Wickedness before the Bowls of Wrath: Revelation 16

Eve Ottenberg | Published: 00:00, Jan

Abyss of human wickedness

— Counter Punch/Brian Stansberry

AS THE west worked itself into a lather in the last month over Russia moving its troops within its own borders, one Republican senator, Roger Wicker of Mississippi bellowed on December 8 that the United States should attack Russia with nuclear weapons. This horrifying threat to end human life on the planet comes from someone of no little puissance, as others quickly noted. Wicker sits on the armed services committee. So he communes regularly with Pentagon bigwigs, many of whom are said to have little regard for presidential professions of concern for posterity and promises never to explode the nuclear devices that would eliminate that posterity once and for all. One must assume when someone of Wicker’s exalted position speaks, he speaks not only for himself.

Fortunately, the five most impressively nuclear-armed nations moved quickly to throw cold water on those who advocate an atomic apocalypse, and that included drenching senator Wicker. China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States issued a joint statement on January 3 that avoiding nuclear war is a paramount goal. ‘We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,’ agreed the five countries. ‘We each intend to maintain and further strengthen our national measures to prevent unauthorised or unintended use of nuclear weapons.’ The statement also calls for progress on disarmament. It could not be more apposite.

That’s because the western Russophobic propaganda machine — the biggest and most deafening of its kind in world history, cranked up to full volume at all corporate news outlets, drowning the world in cuckoo-bird ravings about treacherous Slavs — now would have us believe that the Russians are planning false flag attacks in Ukraine. False flags are pretty much a US military/media specialty, in fact, Washington owns the patent on them, but most US Americans, blissfully ignorant of this fact, are thus easy marks for such hysteria. So now, this rubbish, regurgitated by credulous newspaper scribes and repeated by government officials, screams at us daily from the headlines. There is practically nothing, zilch, to counter it. The most preposterous prevarications abound, for example, Ukraine’s president, in November, breathlessly announcing that Moscow intended to overthrow him ‘next week’. Among these fabrications lurk tales about Washington’s and NATO’s supposedly benign and even altruistic motives.

Better the world live without NATO than die for its expansion. Because that is what NATO asks us to do. When the US sends E-8 electronic warfare aircraft over Russia’s borders, as it did in December, they’re not there just to say hello. When NATO member Great Britain projects its HMS Defender two miles from the Crimean coast, causing warning shots from Russian coast guard patrol ships, as happened last June 23, this is no innocent, defensive manoeuvre. And when NATO’s supreme commander muses publicly about reinforcing NATO’s eastern flank on Romania and Bulgaria, only an idiot would conclude he’s not preparing for war.

Likewise, only a nitwit would swallow secretary of state Antony Blinken’s bigoted remark January 7 that ‘once the Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.’ This from a man whose nation’s military has lodged itself in Germany and Japan for 77 years and counting, occupied Afghanistan for 20 years and is still in Iraq after 19. Blinken has some nerve. But then, he can utter such mendacities in full confidence that he will never, never be corrected in the American press.

It’s no wonder Russia demands written legal guarantees against NATO expansion and western nukes. It’s also no surprise that the US, caught in a lie, now claims that back in the early 1990s it never promised not to expand ‘one inch’ east of Germany, as several officials in president George HW Bush’s administration told Gorbachev and others, in exchange for German reunification.

Meanwhile Biden threatens Russia with ferocious sanctions for moving troops onto its border with Ukraine. Now sanctions are the modern equivalent of the medieval siege, and the US applies them promiscuously. There is no evidence that they succeed at anything other than causing ordinary people to miss meals and diabetics to skip insulin injections. Oh, and sanctions also instil hatred for the US which thus torments the population. Sanctions lead the targeted rulers to consolidate their power. They are counter-productive. Far worse, as happens right now in the 20 countries sanctioned by the US, they kill loads of innocent people, especially vulnerable ones, like children in Afghanistan, for instance. But sanctions make whoever’s leading the latest Washington circus feel like big shots, so their toxic application will probably continue.

The only light on this dismal horizon was the summit between Russia, the United States and NATO that ran from January 10 to January 13. That light flickered out quickly, when it became clear that US officials are incapable of comprehending speech outside the parameters of their exceptionalist ideology. All they offered was hooey about NATO never closing doors. This nonsense is ostentatiously contradicted by the fact that neither Switzerland nor Austria belongs to NATO and are, in fact, constitutionally neutral. Moscow wants some such carve-out for former Soviet territories on its borders. But the Biden team just didn’t get it. When the Russians said including Ukraine in NATO would cause a ‘military technical’ response, that should have elicited a serious counter-offer. It did not.

How do we know the summit teeters on the rim of failure? Because the January 19 Svobodnaya Pressa announced that Moscow has begun deploying the high-precision long-range operational and tactical missile system 9K720 Iskander-M in Crimea. The flight range of these missiles is up to 3,500 kilometres. They can hit any European capital and ‘even American aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea, Arleigh Burke destroyers, Ticonderoga-class missile cruisers.’ Iskanders can be launched simultaneously in a 200-missile barrage. The article is headlined, ‘Moscow’s Patience Snapped: Crimea Deploys Iskanders.’ Blinken jets to Geneva this weekend. Hopefully this news about Russian weaponry will elicit all his diplomatic skills in his confab with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. The situation is dire.

