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Friday, April 21, 2017

3 Shot Dead In Russian Intelligence Agency Office

How Russian Fleet Copes With US-NATO Military Challenge in Asia-Pacific

While the US Navy continues to beef up its presence in the Asia-Pacific region, the Russian Pacific Fleet is by no means sitting on its hands, Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky told RIA Novosti, unveiling how the Russian Navy may respond to the assertive US military strategy in the region.

Exactly 85 years ago today, on April 21, 1932, the Soviet Pacific Fleet was established; today the Russian fleet that eventually succeeded it is preparing for new military challenges and flexing its muscles.

Although the Russian Navy in the Pacific still has many problems to solve, it enjoys significant advantages over any potential adversary in the region.

Interestingly, since the beginning of 2017, the Russian Pacific has caught up with the Northern and Black Sea Fleets in terms of the number of references to it in the media.

Nearly every day the Russian Defense Ministry reports about either regular naval drills or exercises at dawn in the Far East. The crews of submarines and warships conduct live-fire exercises, naval aircraft intercept air targets, coastal defense forces test new missile systems, and Russian marines storm the positions of hypothetical enemies.

These exercises are being held amid a sharp increase in the presence of the US Navy in the Asia-Pacific region, where the American Navy has been conducting regular naval drills alongside their Japanese and South Korean allies.

To complicate matters further, in early April the American destroyers USS Porter (DDG-78) and USS Ross (DDG-71) launched a massive missile strike against Syria from the Eastern Mediterranean. Following the attack, the White House signaled that a strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson was sailing to the Sea of Japan to deter North Korea.

Although the Pentagon later clarified that the USS Carl Vinson and the three other warships were, in fact, heading elsewhere, Washington's assertive stance has prompted serious concerns among Russian military experts.

They believe that under the smokescreen of naval drills and deterrence operations in the Asia-Pacific region, the Pentagon could have been quietly exploring the capabilities of the Russian Pacific Fleet in order to either limit or undermine its ability to work outside Russian territorial waters.

"The strike force of the Russian Pacific Fleet [is comprised of] underwater strategic missile cruisers, which remain an important part of [Russia's] nuclear tread," Russian military expert and journalist Viktor Murakhovsky told RIA Novosti.

Russian Pacific Fleet submarines during Navy Day celebrations in Vladivostok

"The group includes three 667BDR Kalmar (Squid) Delta-III class submarines and two new Project 955 Borei [nuclear-powered ballistic missile] submarines. They are part of the 25th Submarine Division. The main task of the Russian Pacific Fleet is to allow submarines cruisers to enter the areas of combat deployment, when necessary. To accomplish this task, the Pacific Fleet should maintain dominance in the Okhotsk Sea area… However, the Americans are well aware of the challenge posed by these five nuclear-powered cruisers and they will try to counter it," Murakhovsky said.

The expert emphasized that one of the most burning issues is the modernization of the fleet. Although a complete renovation of the Pacific Fleet is likely to take decades, the process is already underway.

This year the Pacific Sovershennyy ("Perfect") corvette (Project 20380) is due to enter service while another three ships from this class are currently being built at Russia's Amur Shipyard and Northern Shipyard. Furthermore, a multi-purpose frigate (Project 22350), the Admiral Isakov, is expected to leave its berth by 2020. This powerful assault ship will be armed with 3M-54 Kalibr (NATO codename SS-N-27 Sizzler) cruise missiles.

Amur Shipyards workers and the vessel's crew during the floating out of The Sovershenny corvette built for Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet.

In addition, the Russian Pacific Fleet will also receive six Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines Varshavyanka (Project 636.3).

Murakhovsky remarked that it is still unclear whether Russia's largest missile cruiser, the Admiral Lazarev, will join the Pacific Fleet anytime soon. Currently laid up and in reserve status, the battleship is likely to dramatically strengthen the Pacific Fleet after modernization.

But that is not all: according to Murakhovsky, geography is the main and most effective ally of the Pacific Fleet in the region.

The expert called attention to the fact that Vladivostok and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the two main Russian naval bases, are located far from each other. Murakhovsky sees it as a great advantage: from the two flanks, the fleet together with the naval aircraft maintain control over the strategically important Sea of Okhotsk.

Aerial port bow view of the Soviet KIROV class nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser FRUNZE underway.

