Russian Defense Minister Says His Military Has Tested 162 Weapons In Syria (Source npr.org)
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made his way to the Duma, the lower house of parliament, on the eve of Defender of the Fatherland Day. The Feb. 23 national holiday was once known as Soviet Army and Navy Day, and Shoigu, dressed in the uniform of a general, came to boast about the Russian military’s latest achievements. “We tested 162 types of contemporary and modernized weapons in Syria, which showed a high level of effectiveness,” Shoigu said. The Kremlin has never made a secret that its intervention on behalf of the Syrian government has been an excellent opportunity to show off its new military prowess. Shortly after Russia entered the conflict in September 2015, the country’s navy fired cruise missiles at Syrian targets 900 miles away – an event that coincided with President Vladimir Putin’s 63rd birthday. The air force sent long-range Bear and Backfire bombers on round-trip missions from bases in Russia. And the country’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, traveled all the way from the Arctic Ocean to the Syrian coast to launch airstrikes.
Sean Spicer: Trump administration is in full agreement that it should revoke transgender protections (Source vox.com)
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there’s no argument: The Trump administration is ready to revoke a guidance that protects transgender students from discrimination in public schools.
Spicer was disputing a New York Times report that there’s been debate within the administration about whether the guidance should be revoked. His explanation: The president has maintained for a long time that this is a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government. So while we have further guidance coming out on this, I think that all you have to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time, that this is not something that the federal government should be involved in, that this is a states’ rights issue. A few months before President Donald Trump was elected, the Obama administration sent out a legally non binding obama-administration-transgender-bathrooms” guidance to federally funded schools arguing that trans students are protected by existing federal civil rights law. So, that administration said, schools should respect trans students’ rights, including their right to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.
The Obama administration cited Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in public schools. It argued that anti-trans discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, because discrimination against trans people is rooted in stereotypes and prejudices of what people should be like based on the sex they were assigned at birth.
Conservatives, including those in the Trump administration, see the trans-inclusive view as a misinterpretation of federal laws. They argue that the authors of civil rights laws, which go back to the 1960s and ’70s, never intended to include trans people in sex discrimination bans, so trans people shouldn’t be protected under the statutes.
Mexico fumes over Trump immigration rules as U.S. talks loom (Source Reuters) Senior envoys of President Donald Trump are likely to receive a chilly reception in Mexico, after the United States issued new immigration guidelines that deeply angered the southern neighbor the day before bilateral talks. Trump’s administration unveiled plans to consider almost all illegal immigrants subject to deportation, and will seek to send many of them to Mexico if they entered the United States from there, regardless of their nationality.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are due to arrive in Mexico on Wednesday afternoon for talks on security and immigration.
Mexico’s lead negotiator with the Trump administration, Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, said there was no way Mexico would accept the new “unilateral” rules, which among other things seek to deport non-Mexicans to Mexico. He said the issue would dominate the talks. “I want to say clearly and emphatically that the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept provisions that one government unilaterally wants to impose on the other,” he told reporters at the foreign ministry. “We will not accept it, because there’s no reason why we should, and because it is not in the interests of Mexico.” Another senior Mexican official, Roberto Campa, who heads the human rights department of the interior ministry, said Videgaray was referring to the plan to deport non-Mexicans to Mexico, calling it “hostile” and “unacceptable.”
U.S. carrier group patrols in tense South China Sea (Source Reuters)
A United States aircraft carrier strike group has begun patrols in the South China Sea amid growing tension with China over control of the disputed waterway and concerns it could become a flashpoint under the new U.S. administration. China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday warned Washington against challenging its sovereignty in the South China Sea. The U.S. navy said the force, including Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, began routine operations in the South China Sea on Saturday. The announcement was posted on the Vinson’s Facebook page. The strike group’s commander, Rear Admiral James Kilby, said that weeks of training in the Pacific had improved the group’s effectiveness and readiness. “We are looking forward to demonstrating those capabilities while building upon existing strong relationships with our allies, partners and friends in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” he was quoted as saying by the Navy News Service.
Friction between the United States and China over trade and territory under U.S. President Donald Trump have increased concerns that the South China Sea could become a flashpoint.
