Category Archives: Russia

Israeli military equipment, including Iron Dome missile defense systems, heading North towards Golan Heights

Israel’s cross-border clash with Iranian and Syrian forces on Saturday was a sharp escalation of long-brewing hostilities along its northern frontier — and a bracing alert to those who have focused on other areas of the Syrian civil war, on other aspects of Iran’s strategic assertiveness, or who believed that Israel’s air superiority left it invincible in its own skies.

In the space of several hours, Israel downed what it said was an Iranian drone that had penetrated its airspace, then struck back at what it called the command-and-control center in Syria from which Iran launched the drone. An Israeli F-16, returning from the attack, crashed in northern Israel after coming under heavy Syrian antiaircraft fire — the first Israeli jet downed under enemy fire in decades.

Israel responded with strikes against eight Syrian and four Iranian targets in Syrian territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the day’s events as proof of Israel’s resolve. “Yesterday we dealt severe blows to the Iranian and Syrian forces,” he said Sunday. “We made it unequivocally clear to everyone that our rules of action have not changed one bit. We will continue to strike at every attempt to strike at us.”

But strategists and military analysts in Israel did not see things quite so simply. As both sides sift through the debris, here are some important points:

This isn’t over. It’s just beginning.

As the Syrian civil war winds down, a new conflict is emerging among Iran, which appears to want a lasting Syrian base to threaten Israel; Israel, which is determined to prevent this; and the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, which showed renewed confidence in firing on Israel’s warplanes.

“We are seeing a renegotiation of the rules of the game with regard to the kind of military activity that each side tolerates in the other,” said Ofer Zalzberg, an analyst at International Crisis Group. “We will see more and more friction between the parties, given that we are seeing more and more this sense that Assad has the upper hand” against Syrian rebels.

Neither side can be expected to back down.

Israel believes it is vital to stop Iran, Hezbollah or other Shiite militias from threatening it with precision rockets from faraway corners of Syria, or with artillery and troops just beyond the disputed Golan Heights.

And Iran does not want its investment in rescuing Mr. Assad to have been for naught, and to have to bring its forces home, said Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council. “If Iran would move back to its bases, then Assad will have gotten what he wanted, the Russians will have gotten what they wanted — but what about them?”

Israel alone can’t stop Iran in Syria.

Israel has stopped neighboring countries from building nuclear facilities, but it has never tried to stop one from building up a conventional force, Mr. Eiland said. And it is unlikely, on its own, to succeed, even if it manages to slow down Iran’s efforts.

What Israel can do, Mr. Eiland said, is punish the Assad government for Iran’s buildup.

“We destroyed some Syrian targets, and that might create some tension between Bashar Assad and the Iranians,” Mr. Eiland said. “Assad is not interested in the Iranian presence; he just cannot say no to it. But if he and his regime are paying more of a price, maybe he can ask Iran to stop, or lean on the Russians to help.”

With the Trump administration looking to reopen the nuclear deal with Iran, Mr. Eiland said, Israel could try to bring its own security concerns into the mix of a new negotiation.

“The Americans and Europeans want to prevent Iranian long-range missiles from reaching Europe,” he said. “But from the Israeli point of view, Iran already has missiles that can cover Israel, so that’s much less important than Iran’s presence in Syria.”

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Ukrainian sources report an increase in military activity (T-64, T-72, BMP, MT-LB, 2S3 Akatsiya) around Kyiv both day and night

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have taken control over the village of Novo-oleksandrivka in Luhansk region, the settlement located in the so-called “grey zone”.

The advance saw no violations of the Minsk agreements, the Ukrainian military say. “[The retaking of Novo-oleksandrivka] took place a few days ago.

Unfortunately, I cannot reveal details of the operation,” press secretary of the ATO Headquarters, Vasyl Labai, told UNIAN. “We are strengthening or re-building our defensive positions, while separate units can improve tactical positions in certain areas, but it is not about violating the Minsk agreements,” Labai said.

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https://www.unian.info/war/2376188-no-breaches-of-minsk-deal-as-ukraine-regains-more-ground-in-donbas-grey-zone-report.html

US EP-3 Intercepted by a Russian Su-27 over the Black Sea

On Jan. 29, 2018, a U.S. EP-3 Aries aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27. This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the Su-27 closing to within five feet and crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the Su-27’s jet wash. The duration of the intercept lasted two hours and 40 minutes.

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http://www.c6f.navy.mil/news/us-ep-3-intercepted-black-sea

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BMPs (infantry fighting vehicles) moving through the streets of Hrodna, Belarus, close to Poland and Lithuania borders

Russia’s state-owned news agencies Pravda and RIA Novosti reported 22 January that the US’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) intends to study the infrastructure of Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Finland and Poland for wartime preparedness. All of these countries, apart from Moldova, have borders with Russia.

