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US State Dept approves $75 mil Javelin missile sale to Georgia

The US is building up the small Caucasus republic for another suicidal war with Russia

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(Strategic Culture Foundation) – The United States is stepping up its military aid to Georgia, encouraging Tbilisi to continue on its pro-NATO path. The State Department has approved the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Georgia. The proposed $75 million sale includes 410 Javelin missiles and 72 Javelin command launch units (CLUs), including two Javelin Block 1 CLUs to be used as spares. The proposed sale also includes ten basic skills trainers (BST) and up to 70 simulated rounds.

Tbilisi believes that the approval is a big win. The Javelin has long been at the top of the country’s wish list since 2008 when Georgia attacked South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers, triggering a war with Russia, which it lost. Until the State Department’s approval, the US had been reluctant to encourage Georgian adventurism and escalate tensions with Russia by selling the system. That attitude appears to have changed. The efforts to boost military cooperation with Tbilisi have intensified under the Trump administration. The visit of Vice President Mike Pence in August was seen in Tbilisi as a meaningful gesture toward Georgia.

Starting next spring, around 40-50 US Army officers will begin a three-year program to train Georgian troops. The program is currently scheduled to run for three years and train nine battalions. That will supplement the Georgia Deployment Program, under which about 80 US Marines are based in Georgia to train Georgian troops before they are sent to Afghanistan. The United States holds two large military exercises per year in Georgia, and has begun to replace the Soviet-legacy Kalashnikov automatic rifles with US-made M240.

Despite the ever-receding hopes of joining NATO, Georgia has done everything it could to ingratiate itself with the bloc, including being a significant contributor to US- and NATO-led missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thirty-two Georgian servicemen have died in Afghanistan. “In this sense, Georgia is an example for all,” said US Defense Secretary James Mattis, meeting his Georgian counterpart Levan Izoria at the Pentagon on November 13.

The Javelin is an easy-to-use shoulder-fired anti-tank, guided munition and surveillance weapon system effective against a wide array of targets such as armored vehicles, bunkers and caves. Being a fire-and-forget weapon, it requires no further input after lunch. The crew is free to duck into cover and concealment, rather than being forced to remain fixed in place guiding the missile towards the target. It can be deployed from multiple platforms such as tripods, trucks, light armored vehicles, and remotely piloted vehicles in all weather, day or night operations. The system’s long-wave infrared seeker enables it to engage in obscurants and reduced visibility and resists or minimizes effects of countermeasures. It has been recently upgraded to increase the effective firing range from 2,500 m to 4,750m.

The US Defense Department’s statement says that “This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Georgia. The Javelin system will provide Georgia with increased capacity to meet its national defense requirements. Georgia will have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces.” The question is how can the proposed sale enhance America’s security, with Georgia located thousands of miles away? How will it strengthen Georgia’s security? Russia will see the deal as a hostile act and take measures.

It should be noted that the Javelin is not the most effective weapon against Russia tanks, which feature several countermeasures. New Relikt and Mechanit explosive reactive armor (ERA) systems feature dual layers of radar-triggered ERA plates designed to defeat tandem charge warheads. The Shtora and the newer Afganit Active Protection Systems can deploy ‘soft kill’ multi-spectral grenades and flares designed to obscure the tank from infrared seekers or divert them to other heat sources. It gives the countries that possess the Javelin no military advantage but the sales of such systems is a provocative step to damage the already spoiled Russia-US relations.

The US National Security Council has approved a $47 million grant package that would send Javelin anti-tank systems, counter-battery radar, and counter-mortar weapons to Ukraine and forwarded its opinion to President Donald Trump for consideration. The decision is taken despite notorious corruption in Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense and the fact that Russia would have to respond. Congress has already authorized him to transfer these designated defensive weapons to Ukraine if he so chooses. This comes in sharp contrast to the previous White House administration, which feared that supplying weapons could escalate the situation and tensions with Russia.

The arms transfers to Georgia and Ukraine will come amid ongoing rearmament and forward deployments in East Europe, the Baltic and Black Sea areas. The Baltic States – Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia – and Poland have been fortified with multinational battlegroups provided by NATO states. The US State Department has okayed a $10.5 billion sale to Poland. The sale includes four radar sets, four engagement control stations, 16 launching stations and 208 missiles. This year, the US sent 1,000 troops to Poland to lead the multinational battle group there as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, A rotational group of 300 US Marines also arrived in Norway at the start of the year.

US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has called for more America troops in Europe in coming years. According to Jim Stavridis, a former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, “We need a balanced mix of all military capabilities including increased Army heavy units, increased maritime deployments to the Baltic and Black Seas, joint NATO air patrols over NATO borders, and more attention to the Arctic.”

Intelligence capabilities are to be enhanced greatly. Denmark has announced plans to build a large spy station – a nearly 280-foot-tall listening tower near Ostermarie, on the Danish island of Bornholm – intended to capture Russian communications. Bornholm was liberated from the Nazis by Soviet troops in May 1945. The Soviet Union handed over control of the island to Denmark the following year, but stipulated that other Western forces should never be stationed there. It’s unrealistic to expect that the NATO listening facility will be manned by Danes only.

Everywhere one looks, there are signs of US-led NATO war preparations that Russia watches closely. Not all of the abovementioned facts hit media headlines, but summed together they indicate that the bloc is implementing the plans to encircle Russia and implement its biggest buildup since the cold War. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg assures that the alliance doesn’t want a “new Cold War” with Russia. “…having Russia in a friendly posture, as opposed to always fighting with them, is an asset to the world, and an asset to our country, not a liability,” said US President Trump after meeting Russian President Putin at the recent APEC summit. These are nice words but the facts tell otherwise. The sales of Javelin systems are an element of the policy that sees Russia as an enemy and a target.

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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from OrthoChristian.com:

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

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