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As US Ditches INF, Mid-Range Missiles To Be Deployed In Asia “Within Months”

As US Ditches INF, Mid-Range Missiles To Be Deployed In Asia “Within Months”

A mere day after the US officially exited the landmark Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) which had cooled the Cold War arms race, preventing a build-up in Europe, the Pentagon is looking to deploy intermediate range conventional missiles in the Pacific region “within months”.

Noting that it will most certainly provoke the ire of China, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday of the plans, “It’s fair to say, though, that we would like to deploy a capability sooner rather than later.” Esper made the remarks from Australia. “I would prefer months. I just don’t have the latest state of play on timelines.”

“I would prefer months… but these things tend to take longer than you expect,” Esper stated.

File image of US military’s land-based Aegis missile defense testing system based in Hawaii, and being developed jointly with Japan, via the AP. 

This week’s official end of the INF comes six months after President Trump issued Moscow an ultimatum to cease its alleged violations of the historic treaty.

At the same time US officials indicated plans to test a new missile which would have been prohibited under the arms control treat in the coming weeks, according to the AP.

The Pentagon has been sparse on details, and there’s been no indication of which US Pacific or Asian allies might in the near future host new missiles. Both Australia and Japan have lately worked closely with the US on joint missile defense projects, however.

Interestingly, one of the key reasons both Trump and Bolton have cited over the past year for their view that the INF is “obsolete” is that it fails to include major world powers like China that have made huge advances in their ballistic missile and defense technology since the Cold War. 

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Russia warns of another Cuban Missile Crisis

Russia warns of another Cuban Missile Crisis

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that the deployment of U.S. land-based missile systems near Russia’s borders were comparable to the same situation that sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Russia has historically been critical of any plan by the United States to deploy missile systems in Eastern Europe. Additionally, Russia has condemned the U.S. withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was an event in 1962 when Russia sent nuclear missiles to Cuba in response to U.S. deployment of missiles to Turkey. This crisis was the closest the world came to nuclear war. The crisis resolved when the U.S. and Russia negotiated removal of Russian missiles from Cuba in exchange for the United States removing missiles from Turkey. Additionally, the United States pledged to not invade Cuba or assist any other force in the overthrow of the Cuban government.

Regarding the current situation, Ryabkov was quoted, “If things get as far as an actual deployment on the ground of these sorts of systems, then the situation won’t just get more complicated, it will escalate right to the limit…We could find ourselves in a situation where we have a rocket crisis close not just to the crisis of the 1980s but close to the [Cuban Missile] crisis.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in February this year when he warned that Russia would match any U.S. deployment near Russia by either stationing Russia missiles closer to the United States or deploying faster missiles which are claimed to be able to evade any potential missile defense system. Faster missiles would also give the U.S. less time to respond to an attack.

Currently, Russian missiles take thirty minutes to reach the United States if launched from Russia or six minutes to reach the U.S. coast if launched from a submarine.

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“For Now, We’re Not Threatening Anyone”: Russian TV Lists Nuclear Targets In The US

“For Now, We’re Not Threatening Anyone”: Russian TV Lists Nuclear Targets In The US

With US-Russia relations deteriorating rapidly in the aftermath of the collapse of the INF nuclear arms treaty, which prompted Russia’s Vladimir Putin to slam the US for “demolishing” global security, Russian state television listed U.S. military facilities that Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear strike, in a report which Reuters said “was unusual even by its own bellicose standards” and said that a hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes. The targets included the Pentagon, Forth Ritchie and the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland. A hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes, it said.

The report was broadcast on Sunday evening, days after President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was militarily ready for a “Cuban Missile”-style crisis if the United States wanted one.

In the Sunday evening broadcast, Dmitry Kiselyov, presenter of Russia’s main weekly TV news show ‘Vesti Nedeli’, showed a map of the United States and identified several targets he said Moscow would want to hit in the event of a nuclear war. The targets, which Kiselyov described as U.S. presidential or military command centers, also included Fort Ritchie, a military training center in Maryland closed in 1998, McClellan, a U.S. Air Force base in California closed in 2001, and Jim Creek, a naval communications base in Washington state.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Russian TV listed the potential US targets of the planned hypersonic Zircon missile, which Dmitri Kiselev described as “invincible”. They include the Pentagon, Camp David and Fort Ritchie.

