Archive for the ‘Russian media’ category

Russia And The North Korean Nukes – An Update

May 17, 2017

Russia And The North Korean Nukes – An Update, MEMRI, May 17, 2017

Official Russia’s position on the recent crisis sparked by the North Korean missile tests and the American warnings to Pyongyang ranged from evenhandedness to an approach condemning American unilateralism and muscle-flexing. Below is a survey of comments on the crisis and on North Korea’s nuclear program:[1]

Caption: “Nuclear Siamese twins”

Source: twitter.com/sharzhipero, May 6, 2017; The logo on the bottom emphasizes that the cartoon was drawn in the Lugansk region of Eastern Ukraine that is controlled by pro-Russian separatists)

Russia Detects Launch Of Ballistic Missile From North Korea

On May 13, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported that Russian early warning systems had detected the North Korean missile launch at about 23:30 Moscow time. The Russian Defense Ministry’s statement read: “The missile early warning systems tracked the ballistic target during 23 minutes of its flight until it fell in the central part of the Sea of Japan (about 500 km away from the territory of Russia).” The statement also emphasized that the missile launch “posed no danger” for Russia, and that the Russian missile early warning systems and air defense alert were on routine combat duty.

The Russian news agency Tass reported routinely that North Korea had fired the ballistic missile from the north-west town of Kusong, where much of North Korea’s military industry is based. Tass also carried Japan’s assessment that the missile “flew about 800 km and fell in the sea outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.”

(Tass.com, May 14, 2017)

Senator Ozerov: Missile Not Directed To Russia, But Russia’s Air-Defense Systems Remain On High Combat Alert

Senator Viktor Ozerov, who heads the Federation Council’s Defense Committee, said that Moscow understands that Russia is not the target of a North Korean attack, but he added: “Nevertheless, in order to keep ourselves safe of possible incidents, our Far Eastern air-defense systems in a high state of combat-readiness.”

(Ria.ru, May 14, 2017)

Putin: The West Should Stop Intimidating North Korea

Answering to media question about North Korea’s missile launch, Russian President Vladimir Putin also said that it was of “no immediate threat” to Russia. However, Putin added that Moscow “categorically opposes any expansion to the club of nuclear powers.” Putin said: “We have made our position clear to our partners, including the North Koreans. We consider this counterproductive, harmful and dangerous.”

On the other hand, Putin mentioned the need to resume dialogue with North Korea, and to “stop intimidating” it. Putin said: “Dialogue with North Korea must be resumed, attempts to intimidate the country must stop and a way to settle these matters peacefully must be found. Is this possible? I believe so, especially considering the positive experience of such dialogue with North Korea. As you may remember, there was a period when North Korea announced the termination of its nuclear program. Regrettably, the negotiating parties failed to muster the patience to translate this intention into reality. I believe we should resume these discussions.

“As for the latest missile launch, the Russian Defense Minister reported to me about it immediately, and the issue was later covered in the media. I have nothing more to say on this. This launch did not present a direct threat to Russia. However, such launches can provoke a conflict, which is not good at all.”

(Kremlin.ru, May 15, 2017)

Yuri Shvytkin, the deputy chair of the State Duma’s Defense Committee, also commented: “Our country is acting in the framework of the international law and… calls on North Korea to refrain from launching various missiles. Having said that, I personally think, that we have to force the U.S. to stop the muscle-flexing games against North Korea…The dispatch of a naval squadron as well as the U.S. president’s rather aggressive comments regarding North Korea, are triggering a defensive reaction… The U.S. should not unilaterally supplant the UN structure.”

(Ria.ru, May 14, 2017)

Russia’s Ambassador to China Andrei Denisov said: “Security in this part of Northeast Asia is complex, as both North Korea’s nuclear-missile program and the military presence of other countries, particularly the U.S., pose a threat to the area. Large-scale military exercises are becoming more and more intimidating, inducing North Korea and other countries to take measures to support their national security.”