It is telling that the January summit came at the Kremlin’s request. Dismaying is the only word for Washington and NATO’s apparent complaisance about the drift towards war between Russia and NATO, to say nothing of those Russian nuclear submarines that just completed a rotation off the eastern seaboard of the US a week and a half ago. NATO’s threat to absorb Finland and Sweden only proves the point that this military-industrial money pit is bottomless and its expansionist horizon is the planet itself.

Ukraine is a tinder box. If Moscow eventually militarily supports the Russian-speaking, ethnic Russian majority in eastern Ukraine, the Donbass, a population at loggerheads with ethnic Ukrainians of the west, Washington will have only itself to blame. Those culturally Russian Ukrainians have long wanted to join Russia. Anytime since 2014, Moscow could have allowed this. It did not, because clearly the Kremlin is not eager to partition Ukraine. Nor is Moscow eager for a showdown between nuclear powers. It called the summit, specifically to prevent that.

Speaking of which, Russia’s ally, China, races ahead, beefing up its nuclear arsenal. Shenanigans like the attempted coup in Kazakhstan and the west’s relentless provocations in Ukraine — dating back to 2014, when Washington’s regime-change operation toppled the legally elected pro-Kremlin president — coupled with threats and insults aimed at China, first from the Trump team and now from the Biden entourage, doubtless convinced Chinese leaders that nuclear modernisation is at the top of their to-do list. The US military/foreign policy goal of encircling China with bases and warships no doubt speeds the Chinese effort to produce more nukes.

Indeed, the US department of defence’s November annual report claimed that China would likely have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030. ‘Three times more than at present,’ as Michael Klare wrote on December 3 in CounterPunch, ‘and enough to pose a substantial threat to the United States.’ In five years, that same report predicts, China ‘would be ready to conduct “intelligentized” warfare.’ That means the People’s Liberation Army would achieve ‘superior intelligence, communications and battlefield coordination.’

This would enable China ‘to effectively resist any US military response should it decide to invade the island of Taiwan, which they view as a renegade province.’ Klare’s translation of this news is: ‘As the Pentagon sees things, be prepared for World War III to break out any time after January 1, 2027.’

That, unfortunately, could be a conservative estimate. With genocidal senator Wicker barking for nuclear Armageddon right now and an equally bloodthirsty former Obama official, Evelyn Farkas, hollering for war, both apparently eager for a nuclear ‘shock and awe’, it’s past time for Washington to wake up to reality, namely that Russia and China have genuine, legitimate security concerns on their borders. Attempting to muddy the waters with hogwash about spurious ‘spheres of influence,’ as Blinkin did, won’t work. These are issues of border security. They have nothing to do with spheres of influence, and raising the bogus spectre of such spheres is a cynical distraction from Washington’s and NATO’s aggression on the borders of Russia and China.

If the US is concerned with anything other than being seen as the biggest bully on the block, then it will snap the CIA onto a short leash, stop the dirty regime-change operations, shut up about everybody and their grandmother’s sacred right to join NATO, accede to some demands vis-a-vis Ukraine and Taiwan and finally, and very importantly, get serious about arms control treaties. Trump arrogantly and wantonly busted up a couple of those. If Biden wants anything other than a radioactive legacy, he’ll fix that — for starters.

Iraqi Horn’s battle against ISIS grinds on

A UN report last year estimated that around 10,000 IS fighters remained active across Iraq and Syria

Iraq’s battle against IS cells grinds on in the desert

AFP – TuesdayFollowReactComments|4

Bullet holes riddle the concrete watchtower of a remote Iraqi army outpost north of Baghdad, a sign of the Islamic State group’s night-time attack that killed 11 soldiers.

The small riverside base is ringed by sand berms, a shallow moat and coils of razor wire, and three soldiers in mismatched uniforms are busy strengthening it with cement and cinder blocks.

It has been almost three years since the extremist Sunni group lost its self-proclaimed “caliphate” stretching across much of Iraq and Syria after long and gruelling battles.© AHMAD AL-RUBAYEThis remote military base in Diyala province was attacked by Islamic State group jihadists last week, killing 11 soldiers

But IS fighters remain active in a low-level insurgency and have recently stepped up their hit-and-run attacks against anyone in uniform, or anyone else who dares to stand up to them.

“They hide in holes dug into the ground or in abandoned houses,” said a senior Iraqi army officer during a visit Monday to the dusty outpost in the eastern province of Diyala.© AHMAD AL-RUBAYEA UN report last year estimated that around 10,000 IS fighters remained active across Iraq and Syria

This is also where they hide their explosives and weapons,” he told AFP during the trip, asking not to be identified.

