Posted tagged ‘Russian President Vladimir Putin’

In Moscow, presence of IDF generals sends a message of military urgency

September 21, 2015

In Moscow, presence of IDF generals sends a message of military urgency In rare move, Netanyahu brings both IDF chief and intelligence head to Russia to drive home concerns on Hezbollah, Syria By Judah Ari Gross September 21, 2015, 11:54 am

Source: In Moscow, presence of IDF generals sends a message of military urgency | The Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot during a visit to the northern border of Israel on August 18, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot during a visit to the northern border of Israel on August 18, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

n a sign that it has not taken last week’s movement of the Russian military into Syria lightly, Israel sent not one but two members of the IDF General Staff with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow Monday, in an effort to hash out the precarious relationships between Israel, Russia, Syria and Hezbollah.

Both IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Military Intelligence Head Maj. Gen. Herzl “Hertzi” Halevi are accompanying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the movement of Russian troops into Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his advisers.

The presence of either one of these generals on this trip would be notable in itself. That both are traveling with Netanyahu is meant to demonstrate to both the people of Israel and the government of Russia the gravity of the situation on Israel’s northern border and the IDF’s intention to keep up airstrikes on high-priority Hezbollah targets in Syria.

Israel has admitted to targeting several Hezbollah and Syrian weapons facilities and convoys in the past several years, and it has been assumed that the Israel Air Force has carried out many more, despite officials’ refusal to claim responsibility.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin at Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem on June 25, 2012 (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90)

Most such attacks have been against so-called advanced weapons systems — missiles and artillery guns, rather than rifles and grenades.

Putin, however, complicated Israel’s strategies vis-a-vis Hezbollah and Syria when he announced that the Russian military would be moving into the war-torn country, setting up in the port city of Latakia.

Satellite images already show Russian-made artillery guns and SU-30 combat planes in the northwestern Syrian city.

The presence of Russian soldiers in the country is an added obstacle for the IDF, which must now continue to prevent Israel’s enemies from obtaining dangerous weapons, without causing an international incident by killing an ally’s soldiers.

In 2013 and 2014, Israel was suspected of having carried out airstrikes on weapons sites in Latakia. With Russian military now present in the city, similar attacks may be more difficult to carry out.

An armored personnel carrier, likely a Russian made BTR-82A, firing large-caliber bullets during a battle in Latakia, Syria, is seen in a video posted online on August 23, 2015. (Screen capture YouTube)

Though the Israeli government has not released an itinerary for Monday’s trip, Eisenkot and Halevi will likely meet with their Russian army counterparts to address two related issues: preventing Hezbollah from obtaining Russian-made weaponry and Israel Air Force strikes against the advanced weapons systems already in the possession of the Iran-aligned militia.

Though some of Hezbollah’s arsenal comes from Iran, several of its deadliest weapons — the Kornet anti-tank missile, which has been deadly in combat against Israeli Merkava tanks, and the Katyusha rocket, which rained down on Israel’s northern cities during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 — come from Russia.

Though many of these weapons systems were intended for Syria, some have nevertheless ended up in the hands of Hezbollah, according to Nadav Pollak, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Some of the systems sold by Russia include anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles, which could be devastating to Israel’s air superiority in a future conflict with Hezbollah, Pollak said.

As head of intelligence, Halevi will likely present information to the Russian military, showing how these Russian-made weapons end up in the hands of Hezbollah, Pollak explained.

Brig. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaking Thursday. (photo credit: Mitch Ginsburg/Times of Israel)

In addition to attempting to prevent further such transfers, Netanyahu, Eisenkot and Halevi will also discuss Israel’s plans to destroy those advanced systems the terrorist organization has already acquired.

As Hezbollah has been closely aligned with Russia’s ally Assad, this may be a sticking point with Putin, though it is not one Israel is prepared to give up on, Yossi Cohen, national security adviser to the prime minister, told the Israel Hayom newspaper Monday.

Netanyahu will tell Putin that Israel won’t accept restrictions on its response capabilities in Syria, Cohen said.

