Upgraded to New M3M Standard, Tu-22 Takes to Sky in August – By Andrei AKULOV (Strategic Cultural Foundation)

Upgraded to New M3M Standard, Tu-22 Takes to Sky in August
Andrei AKULOV | 09.06.2018 | SECURITY / DEFENSE

The Tu-22M3M variant of the Tu-22, a supersonic variable-sweep wing bomber, is to make its maiden flight in August and enter into service in October. The Russian Air Force operates 62 Tu-22M3s. Some of the planes have carried out combat missions in Syria. According to the plans that have been announced, 30 TU-22M3s will have been modernized to meet the M3M standard by 2020. This aircraft is not classified as a heavy bomber and therefore is not covered by the New START treaty.

This far-reaching upgrade includes improved avionics, a new communications suite, an updated weapon-control system, digital radio-navigation equipment, and the ability to attack surface and sea targets with long-range precision-guided weapons.

It has the following specifications: a maximum speed of 2,300 km/h; a cruising speed of 900 km/h; an operating ceiling of 13,000 m; a maximum altitude of 14,000 m; a rate of climb of 15m/s; an operational range of 7,000 km (10,000 km with air refueling); an empty weight of 53,500 kg; a maximum takeoff weight of 126,400 kg; and a crew of 4. The pressurized cockpit is fitted with climate-control systems. The plane is powered by two NK-25 turbofan engines with large air intakes and dual exhausts. Each engine produces a maximum thrust of 25,000 kg. With its tricycle gear, the aircraft can land on unprepared runways.

The armament suite includes a Kh-32 long-range, multi-purpose missile specifically designed to attack US Navy carrier strike groups with a nuclear or conventional 500-kilogram (1,102 lb) warhead. It can hit land targets as well. The list of enemy assets it is capable of knocking out includes radar equipment, large vessels, bridges, power stations, command posts, and other military installations. Equipped with an inertial navigation system and a radio-radar seeker, it need not depend on satellites for guidance, making it immune to jamming.

The missile flies along a unique trajectory, climbing to the stratosphere (40 kilometers) after launch and then either going straight down to hit the target or executing a shallower dive in order to approach it flying as low as five meters above the surface. At such a low altitude the Kh-32 cannot be detected by radar until it is only about 10 km away, leaving a reaction window of approximately 10 seconds. Fast and maneuverable, air-defense systems have little opportunity to fend it off. The SM-6 surface-to-air-missile (SAM), America’s best air-defense tool, is useless against the Kh-32.

It has an operational range of up to 1,000 kilometers and a maximum speed of 5,400 kilometers per hour (1,500 meters per second) during the terminal phase of its flight.

The Tu-22M3M can carry three KH-32s (weighing about six tons each) or 12 of the lighter Kh-15 missiles. The Raduga Kh-15 is an air-to-surface hypersonic aero-ballistic weapon with an operational range of 300 km. The aircraft will be able to carry six to eight Kh-SD medium-range (up to 2,000 km) cruise missiles, and there are plans to develop and produce it under the auspices of Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018–27 (GPV-2027).

Its payload is also made up of FAB-250 or FAB-1500 free-fall bombs. The aircraft is armed with a double-barreled GSH-23 (23 mm) gun installed in the remotely controlled tail turret.

The Tu-22M3M uses the SVP-24 all-weather special computing subsystem for precise guidance. The GLONASS satellite navigation system constantly compares the position of the plane and the target. The SVP-24 measures environmental parameters to correct the flight. Information is received from all datalinks to compute its flight envelope. There are enough sensors to enable targeting even if the GLONASS receivers are jammed. With fire-and–forget guidance in place, the pilot can concentrate on countering threats and finding new targets to hit.

Currently Russia’s strategic aviation fleet is undergoing an extensive revamping. The modernization of the Tu-160 supersonic strategic heavy bombers is underway and due to be complete by 2030, along with the Tu-22M3M upgrade. The Russian Air Force’s ability to attack enemy assets as an element of conventional, not nuclear, warfare will be greatly expanded. The conventional strike capability of its armed forces is to be augmented by adding relatively low-cost multipliers to their existing arsenal of conventional offensive long-range weapons. This will significantly enhance its power projection capability. The conflict in Syria has been a good example of this. The successful updates to Russia’s long-range aviation forces illustrate the ability of the Russian defense industry to meet the challenges of today.

Amnesty: US-Led Coalition Committed War Crimes In Raqqa, Syria – By Elliott Gabriel – (MINT PRESS)

This Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 frame grab made from drone video shows damaged buildings in Raqqa, Syria, two days after Syrian Democratic Forces said that military operations to oust ISIS have ended and that their fighters have taken full control of the city. (AP/ Gabriel Chaim)
Mass Destruction

“Everyone we spoke to in Raqqa agreed that Isis had to be defeated. But they asked why their families had to be killed and their city destroyed in the process.”

LONDON — Last year’s Washington-led coalition effort against the Islamic State (ISIS) group in the Syrian city of Raqqa included numerous “disproportionate or indiscriminate” attacks on the city, showing little regard for civilian lives and constituting potential war crimes, a new report by Amnesty International stated Tuesday.

The campaign to seize Raqqa spanned June to October of last year, and entailed tens of thousands of U.S. and allied air and artillery strikes in support of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed force dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia.

The report quotes U.S. Army Sergeant-Major John Wayne Troxell, who said:

In five months they [U.S. Marines] fired 30,000 artillery rounds on ISIS targets… They fired more rounds in five months in Raqqa, Syria, than any other Marine or Army battalion since the Vietnam War… Every minute of every hour we were putting some kind of fire on ISIS in Raqqa, whether it was mortars, artillery, rockets, Hellfires, armed drones, you name it.

“Given that artillery shells have a margin of error of over 100 meters, it is no surprise that the result was mass civilian casualties,” said Amnesty International senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera.

