MOSCOW, December 18 -- The Russian Navy will take the delivery of 12 warships and combat boats, two submarines and four Bal and Bastion coastal defense systems in 2019.
efense Minister Sergei Shoigu said this at the ministry’s year-end board meeting attended by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. "A total of 12 warships and combat boats, two submarines and 12 support vessels will enter service with the Navy. Four Bal and Bastion coastal defense systems will be delivered to the troops. As a whole, the task is to raise the share of modern weaponry in the Navy to 64%," the defense chief said.
The Bastion mobile coastal defense missile system with the standardized Yakhont (Oniks) supersonic homing anti-ship cruise missile is designed to strike surface ships of various classes and types from amphibious assault formations, convoys, naval and carrier strike groups, and also sole warships and ground radiocontrast targets amid intensive fire and jamming.
The Bal mobile coastal defense missile complex with the Kh-35 anti-ship missile is designed to control territorial waters and straits, defend naval bases, other coastal facilities and infrastructure, and also defend the coastline in the areas vulnerable to amphibious assaults. The system can be used in any weather conditions, day and night with the fully autonomous guidance after the launch amid an enemy’s fire and jamming. The system can strike targets at a range of 120km with the Kh-35 missile and 260km with the Kh-35U missile.
NEW YORK, December 18 -- Oil prices fell more than 4 per cent on Tuesday as planned production curbs by global producers.
Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, producers failed to allay concerns about renewed oversupply stoked by swelling US shale output. Fears about weaker oil demand amid a potential slowdown in the global economy have also added to worries about how effective the supply cuts will be. The fall in oil prices comes amid a broader sell-off in the global equities market due to persistent worries centred on how the US-China trade spat could hit economic growth. Prices“Prices are continuing to nose-dive,” said Carsten Fritsch at Commerzbank. “The effect of the announced production cuts after Opec’s meeting [earlier this month] has evaporated entirely.”
International benchmark Brent crude fell $1.70 (€1.50) a barrel to $57.91 in mid-morning trading in London, having fallen as low as $57.20 – marking the third consecutive day of declines.
West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, fell $1.51 a barrel to $48.37, the lowest level since September, 2017.
Global producers have agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day (b/d) to halt a more than 30 per cent slide in oil prices, since hitting $86 a barrel in October. The move came in defiance of US president Donald Trump who had called for the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) to keep output elevated and prices low. But record output from Saudi Arabia above 10 million b/d since July coincided with news that the US would issue waivers to buyers of Iranian oil – at the same time as imposing sanctions against Tehran’s economy – allowing more oil than anticipated on to the market.
Still, Iranian output and exports have fallen sharply this year and other producers such as Venezuela have seen a slide in their supplies because of turmoil in their countries. Production and exports from Libya’s largest oilfield, El Sharara, have also been halted due to security issues. Still, this has not been enough to help firm up oil prices as hoped by global producers, which largely rely on revenues from crude exports to support their economies. Data from the US energy department showed that the US has surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer, with overall crude production climbing to a weekly record of 11.7 million b/d.
This has fuelled doubts about the effectiveness of the supply curbs and raised questions among traders and analysts about how long Opec and its allies will be willing to trim its supplies to benefit US rivals. Market participants are also questioning how much Russia will pull back on its production, after also hitting a record level above 11.4 million b/d in December. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018
MOSCOW, December 18 -- Intelligence agencies from at least ten countries have been showing high interest in Russia’s Armed Forces.
The head of the Military Counterintelligence Department at the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Colonel General Nikolai Yuryev revealed in an interview ahead of the military counterintelligence agency’s centennial anniversary. "Russia’s Armed Forces still are a matter of interest for foreign intelligence agencies," he noted. "This is proven by the fact that military counterintelligence officers exposed dozens of intelligence agents from the US, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia and Poland," Yuryev added. The general stressed that the FSB Military Counterintelligence Department and army security agencies were particularly tasked with preventing foreign intelligence agencies from reaching out to the Russian Armed Forces, collecting intelligence concerning security threats, preventing terrorist and subversive activities against the army, as well as with protecting state secrets, countering organized crime, corruption, arms and drug trafficking in the army.
Russia’s military counterintelligence agency will mark its centennial anniversary on December 19.
MOSCOW, December 17 -- Missile defense facilities of the United States in Europe are located within a reach of Russia’s effective striking forces.
