Monthly Archives: February 2009

>USSR2 File: Revolt brews within Russian military against Medvedev’s reforms, senior officers defect to anti-Putin opposition, CPRF champions soldiers

>Since we rely heavily on Kremlin media sources at Once Upon a Time in the West, we must acknowledge the possibility that some news is actually disinformation published in conformity with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s long-range deception strategy. This is no doubt true with respect to assessing “post”-Soviet Russian military strength. Sometimes the Kremlin media plays up logistical problems in the Russian Armed Forces, as in the invasion of Georgia in August 2008, while at other times highlighting the latest successful ICBM or SLBM launch or equivocating on the reported departure of 900 tanks from Kaliningrad Oblast, an ideal spot from which to launch a ground invasion of Poland and the Baltic republics.

Pictured above: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev toasts with army officers after presenting state awards at the headquarters of the Siberian Military District in Chita, on February 19. Medvedev reassured Russia’s brass that the country’s military readiness would not be compromised by budget cuts. This encounter occurred one day after two Russian bombers probed Canadian airspace ahead of US President Barack Hussein Obama’s visit to Ottawa.

This is also true with respect to the presence in Russia of potemkin parties (like the “ruling” United Russia party), “oppositionists” (like former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov), and “dissidents” (like Garry Kasparov). In such cases, the potemkin party, oppositionist, or dissident may exercise a certain degree of independence from the CPSU apparatus, but when the “independent actor” steps over the line, secret lines of party control are swiftly applied. The offending individual is either demoted, disappears from the political limelight, or becomes a chalk outline on the streets of Moscow. In similar fashion, the straying group is reorganized (as in the case of Other Russia, which gave birth last year to “Solidarity”), absorbed (as in the merger of United Russia with the Agrarian Party in 2008), or shut down (as in the National Bolshevik Party).

This is the essence of Soviet “democratization,” as predicted by KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn in his two books, New Lies for Old (1984) and The Perestroika Deception (1995, 1998).

The revolt spreading within the Russian military against the Putinist regime could very well be a case of Soviet disinformation designed to portray the Kremlin administration as weak. Conversely, the Soviet strategists could also be encouraging dissident military officers to swing their support from the potemkin United Russia regime to the “opposition,” which is spearheaded by the (secretly ruling) Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). This past Monday, a communist-sponsored protest in Moscow denounced President Dmitry Medvedev’s military reforms, which will eliminate 200,000 Soviet-era officer posts, and portrayed the CPRF as the champion of Russia’s soldiers and military traditions. Not only Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, but also Putin himself are becoming objects of personal scorn by Russia’s military men.

In its report on the simmering mutiny in the Russian Armed Forces, Britain’s Telegraph profiles 19-year-old sailor “Vladislav,” who serves on a submarine in Russia’s Pacific Fleet. “We were brought up to revere Putin, but not any more,” related Vladislav, adding: “He doesn’t care about the fate of ordinary sailors, which makes him a criminal in my opinion.” Journalist Adrian Blomfield explains that “Vladislav” has secretly joined a new opposition group in Russia’s Far East called Tiger (possibly named after the Siberian tiger that inhabits that part of the country). “Tiger” is calling for Putin’s resignation and the “restoration of democracy.” If discovered, Blomfield reports, “Vladislav” faces court martial, probably followed by death by neo-gulag or firing squad.

The Telegraph also reports that a “growing number of disgruntled servicemen, including senior officers, are making contact with Russian opposition groups for the first time since he came to power in 2000.” In spite of the billions of rubles that the Putinist regime has poured into the military over the last eight years, “Opposition parties say that a number of senior military figures have approached them with tacit messages of support. The feeling of discontent is even deeper in the non-commissioned ranks, who complain of appalling conditions in their barracks.” Military analyst Alexander Golts admits: “Morale in the navy is very low, particularly in the Pacific fleet. The hazing and acts of cruelty are so unbelievable that a year as a conscript is effectively a year in Hell.”

In light of the probably very real revolt within the officer and non-commissioned ranks of the Russian armed forces, the CPRF leadership under Gennady Zyuganov could easily stage a military-backed coup d’etat against the crypto-Stalinist United Russia regime, thereby once again placing Russia on the “path toward socialist development.” Of all the possible scenarios that we have considered over the last two years for a potential red coup in Moscow, this one is most credible.

On occasion the Soviet media is refreshingly candid as in today’s article in Itar-Tass, in which Russia’s KGB-communist dictator Vladimir Putin admits that Moscow is closely watching the responses of the “developed countries” (meaning capitalist nations) to the global economic recession. At a Friday meeting of the leadership of United Russia, of which Putin is the “non-member” head, Russia’s prime minister stated:

We’re closely watching the processes running in the world economy – whether good or bad – we depend on it, and have to state that the crisis is far from being over, and has not even reached its peak yet. The measures taken by developed countries are not bringing visible results yet. It means that such a situation may remain for a rather long time.

The scale of disproportions that accumulated in the world economy is too large, and in order to clear the path to a new upturn, much has to be accomplished together with our partners in international community, and on our own.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin body count continues its seemingly unstoppable course with the murder of an unnamed St. Petersburg businessman yesterday, and the assassination of a former Chechen militant in Istanbul, also apparently on Thursday. Ali Osayev, who fled to Turkey six years ago after the Second Chechen War, was shot three times in the head near his home in Istanbul. In both cases, the perps are at large.

In 2004 a Qatari court convicted two Russian military intelligence (GRU) agents of assassinating former Chechen president in exile Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in the tiny Middle Eastern country. A car bomb was the preferred mode of murder in that case. Qatari prosecutors concluded that the suspects had received the order to eliminate Yandarbiyev directly from then Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov. Since February 2007 Ivanov has been Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Canadian, Russian officials trade accusations over Feb. 18 Bear bomber intercept, one day before Obama’s Ottawa visit

>On February 19 US President Barack Hussein Obama made his first foreign visit as head of state to Ottawa. Canada is the USA’s largest trading partner and most reliable ally, comprising one half of the 50-year-old binational military command known as the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD was originally designed to detect and counter Soviet bomber and missile attacks. Canada is located directly between Russia and the USA and, thus, would probably witness the transit of polar-routed ICBMs over its territory should the world’s two nuclear superpowers come to blows.

One day before Obama arrived in Canada’s capital, reports the Toronto Star, two Russian Bear bombers lurking near the Northwest Territories were intercepted by Canadian CF-18 fighter jets. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not hesitate to characterize the presence of the Russian bombers as a “provocation.” “This government,” he insisted, “has responded every time the Russians have done that. We will continue to respond. We will defend our airspace.”

Pictured above: A Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet from 4 Wing Cold Lake in Alberta flies next to a Tu-95 strategic bomber on September 5, 2007 in an intercept similar to the one that took place again on February 18, 2009. Eighty CF-18s are operational out of a total fleet of 98. The Canadian Forces Air Command intends to replace the CF-18 with a more advanced fighter jet by 2020.

Canada’s Defense Minister Peter MacKay was not shaken by Moscow’s message and, instead, responded with his own warning to Russia: “I’m not going to stand here and accuse the Russians of deliberately doing this during the presidential visit, but it was a strong coincidence which we met with the presence . . . of F-18 fighter planes and world-class pilots that know their business and send a strong signal that they should back off and stay out of our airspace.” MacKay has requested his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov and Russia’s ambassador to Canada to give Ottawa a “head’s up” when such flights are planned. “To date, we have not received this type of notice,” MacKay remarked.

In Moscow, Novosti reported, an unnamed Kremlin official called MacKay’s statement a “farce” and “astonishing.” The state-run news agency also quoted Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky, a Russian Defence Ministry spokesentity, who protested that neighboring states were previously notified of the bombers’ flight. “They would say that,” countered Rob Huebert, associate director of the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies.

NORAD commander US General Victor Renuart, according to organization spokesman Michael Kucharek, has requested that the Russian Air Force file formal international notice of bomber flights but, as noted above, this has yet to happen. Kucharek related that Canadian and US fighter jets have been scrambled more than 20 times since early 2007 to carry out visual identification of Russian bombers and to direct them away from North American airspace. Moscow began flying its old Cold War routes in late 2006, although then President Vladimir Putin made no formal announcement to that effect until August 2007.

>USSR2 File: Coordinated communist protests in Russia and Ukraine slam Medvedev’s army reforms, Yushchenko’s strategic alliance with USA

>– Red Terror File: Retired FSB Major General Gunned Down in Moscow, Formerly Worked for Russian Prosecutor’s Office

– Ukraine’s First “Post”-Communist President Leonid Kravchuk Urges Yushchenko to Resign, Call Snap Elections

– Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma Interrogated Again on Possible Links to 2000 Journalist Murder

In the light of current events in Eastern Europe and the accurate predictions of Soviet Bloc defectors from decades past, like Anatoliy Golitsyn, we continue to anticipate coups in Moscow and Kiev that will restore overtly red regimes and prosecute the long-range Soviet deception strategy to its culmination. The openly communist forces in Russia have once again taken to the streets to protest against the policies of potemkin President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, both of whom are connected to the old Soviet regime. In the Not-So-Former Soviet republic of Ukraine, the reds and former president Leonid Kravchuk, who is also connected to the old Soviet regime, are demanding the resignation of “pro”-NATO President Viktor Yushchenko.

On Monday, which is Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russia, Soviet war veterans, cadres of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), and leftist youth groups gathered in Triumfalnaya Square in downtown Moscow to denounce President Medvedev’s military reforms. The protesters wielded banners that shouted: “Military reform is high treason!” “The people and the army are one!” and “We will save the army, we will save Russia!” “What is being done today under the guise of reform is the liquidation of the army, without which Russia has no future,” CPRF Chairman Gennady Zyuganov rumbled to the crowd (pictured above).

Last year Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced that by 2012 the Russian Armed Forces will be downsized to one million servicemen, including a streamlining of the officer corp down to 150,000 personnel. The Soviet Union, by contrast, maintained 4.5 million men under uniform. In addition to overhauling the Russian military’s command and control structure, each of Russia’s six military districts will boast an airborne brigade as a rapid reaction unit. From a purely military viewpoint, these modernization reforms are probably wise. We suspect Zyuganov knows this and is simply perpetuating the ruse that a multitude of political opinions flourish in Russia. In late 2008 the openly revolutionary forces of Russia united under the banner of the Left Front and the leadership of the CPRF, Russia’s largest (and secretly ruling) communist party.

This past Saturday, Russia’s other opposition group, Solidarity, which was co-founded by former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov and ex-chess champion Garry Kasparov, held its first rally in central Moscow. Several hundred people joined the rally, which was sanctioned by the mayor’s office. The long-time mayor of Moscow, of course, is Yuri Luzhkov, another former CPSU cadre. The protestors blamed Prime Minister Putin for failing to rectify the negative effects of the global financial crisis in Russia. Founded in 2008, Solidarity appears to be a spin-off from the Other Russia movement, while its name, which is lifted from communist terminology, is obviously (and probably purposely) reminiscent of Poland’s defunct communist-controlled opposition group.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin body count continued yesterday with the murder of a retired Federal Security Service (FSB/KGB) major general, formerly in the employ of the Investigations Committee of Russia’s Prosecutor General (SKP). The regional SKP director in Moscow, Anatoly Bagmet, described the case to Itar-Tass:

The body of Alexander P. Rogachyov, 46, was found in a Toyota Land Cruiser on the premises of the Yunykh Pionerov stadium in Leningradsky Prospect Street at approximately 18:00, Moscow time, on February 22. He had a pension certificate of FSB agent on him. The victim was in the rank of Major-General.

An examination of the body found a gunshot wound to the head; a 9-mm bullet was extracted. Forensic experts said the gunshot wound to the head had been fatal, and that the former FSB officer was killed 14 hours before his body was found, around 01:00, Moscow time, on February 22.

The SKP department opened a criminal case under Article 105, Part 1 [for murder].

The investigation is at the initial stage yet.

“A team of detectives has been formed; all possible versions are under consideration,” Bagmet concluded. Little intelligence, however, is required to conclude that a high-ranking official like Rogachyov probably knew too much about things that the neo-Soviet leadership would prefer to keep hidden, hence, the major general’s untimely demise. A long row of dead nosey journalists, dead renegade KGB agents, dead affluent bankers, and dead talkative Chechen officials proves that in Putinist Russia it does not pay to know anything at all.

To the south, in Ukraine, the pro-Moscow Party of Regions of former prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU), the Socialist Party of Ukraine, and the Progressive Socialist Party are demanding that President Yushchenko either call snap elections, resign, or submit to impeachment. Yanukovich is an “ex”-CPSU cadre and one of Moscow’s main pointmen in Kiev. On Monday 200 communist demonstrators rallied in Kiev and under the din of revolutionary music urged Yushchenko to pack his bags and head for the USA. Angered by Yushchenko’s new strategic partnership with America, sarcastic CPU cadres passed around a box to collect enough money to buy a plane ticket for the Ukrainian president. In December last year, Kiev and Washington inked a charter on strategic relations that promotes cooperation in the defense, security, economic, and energy spheres, as well as establishing a US diplomatic mission in Simferopol on the Crimean Peninsula.

This past Saturday Ukrainian leftists also rallied in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Navy parks its Black Sea Fleet and where numerous ethnic Russians reside. “We have gathered here to express our indignation at the authorities who have led our country to poverty and extinction,” ranted Igor Shamaiko, head of a Crimean community organization. A resolution adopted by the rally participants read: “President Yushchenko, the government of [Prime Minister Yulia] Tymoshenko and the parliamentary majority consisting of oligarchs and NATO henchmen have shown that they are unable to get the country out of the crisis. Ukraine needs a total change of power, otherwise it will face famine, ruin and death.”

Both Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, it should be noted, are connected to the old regime in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Making a plea for the restoration of the Soviet Union, rally organizer Yevgeny Dubovik declared: “We see our future only in a union with Russia and Belarus.” The Crimea became an autonomous republic in Ukraine after the self-dismantling of the Soviet Union. In 1994 Ukraine’s parliament abolished the post of Crimean president and the regional constitution.

Street-level protests among Ukrainian reds were tacitly endorsed yesterday by Ukraine’s first “post”-communist president, Leonid Kravchuk who, like just about any other major political player in the “post”-Soviet space, is an “ex”-CPSU cadre. In a live address to Yushchenko on the Ukraina TV channel on Tuesday, Kravchuk urged the president to hold snap elections:

The true patriotism of a president also means understanding the situation from within and making a responsible decision to step down. Such a step could stop the avalanche of problems, calm society and give hope for a real way out of the crisis. Until recently I thought the presidential elections should be held according to law. But today I have a different opinion. I have seen clearly that you are not giving most of your attention to Ukraine’s problems, instead you are thinking of how to stay in power.

The power has been almost destroyed. And it is impossible to overcome the crisis without the government’s effective participation.

Ukraine, like Russia, is struggling amid the global economic recession. Although Kiev and Moscow ratified a 10-year natural gas supply agreement less than a month ago, Ukraine’s Naftogaz has already notified Kremlin-run Gazprom that there may be disruptions in payment for deliveries due to non-payment by local utility companies. “Ex”-CPSU cadre Viktor Zubkov, father in law of Russia’s defense minister, sits at the helm of insatiable energy monster Gazprom.