Read more from Elliott Gabriel

Around 90 percent of airstrikes and bombardments and the entirety of artillery strikes were carried out by U.S. military personnel, while the remaining airstrikes were launched by British and French forces. Remaining members of the 70-member U.S.-assembled Coalition assisted the indiscriminate bombing campaign with logistical help, such as refueling warplanes or by helping to identify targets.

Alleged deployment of white phosphorus munitions in Raqqa, Syria. as reported by ISIS-linked Amaq news. (Photo: YouTube)

As MintPress News has reported, Coalition forces also widely deployed white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, in spite of its urgings that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad refrain from the use of chemical agents in the war.

The report notes:

U.S. Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend claimed that the Coalition’s offensive on Raqqa had been ‘the most precise air campaign in the history.’ The reality on the ground could not be more different.”

Throughout the campaign and afterward, journalists and rights monitors warned about the massive destruction of the city that Coalition efforts had led to, with entire civilian districts facing utter destruction due to their unfortunate inclusion in the city. Raqqa had become the administrative capital of the so-called ISIS “caliphate” in 2014, with civilians bearing the brunt of its jihadist brand of Islamist extremism. Rather than being “liberated” by Coalition forces, however, the people of Raqqa instead faced a war of annihilation that claimed thousands of lives while displacing tens of thousands of residents from their homes.


The U.S.-led coalition’s indefensible attacks on civilians

Documenting the ordeals of four families whose experiences were typical of the broader ordeal faced by civilians, the report offers further damning evidence that the U.S. and its Coalition partners failed to minimize the potential of killing or harming civilians living in the ISIS-ruled city.

The report detailed the plight of the Aswad family, which lost eight members in a single airstrike, as well as the Badran family which lost 39 members, the Fayad family which lost 16 members and the Hashish family which lost 18 members. In each of the cases, powerful bombs struck buildings full of civilians who had taken up long-term residency there.

Amnesty added that the experiences of the families, who were among 112 civilians interviewed by the group in February, offers “prima facie evidence that several coalition attacks which killed and injured civilians violated international humanitarian law.”

Speaking to the BBC, Coalition spokesman U.S. Army Colonel Sean Ryan said that Amnesty personnel should “leave the comforts of the U.K.” and see for themselves how Coalition forces are “fighting an enemy that does not abide by any laws, norms or human concern,” including the use of non-combatants as human shields “in order to sadistically claim the coalition is killing civilians.”

Yet Amnesty did clearly detail in its report how ISIS jihadists also endangered civilians by hiding among them or placing them in harm’s way.


In an opinion piece defending the report, Rovera and Middle East researcher Benjamin Walsby noted:

Everyone we spoke to in Raqqa agreed that Isis had to be defeated. But they asked why their families had to be killed and their city destroyed in the process. The coalition remains stubbornly wedded to the notion that precision airstrikes allowed it to defeat Isis with a minimal cost to civilian life. This is wishful thinking, as Amnesty’s research has revealed in Raqqa (and before that in the Iraqi city of Mosul).”

The report ends with a demand for the Coalition to make a public admission of the civilian deaths in Raqqa, to release information publicly for use in an independent investigation, and to pay reparations to those survivors who suffered due to the indiscriminate or intentional destruction of their neighborhoods, families and homes.

Top Photo | This Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 frame grab made from drone video shows Raqqa effectively destroyed following US-Coalition airstrikes. (AP/ Gabriel Chaim)

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video – By RT


Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video
The Northern Fleet, which is arguably the most powerful Russian naval force, is celebrating 285 years of operations. Its anniversary video shows state-of-the-art vessels and unique installations in the Russian Arctic region.

Established back in 1733, the Northern Fleet comprises some of Russia’s most remarkable military hardware, with 41 submarines, 37 surface vessels and ground troops making it a “cross-branch strategic force”, as the Russian Defense Ministry puts it in a Twitter post. Its anniversary video shows various military exercises staged by the Northern Fleet forces, including submarines firing cruise and ballistic missiles, Tu-95 strategic bombers flying training sorties and military divers holding underwater firing drills.

The flagship of the fleet is a nuclear-powered battlecruiser the ‘Pyotr Velikiy,’ one of the biggest nuclear-propelled ships in the world. The ‘Admiral Kuznetsov,’ Russia’s only serving aircraft carrier, which took part in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in Syria in 2016, is also part of the Northern Fleet.

The naval force also has some of Russia’s most advanced nuclear-powered multipurpose submarines equipped with cruise and ballistic missiles. Two state-of-the-art submarines – a Yasen-M class vessel the Severodvinsk, carrying as many as 32 Onyx and Kalibr supersonic cruise missiles, and a Borei-class submarine the Yury Dolgorukiy, equipped with 16 Bulava nuclear ballistic missiles – are already in service in the fleet, while another Yasen-M class submarine, the Kazan, is currently undergoing sea trials.

The strategic force, which is particularly tasked with “defending Russia’s national interests in the Arctic,” also controls some unique military bases within the Polar circle. Of particular interest is Russia’s northernmost military base, called Arctic Shamrock.

The unique base is the world’s only permanent infrastructure facility built in the area located 80 degrees of latitude north of the Equator. The autonomous complex, which occupies an area of 14,000 square meters, allows up to 150 people to live and work there for as long as 18 months without any external support.

The Russian infrastructure in the Polar region is “unmatched” by any other country, the country’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said, in December 2017.

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Flemish Priest Father Daniël Maes Living In Syria Exposes The Truth The Western Press Ignores – By Bahar Azizi (Sott.net)

father daniel maes

Father Daniël Maes

Living in Syria in the sixth-century-old Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara, 90 kilometers north of the capital Damascus, Flemish Father Daniël Maes has been a witness to the invasion of western-backed terrorists since the very beginning. To this day, he and his friends continue to help the Syrian people by not only helping them directly, but also by spreading the truth about what is truly going on in the country.

