Russian and Belorussian Defense Ministers Give Important Update on Belarus

Via The Saker

Translated by Sasha and subtitled by Leo.

Meeting took place on October 27, 2020.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu:

Good day, dear colleagues. The Republic of Belarus was and remains our closest neighbour, reliable ally and strategic partner. This is particularly important under the current conditions of international instability, when the mistrust in relations between countries is growing, when attempts are made to undermine the basis of the international law and interests of sovereign states are ignored. Using the ‘colored revolution’ technologies, the United States and its satellites purposefully pump up tensions and undermine the internal political situation in a number of countries.

Very recently, an attempt to change the government in the Republic of Belarus was made with the political and financial support from the West. Among other goals, this was done in order to frustrate the Union State integration process, and to fracture the Russo-Belorussian relations. We decisively condemn such actions and see the meddling in the internal affairs of other countries as unacceptable. The situation along the Western borders of the Union State remains tense, where we must increase our forward presence.

In the immediate vicinity of our borders, the Alliance is developing military infrastructure and stockpiles material and technological means, military equipment and weapons. The segment of the American so-called anti missile defense system whose launch pads can be used for attack weapons is being increased. Despite the pandemic, the intensity of the Bloc’s military exercises is not being reduced. In the conditions of the current political-military situation in the region as well as of the new challenges and threats first of all from the international terrorism, the Defense Ministry of Russia regards guaranteeing the military security of the Union State as one of the priority tasks.

The most important coordinating mechanism for this task is the joint collegium of Defense Ministries of Russia and the Republic of Belarus. Today we are holding the first ever meeting using video communications. I am sure however that the quality of our work will not suffer because of that. I note that the pandemic induced restrictions were not able to reduce the intensity of the military cooperation between our countries. We continue forming the single integrated defense area within the borders of the Union State. The common military doctrine has been adopted, the regional military groups and the united air defense systems are functioning. We’ve set up joint military planning. Our principal attention is directed towards the armed forces training. It includes joint staff exercises, the joint group command on the strategic level, military war exercises ‘West’ and ‘Union Shield’, joint exercises of different types of armed forces and special forces.

In the end of September, Belorussian military personnel took part in the ‘Caucasus 2020’ exercises in the Kapustin Yar training ground. While the Russian paratroopers units, together with Belorussian special operations forces, conducted a joint exercise the ‘Slavic Brotherhood 2020’ in the Republic of Belarus. Additionally we worked out tasks of operational and combat preparation for the international organizations formats, that of the CSTO in the first priority. Thus lately we concluded the peace keeping training ‘Inviolable Brotherhood 2020′, which showed the increased level of our troops’ training and cooperation. Within the framework of respective programs of the Union State, the military infrastructure is being improved and the systems for technical protection of railways and regions are being developed. I believe the level of Russo-Belorussian military cooperation is optimal. I am sure today’s meeting will be constructive and conducive to the further deepening of our military cooperation and to the strengthening of the defense capabilities of our Union State.

Belorussian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin:

Distinguished Sergei Kuzhugetovich, distinguished members of the Joint Collegium and the participants of this meeting, allow me to greet you in my name and in the name of the Belorussian participants of the Collegium. I am sure that today’s event, as always, will allow the advancing development of Belorussian-Russian cooperation in the military sphere. I wish to stress that the events of the current year have become a real challenge for the international community in the view of the aggravation of the political and economic contradictions between the subjects of the international law, the existing unresolved regional conflicts, the attempt to carry out ‘color revolutions’, as well as the difficult epidemiological situation caused by COVID-19. The events taking place in our country since last August are the salient example of this. Various destructive forces, stirred up by the leaderships of a number of countries, attempted at unconditional regime change.

Only thanks to the coordinated actions by the state’s governing bodies and the Belorussian people we managed to save the country from the lawlessness and arbitrary rule. I particularly wish to express my deep gratitude to the military and political leadership of the Russian Federation for its position and help it rendered to the Republic of Belarus during this difficult time. The unsuccessful attempt to organize a ‘color revolution’ has been replaced by a hybrid war and unprecedented measures of diplomatic and political and economic pressure. Neither does the military component fall behind. During the recent years, NATO’s rotational forces in the neighboring countries have grown seventeen-fold and reached 10,000 troops. Military equipment and personnel, including that of the United States, are being concentrated in the immediate vicinity of our border.