Finally, Ukraine, like Russia, boasts its share of dead independent journalists who have unwisely intruded into the inner workings of the Red Mafiya that runs the “post”-Soviet space. Today Nikolai Golomsha, Deputy Prosecutor-General of Ukraine, confirmed that the Prosecutor General’s Office once again interrogated Leonid Kuchma on the grisly murder case of Georgy Gongadze, an intrepid journalist who was killed and beheaded in September 2000. “It is true that ex-President Kuchma was interrogated on the case last Monday,” Golomsha told reporters. “Ex”-CPSU cadre Kuchma, then president of Ukraine, and some of his associates were accused of complicity in the murder. Not surprisingly, Kuchma has stridently rejected all accusations.

>USSR2/USA Files: Medvedev pretends to oppose Putin’s anti-crisis economic policy, billionaire socialist Soros predicts collapse of capitalism

>– Russian Fleet Movement Update: Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier and Admiral Chabanenko Destroyer to Return to Northern Fleet’s Home Port in Severomorsk

– New Russian Stealth Frigate Begins Trials in Baltic Sea

On Tuesday the Russian Navy announced that a new frigate will begin sea trials this week before entering service with the Baltic Fleet in April. Under construction since 1990 at the Yantar shipyard in the Kaliningrad exclave, the Yaroslav Mudry is the second vessel in the 11540 Yastreb project. The first vessel built in this series is the Neustrashimy, which recently completed an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden. According to the Russian Navy’s official website, the Yaroslav Mudry features a water displacement of 4,500 tons, can sail at a maximum speed of 30 knots, employs some stealth technology, and is armed with missiles, bombs, anti-aircraft systems, and a Ka-27 helicopter. State media in Russia have also described the Neustrashimy-class vessels as destroyers.

In a related story, the Russian Navy reaffirmed today that its fleets will continue to fulfill “important duties in the seas and oceans of the world,” to quote state-run Novosti. Yesterday, we reported that the Admiral Kuznetsov is now lurking in the North Atlantic Ocean after carrying out several missions in the Mediterranean Sea, visiting the Russian naval maintenance facility at Tartus, Syria, and, in an unfriendly gesture, dumping 1,000 tons of fuel near the Irish coast. Russia’s sole aircraft carrier has been joined by the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko, which last fall made first-ever visits to Venezuela, Panama, Nicaragua, and Cuba, four Latin American states with pro-Moscow leftist regimes of various hues.

Replacing the Admiral Kuznetsov in the Mediterranean Basin is the formidable Peter the Great missile cruiser and the Northern Fleet’s Admiral Levchenko destroyer. “The Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser, after having completed joint naval exercises with India, has passed through the Suez Canal and is now in the Mediterranean Sea,” explained Captain First Rank Igor Dygalo. The Russian Navy spokesentity mentioned that the Admiral Levchenko destroyer moored at Tartus on February 23, while the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer continues to patrol the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia. On January 29 two Russian landing ships capable of together transporting 450 marines arrived at Tartus, but their current whereabouts is not known, at least in open-source media.

Meanwhile, Russian “President” Dmitry Medvedev appears to be playing the role of Devil’s advocate by criticizing the anti-crisis policies of his mentor, KGB-communist dictator Vladimir Putin, in countering the effects of the global financial crisis in Russia. On February 20, while addressing apparatchiks in Siberian city of Irkutsk, Medvedev complained: “This is nothing but the sheer inability to work quickly and efficiently. The global financial turmoil has yet to hit its worst point. Bad news is coming from all the regions. If the economy drops below the floor-lining, a certain critical level, Russia may face a repeat of the collapse it faced in the 1990s.”

No doubt, Gennady Zyuganov, Chairman of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, which we believe is the secretly ruling body in Russia, would agree with Soviet Komsomol graduate Medvedev’s assessment. Playing up ideological differences among “comrades” is a standard communist tactic. Any dispute or debate among Russia’s open and “ex”-communists should be taken with a hefty grain of salt.

Medvedev and Zyuganov are not the only communists articulating a gloomy prognosis for the capitalist countries. Bush-bashing billionaire George Soros, whose leftist opinions defy the very economic system that produced his personal prosperity, is also predicting the imminent collapse of capitalism. Through his Open Society and other “pro-democracy” foundations Soros aided and abetted the Soviet strategists by funding “democratization” in Eastern Europe. On February 20 Soros addressed a private dinner party of economists and bankers at Columbia University, excoriated Reaganomics, “market fundamentalism,” and the monetary policies of the US Federal Reserve System as the sources of the present economic convulsions:

The current economic upheaval has its roots in the financial deregulation of the 1980s and signals the end of a free-market model that has since dominated capitalist countries.

Liberalization of the financial industry begun by the Reagan administration has led to a series of crises forcing government intervention. The global recession, triggered by the collapse of the U.S. housing market, has damaged the financial system itself.

Regulators are in part to blame because they abrogated their responsibilities. The philosophy of “market fundamentalism” is now under question as financial markets have proved to be inefficient and affected by biases rather than driven by all the available information.

We’re in a crisis, I think, that’s really the most serious since the 1930s and is different from all the other crises we have experienced in our lifetime. The Federal Reserve has created several [crises] by lowering interest rates.

The economy went into freefall and is still falling and we don’t know where the bottom will be until we get there and there’s no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom.

The scale of the problem is more than in the Great Depression because of the leverage involved. The ratio of debt to gross domestic product has increased from 160 percent in the 1920s to 350 percent last year, and is set to rise to 500 percent.

The real estate bubble was created as much by “relaxed” lending standards and the valuation of collateral as the availability of credit. The bubble began in the early 1980s, and the subprime-mortgage debacle acted as the “detonator.” The crisis was made possible by the globalization of financial markets and securitization of debt.

Risk management has become so refined and sophisticated regulators can no longer follow what is happening.

In view of the US$200,000 that Soros contributed to the committee that organized (Kenyan-born?) President Barack Hussein Obama’s inauguration in January, it is clear that the Hungarian-born investor joyfully anticipates the looming socialization of the US economic and political system.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Medvedev announces CSTO war game; Russian warship sinks Chinese freighter; Iran fires up Soviet-built Bushehr n-plant

>On February 19, while meeting with the commanders of the Siberian Military District, Russian “President” Dmitry Medvedev announced that the states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization will shortly hold joint exercises within the broader framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which embodies the Moscow-Beijing Axis. A large quote from Medvedev’s address follows:

It will be necessary to develop such cooperation. I mean, first of all, our contacts with the traditional allies–the member-states of the CSTO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The current task is to optimize the field strength of troops and to project a new image of the RF Armed Forces. The troop control system must be up-to-date and mobile–this also applies to control agencies and facilities of command.

Things are not easy now either, particularly in the light of the current economic crisis. The army now has somewhat different starting resources due to achievements in recent years. The task is not to lose anything. The main thing now is to keep those basic achievements.

It is essential to maintain the possibility of financing new armaments programs and new technology purchases. On the other hand, it is also essential to keep and develop all kinds of social guarantees existing in the army and accomplish the task of moving on to service within the scope of permanent readiness units, respectively financed.

It is obvious how difficult and complex military duty is, particularly in Siberia and the Far East, at remote border pickets, and in far-off garrisons. The Russian people must both know the traditions and deeply respect its army. The main thing is for the prestige of the army to be maintained in society at the highest level.

One reason that Russia is modernizing its armed forces it to assert control over the resources of the Arctic seabed, which Moscow unilaterally claimed in 2007, much to the displeasure of other polar states like the USA, Canada, and the countries of Scandinavia. “Russia will respond to any attempts to militarize the Arctic,” the Kremlin’s top general, Nikolai Makarov, was quoted as saying on Monday during a visit to Abu Dhabi. “Overall, we are looking at how far the region will be militarized. Depending on that, we’ll then decide what to do.” Makarov is attending an international arms fair in the United Arab Emirates.

The chief of the Russian General Staff indicated that Moscow has not yet received any official proposals from Washington, DC on significant cuts to the two countries’ strategic nuclear forces. Earlier this month, The Times reported that US President Barack Hussein Obama intended to hold “ambitious” arms reduction talks with Moscow, aiming to slash the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles on both sides by 80 percent. “When there is a proposal, there will be a discussion,” Interfax quoted Makarov as saying, “It is much too early to speak about that now.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, which earlier this year completed exercises with the Turkish Navy and weighed anchor at the Russian naval maintenance facility in Tartus, Syria, and whose deck-based fighter jets carried out missions in Greek airspace, has moved into the North Atlantic Ocean. The Admiral Kuznetsov’s current whereabouts is known due to the controversial oil slick that a week-old refueling operation left near Ireland. Surveillance flights by the United Kingdom’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency, reports The Times, estimated that nearly 1,000 tons of oil were dumped near the southern coast of the Emerald Isle. A satellite detected the aircraft carrier, the refueling ship, and a Russian tug amid the oil slick on February 14. Four other Russian naval vessels were observed in the vicinity. The satellite that spotted and reported the spill was operated by an agency of the European Union, the European Maritime Safety Agency in Lisbon.

In a related story we have been unable to update our report about the current whereabouts of two Russian landing ships, the Azov and the Yamal, which made a port of call in Tartus three weeks ago, apparently en route to a much scaled-down Indo-Soviet naval drill in the Indian Ocean. Together the two amphibious craft can transport 450 Russian marines.

On the other side of the Eurasian landmass, allies Russia and China are squabbling over who is responsible for the demise of a Chinese cargo ship on February 15, after a Russian warship fired on and sank The New Star near the Far East Russian port of Nakhodka. China’s foreign ministry issued a strongly worded protest to Moscow, demanding a full investigation, but Russia asserts that The New Star’s Indonesian captain illegally crossed its border. Eight crew members–seven Chinese nationals and one Indonesian–died after taking to stormy waters in an open raft. The freighter’s owner, Hong Kong-based J-Rui Lucky Shipping, has denounced Russia for sinking its ship and called for a joint investigation panel. Will The New Star sinking adversely affect the strategic partnership between the Soviets and the Chinese Communists? Not likely. The two communist giants intend to hold their third joint war game later this year.

In addition to the Soviet leadership’s primary alliance with the Communist Party of China, the Moscow Leninists are also revitalizing Cold War-era strategic partnerships elsewhere in the world, especially among the Arab League states and in Africa and Latin America. Egypt is an important target for Soviet control. On February 17 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov travelled to Cairo where, after meeting Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul Gheit and President Hosni Mubarak, he declared that “his country is seeking to setup a strategic partnership with Egypt at all fronts.” Lavrov delivered this message directly from President Medvedev to long-time dictator Mubarak.

Russia–which along with the USA, the United Nations, and the European Union–belongs to the Middle East Diplomatic Quartet, supports Egypt’s efforts to alleviate the “humanitarian” crisis in the Gaza Strip, eliminate the rivalries among Palestinian groups, and “close Arab ranks.” Lavrov stated that Moscow will host an international conference on the Middle East peace process before July. Medvedev plans to visit Egypt in June at the invitation of Mubarak to boost bilateral cooperation. Russia’s foreign minister arrived in Egypt on Monday after stopping over in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Lavrov will also visit Oman and Bahrain.

Between February 24 and 26, Yemen’s long-time dictator President Ali Abdullah Saleh will pay an official visit to Russia, at which time he will discuss bilateral trade and military cooperation with President Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. This will be Saleh’s fifth official visit to Russia and the first since 2004. Although not a communist, Saleh is a long-time Soviet ally who ruled the Yemen Arab Republic between 1978 and 1990 and became president of the Republic of Yemen after non-communist North Yemen united with communist South Yemen.

In an interview with Novosti, Yemeni ambassador to Russia Mohammed al-Hilali stated: “Yemen’s position on the Middle East fully coincides with the position of our Russian friends.” He added that investment opportunities in Yemen would be discussed with Russian oil and gas companies. This past week Yemeni Finance Minister Numan al-Suhaibi met his Russian counterpart, Alexei Kudrin, in Moscow to discuss the possibility of writing off Yemen’s debt to Russia. The Kremlin media has since last summer published reports that the Russian Navy may reestablish its Soviet-era presence in Yemen, possibly on Socotra Island.

As blogged above, the Kremlin’s top general is currently attending the Idex-2009 international defense exhibition and conference in Abu Dhabi, which is slated to run from February 22 through 26. Mikhail Dmitriyev, head of the Russian Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, reveals that Moscow is also “stepping up” military sales to the socialist dictatorships in Syria, Libya, and Algeria. “Russia is beginning to enter new armaments markets where our presence was previously considered as hardly probable. In particular, some Persian Gulf countries, including Qatar and Kuwait, are displaying certain interest in the development of military and technical cooperation,” explained Dmitriyev. In addition to the Arab states, China, India, Venezuela, Iran, Malaysia, and Serbia are also important recipients of Russian armament. Russia exports weapons to a total of 80 countries.

Finally, this week Iran will “pre-commission” its first nuclear power plant, which is being built by Russia in the southern city of Bushehr. “In the presence of the heads of the atomic energy organizations of Iran and Russia, the pre-commissioning of Bushehr power plant will be carried out on Wednesday,” the ISNA news agency trumpeted, quoting Iran Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Mohsen Delaviz. The exact nature of the “pre-commissioning” was not detailed. Russia assumed construction of the plant in 1994, but completion has been delayed due to the international controversy over Iran’s nuclear program, which includes staunch opposition from the USA, Israel, and some EU countries.

Earlier this month, the chief of Russia’s nuclear agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, stated that his visit to Iran was designed “to get acquainted with the works at the plant” and that a “technical launch” of the plant was possible before the end of this year. Iran has informed the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency that the loading of nuclear fuel in the plant will take place in the second quarter of 2009 and will be supplied by Russia. The primary equipment at Bushehr was installed by Russian contractor Atomstroiexport.

>Latin America File: President for Life Chavez scurries to Havana, consults with Castro; Mexican, Honduran presidents join parade of regional leaders

>Following the February 15 referendum that effectively installed Hugo Chavez as Venezuela’s “President for Life,” faux rightist French President Nicolas Sarkozy has congratulated the communist dictator for preserving the “vitality of democracy in Venezuela.” Sarkozy, whose totalitarian bent is evident in last September’s failed power grab for a permanent spot at the top of the European Union, also welcomed “progress made to reduce inequalities” in the South American country. In many previous posts we have provided documentation for our belief that Sarkozy, whose surname means “Prince of Darkness,” may play a Biblically prophetic role in the very near future. For his part, Chavez has indicated that he intends to run for a third presidential term in 2012.

Barely one week after consolidating his Cuban-style dictatorship in Caracas, Chavez made an unannounced “working visit” to the all-inclusive island gulag paradise 90 miles south of the Florida Keys. Havana’s communist-controlled media refused to disclose any details regarding the agenda that Chavez and Cuban counterpart Raul Castro, a known KGB asset, will consider. The Cuban media only admitted that the Chavez-Castro conclave “takes place a few days after the popular victory of the [Venezuelan] referendum approving the constitutional reform for the unlimited reelection of public officials.”