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Putin rattles sabre as nuclear pact collapses

RUSSIA-POLITICS

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his state of the nation address in Moscow on Wednesday. Photo: AFP / Alexander Nemenov

Putin rattles sabre as nuclear pact collapses

Russian President warns West that deploying missile launchers in Europe could ignite ‘tit for tat’ response

President Putin’s state of the nation address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow this week was an extraordinary affair. While heavily focused on domestic social and economic development, Putin noted, predictably, the US decision to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and clearly outlined the red lines in regard to possible consequences of the move.

It would be naïve to believe that there would not be a serious counterpunch to the possibility of the US deploying launchers “suitable for using Tomahawk missiles” in Poland and Romania, only a 12-minute flight away from Russian territory. 

Putin cut to the chase: “This is a very serious threat to us. In this case, we will be forced – I want to emphasize this – forced to take tit-for-tat steps.”

Later that night, many hours after his address, Putin detailed what was construed in the US, once again, as a threat.

“Is there some hard ideological confrontation now similar to what was [going on] during the Cold War? There is none. We surely have mutual complaints, conflicting approaches to some issues, but that is no reason to escalate things to a stand-off on the level of the Caribbean crisis of the early 1960s”.

This was a direct reference to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 when President Kennedy confronted USSR’s Nikita Khrushchev over missiles deployed off the US mainland. 

The Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, has discreetly assured that conference calls with the Pentagon are proceeding as scheduled, every week, and that this bilateral dialogue is “working”.

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Russia “Prepared For Another Cuban Missile Crisis”, Putin Warns US

Russia “Prepared For Another Cuban Missile Crisis”, Putin Warns US

Russia is militarily ready for a “Cuban Missile-style crisis” President Putin said late on Wednesday, commenting on nuclear first strike capability amidst growing tensions with the US. The remarks were given to Russian media following a prior speech wherein he warned Moscow will match any attempt by the US to station intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe in the wake of the now collapsing INF treaty.

Putin specifically threatened deployment of hypersonic missiles on ships and submarines which could enter US territorial waters without detection if American intermediate-range missiles move into Europe.  

“(We’re talking about) naval delivery vehicles: submarines or surface ships. And we can put them, given the speed and range (of our missiles)… in neutral waters. Plus they are not stationary, they move and they will have to find them,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript. “You work it out. Mach nine [the speed of the missiles] and over 1,000 km [their range],” he boasted of the Kremlin’s latest claimed capabilities. 

He urged an easing of tensions after last week the Russian Foreign Ministry left the door open for talks to rescue the INF treaty as well as extend the New START nuclear reduction treaty, set to expire in 2021. Speaking of the current stand off and ratcheting tensions with Washington, Putin said“They [the tensions] are not a reason to ratchet up confrontation to the levels of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s. In any case that’s not what we want.” He said further, “If someone wants that, well OK they are welcome. I have set out today what that would mean. Let them count [the missile flight times].”

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American Suspension of INF Treaty is Aimed at China

American Suspension of INF Treaty is Aimed at China

American Suspension of INF Treaty is Aimed at China

So it’s done. The US has suspended its participation in the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and Russia soon followed suit. This almost certainly spells an end to this late Cold War relic, which banned the two superpowers from deploying ground-launched ballistic missiles and cruise missiles with ranges of 500-5,500km. There have been recriminations all round. But in the end, so far as two of the world’s three most greatest military Powers are concerned, upholding the INF Treaty could never have been done exactly to the letter.

The US has specified Russia’s Novator 9M729 (NATO designation: SSC-8) as the offending missile that finally prompted US action. Russian nuclear weapons analyst Pavel Podvig has noted that it is very similar to the Russian Navy’s Kalibr-NK cruise missile, which has a range well beyond 500 km and has been touted as a potential “carrier killer”. Podvig goes on to speculate that if the US had observed a test of the 9M729 from a land-based Iskander-M launcher – even if on just a single occasion – then all of them “would have to be eliminated” by the formal terms of the treaty. This is obviously not something that Russia could reasonably be expected to carry out.

Moreover, any number of US missile systems can be considered to be in breach of the INF Treaty. For instance, the Russians have argued that America’s AEGIS Ashore program – a ground-based cruise missile, for all intents and purposes – can also be considered to be in systemic breach of the INF Treaty. Incidentally, this system was itself enabled by America’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia in 2002, under the George W. Bush administration.

