What will Putin try to ‘devour’ next?
Ex-Reagan adviser smacks Obama response to ‘great danger’ posed by Russia
Published: 14 hours ago
Vladimir Putin wants all of Ukraine and the big question is whether he’ll be satisfied with that, according to Frank Gaffney, deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan.
Gaffney, who is now president of the Center for Security Policy, says Putin is probing to see just how far he can go and is getting virtually no resistance from the United States.
Tension in Ukraine are on the rise again, with increasing reports of pro-Russian militants seizing police stations and other government buildings in eastern Ukraine, a region known to be sympathetic to Moscow. Experts fear the Russians are stoking an artificial movement in that part of the country designed to trigger additional independence votes and eventual assimilation by Russia. Gaffney says Putin’s strategy goes far beyond a little regional nibbling.
“The question is does he really want more than the whole thing of Ukraine. The think the answer to that is probably yes. I think he will insist upon, at the very minimum, that all of Ukraine once again is subject to Russian dominion, as it was under the previous President Yanukovych. Whether his appetite extends beyond that to Trans-Dniester (Moldova) or to Latvia and Estonia or perhaps other former Soviet republics [that] have Russian populations is anybody’s guess,” said Gaffney.
“But I think that the heavy betting should be on he’s going to continue to go for as much as he can because he senses no real opposition from either the administration here in Washington or from the Europeans,” he said.
The Obama administration says the president will likely speak to Putin soon about the latest instigation of unrest in Ukraine.
“I can assure you that Russia’s further provocations and transgressions will come with a cost,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Gaffney says that kind of response will yield little to nothing.
“This isn’t the first time that that’s been said, by the president, by Secretary of State John Kerry, let alone by the White House press spokesman. I think it’s been completely discounted by Vladmir Putin because he knows our capacity to impose greater costs is considerably limited by both the condition of our own military, our economy, not least our leadership, and because we’ve failed to take any appreciable steps to date,” said Gaffney.
“The extent of our support for Ukraine to this point has been to provide meals ready to eat to a country ready to be eaten. This is hardly a disincentive to Vladimir Putin and I think he’s behaving accordingly,” said Gaffney.
The Obama administration is also responding to news that a Russian warplane recently buzzed an American Navy ship in the region, with Carney calling it ”provocative and unprofessional.”
“This is the kind of thing that can lead to conflagrations because one suddenly one finds that the response is mandatory and no longer elective. I’m worried that the president’s failure, as is so often the case, and this is what the lessons of history teach us, things get worse the longer you defer acting on them,” said Gaffney.
Gaffney further asserts that the brewing tension with the Russians is another facet of the larger battle for freedom in the world.
“I believe the war we’re in is best thought of as the war for the free world and whether the assaults against the free world by the Islamists or by the Chinese or by the Russians or by Hugo Chavez and his successors or anybody else, to think that it doesn’t matter to U.S. security when other parts of the free world or aspirants to being part of it are lopped off at the hands of thugs who have very bad intentions toward us as well is the worst sort of shortsightedness.
It shows an ignorance of the hard lessons of history that should cause all of us to realize that we are poorly led and it is exposing us to great dangers,” said Gaffney.
Russia Tests Multi-Warhead ICBM
Flight test comes amid heightened tensions over Ukraine
Russia’s military carried out a flight test of a new multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile on Monday amid growing tensions with the United States over the crisis in Ukraine.
The SS-27 Mod 2 road-mobile ICBM was launched around 2:40 a.m. EST from Russia’s Plesetsk launch facility, located about 500 miles north of Moscow.
“The main purpose of the launch is to validate the reliability of a batch of this class of missiles made at the Votkinsk Plant,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Yegorov told state-run Interfax-AVN.
An unspecified number of simulated nuclear warheads landed at an impact range on the Kura test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the Russian Far East, Yegorov said. The distance is around 3,500 miles.
The SS-27 Mod 2 is Russia’s newest ICBM and has been touted by Russian officials as designed specifically to defeat U.S. missile defenses.
Mark B. Schneider, a missile specialist with National Institute for Public Policy, said there is evidence indicating the Russians have violated the START arms treaty by developing the SS-27 Mod 2 with multiple warheads.
“The original missile that Russia called the Topol M Variant 2 and we call the SS-27 was a single warhead missile,” Schneider told the Free Beacon. “START prohibits increasing the declared number of warheads.”
The missile test launch followed an incident Saturday when a Russian Su-24 jet conducted a dozen low-altitude passes over a U.S. warship in the Black Sea. The Pentagon called the maneuver “provocative.”
“The aircraft did not respond to multiple queries and warnings from USS Donald Cook, and the event ended without incident after approximately 90 minutes,” Army Col. Steven Warren said.
“The Donald Cook is more than capable of defending itself against two Su-24s,” the colonel said.
