Category Archive: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

Feb 13

Iran: ‘Only seven minutes needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv’

ByJPOST.COM STAFF, Michael Wilner

05 February 2017 22:00

Iran’s officials vowed to continue launching “roaring missiles,” which they characterized as defensive in nature.

 

“Only seven minutes is needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv,” senior member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and former Revolutionary Guard official, Majtaba Zonour, told semi-official Fars News Agency Saturday.

His comments follow days of heated exchanges between US and Iranian officials.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have intensified after the Trump administration announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic-missile program.

The US issued the new penalties in response to several Iranian missile launches that international powers say are in violation of Iran’s obligations.

Iran responded forcefully, proceeding with a military exercise that further tested its missile radar capabilities.

Iran’s officials vowed to continue launching “roaring missiles,” which they characterized as defensive in nature.

And they targeted US President Donald Trump himself calling him “reckless” and inexperienced.

Trump said on Twitter that Iran was “playing with fire.” And, in a statement, US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said Iran’s “belligerent and lawless” behavior across the Middle East had only increased since it agreed to a deal with six foreign nations meant to govern its nuclear program for more than a decade.

“The international community has been too tolerant of Iran’s bad behavior. The ritual of convening a United Nations Security Council in an emergency meeting and issuing a strong statement is not enough,” Flynn said.

Iran last Saturday condemned the US visa ban against Tehran and six other majority-Muslim countries as an “open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation” and vowed to retaliate.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8335

Jan 27

Strange bedfellows: The Russian-Turkish-Iranian axis

ByOfra Bengio

25 January 2017 12:20

Russia has fulfilled a long-held dream of reaching the warm water of the Mediterranean and is casting itself as the hegemon in the region.

Sixty years have lapsed since the Baghdad Pact which grouped together Turkey, Iran, Iraq and the West in an alliance against the Soviet Union and the concomitant Communist danger. Nowadays this Middle Eastern architecture has shifted 180 degrees to where Russia, Turkey and Iran are in an ad hoc alliance against Islamic State but which may turn against the West as well. Still, the new alliance might be termed as a marriage of inconvenience where each of the parties has different motives and is acting at cross purposes in partitioning the Syrian bear.

Russia has fulfilled a long-held dream of reaching the warm water of the Mediterranean and is casting itself as the hegemon in the region. The erstwhile unipolar world where the US was the only power in the Middle East has disappeared and the resulting vacuum enabled Russia to spread its influence in many countries in the region and become the arbiter in the simmering conflict in Syria.

This structural shift has convinced Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to follow the adage “if you cannot beat your enemy, join him.” Ironically, it was the domestic threat perceptions that threw Turkey into the arms of Russia. So threatening the Kurdish national movement in Turkey and Syria appeared to him that Erdogan was willing to make his peace with Russia disregarding built-in Turkish fears of being flanked by Russia from the north and the south. Driven by the need to contain or destroy the Kurdish autonomous region in Syria, Turkey had in this way to compromise on three geostrategic issues: Russia’s hegemonic power on its southern border, the survival of its nemesis the Syrian regime, and the further solidification of its rival Shi’ite Iran in Syria.

The nuclear deal with Iran which came into force a year earlier had an unexpected but ironic outcome. Rather than moving Iran to moderate its policies, democratize and ally itself with the West, the deal pushed it to increase its hegemonic aspirations in the region, destabilize it and throw its lot in with Russia. But here too the aspirations of the minor hegemon might clash with those of the bigger one as Iran, too, seeks to reach the Mediterranean by building the Shi’ite axis from Iran via Shi’ite Iraq, Alawite Syria and Shi’ite Hezbollah.

In this endeavor its interests might clash in the longer run not only with Russia but Turkey as well.

Russia assumed the mantle of brokering peace in Syria. It has achieved a certain lull in the fighting, it is convening the peace process in Astana, and it is maneuvering the Assad regime for its own purposes, interestingly without having him included in the new found alliance. As for the US it is playing a minor role in the peace process but anyway the fate of Syria will be decided in the battle for liberating Al-Bab and Raqqa from ISIS. There, the US will have to take part while facing a dilemma which of its allies it will support: Turkey or the Kurds.