Nuclear Submarines and Hypersonic Missiles: China Is Making Game-Changing Weapons Advances (Source thetrumpet.com)
The United States military could be in “serious trouble” in a face-off against Chinese forces in the South China Sea, according to analyses published this week. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is making massive gains in its development of two key areas of advanced weaponry: Nuclear submarines and hypersonic missiles.
Alongside these advances, the PLA is demonstrating ever more willingness and resolve to use its military might. Analysts believe these factors could eventually tip the scales of a regional conflict in Beijing’s favor. The Interest discussed the PLA’s nuclear submarines on February 13, writing: Is China’s new Type 093B nuclear-powered attack submarine on par with the U.S. Navy’s Improved Los Angeles-class boats? At least some U.S. naval analysts believe so and contend that the introduction of the new People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) submarines is an indication of just how quickly Beijing is catching up to the West. On February 13, the Scout Warrior military analysis firm asked if China is already ahead-of-us-with-hypersonic-weapons in front of the U.S. in developing hypersonic weapons.” The article discusses China’s recent claims of having successfully tested a hypersonic weapon, saying the development “caused concern among Pentagon leaders and threat analysts.”
If China’s claims of having already conducted a successful test are true, this could represent a considerable lag in U.S. progress relative to China’s, and in a vital military realm. Should China possess long-range, high-speed hypersonic weapons, it could dramatically impact circumstances known in Pentagon circles and anti-access/area denial. This phenomenon, referred to as A2/AD, involves instances wherein potential adversaries use long-range sensors and precision weaponry to deny the U.S. any ability to operate in the vicinity of some strategically significant areas such as closer to an enemy coastline. Hypersonic weapons could hold slower-moving Navy aircraft carriers at much greater risk, for example. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said China’s increasingly militaristic direction, especially in the South China Sea, is “steering the world toward war,” writing: Now that U.S. military presence in the area has been drastically reduced, China is claiming the entire South China Sea as its own! America’s enemies are securing shipping lanes and creating economic alliances that will very soon enable them to choke off America’s supply lines. … Everything is headed in the direction of war. China’s military advancements are of great geo strategic significance, with implications for people of all nations.
Defense Sec’y Mattis Warns of ‘Arc of Instability’ on Europe’s Edge (Source foxnews.com) Defense Secretary James Mattis is warning of an “arc of instability” on Europe’s periphery. Speaking to the Munich Security Conference , Mattis HYPERLINK “http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-germany-security-usa-idUKKBN15W1JI” \t “_blank” assured allies that the U.S. would stand with NATO partners to confront shared threats. “We all see our community of nations under threat on multiple fronts as the arc of instability builds on NATO’s periphery and beyond,” Mattis said. Mattis told the assembled heads of state and more than 70 defense ministers that President Donald Trump backed NATO. Although Mattis did not mention Russia by name, his remarks come amid heightened tensions with Moscow, with a Russian spy ship loitering mere miles off the eastern U.S. coast. Mattis HYPERLINK “http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-mattis-idUSKBN15V1N9” \t “_blank” said at NATO headquarters in Brussels that “there’s very little doubt that Russia has either interfered or they have attempted to interfere in a number of elections,” though he declined to specifically cite the U.S. presidential election. On “America’s News HQ” today, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has adopted a more aggressive posture because he was emboldened by the Obama administration. “We all know that Putin is a thug, and he has a military that is trying to flex its muscle and send a message,” Blackburn said. “We probably should not be surprised by such activity.” She said that Trump needs to show Putin that the U.S. will not put up with shows of strength against our nation or our NATO allies.
Russia seeks pragmatic US ties and “post-West” world order (Source Associated Press) Russia wants pragmatic relations with the United States but also is hoping for the creation of a “post-West world order,” the country’s foreign minister said Saturday. Sergey Lavrov’s comments at the Munich Security Conference came hours after Vice President Mike Pence told the gathering that the U.S. will “hold Russia accountable” even as the Trump administration searches for common ground with Moscow. The annual get-together of diplomats and defense officials has been marked by Western concerns about President Donald Trump’s approach to foreign policy and attitude toward Russia.
