Russia ratcheted up international tensions over Ukraine by a big notch Saturday, March 8, the day after mobilizing air and coastal defenses for a large-scale month-long drill to prevent the disruption of the May 16 Crimean referendum. The defense ministry in Moscow announced: “Russia is considering halting foreign inspections of its strategic weapons arsenal, including nuclear-capable missiles, in response to "threats" from the United States and NATO over the Ukraine crisis.
Lines of tanks were seen Saturday heading from Russian bases towards Crimea.
A high-ranking defense ministry official in Moscow, who was not named, released this statement to all Russian news agencies: "The unfounded threats towards Russia from the United States and NATO over its policy on Ukraine are seen by us as an unfriendly gesture that allows the declaration of force majeurecircumstances."
By this statement, Moscow announces that due to "force majeurecircunstances" it no longer feels bound by its commitment to international inspections under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the United States and the Vienna Document between Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) member states.
In a phone conversation to US Secretary of State John Kerry, Friday night, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned against “hasty and reckless steps capable of causing harm to Russian-American relations – particularly… sanctions, which,” he said, “would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang.”
Kapustin Yar is home to one of Russia’s biggest missile bases. From there, the army tested on March 3 its new anti-air missile system S-500, followed the next day by the test-launch of an RT-2PM Topol (NATO codenamed SS-25 Sickle) IBCM.
This flurry of Russian military momentum is partly in response to the military steps announced by the Pentagon in the last 48 hours:
Friday, March 7, the USS Truxtun guided-missile destroyer crossed the Bosporus into the Black Sea to join the fleets of NATO allies Rumania and Bulgaria in a naval exercise, the day after the Pentagon unveiled plans to put another six US F-15 fighters on an air patrol mission over the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Twelve US F-16 fighter bombers and 300 military personnel are to be transferred to Poland over the weekend and more US military exercises are planned in areas around the Russia starting Sunday.
[This article concludes with the following]
The implication of the prophets’ predictions when viewed in the light of this week’s headlines can lead to only one conclusion: we are in the closing days of this Age of Grace.
Folks, please make certain you are ready to meet Jesus Christ when He returns to catch away His true Church. Make sure your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your co-workers have heard the Good News of the Gospel so that they, too, can be ready to meet Him when He returns.
Confess that you are a sinner. Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus Christ took upon Himself the punishment you deserved and died in your place. Accept that sacrifice. Understand that your sins have been forgiven and washed away forever and that you are now a new creature in Him. Then turn from your sin, follow Him, and trust His Holy Spirit to give you the power to do so. Read your Bible regularly to mature in your faith. And find a Bible-believing church where you can benefit from good teaching and fellowship with fellow believers.
Then hang on! It’s going to be a thrilling ride from here on out!
The Israeli government will not force West Bank settlers to leave their homes, even under a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said in a TV interview.
The prime minister said it was clear that Israel would not be able to extend its sovereignty under a permanent accord to encompass all of the settlements, but he was adamant that “there will be no act of evacuation.” The comment marked the first time that he has indicated that he would not countenance a repeat of the 2005 forced evacuation of Gaza’s settlements, overseen by the late prime minister Ariel Sharon, which he opposed at the time.
Asked in the Channel 2 interview on Friday how he could hope to reach a deal with the Palestinians within such limitations, and whether he expected settlers to leave their homes voluntarily, Netanyahu said it was not yet clear where the borders of a two-state solution would run, and that he did not “want to go into the details” of how an accommodation regarding the settlers might be achieved.
Netanyahu’s comments marked the closest he has come to confirmingThe Times of Israel’s exclusive report from last month, which quoted a well-placed official in the Prime Minister’s Office as saying that Netanyahu would insist that settlers who find themselves on the far side of a two-state border be given the choice between remaining in place and living under Palestinian rule, or relocating to areas under Israeli sovereign rule.
Israel was Saturday night unloading more than 100 containers from the Klos-C — the ship it seized Wednesday in the Red Sea and brought into Eilat port on Saturday — in a sensitive operation expected to last late into Sunday.
Israeli leaders and security chiefs have said the Panama-registered cargo ship was carrying advanced Syrian-made missiles shipped by Iran intended for terror-group recipients in Gaza. Military sources said Saturday night, however, that they believed other weaponry might also be hidden in the cargo.
The Kloc-C was loaded with over 100 containers, which were being brought by truck from the ship to a nearby Israel Navy base, where they were being unloaded under strict security by elite IDF units and other experts. Officials were concerned to ensure that any explosive materials in the containers be handled safely.
The unloading operation was scheduled to finish on Sunday afternoon. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled a press conference in Eilat on Monday to show and detail the findings.
In interviews over the weekend, Netanyahu blamed Iran for the shipment, and said this confirmed Tehran’s ongoing orchestration of terrorism. Israel had caught Iran delivering “missiles to terror groups,” Netanyahu told Channel 10 News. “This is the true face of Iran.”
He told Channel 2 in an interview that Iran was “relentlessly” arming terror groups. It was presenting a different “face to the world,” but had not genuinely changed “by one iota” since the election of Hassan Rouhani as president last year, he said, and must be denied a nuclear weapons capability.
[Always keep an eye on Jordan - it seems that they are a powerful card behind the scenes]
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Jordan on Friday for talks with King Abdullah II on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a US spokeswoman travelling with him said.
The short stop in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, where he was to meet the king, had not been previously announced.
Kerry, who arrived from Rome from where he also brought back his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh, will discuss the Middle East peace process with the monarch, spokesperson Marie Harf said.
“We are arriving in Aqaba, Jordan, with Foreign Minister Judeh today to see King Abdullah to talk about the peace process,” Harf said.
Jordan is one of only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel, and King Abdullah holds a special position because the 1994 accord recognizes his country’s “historic” role in caring for Muslim holy sites in east Jerusalem.
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