“General” Castro welcomed his Venezuelan guests at Jose Marti International Airport (pictured above). Chavez was accompanied by his Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro; Energy and Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramirez, who is also president of the state-run oil company PDVSA; Planning Minister Haiman El Troudi; Agriculture Minister Elias Jaua; and head of the presidential administration Luis Reyes. Upon the arrival of the Venezuelan visitors, the two communist dictators, both wearing military uniforms, embraced. Chavez cried “Viva Cuba! Viva Fidel! Viva Raul!” In his February 12 column “Reflections,” former Cuban president Fidel praised his protégé Hugo by saying that “Simon Bolivar lives again in the revolutionary actions of Chavez.”

The Venezuelan dictator’s current trip to Havana is only the latest in a series of high-level state visits among the world’s Communist Bloc leaders. In 2008 Chavez travelled to Cuba in March, once again in June, and two more times in September, at the beginning and end of an international tour that took him to neo-Soviet Russia, Red China, Faux Rightist France, and Socialist Portugal. Chavez is the sixth Latin American president to visit Havana in less than two months, after Panama’s Martin Torrijos, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, and Guatemala’s Alvaro Colom. Without exception, all of these national leaders are leftists. In view of his implementation of socialist constitutional reforms in his homeland, Correa is probably the most left wing of the lot. Only the two female heads of state, Kirchner and Bachelet, enjoyed a photo op with the grandfatherly revolutionary Fidel. “The women were given preference because Fidel can’t see everyone who comes to Havana,” Raul explained, as he was seeing off his Guatemalan colleague last week. Wow, some “honor.” We rather suspect that old Fidel appreciates the adoration of his female followers.

In the next few months Honduras’ center-left President Manuel Zelaya and Mexico’s faux rightist President Felipe Calderon are scheduled to visit Cuba. Honduras was absorbed into the Havana-Caracas Axis last year when Zelaya capitulated to pressure from Chavez and Nicaragua’s past and present Marxist dictator Daniel Ortega to join Honduras to the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas. For his part, Raul Castro showed up in Caracas last December en route to a Latin American integration mega-summit organized by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who co-founded with Fidel the narco-communist-terrorist Sao Paulo Forum in 1990.

In a related story, last week the Mexican Senate, which is dominated by the center-left Institutional Revolutionary Party and somewhat-more-leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, unanimously supported a resolution calling upon socialist US President Barack Hussein Obama to lift the nearly 50-year-old economic, financial, and commercial blockade of Cuba. The senators complained that “the blockade is an essential part of a policy marked by hostility and aggression that have failed to fulfill its goal of destroying the Revolution.” Oh, dear. How awful, the communist hellhole in Cuba, which systematically persecutes independent journalists and illegal house churches, will be destroyed by the heartless policies of the “Evil Empire” in Washington DC.

Meanwhile, last week in Moscow Vadim Sayuchev, president of the Russia-Cuba Friendship Association, called for the release of the Cuban Five, the General Intelligence Directorate agents convicted and imprisoned by US court on charges of espionage in 1998. Cuba’s ambassador to Russia Juan Valdes thanked Sayuchev for Russia’s “permanent solidarity” with Cuba. While leftists worldwide like to portray the Cuban Five as “political prisoners,” the US government presents a different story:

The open, public seven-month-long trial of the five conclusively established that three of them (Gerardo Hernandez and two men who now claim their true identities are Ramon Labaniño and Fernando Gonzalez) were “illegal officers” of Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence. The three were career intelligence officers who came to the United States under false identities, using fraudulent documentation and “legends” – elaborate, false life stories ascribed to those identities. They lived in the United States, secretly implementing Directorate of Intelligence operations while pretending to be ordinary U.S. citizens. The three “illegal officers” supervised the covert work of other U.S.-based agents of the Directorate of Intelligence – including the other two members of the “Cuban Five,” Antonio Guerrero and René Gonzalez, who are U.S. citizens.

>End Times File: W. Europe faces bankruptcy, international investors flee E. Europe, Japan plows into recession, Kremlin leverages capitalist crisis

>– Soviets Extend Control over Portland-Based Oregon Steel through Proposed Merger of Major Russian Corporations

The economies of the capitalist countries are unquestionably in the midst of convulsions. No government, even those of the communist and “post”-communist states, is immune from the ripple effects surrounding this crisis of faith in money. World financial and commodity markets continue to tumble. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has long since fallen below the psychologically important benchmark of 8,000 points. In spite of threats last year from Russia and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to artificially jack up the price of oil, crude futures are sagging precipitously below US$40 per barrel. Two major OPEC players, Iran and Venezuela, are close allies of Moscow.

Pictured above: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during a visit to an oil refinery in the town of Kirishi, near St. Petersburg on February 12.

Ireland has joined a growing list of Western European states, like the United Kingdom, Greece, and Iceland, which are confronting the specter of defaulting on debt. In Asia, Japan, according to that country’s economic minister Kaoru Yosano, faces “the worst economic crisis in the postwar era.” Martin Schulz, an economist at the Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo, explains that Japan’s economic recovery after the “lost decade” of the 1990s has stumbled to a halt. “The recovery was unsustainable,” Schulz laments, “It was built on a major global bubble, and now basically the economy is paying the price.”

Most ominously, for those observers of world politics who fear an open resurgence of communism in Eastern Europe, international lenders are fleeing the old Soviet Bloc. British journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who exposed corruption in the Clinton Administration during the 1990s, describes the panic in Central Europe and the Balkans. Citing Erik Berglof, chief economist for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Evans-Pritchard states that Eastern European banks may need 400 billion euros to cover loans and sustain the credit system there. Under the title “Failure to Save East Europe Will Lead to Worldwide Meltdown,” he writes:

Europe’s governments are making matters worse. Some are pressuring their banks to pull back, undercutting subsidiaries in East Europe. Athens has ordered Greek banks to pull out of the Balkans.

The sums needed are beyond the limits of the IMF, which has already bailed out Hungary, Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Iceland, and Pakistan – and Turkey next – and is fast exhausting its own $200bn (€155bn) reserve. We are nearing the point where the IMF may have to print money for the world, using arcane powers to issue Special Drawing Rights.

Its $16bn rescue of Ukraine has unravelled. The country – facing a 12pc contraction in GDP after the collapse of steel prices – is hurtling towards default, leaving Unicredit, Raffeisen and ING in the lurch. Pakistan wants another $7.6bn. Latvia’s central bank governor has declared his economy “clinically dead” after it shrank 10.5pc in the fourth quarter. Protesters have smashed the treasury and stormed parliament.

“This is much worse than the East Asia crisis in the 1990s,” said Lars Christensen, at Danske Bank.

“There are accidents waiting to happen across the region, but the EU institutions don’t have any framework for dealing with this. The day they decide not to save one of these one countries will be the trigger for a massive crisis with contagion spreading into the EU.”

Thus we see that the governments in Eastern Europe, most of which are staffed by apparatchiks from the old communist regimes who failed to affect a successful transition from socialism to capitalism, will in the end be responsible for bringing down the whole system. “We are nearing the point where the IMF may have to print money for the world, using arcane powers to issue Special Drawing Rights,” Evans-Pritchard writes above. Intriguingly, for students of Bible prophecy, such comments foreshadow the rise of Revelation’s mark of the Beast, where commerce is prohibited apart from absolute submission to a world dictator.

In Russia itself, reports the Financial Times, industrial production plunged a whopping 20 per cent in January, the largest month-on-month drop in seven years. “The horrendous industrial production data in January have left no doubt that the economy has come to a screeching halt,” opined Ivan Tchakarov, chief Russia economist for the investment bank Nomura. “This indicates,” he explains, “that the combined effect of the credit squeeze in the banking sector and falling global and domestic demand has filtered through to the real economy.” In December Russia’s economy dumped 500,000 jobs, bringing the total unemployment level to 7.7 per cent. Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has emerged as Russia’s wealthiest oligarch after the economic turmoil vaporized two-thirds of the fortunes of Russia’s top 10 tycoons. Bleak statistics like this will provide the Communist Party of the Russian Federation with ample ammunition to agitate for the reconstruction of a full-blown command economy and the placement of open communists in the Kremlin.

In an attempt to consolidate power at the center, this past Monday Russian “President” Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees to replace four regional governors. Medvedev removed the governors of Pskov, Oryol, and Voronezh, as well as the administrative head of the Nenets Autonomous Area. In his televised interview the day before, Medvedev complained that these regional governors were ‘inept and inefficient,” and not “responsible enough in dealing with unemployment” amid Russia’s financial crisis, the reality of which the Putinist regime has finally acknowledged. In light of the Kremlin’s sagging oil revenues and stubborn refusal to cut defense spending, more hardship for Russia’s citizen-slaves can be expected.

Notwithstanding problems at home, the Kremlin is using the global financial crisis and the personal misfortunes of Russia’s oligarchs, many of whom are graduates of the Soviet Komsomol, to re-nationalize (re-communize) Russian industries and leverage control over overseas enterprises like Oregon Steel. Roman Abramovich, the owner of Britain’s Chelsea soccer team, is one of two controlling shareholders in Evraz Group, which bought Portland-based Oregon Steel Mills for US$2.35 billion in 2007. However, Evraz Group, Russia’s largest steelmaker, is struggling with depressed world steel prices and a cumbersome foreign debt resulting from almost US$8 billion in foreign acquisitions. Russia’s state bailout agency, which is chaired by KGB-communist dictator Vladimir Putin, has loaned Evraz US$1.8 billion to refinance its foreign debts. Prime Minister Putin, according to The Oregonian, is now backing a proposed merger of Abramovich’s Evraz Group; Norilsk Nickel, which is owned by two Putin lackeys, Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska; mining-and-metals firm Metalloinvest; steel-and-coal producer Mechel; potash producer Uralkali; and titanium producer VSMPO-Avisma, one of whose customers is Boeing’s Gresham plant. The Kremlin–through its arms agency, Russian Technologies–would receive a 25 percent stake and one share of stock in the new monopoly in exchange for liquidating debts.

To make a long story short, the Kremlin-backed merger would indirectly prop up Oregon Steel. The resulting corporate “behemoth,” reports Oregonian journalist Richard Read, “would be large enough to compete with Australian-British giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, a long-held dream of Russian tycoons.” Putin’s recent stern warning at the World Economic Forum about the uncompetitive nature of Soviet-style socialism apparently has limits.

On February 12 Putin and Chinese Premier Wen Jibao conversed by telephone on “issues of common concern.” According to Xinhua, Wen told Putin that both countries should “enhance coordination and cooperation for the sake of the entire world” and to reverse the effects of the global economic recession. In December Chinese President Hu Jintao called for stronger military cooperation with Russia in talks with visiting Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, son in law of Gazprom Chairman Viktor Zubkov. “As the strategic partnership between China and Russia develops, the relationship between the two militaries has also continued to become more consolidated and stronger,” Xinhua quoted Hu as saying at the time. Hu added: “I hope… to advance the China-Russian strategic partnership and the relationship between the two militaries from a new historical starting point to better and faster development toward the future.” The two communist superpowers plan to hold their third combined war game some time this year. The first two Sino-Soviet military exercises took place in 2005 and 2007, under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

False rivals during the Cold War, Moscow and Beijing inked a friendship treaty in 1999, 15 years after KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn predicted the rise of a body like the SCO in order to advance the communist strategy for world domination. Golitsyn referred to the Moscow-Beijing Axis as “one clenched fist,” a formidable alliance that would challenge the West after the bogus demise of Soviet communism eliminated all need for NATO.

Energy cooperation is another important element in the Trans-Asian Axis. Yesterday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who is presently visiting Beijing, signed a raft of fuel and energy cooperation documents with Chinese Premier Wen. One document establishes an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of a branch of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline that will link the two countries. According to Sechin, under the agreement, Russia will supply 15 million metric tons (110 million barrels) of crude annually for 20 years to China “on credit terms that suit both parties.” ESPO is currently under construction and expected to pump its first oil in December 2009.

>EU File: Iranian arms ship allegedly bound for Hamas manned by Russians, Cyprus’ communist regime unloads 90 containers of "military material"

> – Shanghai Cooperation Organization to Probably Admit Iran as Full Member in June, Placing Tehran under Moscow’s Nuclear Umbrella

– Russia Signs Strategic Partnership with Errant NATO Member Turkey as Ankara’s Islamist President Wraps up Historic Trip to Moscow

At Once Upon a Time in the West we have been tracking conflicting news reports pertaining to the Cypriot-flagged, Russian-built freighter Monchegorsk, first intercepted by the US Navy in the Red Sea, later impounded by the Egyptians at Port Said, currently docked at the Cypriot port of Limassol since January 29, and, according to the Israelis, containing arms bound for Hamas from the Islamic regime in Tehran. Some news outlets have described the freighter as Iranian-owned or Russian-owned. The type of arms in shipment was also unclear. Some reports mentioned artillery. Still other new sources have suggested that the arms were bound for Syria, not the Gaza Strip. As we dig deeper into published reports, it appears that the MSM may be spinning the story in ways far removed from the reality of the situation.

According to the Chinese state media, citing Nicosia’s communist government, “Cyprus’ Defense Minister Costas Papacostas later told local media there were no weapons on the ship of Monchegorsk, but raw materials which can be made into ammunition were found in over 90 containers.” The Cypriot defense minister is a cadre of the Marxist-Leninist Progressive Party of Working People, the only openly ruling communist party in the European Union. Xinhua explains that a number of the ship’s 90 cargo containers, escorted by Cypriot police, were transported last Friday to warehouses of the Cyprus National Guard, the Republic of Cyprus’ armed forces. The AFP news agency cited official Cypriot sources to the effect that the Monchegorsk’s cargo is not nuclear, a possibility that greatly worried the Israelis: “According to public radio, the arms were being ferried by 15 trucks under tight police escort to be stored at an army base further along the southern coast of Cyprus. The military-style operation was decided upon after the government was a satisfied that the ship was only carrying ‘conventional material.’”

For many weeks now, the nationality of the freighter’s crew was a mystery. However, in what amounts to a bona fide “Spew Alert,” Xinhua in the story above described the crew as Russian: “The suspect ship has a Russian crew and was first believed to be owned by Russia. However, Russian government has denied any involvement.” On February 13 the Kremlin-linked mining and metals giant Norilsk Nickel also denied that the mystery ship with the Russian crew docked in Cyprus is related to the company’s freighter that regularly plies the waters of the Arctic Ocean:

According to the information published recently by a number of Russian and foreign mass media, the “Monchegorsk” container ship with the Russian crew was detained off the Cyprus coast. This Cyprus flag ship allegedly cruised between Iran and Syria with a doubtful cargo. Without due verification of facts, some mass media boldly asserted that it was an Arctic-type diesel-electric vessel of the same name belonging to MMC Norilsk Nickel (“Norilsk Nickel” or “the Company”).

In view of the above, MMC Norilsk Nickel hereby announces that the container ship mentioned by mass media was built in 1983 and bears no relation to the Company.

Our Monchegorsk diesel-electric ship, number two in the Company’s own Arctic fleet, was commissioned on July 31, 2008 and never left the Northern Sea Route since then, running between Dudinka and Murmansk/Arkhangelsk ports with Norilsk Nickel’s cargoes.
Our diesel-electric Monchegorsk flies the flag of the Russian Federation.