The unenviable task of Iraq’s security forces is to hunt IS cells in a vast territory that stretches from Baghdad to Kirkuk, nearly 250 kilometres (about 150 miles) to the north, straddling three provinces.

At this outpost, one of a string of bases along the banks of the Adhaim river, IS fighters struck in a bitterly cold night, last Friday at 2:30 am, killing the 11 soldiers.

The ambush came as, across the border in Syria, more than 100 IS fighters launched their biggest attack in years, on a prison in the northeastern city of Hasakeh, attempting to free fellow fighters.© AHMAD AL-RUBAYEThe attack on the base was the jihadists’ deadliest operation in the country so far this year

The fierce battle there has raged on, with the death toll topping 160 on Tuesday, as US-backed Kurdish forces surrounded the prison, while IS fighters remained holed up inside with thousands of detainees.© AHMAD AL-RUBAYEThe anti-IS battle has become more perilous since Iraq has lost the direct support of a US-led international anti-jihadist coalition, especially air support

– Bloody cat-and-mouse game –

In Iraq, troops and police have been sweeping the area along the Adhaim river since the attack last week, in the latest chapter of a bloody cat-and-mouse game with the jihadists.© AHMAD AL-RUBAYEIraq’s army is fighting IS militants who remain active in a low-level insurgency and have recently stepped up their hit-and-run attacks

“We have been in this area for four days,” said Captain Azhar al-Juburi of the Federal Police Rapid Response Force as he returned from a patrol.

“We haven’t had any direct confrontation, but we have arrested terrorists.”

The local soldiers were not allowed to speak with visiting press, but the senior army officer explained that the jihadists “took advantage of the bad weather and the early hour to attack”.

It was “the first time that IS has attacked us directly”, he said. “They did not have the means until now. They were limited to planting improvised explosive devices and sniper fire.”

Diyala’s provincial governor Muthanna al-Tamimi had another explanation, blaming “the negligence of the soldiers”.

“The base is fortified,” he said after the attack. “There is a thermal camera, night vision goggles and a concrete watchtower.”

– ‘IS reorganising troops’ –

Whatever the case, said Iraqi analyst Imad Allou, the attack does underscore that IS “is trying to reorganise its troops and activities in Iraq”.

A UN report last year estimated that around 10,000 IS fighters remained active across Iraq and Syria.

The ongoing IS presence in Syria is largely in desert hideouts in the east of the country, where the Kurds maintain a semi-autonomous administration that borders Iraq.

In Iraq, IS is most active in the north but has also claimed bomb attacks on civilian targets elsewhere, including a blast last July on a market in Sadr city, a Shiite suburb of Baghdad, that killed dozens.

The anti-IS battle has become all the more perilous since Iraq has lost the direct support of a US-led international anti-jihadist coalition, especially air support.

Its 3,500 troops, including 2,500 Americans, put an end to their combat mission last year to limit themselves to advising and training their Iraqi counterparts.

Does this worry the Iraqi senior officer?

“We have our own air force, and we rely on it,” he said. “As for the rest, it is not me who decides.”


Can Babylon the Great stop Putin’s aggression? Daniel 7

Can the US and allies stop Putin’s aggression?

Russia has already violated the Budapest Memorandum, which stated it refrains from the threat or use of force against UkraineBy LEE FEINSTEIN And MARIANA BUDJERYNJANUARY 25, 2022Print

Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 was the first change of internationally recognized borders in Europe through military force since World War II.

Russia proceeded to instigate and fuel a war in eastern Ukraine that has claimed some 14,000 lives so far. Last year, Russia began massing a force of more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s eastern and northern border and in the occupied Crimea, and taking other provocative actions.

US President Joe Biden said on January 19, 2022, about Putin: “Do I think he’ll test the West, test the United States and NATO, as significantly as he can? Yes, I think he will.”

Ukraine as an independent state was born from the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Its independence came with a complicated Cold War inheritance: the world’s third-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Ukraine was one of the three non-Russian former Soviet states, including Belarus and Kazakhstan, that emerged from the Soviet collapse with nuclear weapons on its territory.

The US, in a burst of diplomatic energy and at a time of unmatched global influence, worked to prevent the unprecedented collapse of a nuclear superpower from leading to history’s largest proliferation of nuclear weapons.

This diplomatic activity manifested in security assurances for Ukraine embedded in what has become known as the Budapest Memorandum

With the entrance of Ukraine into the international order as a non-nuclear state, Russia, the US and the UK pledged to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”

The memo reaffirmed their obligation to “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.” The signatories also reaffirmed their commitment to “seek immediate” UN Security Council action “to provide assistance to Ukraine … if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression.”

These assurances upheld obligations contained in the UN charter and the 1975 Helsinki Final Act.

Ukraine, in turn, gave up the nuclear weapons within its borders, sending them to Russia for dismantling.

In light of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its current threat to Ukrainian sovereignty, it’s fair to ask: What is the significance now of the Budapest Memorandum?