As Israel’s strikes against Hezbollah have taken place on Syrian territory, which violates its sovereignty, Pollak explained, “there is a chance that Russia will express its objection to this policy.”

The United States has also voiced concerns over Putin’s role in the Syrian civil war.

“Continued military support for the regime by Russia or any other country risks the possibility of attracting more extremists and entrenching Assad, and hinders the way for resolution,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Germany on Sunday.

Kerry has proposed military-to military talks with Russia to prevent any clashes between US and Russian forces in the region, to ensure that “there’s no potential of a mistake or of an accident of some kind that produces a greater potential of conflict.”

Obama: ‘We have to twist arms when countries don’t do what we need them to

February 11, 2015

Obama: ‘We have to twist arms when countries don’t do what we need them to’

Published time: February 11, 2015 11:37

Edited time: February 11, 2015 13:37

via Obama: 'We have to twist arms when countries don't do what we need them to' — RT News.

President Barack Obama has said the reality of “American leadership” at times entails “twisting the arms” of states which “don’t do what we need them to do,” and that the US relied on its military strength and other leverage to achieve its goals.

READ MORE: ‘US unilateral actions to protect its interests let other govts use same excuse’

In a broad-ranging interview with Vox, which Obama himself described as a venue “for the brainiac-nerd types,” the US president both denied the efficacy of a purely “realist” foreign policy but also arguing that at times the US, which has a defense budget that exceeds the next 10 countries combined, needed to rely on its military muscle and other levers of power.

Lauding the rule-based system to emerge in the post-World War II era, Obama admitted it wasn’t perfect, but argued “the UN, the IMF, and a whole host of treaties and rules and norms that were established really helped to stabilize the world in ways that it wouldn’t otherwise be.”

He argued, however, that the efficacy of this idealistic, Wilsonian, rule-based system was severely tested by the fact that “there are bad people out there who are trying to do us harm.”

READ MORE: ‘Unexceptional’ US, Russia scrap over Putin’s NY Times Op-Ed

In the president’s view, the reality of those threats has compelled the US to have “the strongest military in the world.” Obama further says that “we occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do if it weren’t for the various economic or diplomatic or, in some cases, military leverage that we had — if we didn’t have that dose of realism, we wouldn’t get anything done, either.”
‘We occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do’

Obama argues that the US doesn’t have “military solutions” to all the challenges in the modern world, though he goes on to add that “we don’t have a peer” in terms of states that could attack or provoke the United States.

“The closest we have, obviously, is Russia, with its nuclear arsenal, but generally speaking they can’t project the way we can around the world. China can’t, either. We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined,” he said.

Within this context, Obama said that “disorder” stemming from “failed states” and “asymmetric threats from terrorist organizations” were the biggest challenges facing the international community today.

Obama also argued that tackling these and other problems entailed “leveraging other countries” and “other resources” whenever possible, while also recognizing that Washington is “the lead partner because we have capabilities that other folks don’t have.”
‘We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined’

This approach, he said, also led to “some burden-sharing and there’s some ownership for outcomes.”

When asked about the limits of American power, Obama conceded that there were things that his administration simply cannot do in terms of power projection, but remained upbeat.

“Well, American leadership, in part, comes out of our can-do spirit. We’re the largest, most powerful country on Earth. As I said previously in speeches: when problems happen, they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us. And we embrace that responsibility. The question, I think, is how that leadership is exercised. My administration is very aggressive and internationalist in wading in and taking on and trying to solve problems.”

his appeal to US leadership, which has often been couched within the notion of American exceptionalism, has regularly been questioned by Moscow.
‘American leadership, in part, comes out of our can-do spirit’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took issue with the notion past September, following Obama’s speech before the UN in which the US president named “Russian aggression in Europe” along with the Ebola epidemic and ISIS as threats to international peace and security.

Lavrov said that Obama’s address to the UN was the “speech of a peacemaker – the way it was conceived,” but added that he had “failed to deliver, if one compares it to real facts.”