By way of conclusion, observers of international events who prefer to think strategically may wish to consider the possibility that the 90 containers of “military material” transported by the Russian-manned mystery ship Monchegorsk from Iran to Cyprus via the Suez Canal was never destined for Gaza or Syria after all. Possibly in support of that theory, according to AFP Iran denied on February 11 that the ship was carrying weapons to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, as reported by the Israeli media. “The ship was not taking arms and weapons to Gaza,” foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghasghavi told a news conference. The president of Cyprus, Dmitrios Christofias, it should be noted, is a slavishly pro-Moscow communist who has since his electoral victory one year ago made a pilgrimage to Russia with purchase orders for Kremlin armament. There Christofias not only met with Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, but also Communist Party of the Russian Federation Chairman Gennady Zyuganov. Shortly after assuming the presidency, Christofias also received Zyuganov in Nicosia as Medvedev’s personal envoy.

In view of Russia’s resurgent naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea, one might consider the possibility that the 90 containers of “military material” now parked in Cypriot army warehouses were destined for use by Cyprus itself or maybe for regional use by the Russian Navy.

Meanwhile, Russia, Moscow’s principle Middle East allies Iran and Syria, Moscow’s main Africa partner Libya, and Moscow’s new-found strategic partner and errant NATO member Turkey, are closing ranks against Israel in a military alliance that bespeaks of Ezekiel’s prophecy of the early-tribulation Magog invasion of the Holy Land. In spite of the worsening global financial crisis, which prompted Russia’s industrial output to plummet 20 percent in January 2009 alone, the Kremlin has no intention of allocating fewer rubles toward defense spending. Novosti relates that the Kremlin will disburse a total of 1.3 trillion rubles (US$37 billion) to Russian defense contractors in 2009, while the state arms production budget for 2009-11 has been approved at four trillion rubles (US$115 billion). Moreover, Russia’s KGB-communist dictator, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, declared last week that Moscow intends to prop up strategic sectors of the economy. Among other recipients of government largesse:

Russia’s major aircraft maker, MiG Corp., would receive 11 billion rubles ($308 million) in the first quarter of the year as part of a 17.3 billion-ruble ($485 million) state defense contract. He also said the company had losses of some 11 billion rubles in 2008, and announced that he had signed a resolution allocating a further 15 billion rubles ($417 million) in federal budget funds to the corporation. Last year, MiG, along with other “strategic” companies, was promised funding through the government’s anti-crisis package, specifically firm production orders from the Russian Air Force.

With respect to Russia’s growing alliance with Iran, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will announce this June its intention to formally admit the Islamo-Nazi regime in Tehran into Moscow-Beijing Axis. “Consideration of Tehran’s bid is moving ahead in accordance with standard procedures. I think that a decision on the issue could be announced at a SCO summit in Yekaterinburg [Russia] in June,” Novosti today quoted a source in the SCO. The SCO recently lifted a moratorium on its membership, according to a Russian diplomatic source, but has not yet established any stipulations for accepting new members. Yesterday Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced that his government “expected to receive the backing of Russia in its drive to become a SCO member.”

In a related story, Kommersant, citing an unidentified Russian defense official, contends that during his upcoming trip to Moscow Iran’s Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar will discuss with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov the transfer of S-300 air defense systems to Iran, a prospect that troubles both Israel and the USA. In an official statement, the Islamic Republic’s Defense Ministry declared: “During his trip to Russia, the Iranian defense minister will hold talks with Russian officials and visit a number of defense industry companies. The main purpose of the visit is the expansion of bilateral [military-technical] ties and the implementation of existing agreements in the military-technical sector.” Kommersant states that Moscow had already signed an S-300 contract with Tehran, but is not in a hurry to implement the agreement due to a “seeming thaw” in Russia’s relationship with the new Obama Administration.

The burgeoning relationship between Russia and Turkey is particularly intriguing in light of the role these two countries will play in Ezekiel’s end-times invasion of Israel. Enemies during the Cold War, this past Friday the presidents of the two countries announced the formation of a strategic partnership. “This is a strategic document laying out the achievements of bilateral cooperation and setting tasks for enhancing it further,” a Kremlin source revealed to Novosti. In the declaration, Medvedev and Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul urged the international community to settle “frozen conflicts” that could destabilize the situation in the South Caucasus and vowed defense cooperation, even though Turkey is a long-time NATO member.

“Reaching agreements on burning issues in defense cooperation between the two countries will open up more opportunities for broader cooperation in the sphere,” the two presidents said in the declaration. Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko informed reporters, too, that Russia will sign an energy contract worth more than US$60 billion with Turkey on the construction of a nuclear power plant and power supplies to the country for the next 15 years. At the conclusion of the talks, President Gul invited Medvedev to visit Turkey. “I believe my current visit will open up a new page in the history of Russian-Turkish ties,” Gul gushed.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have become frigid since Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan condemned the Jewish state’s December-January military offensive in the Gaza Strip. On February 6, reported the Jerusalem Post, Turkish prosecutors announced that they were investigating whether Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. The chief prosecutor’s office in Ankara admitted the probe was opened after Mazlum-Der, an Islamist “human rights” organization in Turkey, filed a formal complaint against Israeli leaders. Mazlum-Der alleges that genocide, torture, and crimes against humanity were committed by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Israeli army and military intelligence chiefs. From the distorted perspective of Islam, whether held by the Turkish government or NGOs, the fact that Israel’s government was simply protecting its citizens from Hamas’ incessant rocket attacks has no bearing on the situation. At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Erdogan scolded Peres over the Gaza war during a panel discussion and stormed off the stage. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party is under scrutiny by Turkey’s top court for violating the country’s constitutional separation of mosque and state.

The sparring continues between Ankara and Jerusalem. On February 14 Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned Israel’s ambassador Gabby Levy to complain about comments that Israeli Major General Avi Mizrahi made in response to Erdogan’s undiplomatic behavior at Davos. According to Turkish media Mizrahi berated Turkey’s history by accusing the Turks of massacring the Armenians in 1915, oppressing the Kurds, and occupying Cyprus. Even though these statements are totally true, the Turks evidently got their noses out of joint. Turkey’s Radikal newspaper reported on Saturday that Mizrahi also responded to Erdogan’s demand that Israel should be barred from the United Nations by insisting that Turkey should be barred as well. In an effort to defuse the tensions between Turkey and Israel, which until recently were relatively amicable, IDF spokesman Brigadier General Avi Benayahu soothed: “While referring to the criticism of Israel by Turkey, Gen. Mizrahi made statements that could be interpreted as criticism of Turkey’s past. The IDF spokesperson wishes to clarify that this is not the official position of the IDF.”

This may be so, but the stage is now set for Israel’s enemies to move as a political-military grouping against the “troublesome Zionist entity.” The “hook in Gog’s jaws,” which pulls the Russian-Arab army to its supernatural destruction on the mountains of Israel, could very well be Israel’s support for the “pro”-Western regime in Tbilisi. Another “hook” that may provoke the Jewish state’s enemies is the prospect of an energy-sufficient Israel. On February 10 US-based Noble Energy stated that the estimated gross mean resource potential of the newly discovered Tamar-1 drilling site, 90 kilometres west of the port of Haifa, is five trillion cubic feet. Noble owns 36 percent of the site while Israel’s Isramco Negev owns 28.75 percent. According to Noble, performance modelling indicates the Tamar well can achieve a production rate of over 150 million cubic feet per day, effectively ending Israel’s dependence for gas on Egypt and Azerbaijan, via the Turkey-routed South Caucasus (Tbilisi-Baku-Erzurum) Pipeline.

>Latin America File: Venezuelans hand Chavez unlimited presidential term; Chile’s Socialist president visits Cuba, attends Allende memorial

>– Chilean President’s Official Trip to Havana Marred by Past Romantic Relationship with Spokesman for Cuban-Backed Guerrilla Army

– Bolivian President Evo Morales Wraps Up Moscow Meetings with Medvedev, Russia to Sell Mi-17 Multi-Role Helicopters to South American Country

– Alvaro Colom, Guatemala’s First Center-Left President in 50 Years, Makes First State Visit to Cuba

– Afro-Communists Maintain Links with Cuba: Namibian President, Mozambican Legislators Arrive in Havana, Express Solidarity with Caribbean Cold War Ally

Freedom was dealt another blow in Venezuela this past Sunday when 54 percent of Venezuelan voters endorsed unlimited presidential terms in a referendum that will permit communist dictator Hugo Chavez to further consolidate his hold on the nation and export red revolution throughout the region. While pontificating to thousands of brainwashed supporters from a balcony at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Chavez declared that the Venezuelans who supported the constitutional reform also voted in favor of socialism:

Those who voted ‘yes’ today voted for socialism, for revolution. In 2012 there will be presidential elections, and unless God decides otherwise, unless the people decide otherwise, this soldier is already a candidate. Today, we opened wide the gates of the future. Venezuela will not return to its past of indignity.

The reform will allow Chavez (pictured above), who has held the presidency since 1999, to seek re-election for a third term in a scheduled 2012 vote. This past weekend’s vote is somewhat of a vindication of Chavez’s plans to communize Venezuela. In December 2007 voters rejected a similar referendum proposal on term limits, which was included in a broad package of constitutional reforms. “Effectively this will become a dictatorship,” opposition leader Omar Barboza lamented to the Associated Press, adding: “It’s control of all the powers, lack of separation of powers, unscrupulous use of state resources, persecution of adversaries.”

Political developments in Venezuela are part of a wider revitalization of the Communist Bloc in the Western Hemisphere. At Once Upon a Time in the West we are closely monitoring the intense power networking among Latin America’s Red Axis leaders, as well as between those regimes and the neo-Soviet leadership in Moscow. Since December three important leftist leaders from Latin America have dutifully presented themselves to their masters in Moscow, namely, Nicaraguan’s past and present Marxist dictator Daniel Ortega, Cuban tyrant Raul Castro, and Bolivian tyrant-in-training Evo Morales.

Bolivia’s Trotskyist president is currently in the Russian capital securing promises of economic and military cooperation from the Soviets. Today Russian “President” Dmitry Medvedev, a Soviet Komsomol graduate, gushed: “Our talks with Morales will turn over a new leaf in the two countries’ cooperation.” Russia and Bolivia plan to expand cooperation in the fields of energy, metal mining industry, agriculture, and military technologies. For his part, the Bolivian president, who is closely allied with Venezuela’s communist dictator Hugo Chavez, thanked the Russian leader for a “warm welcome” and emphasized that Bolivia supported Rusisa’s twenty-first-century “comeback” to Latin America. Earlier this month Kremlin-run Gazprom and Bolivia’s state oil and gas monopoly drafted a master plan for exploiting the South American natural gas reserves until the year 2030.

On the subject of military-technical cooperation, Medvedev revealed that Russia intends to sell a large number of Mi-17 multi-role helicopters to Bolivia in the near term: “We are hoping to start the implementation of a first large contract on the delivery of helicopters to Bolivia in the near future. We are ready to continue talks in the future.” The purpose of the military transfers from Moscow to La Paz is reportedly to combat terrorism and drug trafficking in the region. However, this assertion is disingenuous since most terrorism and drug trafficking in Latin America is directed by Moscow, Havana, and Caracas, with some support from La Paz and Managua.“We are working on this issue, and if the deal is approved it will cover not only helicopters, but all military equipment supplied to Bolivia in the future,” explained Mikhail Dmitriyev, chief of the Russian Federation Service for Military-Technical Cooperation.

Latin America’s socialist and social democratic leaders are also faithfully trooping to the region’s most important headquarters for communist subversion, Havana, to confer with President Castro. Last week Chile’s East German-educated Socialist president Michelle Bachelet, the president pro tempore of the new Union of South American Nations, held meetings with both Raul and his ailing elder brother Fidel (pictured above). On February 14, shortly before leaving Cuba, she praised bilateral relations between her country and the Castro Bros.’ island gulag paradise. “The visit has been a success,” Bachelet sang, “We have signed a large number of important agreements and established a very high-level of political dialogue; now we have to work towards implementation…so that they translate into concrete benefits for the Cuban and Chilean people.” For his part, Raul spoke about the importance of the recent incorporation of Cuba to the Group of Rio, and eulogized the significance of the first Latin American and Caribbean Summit held in Brazil at the end of 2008.

On February 12 Bachelet paid tribute to Salvador Allende at a Havana monument dedicated to Chile’s first Soviet/Cuban-backed Marxist president. The Chilean president was accompanied by Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Felipe Perez Roque and the Chilean ambassador in Cuba Gabriel Gaspar, along with other ministers, senators, deputies, and artists. Allende founded the Socialist Party of Chile in 1933, was elected president in 1970 and then deposed in a military coup d’etat on September 11, 1973. During Bachelet’s visits to Cuba, the Chile president denounced the USA’s nearly five-decade economic embargo against the island state: “I’m talking about a very concrete issue, the United State’s blockade against Cuba, which seriously affects the living conditions of the Cuban people, even more so given the current crisis.”

Ricardo Cabrisas, Vice President of Cuba’s Council of Ministers admitted that trade between Cuba and Chile has increased in recent years, and that Chile is now Cuba’s seventh largest regional trade partner, with trade reaching US$84 million in 2007. However, Cabrisas commented that Cuban exports to Chile are still low and that there is room to expand trade, especially in the biotechnological sector.

Yesterday Chile’s Santiago Times editorialized about Bachelet’s controversial trip to Havana, noting Cuba’s alleged involvement in the 1991 assassination of rightist Chilean politician Jaime Guzman:

The most publicized new event this past week has been President Michelle Bachelet’s state visit to Cuba – the first by a Chilean head of state since 1972 when Salvador Allende visited the island nation. The visit necessarily created political problems in Chile, where rightist politicians allege Cuban involvement in the 1991 assassination of UDI founder Jaime Guzman and Christian Democratic Party members of Bachelet’s own Concertacion coalition voiced concern about human rights problems in Fidel Castro’s “revolutionary” oligarchy.”

The communist insurgents of the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) carried out the Guzman assassination. Between 1985 and 1987 President Bachelet had a romantic relationship with Alex Vojkovic Trier, spokesman for the FPMR. The Federation of American Scientists’ Intelligence Resource Program describes Cuba’s covert support for Chile’s communist guerrillas: “In the second half of the 1980s, the FPMR became the dominant terrorist group, emerging as a sophisticated, well-trained, and well-supported terrorist organization. Just how strong it was became evident in August 1986 when the security forces captured a huge FPMR arms cache that was traced to Cuba.”

In addition to Chilean President Bachelet, Guatemala’s first center-left head of state since the 1950s, Alvaro Colom, made his pilgrimage to Havana yesterday at the invitation of President Castro (pictured here at the Palace of the Revolution on February 16). “President Colom´s visit to Cuba will contribute to strengthen bilateral historic, friendly and cooperation relations between both countries . . .” the Cuban News Agency relates, adding: “The distinguished visitor will hold official talks with President Raul Castro and will tour sites of economic, social and historic interest.” During the multi-decade civil war that wracked Guatemala, the Central American country’s communist guerrillas received ideological and weapons support from the revolutionary regime in Cuba. Although the insurgents failed to take over Guatemala, their be-suited successors have succeeded admirably in aligning the country with the Western Hemisphere’s Communist Bloc.