Ukrainian regrets

The memorandum, signed in 1994, is not legally binding.

Nonetheless, it embeds and reaffirms the solemn assurances that are the hallmark of the international system. These include respect for state sovereignty, the inviolability of international borders and abstention from the threat or use of force.

Ukraine’s decision to give up nuclear weapons signaled its desire to be seen as a member in good standing of the international community, rather than an outlier.

The decision was not just symbolic. While Ukraine did not inherit a fully-fledged nuclear capacity – Russia still held important parts of the nuclear infrastructure – Ukraine had the necessary technological and industrial ability to close the gaps.

Many in Ukraine feel that the country’s 1994 decision to give up its nuclear arms was a mistake.

Popular support for nuclear rearmament rose to a historic high of nearly 50% in the wake of Russia’s invasion in 2014. Since then, that view has been supported by some Ukrainian public figures.

‘No changing of borders by use of force’

Russia has blatantly violated the Budapest Memorandum. And the initial response to the annexation of Crimea by the other signatories, the US and UK, was hesitant and restrained.

The US has committed more than US$2.5 billion in military assistance since 2014 to Ukraine, including lethal defensive arms. Legislation pending in Congress would increase military aid.

The Biden administration has also threatened severe economic sanctions in the event of Russian aggression, backed by sustained efforts to build support among allies. The administration’s resolute approach is consistent with the security assurances of the Budapest Memorandum.

We are both foreign policy scholarsone of us is a former US ambassador to Poland. The strong defense of the fundamental principle of the international system – no changing of borders by use of force – has consequences for all of Europe, for US-Russia relations and for other potential flashpoints, including China and Taiwan.

Whether the strong actions – such as the promise of military support for Ukraine and the threat of sanctions on Russia, backed by diplomacy by the United States and its allies – will be enough to deter Russia is uncertain and, many say, unlikely.

The size and scope of the Russian military buildup are deeply troubling: Shifting 100,000 troops across Russia’s vast territory is a costly operation. The Kremlin is unlikely to pull back that kind of force without any diplomatic or military wins, such as closing the door to Ukraine’s future membership in NATO, which the United States has ruled out.

International law matters, but it does not determine what states do. Strong deterrence, diplomacy and international solidarity can influence Russian decision-making. The US is also actively working with Ukraine, an essential element to a successful diplomatic and deterrence strategy.

Ultimately, however, the de-escalation decision is Russia’s to make. The role of the US, its NATO allies and Ukraine is to make sure the consequences of Russia’s decisions are clear to the Kremlin and that they can be carried out with strong and united Western backing in the event Russia chooses the path of war.

Lee Feinstein is founding dean and professor of international studies at the Hamilton Lugar School of Indiana UniversityMariana Budjeryn is research associate at Harvard University’s Kennedy School.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

S Korea Needs to Nuke Up: Daniel 7

S. Korean officials say North Korea tested cruise missiles

People watch a TV showing file images of North Korea’s missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. North Korea on Tuesday test-fired two suspected cruise missiles in its fifth round of weapons launches this month, South Korean military officials said, as it displays its military might amid pandemic-related difficulties and a prolonged freeze in nuclear negotiations with the United States. The Korean letters read: “North Korea fired two cruise missiles.” (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)Share BY ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Tuesday test-fired two suspected cruise missiles in its fifth round of weapons launches this month, South Korean military officials said, as it displays its military might amid pandemic-related difficulties and a prolonged freeze in nuclear negotiations with the United States.

One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules, said South Korean and U.S. intelligence officials were analyzing the launches, but didn’t provide further details. Another military official, who requested anonymity over similar reasons, said the tests were conducted from an inland area, but didn’t specify where.

North Korea has been increasing its testing activity recently in an apparent effort to pressure the Biden administration over the stalled diplomacy after the pandemic unleashed further shock on an economy broken by crippling U.S.-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons program and decades of mismanagement by its own government.

North Korea last Thursday issued a veiled threat to resume the testing of nuclear explosives and long-range missiles targeting the American homeland, which leader Kim Jong Un suspended in 2018 while initiating diplomacy with the United States.

Some experts say North Korea could dramatically escalate weapons demonstrations after the Winter Olympics, which begin Feb. 4 in China, the North’s main ally and economic lifeline.

They say Pyongyang’s leadership likely feels it could use a dramatic provocation to move the needle with the Biden administration, which has offered open-ended talks but showed no willingness to ease sanctions unless Kim takes real steps to abandon the nuclear weapons and missiles he sees as his strongest guarantee of survival.

Tuesday’s launches could have been followup tests of a weapon North Korea has described as a long-range cruise missile and first tested in September, said Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies.

State media in reports at the time said the missiles were fired from launcher trucks and could strike targets 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) away. It described those missiles as a “strategic weapon of great significance” — wording that implies they were developed to carry nuclear weapons.