Each week, a newsletter written by Father Daniël is published, in which he describes his experiences and thoughts on the situation in Syria. After the liberation of East Ghouta, with the help of much needed donations and NGOs such as Hand in Hand voor Syrië who have provided containers full of relief goods – Father Daniël and others have been lending a great helping hand to the people liberated from the area.

In his newsletter published on April 6th, he writes:

Regardless of everything, the Easter 2018 festivities were greatly celebrated. People dance and sing, because Eastern Ghouta has finally (almost completely) been liberated by the Syrian army and its allies. The true horror is now coming to the surface: Thousands of men had to dig tunnels of tens of kilometers long, like slaves, until they got tired, and then killed. See what the Syrian army has found: Prisons and torture rooms, great supplies of food and medical supplies belonging to the international humanitarian help, all kept by the terrorists, a fully equipped hospital, a significant amount of weapons, ammunition and even factories, also for chemical weapons, sophisticated communication…

The great news reporters of the ‘moderate rebels’ (the ‘White Helmets’ and the ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’) ignore all of this, and thus the western media does too. In their blindness, they still believe that the ‘horrible Syrian dictator’ is the cause of all this misery and that he has to be stopped using military violence. They find it so bothersome that the Syrian army has put a stop to the ‘liberating work’ of these ‘moderate rebels’. And thus, our VRT [a Flemish broadcaster], like the others, continue to encourage a dirty war for seven years now, to make the suffering of the Syrian people even more intolerable.

That is sadly the truth. Mainstream media in Western countries have not published a word about the murderous actions of these so-called ‘moderate rebels’, or about how President Assad is loved – and not hated – by a great majority of the Syrian people, or about the actions of the Syrian army and allies that have saved so many lives. All we hear are hysterical accusations, with no evidence provided.

The sources used by the pusillanimous Western press are the ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ (SOHR), a shady UK-based ‘information office’ which has been spreading non-factual information about Syria, and the ‘White Helmets’; terrorists wearing white helmets pretending to save people, and who share pictures and videos on social media trying to show how helpful they are, and how evil the ‘Assad regime’ is. Their ‘evidence’ has been exposed as false numerous times. Yet, the ‘White Helmets’ continue to receive large amounts of cash. As of October 2016, this fake ‘humanitarian’ outfit has received $123 million, and an additional £32 million from the UK Foreign Office. It is depressing to realize that our tax money is being spent on supporting terrorists and on the deliberate spreading of disinformation.

Meanwhile, it is the Syrian people who are directly affected by both the financial and Western media support for terrorists in Syria. Father Daniël shared one particular sad story of a Christian family whose sons were kidnapped by terrorists. There is still no news of the fate of the eldest son, but sad news broke recently about the younger son. In his newsletter, Father Daniël writes:

“A Christian family, who are close with our community consists of three sons, two of whom are soldiers.The eldest was kidnapped as a soldier years ago, and there has been no news about him. The other soldier, Samer, was allowed to be off duty for Easter 2016. Together with his twin brother, he was responsible for the group of children, the altar servers, in the sacristy. After Easter, Samer returned to his unit in Aleppo and was also kidnapped by terrorists.

His parents are very brave and especially the mother continues to help with a smile on her face. Together with another Christian woman, she comes pretty much every day to our kitchen to help us, and she likes it when we enjoy their food.

On the second day of Easter, we heard from the colonel, who is responsible for this area, that this second brother, Samer, had been found dead in a pit. He was found on Friday evening, but they waited before breaking the news. Furthermore, the body was barely recognizable due to it being there for at least a year and a half. The colonel asked us if we could tell the parents.

Two years ago, on the second day of Easter, the parents received the news that Samer had been kidnapped. On the exact same day this year (March 29th), they received the news that he had been killed. In the morning we went with other community members to the parents, and we were welcomed by the mother, as always, with great joviality and happiness.

When the news about her son was told to her, she started crying. During the early afternoon, people came by and most of the women were crying loudly. Both parents come from a very large family, and brothers, sisters and cousins live nearby. They themselves live in a large house with a rectangular atrium covered by one great grape vine. Slowly the group became divided in two.

Inside, the women were sitting and prayed the Rosary, and outside were the men. That changed here and there when men came in to first give their condolences to the mother. Meanwhile, two hours have passed and the mother didn’t want anyone to leave without having eaten. There was indeed an afternoon meal that was prepared. When someone asked me if I didn’t want to rest, she called her son who brought me to the room where Samer’s bed still stands. On his bed, I rested a little. While feeling broken herself, the mother still worries about the well-being of others.

At five o’clock we all went to the formal service of the second day of Easter. During this service, a prayer was said especially for Samer. At the end of this Eucharist, as usual, the gospel of Jesus’ apparition was read in all kinds of languages … After that we walked back to the house of Samer’s parents to say goodbye.

The next day was a very interesting funeral service (no Eucharist). There were probably as many people outside the church, as inside: Many soldiers, many Muslims. The vicar-general together with the parish priest were leading the service. The Orthodox priest Paisios was also present. The coffin was covered with the Syrian flag. After the service, the coffin was carried by soldiers towards the cemetery and at each intersection, the coffin was held high and rotated several times. Only men went to the cemetery. There was a cross, the Syrian flag, and a beautiful large picture of Samer.

First he was hailed in a grand speech, where it was mentioned how he had served to liberate areas of the country. During the deafening applause that followed, you could feel the pain and the pride of a people for their martyrs, who gave their lives for their people. […]

Meanwhile, with the liberation of Eastern Ghouta, many civilians were in need of help, which Father Daniël and others have been providing. Their community is taking care of 25,000 people. He writes that they have three ambulances and two mobile hospitals, which are available 24/7 and where 7 doctors or specialists are working. There are rows of people standing in front of the ambulances, as many have wounds that need to be treated. Food is being given to about 10,000 people on a daily basis, and they hope to extend this to 25,000. In Northern Ghouta, six help centres have been established.