(Tass.com, May 11, 2017)

Russian Diplomat: ‘The Reason For Tensions On The Peninsula Lies… Also In The Increased Military Activity Of The United States”

On May 8, at the First Session of the Preparatory Committee of the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Cluster II. Non-proliferation and IAEA safeguards), Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Russian delegation, said: “Russia rejects the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] DPRK’s self-proclaimed nuclear status. We openly declare to Pyongyang our conviction that the policy of nuclear missile capacity building will not contribute to the security of the country. On the contrary, it will have devastating consequences for the DPRK and for the region as a whole. We advocate Pyongyang’s strong commitment to the relevant UNSC decisions, cease of all nuclear and missile tests and return to the NPT regime. It is important though to prevent restrictions from narrowing the window of opportunities for the negotiations, as well as from escalating the humanitarian situation in the DPRK.

“Still we are convinced that the reason of tensions on the peninsula lies not only in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs but also in the increased military activity of the United States and its allies in North-East Asia. It is evident that Pyongyang will not abandon its nuclear weapons as long as it feels that its security is directly threatened. And that is how it interprets regular maneuvers and exercises carried out by U.S.-centered military and political alliances in North-East Asia, alongside the escalation of the U.S. military presence, in particular, deployment of THAAD anti-ballistic missile systems in South Korea.

“The problems of the Korean Peninsula, including the nuclear issue, should be dealt with through an integrated solution to the whole spectrum of issues arising between the parties concerned so as to further create conducive environment for denuclearization. This requires de-escalation of overall military and political tensions, abandonment of further military infrastructure build-up, reduction of the ongoing maneuvers, and establishment of a trust-based climate among the States of the region.”

(Mid.ru, May 8, 2017)

Kremlin-Founded Think Tank’s Director: Russia-U.S. Relations Can Help Ease Asian-Pacific Tensions

Mikhail Fradkov, Director of the Kremlin-founded Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), said: “the Asian-Pacific direction today is one of the hottest in international relations. Unfortunately, it may appear that the region may literally become hot. What we see here is a snarl of potentially explosive issues, and we all need to join our forces to find peaceful solutions to them using only political means… It is extremely important to activate personal contacts between the Russian and the U.S. presidents during such critical moments in history like this one. Russian-American relations to a great extent identify the general level of security in the whole world.”

(Riss.ru, May 3, 2017)

RISS Analyst Konstantin Kokarev wrote: “The things that are currently happening in northeast Asia directly affect the national security interests of Russia. A targeted concentration of significant military forces of the US in the region and the statements by North Korean leader Kim Jong UN on his readiness for preventive strike with nuclear weapons can result in significant loss of life, permanently and seriously undermine the overall stability, interaction and cooperation in the region. This is a highly undesirable scenario.

“There is only one way out, which to seek solution of the problem exclusively through negotiations and compromise involving all the stakeholders. Russia has consistently advocated the early resumption of six-party talks, peace-building and mutually beneficial cooperation in the region, including in a trilateral format between Russia, the DPRK and the Republic of Korea.”

(Riss.ru, April 28, 2017)

Senator Kosachev: Passing The U.S. Bill On Enforcing N. Korea Sanctions On Foreign Territory Is A ‘Declaration Of War’

Russia has reacted to a bill adopted by the U.S. Congress, tightening sanctions against North Korea. If the law is passed, the U.S. president will have to provide Congress with a complete annual report, covering a period of five years, listing the ports and airports involved in the violation of sanctions against North Korea by any country. In particular, this refers to Vladivostok, Nakhodka and Vanino, as well as ports in China, Iran, Syria and other countries.

Commenting on the bill, head of the Federal Council’s Committee for International Relations, Senator Konstantin Kosachev said: “The realization of this [U.S.] bill includes a proposed force scenario in which the U.S. Navy would conduct compulsory inspections of all ships. Such a scenario is simply unthinkable because it means a declaration of war.” The bill has to be passed by the U.S. Senate and then signed by the U.S. president. Kosachev expressed his hope that Kosachev expressed the hope that the bill won’t pass.