Meanwhile, communist regimes in Africa continue to maintain close relations with their counterpart in Cuba. On February 15 Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba wrapped up a three-day visit with Cuban counterpart Raul Castro by describing the encounter between the Namibian and Cuba delegations as “successful.” Pohamba gushed: “Relations between our countries are excellent and this was shown once again in the meeting with the president of the Cuban Council of State and Ministers.” He added that the agreements signed in the presence of the Cuban president will promote cooperation in the sectors of education and public health. The African and Caribbean states established diplomatic relations on March 21, 1990. Currently, 154 Cuban “experts” offer services in Namibia, while 1,281 Namibian students have graduated from Cuban educational institutions. The Namibian president Pohamba is also head of the ruling South West African People’s Organization, a former guerrilla army that sought to end South Africa’s de facto control over South-West Africa during the Cold War.

In a related story published by Prensa Latina, Cuban parliamentary leader Ricardo Alarcon received a delegation of counterparts from the “People’s Republic of Mozambique” this past Sunday. Intriguingly, the Cuban-run media outlet refers to Mozambique as a “People’s Republic,” although the ruling Liberation Front of Mozambique supposedly dropped this title for the country in 1990. The Mozambican delegation was led by National Assembly chairman Eduardo Mulebwe. “Their visit highlights traditional relations of friendship and cooperation among the peoples of Cuba and Mozambique,” Prensa Latina quoted Juventud Rebelde newspaper as saying. For observers of international events who rightly subscribe to the Golitsynian thesis that communism never died 20 years ago, the Cuban media’s candor is not too surprising.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Air raid sirens, emergency broadcasts of “imminent airstrike” awaken residents of Russian city Borovichi

>Over 6,000 servicemen are on 24/7 combat duty, and at least 96% of all missile systems are ready for deployment within several dozen seconds. It is the highest readiness level among the components of the Russian nuclear triad.
— Colonel General Nikolai Solovtsov, Commander of Russian Strategic Missile Forces, quoted by Novosti, February 11, 2009

– Armenia Follows Belarus in Integrating Air Defense Network with Russia

– Crew of Ukrainian Freighter Faina Arrives in Kiev from Somalia, Ordered to not Discuss Hijacking and Hostage Taking

– Turkey’s Islamist President Arrives in Moscow to Cement Links with Russia in Vindication of Bible Prophecy

– Russian Space Agency Official: Debris from Collision of US Comsat and Russian Military Satellite Endangers Other Spacecraft

On several occasions we have at Once Upon a Time in the West focused on Russia’s civil defense activities as one element in the Kremlin’s stealthy and incremental plans for a preemptive military strike against the West. As in the days of the Cold War, a full civilian mobilization could be indicative of an imminent strategic nuclear attack against NATO countries and North America. The USA closed its bomb shelters after the “demise” of the Soviet Union and since 911, when Islamic terrorism killed thousands on US soil, only one municipality—Huntsville, Alabama—wisely moved to reactivate its fallout shelters in 2007.

Under the pretext of preparing its population to cope with a “Western military invasion,” this past September St. Petersburg’s Committee on Law, Order and Security activated 300 air raid sirens, silent since the Cold War, and interrupted radio and television broadcasts to announce that an emergency drill was under way. “Instructions on how to behave in the event of a military attack or emergency were then broadcast for 14 minutes,” reported Britain’s Telegraph, adding: “Critics of the Kremlin dismissed the exercise as a stunt, saying it was intended to give the impression that a Western invasion could easily happen and that it was therefore necessary to rally around the government at a time of national crisis.” This was no stunt but, rather, part of the Kremlin’s massive, multi-theater, multi-branch Stability-2008 war game, held in conjunction with Belarus’ armed forces and emergency officials.

Under the pretense of a “false alarm,” Russian authorities, this time in Borovichi, a city of 70,000 people between Moscow and St. Petersburg, awakened residents last night at 11:30 with air raid sirens and emergency announcements of an imminent airstike. “The long signal of the siren and the subsequent announcements not only alerted residents in the center of the city, but in the outskirts as well,” a regional police spokesman informed state-run Novosti today. “Many residents took the signal seriously and police received a large number of calls,” Novosti stated, quoting the same source, “asking how serious the threat was and what people should do in the event of an air raid.” Russia’s air raid sirens are operated by the Emergency Situations Ministry, the head of which is “ex”-communist Sergei Shoigu, son-in-law of Oleg Shenin, the hard-core Stalinist who masterminded the potemkin August 1991 coup against Mikhail Gorbachev. Borovichi police are considering the possibility that a “prankster” activated one emergency signal located on a dormitory roof or that a “malfunction” caused the signal to self-activate. Yeah, right.

On February 3 the “ex”-communist leaders of Russia and Belarus formally created a unified air defense network under the aegis of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Today Novosti announced that Russia and Armenia will also establish an integrated air defense system. “The so-called Russian-Belarusian integrated air defense network is just a part of the cooperation within the Collective Security Treaty Organization,” explained CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, a “former” Chekist, at a Moscow news conference, adding: “We are expecting Russia and Armenia to set up a similar joint network.” According to Bordyuzha, the CSTO–which consists of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan–will set up three regional air defense networks, one between Russia and Belarus, a second between Russia and Armenia, and a third between Russia and the Central Asian republics.

“After that we will advance to a higher level of cooperation, coordinating the activity of all regional networks and introducing common rules of engagement and information exchange,” Bordyuzha predicted. The combined air defense network for the Union State of Russia and Belarus, as previously reported, will include five air force units, 10 anti-aircraft units, five technical service and support units, and one electronic warfare unit. The Union State air defenses will be placed under the command of a Russian or Belarusian air force or air defense senior commander. This past Wednesday Kazakhstan announced that Russia will deliver the latest version of the S-300 air defense missile system to the Central Asian state in the near future.

In another story related to Russia’s remilitarization under KGB-communist dictator Vladimir Putin, the Russian Navy has joined a United Nations-backed international armada off the coast of Somalia. The Peter the Great nuclear-powered missile cruiser, which lately conducted joint drills with India and Venezuela, detained three pirate vessels on Friday.

The incident began yesterday near Yemen’s Sokotra Island, where Russia reportedly plans to revitalized a Soviet-era naval base. A helicopter based on the missile cruiser spotted two speedboats moving toward a fishing boat under the Iranian flag. Upon spotting the Russian helicopter, the speedboat crews began hurling arms overboard. The helicopter crew continued surveillance until the Peter the Great arrived at the scene. Assault rifles, grenade launchers, drugs, and cash were discovered on board the speedboats and the Iranian fishing boat. “The detainees were in a state of narcotic intoxication,” explained Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo, a Russian naval spokesman.

At the same time, the crew of the Faina, a Ukrainian cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates on September 25 and released on February 5, arrived today in Kiev. The crew of 17 Ukrainians, two Russians, and one Latvian were met at the airport by family members and Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko. The Russian sailors will leave for St. Petersburg later in the day. The pirates received a US $3.2 million ransom, a figure somewhat less than the US$35 million originally demanded. The Faina was carrying 33 Soviet-made T-72 tanks and other heavy weaponry, to be delivered to Kenya or possibly the regional government of South Sudan, depending on which news source is consulted. The body of the Faina’s Russian captain, Vladimir Kolobov, who died of a heart attack soon after the hijackers seized the ship, is still in Nairobi. The body will be shipped to St. Petersburg after an autopsy is performed.

Significantly, reports Novosti, upon their arrival all of the sailors were given “strict orders not to say anything to anyone.” One crewmember dismissed reporters’ questions about how the pirates treated him by saying, “I don’t want to talk about it.” From the vantage of the long-range Soviet deception, it may be that the Faina hijacking was manufactured in or provoked by Moscow to provide a rationale for re-projecting Russia’s otherwise waning sea power into the strategically vital Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

Meanwhile, Russian space experts are changing their tune with respect to the danger posed or not posed by Tuesday’s unprecedented orbital collision of two US and Russian satellites. According to Vladimir Solovyov, who directs Russia’s involvement in the International Space Station, the debris produced by the Iridium-33 telecommunications satellite and the supposedly defunct Cosmos-2251 military satellite is a real threat to other satellites in a 500-mile-high orbit. “Eight hundred kilometers is a very popular orbit for remote Earth sensing and telecommunications satellites,” Solovyov opined, adding: “There are a lot of communications satellites there, many of them still in operation. There are 66 Iridium series satellites alone on that orbit. The cloud from the collision is a serious threat to them.”

Notwithstanding the scenario of space junk disabling or destroying operational satellites and launch vehicles, the Progress M-66 cargo spacecraft, carrying 2.4 tons of oxygen, food, clothes, and medical equipment, docked with the ISS today. The Progress M-66 blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Tuesday aboard a Soyuz-U carrier rocket. The current ISS crew consists of two US astronauts, commander Michael Fincke and engineer Sandra Magnus, and one Russian cosmonaut, engineer Yury Lonchakov. For the first time in many years, the launch of an ISS support rocket was moved to Pad No. 31. The refit of the alternate facility was necessary due to Russia’s record number of launches planned for this year from Baikonur’s main pad.

Modernizing military equipment, reforming the armed forces command structure, and resuming overseas aviation and naval missions, are only three components in the Kremlin’s plot to displace the USA as global “hegemon.” Building alliances with countries that were not previously part of the Soviet Bloc, such as Turkey, which is still a NATO member, is another core element in the Soviet strategy. The new Soviet-Turkish alliance, as we have previously blogged, is also significant from the vantage of Bible prophecy since Magog (Russia) and Togarmah (Turkey) are two countries that invade Israel during the seven-year tribulation at the end of this age. As it stands, the Moscow Leninists and Ankara’s Justice and Development regime are anti-Jewish/Zionist and pro-Arab/Muslim.

Today, reports state-run Russia Today, Turkey’s Islamist president Abdullah Gul arrived in the Russian capital, where he met counterpart Dmitry Medvedev. Energy cooperation and bilateral trade, which has tripled between Russia and Turkey in four years, is high on the two leaders’ agenda. Russia is in fact Turkey’s largest trading partner, while Turkish developers have played a major role in the recent real estate boom in Russia. Siberian natural gas delivered across the floor of the Black Sea accounts for two thirds of Turkey’s consumption. “There is a major cooperation potential in electric power generation, including the participation of Russian companies in the construction of nuclear power facilities in Turkey,” a Kremlin source was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying. “In August of 2008,” Russia Today continues, “Turkey was one of the few NATO countries that didn’t chastise Russia’s involvement in South Ossetia. This did not go unnoticed by the Kremlin.”

Twenty-five years ago KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn warned the West that the Soviet Union would attempt to undermine NATO solidarity by feigning its own demise, thereby removing NATO’s raison d’etre. The plan has been resoundingly successful. Putin’s disingenuous speech at the recent World Economic Forum provides some insight into the Soviets’ view of US military might maintained in the face of a global economic recession. Pleading for capitalism with a touch of social democracy, warning Americans against the evils of Soviet socialism, which he lauded only four years ago, and completely ignoring his own country’s remilitarization, Russia’s KGB-communist dictator piously enjoined:

The US should not exercise excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence. In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated. In the longer run, militarization won’t solve the problem but will rather quell it temporarily. What it will do is squeeze huge financial and other resources from the economy instead of finding better and wiser uses for them.

In other words, it’s OK for Russia, but not America, to build up its military. Be assured, the empty-headed “intellectuals” and ideologically challenged “experts” of the West will believe every word that emerges from the neo-Soviet leadership, including Putin’s latest poppy-cock.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Bear bombers approach Aleutians again; US, Russian satellites destroyed in unprecedented orbital collision

>Moscow Approves Transit of Non-Military NATO Cargoes over Russian Territory to Afghanistan

Two Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers carried out another routine patrol over the Arctic Ocean yesterday. The 12-hour mission included in-flight refueling and was accompanied by US Air Force F-15 Eagle fighter jets as the bombers approached the Aleutian Islands. A Kremlin spokesentity was quick to reiterate that “all Russian strategic patrols are performed in strict accordance with international rules on the use of airspace over neutral waters, without violating the borders of other states.” This assertion, though, is not true, as we have documented on countless occasions. The Kremlin’s strategic bombers regularly probe NATO-NORAD airspace. Indeed, on one occasion in August 2007 a Russian military aircraft reportedly flew more than 200 kilometres over Labrador before being repelled by Canadian warplanes.

In a story related to Kremlin military activities, on Tuesday an operational satellite owned by Iridium, a US telecommunications company, collided in orbit with an allegedly defunct Russian military satellite launched in 1993. Each satellite weighed more than 1,000 pounds. This unprecedented event in the history of space flight occurred 500 miles over Siberia and probably produced a flash that was more than likely visible from the ground. Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, insisted that the debris from the collision posed no threat to the International Space Station and its crew of three. “A collision occurred between an Iridium 33 satellite and a Russian Kosmos 2251 military satellite,” Major General Alexander Yakushin intoned on behalf of the Russian Space Forces. Iridium, however, described the collision as “extremely unusual” and a “low-probability event.” “This was the worst such incident that has ever occurred,” commented Nicholas Johnson at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Even though more than 6,000 satellites have been launched into orbit since 1957, orbital collisions are, dare we say, “once in a blue moon” events. Analysts expect the wreckage from the Iridium 33-Kosmos 2251 collision to burn up in the atmosphere. In this era of missile- and energy beam-equipped “killer” satellites, regular visitors to this blog are probably thinking the same thing yours truly is thinking: “Is it possible that the reportedly non-operational Russian military satellite not so accidentally bumped into or disabled in some way the US satellite?” Inquiring minds want to know.

Meanwhile, back on the Earth, Moscow has agreed to allow the transit of non-military NATO cargoes over Russian territory to Afghanistan, where Western Alliance forces have since 2001 been engaged in counter-insurgency operations against the Al Qaeda-linked Taliban. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force will first transport goods via Russia and then transit Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to Afghanistan. “The question has been settled, it only remains to agree on some technical issues,” a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry informed Interfax. The agreement was discussed during US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Moon’s visit to Moscow on February 10 and 11. “We are waiting for our American partners to provide us with details about the amount and character of the goods. When it happens we’ll give our approval,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov enthused.

Since US-led forces ousted the Taliban regime, Russia has cooperated with NATO by providing air corridors for planes carrying servicemen and military cargos. The Kremlin’s chummy support for NATO’s Afghan operation, it should be noted, is suspicious in light of the large financial incentives that Russia has awarded to Kyrgyzstan in return for terminating the US military’s lease on the Manas air base. It may be that the Moscow Leninists are buttering up the Obama White House in advance of possible talks to renegotiate the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires in December.

>Red Terror File: Azerbaijan’s air force commander gunned down, Rzayev Baku’s pointman for negotiating US access to Russia’s Gabala radar base

>In what is possibly another brazen act of red terror in a Not-So-Former Soviet republic where Moscow and Washington DC are vying for control, Lieutenant- General Rail Rzayev, Azerbaijan’s air force commander since 1992, was gunned down outside his home in Baku this morning. This high-profile assassination, speculates the AFP news agency below, may have been a contract hit linked with Rzayev’s role in “large-scale” military acquisitions. Rzayev was also Baku’s pointman in negotiations between Russia and the USA over the latter’s proposed use of the Gabala radar station in the northern part of the country.

Azerbaijan air force chief shot dead
February 11, 2009

BAKU (AFP) — The powerful chief of Azerbaijan’s air force was shot dead outside his home Wednesday, the highest ranking military official to be killed in the oil-rich republic wedged between Russia and Iran.