He adds that in the centre of Ghouta, there are still people being held hostage. “Mother Agnes and Zaki have been exploring the area. It’s an area where snipers are still killing people. Everyone is hoping for a complete liberation soon,” Father Daniël writes.

He continues in his letter with a mention of a mother and her daughter being brought to the shelter:

“On a Monday evening, a mother and her daughter were brought from Damascus to be taken care of. Both were very thin. The girl is seven years old, but so tiny that she looks younger. The children immediately took her under their wing. She’s never been to school. They were the only Christian family amidst Muslims, who have been terrorized for seven years by the West’s jihadis. This Christian family suffered the most.

Women and children are now liberated. The men will be checked, because there are many terrorists wishing to escape this way. The father is wounded due to terrorist bombings and will hopefully soon be free so that he can reunite with his family. The mother would like to baptize her child. When a Syrian sister asked the little girl whether or not she was afraid of those bombardments, the girl answered spontaneously: “God protects me.

These stories will never reach the Western media because they deliberately ignore them because they do not fit with the bogus narrative spread by Western governments about Syria. The mainstream media will only tell its readers about the suffering of the Syrian people when it suits their agenda – and when they do, they falsely put the blame on the ‘Assad regime’.

Thankfully, the Syrian Army and allies have managed to liberate Eastern Ghouta completely, and with the direct help of people on the ground, such as Father Daniël, hope continues to grow for the Syrian people.


Bahar Azizi (Profile)

Originally from Afghanistan, Bahar Azizi lives in Europe, holds an MA in psychology, is an instructor in Éiriú Eolas meditation, and is a keen animal lover. Bahar has been a contributing writer and editor at SOTT.net since 2012 and occasionally co-hosts the ‘Behind the Headlines’ show on ‌the Sott Radio Network.


Britain’s presumption of guilt towards Russia invites conflict and chaos – By Finian Cunnigham (RT)

Finian Cunningham
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.
Britain’s presumption of guilt towards Russia invites conflict and chaos
Britain’s abandonment of due process has taken a dangerous and reckless leap, with Theresa May declaring economic sanctions and diplomatic expulsions for Russia’s “failure” to respond to allegations over the Skripal poisoning.

Provocatively, Moscow was given a 24-hour deadline to “answer” charges leveled by the British government that it was responsible for the attempted murder of a Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, who had been living in England since 2010 after a spy-swap deal.

Skripal (66) and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were apparently stricken with a deadly nerve agent in his adopted hometown of Salisbury on March 4 while strolling through a public park. The pair have been receiving treatment in intensive care ever since.

Earlier this week, the British prime minister asserted that the chemical weapon used was a Soviet-era nerve agent, Novichok, and – on that basis – the Russian state was implicated in the attempted murder of the former spy. Skripal had been exiled from Russia in 2010 after he was convicted of treason as a double agent for British intelligence MI6.

The new economic and diplomatic sanctions against Moscow, which were announced by May in the House of Commons on Wednesday, constitute a reckless escalation towards conflict between Britain, its NATO allies, and Russia.

Moscow has said it will not stand for British punitive measures and is vowing to take reciprocal actions.

Washington and European states have quickly followed Britain’s lead in ramping up hostile rhetoric towards Russia, and issuing statements of “solidarity.” Relations between Russia and NATO states had already plummeted to Cold War depths before the latest row.

The invitation for more chaos and conflict comes with the abandonment of any pretense at upholding legal principles and standards.

Britain and its allies are relying on the inverted principle of “presumption of guilt” as opposed to “innocence.” Within days of the apparent poison attack on the Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the British authorities and media had rushed to judgement that the alleged attack was the work of the Russian state in an act of revenge for past betrayal. That motive does not stand up to scrutiny, noted former British ambassador Craig Murray.

Furthermore, the hypothetical Soviet-era nerve agent identified by the British authorities has not been independently verified. We are relying on official British claims. The alleged chemical may or may not have been used in the attack.

READ MORE: Corbyn challenges May’s ‘evidence’ of Russian ‘culpability’ in ex-spy poisoning

As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov revealed, all requests from Moscow for access to the alleged poison as evidence have been refused by London. Such a refusal is a violation of the Convention on Chemical Weapons treaty, which mandates joint inspection of alleged incidents.

So, the British government imposed an ultimatum on Russia to provide “answers” to provocative charges without Moscow being given a fair chance to ascertain those charges. On the basis of that contemptible lack of due process, the British are calling on its NATO allies to escalate punitive measures against Russia.

There are even British media reports of Britain invoking NATO’s Article Five clause, which mandates the military pact to come to the defense of another member deemed to be under attack.

One senior British cabinet minister was quoted anonymously by The Independent as saying: “What happens will be an economic war, these will be economic measures. Russia’s economy is only half that of the UK… That doesn’t give us any pleasure at all, but we need the nations of Europe to behave within the rule of law and not like gangsters.

The logic is unhinged. British authorities are claiming to be acting within the rule of law against Russian “gangsters,” when in fact it is the British who are bludgeoning any legal standard of due process.

Paramount to due process is the presumption of innocence, which is the bedrock of international law and the United Nations’ Charter of Human Rights.

Canadian-based war crimes defense attorney Christopher Black says: “The presumption of innocence is the foundation stone of modern criminal justice. It is the pre-eminent factor in every trial. The accused is deemed to be innocent unless and until evidence that cannot be doubted establishes that the crime took place as claimed, and the accused is the person who committed it and had the intent to commit it.”

