Friday, December 26, 2014

Putin Signs New Military Doctrine: Names NATO, U.S. As Main Threat, Test Fires New ICBM

The land of Magog continues to strengthen their military with the U.S. and NATO in its crosshairs:

Last week, after the unanimous passage of theUkraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 in Congress, which made legal the provision of US "lethal aid" to Kiev and which Russia blasted as an act of aggression and promised that it would merely accelerate the deterioration of relations between Russia and the west, we wrote that "World Awaits Russian Response As Obama Makes "Lethal Aid" To Ukraine Legal." We didn't have long to wait: one short hour ago, Putin adopted an updated version of its military doctrine, which "reflects the emergence of new threats against its national security" and which names both the NATO military buildup on Russia's borders, as well as the US and the destabilized situation in some regions (read Ukraine) as the main foreign threats to Russian security. The doctrine update also, for the first time, put protection of Russian national interest in the Arctic (read oil and nat gas) among the key priorities for Russia's armed forces.
In other words, Putin is not only not backing down, but has once again explicitly warned NATO that any western action, either in Ukraine or elsewhere, will have a proportional response.

Among the highlights of the new doctrine:

  • Russia's military doctrine names NATO military buildup, destabilized situation in some regions among main external threats to security
  • Russia's new military doctrine puts protection of national interests in Arctic among priorities for Armed Forces for the first time
  • Territorial claims to Russia and its allies, intervening in domestic policy main military threats
  • Likelihood of large-scale war against Russia decreased, but some security threats continue to grow
  • Anti-missile shields, 'global strike' concept, plans of placing weapons in space are external military threats to Russia
  • Attempts to destabilize situation in Russia, terrorist activities are country's main internal threats

The new doctrine was approved on Friday by President Vladimir Putin. Its core remains unchanged from the previous version. The Russian military remains a defensive tool which the country pledges to use only as a last resort. Also unchanged are the principles of the use of nuclear weapons which Russia adheres to. Their primary goal is to deter potential enemies from attacking Russia, but it would use them to protect itself from a military attack – either nuclear or conventional – threatening its existence.

The new sections of the doctrine outline the threat Russia sees in NATO’s expansion and military buildup and the fact that the alliance is taking upon itself “global functions realized with violation of international law.” The doctrine lists among major foreign military threats “the creation and deployment of global strategic antiballistic missile systems that undermines the established global stability and balance of power in nuclear missile capabilities, the implementation of the ‘prompt strike’ concept, intent to deploy weapons in space and deployment of strategic conventional precision weapons.”

But the gist of the message was clearly focused on external developments because while the doctrine explicitly stated that "Prevention of nuclear war and any other type of conflict core to Russia's military policies" and that "Moscow reserves right to use nuclear weapons if Moscow, its allies are under nuclear or non-nuclear attack", just a few hours prior to the doctrine announcement, Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missile RS-24 Yars was test fired from the Plesetsk military cosmodrome in the country’s northwest, Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman for the Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) Colonel Igor Yegorov told TASS on Friday.

Russia’s newest RS-26 missile system, dubbed the ‘anti-missile defense killer’, will join the ranks of the country’s defenses in less than two years, Russia’s Strategic Missile Force commander said.
“We are continuing the test program for RS-26 and plan to finish it next year, with the missile to be put on combat duty in 2016,” Lt. Gen. Sergey Karakayev is cited as saying by RIA Novosti.
Currently, there is hardly any information available about the new missile system because it was developed in secrecy.
Reportedly, the RS-26 is a solid-fuel missile with an advanced splitting warhead, which is launched from a mobile platform.
It was designed at the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, apparently under the codenames Rubezh (Frontier), or Avangard (Vanguard).
Previously, the Russian deputy prime minister in charge of defense, Dmitry Rogozin, referred to the RS-26 as “the ABM killer.”
“Neither modern nor prospective American missile defenses will be able to prevent this missile from being able to hit the bull's eye,” Rogozin explained.

A top Russian official said Thursday that Moscow will support a draft resolution on Palestinian statehood at the United Nations Security Council.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Russia would vote in favor of the controversial bid, which calls for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines by the end of 2017, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

Moscow also expressed hope that all other members of the Security Council would support the measure and that it will not be vetoed.

Gennady said a vote could be called on the resolution within 24 hours, though officials have indicated the vote likely won’t take place until January 2015 at the earliest.
Although Russia enjoys cordial relations with Jerusalem, Moscow has long championed Palestinian statehood and has been on friendly terms with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

Wednesday’s violent incident at the Gaza Strip border, which left one IDF soldier seriously wounded by Palestinian sniper fire and a senior Hamas activist killed in the IDF’s retaliatory fire, is another step in the slow and seemingly never-ending deterioration between Israel and Hamas.

We are largely at the start of an escalation which no one wants, but it is there, and there is no way to predict how it will end.

But as in previous rounds of violence, developments on the ground may subvert what leaders would like to see. A small localized incident could lead to a tougher response by one of the parties, leading to a snowball effect in which the blows only get worse and worse.
This is what happened in the south before the summer’s Operation Protective Edge, even though back then there was a clearer reason behind the military confrontation with Hamas.
Unlike the rocket fire last Friday, when it was clear that a small, rogue group was behind the launch, it is unclear as of now whether Hamas was responsible for Wednesday’s sniper shooting. If it was Hamas, it is taking its time in claiming responsibility.
Still, despite talk of not wanting an escalation, Hamas showed little interest in trying to calm things quickly. On the contrary, Hamas’s immediate reaction was that Israel was attempting to cross the border into Gaza, and the organization’s websites hailed the new “martyr” among its ranks.

The IDF deployed two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries in southern Israel, Israeli media reported Thursday, following a week which saw tensions with Gaza rise dramatically for the first time since the end of Operation Protective Edge.

Batteries were placed near the southern cities of Beersheba and Netivot, both targets of heavy rocket fire during the summer war, according to several reports.

The batteries’ reported deployments came less than a week after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near an Israeli border town, causing no injuries or damage. Israel retaliated with an airstrike which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said targeted a Hamas cement factory.
On Wednesday, a Gazan sniper shot and seriously injured an IDF soldier on patrol near the border.
Palestinian sources said that a heavy exchange of fire ensued, with IDF tank fire striking a target east of Khan Younis. Jets also fired on Gaza targets, and Palestinians said that the commander of Hamas’s surveillance unit in the area, Tayseer al-Ismary, was killed in the exchange with Israeli troops.

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