Lieutenant-General Rail Rzayev, 64, was gunned down outside his home in the capital Baku as he left for work in the early morning, interior ministry spokesman Sadiq Gozalov told AFP.

“The general was shot and received a heavy wound to the head. He was sent to the military hospital in Baku, where he died,” Gozalov said.

Gozalov said police were on the scene investigating and that military prosecutors would be handling the case. He said he had no information regarding a possible motive for the shooting.

Experts said the killing may have been a contract hit linked with Rzayev’s role in large-scale military acquisitions Azerbaijan has made in recent years as government coffers surged from oil revenues.

“This is the most serious murder in the history of Azerbaijan’s defence ministry,” Baku-based military analyst Uzeir Jafarov said.

“Rzayev was the focal point for air force and air defence military acquisitions and the largest part of (Azerbaijan’s) military budget is being alocated for acquisitions in these spheres.”

He said he was unaware of any personal problems that may have been behind the killing.

Jafarov also said that Rzayev had no ambitions outside his role as air force chief and he doubted the killing may have been linked to an internal struggle within Azerbaijan’s military.

Azerbaijan’s ANS television reported that Rzayev had been the head of Azerbaijan’s air force and air defence forces since 1992.

Azerbaijan is in the strategic Caucasus region, where Russia and the US are vying for influence. The energy-rich mainly Muslim republic is also a major energy exporter and transit hub for oil and gas from the Caspian Sea.

The country has more than quadrupled its military budget in the last five years thanks to soaring oil revenues.

Azerbaijan remains technically at war with neighbouring Armenia over the separatist region of Nagorny Karabakh, which ethnic Armenian separatists wrested from Baku’s control during a war in the early 1990s.

Rzayev was also Azerbaijan’s point man in negotiations between Russia and the United States over the use of the Gabala radar station in northern Azerbaijan.

Russia in 2007 offered to share the Gabala station, which it leases from Azerbaijan, in exchange for the US dropping plans to deploy a radar station in the Czech Republic and missile interceptors in Poland as part of its missile defence systems.

It is possible that through the Rzayev hit the Moscow Leninists are sending a message to Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, whose father Heydar was the Caspian republic’s long-time KGB-Communist Party boss. The message is simple: Azerbaijan will not be permitted to leave Russia’s orbit to join NATO.

Ilham is surrounded by “ex”-communists. Prime Minister Artur Rasizada is an “ex”-CPSU cadre, while Ramiz Mehtiev, head of Ilham’s presidential administration, was the Communist Party of Azerbaijan’s chief ideologist during the 1980s. “During his last three years [2000-2003],” reported the International Crisis Group in 2004, “the elder [Heydar] Aliyev appointed younger ministers, many of them associates of his son. . . . Many of these younger figures, who were formerly active in the Communist youth organisation (Komsomol), helped pave the way for Ilham’s ascent to power.” ‘Nuff said.

>Middle East File: Kadima grabs one-mandate lead over Likud as rightist parties obtain overall majority; IDF votes to clinch victory for Netanyahu

>Israel’s Right Wing Committed to Destroying Hamas (Before Islamic Terrorism Destroys Israel)

Today, in the Middle East’s only properly functioning democracy, Israelis marched to the polls to grant an overall victory to the country’s rightist parties, in particular Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, although Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s centrist Kadima party gained one Knesset mandate over former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. Granted, multiple parties compete in Lebanese and post-Saddam Iraqi elections, but Beirut politics are heavily twisted by Syrian machinations, while Iraq remains under US military occupation.

Both Livni and Netanyahu are claiming victory and the constitutional right to form the next government in Jerusalem. However, Israel’s diplomatic corp and the Israeli Defense Forces have yet to submit their ballots, which equal five mandates. As Arutz Sheva notes below, the IDF generally supports Israel’s nationalist and religious parties, thereby affording Likud a small edge over Kadima. In spite of Kadima’s unexpected electoral surge, tough-talking Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman has emerged as the next government’s kingmaker.

Pictured above: Netanyahu greets Likud supporters at the party’s election headquarters in Tel Aviv, where it is already February 11.

Soldiers’ Vote May Swing the Elections to a Tie
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
February 10, 2009

( Voters gave Kadima 28 mandates in the next Knesset, one more than Likud, with almost all of Tuesday’s ballots counted but not including votes of diplomats and soldiers, whose votes will be counted on Wednesday and Thursday. Their ballots are equal to five mandates.

Following is the current number of estimated MKs for each party following the counting of 99% of the available votes: Kadima 28, Likud 27, Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) 14, Labor 13, Shas 11, United Torah Judaism (UTJ) 5, Ichud Leumi (National Union) 4, Jewish Home 3, Meretz 3, and Arab parties 12.

The votes of the armed forces usually tilt to the nationalist and religious parties, and are likely to create at least a tie and may even put Likud in the lead. The votes of diplomats overseas and soldiers changed the results in the last election by taking one Knesset seat away from Kadima. The number of Arab MKs also will likely be reduced after the soldiers’ ballots are counted.

Kadima, headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, pulled ahead of the Likud by one MK, in a surprise finish. The biggest losers are the Meretz and Labor parties, while Arab parties are currently projected to place three more legislators in the Knesset than they currently have.

The Likud has the potential backing of 64 MKs, and the chances of Livni’s forming a national unity government appeared nil after Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman spelled out his conditions that it would not join a government that does not want to bring down the Hamas government in Gaza. The party also strongly favors pledging Israeli citizens to a loyalty oath, a move that Kadima rejects.

Livni has declared victory by virtue of apparently winning the most mandates, but Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman each said that the votes for the nationalist and religious parties clearly give them the right to control the next government.

Both Netanyahu and Lieberman have vowed to destroy Iran’s terrorist proxy regime in the Gaza Strip, a prospect that cannot in turn please Iran’s puppetmasters in Moscow. “At the end of the day there will be no alternative but to bring down the regime of Hamas, a terrorist organization pledged to our destruction,” Netanyahu told foreign reporters in Jerusalem last month. For his part, this evening, after the election results rolled in, Lieberman promised: “Our first goal is clear, to destroy Hamas, to take it down. Seven years in a row we wake up every morning, go to sleep every evening, with the news of a new Kassam attack. That must end.”

As the political horse trading commenced on February 11, Livni and Lieberman met to discuss the formation of a coalition government, while Netanyahu met with Eli Yishai, whose ultra-Orthodox Shas party received 11 seats. Lieberman, however, has also expressed his preference to join a right-wing government that includes Shas.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Obama hires Kissinger to wave white flag in Moscow, gut US nukes; CIS states plan Combat Commonwealth 2009 war game

>Since 2007 alleged Soviet agent Henry (“Bor”) Kissinger and ex-KGB chief Yevgeny Primakov have co-chaired a secretive committee that is committed to promoting US-Russian relations in an amicable atmosphere, but in reality is designed to bring about the disarmament of the USA in the face of Soviet aggression, nuclear blackmail, and plans for East-West convergence. Both Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush have hosted the Kissinger-Primakov Strategic Vision Group, at Putin’s private residence near Moscow and at the White House, respectively. The group attracts upper-echelon Council on Foreign Relations cadres and appears to meet once or twice each year.

Pictured above: Kissinger, left, talks with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov at the 45th annual Munich Conference on Security Policy, at the hotel “Bayerischer Hof” in Munich, on February 6.

When the committee was established two years ago, one of its functions was to grease the foreign policy transition between presidential administrations in Washington, DC. The plot worked admirably. Both presidential teams are devoted to submerging the USA into the Red World Order, Obama faster than Bush. “One of my goals is to prevent nuclear proliferation generally. I think that it’s important for the United States, in concert with Russia, to lead the way on this,” Obama explained during a White House news conference yesterday.

We previously reported that shortly after his inauguration President Obama extended an olive branch to the Soviets by offering to slash the US nuclear arsenal by 80 percent, provided the Russians do the same. Each country would thereby be left with 1,000 warheads. “Frequent visits by Mr. Kissinger to Russia since 2000,” reveals Adrian Blomfield, “have largely gone unreported in the Western press. But in 2007, the Russian news agency Novosti reported that Mr Kissinger and Yevgeny Primakov, a former KGB master, were appointed by Mr. Putin to co-chair a bilateral ‘working group’ of Russian and American political insiders to tackle issues such as global terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and nuclear threats.”

The Telegraph journalist reports that in December, with then President-Elect Obama’s prompting, “Dr. K” again met with Putin at the KGB-communist dictator’s country residence, as well as with President Dmitry Medvedev for two days of secret negotiations. During that occasion President Richard Nixon’s former state secretary apparently enticed the Soviets with visions of America’s capitulation to world communism. A longer excerpt on Dr. K’s most recent international machinations follows:

The decision to send Mr Kissinger to Moscow, taken by Mr Obama when he was still president-elect, is part of a plan to overcome probable Republican objections in Congress.

Mr Kissinger is believed to have won a verbal rather than written undertaking for the deal. Tom Graham, a senior associate at Kissinger Associates and a former member of the national security council in the White House, on Thursday confirmed that Mr Kissinger had met Mr Medvedev but denied that any negotiations had taken place and said he had not met with Mr Putin.

However, a diplomatic source said that Mr Kissinger held two days of talks with Mr Putin at his country house near Moscow.

While the details of the ambitious initiative are yet to be revealed, the proposal to return to the negotiating table after eight years of reluctance in Washington has been welcomed in Britain and elsewhere.

Mr Obama apparently chose Mr Kissinger for his consummate diplomatic skills and his popularity in Moscow, an affection earned by his open acknowledgment of Russia’s international resurgence.

Despite his pariah status with many Left-wingers in Mr Obama’s Democratic Party, the president forged relations with Mr Kissinger during his campaign.

The compliment was returned when the 85-year-old veteran of the Nixon and Ford administrations said last month that the young president was in a position to create a “new world order” by shifting US foreign policy away from the hostile stance of the Bush administration.

He publicly supported Mr Obama’s notion of unconditional talks with Iran, though not at the presidential level.

Dr. K, the same source reveals, is not the only global political fixer in Obama’s employ. Two Republicans—US Senator Richard Lugar and George Schultz, formerly President Ronald Reagan’s state secretary—are sold out to Obamessiah’s deluded vision of a nuke-free world:

Further demonstrating his willingness to work with his opponents on foreign policy issues, Mr Obama turned to two veteran Republicans steeped in Cold War experience to press home his plans.

Shortly after Mr Kissinger’s trip, Richard Lugar, a Republican senator from Indiana who has worked on nuclear disarmament issues for 30 years, also visited Moscow. George Schultz, another former secretary of state, has also played a vital role.

Observers say signs of progress towards a new treaty could come as early as this weekend, when senior government officials meet at a security conference in Munich.

The Soviets, reports Blomfield, are desperate to retool the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires on December 5 of this year, because most of their nuclear arsenal has passed the “sell by” date, requiring decommissioning even as Moscow phases in a new generation of ICBMs. Under START, the USA and the Soviet Union agreed to halve their stockpiles to 5,000 warheads apiece. An addendum drafted in 2002 under the START framework required both Moscow and Washington to further reduce the number of warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 each.

In terms of nuclear disarmament, the neo-Soviet leadership is eager to push America’s back against the wall. Today, in an interview with Russia’s Vesti-24 TV news channel, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated:

We are ready for talks, which will allow us to preserve the mechanism of limitations and reductions of strategic offensive weapons and we are glad that the new U.S. administration is paying priority attention to this subject. We have noticed that the Obama team is ready to discuss the whole range of issues, including the mechanisms of verification and control, mutual inspections. We shall hope that when the disarmament team is formed in the State Department, which has not happened as yet, we will be able to start the talks immediately.

Meanwhile, the neo-Soviet leadership is proceeding with military reforms that will modernize the Russian Armed Forces by eliminating 30 percent of officers and reducing the total number of servicemen to one million by 2012. “In line with the current organizational changes we will have to reform 84% of all Air Force units. Of these, 10% will be disbanded, 22% reformed and 68% staffed according to new structural parameters,” Russia’s air force commander Colonel General Alexander Zelin stated at a news conference in Moscow on Monday. Zelin added: “The structural reform will ensure that the Russian Air Force receives advanced air and ground weapons systems, including modernized strategic bombers and tactical aircraft to neutralize potential military threats on the global and regional scale.” As we have blogged before, the Kremlin views the USA as the world’s primary “potential military threat.”

Modernizing Russia’s armed forces—which are not insignificant in firepower but plagued by aging equipment, underfunded maintenance regimes, and flagging troop morale—entails integrating the air defense networks of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The new treaty that will integrate Russia and Belarus’ regional air defense network will in turn be incorporated into the wider CIS air defense system, Zelin explained today. “The CIS integrated air defense network is intended to accomplish a variety of tasks, including missile early warning and countering attacks of a potential enemy. We [Russia] will certainly participate in the defense of any of the member-states, if their airspace is violated,” Zelin warned.

This summer CIS members plan to conduct “large-scale” air defense exercises at the Ashuluk training ground, in Russia’s Astrakhan region near the Caspian Sea. Russia’s air force commander outlined the forthcoming war game: “During the Combat Commonwealth 2009 exercise, which involves live-firing drills, we are planning to practice joint deployment of CIS integrated air defense network’s units on a theater-operational scale in simulated conditions of a military-political crisis in one of the regions included in the collective security zone.” In view of the last sentence quoted here, one can only speculate that Combat Commonwealth 2009 represents preparations for dislodging the “pro”-Western governments in Kiev and Tbilisi.

Over the next three years the Kremlin will allocate four trillion rubles (US$111 billion) on defense spending. “The Russian Defense Ministry’s budget for 2009 and for the planned period of 2010-2011 is primarily aimed at creating a fundamentally new army for the 21st century,” Deputy Defense Minister for Financial and Economic Work Lyubov Kudelina stated.

Military reform and weapon modernization accord with the long-range Soviet strategy for international supremacy, which Medvedev articulated today at a meeting of the Commission on Russian Federation Military Cooperation with Foreign States, which includes Russia’s Communist Bloc allies. “In terms of military-technical cooperation with foreign states we ended last year rather well,” the Soviet Komsomol graduate enthused. “The total volumes of supplies exceeded US$8.350 billion, a 800-million dollar increase against the previous year. It is obvious that this year will be not easy due to the fact that the world is going through a financial crisis. This affects the armaments purchase volume, but this notwithstanding we should try to preserve our achievements and maybe expand cooperation volumes in certain spheres.” Even though the ruble is tanking and Russian banks are on the verge of collapse, the Kremlin is evidently undaunted in its drive for regional and global mastery.

The Kremlin commission mentioned above consists of Foreign Minister Lavrov, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov, Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko, Federal Security Service (FSB/KGB) Director Alexander Bortnikov, Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR/KGB) Director Mikhail Fradkov, Head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Mikhail Dmitriyev, Director General of the Rostekhnologii State Corporation Sergei Chemezov, Director General of the Rosoboronexport arms exporting company Anatoly Isaikin, presidential administration head Sergei Naryshkin, and presidential aides Sergei Prikhodko and Larisa Brycheva. Incidentally, Patrushev was FSB chief before fellow Chekist Bortnikov took over the Lubyanka last year.