Black says that this is the exact opposite of what is taking place with regard to British claims over the latest alleged poisoning incident in Britain. The lawyer adds that the erosion of standard legal principle has been underway for several years due to political expedience by Western states. He points to the various ad-hoc war-crimes trials pushed by the United States and its NATO allies to convict political enemies in former Yugoslavia and Africa.

With regard to Russia and, in particular, the demonization of the government under President Vladimir Putin, the Western states have used the principle of “presumption of guilt” on numerous occasions, including the downing of the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in 2014; implicating Russia in Ukraine’s conflict; smearing Russia over sports doping and banning it from the Olympics; allegations of Russian “interference” in US and European elections; and blackening Moscow for “war crimes” in Syria.

In all cases, allegations are simply leveled and repeated ad nauseam without evidence ever being presented. Indeed, sometimes in spite of plausible counter-evidence.

Christopher Black continues: “The accusations against Russia from the MH-17 Malaysian airliner, Crimea, Ukraine, electoral interference, and so on, are all part of carefully orchestrated propaganda warfare aimed at reducing Russia’s prestige in the world, its range of friends and allies, and to paint it as the ‘evil other’ for the Western public, who are having their minds conditioned to prepare them for war.

The presumption of guilt towards Russia has now converged over chemical weapons and Syria.

In rallying Washington and European allies to back Britain’s “economic war” against Russia, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson this week said of conversations with his French counterpart: “The French government stressed particular concerns about Russia’s use of chemical weapons elsewhere, as is evident with their support to Assad’s murderous regime in Syria.”

On the basis of no evidence, dubious hearsay from terrorist-affiliated groups like the White Helmets, and the expedient presumption of guilt, Britain and its NATO allies are willing to go to war in Syria.

This week, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accused Syria and its Russian ally of carrying out chemical-weapons attacks, for which the “US is prepared to take military actions.

All this should be a lesson on why there is such a thing as legal standards and due process as a safeguard for international order. Once certain states start to assert “presumption of guilt” towards others, then all pretense of upholding law and order collapses into a descent of chaos and conflict.

Attorney Christopher Black goes further. He says that Britain and its NATO allies are not just derelict in their duty to abide by law. “As in the latest reckless statements concerning Russia and the alleged poisoning in Britain, the case can be made that the British and their allies are in fact guilty of war crimes by inciting the conditions for war.

Finally, there is one very obvious question that nobody seems to be asking, and that relates to the timing of Skripal’s alleged poisoning. Why would Russia do it now, just a week before the presidential election and three months before the World Cup?

It suggests total insanity on Moscow’s part. How could Russia possibly benefit from such an act? Skripal was previously in Russian custody and has lived in the UK for years. If Russia did want to poison him, as the UK has imagined, could it not have waited for a few more months?

It is not clear who benefitted from the inopportune timing of the incident, but certainly wasn’t Russia.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Indestructible Armata: the Russian Tank That Can Survive Any Hit -By SPUTNIK

Russian T-14 Armata tanks drive during the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in Moscow on May 9, 2015.

Military & Intelligence

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Russia’s state-of-the-art T-14 Armata main battle tanks will be integrated into the automatic system of tactical troop and weapons control, Ground Forces Commander Oleg Salyukov has told Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper.

Col. Gen. Salyukov said that because the T-14 is a completely new design bristling with innovations, the manufacturers have been working according to plan to bring it up to speed and fine-tune its onboard systems.

“The T-14 Armata uses an innovative arrangement with an armored capsule for the crew, ammunition and fuel, and remote-controlled fire control system. This notably improves the tank’s survivability on the battlefield,” Salyukov said.

He added that the Armata’s protective gear was designed to make it stealthy, hard to lock-on by precision weapons with its active protection system ensuring timely detection and destruction of incoming munitions.

“Even if hit, the tank’s explosive reactive armor ensures a high degree of protection against all existing anti-tank weapons,” the General noted, adding that the new-generation Armata will leave behind almost all-mass-produced Russian and the best foreign counterparts.He also mentioned the T-14’s new generation 125mm cannon, newly-designed high-powered munitions and an all-weather digital fire-control system capable of destroying heavily-protected targets on a 24-hour basis.

The T-14 boasts cutting-edge onboard gear with each crew member assigned a video camera and a touchpad to ensure all-round vision.

“The prototype uses a modular structure using unique digital and programming solutions with a virtually unlimited potential for modernization and automation,” General Salyukov emphasized.

The next-generation Armata T-14 main battle tank was first shown to the public in 2016, during the May 9 Victory Day military parade in Moscow.

READ MORE: No Analogue: Russia’s Armata Tank Blasts Through West’s Post-Soviet Expectations

Putin Is Not Rattling Nuclear Sabers – It’s Real – By F. William Engdahl (NEW EASTERN OUTLOOK)

Author: F. William Engdahl




The annual speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 1 to the Russian Federal Assembly, televised to the nation, contained a section on Russian military cutting edge technologies that NATO-friendly media chose to either downplay as a propaganda ploy or an election campaign stunt. Given the hints of Russian military technology developments unveiled in the Syrian war theater since September 2015, Washington ignores what is clearly a strategic game-breaking development and makes all the hundreds of billions of dollars of so-called US missile defense technology being deployed from South Korea, Japan, Poland and beyond into little more than a Pentagon defense boondoggle.

The military security section of Putin’s two hour speech to the Russian Federal Assembly on March 1 began some two-thirds into his remarks, after extensive discussions of plans to lift the economy, transform health care, improve education.

The keystone of Putin’s security remarks, ignored in mainstream western media coverage, was the Russian response has been to the “unilateral US withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the practical deployment of their missile defense systems both in the US and beyond their national borders.”

