The US has stepped up military drills, practiced air raids, and reportedly started preparing to seize North Korea’s nuclear weapons by force, a feat South Korea has declared won’t be all that easy.
Immediately after the drill, which featured a marked increase in simulated bomb runs on North Korean targets, the US and South Korea reportedly engaged in drills to infiltrate North Korea and neutralize its weapons of mass destruction.
China is also bracing itself for a potential war. Across North Korea’s border in China’s Jilin province, state-run media ran a full-page instructional package on how to survive a nuclear blast.
“Storm clouds are gathering” over the Korean Peninsula, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis declared Friday. And as diplomats try to resolve the nuclear standoff, he told soldiers that the U.S. military must do its part by being ready for war.
Without forecasting a conflict, Mattis emphasized that diplomacy stands the best chance of preventing a war if America’s words are backed up by strong and prepared armed forces.
“My fine young soldiers, the only way our diplomats can speak with authority and be believed is if you’re ready to go,” Mattis told several dozen soldiers and airmen at the 82nd Airborne Division’s Hall of Heroes, his last stop on a two-day pre-holiday tour of bases to greet troops.
Mattis’ comments came as the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved tough new sanctions against North Korea, compelling nations to sharply reduce their sales of oil to the reclusive country and send home all North Korean expatriate workers within two years. Such workers are seen as a key source of revenue for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s cash-strapped government.
President Donald Trump and other top U.S. officials have made repeated threats about U.S. military action. Some officials have described the messaging as twofold in purpose: to pressure North Korea to enter into negotiations on getting rid of its nuclear arsenal, and to motivate key regional powers China and Russia to put more pressure on Pyongyang so a war is averted.
Since the crisis in Ukraine (which began in 2014) and Russia's subsequent annexation of the Crimea, an Obama administration policy of steady build-up and periodic war games has been in place in East European and the Baltic countries, including Bulgaria, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. A little under a year ago a Reuters report acknowledged that NATO has been "expanding its presence in the region to levels unprecedented since the Cold War" - something which the Pentagon has long touted as defensive in nature.
And just this week news broke that after months of indecision over whether or not to move forward with Obama-era legislation which initially paved the way for legalizing US arms sales to Ukraine, Trump has approved the first ever US commercial sale of weapons to the Kiev government, which Moscow sees as an illegitimate puppet regime supported by the West
Putin said that both the US and NATO have been "accelerating build-up of infrastructure in Europe" in violation of the 1987 treaty on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. He said concerning the new and expanding US missile defense system now based in Poland that they are not merely defensive in nature but offensive weapons:
"The point is, and specialists know about it very well, those launchers are all-purpose. They can also be used with existing sea-launched cruise missiles with the flight range of up to 2,500 km [1,550 miles]. And in this case, these missiles are no longer sea-launched missiles, they can be easily moved to land," Putin said.
This comes as earlier this week another spine-chilling scare story involving the Russians and Putin's plan for supposed global domination spread widely in Western media after two major European tabloids published sensational headlines on Wednesday claiming that, according to the UK's largest tabloid The Sun, Russia secretly practiced full-scale invasion of Europe with bombing raids on Germany during Russia's September "Zapad" (West) military drills.