The Baghdad Pact lasted for only three years (1955-1958). The new tripartite alliance might not survive that long. This new structure is very fragile because of changes which are likely to occur in US under the new Trump administration, the deepening of the Sunni-Shi’ite divide and the multiplying players and conflicts in Syria, all of which promise to preclude stability and lasting alliances

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8317

Jan 12

US Special Forces deployed at Russian border to defend Baltic states ‘scared to death’ by Vladimir Putin

The troops will help train local forces and add to intelligence gathering operations carried out by the CIA

US Special Forces have been deployed close to the border with Russia as part of a “persistent” presence of American troops in the Baltics.

Dozens of special ops solders are being stationed along Europe’s eastern flank to reassure Nato allies Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

The move will also allow the US to monitor Russian manoeuvres amid fears of further destabilisation following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

General Raymond Thomas, head of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command, said the Baltic states were “desperate” for America’s help in deterring potential Russian aggression.

He told The New York Times: “They’re scared to death of Russia. They are very open about that.”

Lithuanian defence ministry spokeswoman Asta Galdikaite confirmed the US had offered “additional safety assurance measures to the Baltic countries following the deterioration of the security situation in the region”.

The troops will also help train local forces and add to intelligence gathering operations carried out by the CIA.

Eastern European countries neighbouring Russia fear an incursion similar to that launched in 2014 in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, where fighting continues.

The Lithuanian President’s office released a statement saying the US was playing an “active role” to “provide the most reliable security guarantees for the Baltic states and for the whole transatlantic community”.

However, Russia views the build-up of NATO troops in the Baltics as a provocation and has said the main barrier to warm relations with the West is America’s continued military presence there.

US special operations forces will complement around 4,000 Nato troops posted to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia in the coming months.

The deployment – the largest on Russia’s doorstep since the Cold War – was criticised as “truly aggressive” by Moscow.

Russia had “every sovereign right to take necessary measures throughout the territory of the Russian Federation”, a statement from the Kremlin added.

Britain will send an 800-strong battalion to Estonia, supported by French and Danish troops, beginning in May.

Elsewhere, Canada is sending 450 troops to Latvia and Germany is sending up to 600 soldiers to Lithuania

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8291

Dec 16

Netanyahu in Kazakhstan warns Iran: We’re a tiger, not a rabbit

PM asks his counterpart in Astana to convey message to Tehran not to underestimate Israel; ‘If Iran attacks Israel it will put itself at risk’

By Raphael Ahren December 14, 2016, 6:18 pm

ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a visit to Kazakhstan Wednesday to send a warning to arch-enemy Iran: Don’t underestimate us, we are tigers, not rabbits.

During a meeting Wednesday morning in Astana with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the host asked Netanyahu whether he could deliver a message to Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, who is set to visit the Central Asian country next week.

Netanyahu replied yes, according to a senior official with knowledge of the details of the discussions. “Ask him why Iran continues to threaten us with annihilation. Don’t you understand: we’re not a rabbit. We’re a tiger,” the prime minister told Nazarbayev.

Netanyahu also told Nazarbayev that “if Iran attacks Israel it will put itself at risk,” the official said, speaking on conditioning of anonymity.

Kazakhstan, a country with a Sunni Muslim majority, has friendly ties with both Israel and Iran. Last year, Nazarbayev congratulated Tehran on the nuclear pact it struck with six world powers, a deal Israel criticized as a historic mistake.

In April, Nazarbayev visited Iran for the fifth time since he became president, calling the Iran and Kazakhstan “brotherly nations.”

Nazarbayev asked Netanyahu whether he really believes that Tehran intends to wipe Israel off the map. Netanyahu replied that he does indeed think so, adding that he takes Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s constant threats literally.

The Kazakh president agreed to convey the message to Rouhani.

Speaking to reporters after a long day of meetings with Kazakh officials, businessman and Jewish community leaders, Netanyahu confirmed the message and said that he repeated it in his subsequent meeting with Kazakh Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev. “I intend to repeat this message many times,” he said.