The strategic significance of that decision by the Bush-Cheney Administration was not lost on Russian military defense planners. It opened the door for the Pentagon and for NATO to encircle Russia with a ring of ballistic missile defense systems aimed at Russian nuclear missile launch sites. Putin clarified that that 1972 ABM Treaty had made nuclear war unthinkable, the foundation of Mutual and Assured Destruction or MAD: “the ABM Treaty not only created an atmosphere of trust but also prevented either party from recklessly using nuclear weapons, which would have endangered humankind, because the limited number of ballistic missile defense systems made the potential aggressor vulnerable to a response strike.”

When Washington unilaterally pulled out of the ABM Treaty in 2002, the US Government began an aggressive series of moves including bringing NATO to the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe, fomenting a coup and civil war in Ukraine and other provocations that have led to construction of anti-ballistic missile bases in Romania and Poland—both NATO members, as well as in the Russian Far East in Japan and South Korea. Additionally, as Putin noted, “The US global missile defense system also includes five cruisers and 30 destroyers, which, as far as we know, have been deployed to regions in close proximity to Russia’s borders.” This is no minor deployment in Russian eyes.

Trump Nuclear Posture Review

The decision by the Russian leadership now to unveil a daunting array of its cutting-edge military technologies including nuclear-powered hypersonic cruise missiles and underwater drones was no election ploy. It was a clear and direct reply to the January 2018 State of the Union address to Congress of the US President and publication days later of their 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), and Putin says so.

The Trump 2018 NPR document is a radical shift from previous administrations. It abandons the earlier declarations of “no first use” of nuclear weapons, and boosts nuclear modernization efforts including the intention to bring on “new” nuclear weapons, restoration of submarine-launched cruise missile capability and low-explosive-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads, and to sideline arms control. In one section the new US Nuclear Posture Review declares that, “The United States would only consider the employment of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies, and partners. Extreme circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks…” (emphasis added-w.e.). No definition of what Washington calls a “significant non-nuclear strategic attack” is made. In brief, as one US nuclear analyst noted, the new US nuclear doctrine is based on competition and confrontation.

After describing repeated Russian efforts with Washington to reinstate the ABM Treaty after the Bush Administration unilaterally abandoned it in 2002, Putin noted, “At one point, I thought that a compromise was possible, but this was not to be. All our proposals, absolutely all of them, were rejected. And then we said that we would have to improve our modern strike systems to protect our security. In reply, the US said that it is not creating a global BMD system against Russia…”

That of course was a calculated strategic lie. Russia concluded, after repeated efforts at negotiation, that Washington, following the destruction of Russia’s military and economy in the 1990s Yeltsin era post-Soviet economic collapse, was determined to “pursue ultimate unilateral military advantage in order to dictate the terms in every sphere in the future.”

Nuclear Primacy

Nuclear First Strike or Nuclear Primacy as it is technically called, is the ultimate unilateral military advantage Pentagon strategists have dreamt of since the 1950’s when the USSR tested its first H-bomb and ICBMs. The primacy is the ability to launch a nuclear first strike against Russia with little fear Russia will be able to counter convincingly because US missile defense arrays have been able to knock out the vast majority of Russian nuclear weapons.

The US missile defense is not at all defensive. It is offensive in the extreme. If the United States were able to shield itself effectively from a potential Russian retaliation for a US nuclear First Strike, then the US would be able to dictate its terms to the entire world, not just to Russia. That would be Nuclear Primacy. As the late Lt. Colonel Robert Bowman, former director of the Reagan US Missile Defense Program expressed it to me some years ago in a private exchange, “Missile defense is the missing link to a First Strike.”

In his latest speech Putin describes the strategic reality Russian military security planners face: “The US is permitting constant, uncontrolled growth of the number of anti-ballistic missiles, improving their quality, and creating new missile launching areas. If we do not do something, eventually this will result in the complete devaluation of Russia’s nuclear potential. Meaning that all of our missiles could simply be intercepted.”

When the stakes involve unleashing a nuclear holocaust, even if it begins with “low yield” nuclear weapons, against a backdrop of virtual new Cold War confrontations with Russia in recent years, it is no surprise that Russia’s military and security council have decided at just this precarious point in a growing East-West confrontation to unveil a sober response.

Blocking Nuclear Primacy: The Russian Response

Putin unveiled for the first time measures the Russian military R&D has pursued quietly since 2002 to counter the ever-more clear US Nuclear Primacy agenda. He noted that Russia has “developed, and works continuously to perfect highly effective but modestly priced systems to overcome missile defense. They are installed on all of our intercontinental ballistic missile complexes.” However, the real new element Putin revealed is a staggering list of new advanced next generation missiles able to evade US or NATO anti-missile defenses.

First he showed a film of the new Sarmat missile. Weighing over 200 tons with a short boost phase, it is very difficult for US missile defense systems to intercept. Sarmat can be equipped with powerful nuclear warheads, including hypersonic, and the most modern means of evading missile defense. It has virtually unlimited range and capable of attack over both North and South poles.

Sarmat was only the first mentioned response to the growing NATO threat. Putin then described the Russian defense industry development of “a small-scale heavy-duty nuclear energy unit that can be installed in a missile like our latest X-101 air-launched missile or the American Tomahawk missile – a similar type but with a range dozens of times longer, dozens, basically an unlimited range. It is a low-flying stealth missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with almost an unlimited range, unpredictable trajectory and ability to bypass interception boundaries. It is invincible against all existing and prospective missile defense and counter-air defense systems.”

Then in terms of new Russian cutting-edge pilotless weapon systems, he revealed the successful development of Russian “unmanned submersible vehicles that can move at great depths (I would say extreme depths) intercontinentally, at a speed multiple times higher than the speed of submarines, cutting-edge torpedoes and all kinds of surface vessels, including some of the fastest. It is really fantastic. They are quiet, highly maneuverable and have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit. There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them.”

Putin added that the new submersibles “can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables them to engage various targets, including aircraft groups, coastal fortifications and infrastructure.”