The Deputy Chairman of the State Duma’s Committee for Defense and Security, Frants Klintsevich, also commented: “What immediately draws attention is the list of nations where U.S. congressmen want to have special control over sea ports. These are Russia, China, Iran and Syria. The United States is again trying to expand its jurisdiction all over the globe. It is as if they were telling Russia, China, Iran and Syria that these nations are suspects in crime, which is nonsense, according to international law.”

(Uawire.org, May 5, 2017; .Rt.com, May 5, 2017)

_______________________

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6891, Popular Pro-Kremlin Presenter Says Trump Is More Dangerous Than Kim Jong-Un, April 24, 2017.

Russian Reactions To Flynn’s Resignation

February 21, 2017

Russian Reactions To Flynn’s Resignation, MEMRI, February 21, 2017

(Please see also, Is a Trump-Putin Detente Dead? — DM)

While part of Russian officialdom dodged comment on Michael Flynn’s resignation from the post of national security adviser or downplayed its importance, the consensus view was that this represented a negative signal for Russia. Russia would have to retrench its hopes for improved Russia-US relations under President Trump as the new president was finding it difficult to exercise control over an anti-Russian establishment. Some commentators believed that an anti-Russia cabal was behind Flynn’s ouster and that Flynn was merely the appetizer with Trump being the main course. These rogue officials backed by the media would not rest till they had ousted Trump and set back Russian-American relations.

We present a sampling of official and press reactions to the Flynn resignation.

trumpandflynn1Source: Gazeta.ru)

Senator Pushkov’s Tweetstorm

Senator Alexey Pushkov, a member of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs and an avid tweeter, took to Twitter to present his categorical assessment of the forces behind the resignation and their motivation:

“Flynn ‘was forced out’ not due to his missteps, but due to a vast aggressive campaign. “Russian –get out ” clamored the newspapers. This is paranoia and witch hunt.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 14, 2017)

“Flynn leaves, but the Russian problem at Trump’s White House persists” – his enemies write. Flynn’s banishment was only the first act. Now – Trump is the target.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 13, 2017)

“Flynn’s departure is probably the earliest resignation of a US National Security Advisor in history. Yet, Flynn was not the target, relations with Russia were.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 13, 2017)

“It’s not going to end  with Flynn’s resignation. Trump’s enemies with the help of the security special services and media will eradicate him ( Trump) until the impeachment. Trump himself is now the objective.”

impeach(Twitter.com, February 14, 2017)

“Lots of money invested in the new cold war against Russia. Those who oppose the war are at high risk. Flynn’s massacre is clear evidence.”

(Twitter.com, February 14, 2017)

push-shove(Alexey Pushkov, Source: Pravda-tv.ru)

Senator Kosachev: ‘Russophobia Has Already Engulfed The New Administration From Top To Bottom’

Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs, wrote on his Facebook page: “Dismissing the national security adviser for contacts with Russia’s ambassador (ordinary diplomatic practice) is not just paranoia, but something much worse.” He then added: “Either Trump has not gained the desired independence and he is being consistently (and not unsuccessfully) pushed into a corner, or Russophobia has already engulfed the new administration from top to bottom.”

(Tass.com, February 14, 2017)

kosKonstantin Kosachev (Source: Rt.com)

Valery Garbuzov, Director of the Institute for US and Canada Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Russian news agency TASS: “I believe the Russian issue is one of the most difficult for the U.S. administration in the sense that it has not yet developed recipes for tackling the Russian issue in general and in particular. These are the issues of sanctions, the issue of Ukraine, Crimea and so on.” He then said: “The U.S. president’s national security adviser is a significant figure who, along with the US secretary of state, takes part in shaping the country’s foreign policy. Flynn’s resignation indicates that internal contradictions, perhaps, internal struggles, begin to appear in the emerging US administration. Flynn’s resignation was a manifestation of this struggle. He was considered if not a pro-Russian member of Trump’s team, then a person who was committed to resuming pragmatic dialogue with Russia.”