After several months in which Netanyahu has rarely spoken publicly about Iran, he has in recent weeks made a series of comments some observers interpreted as more bellicose. Most recently, he told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he has five ideas how to work together with US President-elect Donald Trump to roll back the nuclear pact with Iran.

“If the Iranians change their attitude toward us, we will change our attitude toward them,” he said Wednesday noting, however, that the regime incessantly repeats its threats directed at Israel.

Netanyahu also said that Nazarbayev “responded positively” to his request to support Israel’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Kazakhstan itself will begin a two-year term at the Security Council on January 1, though Netanyahu and Nazarbayev did not discuss possible pro-Palestinian resolutions and the likelihood of Astana opposing them, the prime minister said.

Netanyahu also said Israel remains concerned that Washington could back a Palestine-related resolution at the Security Council in the last days of President Barack Obama’s presidency that ends January 20. “With every passing day that possibility becomes less likely, but until then it’s still there,” Netanyahu said.

Wednesday’s “historic” visit to Astana marks the first time an Israeli prime minister has visited the country, Netanyahu said. The Jewish state openly cooperating with a Muslim majority state could, and should, serve as a model for Arab Muslim states, he added.

“I don’t deny that I have double intentions,” he said, explaining that while he is genuinely interested in boosting bilateral trade and security ties with Kazakhstan, he also wants to show moderate Arab states that it is possible to have strong and overt ties with Israel.

Arab countries in the Middle East will not suddenly recognize Israel, “but there plainly is a trend,” the prime minister said. Israel’s extensive clandestine cooperation with these states “will eventually create a critical mass.”

Asked when was the last time he spoke with the leader of a country Israel does not have formal relations with, Netanyahu replied: “I do it all the time. By all the time, I don’t mean months ago.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8270

Dec 16

Missing Piece of 400-Year-Old Prophecy Portends Russian Conquest of Israel

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz December 14, 2016 , 12:30 pm

“And thou son of man prophesy against Gog and say: Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold I am against thee O Gog chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.” Ezekiel 39:1 (The Israel Bible™)

Though relations between Russian President Vladmir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appear friendly, the recently-revealed missing piece to a 400-year-old prophecy warns that Russia’s pre-Messianic intentions towards Israel might be far more aggressive than anyone suspects.

The prophecy, attributed to the Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, the leading Torah scholar of the 18th century known as the Vilna Gaon, states, “If the ships of the Kingdom of Russia cross the Bosphorous Straits (in Northwest Turkey), we need to put on our Shabbat clothes, because this is telling you that the coming of the Messiah is very close.”

When Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in November 2015, nearly igniting a war between the two countries, the prophecy seemed to be materializing. Two months ago, the Russian Navy sailed for the Mediterranean, bolstering their already formidable military presence in the region and setting the stage for the prophesied confrontation to occur at any moment.

In a lecture last week, Rabbi Yekutiel Fisch, author of the Kabbalistic book Sod Hachashmal (“Secret of the Electricity”), noted that most people familiar with the prophecy credit it to the Gaon, but claimed that the teaching has even more ancient roots. Rabbi Fisch’s teaching was picked up by Yeranen Yaakov, a Jewish end-times blogger, who made the connection.

Rabbi Fisch attributed the original prophecy to Samson ben Pesah Ostropoli, a noted mystic who was killed in a pogrom in Poland in 1648. In his book Mahaneh Dan (“The Camp of Dan”), which has since been lost, Rabbi Ostropoli made the same claim about Russia conquering Turkey. But unlike the prophecy attributed to the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Ostropoli’s original prophecy adds that Russia will do so with the true intention of conquering Israel.

Thus far, Israel seemed to be uncharacteristically unentangled in the growing Middle Eastern conflict centered around Syria, and the friction between Russia and Turkey doesn’t appear to involve Israel at all. But Russia has never been neutral in the region and all of Israel’s regional enemies bear Russian arms.