So much for the US doctrine of force projection supremacy via its ten aircraft carrier strike groups, which now become so many sitting ducks.

Putin went on to note that the nuclear power unit for the unmanned submersible has been tested over a period of many years, and that it is “a hundred times smaller than the units that power modern submarines, but is still more powerful and can switch into combat mode, that is to say, reach maximum capacity, 200 times faster.”

Kinzahl and Avangard

Additionally Putin unveiled the Russian hypersonic Kinzhal or Dagger system. This is as Putin describes it, “a high-precision hypersonic aircraft missile system… the only one of its kind in the world. Its tests have been successfully completed, and, moreover, on December 1 of last year, these systems began their trial service at the airfields of the Southern Military District.”

In other words it is not hypothetical, rather it is operational. The definition of hypersonic is an aircraft flying 5 or more times the speed of sound. The Kinzhal goes Mach 10 or ten times. As Putin describes it, “The missile flying at a hypersonic speed, 10 times faster than the speed of sound, can also maneuver at all phases of its flight trajectory, which also allows it to overcome all existing and, I think, prospective anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems, delivering nuclear and conventional warheads in a range of over 2,000 kilometers.”

Finally, the Russian President revealed development of Avangard, a hypersonic missile that flies at speeds in excess of Mach 20: “In moving to its target, the missile’s gliding cruise bloc engages in intensive maneuvering – both lateral (by several thousand km) and vertical. This is what makes it absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defense system. The use of new composite materials has made it possible to enable the gliding cruise bloc to make a long-distance guided flight practically in conditions of plasma formation. It flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire. The temperature on its surface reaches 1,600–2,000 degrees Celsius but the cruise bloc is reliably guided.”

Putin’s remarks conclude with the statement, fully ignored in the West, that, “We have repeatedly told our American and European partners who are NATO members: we will make the necessary efforts to neutralize the threats posed by the deployment of the US global missile defense system.” He makes clear what Russia has warned Washington and NATO of since 2004: “Despite all the problems with the economy, finances and the defense industry, Russia has remained a major nuclear power. No, nobody really wanted to talk to us about the core of the problem, and nobody wanted to listen to us. So listen now.”

One of the most succinct assessments of the Putin military revelations comes from The Saker, one of the most clear and sober commentators on Russian and Western military capabilities. In his blog the day of the Putin speech he remarked, “It is indeed set, match and game over for the Empire: there is no more military option against Russia.”

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

Russian MoD: E. Ghouta terrorists use civilians as ‘human shields,’ plan to sabotage UN aid – Civilians form armed groups to combat militant factions and escape – By RT (SOTT)

Tarma in the eastern Ghouta region

© Ammar Suleiman / AFP
Tarma in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on March 2, 2018

Terrorists in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta are hiding in civilians’ homes, taking away food and stealing instructions on how to pass through the humanitarian corridor. Militants also plan to shell aid convoys, the Russian military said.

The militants are continuing their activities during the daily humanitarian pauses, and on Saturday before noon they opened fire four times at the humanitarian corridor in besieged Eastern Ghouta, injuring three locals, Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin, a spokesman for the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, stated.

Jaysh al-Islam terrorists try to cover their command posts in civilian infrastructure and use locals’ homes for this purpose. They also use underground tunnels, according to the general.

“These actions of militias, as well as their continuing shelling of Damascus and its suburbs, are war crimes and the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” Zolotukhin said.

The terrorists “take away food from people” during “massive searches” to further deteriorate the humanitarian situation in the area, according to the Russian Center for Reconciliation.

The militants also deprive people of special brochures with instructions on how to pass through the humanitarian corridor. Some 100,000 brochures were dropped above the Damascus suburb, instructing the civilians to hold them above their heads while passing.

The Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria has also warned that “jihadists are plotting mortar shelling of [the UN humanitarian] convoy and putting the blame on the government forces.”

Earlier, the Syrian government “got information about provocations prepared by the Jabhat al-Nusra, Feylaq al-Rahman and Akhrar al-Sham [terrorist groups] using poisonous agents” in Eastern Ghouta, the Russian military said. The chemical attack is being prepared to give the West an opportunity “to blame the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against the people.”

Russia has repeatedly called on the militants to observe the ceasefire and let civilians flee the area, as they are being held as “human shields” to stop strikes from government forces. Ignoring those calls, the militants continue to prevent civilians from fleeing and sabotage the humanitarian operation there. On Friday, two children, a boy and a girl, managed to flee Eastern Ghouta overnight via a humanitarian corridor while being fired upon.

A daily humanitarian pause to give civilians an opportunity to escape the conflict areas was established in Eastern Ghouta on February 27. Earlier in February, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution proposing a 30-day humanitarian ceasefire in Syria. The ceasefire does not apply to members of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), Al-Nusra Front or any other terrorist organizations.

Comment: Civilians in insurgent-controlled areas of Damascus’ East Ghouta region are beginning to form armed groups to combat militant factions and escape towards government-held areas according to reports by Russian military sources.

Reports state that what started off as protests against militant groups in East Ghouta by disillusioned ‘civic activists’ is now slowly turning into a grass-roots counter-insurgency movement.

Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko, a spokesman for the Russian Reconciliation for Syria, said earlier today that the situation around the humanitarian corridor in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta remains tense, with militant snipers regularly firing at access routes.

“(The) situation near the check point is still strained. Since yesterday evening, snipers have been shelling at approaches to the check point. Today, the Jeish al-Islam terrorists have carried out two mortar attacks from Eastern outskirts of Douma targeting the security corridor leading to the checkpoint near al-Waffedeen,” Yevtushenko said.

According to Yevtushenko, residents of Eastern Ghouta are provided with information about exit routes and rules for safe leaving the area through the humanitarian corridor.