Strategic Missile Force Commander Colonel-General Sergei Karakayev said this in an interview with Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper. "We must not forget that the European missile defense facilities are located within the reach of other [not nuclear] effective striking means of our Armed Forces," Karakayev replied to a question regarding the deployment of US missile defense facilities in Romania and Poland. Late last month Russian Deputy Feoreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov stated that The deployment of the US Aegis Ashore systems as ballistic missile defense infrastructure in Europe is a direct breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
An Aegis Ashore missile facility went into operation at the Deveselu military base in Romania in May 2016. The facility comprises the ballistic missile defense control center and mobile Mk-41 batteries with SM-3 interceptors. They are serviced by 200 US servicemen. SM-3 missile interceptor batteries are scheduled to go in operation in Poland in 2020 under the Aegis Ashore program. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated on many occasions that the deployment of Aegis Ashore land-based ballistic missile defense systems in Eastern Europe is Washington’s breach of its commitments under the INF Treaty.
US President Donald Trump said on October 20 that his country would quit the INF Treaty because Russia was allegedly in breach of that agreement. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov described this as a dangerous move. Washington was also criticized in Berlin and Beijing. In the meantime, London came out in support of the United States and NATO placed the responsibility for Trump’s decision on Russia, because in its opinion Moscow had apparently violated the treaty. The INF Treaty was signed on December 8, 1987 and took effect on June 1, 1988. It outlawed deployed and non-deployed intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers) ground-based missiles.
In recent years, Washington has repeatedly alleged Russia was in breach of the agreement. Moscow emphatically dismissed the charges and countered them with its own claims over the United States’ non-compliance.
BERLIN, December 15 -- The discovery of an East German secret police ID card wouldn't normally attract much attention, but things get a lot more interesting when it's Vladimir Putin's.
Issued in 1985, the document belonged to the then mid-ranking Soviet officer, now the President of Russia. At the time, Putin worked for the KGB spy service as a liaison with the East German State Security Service (Staatssicherheitsdienst), nicknamed the "Stasi." From 1985 to 1990, Putin was stationed in Dresden, East Germany. The German newspaper Bild says the ID card found in the archives proves Putin was working for the Stasi, but the Stasi Records Agency (BStU) says it served a purely practical purpose. Spokeswoman Dagmar Hovestädt told CNN via telephone that Putin would have used the ID card to access Stasi facilities. He served in East Germany as a liaison officer, said Hovestädt, facilitating consultation between friendly intelligence services.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the discovery of the ID card is not entirely unexpected. "As is well known at the time when the Soviet Union existed, the KGB and the Stasi were partner intelligence agencies, so you probably can't rule out an exchange of such identity cards," he said, according to Reuters. The ID card includes a monochrome photograph of a young Putin wearing a tie, as well as stamps that date to the last few months of 1989.Around this time, pro-democracy protests were shaking the communist regime and ultimately resulted in its collapse as East and West Germany reunified after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
After Putin returned to Russia, he rose to become head of the FSB, the Russian spy service that succeeded the KGB, before becoming the Russian Federation's second democratically elected President in 2000 after Boris Yeltsin.
BAKU, December 14 -- Russian Maria Butina made a plea deal with the US justice to get a chance to be released as soon as possible and return to her homeland, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.
"As far as I understand, the essence of this deal with the justice - this practice is usual chiefly in the US - was to manage to get a chance to be released as soon as possible and return to homeland," the minister said.
He noted that Russian diplomats visited Butina on Thursday. "She is still being held in very non-standard conditions, conditions which are usually used against extremely dangerous criminals. We again demanded that she be transferred to a general confinement room," Lavrov pointed out. "She said that she was not under pressure and that she voluntarily pled guilty to one of the charges brought against her - a collusion in an attempt to influence something." "I understand this woman: she is staying in the most difficult conditions and faced specific kind of tortures for months: they either forcibly wake her up and let her walk in the night or place her in a solitary confinement cell, and so on. I have reasons to assume that the goal of the [detention] conditions that were created for her was to break her will and make her admit to something that she most probably did not commit," Lavrov pointed out. "However, it is her fate, her decision. We will do everything to provide the rights of our citizen and enable her return home as soon as possible," the foreign minister stated.
On Thursday, Butina pled guilty under one of the charges on collision aimed at the violation of the laws on foreign agents in the US. She earlier signed documents on a deal with the prosecutors. The court accepted the confession and scheduled the next session under the case for February 12. The date of the sentencing was not announced because of a prosecutor who said that Butina agreed to cooperate with the investigators, and this process may take some time.
Butina was arrested in Washington on July 15, ahead of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump in Helsinki. The 30-year-old Russian was charged with collusion for conducting activity on US territory to benefit the Russian government. In addition, the American intelligence service state that the Russian conducted this activity without being registered with the US Department of Justice as an agent of a foreign state.
In a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on July 21, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov demanded that Butina be released from custody as soon as possible and called the accusations against her fabricated. Butina came to the US to study. She received a master’s degree at the American University, where she
WASHINGTON, December 13 -- Maria Butina, arrested in the US, has pleaded guilty to one of the charges and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors, a TASS correspondent reported from a courtroom.