In Syria, the Russian military is currently assisting its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a long-time declared enemy of Israel, to overcome rebel forces in a bloody civil war. And in nearby Iran, which has vowed to wipe Israel off the map, Russia recently supplied the Iranian Revolutionary Guard with the state-of-the-art S-300 anti-air weapons system.

As to the diplomatic ties between Israel and Russia, Professor Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies told Breaking Israel News that relations may not be as warm as they appear.

“These relations are based on specific and narrow understandings in order to prevent clashes,” Professor Inbar explained. “With Russian warplanes operating so close to the Israeli border this is necessary, and it is in Israel’s interest not to have any disputes with Russia. But there is no signed treaty or formal agreement.

“It should be remembered that Russia sides with Iran, supports Hezbollah, and even has relations with Hamas,” Professor Inbar warned.

In a lecture given last year, Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, chief judge of the Edah HaChareidis in Jerusalem, discussed this prophetic teaching, asking why Turkey would antagonize Russia, since Russia is far superior militarily.

“We see in this the fulfillment of the teaching of our Sages that when Moshiach should come, God pits kingdoms against one another and they start war against their own will,” explained Rabbi Sternbuch.

The original version of the prophecy written by Rabbi Ostropoli notes that Israel will undergo many processes. At first, Israel will be under Turkish rule, after which it will be under British rule, and, in the end, Israel will be under the rule of Russia.

The Ottoman Empire ruled in Israel at the time Rabbi Ostropoli wrote his book, but the British Mandate in Palestine was still almost 300 years in the future when he predicted they would rule over Israel. Russia has never ruled Israel, but the Russian Army has never stood as close to Jerusalem as it does today.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8268

Dec 15

Iran: If US imposes war, Israel, Gulf states will be destroyed

Iranian defense minister says Mideast worried about conflict risks with Trump, amid president-elect’s vow to dismantle ‘disastrous’ nuclear deal

By Times of Israel staff and Agencies December 12, 2016, 3:45 am

The election of Donald Trump has led to unease in the Middle East over threats to peace in the region and any war would lead to the destruction of Israel and the Gulf states, Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan warned Sunday.

His remarks came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier Sunday that he would work with Trump to dismantle the nuclear agreement with Iran, signed last year over Israel’s fierce criticism of the pact.

Trump said during the campaign he would tear up the nuclear deal, calling it a “disastrous” and one of the worst agreements in history and has vowed to take a harder line with Tehran.

This has led to concern among the Iranians and in the wider region, Dehghan indicated.

“Even though a businessman, the assistants that … (Trump) has chosen may map a different path for him, and this has led to unease, particularly among Persian Gulf countries,” Dehghan said at a security conference in Tehran, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.

“Considering Trump’s character and that he measures the cost of everything in dollars, it does not seem likely that he would take strong action against our country,” he said, but “enemies may want to impose a war on us based on false calculations and only taking into consideration their material capabilities.”

“Such a war would mean the destruction of the Zionist regime (Israel) … and will engulf the whole region and could lead to a world war,” Mehr quoted Dehghan as saying.

Iran has long backed armed groups committed to Israel’s destruction and its leaders have called for it to be wiped off the map. Israel fears that Iran’s nuclear program is designed to threaten its existence.

“Among other consequences of the war,” Dehgan added, “would be the destruction of the city-states on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf, because they lack popular support,” in reference to small Western-allied Gulf states such as the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.

In a wide-ranging interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, Netanyahu said it was not too late to undo the nuclear deal that was the landmark foreign policy achievement of President Barack Obama, noting that he would present Trump with five alternatives to the accord, without elaborating,

However, his pick for Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, is opposed to rescinding the accord

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8260

Dec 12

How a Trump-Putin alliance would change the world

By Evan Horowitz Globe Staff  December 05, 2016

When news of Donald Trump’s election reached Moscow, the Russian parliament broke into applause. Might there be an encore this week, when Trump is expected to name his secretary of state? Or will he find a chief diplomat with a more Russophobic bent?

