the strategic balance of power in the world and spurring an arms race, including missiles,” Zakharova said.
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And while she welcomed the Biden administration’s initial overtures to discuss arms control with Moscow, she warned that the ongoing U.S. build-up was fueling tensions that extend beyond even the planet itself.
“The United States is striving for absolute dominance in the military sphere, and is banking on a depletion of Russia’s nuclear deterrent potential, with an emphasis on creating a global missile defense system,” Zakharova said. “Their other efforts towards the same goal include the expansion of their military space capabilities and the creation of ‘prompt-strike non-nuclear high-precision weapons.'”
The prompt global strike concept, or PGS, has its roots in an early 2000s effort to develop a conventional weapon capable of striking any target on Earth within an hour. Focus for such a project wavered over time, but has been given new life with the dawn of more advanced hypersonic weapons, especially those developed by Russia, which has begun to roll out its Avangard boost-glide vehicle system in recent years.
A similar effort by the U.S. suffered a blow recently when a booster test vehicle for the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) failed to launch from a B-52H Stratofortress bomber carrying it for a trial last month. The U.S. Air Force vowed to carry on despite the setback.
NEWSWEEK SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS > But Russia has vowed to match any U.S. advances with innovations of its own.
“For our part,” Zakharova said, “we intend to act in accordance with the task set by the President of Russia to ensure a conflict-free coexistence by maintaining the balance of power and strategic stability.”
The U.S. military’s presence across the globe is unmatched. The Pentagon maintains more than 800 bases around the world, compared to Russia’s handful. Up to 70,000 U.S. troops operate in Europe, including in NATO Western military alliance countries that directly border Russia.
In two such nations, Romania and Poland, the U.S. has deployed advanced anti-missile systems that Moscow has long argued could be repurposed for offensive use. Those concerns were exacerbated in n August 2019, when former President Donald Trump exited the 1987 Intermediate-Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that banned mid-range weapons platforms based on land.
As Putin pursued the development of cutting-edge nuclear-capable weapons systems said to be “invincible” to modern defenses, Trump initiated an expansive Missile Defense Review in 2019 with the aim of establishing a shield that could “detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, anytime.”
Biden, for his part, has expressed more measured views toward U.S. missile infrastructure than his predecessor. With both countries in the midst of mass-producing new weapons of war, however, he has also said he would not halt the further deployment of the national missile defense system for more testing.
“The catastrophic consequences of even a single nuclear detonation in the United States require that we pursue an effective missile defense system,” then-Democratic candidate Biden said in response to a questionnaire presented by the think tank A Council for a Livable World last October. “Even an imperfect defense can have a deterrent effect. At the same time, we must insist on a rigorous testing program to continually improve the reliability of our defenses.”
The Pentagon published a report Monday highlighting ongoing efforts to advance the U.S. military’s hypersonic arsenal and specifically names advances by top competitors Russia and China as motivating factors.
“[Hypersonics] capability is so important [that] the 2017 National Defense Strategy establishes [DOD’s] need to deter and, if necessary, defeat our great-power competitors, China and Russia,” Michael E. White, the principal director for hypersonics in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, said. “And for more than a decade, these great-power competitors have been rapidly developing highly capable systems that challenge our domain dominance on the tactical battlefield.”
White said U.S. subsonic weapons systems “will take on the order of 10 times longer to fly long-range strike missions when compared to the adversary’s high-speed systems,” creating “a battlefield asymmetry and timescale that we simply cannot allow to stand.”
Since coming to office in January, Biden has expressed a sense of urgency in bringing non-proliferation to the forefront of discussions between Washington and Moscow, having extended the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Putin just days after taking office. The deal imposes limits and mutual verification measures on the world’s top two nuclear arsenals, those of Russia and the U.S.
Arms control has so far been a central feature in conversations between Biden and Putin, and the U.S. leader hinted last month at the potential for a bilateral summit to address the issue further.
“Out of that summit—were it to occur, and I believe it will—the United States and Russia could launch a strategic stability dialogue to pursue cooperation in arms control and security,” Biden said at the time.
While Biden also identified common goals on other nuclear-related foreign policy issues such as Iran and North Korea, as well as areas such as the Afghanistan conflict and climate change, he has been vocal in his criticism of Putin on a number of other fronts.
Biden has accused his Russian counterpart of destabilizing Ukraine, assassination attempts on rivals, and orchestrating cyberattacks against the U.S., an allegation for which Washington has slapped new sanctions against Moscow, and for which Russia denies all wrongdoing.
Despite these tensions, Russia has made it clear it’s willing to talk. In order to reach a deal, though, Zakharova said Friday that given the recent breakdowns in the arms control framework of the two powers, her country would first have to identify discernible interests.
“We are ready for a substantive and constructive dialogue,” Zakharova said. “However, we will not agree on anything unless our interests and concerns are taken into account, including in the missile defense sphere. If we succeed in jointly finding a balance of interests, we will then start discussing agreements. Our colleagues in Washington should understand and take this into account.”
Israeli navy targets Palestinian fishermen off Gaza shore
GAZA, Monday, May 03, 2021 (WAFA) – Israeli navy opened its machine guns on Palestinian fishermen, despite sailing within the unilaterally designated fishing zone offshore the Gaza Strip.
