Sunday, April 27, 2014

Evening Update: Russian And Ukrainian Armies Prepare For War. Hamas: We Will Never Recognize Israel. Netanyahu: Don't Repeat The 1930's

Russia and Ukraine were heading Sunday, April 27, for their first battle over the rebel-held flashpoint town of Slavyansk...The outcome will determine who controls the Donetsk region and possibly all of East of Ukraine – the separatists or the provisional government in Kiev.

With a superior, professional and well-trained force armed with a preponderance of fire power, the Kremlin has several options to choose from for this engagement:

1. To order the 11,000 troops, based at Rostov on Don 40 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, to cross over and head for Slavyansk and Donetsk.
2.  To send a tank column against the 15,000 Ukrainian troops deployed over the weekend around Slavyansk. According to Russian sources, the force from Kiev is armed with 160 tanks, 230 armored personnel carriers and 150 pieces of artillery and missiles.
3.  To send warplanes and helicopters from the giant Russian airbase of Tsentralniy – a prospect gaining ground in recent hours. This action would broaden the engagement into a major war operation between Russia and Ukraine.
4.  Moscow, Kiev and their backers may understand how such a war began, but once it is under way, no one can tell how it will end.
5. In the event of a major escalation, Moscow ill have to decide whether to throw into battle the special rapid deployment and paratroop units stationed at Tsentralniy, which are held ready for intervention in the Middle East and are now in reserve for action in Ukraine.
6.  The Kremlin must decide whether to go for an overall invasion of Ukraine. debkafile’s military sources report that the force poised on the border is smaller than the 40,000 estimated by Kiev. It consists of 15,000 armored corps soldiers with T-72B tanks and one division each of infantry and paratroops.
A Russian invasion would bring about the partition of Ukraine between the Russian-controlled East + Crimea and the sector ruled by the pro-Western administration of Kiev.
Moscow would find it hard to present this as a “peacekeeping” or “humanitarian” operation.For Kiev, it might be the last straw that undermines its already shaky rule.The Ukrainian army’s capacity to beat the Russian invaders, or even stop them in their tracks, is close to nil. Its threat to blockade the more than a dozen towns where separatists are entrenched in official buildings is unconvincing.
Indeed, the Kiev government faces five fairly dismal prospects once a militlary collision begins:

a)   A full-blown military clash will test the limits of US and European readiness to come to its aid against Russian forces. The US and NATO are more likely to pitch in with condemnations and sanctions than by sending troops to the rescue. The Ukrainian government would find itself exposed as incapable of defending itself and bereft of effective international protectors.
b)  The Ukraine government has not been able to summon up international financial or economic assistance.
c)  The 15,000 troops concentrated at Slavyansk have more or less scraped the bottom of the barrel of Ukraine’s operational military assets.
d)  If the Ukrainian government opts nonetheless to enter into a lengthy battle with an invading Russian force, it will play into the hands of Moscow, which strongly objects to the May 25 general election. Any delay would further undermine the stability of the interim regime in Kiev.
e)  The Obama administration would find itself in difficult straits. President Barack Obama has repeatedly warned Moscow of “costs” for failing to restrain the pro-Russian separatists’ advances in Ukraine or pull its army back from the border.
He is finding it harder than ever to follow through on a concerted US-European economic and military challenge to Russia’s military steps in and around Ukraine.
Obama managed to persuade the G7 to agree on another round of penalties for Moscow but had to delay the announcement of specifics to Monday, April 28.

But America’s allies have made it clear that a broad international coalition for a strong stand against Russia will not be forthcoming. President Obama is left with the option of striking almost alone, or climbing down from his threats.

Hypersonic pilotless aircraft are set to become the next phase in the military technical standoff between Moscow and Washington. In response to America’s Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Strikes, Russia is preparing to unveil a space shield with no less of a global reach, that of her Aerospace Defense Forces.This development represents the revival of one of the central themes of the Cold War era – the possibility of ‘star wars’.

In March, a Scientific Research Institute for Aerospace Defense was set up in Russia. This institute is tasked with developing a surveillance and warning system for an aerospace attack, and for striking and jamming aerospace threats, as well as developing control and maintenance systems for the existing Aerospace Defense Forces.
The Strategic Aerospace Defense Systems concern (Strategicheskie Sistemy Vozdushno-Kosmicheskoi Oborony), which brings missile and radar developers together, is to work on the practical side of this project. Of the 22 trillion rubles ($616 billion) allocated to the entire program of rearmament of the Russian Army by 2020, Moscow is to spend around 20 percent of this allocation on its ‘Zvyozdnye Voiny’ (Star Wars) program. This amounts to around 3-4 trillion rubles ($106 billion). 
Given this funding, work has already begun on global reinstatement of a unified radar field to provide early warning of missile launches. The latest Voronezh-DM radar system is being deployed along Russia’s borders. This system is capable of seeing anything happening up to a distance of 3,000 km from the country’s borders.
These radar stations have already been installed in the Leningrad, Kaliningrad, and Irkutsk regions, as well as in the Altai and Krasnodar territories. It is proposed that they be located at a distance of around 1,000 km from one another. According to Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov, by 2018 they will form a defensive radar system encircling Russia.   