The amount of large scale multinational military exercises of the NATO countries which are held on the territories of our neighboring countries is increasing. The devaluation of the international weapons control system, triggered by the unilateral actions by the United States with support from its NATO allies, is ongoing. The evidence of this are the denunciation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the refusal to ratify the adopted treaty on conventional weapons in Europe, the denunciation of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and finally the concluding procedures of exiting the Open Sky Treaty. All this are links in one chain of actions directed at undermining the international and regional security and securing the legal field for militarization of the European continent by way of the American presence. This is happening at our common borders of the Union State.

We as institutes of our states that are responsible for military security, must react accordingly. We have an integrated regional grouping of troops, as well as common outlook on the military threats in the Eastern European region and on the issues of ensuring security. We, along with our Russian colleagues, set the goal of today’s meeting to, first of all, organize practical actions towards building and strengthening of the required common military potential in order to countermeasure the challenges and threats of a military nature directed against the Union State. In the interest of the support for the regional military group of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation, the Union State continues implementation of programs in connection with development and improvement of the joint system of infrastructure facilities for its intended joint use. I am convinced that the decisions made as a result of our joint work will become effective guidelines for our defense forces in the questions of ensuring security of the Union State.

AVERTING BARBAROSSA II: THE LIANA SPACE RADIOELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM

Averting Barbarossa II: The Liana Space Radioelectronic Surveillance System
Video

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

At the end of the Cold War, the level of international tension has considerably declined for at least a decade, thanks to widespread multilateral disarmament bolstered by a variety of arms control regimes for conventional and nuclear armaments. That decade also saw the rapid deterioration of Russia’s early warning and surveillance systems as satellites launched during the Soviet era exhausted their service lives and crashed into the atmosphere without being replaced. At first, this was either not seen as an urgent priority by Russian decisionmakers or, if it was, there were more urgent priorities for scarce defense funding in an era of a prolonged economic crisis.

Fast-forwarding a decade, we find ourselves in a radically different situation. There is no more “end of history” optimism in the air, nor is there a sense of durable US hegemony either that seemed so permanent in the 1990s. Unfortunately, history tells us that such shifts in the global balance of power are fraught with danger, as the fading hegemon has an incentive to resort to extreme, reckless measures to preserve that hegemony. What makes the current situation unprecedented is this being the first hegemonic transition of the nuclear age. In the past, nuclear deterrence existed only in the context of relatively stable bipolar and then unipolar systems. Does nuclear deterrence mutually assured destruction still work under conditions of a multipolar system experiencing a hegemonic transition?

International relations theory has no answer to that question, but the US national security establishment appears to think that it doesn’t, particularly in an era of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, drone and missile swarms, hypersonic delivery vehicles, and possibly even directed energy weapons. Crash US programs in developing all of the above, far beyond anything that might be termed reasonable defensive sufficiency under conditions of the US spending far more on defense than anyone else in the world, do raise the possibility of long-term plans to prevail in the new round of great power competition through not only covert action and “hybrid warfare”, but also, if an opportunity arises, through good old fashioned strategic first strike which need no longer be delivered using nuclear weapons.

The point of Cold War-era nuclear arms treaties was not to limit the number of nuclear warheads for its own sake. Rather, it was to deprive the two superpowers of their ability to launch a disarming and decapitating strike which, given technologies of the era, could only be launched using nuclear weapons.  That is still the case today, but may not be by 2030 should the US complete its planned rearmament with a large array of land-, air-, and sea-based long-range stealthy and hypersonic weapons. Even the US Army, with its plans for “1,000-mile cannon” is once again getting into the game of strategic strike, to speak nothing of land-based hypersonic missiles. And strategic strike using non-nuclear warheads is a novel scenario in which the old “mutually assured destruction” calculations may not apply. Combined with the explosive growth of US anti-ballistic missile programs, if the rest of the world stands still, by 2030 US decision makers might find themselves tempted to launch such a strategic strike against even a major nuclear weapons state like Russia or China, to say nothing of mid-level powers like Iran or North Korea, particularly if they have no nuclear deterrent to begin with.