WAFA correspondent reported that the Israeli navy opened fire on fishermen sailing offshore As-sodaniya area to the northwest of the Gaza Strip, within three nautical miles into the sea when Israeli naval boats opened gunfire and water hoses towards them, causing damage to a boat.
No human losses or injuries were reported as fishermen were forced to sail back to shore.
Sappers called to remove devices that touched down in a field just east of the Strip, amid rising tensions between Israel and Palestinians
By Judah Ari Gross Today, 12:16 am A suspected explosive device that was apparently flown into southern Israel with a balloon from the Gaza Strip lands in a field in the community of Kfar Aza on May 3, 2021. (Sha’ar Hanegev region) Two balloons carrying suspected explosive devices that were apparently launched from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel on Monday, local authorities said in the first such attacks in months.
According to the Sha’ar Hanegev regional council, the suspected bombs were found in agricultural fields in the community of Kfar Aza, east of Gaza City.
Residents of the area reported seeing additional balloons overhead throughout the afternoon. It was not immediately clear where they landed.
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Police sappers were called to remove the suspected explosives from Kfar Aza.
Once a regular phenomenon, balloons carrying explosives and incendiary devices have largely stopped being launched into Israel by Palestinian terrorist groups, following a ceasefire brokered between Jerusalem and Hamas last year.
These were the first such balloons to land in Israel in several months.
The apparent airborne attack comes amid heightened tensions between Israel and Palestinian groups over the Palestinian Authority’s decision to indefinitely postpone elections planned for later this month. Hamas, the de facto ruler of Gaza, has condemned the PA’s move, calling it a “coup.”
Earlier this month, terrorists in Gaza launched dozens of rockets at southern Israel. Most of these landed in open fields where they caused no injury or damage, but a few struck inside Israeli communities with shrapnel hitting buildings and vehicles. No Israelis have been injured directly by the rockets or shells, but a number of people were hurt while running to bomb shelters or required medical assistance after suffering acute panic attacks from the sirens.
A fragile border truce between longtime nuclear rivals Pakistan and India will not resolve the long-smoldering Kashmir dispute, the president of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Masood Khan, said Monday
In an interview with local broadcaster News One, Khan observed that the cease-fire at the Line of Control (LoC) — a de facto border that divides the picturesque Himalayan valley between the two neighbors — and de-escalation of tensions would “neither resolve the Kashmir issue nor would peace return to the region.”
On Feb. 25 this year, India and Pakistan agreed to honor a border cease-fire the two countries had signed in 2003 but which both accused each other of violating countless times since then.
Since Aug. 5, 2019, when India scrapped the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, dozens of people have been killed and scores have been injured in cross-border firings that have been the most intense in the past 17 years.
“To bring peace, India must stop the massacre of the Kashmiri people and take decisive steps to grant the fundamental right of self-determination to them,” said Khan, who also served as Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2012 to 2015.
“Kashmiris must be consulted and taken into confidence about whatever the decision is to be made about Kashmir because none other than the Kashmiri people can be sincerer to Pakistan,” he went on to say.
He was apparently referring to reported United Arab Emirates-brokered backdoor diplomacy between New Delhi and Islamabad which aims to provide a roadmap for long-term peace and a possible solution to the 73-year-old Kashmir dispute. Officially, both countries have denied the contacts.
Citing New Delhi’s August 2019 move, Khan said he does not see “any sincerity in the offer of the Indian leadership to resolve the Kashmir issue through talks.”
Khan said that mounting pressure from the international community after the August 2019 actions has “temporarily” compelled India to talk about a negotiated solution to issues.
“The restoration of Article 35-A by India is not enough for confidence building. On the contrary, India would have to recognize the whole of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory and would have to revive the pre-Aug. 5, 2019 position of the state in order to pave the way for talks,” he maintained.
Kashmiris, he further said, will get relief only when India lifts the siege of “occupied” Kashmir, ceases the killing spree of Kashmiri people, gives up settling Indian Hindus in Kashmir and stops attempts to change the demography of the state.
Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.
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Iran sought on multiple occasions in 2020 to obtain technology for its nuclear-weapons program, intelligence agencies from the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany said, according to a Fox News report on Monday.
The General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands stopped “multiple acquisition attempts,” the agency wrote in its April report.
“The joint counter-proliferation unit of the AIVD [the General Intelligence and Security Service] and the MIVD [the country’s Military Intelligence and Security Service] is investigating how countries try to obtain the knowledge and goods they need to make weapons of mass destruction. Countries such as Syria, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea also tried to acquire such goods and technology in Europe and the Netherlands last year,” said the report.
The Swedish Security Service said in its 2020 intelligence report that Iran tried to attain technology from its country for its nuclear-weapons program.
“Iran also conducts industrial espionage, which is mainly targeted against Swedish high-tech industry and Swedish products, which can be used in nuclear weapons programs. Iran is investing heavy resources in this area, and some of the resources are used in Sweden,” the report said.
Germany’s Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the domestic intelligence agency for the German state, said in its 2020 report: “Proliferation-relevant states like Iran, North Korea, Syria and Pakistan are making efforts to expand on their conventional arsenal of weapons through the production or constant modernization of weapons of mass destruction.”
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