(Tass.com, February 14, 2017)

The Deputy Chair of the Duma’s International Affairs committee, Alexey Chepa: “Flynn has just begun working, he did not have an opportunity build himself a reputation. Before the inauguration he’d had some consultations with our ambassador Kislyak. I don’t know to what extent he informed his superiors regarding the consultations. I don’t know either how it could lead to a possible blackmailing… In general, there was not enough time to arrange improved contacts, so I think this [resignation] won’t strongly affect [our relations with the US]”

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

Presidential spokesperson Dmitri Peskov declined comment on Flynn’s resignation: “We do not want to comment on it in any manner. It’s America’s internal affair, the Trump administration’s internal affair. It’s not our business.”

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

The Resignation Reduces Russia’s Confidence In The Trump Administration

According to Leonid Slutsky, chair of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee: “The situation regarding the resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn, bears a provocative character. This is a form of negative signal concerning the building of a Russia-US dialog. It’s obvious that Flynn was forced to write the resignation announcement under pressure. Trump received this resignation. The excuse, which was chosen, is contacts with the Russian ambassador, though it’s common diplomatic practice.  In these circumstances, the conclusion arises that the Russia-US relations were the set target. This erodes confidence in the US administration”.

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

The TASS agency quotes Slutsky a bit differently: “Flynn’s resignation might be a provocation – it could well be that he will pop up again in US public administration. At the moment, it looks like a thrust and a sort of  negative signal towards Russia, implying that we had discussed something improper with the US national security advisor, for which he paid for with his job … It’s an incredible assumption that Flynn, a very experienced person, divulged some state secrets”. According to Slutsky, “the whole buzz is aimed at Russia’s positioning as a strategic opponent amongst the American establishment”.

(Tass.ru, February 14, 2017)

slutLeonid Slutsky (Source: Polytika.ru)

According to Vladimir Batyuk, head of the Center for Military-Political Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ US and Canada Institute and professor of world politics at the Higher School of Economics :

“Flynn’s resignation is a powerful blow to the US administration. Flynn, as a national security advisor, was one of the key figures. Given that this man turned out to be undisciplined and incompetent, it’s a definite blow to the administration’s authority and to US-Russia relations. Moscow, from now on, will have far less confidence in the new administration and its ability to conduct confidential negotiations on delicate international matters and problems of bilateral relations. It will have negative consequences for the future Russo-American dialog.”  Representatives of the Russian Federation will now fear approaching Trump administration officials. “When Ambassador Kislyak communicated with Flynn he was completely sure that he was talking to the Trump’s representative, rather than to private person, Mr. Flynn. Now, it’s not the case as it turns out and this is a blow to Moscow’s trust in the new administration. This trust usually carries high importance in diplomacy.”

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

The Russian government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta published an article by Igor Dunaevsky, where the author assumes that Flynn’s resignation was initiated by the secret services:

“It can’t be excluded that Flynn was “taken out” by the secret services. His Russian connections presented themselves as an excuse and were not the real reason. According to local media publications, Flynn, who headed MOD intelligence department in the Obama administration, was not popular in the American intelligence community and he reciprocated this attitude.  Flynn’s resignation will not extensively affect White House’s approaches towards a dialog with Russia, but rather it will prove instrumental for those who want to impede that process.”

(Rg.ru, February 14, 2017)

Russian Magazine: Russia’s Air Force In Syria Is Winning The Battle For Assad

February 17, 2016

Russian Magazine: Russia’s Air Force In Syria Is Winning The Battle For Assad, MEMRI, February 17, 2016

(Please see also, Moscow on the Tigris: Russia Joins the Terror Nexus:

While an exhausted and burned out United States wishes international migraines like the Syrian civil war would just go away, Russia is energized by the prospect of filling the vacuum and thus once again playing a major role on the world stage. Aggressively intervening on behalf of his ally in Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad, and projecting force well beyond even the frontier states in his“near abroad,” Vladimir Putin audaciously aims to change political outcomes in a region that has been out of his country’s sphere of influence for a generation.