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US Suspends Nuclear Arms Treaty Compliance

US Suspends Nuclear Arms Treaty Compliance 

In a sign that Russia might soon be deploying those new hypersonic missiles that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been showing off lately, Reuters reported that the US is preparing to suspend compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing four US officials, opening the door to the reintroduction of medium-range ground-based nuclear arms in the area around Russia.

The officials said the the suspension will kick off a six month countdown that could lead to the dissolution of the treaty. However, Washington could opt to remain a part of the pact if Moscow decides to become compliance with the 1987 Cold War-era treaty. 

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The decision comes after the US and Russia revealed on Thursday that they had failed to work out their differences on the treaty, something that analysts have warned could be the first step in a new Cold War-style arms race – or worse. Both sides have accused the other of violating the terms of the historic treaty, which called for a ban on all land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles, according to NBC News.

This latest step comes after the Trump Administration repeatedly warned Russia that it would leave the treaty if Moscow didn’t comply with the family by Feb. 2. Both sides have been meeting in Beijing, but Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that the talks had failed.

“Unfortunately, there is no progress,” he told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti according to a translation by Reuters. “As far as we understand, the next step is coming, the next phase begins, namely the phase of the United States stopping its obligations under the INF, which will evidently happen this coming weekend.”

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Putin warns US against misadventures

Putin warns US against misadventures

(Russia’s President Vladimir Putin addresses an extended meeting of the Russian Defence Ministry Board in the National Defence Management Centre in Moscow, Dec 18, 2018)

The Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address to an expanded meeting of the Defence Ministry Board in Moscow on December 18 stands out as a tour d’horizon of the global strategic balance. The speech must be seen against the backdrop of the free fall in US-Russia relations, build-up of NATO infrastructure on Russia’s western borders and, in particular, the Trump administration’s statements about the US withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987.

Broadly, Putin’s message is in three directions:

The modernization of Russian armed forces has been most successful and the combat readiness of Russian military is at an all-time high level;

Russia has developed new hypersonic weapons of immense destructive power, which are going into serial production for deployment with the strategic nuclear forces to which the US simply has no answer;

Russia is determined to ensure that any US attempts to tilt the strategic balance in its favor will be effectively countered. 

Putin disclosed that the share of modern arms in Russia’s “nuclear triad” (air, navy and ground forces) is already at an impressive level of 82 percent. He implied that all in all, the US is punching above its weight: “These weapons (unique state-of-the-art weapons such as the Avangard missile system, Sarmat missile, Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile, Peresvet combat laser weapons, etc.) will multiply the potential of our army and navy, thus reliably and absolutely ensuring Russia’s security for decades ahead. These weapons are consolidating the balance of forces and, thus, international stability. I hope our new systems will provide food for thought to those who are used to militaristic and aggressive rhetoric.”

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How To Avoid A New War In Europe

How To Avoid A New War In Europe

There is a rather embarrassing negative perspective for maintaining rational military strategic parity between Russia and USA and Russia and NATO as a whole in the coming decades due to future tremendous expenditures of the USA for modernizing strategic and tactical nuclear forces that will require $ U.S. 1,2-1,7 trillion during next three decades for hammering out a qualitatively new strategic nuclear triad only. Substantial amount of money will be allocated for procurement of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), space-based strike assets and conventional arms as well. No other nation in the world can afford to spend such enormous amount of money.

The problem is complicated by the existing 15 unresolved issues in arms control between Moscow and Washington due to lack of desire of the latter to resolve the most burning issues, like limiting BMDS, taking the U.S. tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) from Europe and refraining from weaponization of outer space, etc.

A potential withdrawal of the USA from the INF Treaty no doubt:

1) will undermine the global strategic equation, push all nuclear-weapon states into a deep-seated mistrust, destroy the NPT regime and prompt all 32 states capable to produce intermediate-range missiles without any limitations;

2) will create a negative domino-style effect that will complicate nuclear arms control, namely:

  1. In military sphere it will block the potential resolution of the nuclear arms deal to be applied to the Korean Peninsula, may bring the U.S. nuclear weapons to Japan and the Republic of Korea, and
  2. In political domain such step will undermine specific solutions at the upcoming 2020 NPT Review Conference and erect unsurmountable obstacles for entry into force of the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

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Diplomacy a Waste of Time with Washington

The US is a serial lawbreaker, operating by its own rules, no others.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches international treaties, Security Council resolutions, and other rule of law principles, including its own Constitution.

