High tensions between Russia and NATO/ USA

High tensions between Russia and NATO/ USA

GOP Senator Says Don’t Rule Out First-Use Nuclear Attack On Russia

A GOP senator who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee said in a Fox News interview while commenting on Tuesday’s Biden-Putin virtual talks which focused on soaring Ukraine tensions he won’t rule out a major American ground war with Russia.

Even more eye-brow raising was Senator Roger Wicker’s (Mississippi) suggestion that the United States should not rule out “first-use nuclear action” against Russia in the event Moscow threatens Ukraine with a military offensive.

The perhaps beyond Dick Cheney levels of hawkishness was on display during an evening interview with Fox’s Neil Cavuto. Wicker argued that nothing at all should be off the table when it comes to defending Ukraine’s sovereignty – a country it should be remembered which is not a NATO member and Washington as no defense treaties with.

The further shock of it was the casual way in which nuking Russia was mentioned almost in passing during the Republican senator’s comments. He said:

“Well, military action could mean that we stand off with our ships in the Black Sea and we rain destruction … on Russia military capability. It could mean that we participate, and I would not rule that out.

I would not rule out American troops on the ground. Do you know we don’t rule out first-use nuclear action.

Russia’s Putin told Biden during Tuesday’s two-hour call that “Russian forces on its own territory aren’t a threat to anyone” in a discussion which the Kremlin called “constructive”.

GOP and Democratic Russia hawks are working behind the scenes for build-up near Ukraine, while others seek de-escalation…

The Biden administration is far from talking all-out “war” – as Sen. Wicker did in his remarks to Fox – however, it’s indicated it would mull sending US troops to Ukraine if the eastern European country saw Russian incursions into war-torn Donbass.

Despite being the views of a lone senator, and not that of the mainstream of the Republican party, the “first-use nuke” threat issued by Wicker is sure to be noticed in the Kremlin, given he’s currently the second-highest ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

* * *

Meanwhile, in a wide-ranging interview focused largely on the Ukraine-Russia issue, Tim Pool and his latest guest Steve Bannon are making a lot more sense in commenting on the crisis…

Biden Says Sending US Troops To Ukraine “Not On The Table”

Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,

On Wednesday, President Biden told reporters that he is not considering sending troops to Ukraine to confront Russia. Biden’s comments came a day after he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the tensions surrounding Ukraine. The US is accusing Russia of building up troops near Ukraine to prepare for an invasion, a charge that Moscow denies.

“That is not on the table,” Biden said when asked by reporters if the US would send troops to Ukraine if Russia invades. The president noted that Ukraine is not a member of NATO and has no security guarantees from the US or the alliance.

Via Reuters

“We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if they were to attack under Article 5, it’s a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend to… Ukraine,” he said.

During talks with Putin, Biden warned that if Russia invaded, the US would impose harsh sanctions on Moscow, send more troops to NATO’s “eastern flank” that borders Russia, and send more weapons to Ukraine. BBC writes that:

Mr Biden said he had made it clear to Mr Putin during Tuesday’s meeting that there would be “economic consequences like none he’s ever seen”.

He was confident that the Russian leader got the message, he added.

Putin said Wednesday that he hopes to continue dialogue with the US on the situations and plans on sending proposals to Washington to reduce tensions. The Russian leader is seeking guarantees that NATO won’t continue to expand eastward or put missiles in Ukraine that could target Russian territory.

Putin also called the suggestion that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine was “provocative.” On Monday, CIA Director William Burns said US intelligence agencies have not concluded that Putin is planning an invasion, contradicting recent US media reports.

Russia Delivers Protest Note To US Embassy Warning “Dangerous Consequences” For Border “Provocations”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has handed a “note of protest” to the US Embassy-Moscow just a day after the Biden-Putin talks which focused on the build-up of tensions centered on Ukraine, amid widespread accusations the Kremlin is mustering troops for an offensive in Donbass.

The note warns of “dangerous consequences” should any “provocations near Russia’s borders” ensue. It cites increased NATO combat aircraft and naval activities. “The military activity of the United States and NATO member states along the perimeter of Russia’s border, including flights by combat aircraft and dangerous maneuvers by naval ships, continues to spiral upwards,” Kremlin spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a written statement posted late in the day Wednesday, based on what was communicated in the note.

“The US military and its NATO allies have switched from attempts to test the system of our border protection to provocations against civilian aircraft, jeopardizing airspace safety and human lives. In connection with these provocative actions, the US embassy in Moscow was handed a note of protest on Wednesday, which warns of the dangerous consequences of such recklessness,” Zakharova said.