At the same time, control over the Kuril Islands allows Russian warships and submarines to go out into the ocean and to prevent the penetration of hypothetical adversaries into Russia's territorial waters.

"Our second advantage is coastal defense forces," Murakhovsky said, "Two divisions are being formed in the Far East, with one based on the Kuriles, and the other — in the area of Kamchatka and Chukotka. In the event of any conflict, they will strike enemy ships from well-fortified land positions. Now, these tasks are performed by the 520th and the 72nd separate coastal missile and artillery brigades."

Moreover, the "Redoubt" coastal anti-ship missile systems, which have a striking range of 460 kilometers (285.8 miles), will be replaced with modern "Bal" and "Bastion" systems, equipped with Kh-35 and Onyx anti-ship missiles, respectively, within the program aimed at boosting the coastal defense.

Bastion coastal defense missile system

Speaking to RIA Novosti, Murakhovsky emphasizes yet another important development in the region: the Russian armed forces are building a new logistics hub in the Kuriles.

"This will significantly increase the time for patrolling our water area by the Pacific Fleet," the Russian military expert explained, "Previously they had to return for refueling and replenishing their reserves, either to Sakhalin or Vladivostok. In addition, new airfields for [Russian] combat aircraft are being built on the [Kuril] Islands with modern air defense systems, such as the S-400, which is being deployed in the region."

Last but not the least are the regular naval drills, according to the military expert.

"The Pacific fleet remains effective mainly because it constantly conducts military exercises," Murakhovsky highlighted, "The level of training of our [Russian] sailors has surpassed Soviet indicators in a number of parameters."

Credit to sputniknews.com


Image result for MARINE LE PEN

This morning the presidential candidates Marine Le Pen, Francois Fillon and Philippe Poutou all seized on Thursday night’s killing.

Le Pen, widely seen as taking the hardest line on security, called for France to “immediately” take back control of its own borders from the European Union and deport all foreigners on a terror watchlist.

“This war against us is ceaseless and merciless,” she said in a sternly worded address, blasting the “monstrous totalitarian ideology” behind Thursday night’s attack.

Macron, a 39-year-old moderate whom other candidates have portrayed as too inexperienced to protect France against the terror threat, warned against any attempts to use the attack for political gain.

“I think we must one and all have a spirit of responsibility at this extreme time and not give in to panic and not allow it to be exploited, which some might try to do,” he told French radio.

The shooting came just three days before the first round of the country’s presidential election.

Credit to Infowars

China Has Military Alliance with North Korea

China Is Building The World's Largest Nuclear Submarine Facility

Perhaps it is time to shift attention away from the "rally around the flag" diversion that is North Korea and pay some attention to China, which delighted by the ongoing geopolitical distractions is currently building the world's largest submarine facility, which will be able to produce as many as four ultramodern nuclear submarines at a time.
Starting later this year, China's new submarine factory on the Yellow Sea will churn out nuclear-powered attack submarines (or SSNs) ensuring that the sub program of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will soon be a deadly global force. Once fully operational, the assembly line will enable China to at least match USN SSN production.
Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industrial Corporation (BSHIC) is putting the finishing touches on its new facility, which as profiled by Popsci, will start production this year. BSHIC, based in Huludao, Liaoning Province, is China's only builder of nuclear submarines. It previously built the Type 091, 093 nuclear attack submarines (SSN) and Type 092 and 094 nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). 

When this enclosed submarine factory begins operation later this year, the BSHIC will be able 
to quickly build nuclear submarines. 
Why is this building such a big deal? Simple: inside a superstructure, submarines are hidden from snoops, spies, and satellites. It also provides a controlled environment for development and construction.
According to Popsci, the massive new assembly hall, which measures more than 430,000 square feet, has enough room for two parallel production lines; each production line has one half dedicated to assembling and attaching together submarine modules, and the other half dedicated to finishing the hull with quieting measures like anechoic tiles. That's enough space for four SSN's to be built simultaneously (two sets of modules being assembled at one end, and another pair of assembled hulls being fitted out before launch). Once completed, the SSN is rolled off the line and into the ocean. The assembly hall can also handle construction of the next generation SSBN, the Type 096.
The module assembly hall is well equipped, with gantry cranes for lifting SSN modules in 
and parallel rails for moving completed hull sections further down the assembly line.
The facility is reported to begin construction on the first Type 095 SSN later this year. The Type 095 is expected to have a single/hybrid pressure hull, pumpjet propulsion and vertical launch system cells, making it (at least) superior to older SSNs like the U.S.'s Los Angeles III and Russia's Akula II.
The Type 095 SSN, swhon in this rendering, will likely have VLS cells for launching a wide range of cruise missiles, plus pumpjet propulsion and improved quieting technology. The first Type 095  will likely begin production in late 2017 at the new BSHIC factory, with many more to follow in the 2020s.