Finally, the Moscow Leninists, following the old “divide and conquer” tactic, are enthusiastically endorsing a new Scandinavian Defense Union that will unite Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland in a military alliance separate from the US-dominated North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Kremlin-run Russia Today exposes the Soviets’ decades-old frustration and annoyance with NATO: “For Russia formation of the Nordic Alliance could possibly mean that it will be able to speak directly to the Arctic countries, thus by-passing NATO, for 60 years now wholly controlled by the US, which in turn could mean that purely economic interests would prevail. However, this is only if the US does not enter the new organization, because, strangely enough, it has Arctic territories too.”

>Latin America File: Cuban president, KGB asset Castro visits Cold War allies Angola and Algeria, Cuban military delegation heads for Moscow in summer

>Intense power networking continues this week among Communist Bloc leaders. No doubt personally bolstered by his week-long state visit to Russia, his first since 1984 or 1985, Cuban President/Tyrant Raul Castro popped in for tea with Cold War allies Algeria and Angola.

Yesterday in Algiers Castro conferred with Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika (pictured above), who represents the long-ruling National Liberation Front that forced France to pull out of its former colony in 1962. “The two leaders were aiming to reinforce bilateral ties and also planned to discuss regional and international questions of common interest,” the AFP news agency quoted the Algerian presidential office as saying. “Algerian-Cuban relations have always been clear and honest,” Castro intoned, “They have not just been maintained, but have been strengthened over time.” Algeria and Cuba established diplomatic relations shortly after Algerian independence. In 2005 the two countries inked cooperation agreements in the areas of health, sports, fisheries and culture. Fidel Castro visited Algiers seven times as Cuban president, while Bouteflika visited Havana in 2006, after the younger Castro brother took over the presidency. Cuban “health volunteers” serve in Algeria and Cuba manages several eye clinics in the north African country.

Last Wednesday, immediately after his pilgrimage to Moscow, Castro flew to southern Africa where he met Angolan counterpart Jose Eduardo dos Santos in Luanda. In tow was a large Cuban delegation to “reinforce relations” established between the Caribbean and African states in 1976, shortly after Angola’s independence from Portugal. Over the last 30 years, more than 10,000 Cuban doctors and health workers, as well as 16,500 teachers have been dispatched to Angola. In return more than 18,000 Angolans have studied in Cuba. Angola’s Marxist dictator dos Santos previously visited Cuba in September 2007 (pictured above).

The Cuban and Angolan leaders also discussed bilateral military linkages. “The visit officially is going to focus on the social and economic sectors, but I know from sources it’s also in terms of defence and military forces,” revealed Paula Roque, who works for the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa. Cuban officers have trained their Angolan counterparts for years at a military institute in Luanda, Roque added. “No official information was released on defence issues,” the AFP news agency explains, “but military ties have long been a key component in Cuba’s relations with Angola.”

Upon Angola’s independence, Cuban forces were deployed to Africa to aid the Soviet-backed Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), which was backed by the USA and apartheid South Africa. The number of Cuban troops in Angola reached 30,000 in the 1980s, until Havana finally withdrew its forces at the “end” of the Cold War as part of a regional peace plan that required South Africa to grant independence to Namibia. Angola’s civil war, however, raged on until UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi died in 2002.

In a related story that reveals Russia’s attempt to establish a Red Dawn-style military coalition with Latin America’s predominantly leftist regimes, Cuban President Castro’s trip to Moscow last week will be followed up this summer by a military delegation from Havana. General Arnaldo Tamayo, who heads the foreign affairs section of Cuba’s Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces and chairs the Russia-Cuba Friendship Parliamentary Group, praised the results of a Russian parliamentary delegation’s visit to Havana in January. The visitors from Moscow were led by Viktor Ozerov, who chairs Russia’s Federation Council defense and security committee. “We had a fruitful exchange of views, and we told our Russian colleagues about our defensive doctrine and discussed various aspects of our military cooperation,” Tamayo gushed to Novosti, adding: “We have agreed that there is a need to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in the military sector.”

In November Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Havana to re-invigorate Soviet-Cuban relations and the following month, in a “post”-Cold War “first,” a Russian anti-submarine destroyer with a military delegation aboard docked in Havana harbor.

>MISSILE DAY ALERT: Russian Navy denies Black Sea Fleet preparing for "emergency action"; Turkish, Bulgarian presidents head for Moscow

>– Red Terror Whack’em and Stack’em File:

1) Kremlin Body Count Mounts with Assassination of Third Chechen Official in Moscow since September 2008

2) Human Rights Lawyer and Journalist Gunned Down in January, Killer Also Used Silencer-Equipped Pistol as in Today’s Incident

Pictured above: On January 28 Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, moored at Italy’s Messina harbor in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1908 Messina earthquake and Russia’s participation in the international relief effort.

In what might be a heads up for those waiting for Missile Day, that is, the expected surprise attack against the Western Alliance by the Soviet Bloc, the Russian Navy is today dismissing media reports claiming that the Black Sea Fleet, based in Sevastopol, Ukraine, had been placed on alert and preparing for “emergency action” at sea. “I’ve been authorized to categorically deny this information as being inconsistent with reality and providing fertile soil for rumors and speculation. It’s business as usual, and the Black Sea Fleet is performing its routine duties,” naval spokesentity Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo. He intimated that such reports could have been distributed to “deliberately fan tensions in the region.”

In the event that the Kremlin decides to launch a preemptive missile strike against targets in Western Europe and North America, sending its navy out to sea would be a militarily prudent move. As it turns out, much of Russia’s navy is presently conducting tours of duty in international waters, the largest such surge since the Cold War. The Kremlin’s sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is presently holding maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea, while two landing ships from the Black Sea Fleet weighed anchor at Russia’s naval maintenance facility in Tartus, Syria, less than a week ago.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet currently uses a range of naval facilities in Ukraine’s Crimea as part of a 1997 agreement, under which Ukraine agreed to lease the bases to Russia until 2017. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who like most leaders in “post”-communist Eastern Europe started his career in the old Soviet regime, announced last summer that Ukraine would not extend the lease of the base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol beyond 2017, and urged Russia to start preparations for a withdrawal. Russia has already reactivated its Soviet-era naval maintenance facility at Tartus, Syria, and is constructing another facility at Latakia, while Russian media previously reported that Moscow was also considering resuscitating Soviet-era naval facilities in Yemen and Libya, among other countries. Russian military officials are also on record as saying Moscow could build up its presence in the Mediterranean to make up for the loss of Sevastopol.

Meanwhile, in a development that evokes the Bible’s prophecies concerning the early-tribulation invasion of Israel by Russia, Turkey, Iran, Libya, and various Arab states, the first two countries continue to consolidate their alliance. This is a troubling situation from the Western perspective since Turkey is a NATO member. From February 12 to 15 President Abdullah Gul will become the first Turkish head of state to pay an official visit to Russia. Gul, who along with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, represents Turkey’s ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party, is expected to hold a series of meetings with high-ranking Russian government officials and to visit Kazan, capital of Russia’s internal Republic of Tatarstan. On several occasions during Israel’s December-January military offensive in the Gaza Strip, Erdogan strongly condemned the Jewish state for punishing the Hamas terrorist regime.

Between 2001 and 2006 Russian-Turkish trade increased 250% and continues to expand. Russia pumps natural gas to Turkey through the Blue Stream pipeline under the Black Sea. Turkey is also one of the most popular destinations for Russian tourists.

Moscow is also shoring up its alliances with the “post”-communist regimes in the Balkan Pensinula, which is adjacent to Turkey. Today Bulgaria’s “ex”-communist President Georgi Parvanov began a two-day trip to Moscow, where he intends to raise the issue of compensation after the Balkan country was deprived of Russian natural gas for almost two weeks during last month’s pricing spat between Moscow and Kiev. Speaking to reporters before Parvanov’s arrival, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s assistant Sergei Prikhodko revealed that the two heads of state would discuss “practical steps to carry out strategic projects in the energy sphere.” These joint Soviet-Bulgarian projects include the Belene nuclear power plant that Russia is building in northern Bulgaria; the South Stream pipeline that will pump Central Asian and Russian gas to the Balkans and other European countries; and a second pipeline that will pump Russian and Caspian oil from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to the Greek port of Alexandroupolis.

Prikhodko also mentioned that Medvedev and Parvanov would discuss the Kremlin’s new proposed security arrangements for Europe and the ongoing global credit crunch. In harmony with the long-range Soviet objective of ejecting the USA from NATO, Medvedev last June proposed a new security structure that instead embraces Russia and Europe.

Finally, the Kremlin body count increased by one more cadaver today with the assassination of Gilani Shepiyev, a former deputy mayor of Grozny. Shepiyev was shot dead near his Moscow home last night. The killer’s gun was equipped with a silencer. Between 2004 and 2006 Shepiyev supervised law enforcement agencies in the North Caucasus republic. In 2006 he moved to Moscow after being seriously injured in an assassination attempt in the Chechen capital. This is the third high-profile murder of a Chechen in the Russian capital since September 2008. Ruslan Yamadayev, a former member of the Russian State Duma, was gunned down in central Moscow in late September. Yamadayev’s family opposes the Moscow-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who denied complicity in that murder. Next, Movladi Baisarov, who formerly commanded a special police force unit in Chechnya, was murdered in Moscow in November.

More recently, on January 19 a masked man, armed with a silencer-equipped pistol as in the Shepiyev case above, gunned down human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova in Moscow in broad daylight. And so the Red Terror in “post”-communist Russia continues unabated . .

>Latin America File: Cuban president, KGB asset Raul Castro wraps up week-long Moscow visit with raft of aggrements in hand, Morales heads for Kremlin

>Today Cuban President/Tyrant and known KGB asset Raul Castro completed his official week-long trip to Russia, the first such trip since 1985. Castro left Moscow with a raft of bilateral agreements in hand. Among other developments, Castro and Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, a frontman for the neo-Soviet leadership, signed a memorandum on strategic cooperation. Russia also granted the Caribbean state a US$20 million loan to buy Russian-made construction, electricity-generating, and agricultural equipment to rebuild the island’s economy, which was adversely impacted by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in September 2008. Russia’s foreign trade bank Vnesheconombank also stated that it has opened credit lines totaling US$44.5 million to fund Cuba’s purchases of Tu-204CE civilian cargo aircraft and equipment.

“Castro’s visit will open up a new page in the history of Russian-Cuban relations,” Medvedev gushed and called the Cuban dictator’s presence in Moscow “historic” and a “milestone event.” On February 2 Castro also conferred with Russia’s KGB-communist dictator, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (pictured above). Putin visited Havana in 2000, while Medvedev showed up at the Cuban capital in late November of last year.

Other Soviet-Cuban projects include a joint scientific research center for information technologies and a yet-to-be-announced joint enterprise between state-run Aeroflot and Cubana de Aviacion. Although its in-flight service has improved since the Cold War, Aeroflot has yet to ditch its Soviet-era hammer and sickle logo. More than 40,000 Russian tourists dug their heels in Cuba’s sandy beaches in 2008. We have already documented the growing military alliance between Moscow and Havana, revitalized after nearly 20 years.

Incidentally, Kremlin-run Vnesheconombank is preparing to assume control of a 49 percent stake in AirBridge Zrt., the company that owns Malév Hungarian Airlines. In order to ensure that Malév retains its status as Hungary’s national airline and, thus, does not forfeit its European Union operating license, two Hungarians–Magdolna Költő and Kálmán Kis–will together control 51 percent of the company’s shares. “Despite the assurances, there is no doubt that Russian state interests will now dominate Malév,” reports one blog that monitors Hungarian politics, adding: “According to the terms of the new deal, the Hungarian flag carrier will strike a partnership with Aeroflot, Russia’s state-owned national airline.”

Not to be outdone by Cuba’s veteran communist dictatorship, new communist on the bloc Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, will also pay a visit to Moscow on February 16 to formalize a number of agreements with the Kremlin. Russian energy giant Gazprom and Bolivia’s state hydrocarbons company YPFB are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding during the visit. Last September Gazprom and France’s Total finalized an agreement with Bolivia on the joint exploration and production of natural gas in the South American country. The total trilateral investment is expected to reach US$4.5 billion. Bolivia has more gas reserves than any other Latin American country except Venezuela. In May 2006 Morales nationalized Bolivia’s gas industry.

Morales will be the third Latin American leftist leader to make a pilgrimage to Moscow since December. Nicaragua’s Sandinista president Daniel Ortega made his first “post”-Cold War junket to Russia just under two months ago.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Tu-95 bombers probe Danish airspace; Moscow, Minsk form joint air defense; Kyrgyzstan boots US base for Kremlin cash

>– Flashback: US Soldier at Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan Shot Dead “Ethnic Russian” Trying to Enter Compound in Fuel Truck

Two Russian Bear bombers carried out a “routine” 12-hour patrol over the Norwegian Sea last night, Novosti reports, practicing in-flight refueling. “En route, the Russian long-range aircraft were accompanied by a pair of F-16s from Norway and Denmark as well as a Eurofighter Typhoon of the British Royal Air Force,” Russian Air Force spokesentity Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Drik explained. The Copenhagen Post states that the Tu-95s were “repelled” by the Danish Air Force as they “probed” Danish, Norwegian, and British airspace.

Novosti reports in another article that the Obama White House would like to slash the number of nuclear warheads on both sides to 1,000, or an 80% reduction. The Strategic Arms Reduction (START-1) Treaty signed between the “defunct” Soviet Union and the USA in 1991 expires on December 5, 2009. Expect increased Russian military activity, such as bomber flights, as that date approaches and the Kremlin looks for any means to gut the US nuclear arsenal while secretly bolstering its own capacity to launch a preemptive strike.

Pictured above, left to right: Russia’s KGB-communist dictator, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, President Dmitry Medvedev, and Belarusian President Lukashenko at the Kremlin on February 3. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov lurk in the background.

In a story related to Russia’s two-year-old resumption of long-range aviation missions, Russia and Belarus, which are politically and economically united in the Union State of Russia and Belarus, yesterday inked an agreement on the joint protection of the Union State’s airspace and the formation of an integrated regional air defense network. The document was signed at a meeting of the Union State Supreme Council, co-chaired in Moscow by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko. The Kremlin boasted that: “The document is a serious step in the development of military and military-technical ties between Russia and Belarus and it will significantly boost the defense capabilities of both countries.”

Colonel General Alexander Zelin, commander of the Russian Air Force, previously explained that the integrated air defense system would embrace five air force units, 10 anti-aircraft units, five technical service and support units, and one electronic warfare unit. At the discretion of the two national presidents, the system will be placed under the command of a Russian or Belarusian Air Force or Air Defense Force senior commander. Belarus operates Russian-made S-300 air defense battalions and is negotiating the purchase of S-400 systems from Russia, which will be delivered by 2010.

Meanwhile, the Not-So-Former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan has announced the closure of a US military base on its territory. NATO uses the Manas base to support anti-terrorism operations in neighboring Afghanistan. While on a two-day visit to Moscow, “ex”-communist Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev secured deals to write off his country’s US$180 million debt to Russia and to receive a US$2 billion discounted loan and $150 million in financial aid from Russia in exchange for terminating the lease with NATO. Bakiyev cited Washington’s refusal to consider a higher rent and reluctance to address the December 2006 killing by a US soldier of Kyrgyz civilian Alexander Ivanov as reasons for booting out the US military. Regarding the latter incident RFE/RL reported at the time: “Kyrgyz media say the man was an ethnic Russian who was requesting permission to enter the base with his fuel truck.”