It’s no secret that Trump was the Kremlin’s favored candidate. During the campaign, Trump repeatedly referred to Vladimir Putin as a strong and effective leader. He even went out of his way to shed doubt on US intelligence assessments that Russia was trying to manipulate the election via cyberespionage.

Maybe none of this matters. When President George W. Bush first met Putin, he famously said that he had “looked” into Putin’s eyes and seen his trustworthy soul. Obama, too, had high hopes of a reset with Russia. Both times, events triumphed over optimism.

But if Trump and Putin do forge a 21st-century detente, it would bind the United States to an authoritarian nation notorious for political repression, military opportunism, naked interference in the affairs of other states, and a dismal record on human rights — all of it grounded in a cult of Putin-personality.

What is more, such an alliance would reshuffle the global order. Among other things, we could see a widening of Russian influence, the restoration of President Bashar Assad of Syria, and rising concerns about hidden conflicts of interest between Trump and Russia.

Syria

The key thing to understand about Syria is that there isn’t just one war underway — more like two wars with at least four competing factions. The first is between Assad and various non-Islamic State rebels. The other is between the Islamic State and an alliance of forces led by the United States.

Russia says it’s fighting terrorism in Syria, but the country is really focused on the Assad-rebel side of this conflict — not the Islamic State. Russian air support is helping Assad recapture territory and defeat non-Islamic State rebels.

If the Trump administration does decide to join with Assad and Russia, the results could be extremely awkward, to say the least. It would put the US into, effectively, an alliance with Iran, which is already on Assad’s side. It would also anger European allies, who have long insisted that Assad must go, as the brutal bombing of his own people makes him unfit to lead Syria.

And how’s this for a scenario: By aligning with Russia, we might unwittingly set the stage for a confrontation between US-supported Assad troops and US-supported Kurdish forces — the same Kurdish forces who have led the ground fight against the Islamic State and who now control territory that the Assad regime might want to reclaim.

Ukraine

The current chill in US-Russia relations began after a popular uprising against a Putin-friendly president in Ukraine. Shaken by the events, Russia seized Crimea and stoked a low-level conflict between east and west Ukraine that persists today; the US responded with sanctions against Russian businesses and members of Putin’s inner circle.

Trump seems less concerned about Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. He has talked openly about lifting sanctions — even accepting Russia’s annexation of Crimea. What’s more, his team worked behind the scenes at the Republican National Convention to scrub a provision of the party platform that called for arming Ukraine against Russian-backed rebels.

The big question, for Trump, is how far this laxity goes. If Russia can take Crimea, what other parts of the old Soviet sphere could it reclaim? Could it assume direct control of Georgia? Undermine democratic governments in Latvia or Estonia?

For 60 years, the surest check on Russian expansion into Eastern Europe has been NATO, but there, too, Trump has sent mixed signals, saying that countries who don’t pay shouldn’t get protection. And once NATO support becomes conditional, Russia can start testing the limits.

Kleptocracy

Corruption is already endemic in Russia. Not just the mild corruption of bribes and payoffs, but something more deeply ingrained, where business success hinges on political connections and politicians are groomed for loyalty rather than public service.

If you want to succeed in Russia, the best thing is to know Putin. And one concern about Trump is that he brings a similar mindset to American politics. Trump’s cabinet picks, for instance, have disproportionately gone to campaign loyalists, whether it’s Stephen Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Steven Mnuchin, or Michael Flynn (who has an odd Russia connection of his own, as a regular contributor to the Kremlin-controlled network RT).

When people know you value loyalty, they respond by making themselves loyal — and giving preferential treatment to other loyal followers. As a telling example, consider that two days after Trump’s election, the Ukrainian government ended its corruption investigation into Trump’s old campaign chairman Paul Manafort, suspected of receiving undisclosed money while working for Ukraine’s former ruler.

That bit of Trump-friendly dealing happened in public. But given Trump’s unusual stature as president-businessman, it’s possible similar things will happen in hidden pages of Trump’s tax returns — which are not set to be released anytime soon.

