Russia Surpasses US in Nuclear Weapons Technology as Putin Blames US for Moscow Takeover, NATO „Scared By Precious Silva | November 24, 2014 10:51 PM ESTCrisis in Ukraine has sparked even more controversies as Russia accuses the United States of pushing for regime change in Moscow. Tension across the globe has also been rising following the country’s aggressive military mobilizations on Ukraine with recent evaluations saying that Russia may now be at par, perhaps even beyond, the nuclear capabilities of the West. Are Vladimir Putin and his country a rising threat? ReutersRussian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a meeting at Kremlin in Moscow July 31, 2014.Last September 1, 2014, a report from the US State Department claimed that in 40 years and for the first time following the USSR collapse, Russia achieved strategic nuclear weapons’ parity with the United States. More importantly, Washington said that Moscow may have regained a status similar to the mid-70′s Sovient Union. To be exact, the State Department revealed that Russia now has 528 carriers of strategic nuclear weapons capable of carrying 1,643 warheads. The United States, as per the report, manages 794 vehicles including 1,652 nuclear warheads. The report considers Russia’s weapons advanced than US primarily because it guarantees parity on warheads with a fewer strategic nuclear weapons’ carrier. The gap may even widen in the future considering the promise of Russian defense officials to add new generation missiles to Russia’s SNF. The reportedly growing military power of Russia injects more tension as its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia attacks the West’s sanctions on the country. According to the minister (via CNN): „As for the concept behind the use of coercive measures, the West is making it clear it does not want to try to change the policy of the Russian Federation … they want to change the regime — practically no one denies this.” This reflects the waning ties between the United States and several European nations with Russia. These countries condemned Russia’s move on Ukraine such as sending troops to the region to overthrow Ukrainian government forces. CNN also reported that Moscow has been vocal about its support to the rebels in Ukraine even sending aid convoys. However, the region did deny being militarily involved. Reuters’ report, on other hand, demonstrates new lows in country relations for Russia. In order to pressure Russia in its involvement with Ukraine, the European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on the country. Reuters quoted Putin: „We understand the fatality of an ‘Iron Curtain’ for us.” „We will not go down this path in any case and no one will build a wall around us. That is impossible!” Ukraine has been a source of tension for both Russia and the United States since the Cold War. Fatalities in the region have reached 4,300 people since chaos erupted around mid-April. Academic director at the German government’s Federal Academy for Security Policy in Berlin also noted the impact of Russia’s move in Ukraine to NATO. „The rapid mobilization of 20,000 to 40,000 Russian troops at the Ukrainian border scared the hell out of NATO,” Bloomberg quoted the director.To contact the editor, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ukrainians to Decide on NATO Membership in Referendum Nov 24, 2014 6:59 PM GMT+0200 223 Comments Email PrintPhotographer: Facundo Arrizabalaga/Pool via Bloomberg “We have worked out an intense plan for the next six years, so that the country meets… Read MoreUkraine will decide whether to join NATO in a referendum at the end of this decade once it moves from “empty declarations” and completes “real” policy changes needed for membership, President Petro Poroshenko said.“We have worked out an intense plan for the next six years, so that the country meets the criteria to join the EU and to join NATO,” Poroshenko said in Kiev today. “And only then the Ukrainian people will decide on joining or not joining, in a referendum.”Ukraine’s government said Sept. 26 that it seeks to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the “short term.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized the U.S. and European Union countries for encroaching into former communist Europe, saying they have violated agreements signed at the end of the Cold War and pose a threat to his country’s national security.More than 4,300 people have been killed during the conflict and much of the local infrastructure has been laid to waste in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine along the Russian border. The EU and the U.S. accuse Russia of not abiding by a Sept. 5 truce signed in Minsk, Belarus. Ukraine says Russian troops and vehicles continue to cross the frontier. Russia denies it’s fomenting the war.Urges PullbackNATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged Russia to pull back its forces from eastern Ukraine and respect the wobbly truce. He also said that the military alliance would stick by a 2008 decision to let Ukraine join if it eventually meets the criteria and decides to do so, even if membership isn’t being discussed now.“The open door is still open,” Stoltenberg said.The conflict has intensified since rebels held elections Nov. 2. Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 24 were wounded by separatists over the past 24 hours, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters today. In Donetsk, 12 citizens were wounded by shelling over the weekend, the city council said on its website.“We are calling on Russia to pull back its forces from eastern Ukraine and to respect the Minsk agreements, and to stop fueling the conflict by supporting the separatists and use all its influence on the separatists to make sure they are respecting the cease-fire,” Stoltenberg told lawmakers from NATO countries in The Hague today. “We are calling on Russia to stop violating international law and to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine.”