Except the rest of the world is not about to stand still, and the Liana space surveillance system is an important component of the Russian response to US initiatives. The imminent era of post-nuclear strategic strike demands strategic defense and stability cannot be provided solely by anti-ballistic early warning systems. They would simply provide warning of an attack once it was underway, and in view of the possibility that large numbers of hypersonic missiles could be launched very close to Russia’s borders from the territory of NATO member-states following a rapid and covert deployment, as well as submarines and stealthy bombers, that warning might come too late to make an effective response possible. To make matters worse still, US drive to destroy the Open Skies Treaty that is supposed to prevent precisely that kind of a covert preparation for a first strike, is also indicative of what the long-term US plans are.

Liana is therefore intended to provide that kind of strategic early warning, as well as operational target designation, in the event of an attempted surprise first strike. The satellite constellation is to consist of two types of satellites. The first, Pion-NKS, is a 6.5 ton satellite intended for a 67-degree, 500km orbit, with service life of more than three years. It’s development is nearly complete at the Arsenal Design Bureau. It is a high-resolution radar reconnaissance satellite, capable of positively identifying “car-sized” objects on the Earth’s surface. The second component of the Liana will be Lotos-S, a six-ton satellite operating on a 67-degree, 900km apogee orbit, and performing passive detection, identification, and location of electronic emitters, including radio communications. It was developed by the Arsenal Design Bureau, in collaboration with several other scientific research institutions. Both types of satellites are expected to be launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, using the proven and reliable Soyuz-2-1b launch vehicles. The complete Liana configuration is to consist of two Pion-NKS and two Lotos-S satellites, and open-source information sources suggest the two satellite types have a fair amount of component commonality in order to allow them not only to complement one another, but to perform each other’s primary missions though in a degraded form. So far there have been three Lotos-S launches from Plesetsk, with the first 2009 one being a failure, and the 2015 and 2018 one a success. No Pion-NKS launches have been scheduled yet, but the satellite’s advanced stage of development suggests they will occur in the coming years.

Technological advances mean that once complete, Liana will serve as a replacement for both the Legenda naval surveillance and target designation satellite network, and the Tselina radioelectronic reconnaissance one, thus providing Russian decisionmakers with the ability to monitor troop deployments and electronic activity that would inevitably precede a strategic first strike. Liana will also no doubt prove itself useful in non-Doomsday scenarios as well. The Syria experience revealed the need for reliable detection and target designation of NATO cruise-missile launch assets, including aircraft, submarines, and surface vessels. Liana’s capabilities mean both the assets themselves, other than submarines, and their communications can be monitored to reveal preparations for a strike and provide targeting information as well. It is not clear Russia would have been able to accurately strike at US warships launching cruise missiles at Syria had they been directed against Russian bases. The absence of radar surveillance satellites was a painful gap in Russia’s capabilities at that time, one that will be filled in the coming years.

Is the US a Global Leader Anymore?

Is the US a Global Leader Anymore?

August 13, 2020

by Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

Currently, the biggest challenge faced by the world is Pandemic. Outbreak early this year has engulfed the whole world. Indeed, the COVID-19 is not too fatal, yet due to its highly contagious nature, it has impacted society adversely. It is a new virus, a lot of studies are going on, especially on its cure and vaccines. Yet, nothing is commercially available; all such R&D is at the laboratory level. Either it is stage one or two or any other advanced stage, yet it might take some time to make the vaccine available at a commercial scale for everybody to be benefitted.

The number of CVID-19 cases has exceeded 20 million, with a death toll of around 750,000. The economic impact is even more visible. And some of the countries are already slipped into recession, while few are almost near to collapse. Social distance has made everyday life more difficult, people are losing jobs, businesses are suffering, and some of the markets have been closed.

At this challenging moment, the whole world was looking toward the US as a global leader to rescue them. Developing countries and underdeveloped countries were more miserable and was expecting much more from the US. Even the developed nations and well-advanced countries were also expecting some kind of assistance or help from the US.

Unfortunatetely, the US was the worst-hit country in the world, with the highest number of Coronavirus cases and the death toll. It was the time when the US can prove its global leadership role. NATO allies, other friendly countries were in award position, when the US showed cold shoulders.

It is entirely right; every country should look after its own interest and must say his own country first. But for a leader, one has to take everyone else along with and protect everyone.