Sometimes, perhaps often, it will be hard to determine whether Trump’s dealings with Russia are motivated by public or private interests. And while we don’t know the extent of Trump’s business relations with Russian oligarchs, there are hints. Back in 2008, Trump’s son and business partner, Donald Jr., said Russians made up a disproportionate share of their assets, adding, “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Putting it together

If Trump does forge a new alliance with Russia, it will be a policy of his own making. The military brass and the intelligence community are united in their skepticism of Russia. CIA chief John Brennan told the BBC Wednesday that Trump should be “wary of Russian promises.”

And who knows? Maybe experience will make Trump rethink his praise for Putin — say, if the Russian leader backtracks on a private pledge or balks at Trump’s “America first” approach to trade.

But Trump has proved time and again his willingness to take risks, buck consensus, and pursue unorthodox policies. If that means a new era of US-Russia cooperation, the fallout will stretch from Europe to the Middle East, empowering a brutal regime in Syria, potentially undermining the democratic government of Ukraine, and unsettling the balance of power in Eastern Europe.

And every time Trump does make a surprising concession to Russia, we might be left to wonder whether it involved some unknown conflict of interest crossing between the United States and Moscow.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8252

Nov 29

Retaliation to NATO: Nukes, S-400s sent to Kaliningrad

The chairman of Russia’s Duma defense committee says Moscow has deployed S-400 and nuclear armed missile systems to Kaliningrad in retaliation to NATO expansion.

  • Senior pro-Kremlin lawmaker: Moscow will deploy S-400 surface-to-air missiles and nuclear-capable Iskander systems in Kaliningrad in response to NATO expansion East.
  • Russia previously said Iskanders deployments were part of routine drills.
  • Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee in the Federation Council: “As response measures to such threats we will have… to deploy additional forces… This reinforcement includes deployment of S-400 and Iskander systems in Kaliningrad.”

(MOSCOW, RUSSIA) Moscow will deploy S-400 surface-to-air missiles and nuclear-capable Iskander systems in the exclave of Kaliningrad in retaliation for NATO deployments, a senior pro-Kremlin lawmaker was quoted as saying on Monday.

Russia has previously said it periodically sends Iskanders to Kaliningrad, but until now it has said these were routine drills. Moscow has not linked the moves explicitly with what it says is a NATO military build-up on Russia’s western borders.

After the election as U.S. president of Donald Trump, who has said he wants closer ties with the Kremlin and has questioned the cost of protecting NATO allies, some analysts predict an emboldened Moscow could become more assertive in eastern Europe.

Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, said in remarks reported by RIA news agency that Russia was forced to react to the planned U.S. missile shield in eastern Europe.

“As response measures to such threats we will have… to deploy additional forces… This reinforcement includes deployment of S-400 and Iskander systems in Kaliningrad,” the agency quoted Ozerov as saying.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8237

Nov 16

Russian warship flotilla now off Syrian coast: military

Warplanes already taking off from carrier in Mediterranean as part of Moscow’s campaign to aid ally Bashar Assad

By Anna MALPAS November 12, 2016, 4:08 pm

The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov passes within a few miles of Dover, in the southeast of England as a fleet of Russian warships sail through the North Sea, and the English Channel Friday October 21, 2016, on their way to the eastern Mediterranean Sea (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

MOSCOW (AFP) — A flotilla of Russian warships is now in the eastern Mediterranean off the Syrian coast after being sent to reinforce Russia’s military in the area, a naval commander said on state television.

The commander of Russia’s flagship Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, Sergei Artamonov, said via videolink that the ships are now in the “designated zone… in the eastern Mediterranean” and “are now jointly carrying out tasks, maneuvering to the west of the Syrian coast.”

The battle group has traveled to Syria from the North Sea through the English Channel in the biggest such naval deployment in recent years as part of Russia’s military intervention in Syria.

Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria for the past year in support of President Bashar Assad and has deployed a naval contingent to back up its operation.

The naval task force has been monitored closely by NATO, whose chief Jens Stoltenberg voiced concern the ships would be used to support the Russian military operation in Syria and “increase human and civilian suffering.”

The ship’s commander was speaking to a presenter on Russia-1 television from inside the Defense Ministry for a news show that will air this evening in Moscow.