“What kind of relations do we want with the U.S.? Pragmatic relations, mutual respect, understanding our special responsibility for global stability,” Lavrov said. “We have immense potential that has yet to be tapped into, and we’re open for that inasmuch as the U.S. is open for that as well,” he added. More broadly, Lavrov declared that NATO “remained a Cold War institution.” Pence earlier said Washington “strongly supports” the military alliance, the latest in a string of U.S. leaders to give similar commitments after Trump in the past called it “obsolete.” “Responsible leaders should make a choice, I hope that the choice will be done in favor a creating a democratic and just world order,” Lavrov said, speaking through an interpreter. “If you want, you can call it a post-West world order when each country, based on its sovereignty within the rules of international law, will strive to find a balance between its own national interests and the national interests of partners.”
Russia Is Putting Together a Dossier on Trump’s “Psychological Makeup” for Putin (Source cosmopolitan.com)
In preparation for meeting him in person, Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to get inside U.S. President Donald Trump’s head.” NBC, a group of retired diplomats and members of Putin’s staff are currently compiling a “dossier on Donald Trump’s psychological makeup” for the Russian leader. A senior Kremlin adviser revealed that “its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve,” while former Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Fedorov added that Trump “doesn’t understand fully who is Mr. Putin — he is a tough guy.”
The dossier is being compiled in order to help the Russian leader prepare for his first official in-person meeting with the new president, which has yet to be scheduled. “Very serious preparatory work is going on in the Kremlin, including a paper — seven pages — describing a psychological portrait of Trump, especially based on this last two to three months, and the last weeks,” Federov told ank” NBC. “Trump is not living in a box — he is living in a crowd. He should listen to the people around him especially in the areas where he is weak.” NBC points out, while it is normal for a world leader to be briefed on a rival leader before meeting with them, it’s far less normal for them to request a dossier on their psychological state and way of thinking. The news comes after much speculation and criticism about Trump’s potential ties to Russia and their hacking of the 2016 election. The president has not yet commented on the matter.
NATO’s Buildup In Black Sea Could Lead To Cold War, Russian Envoy Says (Source ibtimes.com)
There could be a situation of a Cold War if NATO increased its military buildup in the Black Sea region, Russian ambassador to the 28-nation bloc said Thursday. The comments came after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg vowed to fortify its military presence in the region, where Moscow is accused of growing its assertion.
“All these decisions will be subject of thorough analysis. … And, undoubtedly, we will take all necessary measures to properly safeguard Russia’s national interests in this region,” Alexander Grushko, the Russian envoy to NATO, said. “The danger lies in the fact that [NATO] is expected to increase not only the spending but also significantly increase the purchase of arms,” Grushko reportedly said. “If these plans will be implemented, we may find ourselves in the situation of a Cold War, when the military planning, aimed at countering a ‘large enemy’ would generate respective policies.”
The envoy also noted that Russia is likely to lose interest in a dialogue with NATO “if it does not promote the restoration of bilateral cooperation.” NATO sent additional troops to the Baltic states and Poland last month and it is looking to boost its southeastern border around the Black Sea. The bloc also plans to improve intelligence gathering to counter Russia’s alleged growing assertion in the region. However, NATO chief Stoltenberg maintained that the move is not meant to provoke Russia.
“We will have an increased presence in the Black Sea but it will be measured, it will be defensive and it will in no way be provoking any conflict or escalating tensions,” Stoltenberg reportedly said.
Tensions between Russia and NATO have flared up since Moscow annexed Crimea in March 2014 and supported separatist rebels within Ukraine. NATO’s military buildup has concentrated on Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — all of which have expressed concerns over Russia’s growing political and military assertion in the region. However, Moscow has denied the allegations and accused the U.S. of expanding its geopolitical power along Russia’s borders.
Syrian dictator Assad says he SUPPORTS Trump’s travel ban on his citizens because it will stop ‘terrorists’ infiltrating the US (Source dailymail.co.uk)
Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad said Donald Trump‘s ban on Syrians entering the United States targeted terrorists, not his country’s people. Trump last month issued an executive order, since suspended by a judge, that temporarily barred travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries including Syria. Assad made the claims during an interview which is due to be broadcast on Thursday. In an interview broadcast with Europe 1 radio and TF1 television, the dictator said: ‘It’s against the terrorists that would infiltrate some of the immigrants to the West. And that happened. It happened in Europe, mainly in Germany. ‘I think the aim of Trump is to prevent those people from coming… not against the Syrian people.’ Trump said his order, which triggered protests at home and abroad and confusion at US and international airports, was intended to prevent militants from entering the United States. His administration is challenging the suspension ruling, which was upheld last week by appeal court judges.