While halting the tests of nuclear devices and intercontinental range ballistic missiles, Kim Jong Un since 2019 has been ramping up tests of various shorter-range weapons apparently designed to overwhelm missile defenses in the region. Experts say the North’s expanding missile arsenal reflects an aim to apply more pressure on its rivals to accept it as a nuclear power in hopes of winning relief from economic sanctions and convert the diplomacy with Washington into mutual arms-reduction negotiations.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Barzani, Antichrist emphasize coordination between political parties in a phone call

From left: Muqtada al-Sadr and Masoud Barzani. File photo/handout

Barzani, Sadr emphasise coordination between political parties in a phone call

Karwan Faidhi Dri@KarwanFaidhiDri

From left: Muqtada al-Sadr and Masoud Barzani. File photo/handout

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), spoke on the phone with Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist bloc, on Tuesday, discussing the latest developments in Iraq, with both emphasising coordination between political entities, according to a statement from Barzani’s office. 

Barzani and Sadr “discussed the political situation and the latest developments” as well as “emphasising the need for coordination and approaching of entities in order to serve the interests of Iraq,” read the statement without providing more information.

Iraq held snap parliamentary elections on October 10. Sadr is the main winner of the vote after his bloc gained 73, and the KDP won 31 seats, becoming the largest Kurdish bloc in Baghdad. 

The new members of the parliament were sworn in and they elected a new leadership for the legislature on January 9 but the Federal Court suspended the work of both deputy speakers and the speaker following a lawsuit against the election process. 

However, the court decided on Tuesday that the election process was lawful and rejected the lawsuit.

Sadr, Barzani and Mohammed al-Halbousi – former and current speaker of the parliament – have formed an alliance for the formation of a new government.

The country has to elect a new president by February 8. The position has been held by Kurds for nearly two decades. The KDP and its rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have fielded different candidates for the position, harming their relations. 

The new president will task a candidate from the largest alliance to form a new cabinet. 

Antichrist rejects mediation for consensus government

January 25, 2022 at 11:19 am | Published in: IraqMiddle EastNewsIraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr holds a press conference in Najaf, Iraq on November 18, 2021. [Karar Essa - Anadolu Agency]Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr holds a press conference in Najaf, Iraq on November 18, 2021. [Karar Essa – Anadolu Agency]January 25, 2022 at 11:19 am

Iraq: Al-Sadr rejects mediation for consensus government

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The eponymous leader of Iraq’s Sadrist movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr, has rejected a mediation offer by the Commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Esmail Qaani, and Mohammad Hussein Kawtharani, the representative of Hezbollah in Baghdad, in the efforts to form a consensus government.

“Kawtharani has left Najaf without meeting Al-Sadr,” said an official in the Sadrist movement who asked not to be named. “However, there were meetings with representatives of the movement.”

Efforts made by some “friends” to bring views closer are commendable, the official added. “They should not be at the expense of the national project, though, which is a national majority government.”

The official said that it is “unreasonable to repeat the same mistake for the fifth time in a row,” a reference to Al-Sadr’s refusal to form a consensus government that brings together all the winning political groups in parliament.

Qaani’s mediation “did not solve the most prominent knot in the dispute, which is the Sadrist movement’s right to form the government in the way it sees, as the first winner in the election and the holder of the largest number of seats among the Shia political forces.”

Muqtada Al-Sadr insists on forming a national majority government. He has stressed that pressure will not deter him from this.

Babylon the Great Looks for Russian Nukes: Daniel

A Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman checks his weapon as he stands in a trench

US Spy Planes Scouting for Russian Tactical Nukes on Ukraine Border as Tensions Rise

A Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman checks his weapon near Zolote village, in the eastern Lugansk region, on Jan. 21, 2022. (ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

By Charles Kim    |   Tuesday, 25 January 2022 05:57 AM

United States spy planes are scouting the build up of Russian forces at its Ukrainian border to see if Russian President Vladimir Putin is deploying tactical nuclear weapons to the theater, The New York Times reported Sunday.

According to the report, Russian officials have signaled that the use of such weapons may be an option as it prepares for an invasion of Ukraine.

As tensions in the region grow, the United States plans to deploy thousands of troops to the area, including in Poland.https://a5b60c59312a2ed54f7b745f543fd332.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“We’re going to actually increase troop presence in Poland, in Romania, et cetera, if in fact he moves,” President Joe Biden said during a press conference last week. “They are part of NATO.”

According to reports, this could mean between 1,000 to 5,000 troops.

In a televised CBS interview on “Face the Nation” Sunday, Secretary Anthony Blinken said the U.S. and NATO are looking to beef up defense capabilities should Putin make a move into Ukraine.

“Even as we’re engaged in diplomacy, we are very much focused on building up defense, building up deterrence,” Blinken said in the interview. “NATO itself will continue to be reinforced in a significant way if Russia commits renewed acts of aggression. All of that is on the table.”

The military maneuvers, along with the State Department ordering U.S. diplomats and their families to leave Ukraine in the event of Russian military aggression, show a change in the stance from the Biden administration from restraint and threatening severe economic sanctions to a more proactive military posture with NATO.