He confirmed that aircraft are already taking off from the ship’s deck to view the conflict zone.

“Flights are being carried out from the deck… they are working on coordination with the shore port,” he said.

“The flights have been going on practically every day for the last four days,” he added.

Russia’s Interfax news agency on Friday had cited a Russian military and diplomatic source as saying that Russian MiG and Sukhoi jets have been regularly flying into Syrian airspace from the Kuznetsov to “determine combat missions.”

The Russian television channel also spoke to the commander of the Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered battle cruiser, which is part of the same flotilla.

Asked whether foreign aircraft were flying over the ships, the commander, Vladislav Malakhovsky, said “they are afraid to come closer than 50 kilometers away, realizing very well how powerful the nuclear cruiser is.”

Russia says it has ceased strikes on rebel-held east Aleppo since October 18 and has also held brief unilateral ceasefires on the ground it calls “humanitarian pauses.”

It has accused the United States-led coalition of failing to persuade rebels to cooperate to allow civilians to leave, as only a few have done so.

The Russian defence ministry on Saturday said that it will introduce further “humanitarian pauses” only on condition that the United Nations humanitarian mission guarantees it is ready and able to organize aid supplies and evacuations.

The UN has warned that east Aleppo is now down to its final food supplies and has urged Russia to extend future truces to allow supplies through.

Russia said Saturday it is ready to act “at any time” as long as the UN “officially confirms its readiness and ability to supply humanitarian aid to Aleppo and evacuate wounded and sick peaceful residents.”

It complained that previous assurances from the UN had turned out to be “just words.”

Vehicles carrying humanitarian aid that try to enter the designated humanitarian passages into the city have “every time” faced “shooting from the rebel fighters” and have been unable to drive through because of mined roads, the ministry said

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8218

Nov 01

War In Europe: Lithuania Prepares For Russian Invasion As NATO Sends Troops To Eastern European States

By Cristina Silva @cristymsilva On 10/29/16 AT 9:14 PM

More than two years after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, Lithuania is warning its citizens of a possible similar fate in the former Soviet Union republic. Lithuanian government officials have published tens of thousands of copies of a 75-page guide on how to survive a Russian invasion, BBC News reported Saturday.

The civil defense booklet stresses that Russia is capable of using military force against its neighbors to get its way and warns civilians to call a government hotline to report anyone suspected of being a spy. It also informs Lithuanians on how to spot Russian tanks and mines.

The manual states: “It is most important that the civilians are aware and have a will to resist – when these elements are strong, an aggressor has difficulties in creating an environment for military invasion.” The guide is the latest sign that Russia’s Baltic neighbors are worried that they could be next amid a two-year struggle between pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine and Kiev. Western leaders have accused Moscow of fueling the war, but the Kremlin has denied any direct involvement.

“Every Lithuanian citizen can become a target,” said Darius Jauniskis, head of the state security department.

Conflict between Lithuania and Russia, which share a small border, would have global consequences. Lithuania has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since 2004. With growing tensions between Russia and the West in recent years, NATO has announced it will send troops and equipment to defend the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia in the biggest military build-up since the Cold War.

“NATO depends totally on American leadership and American willingness to come to the aid of allies unconditionally,” Richard Shirreff, NATO’s former deputy supreme allied commander Europe, one of the highest-ranking positions in the military alliance, recently told The Atlantic. 

Germany alone plans to send up to 600 troops and tanks to Lithuania next year. Germany also warned residents in an August advisory to stockpile food and water in case of a national emergency. For its part, Lithuania announced last year it would restart military conscription for men aged 19-26.

Russia has also taken precautions. Most recently, it held civil defense drills involving 40 million people to prepare for chemical and biological attacks. And in Moscow, officials reportedly have created a plan to shelter the city’s 12 million residents in case of catastrophe.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said relations between the West and Russia have reached extreme levels.

“I think the world has reached a dangerous point,” he told the RIA Novosti news agency in mid-October. “This needs to stop. We need to renew dialogue.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8200

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