Butina pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the law governing foreign agents operating in the US. "Yes, Your Honor," she told Judge Tanya Chutkan, pointing out that the fact that she is being housed in a separate cell had no impact on her decision to cooperate. Maria Butina, who studied at American University in Washington, had been arrested on July 15 ahead of the Helsinki summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump. The Russian gun rights activist is facing charges of conspiracy for conducting activities in the interests of a foreign state. Investigators claim that she was engaged in these activities without registering as a foreign agent at the US Department of Justice.
During a July 21 phone conversation with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded a speedy release for Butina, having deemed the charges against her as fabricated.
MOSCOW, December 5 -- The Russian government endorsed Israeli efforts to seek out and destroy tunnels constructed by the Hezbollah terrorist organization from southern Lebanon into northern Israel, but also urged the Jewish state not to take military action inside of Lebanon.
On Tuesday morning, Israel announced that it had launched Operation Northern Shield to locate and neutralize ‘terror tunnels’ along the Israeli-Lebanese frontier. Within hours of the initial announcement, the IDF reported that it had uncovered a terror tunnel originating in the southern Lebanese village of Kafr Kila, and leading into Israeli territory.
“IDF troops located a cross-border attack tunnel in the southern area of Kafr Kela. At this time, the IDF is carrying out an operational and engineering process to neutralize the tunnel,” an army spokesperson said Tuesday. A day after the discovery, the Russian government said that it backed Israeli efforts to neutralize the Hezbollah tunnel network. "There is no doubt regarding Israel’s right to ensure its national security, including by preventing anyone from entering the country," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
But Russia also signaled that it would not back the use of force by Israel inside of Lebanon, saying that any efforts to neutralize the terror tunnels must be in keeping with the United Nations Security Council resolution which ended the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.
"At the same time, we hope that no actions taken to achieve this purpose will be in conflict with UN Security Council Resolution 1701.” The US condemned Hezbollah’s attempts to tunnel into Israel, and expressed support for Israel’s Operation Northern Shield.“The US strongly supports Israel's efforts to defend its sovereignty, and we call on Hezbollah to stop its tunneling into Israel and to refrain from escalation and violence,” said US National Security Advisor John Bolton on Tuesday. “More broadly, we call on Iran and all of its agents to stop their regional aggression and provocation, which pose an unacceptable threat to Israeli and regional security.”
MOSCOW, December 5 -- The Russian military have released stunning footage of Peresvet combat laser systems entering test service, shedding a bit more light on the cutting-edge weapon.
A short one-minute video shows the laser system “getting on test duty” outside Teikovo, a town west of Moscow. The system slowly comes out of a hangar and ejects a barrel-shape device, presumably a laser lens. The camera then quickly films Peresvet’s control room and an operator handling the system by remote control. In July this year, the Russian military released another video of the combat laser, featuring at least two truck-mounted systems, accompanied by several command and support vehicles. During a speech to the Federal Assembly on March 1, Putin revealed a wide range of brand new weapons systems, including the combat laser system. The Russian President asked the public to suggest and vote for the names of those weapon systems.
The state of the art combat laser received its name in honor of Peresvet, a famous warrior monk who fought at the 1380 Battle of Kulikovo which ended the Mongol domination of Medieval Russia.
LONDON, December 3 -- The chief of British foreign intelligence agency MI6 is set to deliver a speech warning Russia not to underestimate the UK's "capabilities" and "determination".
Alex Younger's speech comes after a brazen nerve agent attack on a retired double agent in England stoked fears about Russian covert activity abroad. In only his second public address since becoming the head of MI6 four years ago, Alex Younger will warn Russia "or any other state intent on subverting our way of life not to underestimate our determination and our capabilities or those of our allies," the Press Association said. Younger will outline how, after the attack on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer who betrayed dozens of agents to MI6, Britain's allies in Europe and the United States ordered the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War. The 55-year-old is also expected to describe how his agency played a central role in exposing the alleged perpetrators of the Salisbury nerve agent attack and the subsequent expulsion of Russian diplomats.
Britain identified the nerve agent deployed in the town of Salisbury as Novichok, a highly potent group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s. Moscow has repeatedly denied involvement and accused British intelligence agencies of staging the attack to stoke anti-Russian hysteria.
Speaking at St Andrews University in Scotland, where he once studied, Younger will say that Britain's spies have thwarted multiple Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) plots originating overseas and that it is "well equipped" to counter adversaries taking advantage of the "blurred lines" between the "cyber and physical worlds". Earlier this year, Jeremy Fleming, head of Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) spy agency accused Russia of "not playing to the same rules" and blurring the boundaries between criminal and state activity.
As the UK is due to leave the European Union on March 29, Younger will also say MI6 continues to work with partner agencies to strengthen "indispensable security ties" in Europe.
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