Credit to Zero Hedge

Prophecy Alert: "One World Religion "

Iran Unchecked Could Create Another North Korea

China Puts Bombers On High Alert

The US has seen evidence that the Chinese military is preparing "for a potential North Korea contingency", CNN reports citing a US defense official, and adds that Chinese air force land-attack, cruise-missile-capable bombers were put "on high alert" on Wednesday. 
The official added that the US has also seen an extraordinary number of Chinese military aircraft being brought up to full readiness through intensified maintenance.
The official said that these recent steps by the Chinese are assessed as part of an effort to "reduce the time to react to a North Korea contingency."
Among the contingency options listed is the "risk of an armed conflict breaking out as tensions on the peninsula have risen in the wake of multiple North Korean missile tests."
There has also been ratcheted up rhetoric from the US and Pyongyang, with the latter's state media warning Thursday that a pre-emptive strike by North Korea would result in the US and South Korea being "completely destroyed in an instant." 

Beijing has long been concerned about potential instability in North Korea should the regime in Pyongyang collapse, fearing both an influx of refugees and the potential of reunification under a South Korean government closely allied to the US.
Meanwhile, China remains opposed to the US military's presence in South Korea, protesting the recent US and South Korea decision to begin deploying elements of the THAAD missile defense system.
Given the close economic links between North Korea and China, US military officials have said that Beijing is critical to solving the North Korean situation, with President Donald Trump recently commending Chinese President Xi Jinping for Chinese efforts to curb Pyongyang's activities. 
Earlier on Thursday, Nikkei reported that as a form of ratcheting up pressure on North Korea, China may halt crude exports to North Korea should Pyongyang conduct its sixth nuclear test, "signalling a tougher attitude by Beijing."
* * * 
Meanwhile, with much confusion over the current whereabouts of the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, and various other US naval forces around the globe, here is the latest map courtesy of Stratfor.
Credit toZero Hedge

Trump Signs Order Granting Steel Import Sanctions On "National Security" Grounds

Image result for steel industry andrew carnegie

At noon, Donald Trump will sign an executive order calling for a probe whether imports of foreign-made steel are hurting U.S. national security. The order will revive a decades-old, rarely used law to explore imposing new barriers on steel imports, in this case aimed loosely at China.

Trump will sign the memorandum related to section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 at an event in the White House that will include leadersd of several U.S. steel companies; the law will allow the president to impose restrictions on imports for reasons of national security. Trump’s directive will ask Ross to conduct the probe “with all deliberate speed and deliver the results to the president with his recommendations."

An official cited by Reuters sad that there are national security implications from imports of steel alloys that are used in products such as the armor plating of ships and require a lot of expertise to create and produce.

The move is another step in Trump's "America First" policies in which he has tried to boost U.S. manufacturers and preserve American jobs. It comes as he tries to coax China into taking a more active role in reining in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

While an official said that the directive is not aimed at a specific country but is "product oriented", in recent years the US has seen a substantial increase in imports of Steel and related products from China, which has been dumping its exports around the globe, although in recent months has been either warehousing the product domestically, or using it as part of the latest housing bubble.

As the WSJ adds, the U.S. government hasn’t used the law to impose penalties since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995, which discourages such unilateral sanctions. The law was most famously used by President Richard Nixon in 1971 to impose an across-the-board 10% import surcharge to contain the U.S. trade deficit at the time.

The planned ceremony follows a Trump rally Tuesday at Wisconsin tool factory where he ordered aides to craft new policies increasing “Buy American” provisions for government procurement spending. In the speech unveiling the action, he blasted the WTO as “another one of our disasters,” and vowed to accelerate acting on his campaign promises to rewrite American trade policy.

Credit to Zero Hedge

Trump's N. Korea armada appears to have been sailing in opposite direction