Diplomacy with Republicans and undemocratic Dems is an exercise in futility. Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s proposed US outreach to discuss INF Treaty bilateral differences is well intended – despite knowing nothing is accomplished when talks with Washington are held, so why bother.

It’s just a matter of time before the US breaches another promise. They’re hollow when made. Kremlin good intentions aren’t enough to overcome US duplicity and implacable hostility toward Russia.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” said Zakharova, adding:

“We have admitted (US) documents for further consideration. This text again includes accusations in the form of unfounded and unsubstantiated information about Russia’s alleged violations of this deal.”

Comments to Washington like the above and similar remarks are like talking to a wall. The US demands all countries bend to its will, offering nothing in return but betrayal – especially in dealings with Russia, China, Iran, and other sovereign independent governments it seeks to replace with pro-Western puppet ones.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia violated its INF Treaty obligations. The accusation is baseless like all others against the Kremlin.

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Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America

Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America

Photo Source International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons | CC BY 2.0

What transforms American elections from participatory politics into farce is the exclusion of crucial issues. Environmental crisis, the threat of nuclear annihilation and the wildly skewed distribution of political and economic power will affect how people live in coming years, regardless of how effectively they are excluded from electoral consideration.

Each of these are historical accumulations— they exist in different time-space than the binary oppositions of political marketing. Environmental crisis has been accumulating since the dawn of the industrial revolution. The threat of nuclear annihilation emerged from WWII as the lunatic id of technological innovation. Class relations have determined the realm of official power since the birth of capitalism.

This history grants presence to each, regardless of how hidden they are in any given political moment. If a bomb is dropped on a city in the forest, it destroys the lives of those it is dropped on regardless of whether you and I hear it. The subtexts of modernity are automatically written to preclude reflection.

Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he would unilaterally end the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) treaty with Russia. The calculated irrelevance of American electoral politics to the side, this didn’t happen in an historical vacuum. It ties back to Bill Clinton’s unilateral placement of NATO troops on Russia’s border following George H.W. Bush’s promise not to do so.

Graph: On top of the $700 billion Pentagon budget for 2018, U.S. weapons sales abroad are big business. Among the top recipients of American weapons are Saudi Arabia, China, Japan and South Korea. The Saudis are currently funding a dirty war in Yemen that puts the lives of millions of human beings at risk. Sources: tradingeconomics.comSIPRI.

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Unwrapping Armageddon: The Erosion of Nuclear Arms Control

Unwrapping Armageddon: The Erosion of Nuclear Arms Control

The decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement (INF) appears to be part of a broader strategy aimed at unwinding over 50 years of agreements to control and limit nuclear weapons, returning to an era characterized by the unbridled development weapons of mass destruction.

Terminating the INF treaty—which bans land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of between 300 and 3400 miles— is not, in and of itself, a fatal blow to the network of treaties and agreements dating back to the 1963 treaty that ended atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. But coupled with other actions—George W. Bush’s decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002 and the Obama administration’s program to upgrade the nuclear weapons infrastructure— the tapestry of agreements that has, at least in part, limited these terrifying creations, is looking increasingly frayed.

“Leaving the INF,” says Sergey Rogov of the Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies, “could bring the whole structure of arms control crashing down.”

Lynn Rusten, the former senior director for arms control in the National Security Agency Council warns, “This is opening the door to an all-out arms race.”

Washington’s rationale for exiting the INF Treaty is that the Russians deployed the 9M729 cruise missile that the US claims violates the agreement, although Moscow denies it and the evidence has not been made public. Russia countercharges that the US ABM system—Aegis Ashore—deployed in Romania and planned for Poland could be used to launch similar medium range missiles.

If this were a disagreement over weapon capability, inspections would settle the matter. But the White House—in particular National Security Advisor John Bolton—is less concerned with inspections than extracting the US from agreements that in any way restrain the use of American power, be it military or economic.

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A Rules-Based Global Order or Rule-less US Global ‘Order’?

A Rules-Based Global Order or Rule-less US Global ‘Order’?