‘Different Language’Germany’s foreign minister expressed concerns that Russia is seeking to split up Ukraine by supporting separatists in the east as Putin defended his stance in the conflict.“I’m taking Russia at its word that it doesn’t want to destroy the unity of Ukraine,” Der Spiegel magazine cited the German minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as saying in an interview. “The reality, however, is speaking a different language.”At the same time, Germany’s junior ruling Social Democratic Party criticized NATO’s expansion, calling a push to increase troop numbers on the border with Russia “another wrong direction.”“We believe we have to de-escalate, not ratchet up the escalation a little bit more every day,” party head Sigmar Gabriel said in Berlin today.Crimea Annexation Putin defended Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in March and its sympathy for the separatist cause in eastern Ukraine in an interview with Russia’s Tass news agency published yesterday.People in Luhansk “perceive themselves as parts of the greater Russian world,” Putin said. “As soon as we rise, some other nations immediately feel the urge to push Russia aside, to put it ‘where it belongs,’ to slow it down.”Still, Steinmeier warned against breaking off lines of communication with Putin, who faced a barrage of criticism over Ukraine at the Group of 20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, a week ago and left the talks early. The war of words over Ukraine had become “dangerously swollen,” Spiegel cited the German minister as saying.Georgia condemned a pact between its breakaway region of Abkhazia and Russia today as an effective takeover of its territory. Putin pledged to give 5 billion rubles ($111 million) to Abkhazia next year at a meeting in Sochi with Abkhaz President Raul Khadzhimba, where they signed a new accord on alliance and strategic partnership.The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s parliamentary assembly said it was up to Russia to halt the crisis in Ukraine.“The ball is clearly in Russia’s court,” the group’s president, Ilkka Kanerva, said in The Hague today. “In order to move forward toward a peaceful resolution of this crisis, Russia must withdraw all forces and equipment from Ukraine and away from its border and end its support for separatist forces.”To contact the reporters on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at email@example.com; VolodymyrVerbyany in Kiev at firstname.lastname@example.org; Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at firstname.lastname@example.org; Balazs Penz at email@example.com Michael Winfrey
Brazil, Russia in talks on air defense system Brazil and Russia have held talks over Brazil’s interest in the Pantsir-S1 medium-altitude anti-aircraft artillery system.By Richard Tomkins | Nov. 24, 2014 at 1:12 PMRussian air defense system mounted on a tracked vehicle. (Photo: Vitaly V. Kuzmin)BRASILIA, Brazil, Nov. 24 (UPI) — Brazilian and Russian military officials have been talking medium-range air defense systems.The Brazilian Ministry of Defense reports the talks took place in Brazil last week and were conducted by delegations led by Brig. Gershon Machado, head of Logistics at the Ministry of Defense and Gen. Sergei Babakov, commander of the anti-aircraft missile troops of the Russian Air Force.The talks, as well as visits to Brazilian military facilities, were „to strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the air defense sector.””Brazil and Russia have established a series of conversations over the past few years on the Brazilian armed forces’ need of a medium-range air defense system, able to engage targets flying at altitudes of up to 10,000 meters (nearly 33,000 feet),” the ministry said.”In August this year, a Brazilian delegation was in Moscow to conduct additional assessments of the Pantsir-S1 medium altitude anti-aircraft artillery system, which could be purchased by Brazil to meet this need.By the end of this year, another delegation is expected to visit the Russian Ministry of Defense, as part of the continuation of negotiations between the two countries on the subject.”Read more: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2014/11/24/Brazil-Russia-in-talks-on-air-defense-system/3561416851897/ixzz3K3qKJD6a
NATO’s Rapid Response Strategy to Counter Russia Begins to Take Shape BY DAVID FRANCISNOVEMBER 24, 2014 – 06:24 PMAmerican soldiers from the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division will rotate to locations throughout Poland and the Baltics until at least the end of 2015 to reassure U.S. allies on edge because of recent Russian incursions into Ukraine, according to the top commander of the U.S. Army in Europe.Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges told reporters at the Pentagon via teleconferencethat the rotations of about 300 soldiers at a time through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia could continue into 2016. The troops will be part of a rapid-response force announced by NATO in August to quickly react to possible Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. According to the New York Times, the alliance plans to create a force of some 4,000 troops capable of quickly deploying to Eastern Europe, where armaments and other supplies would be prepositioned.Hodges’s comments came on the same day that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that his country would hold a referendum at the end of the decade on whether to try to join the alliance. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned that NATO membership for Ukraine would be unacceptable to Moscow.”We have worked out an intense plan for the next six years, so that the country meets the criteria to join the EU and to join NATO,” Poroshenko said in Kiev, according to Bloomberg. „And only then the Ukrainian people will decide on joining or not joining, in a referendum.”Hodges’s comments appear to provide concrete new details about how the NATO rapid-response team would operate. Along with the troop rotations, Hodges said he would recommend moving a heavy brigade combat team with its tanks and Bradley vehicles to either Romania, Poland, or another Baltic country.”There are going to be U.S. Army forces here in Lithuania, as well as Estonia and Latvia and Poland, for as long as it’s required to deter Russian aggression,” Hodges said. Although „[t]he footprint in Europe is much smaller than it used to be, we can still provide the needed capabilities.”The general said he was confident that European allies like Britain and France, which have been slashing their defense budgets in recent years, would also make new financial commitments to help pay for the rapid-response force.”I’ve never seen the NATO alliance more unified than coming out of the [September] summit in Wales,” he said.Hodges’s press conference contained important new details aboutOperation Atlantic Resolve, NATO’s plan to check Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. Since the NATO summit in September, NATO officials have said little about how they would realize their vision for the response team.Also on Monday, new NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called on European nations to increase their financial commitments to their militaries to helpcreate a „Spearhead Force,” which he described as „a very high-readiness force able to react quickly.” „All allies are expected to shoulder their fair share of the burden. In terms of spending, in terms of capabilities, and in terms of contributing to our operations,” Stoltenberg said Monday at a speech to NATO’s parliamentary assembly in The Hague. „The GDP of the United States and that of Europe is almost exactly the same. Yet the United States spends more than twice as much on defense than all the other allies combined.”In peaceful times, he added, cutting defense spending made sense. „But we do not live in peaceful times,” he said.Stoltenberg’s comments, combined with new details about NATO’s planned rapid-response force and Ukraine’s potential interest in NATO membership, are likely to do little to diffuse tensions between Russia and NATO. In a wide-ranging interview published by Russian state-controlled media Sunday, Putin accused the alliance of undermining Russia’s strength.”As soon as we rise, some other nations immediately feel the urge to push Russia aside, to put it ‘where it belongs,’ to slow it down,” he told Russia’s Tass news agency. AFP / Menahem Kahana
US seeks to revive trade with India after WTO row By Penelope Macrea12 hours agoThe US is keen to increase trade with India after settling a trade row and after US President Obama says he will visit Delhi (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)The United States is keen to expand trade with India, a US official said Monday, after the two countries settled a bitter row over food subsidies and President Barack Obama announced he would visit in January.Related Stories
US Trade Representative Michael Froman was speaking in New Delhi before the first meeting in four years of a key trade panel on which representatives from the world’s largest economy and the emerging market giant sit.”We believe in the promise of India,” Froman told a business audience. „Let’s deliver on that promise.”Two-way trade between the US and India currently stands at $100 billion and the countries aim to boost the figure to $500 billion but have set no deadline.The nations reached a breakthrough earlier this month in a food subsidies spat that threatened to derail a landmark World Trade Organization pact to ease global trade barriers.By easing the cost of doing business, the Trade Facilitation Agreement — set to be approved by the WTO’s General Council soon — will be „win-win” for developed and developing nations, Froman said.”Some suggest the Indian and US breakthrough (unlocking the global deal) may have saved the multinational trading system,” Froman said.In any event, the compromise „could not have been possible without the personal engagement” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Obama, said Froman.The two men are said to have struck up a good rapport during Modi’s hugely successful US visit last month.”They gave our partnership a mantra… ‘further together we go’,” Froman said.- Moving ahead -Analysts say the US-India relationship is now moving ahead on all fronts from economic, political to military after plunging to a low last year following the US arrest of an Indian diplomat.The breakthrough over the WTO deal cleared the path for Obama’s acceptance of Modi’s invitation to be „chief guest” at India’s Republic Day parade — a display of military might and ethnic diversity. Obama will be the first sitting US president to visit India twice.Froman will meet Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitaraman on Tuesday for the first session of the US-India Trade Policy Forum since 2010.Resumption of the panel’s deliberations marked an „important development” and „historic turn in India-US relations”, Froman saidIssues on the table involve Indian workers paying social security in the US, market access to agricultural products and the thorny topic of patents.Froman said headway in areas such as Indian intellectual property rights involving drug patents and entertainment copyright law was crucial to strengthening commercial ties.US-based pharmaceutical companies often complain about India’s tough patent laws that do not allow tweaking of inventions to win new patent protection and instead demand „genuine innovation”.Last month, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres accused the US of ratcheting up pressure on India to relax patent conditions that have made the country the „world’s pharmacy” with its lifesaving generic drugs.But Siddharth Birla, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FICCI), indicated India was not about to relax its patent laws.He told the audience the patent protection reflected India’s „development priorities” aimed at „providing accessibility and affordability of medicines”.
Why Obama is firing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Updated by Max Fisher on November 24, 2014, 9:54 a.m. ET @Max_Fisher firstname.lastname@example.org DON’T MISS STORIES. FOLLOW VOX! By signing up, you agree to our terms.
- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is resigning, President Obama will announce on Monday.
- Obama appointed Hagel, a former Republican senator, as Defense Secretary in early 2013. He was expected to serve all four years of Obama’s second term, so this is an early retirement.
- Hagel has had a rough two years at the Pentagon, but this is also, to some degree, about the Obama administration trying to fix its increasingly broken foreign policy.
- READ: Why Obama should blame himself, not Chuck Hagel, for Hagel’s failure as Defense Secretary
Why Hagel is leaving his job Hagel had two kinds of failures as Secretary of Defense.The first kind are policy failures, and they’re not insignificant. In Afghanistan, Hagel failed to gain enough ground against the Taliban to force them to accept some kind of peace deal; instead, the Taliban sees itself as winning outright and is largely ignoring American negotiators. In Egypt, Hagel took the lead in trying to convince defense minister Abdel Fatah el-Sisi not to depose Egypt’s first-ever democratically elected president in a coup; Hagel failed and the coup went ahead. In Iraq and Syria, Hagel failed to devise a strategy that would prevent the rise of ISIS or that would roll it back. In Ukraine, Hagel has not contributed to the effort to roll back or deter Russia’s still-ongoing invasion. In Hagel’s defense, he is not the lead on Russia and the Afghanistan policy was failing before he took office, but ISIS and Egypt are definitely under his purview.The second set of failures, though, are bureaucratic, and that’s more important than you might think. In some ways, Hagel’s biggest job is to be the Pentagon’s representative to the White House and to Congress, as well as to bring White House-set policy to the Pentagon. Hagel didn’t really succeed at either. He was viewed skeptically in the Pentagon as an ineffective representative and manager who failed to advocate on behalf of the vast institution that is the US military. Within the White House discussions that set American foreign policy, he was lax and ineffective, known as not good at steering debate or contributing. The New York Times writes, damningly, „Hagel has often had problems articulating his thoughts — or administration policy — in an effective manner.”There’s a much deeper issue: Obama’s team is adrift on foreign policyTo some extent, though, you can’t totally blame Hagel: Obama has insisted on setting foreign policy within the White House, which means excluding agencies like the Pentagon and the State Department. That policy has largely failed (look at the struggling efforts with ISIS and Russia’s Ukraine invasion), and now Obama appears to be pinning the failure on Hagel — which is not going to fix the problem, given that Obama had already neutered Hagel’s ability to set and shape foreign policy.What’s telling about all of this is that there’s been speculation for a couple of months that, after the midterm elections, the Obama administration would fire some lead foreign policy people to try to fix the problems. But everyone thought he would fire someone who works in the White House, such as National Security Advisor Susan Rice, because Obama has forced all foreign policy-making to happen within the White House. Instead he’s fired someone outside of the White House, which suggests that Obama is going to keep the White House foreign policy team that is actually leading things, and that is more culpable for the failures.
Romania diplomat appointed as foreign minister after 2 ministers resigned over vote fiasco Published November 24, 2014 Associated Press BUCHAREST, Romania – Romania has named a respected diplomat as foreign minister after two ministers resigned over criticism about the way voting was organized for Romanians abroad in a recent election.Bogdan Aurescu, 41, was named by Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Monday and the president accepted the appointment.The previous two ministers resigned this month after protests erupted in Romania and abroad over two rounds of presidential voting, with thousands complaining they stood in line for hours at embassies and other facilities. There were about 400,000 absentee voters in the Nov. 16 runoff of which about 80 percent voted for President-elect Klaus Iohannis.Ponta, who lost to Iohannis, says he will introduce postal voting for the estimated 3 million Romanians living abroad. President Traian Basescu ends his mandate on Dec. 21.
Live updates: No indictment for Ferguson officer Darren Wilson Protesters react after a grand jury decides no criminal charges in Michael Brown shooting By Yahoo! News12 minutes ago A Missouri grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Yahoo News reporter Jason Sickles is reporting from Ferguson and the Yahoo News team will provide live updates below.A police car burns on the street in Ferguson, Nov. 24, 2014. (Reuters/Jim Young)St. Louis County PD@stlcountypd U. City officer was shot in the arm. He is expected to be okay. Shooting may not be related to #Ferguson unrest.Nov. 25, 2014
Journalists continue to appear to be targets for some protesters. While reporting live on the air from Ferguson, CNN Sara Sidner was hit in the head with „a rock or bottle.” Sidner said she suffered a small bump on her head but was otherwise fine. Earlier, Fox News correspondent Steve Harrigan’s live reportwas interrupted by a masked protester who a smashed a Fox News camera. Harrigan was unharmed.On Sunday, Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce was was hit in the head with a rock while covering the protests. Pearce later tweeted that he was assisted on the scene and was doing fine.