Is this a new arms race?
Aside from developing an early warning system for aerospace threats, Moscow is actively developing a strike threat of its own. Recent years have seen a large-scale modernization of Russia’s A-135 anti-missile defense system deployed around Moscow.
In addition to this, deployment of the Pantsir-S1 close-range anti-aircraft system is planned, as well as 28 anti-aircraft missile regiments equipped with the S-400 Triumph, (which amounts to around 450-670 launch sites) and also 38 batteries of the advanced S-500 Vityaz system (this amounts to around 300-460 launch sites).
According to Borisov, several new manufacturing plants are under construction in the Kirov and Nizhny Novgorod regions to produce these defense assets. The cost of these new plants is estimated to be more than 36 billion rubles ($1 billion).
Work on a similar scale is underway to raise the combat potential of Russia’s strategic armaments. Since the U.S. pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Moscow has tested six new types of intercontinental ballistic missile and introduced these into service with army and navy nuclear deterrent forces. All of them, in contrast to those that come under Russo-American limitations treaties, are fitted not with a single warhead but several nuclear warheads each.

Islamic movement, previously mum on reconciliation, says it may sue Washington Post for reporting it is set to soften its stance

Breaking the silence following its joint reconciliation announcement with Fatah last week, Hamas said on Sunday that it would not recognize Israel, although it indicated it would not obstruct negotiations between the PLO and the Jewish state.

Nunu told the Palestinian Qudsnet news agency: “The issue of Hamas recognizing Israel is a complete nonstarter… aimed primarily at weakening the movement’s positions on Israel.”

“The question of recognition is non-debatable as long as [Israel] occupies our land,” Youssef told the website of Hamas newspaper Al-Resalah on Sunday. He asserted that the PLO was in charge of negotiations and Palestinian foreign policy, adding that “Hamas is not responsible for its relations with Israel.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu left the Fatah- Hamas pact aside, and in a somber speech marking the beginning of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday evening urged world leaders to learn the lessons of the 1930s and – when facing Iran – see reality as it is, not as how they would like it to be.
While Netanyahu has in the past frequently drawn comparisons between Hitler’s Germany and the Ayatollahs’ Iran, he focused in his speech at Yad Vashem on retelling how the West was paralyzed against acting in time against Nazi Germany, because – coming out of the horrors of World War I – it wanted to avoid conflict at all cost.
“We need to identify existential threats on time, and to act against them on time,” he said. “I ask, why in the years preceding the Holocaust did the vast majority of the world’s leaders, and the vast majority of the leaders of our people, not see the threats beforehand?” In retrospect, Netanyahu said, all the signs were apparent: the arming of the Nazi regime from year to year, the anti-Semitic propaganda that got worse month by month, and the attacks on the Jews.

Netanyahu said the West dismissed the murderous rhetoric of the Nazis as meant for internal German consumption, and they understated the rearmament of the Nazis, saying that it flowed from the desire of a proud people to rebuild.
“The reality was clear, but it was wrapped in a bubble of delusions,” he said. “The price of the delusions, of the vain hopes, was very heavy. When the Western leaders finally acted, their people paid a horrible price.”
While World War I cost 16 million casualties, World War II left 60 million people dead.
Turning to Iran, Netanyahu asked if the world has learned the lessons of the past.
“Today we are again standing before clear facts and real dangers,” he warned.

Israel has frozen pending Palestinian construction in Area C of the West bank, and is starting to talk about annexing some Area C land as part of Jerusalem’s response to last week’s announcement of a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.

Under the Oslo Accords, Israel has full civil and security control of the area.

Israeli spokesmen had warned of unilateral steps in response to the pact. Indeed, on Thursday Israel announced the suspension of the diplomatic talks with the Palestinians, which were scheduled to end on Tuesday.

On Sunday morning, the newly appointed coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj.-Gen.

Yoav Mordechai, announced that approvals of master plans for 19 Palestinian villages in Area C had been frozen.

He spoke at the Foreign Affairs and Defense Sub-committee on Judea and Samaria, which focused on the issue of illegal Palestinian construction.

Europe and the United Nations have in the last few years increasingly focused on shoring up Palestinian development in Area C, including with financial assistance, because, they said, they view it as vital to the viability of a future Palestinian state.

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