“This is clearly in response to the sudden stationing of Russian forces in Belarus, on the border, essentially, with NATO,” Evelyn Farkas, the top Pentagon official for Russia and Ukraine during the Obama administration told The Times. “There is no way that NATO could not reply to such a sudden military move in this political context.

“The Kremlin needs to understand that they are only escalating the situation with all of these deployments and increasing the danger to all parties, including themselves.”https://a5b60c59312a2ed54f7b745f543fd332.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

While there are currently about 4,000 U.S. troops and an additional 1,000 NATO troops stationed in the region, U.S. spy planes have been regularly flying over Ukraine during the last month, listening to the communications of Russian commanders on the ground there, the Times reported.

Air Force E-8 Stars are also flying over the area to log the buildup of service members and any other weapons moving into the theater, including tactical nuclear weapons, according to the report.

Babylon the Great Now in South China Sea: Daniel 7

U.S. Aircraft Carriers Now in South China Sea as Chinese Air Force Flies 39 Aircraft Near Taiwan

By: Dzirhan Mahadzir
January 24, 2022 12:59 PM

Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), left, and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) transit the Philippine Sea on Jan. 22, 2022. US Navy Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Two U.S. Navy carrier strike groups are currently drilling in the South China Sea amid the latest show of force of Chinese aircraft into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone on Sunday.

The Carl Vinson CSG and Abraham Lincoln CSG began dual-carrier operations in the South China on Sunday, the same day Taiwan said the People’s Liberation Army Air Force flew 39 planes in Taiwan’s ADIZ.

The CSGs “will engage in joint operations to include enhanced maritime communication operations, anti-submarine warfare operations, air warfare operations, replenishments-at-sea, cross-deck flight operations and maritime interdiction operations to strengthen maritime integrated-at-sea operations and combat readiness,” the U.S. Navy said in a news release, adding that training will take place in accordance with international law in international waters.

Throughout the last year there have been multiple incursions of Chinese aircraft in Taiwan’s ADIZ, heightening tensions between the both the U.S. and China and Taiwan and China.

“Our ability to rapidly aggregate and work collectively alongside CSG 3, highlights the U.S. Navy’s ability to deliver overwhelming maritime force, when called upon, to support a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Rear Adm. Dan Martin, the commander of CSG 1, said in the Navy news release. “We are committed to ensuring the lawful use of the sea and free flow of commerce while deterring those who challenge the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific now and into the long-term future.”

The two American CSGs conducted an exercise in the Philippine Sea last week with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, the America Expeditionary Strike Group and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer helicopter carrier JS Hyuga ( DDH-181) and destroyer JS Myoko (DDG-175).

In a news release issued today, the JMSDF said the exercise took place in the vicinity of Oki Daito Island, an uninhabited island 315 kilometers, or about 196 miles, southeast of Okinawa. In December, the People’s Liberation Army Navy aircraft carrier Liaoning (16) conducted flight operations in the same area.

CSG 1, which is the Carl Vinson CSG, currently includes aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), destroyers USS Stockdale (DDG-106) and USS Chafee (DDG-90), replenishment ship USNS Yukon (T-AO-202) and dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE-11). The Abraham Lincoln CSG, CSG 3, includes USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9; cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG-53); and destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), USS Gridley (DDG 101), USS Sampson (DDG-102) and USS Spruance (DDG-111). Sampson has since been detached and is now heading to Tonga to assist in relief efforts following the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano earlier this month.

JMSDF landing ship tank JS Osumi (LST-4001), Royal Australian Navy landing helicopter dock HMAS Adelaide (L01), United Kingdom Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Spey (P234) and Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) multi-role support vessel HMNZS Canterbury (L421) are also heading to Tonga to join the relief effort. RNZN offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington (P55) and replenishment ship HMNZS Aotearoa (A11) are already on the scene conducting relief operations. Osumi departed today from Kure, while the others are already in transit to Tonga. The French Navy is sending Patrol Vessel FNS Arago (P675) Offshore Patrol Vessel FNS La Glorieuse (P686).

“The Self-Defense Fleet has been making efforts to deepen friendly relations and strengthen cooperation with the Pacific island nations by conducting goodwill visits and training exercises at ordinary times, with the aim of realizing a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific.’ In this mission, we will do our best to support the reconstruction of our friend, the Kingdom of Tonga, hoping for its early recovery and sustainable development,” Vice Adm. Hideki Yuasa, the commander of the Joint Task Force for International Disaster Relief Operations in Tonga, said in a JMSDF news release about the departure.

Tonga’s Fua’amotu International Airport has now been cleared of volcanic ash, allowing Royal Australian Air Force C-17s, Japan Air Self-Defense Force C-2s and C-130s, and RNZAF C-130s to fly in relief supplies and equipment.

In other developments, German Navy Chief Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schönbach resigned on Saturday following a furor over his comments in India on Friday, when he downplayed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions over Ukraine.