A Rules-Based Global Order or Rule-less US Global ‘Order’?

“It has taken the US military/security complex 31 years to get rid of President Reagan’s last nuclear disarmament achievement – the INF Treaty, that President Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev achieved in 1987”, writes Reagan’s former Assistant Treasury Secretary:

“Behind the scenes, I had some role in this, and as I remember, what the treaty achieved was to make Europe safe from nuclear attack by Soviet short and intermediate range missiles [the SS20s], and to make the Soviet Union safe from US [Pershing missiles deployed in Europe]. By restricting nuclear weapons to ICBMs, which allowed some warning time, thus guaranteeing retaliation and non-use of nuclear weapons, the INF Treaty was regarded as reducing the risk of an American first-strike on Russia and a [Soviet] first-strike on Europe … Reagan, unlike the crazed neoconservatives, who he fired and prosecuted, saw no point in nuclear war that would destroy all life on earth. The INF Treaty was the beginning, in Reagan’s mind, of the elimination of nuclear weapons from military arsenals. The INF Treaty was chosen as the first start, because it did not substantially threaten the budget of the US military/security complex”.

The Trump Administration however now wants to unilaterally exit the INF. “Speaking to reporters in Nevada, Trump said: “Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years and I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out … We’re going to pull out … We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and do weapons, and we’re not allowed to”. Asked to clarify, the President said: “Unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us, and they say,

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Russia Eyeing Military Base In Cuba As US Prepares To Leave Nuclear Missile Deal

A senior Russian official proposed that his country is seriously considering establishing a military base in Cuba in response to Trump’s plan to quit the INF treaty, predicting that “a new Cuban crisis” could erupt if the US and Russia fail to come to terms.

According to General Vladimir Shamanov, the head of the Russian lower house of parliament’s defense committee and a former airborne troops commander, with the US planning on walking away from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) treaty, Russia’s response should be in the “spirit of those times”, by reactivating Russian military facilities in Cuba.

The U.S. and Russia have accused one another of violating the agreement, but President Donald Trump has announced his intention to now end it, paving the way for new nuclear and conventional weapons systems at a time of heightened tensions, Newsweek reported.

A display shows excerpts to US President John F. Kennedy’s October 22, 1962 televised address about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Photo Reuters

“In order to strengthen our military presence in Cuba, we need at least the consent of the Cuban government. After all, this question is more political than military, and today, it’s probably premature to talk about any specific measures in response to a possible U.S. withdrawal from INF,” Shamanov told the Interfax news agency.

“Now the active phase of assessing this scenario is underway and proposals will next be prepared with estimates,” he added.

This issue may be raised when Cuba’s new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, visits Russia in early November. Diaz-Canel, a fresh face of Cuba’s Communist Party, is wary of foreign military presence, but “politics is living matter,” Shamanov said, adding that “Cuba has its own interests and it was hurt by US sanctions.”

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WW3: Russia Vows It ‘WILL ACT’ If Ukraine Or Georgia Join NATO

WW3: Russia Vows It ‘WILL ACT’ If Ukraine Or Georgia Join NATO

Russia has vowed that they “will act” should Ukraine or Georgia join NATO. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu voiced his concern over what he described as the “militarization of the European continent,” by promising action instead of empty rhetoric.

This statement by Shoigu appears to be a sign of the country’s unease in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out the United States out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Speaking during a meeting with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, Shoigu said: “We are following with alarm NATO’s policy aimed at the active militarization of the European continent. We see efforts being made to involve more and more NATO member countries, I mean the Balkans first of all.”

According to the Express UK, Andrei Kelin, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s European cooperation department, made his remarks during an expert discussion NATO’s Future and Russia’s Interests on the platform of the discussion club Valdai.

“We will have to create a defense belt near Sochi,” said Kelin. “We will have to spend colossal resources on preventing likely actions by a hypothetical enemy, this is inevitable.” Kelin also cautioned Ukraine against joining NATO saying that action would have equally serious military and economic repercussions for his country. “The length of our common border is enormous.  It is utterly unequipped, so we will have to build defense lines there and to shift the emphasis of our defense structures towards the south.” Kelin did concede, however, that it was unlikely either nation would join NATO.

“But if our western partners proceed along the road of building up confrontation, this may happen, of course, and we will have to make fundamental preparations,” Kelin added.

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