READ MORE: Russia tops ISIS threat, Ebola worst of all? Lavrov puzzled by Obama’s UN speech

The Russian foreign minister added that Obama had presented a worldview based on the exceptionality of the United States.

“That’s the worldview of a country that has spelt out its right to use force arbitrarily regardless of the UN Security Council’s resolutions or other international legal acts in its national defense doctrine,” Lavrov said.

In a September 2013 Op-Ed article in the New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the concept of American exceptionalism was a precarious one in the global arena.

“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,” Putin wrote. “There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

Lavrov on Obama speech: Efforts to isolate Russia will fail

January 21, 2015

Lavrov on Obama speech: Efforts to isolate Russia will fail

Published time: January 21, 2015 08:17

Edited time: January 21, 2015 13:05

via Lavrov on Obama speech: Efforts to isolate Russia will fail — RT News.

 

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov prior to the beginning of a press-conference summarizing the results of the Russian diplomacy in 2014.(RIA Novosti / Maxim Blinov)

 

Attempts at isolating Russia will not work, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference on the outcome of 2014.

“We hear from our Western partners that Russia has to be isolated,” Lavrov said. “Specifically, Barack Obama has just repeated that. These attempts won’t be effective. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia will never resort to self-isolation.”

The minister said Moscow is calling on Washington to resume cooperation that was thwarted last year. “Relations between Moscow and Washington significantly deteriorated in 2014. We call for resuming effective cooperation at a bilateral and international level. But dialogue is only possible if based on equality and respect for each other’s interests,” he said.

Cutting ties with NATO was not Russia’s choice, according to Lavrov.

#LAVROV Q&A: #NATO choses confrontational approach, still thinks in Cold War categories – LIVE NOW: http://t.co/DsyEYyz0fk

— RT (@RT_com) January 21, 2015

“NATO followed the US in its drive for confrontation. NATO made an absolutely politicized decision to halt civil and military cooperation. Almost all projects have been frozen,” Lavrov said. Moscow “will not allow a new Cold War,” he added.

Commenting on US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Speech, Lavrov said it showed Washington wanted to dominate the world and required all the rest to acknowledge their superiority.

“Americans are absolutely non-critical in assessing their own steps, and yesterday’s speech by Obama shows that the core of their philosophy is: ‘we are number one’. And all the rest should accept that.”

Lavrov described US “aggressive” foreign policy as “outdated.”
No proof of Russian military in southeastern Ukraine

Lavrov has denied allegations of a Russian military presence in southeastern Ukraine, calling on those who believe the opposite to prove their point. “I say it every time: if you are so sure in stating that, confirm it with facts. But no one can or wants to provide them,” he said.

Lavrov said he would try to negotiate an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine at talks in Berlin due to take place later in the day. The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Germany and France are expected to be present.

He said it was now vital to withdraw heavy artillery from the line separating militia-held territories from those under Kiev’s control. The move would prevent civilian casualties. “Russia has already persuaded the self-defense fighters to withdraw heavy artillery,” he said. “Now the Ukrainian authorities should do their bit.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is, according to Lavrov, ready to discuss the peace plan offered by President Putin on January 15, despite earlier reports of its rejection.

READ MORE: Poroshenko rejected Putin’s artillery withdrawal plan, began assault – Kremlin

“Judging by the reaction of President Poroshenko, we feel he’s ready to discuss it, but raises certain questions, some of those quite technical. They can all be agreed upon equitably.”

Recent days have seen an escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine. Government troops launched a massive assault on militia-held areas, in accordance with a presidential order.

Residential areas have come under fire with reports of several civilian casualties.

More civilian deaths in #Donetsk on Tuesday as shelling of residential areas continues. 3 non combatant deaths so far pic.twitter.com/E9FhIO8CjR

— Roman Kosarev (@Kosarev_RT) January 20, 2015

A hospital in Donetsk was severely damaged on Monday, when at least two shells struck it.

Human rights groups have called on both sides to protect civilians in conflict zones.

Amnesty International called on militias not launch operations from populated areas, and demanded that Kiev stops its indiscriminate shelling of residential blocks.