“The statement says that by retaining the right to respond in kind to the challenges from the United States and the US-led NATO members, Moscow calls for an in-depth dialogue on security guarantees and on ways to lower military and political tensions, including options to prevent collisions in the air and at sea.”

“Otherwise, we will deploy all the means at our disposal to prevent and remove the emerging threats,” the diplomat said.

In particular she called out dangerous maneuvers by NATO aircraft, often done without radio communication or warning, in the Black Sea region which threatens civilian airliners flying in and out of Russian airspace.

“This violates the fundamental principles of international air navigation in accordance with the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, as well as other requirements of international law,” she explained.

Further, according to TASS:

Zakharova pointed out that the protest handed to the US enumerated recent incidents, “which have not led to a tragedy only by a lucky chance and thanks to the prompt reaction by Russian pilots and air traffic controllers.”

In particular, the note of protest refers to the incidents of October 6 and 13, as well as of December 3, when US military aircraft came dangerously close to civil flights.

With this “protest” – it appears the Biden-Putin meeting may have done little to de-escalate the current atmosphere of tit-for-tat accusations and soaring tensions.

Meanwhile US mainstream media have begun beating the drums of war, as stories of “Russian aggression” persist, also as some US officials are predicting Putin will give the order to invade Ukraine by the end of January.

Russian Jets Escort NATO Aircraft Away From Border For 2nd Time In Two Days

The situation between Russia and US and Western military aircraft over the Black Sea continues to be a tense one. There’s been a new incident with NATO aircraft on Thursday, coming less than 24 hours after Russia’s Foreign Ministry handed a “note of protest” to the US Embassy-Moscow, warning of “dangerous consequences” should any “provocations near Russia’s borders” ensue. The message appeared specifically geared toward tensions over Donbass in Ukraine.

A French Army statement described of Thursday’s incident: “Two French warplanes and a refuelling aircraft were being tracked on Thursday by two Russian fighter jets in international air space over the Black Sea, the second such interaction this week.”

It was the second consecutive day that Russian fighters were scrambled in order to “escort” French jets away from Russian airspace. “A Russian jet had already escorted two French warplanes on Wednesday, which Moscow had said aimed to prevent the French aircraft from entering Russian air space,” Reuters noted.

File image: AFP

France’s military confirmed it was part of ongoing NATO observation missions, done in accord with international regulations. “The two (French) planes remotely detected two Russian fighter planes which have just come closer to them, but which are not disturbing or hindering the progress of the mission,” France’s Armed Forces Spokesman Colonel Pascal Ianni said. 

Since last week the Kremlin has been angry over what it says is a pattern of unsafe US spy plane maneuvers over the Black Sea, which threaten civilian aviation. An Aeroflot fight from Israel to Moscow reportedly had to drastically reduce altitude when an American spy plane came too close without warning or proper communications.

“Increased U.S. and NATO warplanes activity near Russian borders creates risks of dangerous incidents for civilian aviation,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a written statement Sunday. “If this time a catastrophe over the Black sea was avoided, this doesn’t mean U.S. and NATO could risk people’s lives in the future without punishment,” Zakharova added. 

Video of Thursday’s Black Sea “shadowing” of French warplanes was released by the Russian Defense Ministry. It appears the Russian jets were very close…

Meanwhile, following the Tuesday Biden-Putin phone call, the US President hinted at plans for high level NATO meetings with Russia over the Ukraine crisis. However, the Kremlin says it knows of nothing firm. According to state agency TASS: “Russia knows no details concerning a meeting of Russia and NATO officials on Ukraine US President Joe Biden has announced, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the media on Thursday.”

“I know nothing about any such meeting. I did see comments by the US president on this score. I proceed from the assumption that the formats for further talks on the ‘red lines’ our leadership was talking about for the past few days, and also maximally reliable legally binding security guarantees for Russia are subject to further discussion,” Ryabkov said. “At this point, nothing is decided. The US announcements that are made unilaterally do not create a new reality for us. They are just a reminder these issues should be dealt with tightly.”

(Reuters) -Two French warplanes and a refuelling aircraft were being tracked on Thursday by two Russian fighter jets in international air space over the Black Sea, the second such interaction this week, the French army said on Thursday.

A Russian jet had already escorted two French warplanes on Wednesday, which Moscow had said aimed to prevent the French aircraft from entering Russian air space.

As Americans suffer all time price highs amidst the greatest wealth transfer in history, the U.S. Congress has proposed sending $300 million to Ukraine’s military in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The funding will go, in part, to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to support the nation’s armed forces.