“Is Russia really interested in … a small, tiny strip of Ukraine’s soil? No, this is nonsense,” Schönbach said during a session at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, which was uploaded to Youtube. The admiral added that “what he really wants is respect. And my God, giving someone respect is low cost, even no cost … so if I was asked, it is easy to even give him the respect he really demands, and probably also deserves.”

He went on to say that “Russia is an old country. Russia is an important country. Even we, India, Germany, we need Russia, because we need Russia against China.”

The German Navy Chief also remarked that “the Crimea peninsula is gone. It will never come back, this is a fact,” a statement that contradicts Western nations’ position that the annexation was unacceptable and that the territory should be returned.

His remarks came amid criticism of the German government for its unwillingness to supply Ukraine with weapons, while other NATO countries were doing so in an effort to deter Russia, which has massed troops along its border with Ukraine.

Schönbach announced his resignation on Saturday in a release stating: “I have just asked the Federal Minister of Defense to release me from my duties and duties as Inspector of the Navy with immediate effect. The thoughtless comments I made in India on security and military policy are increasingly weighing on my office. In order to prevent further damage from the German Navy, the Bundeswehr, but above all from the Federal Republic of Germany, I consider this step to be necessary. The Federal Minister accepted my request. The Commander of the Fleet and Deputy Inspector of the Navy, Rear Admiral Kaack, will lead the German Navy until a successor decision is made.”

Schönbach only recently took over as German Navy Chief in March of 2021.

Schönbach was in India in conjunction with the visit of German Navy Frigate FGS Bayern (F217), which arrived on Friday in Mumbai during the final leg of its seven-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific. Bayern departed today from Mumbai and conducted a passage exercise with Indian Navy destroyer INS Visakhapatnam (D66) as it left.

What are hypersonic Nukes and the Chinese Nuclear horns? Daniel 7

What are hypersonic weapons, and why is there a race between China, the US and others to develop them?

Security experts have warned that the escalating competition could end in military conflictThe high speed and manoeuvrability of such missiles is a challenge for air defence systems

Topic |  China’s military weapons

 in Beijing+ FOLLOW

Published: 6:00am, 24 Jan, 2022

When China’s DF-17 ballistic missile featured in a military parade in 2019, it became the first country in the world to publicly reveal a hypersonic weapon.

China also recently announced it had made breakthroughs in heat-seeking technologyfor such weapons, which the United States – having significantly increased funding for hypersonic research – has said it may not have until 2025.

Security experts have warned that an escalating arms race between China, the US and Russia to develop hypersonic weapons could end in military conflict, while the US has sanctioned North Korea over this month’s test launches of a hypersonic glider.

Hypersonic weapon programmes are highly secretive, with little public information about them, and as the technology advances they are changing fast.nullnullnull

Here’s what we know from information released by sources including the People’s Liberation Army, its Rocket Force University of Engineering and its National Defence University, as well as the US Department of Defence.

What are hypersonic weapons, exactly?

Hypersonic weapons are those that can travel at five times the speed of sound, or faster, in the air.Advertisementnull

That is a lot faster than the conventional weapons currently in military use. A Tomahawk cruise missile launched from a US ship or submarine, for example, would take more than an hour to hit a target 1,000km (620 miles) away. A hypersonic missile would theoretically take about eight minutes.EVERY SATURDAYSCMP Global Impact NewsletterBy submitting, you consent to receiving marketing emails from SCMP. If you don’t want these, tick hereBy registering, you agree to our and

There are two main types of hypersonic weapons – cruise missiles and glide vehicles. cruise missiles use high-speed, air-breathing engines to push them to hypersonic speeds; while hypersonic glide vehicles are launched from a rocket from space and glide to a target at an unpredictable trajectory.

Their high speed and manoeuvrability makes it difficult for existing air defence systems, including that of the United States, to discover, track or shoot down hypersonic weapons.

According to a recent PLA report, there is a 78 per cent chance on average of an air defence system failing to intercept a missile travelling at five times the speed of sound, and this failure rate rises to 90 per cent if it is travelling at six times the speed of sound.

But despite their speed, the key difference between hypersonic glide vehicles and conventional ballistic missiles is actually their ability to manoeuvre and change course after they are released from their rocket boosters, according to a US congressional report from November.https://www.youtube.com/embed/nx90AyQp2tE

Why is China investing in the technology?

Hypersonic weapons have been studied in China since the 1950s, notably by rocket scientist Qian Xuesen, known as the country’s “father of space technology”. Qian proposed a design for a hypersonic glide vehicle as early as 1948.Advertisementnull

Chinese military reports suggest that the appeal of hypersonic weapons lies in their ability to cripple a powerful competitor without fighting a nuclear war.

Most of China’s hypersonic missiles will be armed with conventional warheads, and could be able to destroy high-value targets such as aircraft carriers while sticking to China’s no-first-use principle on nuclear weapons.Advertisementnull

That means, in a regional conflict, a hypersonic weapon could be seen as a more credible threat than a nuclear weapon because Beijing would be more likely to use it against foreign military intervention.