Acknowledging the US’s global leadership, just after World War II (WWII), by launching the Marshal Program aimed to rebuild war-torn Europe was a successful model. As a result, the US gained a leadership role. But during the last couple of decades, the US policies witnessed a deviation from Global responsibilities.

The US was leaving International organizations and treaties, one after another, ignoring its global obligations and escaping from global responsibilities gradually.

  • In 1982, to maintain its maritime hegemony, the United States refused to sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), of which it is still not a party. It has created an imbalance of power in the global maritime and vulnerability.
  • In 1984, the United States formally withdrew from UNESCO, dissatisfied with the gradual erosion of its social control by developing countries. After returning to the Organization in 2003, it once again withdrew in 2017 on the so-called ground of saving funds and urging reform. UNESCO suffered a considerable loss in its routine functions. It has impacted the capabilities of the Organization adversely due to a shortage of funds.
  • In 1985, the United States refused to recognize the compulsory jurisdiction of the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) after Nicaragua complained that US armed intervention violated its sovereignty. A message that the US was not sincere about global justice. As a matter of fact, the US was extensively involved in war-crimes and international terrorism and scared of convictions.
  • In 1995, the United States withdrew from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and refused to pay arrears by claiming domestic budgetary constraints, damaging the global industrialization program. Yet increased its defense budget.
  • The United States has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol since 2001, saying it was not in its national interest to meet relevant environmental obligations. By withdrawing, the US denied its responsibility in protecting the global environment. It should be noted that damaging the environment is a severe collective crime with humanity.
  • In 2001, the United States withdrew from the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance after failing to prevent discussion of Israeli military action against Palestinians. Today, what is happening in the US is also the result of these policies.
  • In 2001, to strengthen its military advantage, the United States formally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1972. However, it gave supremacy to the US but created an arms race world-wide, forcing other nations to compete in the US.
  • In 2002, the United States withdrew from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, citing unfavorable terms for American soldiers, diplomats, and politicians. It was a message that the US did not feel globally obliged not to commit war crimes, espionage, the aggression of sovereign states, etc.
  • In 2017, the United States announced its formal withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it believed that multilateral trade agreements were not in its best interests and hindered its “America First” policy. Although the US is the largest economy of the world, it yet believes in unfair practices.
  • In 2017, the US government announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, aimed to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, believing that it could hinder economic development. An irrational approach and wrong decision again.
  • In 2017, the United States withdrew from negotiations of the United Nations Global impact on Migration and cast votes against the UNGCM at the UN General Assembly.
  • In 2018, even though the IAEA confirmed Iran’s fulfillment of its JCPOA commitment and that the United States had no clear evidence to show Iran conducted nuclear tests in breach of the deal, the United States withdrew from the JCPOA, a deal that has been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and re-imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran. This decision has damaged the US image adversely. Contaraily imposed irrational sanctions on Iran, making the lives of Iranian more miserable.
  • In 2018, the US announced its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, claiming it failed to protect human rights adequately. The current violence in the US may also be the outcome of this decision.
  • In 2018, the United States withdrew from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes relating to the jurisdiction of the ICJ in order to avoid a Palestinian complaint filed legitimately to the ICJ. It has caused a strong wave of anti-American sentiments in the Arab world.
  • In 2019, the United States withdrew from the INF Treaty to develop short- and medium-range missiles without restraint. Again a wrong decision at wrong timings, pushing the world toward developing more lethal weapons.
  • In 2020, under the pretext of alleged Russian violations of the Open Skies Treaty, the United States announced steps to exit the Treaty.
  • In 2020, the US government, looking for scapegoats for its botched response to COVID-19, announced its withdrawal from the World Health Organization. It should be noted that the United States still owes more than $200 million in assessed contributions. Will the US pay this sum before going out? Exactly, when WHO needs to be strengthened, the US decision harmed the Organization’s capabilities.

Notably, the Trump-Administration has focused only on “America First,” leaving the rest of the world ignored. The Pandemic has exposed Trump-administration’s policies further. Europe was suffering from COVID-19 and expecting that the US may come up with some kind of help and rescue. But, unfortunately, this was not in the minds of the Trump-Administration.

If the United States tries to escape from its global responsibilities, it may no longer enjoy the status of global leadership. The gap created by the US may be filled-in by some other powers. Enjoy authority, but with responsibilities!

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.

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