— DM)

Recently, the Russian campaign in Syria reached its 100th day. An article in Expert Online, the website of the influential Russian analytical magazine Expert, reviews the state of the Syria war, analyzing the activities on various fronts as well as the Russian involvement. The article, by journalist Pyetr Skorobogatyj, states that, with Russia’s help, the Syrian army is advancing slowly but surely. It stresses that the operation in Syria is not a substantial financial burden for Russia, and that it benefits Russia in many ways – including by allowing it to train pilots, test the performance of various weapons, and target Russian-speaking militants who are fighting in Syria. Most significantly, it allows Russia to establish a permanent presence in the Middle East that has an impact on all the region’s countries.

The article then reviews the military situation in Syria region by region. Focusing first on the north, it stresses that the Kurdish forces there are making headway against ISIS and are laying down the foundations for what may eventually become a Kurdish autonomy or even an independent Kurdish state. The main loser, says the article, is Turkey, who is powerless to stop these developments from unfolding.

The article states further that Russia, using its S-400 missiles, has effectively set up a no-fly-zone in the north of Syria, thus enabling the regime forces to make substantial achievements against the rebels, especially in the Latakia area. It adds that the U.S., too, is planning to establish a military base in northeast Syria, in the Malikia area.

Moving to the southern region, the article states that the stalemate between the sides there – namely the regime forces and rebel groups backed by Jordan – has ended, since Jordan has ordered these forces to stop attacking Assad’s troops. In Damascus, too, the regime is slowly flushing out the rebels, street by street and building by building. As for eastern Syria, the article concedes that ISIS still maintains a strong presence there and will be difficult to defeat.

The following are excerpts from the article.[1]

 “The Air Campaign Is Not Expensive For Moscow, And It Allows Russia To Train Pilots And Test Different Types Of Weapons”

“As the Russian campaign recently reached its 100th day,[2] [Russia’s] main goal appears to be the use of military power to force peace on the ‘rational’ [i.e., non-jihadist] rebel groups. There are a number of small [rebel] groups which have either joined Assad’s military or have stayed independent but coordinate their activities with the Syrian army. [Russia’s] largest partner [apart from the Syrian army] is the Syrian Democratic Army [SDA], a Sunni popular militia which is fighting in the north [of the country] alongside the Kurds and government troops. The Russian Ministry of Defense has confirmed that Russia supports the SDA with weapons, ammunition and airstrikes. ‘For its part, the patriotic opposition [i.e. the SDA] coordinates its military objectives with the Russian aviation group,’ noted Lt. General Sergei Rudskoy, Chief of Main Operations Management in the Russian Army General Staff…

“The joint military campaign of the Russian Air Force and Syrian troops seems to be [progressing] slowly but surely. [The slow pace] is due to the broad spectrum of military goals which must be met, including pressure on all ‘factions’ in order to separate [potential] ‘partners’ from ‘enemies,’ as well as the necessity to return as much territory as possible to the Syrian government’s control, in order to enable it to negotiate from a position of strength about the country’s future. In addition, all the battle fronts seem chaotic, with many parallel ‘seething cauldrons’… and with weather conditions are getting worse… All of these factors together make Russian air operations difficult, especially during the winter period. This week the ‘bad guys’ [i.e. ISIS] used the cover of a sandstorm [which hampered Russian air activity] to mount a major offensive on Deir Al-Zor, a Syrian enclave in the desert. This action resulted in a major defeat for the Syrian side. As prevailing weather conditions worsen, the… intensity of the military campaign will decrease…

“Notwithstanding, during the first 100 days of Russian Air Force and Navy operations, 217 villages and towns were retaken, and 1000 sq. km. of territory. The Russian-Syrian coalition has no need to hurry. The air campaign is not expensive for Moscow, and it allows Russia to train pilots and to test the battle performance of different types of weapons. These benefits are in addition to the political gains and to the main goal, which is to eliminate Russian-speaking fighters in theaters far away from Russia’s borders.