Warren said the aircraft appeared to be authorized to make the low passes. “We’ve seen the Russians conduct themselves unprofessionally and in violation of international norms in Ukraine for several months, and these continued acts of provocation and unprofessionalism do nothing to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, which we called on the Russians to do,” he said.
The warship has been in the Black Sea in a show-of-strength deployment. It is currently making a port visit to Constanta, Romania.
The Russian ICBM, which Moscow calls the RS-24 Yars missile, will replace older Topol mobile ICBMs.
The United States currently has no comparable road-mobile ICBM. The mobility makes the missiles very difficult to detect and target.
The last flight test of the SS-27 Mod 2 was in December.
Russia currently has an estimated 80,000 troops deployed along with armored vehicles close to Ukraine’s eastern border.
A senior Obama administration official said last week that pro-Russian unrest, including the takeover of police stations in two eastern Ukrainian towns, appears to be the work of Russian agents seeking to foment unrest—something that could be used a pretext for a Russian military invasion.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia has asked the United States to explain the recent visit to Kiev by CIA Director John Brennan.
“We want to understand what our western colleagues are doing in reality, particularly we want to understand what do the reports about an urgent visit of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency of the USA, Mr. Brennan, to Kiev means,” Lavrov said, according to state-owned Moscow Rossiya 24 TV. “No clear explanations have yet been given to us.”
A Russian presidential spokesman said President Vladimir Putin has received requests for Russia to intervene in Ukraine, following reports of domestic unrest.
“The Russian president is watching the development in these regions with great concern,” Dmitri Peskov, the spokesman, told reporters.
“Many appeals—addressed personally to Putin, asking to help in this or that way and asking to interfere in this or that way have been received,” Peskov said, according to Interfax.
The Obama administration is considering a Russian request to upgrade electronic intelligence gathering sensors used on aircraft that would overfly the United States as part of the Open Skies Treaty, according to the Weekly Standard.
The debate on granting the Russian request prompted a letter from House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) opposing the move.
“Given current world events, President Putin appears to be more than willing to disregard international norms of behavior in seeking geopolitical advantage. We should not now naively believe he will unilaterally adhere to the limitations of the Open Skies Treaty,” Rogers stated in a letter to President Obama sent Friday.
Senate Intelligence Committee members also are questioning whether the administration should permit the upgraded Russian spy flights.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Northern Command/North American Aerospace Defense Command, which monitors foreign missile launches, had no immediate comment.
|Apr 14, 12:53 PM EDT
APNewsBreak: Russian Jet passes near US warship
By LOLITA C. BALDOR
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Russian fighter jet made multiple, close-range passes near an American warship in the Black Sea for more than 90 minutes Saturday amid escalating tensions in the region, U.S. military officials said Monday.
In the first public account of the incident, the officials said the Russian Fencer made 12 passes, and flew within 1,000 yards of the USS Donald Cook, a Navy destroyer, at about 500 feet above sea level.
The U.S. warship issued several radio queries and warnings using international emergency circuits, but the Russian aircraft did not respond.
“This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with international protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries,” said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.
The fighter appeared to be unarmed and never was in danger of coming in contact with the ship, said the officials. The passes, which occurred in the early evening there, ended without incident. A second Russian fighter jet flew at a higher altitude and was not a concern, said Warren.
A U.S. military official also said that a Russian Navy ship, a frigate, has been shadowing the U.S. warship, remaining within visual distance but not close enough to be unsafe. The official was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.
Warren said that he is not aware of any official communication or protests by the U.S. to the Russians about incident.
The USS Donald Cook has been conducting routine operations in international waters east of Romania. The ship, which carries helicopters, was deployed to the Black Sea on April 10, in the wake of the Russian military takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region and ongoing unrest there. U.S. military officials have said the deployment is part of an effort to reassure allies and partners in the region.
Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Monday called for the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping troops in the east of the country, where pro-Russian insurgents have occupied buildings in nearly 10 cities. The gunmen are demanding more autonomy from the central government and closer ties with Russia.
The West has accused Moscow of fomenting the unrest. And European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg Monday to consider additional sanctions against Russian officials because of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
The USS Donald Cook is now in port at Constanta, Romania.
Romanian President Traian Basescu visited the ship Monday and said a second U.S. Navy warship – a frigate from the Navy’s Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea – is also heading to the Black Sea.
“My visit to the ship is symbolic, which first of all shows our respect to our NATO allies’ reaction who have strengthened their presence in the Black Sea after Russia’s annexation of Crimea,” said Basescu, who is a former ship captain. He said the Russians “had created a circle of fire around the Black Sea.”
The U.S. frigate, which has not yet been identified, is expected to arrive in the Black Sea in the next two weeks. According to a U.S. military official, the frigate is likely to replace the USS Donald Cook, which is expected to return to the Mediterranean Sea.