Master Stroke: US Scholar Explains Why ‘Putin Has Trump in His Back Pocket’ – By RT

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall

While addressing the Federal Assembly on March 1, President Putin said that Russia has developed new invincible weapons. Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Harvey Wasserman, co-founder of the global grassroots No Nukes movement and author of Solartopia, lauded Putin’s speech and shared his views on Russia’s defense strategy.

Sputnik: What are your thoughts on President Putin’s speech? Did anything what he said come as a surprise to you?

Harvey Wasserman: No, but I think it was brilliant. I mean, as an American, we look at Donald Trump and then we look at Putin, and Putin is obviously much more intelligent than Trump; and I think he has Trump in his back pocket, because a lot of financial dealings Trump has done with Russian billionaires — which I think many of them were probably illegal and will definitely haunt the Trump administration. What I’ve seen with Putin’s talk he is truly talking about weapons that are on another level of technology and which will ultimately be much cheaper than the ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missiles] / B-52 type of nuclear deterrence.

READ MORE: Putin: New Russian Nuclear-Powered ICBMs Successfully Tested (VIDEO)

What he [Putin] has put forward really is a hi-tech model that is really going to be impenetrable. Now whether Russia actually has these weapons is another story that does not matter. I mean what Putin has done here is that he set the table for the ability to have a major deterrence without spending all the money on it. And obviously Russia needs its limited capital to do the kind of things he talked about, which is to reduce poverty and to, you know, raise the standard of living in what’s otherwise a poor country.

The big frame, that’s dragging all the countries of the world down, but especially Russia, is all this defense spending. So if Putin can put forward a model where he can credibly add a deterrence force without having to spend a ton of money on it, then he has actually achieved a great step forward this century. We should all know that nuclear weapons are completely unusable. A nuclear weapon basically is a match in pool of gasoline and any use of any nuclear weapons on this planet will doom our entire species. And I wish people would start talking about that. What I am hoping is that Putin has made these threats and that they are Credible, but he does not actually have the weapons he is talking about.

READ MORE: Pentagon Takes Into Consideration New Russian Hypersonic Weapons

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall
© Sputnik/ Grigoriy Sisoev
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall

Sputnik: Some experts said that Mr. Putin’s speech was a plea to the United States to start dialogue again. What is your take on that?

Harvey Wasserman: I think it’s true. I think he is dealing with someone in our White House in America is not intellectually capable of having a discussion on this level. Donald Trump’s mental abilities are simply not on a level that could credibly deal with things like a nuclear deterrence and I don’t think he has anybody around him who has that capability, certainly not Jared Kushner or his daughter Ivanka. So we are in a situation now where the weapon that Russia has is a prime minister or a leader who is more intelligent than the one in the United States.

READ MORE: Putin’s Address Throws a Wet Blanket on New Arms Race Proponents — Politician

The European leaders — [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel and so on — I think they understand what’s going on. But I think what Putin has done here is a master stroke: He has invoked technologies that I pray do not exist but which we can’t really be certain exist, and then the whole our strategy of deterrence to keep your opponent off guard. So what he has done here maybe is established a nuclear deterrence without having to pay for it. And I hope to God that he and other people around Trump are smart enough to understand that the use of a nuclear weapon is a species suicide and under no circumstances should any nuclear weapons ever be used. [Barack] Obama was on the right path we need to abolish all the nuclear weapons but in the meantime this hi-tech game playing is actually a master stroke.

The views and opinions expressed by Harvey Wasserman are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Russia has developed lasers to neutralise satellites anonymous source claims -By Patrick Tucker (Defense One) (SOTT)

china lazers

A defense source tells Russian media that military engineers have advanced work on the next big anti-satellite weapon.

Russian defense companies have created a plane-mounted laser that can hit satellites – at least according to an anonymous source quoted by Russian news agency Interfax. On Saturday, an Interfax report cited the source as saying that weapons maker Almaz-Antey has “completed work on the anti-satellite complex,” which includes the laser and associated ground control gear.

Independent and Western observers have not yet verified the claim. But the Russian program does exist. Last April, Almaz-Antey general designer Pavel Sozinov told Russian news agency Ria Novosti that Russian leadership had ordered the company to develop weapons that could interfere electronically with or achieve “direct functional destruction of those elements deployed in orbit.”

The program builds off the Soviet-era Beriev A-60, a gas laser fitted inside a heavily modified Ilyushin Il-76MD cargo plane. The effort also bears some resemblance to the Soviets’ 1984 Kontakt 30P6 program, which sought to modify a MiG-31D to draw targeting data from the Krona-N space and satellite observation complex and shoot down an enemy satellite with a 79M6 Kontakt missile.

The new laser will be fitted aboard a brand-new, as-yet-unnamed aircraft, as part of a new anti-satellite “complex” that will likely involve ground and radar elements as well, Interfax reported.

Samuel Bendett, a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, said, “Russia considers American satellites a significant threat when it comes to potential confrontation, and is actively working to counter U.S. technologies in space, such as possible electronic warfare technologies that can target hundreds of kilometers up. The developments in laser technologies are in step with U.S. and Chinese advancements in this area.”

U.S. defense officials are increasingly concerned about anti-satellite weapons. “We assess that Russia and China perceive a need to offset any U.S. military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems and are increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine,” Dan Coats, who directs the director of the Office of National Intelligence, told lawmakers last May.

Comment: The US – and its lackeys – tends to hype these issues as scare tactics are good for fund raising, and to keep pushing the idea of the enemy ‘out there’.

A Joint Staff report obtained by the Washington Free Beacon in January, predicted that Russia or China would be able to destroy U.S. satellites within a decade.

Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging technology in Slate, … Full bio

Comment: Russia and China are capable of achieving much more impressive technological feats – militarily and otherwise – with a lot less cash, in a shorter time, and seemingly without all the ‘complicationsthat plague the crumbling Western nations:

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