“In addition, thanks to the new Russian air force base in the [the Syrian city of] Latakia, Moscow has established a permanent presence in the region, controlling a very important logistic hub. This modern military base (equipped with Iskander[3] and S-400[4] missiles)… changes the military and political situation in Iraq, Iran, Israel, the U.S… and, of course, Turkey”…”

“Russia Has Set Up A No-Fly Zone Using Its S-400 Surface-To-Air Missile System”

“[Meanwhile] the goals of the main participants in the Syrian battle have become clear. In the north of Syria… the Kurds are winning. They are finally receiving extensive military support from the U.S. and covert support from Russia. They are carrying out offensive operations against ISIS and expanding their territory, which might become a future Kurdish state or an autonomous region within Syria, depending on the final agreement… The main loser is Turkey, who is unpredictable, irresponsible and unable to keep agreements. Currently, [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan can only look on as the Kurdish enclave continually grows stronger. [The Turkish President] can initiate military operations only on his own territory…

“The geopolitical value of northern Syria is understood by all parties. Russia has set up a no-fly zone [there] using its S-400 surface-to-air missile system… [while] Syria is strengthening its Al-Bab air base with Russian military advisors and the S-300[5] missile system. The Americans are not napping either, and plan to set up a military base in Malikia in north-east Syria… This will allow the U.S to carry out an independent policy without having to depend on the Kurdish state which is being established…

“The Syrian army, aided by Hizbullah’s brigades, is doing very well in the Latakia governorate. The map [below] clearly shows the movement of the fighting forces over the last few months. The dotted red line represents the front on October 7, 2015. In the first half of January 2016, government troops finally showed fighting ability against the Islamist stronghold of Salma… It was the first time that Russian military experts actively took part in the campaign, probably coordinating the attack on Salma. Support from Russian planes in the northern Latakia province allows the Syrian army to continue its advance at full speed…”

26798Military situation in Latakia and Hama areas, January 21, 2016

In The South, Jordan-Backed Rebels Have Been Ordered To Stop Attacking; In Damascus, The Government Is Flushing Out Islamists; In The East, ISIS Still Holds A Significant Area

“In the Dera province in the south, the opposing sides had [previously] agreed to maintain the status quo. Damascus was avoiding a conflict with Israel as well as with Jordan, which openly sponsored tribal forces and Islamist brigades… [Today, however,] the tactic of constant pressure [by Syrian regime troops on these forces and brigades] is producing results. The Military Operations Command [MOC] in Amman… which is coordinating rebel activities in southern Syria, has ordered [the forces it sponsors] to stop attacking [Syrian] government forces… Jordan’s logic is very simple… Syrian refugees in Jordan now total about 30% of the population, the same number as the Palestinians living in Jordan… so Jordan prefers to try to stabilize the situation in Syria rather than dream about cutting off Syria’s southern territories from the rest of the country. On the other hand, Damascus has begun to raise the issue of Israeli[-sponsored] rebels occupying the [Syrian] Golan Heights.

“In the Syrian capital, government troops are continuing to flush out Islamists and ‘bad guys’ from the city. The score is being kept not by counting streets retaken, but by counting buildings… The progress in the Damascus area is noticeable only when viewed over a long period of time. Below is a map showing the balance of forces in 2013, and beneath it a map showing the balance of forces in 2015.

26799Damascus area in 2013
26800Damascus’ area in 2015

“In addition, peace talks between the government and some rebel groups are now underway. Just recently, an agreement was made with a rebel brigade in the Al-Qadam suburb [in Damascus]. Some militants who were disarmed were moved to Raqqa and Idlib, while almost 1,500 others agreed to switch to Assad’s side…

“In spite of the relative success of government troops, ISIS still holds a significant area in the eastern part of Syria… The [ISIS] Caliphate is well-entrenched in the area it controls, with a strong force and command structure, and is not going to withdraw easily.”

 

Endnotes:

[1] Expert.ru, January, 22, 2016.

[2] The Russian campaign in Syria started on September 30, 2015.

[3] A Russia-manufactured portable short-range ballistic missile system; NATO designation name: SS-26 Stone.

[4] A Russia-manufactured anti-aircraft weapons system; NATO designation name: SA-21 Growler.

[5] A Russia-manufactured long range surface-to-air missile system;  NATO designation name: SA-10 Grumble.