A further $4 billion is billed to go to the European Defense Initiative, with a further $150 million for Baltic Security cooperation. Ukraine has welcomed the proposal, due to a perceived Russian military threat along their border.

Only half of the proposed funding will be subject to conditions surrounding Ukrainian defense reforms subject to NATO standards, civilian control of the military, and greater accountability in procurement. The U.S. Congress also wants to ensure that Ukraine receives “lethal assistance” such as anti-armor weapons, anti-aircraft weapons systems, and procurement of vessels for Ukraine’s Navy in order to “counter maritime aggression.”

I came across this commentary from an unknown American source.

Russian English-language media

Putin: What is Happening in Donbass Resembles Genocide

Large swathes of eastern Ukraine were thrust into armed conflict in the spring of 2014 after Kiev sent troops to crush an independence push by local residents dissatisfied with the outcome of the February 2014 coup. The war has killed up to 31,000 people, with millions more fleeing their homes.
The situation in Donbass resembles a genocide, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

“We can see clearly and know what is happening in the Donbass right now. This, of course, very much resembles a genocide, about which you have spoken,” Putin said, speaking to Kirill Vyshinsky, a Ukrainian journalist, former director of Sputnik’s sister agency RIA Novosti Ukraine, and executive director of the Rossiya Segodnya media group.

The Russian president made the comments Thursday at a meeting of the Russian council for the development of civil society and human rights, of which Vyshinsky is a member.

Ukrainian Navy Ship Heading Toward Kerch, Ignores Demands to Change Course, FSB Says

A general view shows a road-and-rail bridge, which is constructed to connect the Russian mainland with the Crimean peninsula, during sunrise in the Kerch Strait, Crimea April 3, 2019. - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.12.2021
The Ukrainian Navy’s command ship Donbass later turned back, but did not respond to requests, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said.
The FSB said that the vessel did not respond to demands to change course as it was moving towards the Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov.

“Information about the movement of the control ship Donbass (A-500) of the Ukrainian Navy in the Azov Sea towards the Kerch Strait. The command ship Donbass lay on the opposite course from the Kerch Strait, does not respond to requests,” the FSB said.

The command ship Donbass of the Ukrainian Navy left the roadstead of the port of Mariupol at 09:12 [06:12 GMT] and headed toward the strait. It was noted that at 13:45, an FSB accompanying coast guard ship warned the Ukrainian vessel of the need to comply with Russian legislation (in terms of filing the necessary applications for passage through the Kerch Strait).
An answer was received that it did not plan to pass through the Kerch Strait.

The FSB said that the Donbass crew’s actions were regarded as provocative and endangered the safety of navigation.

The headquarters of the Joint Forces Operation in Donbas insisted that the ship did not enter the “sensitive zones” and performed tasks exclusively in its own territorial waters, adding that it was returning to the base.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov also claimed that the Ukrainian ship was legally sailing in the Sea of ​​Azov, since this was a shared water area.
“It is very strange that the Russian intelligence services saw a threat from a search and rescue vessel, a vessel without weapons. In general, the Sea of ​​Azov is a shared water area, we are there legally,” Reznikov said in a comment to the Ukrainian publication Lb.ua.
According to ship tracker MarineTraffic, more than 80 civilian ships were in the Kerch Strait at that time.
From Russian-language media 

Ukrainian Navy ship approached the borders of Russia near the Kerch Strait

FSB of Russia: command ship “Donbass” of the Ukrainian Navy approached the Kerch Strait

Photo: Denis Malinovsky / RIA Novosti

The command ship “Donbass” of the Ukrainian Navy approached the Kerch Strait, it does not fulfill the requirement to change the course. This was reported by RIA Novosti with reference to the FSB of Russia.

The ship is located 18 nautical miles from the Kerch Strait and does not comply with the requirements to change the course. The FSB noted that the actions of the ship pose a threat to the safety of navigation. In the morning he withdrew from the roadstead of the port of Mariupol and moved in the direction of Kerch , there were no requests from the Ukrainian side to cross the strait.

“Applications in accordance with the mandatory regulations in the seaport of Kerch, approved by order of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation dated October 21, 2015 No. 313, for the passage of the Kerch-Yenikalsky canal by the Ukrainian side has not been submitted,” – said in the message.

In the afternoon of December 9, the Russian coast guard ship announced the need to comply with the laws, but received an answer that the ship did not plan to follow through the Kerch Strait.

In November, the US Navy missile destroyer Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) entered the Black Sea. The mission of the battleship is to start working with NATO allies and partners in the region.

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