The final DLA reports will (reportedly) include “data on sources of water and products, fuel, medicines, industrial equipment and clothing as well as information on construction materials and equipment, production capacities and mobilization opportunities. In addition, the US military is reported to be interested in the transport infrastructure of these countries – ports, roads, airports, bridges and ferries”.

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https://www.ooskanews.com/story/2018/01/russian-state-media-claims-us-military-looking-water-and-wartime-preparedness-belarus

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Russian submarine caught fire in Vladivostok today

Russian submarine caught fire in Vladivostok today, soon after @tass_agency reports about a planned exercise to extinguish fire.

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http://tass.ru/armiya-i-opk/4890288

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US MIM-104 Patriot missile batteries (air defense system) loaded onto general cargo vessel ‘EIT PALOMA’ (under Antigua and Barbuda flag) in Germany (very probably) bound for Middle East

The Syrian government said on Thursday that a U.S. military presence in Syria represented an “aggression” against Syrian sovereignty, and vowed to free the country from any “illegitimate” foreign presence.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry statement was a response to a speech by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday in which he signalled that U.S. forces would stay in parts of Syria indefinitely.

“The American military presence on Syrian land is illegitimate and represents a blatant breach of international law and an aggression against national sovereignty,” the statement said.

Syria would continue its “relentless war against terrorist movements with their different names until every inch of Syrian soil is cleansed” and would work with “the same determination” to free Syria of any “illegitimate foreign presence”.

Tillerson signalled an open-ended military presence as part of a broader strategy to prevent Islamic State’s resurgence, pave the way diplomatically for the eventual departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and curtail Iran’s influence.

The United States has around 2,000 military personnel in Syria, deployed as part of the U.S.-led coalition’s campaign against Islamic State. The Syrian Foreign Ministry statement said the government was not in need of U.S. dollars “stained with the blood of Syrians”.

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-usa/syrian-government-u-s-military-presence-in-syria-is-act-of-aggression-idUSKBN1F70YL

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Video reportedly shows Iranian forces moving towards Mashhad, but the convoy would seem trasporting Russian-made S-300 missile systems (Air Defence), is Tehran fearing something bigger than a protest?

Iranian police warned antigovernment protesters against staging new rallies after arresting dozens of demonstrators in Tehran and the western city Kermanshah, even as the United States called for a “peaceful transition” of government in Iran.

Speaking on December 29 after a second day of protests against price hikes that turned political and spread to multiple Iranian cities, Mohsen Hamadani, a deputy governor of Tehran Province, was quoted by state media as saying that law enforcement agencies would take tough measures against any future gatherings.

“There is no authorization for such protests,” he was quoted as saying.

Despite the warning from Iranian authorities, the U.S. State Department and White House issued statements condemning the arrests and demanding that Tehran allow free expression by the protesters.

“There are many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

“The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including their right to express themselves. The world is watching,” she said.

The State Department’s spokeswoman said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was personally urging support for what he has described as “elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government.”

“We urge all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption,” said spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

The protesters got some encouragement from Iranian clergy as well.

“Their protests, as well as other people’s reaction to high prices, are unquestionaby just,” said Ahmad Alam al-Hoda, a Friday prayer-leader and mid-ranking cleric in Iran’s second most populous city, Masshad, where the protests began on December 28.

But al-Hoda also questioned whether the protests weren’t also providing “food for hostile media” whose goal is “propagating sedition,” using terms often used to described independent news outlets.

In an unprecedented comment, the head of Mashhad’s revolutionary court, Hossein Haydari, said: “We consider protest to be the people’s right, but if some people want to abuse these emotions and ride this wave, we won’t wait and will confront them.”

Other clerics condemned the protests as “anti-Islam” and said Israel and the United States were behind them.

But the demonstrators were urged on by the exiled former Crown Prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, who said that “the uprising, once again showed that overthrowing theocracy in Iran is a national demand.”

Earlier on December 29 in Kermanshah, semiofficial news agencies Fars and Mehr reported that police dispersed a rally of some 300 people who chanted “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death.”

Unconfirmed reports say that that up to 50 people were arrested in a demonstration in Kermanshah, on December 29, a day after hundreds protested against high prices and shouted political slogans in Mashhad.

Footage on social media showed protesters in Kermanshah’s central Azadi Square chanting “”Death to the dictator” and “The nation is struggling in poverty; The leader is trying to act as God.”

Various chants appeared to target both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, without naming him, and President Hassan Rohani.

Similar protests were reported in several other cities, including Rasht, Ahvaz, Ghazvin, Qom, Esfahan, and Hamadan among others.

Read More At:

https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-rallies-price-protests-kermanshah-mashhad/28945966.html

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