Which countries are developing hypersonic weapons?

The US was once the leader in hypersonic technology, with air force pilot William Knight making the world’s first manned hypersonic flight on an X-15 test plane powered by a rocket back in 1967.Advertisementnull

But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, US policymakers saw hypersonic flight technology as unnecessary, and many promising projects were cancelled after they experienced a few failures.

In recent years, however, the US hypersonic weapon programme has been fast-tracked and a number of research, development and testing facilities have been built.Advertisementhttps://878f5d6c149879df96ea0dcf4897de2e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Meanwhile, China and Russia have been investing in the area and making advances in heat management as well as flight control, precision guidance and target sensor technologies. Both countries have successfully test-fired hypersonic missiles and a few have already entered military service.

France, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Australia and India have also launched hypersonic weapon programmes and some test flights have been conducted.https://www.youtube.com/embed/rYz4h4gzVpA

What are some of the difficulties they face?

At such high speeds, hypersonic weapons present many challenges for engineers including the extreme heat produced, as well as accurately positioning and manoeuvring missiles.

To date, the US still has not announced any operational hypersonic weapons because of repeated test failures.

Chinese researchers revealed this month that they had developed the world’s first wind tunnel that can test a full-sized hypersonic missile through the critical stages of flight.

The top-secret facility – whose location and highest speed rating remain classified – allows for ground tests that could expose critical engineering and technical issues before a missile gets to the test-flight stage, according to scientists involved in the project

Why the Obama Iran nuclear deal is over: Daniel 8

US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley and Barry Rosen sit at a large table during an interview in Vienna
US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley and Barry Rosen, campaigning for the release of US citizens imprisoned in Iran, during an interview with the Reuters news agency [Francois Murphy/Reuters]

Nuclear deal unlikely unless Iran releases US prisoners: Report

US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley tells the Reuters news agency agreement ‘hard to imagine’ while four ‘innocent Americans held hostage’.

The United States is unlikely to strike a deal with Iran to save the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement unless Tehran releases four US citizens Washington says it is holding hostage, the lead US nuclear negotiator told the Reuters news agency on Sunday.

US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley repeated the long-held US position that the issue of the four people held in Iran is separate from the nuclear negotiations. He moved a step closer, however, to saying that their release was a precondition for a nuclear agreement.

“They’re separate and we’re pursuing both of them. But I will say it is very hard for us to imagine getting back into the nuclear deal while four innocent Americans are being held hostage by Iran,” Malley told Reuters in an interview.

“So even as we’re conducting talks with Iran indirectly on the nuclear file we are conducting, again indirectly, discussions with them to ensure the release of our hostages,” he said in Vienna, where talks are taking place on bringing Washington and Tehran back into full compliance with the deal.

In recent years, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on espionage and security-related charges.

Rights groups have accused Iran of taking prisoners to gain diplomatic leverage, while Western powers have long demanded that Tehran free their citizens, who they say are political prisoners.

Tehran denies holding people for political reasons.

Malley was speaking in a joint interview with Barry Rosen, a 77-year-old former US diplomat who has been on a hunger strike in Vienna, to demand the release of US, British, French, German, Austrian and Swedish prisoners in Iran, and that no nuclear agreement be reached without their release.

Rosen was one of more than 50 US diplomats held during the 1979-1981 Iran hostage crisis.

“I’ve spoken to a number of the families of the hostages who are extraordinarily grateful for what Mr Rosen is doing but they also are imploring him to stop his hunger strike, as I am, because the message has been sent,” Malley said.

Rosen said that after five days of not eating he was feeling weak and would heed those

“With the request from Special Envoy Malley and my doctors and others, we’ve agreed [that] after this meeting I will stop my hunger strike but this does not mean that others will not take up the baton,” Rosen said.

The indirect talks between Iran and the United States on bringing both countries back into full compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal are in their eighth round. Iran refuses to hold meetings with US officials, meaning others shuttle between the two sides.

The 2015 deal between Iran and major powerslifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities that extended the time it would need to obtain enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb if it chose to. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

Then-President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018, reimposing punishing economic sanctions against Tehran. Iran responded by breaching many of the deal’s nuclear restrictions, to the point that Western powers say the deal will soon have been hollowed out completely.

The four US citizens held in Iran include Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, 50, and his father Baquer, 85, both of whom have been convicted of “collaboration with a hostile government”. Namazi remains in prison. His father was released on medical grounds in 2018 and his sentence later reduced to time served. While the elder Namazi is no longer jailed, a lawyer for the family says he is effectively barred from leaving Iran.

“Senior Biden administration officials have repeatedly told us that although the potential Iranian nuclear and hostage deals are independent and must be negotiated on parallel tracks, they will not just conclude the nuclear deal by itself,” said Jared Genser, pro bono counsel to the Namazi family.

“Otherwise, all leverage to get the hostages out will be lost,” he added.

The others are environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 66, who also holds British citizenship, and businessman Emad Shargi, 57.