The base closure comes about as new US President Barack Hussein Obama promises a troop surge in Afghanistan. Manas currently houses more than 1,000 NATO military personnel. Although the Kremlin initially backed the US-led campaign to depose the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001, its relations with NATO have deteriorated over the alliance’s expansion into the “old” Soviet Bloc, and most recently Russia’s re-invasion of Georgia. Russia also maintains an air base in Kyrgyzstan under the provisions of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

The CSTO is a military alliance comprising the Not-So-Former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Armenia’s “ex”-communist president Serzh Sargsyan announced today that CSTO approved the formation of a collective rapid reaction force that will repel military aggression, conduct anti-terrorist operations, fight transnational crime and drug trafficking, and neutralize the effects of natural disasters. The force will be permanently based in Russia and placed under a single command with CSTO member countries contributing special military units. Uzbekistan will not participate in the collective force on a permanent basis but will delegate subunits to take part in operations on an ad hoc basis. Sargsyan stated that the CSTO Security Council would next meet in Moscow in June.

Pictured here, left to right: Lukashenko, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Bakiyev, Medvedev, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon, and Sargsyan at today’s EurAsEc summit at the Kremlin. Every leader here is connected to the old Soviet regime.

Beginning today, however, the Russian capital will host a combined two-day summit of CSTO and the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEc), which embraces Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan as full members. High on the agenda for summit participants will be addressing the impact of the global financial crisis and, in particular, organizing a joint assistance fund. Established in 2000, EurAsEC also involves Armenia, Moldova, and Ukraine as observers. The creation of a common economic space for Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus may be launched on January 1, 2010, Medvedev predicted in December.

Last November Russia signed friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance treaties with Georgia’s separatist regimes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Under the pacts, Russia has pledged to provide security for the two regions, while the signatories have granted each other the right to set up military bases in their respective territories. The treaties gant dual citizenship since the majority of South Ossetians and Abkhazians are Russian passport holders. Russia has also agreed to extends its transportation, energy, and communications infrastructure into the republics.

In South Ossetia the Russian Defense Ministry has finished constructing key infrastructure for the new Russian military base in the regional capital Tskhinvali, including four residential buildings for commissioned officers and their families. In Abkhazia, another separatist regime that is claimed by Tbilisi, Russia has promised to build a naval base. Last week, the US State Department expressed its displeasure with Kremlin plans to essentially annex Abkhazia. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza warned: “The possible deployment of a naval base in Abkhazia, an airbase in Abkhazia and a military base in South Ossetia seems to be moving in the wrong direction Russia pledged to reduce its troops to the levels and locations of before the Russia-Georgia war. Russia is already in violation of those commitments . . . Deploying a naval base would be another violation.”

>End Times File: Russian carrier-based warplanes finish 18 missions over C. Mediterranean, landing ships arrive in Syria; Qaddafi elected AU president

>And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. — Ezekiel 38:3-6

– 200 African Traditional Leaders Hail Libyan Strongman Qaddafi “King of Kings” in 2008; Soviet Ally Promotes “Isratine,” Binational One-State “Solution” for Jews and Arabs

– Union for the Mediterranean Architect Sarkozy Wants Obama to Help Him “Change the World”

– Communist Cyprus Detains “Russian-Owned” Mystery Arms Ship Allegedly Bound for Hamas

Biblically significant developments are taking place in the Mediterranean Basin that relate to the seven-year tribulation period described in Daniel’s prophecy, John’s prophecies in Revelation, Isaiah’s prophecy of the destruction of Damascus, Zephaniah’s prophecy of the demise of Gaza and Philistia, and Ezekiel’s vision of the Magog invasion of Israel. In the 38th and 39th chapters of the book of Ezekiel, the Hebrew prophet describes an end-times military coalition, consisting of Magog (Russia), Persia (Iran), Togarmah (Turkey), Libya (by name), and Ethiopia (by name), that attacks Israel at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th prophetic week (D70W). These very countries, along with Syria and the Palestinians, are presently dominated by communist or Islamic regimes and aligned against the Jewish state.

Russia’s revived military presence in Syria is particularly worth watching. Following naval aviation exercises in Greek airspace, a joint drill with the Turkish Navy, and a visit to the Soviet-built naval maintenance base in Tartus, aircraft based on the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov completed another exercise over the central Mediterranean Sea last week. On January 30 state-run Itar-Tass reported: “Carrier-based aircraft of the Russian Northern Fleet carried out 18 missions from the heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov over the past 24 hours–14 flights by Su-33 planes and four by deck landing helicopters. The pilots and sailors carried out the set tasks successfully, the fleet headquarters told Itar-Tass. The Admiral Kuznetsov continues its trip. The aircraft carrier is in the central part of the Mediterranean Sea this Friday.” The Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D) multirole combat aircraft is one of Russia’s most advanced fighter jets and represents the carrier-based version of the Su-27 (Flanker).

Shortly after the Admiral Kuznetsov departed from Tartus, two Russian landing ships, the Azov and Yamal, docked at the Syrian port last Thursday, en route from the Black Sea to the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. There a Russian naval task force was slated to carry out a joint maneuver with the Indian Navy called Indra-2009, the fourth in a series of biennial exercises since 2003. Together the Ropucha II class Tank Landing Ship RFS Yamal (BDK 156) and Ropucha III class Tank Landing Ship RFS Azov (BDK 151, pictured above) can carry about 450 troops, or essentially one “reinforced company” of marines.

The purpose of the Azov and Yamal’s visit to Tartus was reportedly to replenish supplies but, as it turns out, these ships did not join Indra-2009. Last August, after Russia re-invaded Georgia, the anti-Zionist communist cabal that still runs the Kremlin indirectly denounced Israel’s role in training and equipping Tbilisi’s armed forces. Now up to 450 Russian marines are apparently visiting Syria, with which Israel is still technically at war 36 years after the Yom Kippur War.

The Russian and Indian navies actually wrapped up their drill this past Saturday with a reduced complement of ships that included only the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Peter the Great and the Indian destroyer INS Delhi. Citing “technical reasons,” the Russian Navy withdrew the anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Vinogradov from the scheduled war game. For its part, the Indian Navy withdrew a frontline frigate imported from Russia, a submarine, and helicopters that New Delhi had planned to use for Indra-2009. Following a “basic” exercise that lasted only a “few hours,” Peter the Great made a port of call at the Indian city of Goa. Incidentally, Goa is a favorite destination for Russian tourists and was probably a welcome pitstop for the sailors aboard the Russian missile cruiser. In November Peter the Great carried out a joint exercise with Venezuela’s navy in the southern Caribbean Sea.

Meanwhile, long-time Soviet ally, socialist revolutionary, champion of African integration, and erratic Libyan strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi has been elected chairman of the African Union, vowing to implement a vision of a United States of Africa. On Monday Colonel Qaddafi (“Duck”) was elected by the heads of state of the 53-member union behind closed doors at a summit in Ethiopia, replacing the Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete. Qaddafi will hold the rotating post for one year. Wearing a golden brocade robe and cap, Qaddafi sat with traditional African leaders, rather than in the seat for the Libyan delegate. “I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa,” he announced in his inaugural speech. “In principle, we said the ultimate is the United States of Africa. How we proceed to that ultimate–there are building blocks,” outgoing AU president Kikwete explained.

Last July Qaddafi spurned membership in Nicolas Sarkozy and Hosni Mubarak’s new Union for the Mediterranean, which we hold to be the revived Roman Empire of Bible prophecy. In many previous posts we have also presented our case for Sarkozy, a Gentilized Jew, possibly being Israel’s coming false messiah-king, the Antichrist. Last month Sarkozy declared that he intends along with new US President Barack Hussein Obama to “change the world.” “We are eager to see him go to work so that we can change the world with him,” Sarkozy boasted.

The following month, 200 African kings, princes, sultans, sheikhs, and traditional leaders hailed Qaddafi as “king of kings.” Last month Uganda’s communist regime prohibited Qaddafi’s forum of African traditional rulers from meeting in that country, insisting that the meeting would be “too political.” The Libyan strongman’s “support group” had planned to discuss Qaddafi’s plans for African unity, such as a single currency and army.

In December Libya attempted to penetrate Israel’s economic blockade of the Gaza Strip by sending a “supply ship” from Port Said in Egypt to deliver humanitarian aid to the Hamas terrorist state. The Israeli navy, however, intercepted the Al Marwa, which was forced to return to Libya. “The Israeli warships are making it difficult for the ship to reach the Gaza coast, in spite of the fact that this is a civilian ship sent to help Palestinians during the siege,” a spokesentity of the Libyan regime complained. In response, Tripoli referred to the Israeli Defense Forces as a “terrorist, Zionist army.” The decision to prevent the Al Marwa’s entry into Gaza was made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, reports the Jerusalem Post. Since September, Israel has allowed into the Gaza Strip three boats chartered by the US-based Free Gaza movement, which set embarked from Cyprus.

In January Qaddafi reiterated his 2003 plan for a binational one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be called “Isratine.” This formula, relates the Iranian media, quoting Qaddafi, “would allow the people in each party to feel that they live in all of the disputed land and they are not deprived of any one part of it.” Press-TV reports: “The Libyan official was among a handful of world leaders who strongly opposed Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. . . . Earlier in the month, Qaddafi urged the Arab world to volunteer and fight alongside Palestinians against Israel.”

In view of Libya’s role in the Magog invasion of Israel, the blasphemous assumption by Qaddafi of the role of “king of kings”–a title that rightly belongs only to the Son of God (Revelation 19:16)–and Qaddafi’s anti-Zionist sentiments, the student of Bible prophecy should give serious consideration to the possibility that the rapture of the church and D70W are just around the corner, so to speak.

Finally, in a related story Cypriot authorities are holding the “Russian-owned,” Cypriot-flagged freighter Nochegorsk at the port of Limassol on suspicion that its cargo of rockets and artillery is destined for Syria or the Hamas regime in Gaza. The US Navy intercepted the vessel in the Red Sea last week, before Egyptian authorities briefly detained the Monchegorsk, which began its journey in Iran. Cyprus’ communist president Dimitris Christofias, a close ally of Moscow, reassured reporters last Friday that his government was “handling things very seriously and without too much noise in the media.” We previously reported that the mystery arms ship allegedly bound for Gaza, at least according to the Israelis, was “Iranian-owned.”

>Asia File: DPRK unilaterally scraps peace accords with South, threatens nuclear war; Communist Party of China demands "absolute obedience" from PLA

>– South Korea, Japanese Media: Pyongyang Preparing to Test-Launch Long-Range Taepodong-2 Missile (source)

Today the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) reiterated its refusal to forsake its small nuclear arsenal until the Republic of Korea and the USA, Seoul’s main ally, demonstrate peaceful intentions. The Stalinist regime in Pyongyang also warned that continued tensions could lead to nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula. The latest hostile missive from the North was communicated by state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Relations between North and South Korea have deteriorated since conservative President Lee Myung-bak, whom North Korea labels a “disgusting stooge” of Washington, terminated a decade of unconditional aid to the North and implemented a rigorous policy linking aid to disarmament. “No one knows when the hostile policy desperately pursued toward [North Korea] . . . will lead to a nuclear war,” the KCNA rumbled.

Pictured above: DPRK leader Kim Jong-il visits the 131rd military unit at an undisclosed site, in this undated picture released by KCNA on February 1, 2009. KCNA did not indicate when the photograph was taken. In recent months Western media outlets have been unable to positively ascertain Kim’s health and whereabouts.

This past Friday, on January 30, the DPRK announced that it was unilaterally scrapping all peace accords with the Republic of Korea and declared a “state of heightened confrontation” along the border, especially at the western end, which terminates in the Yellow Sea, the scene of bloody naval clashes in 1999 and 2002. “But South Korean officials,” media in the Republic of Korea, reports, “said there have not been any special movements of troops or weapons on the northern side of the border.” The South has deployed a destroyer near the disputed border and stepped up surveillance by radar, drones and other reconnaissance planes, the South Korean government’s Yonhap news agency revealed.

“The North is apparently paving the way for military provocations,” Yoo Ho-Yeol, a professor at Korea University, rightly informed the AFP news agency, adding: “It is also seeking to shift responsibility for a possible military clash to the South.” Political analyst Paik Hak-Soon warns that “armed clashes may break out soon,” but Baek Seung-Joo counters by saying that the North Korean statements are likely designed to apply pressure on South Korean President Lee. The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff declined to comment on North Korea’s latest saber rattling. “We are preparing for every contingency,” a Seoul military spokesman told AFP.

Pictured here: South Korean special forces soldiers ford a river during a winter military exercise in Pyeongchang, east of Seoul, on January 19.

This past weekend’s provocations from Pyongyang represent the latest in several weeks of escalating belligerent rhetoric. On January 26 the North accused South Korea of holding military exercises to prepare for a war against the communist regime and threatened to “wipe out” the invaders. A commentary published in Minju Joson, the newspaper of the North’s cabinet, contended that Seoul’s “severe winter training” was “aimed to deliberately get on the nerves of the army and people of the DPRK in a bid to invent a pretext for provoking a war of aggression against it.” Seoul officials responded by telling Yonhap that the winter training exercises are part of a regular training scheduled throughout the year.

According to a report released by the Council on Foreign Relations last Wednesday, South Korea and the United States should maintain about 460,000 troops to deal with any “unusual situation” on the Korean Peninsula that results from internal instability in North Korea. In 1999 the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command drew up an action plan to respond to “sudden changes” in North Korea, codenamed CONPLAN 5029. Contingencies include a mass influx of North Korean refugees, a civil war sparked by a revolt or coup, South Koreans being held hostage in the North, and natural disasters. The plan also contains measures to prevent Pyongyang’s weapons of mass destruction from being smuggled out of the country, if the regime experiences a “domestic crisis” or suddenly collapses.

Prior to US President Barack Hussein Obama’s inauguration on January 20, South Korean troops were already intensely monitoring North Korean military activity, in case the Stalinist regime decided to carry out its “all-out confrontational posture” against South Korea or enforce its claim over the disputed Yellow Sea border. “If we analyze the background, it is reasonable to understand [North Korea’s moves] in connection to the U.S. presidential inauguration,” explained Won Tae-jae, spokesman for the South Korean Ministry of National Defense, adding: “We’re monitoring their moves by raising maximum watch.” Another South Korean defense official told Yonhap that the air force has lengthened its reconnaissance missions to observe North Korean troop movements and that, moreover, communications between US and South Korean intelligence officials has increased.

In a related story, China’s Central Military Commission, which can refer to one of two inter-related organs representing the Chinese state and the ruling Communist Party of China, called for the absolute obedience of the People’s Liberation Army to the party. This injunction was released in in the wake of growing unrest sparked by secessionist movements in Tibet and Islamist-infested Xinjiang and the global credit crunch, which has provoked an economic recession in China. “All military forces should ensure that they uncompromisingly obey the Party and Central Military Commission’s command at any time and under any circumstances,” warned the commission in a statement reported by Xinhua news agency. China’s military budget in 2008 was 417.77 billion yuan ($61.09 billion), up 17.6 percent from 2007, but Sinologists estimate that real defence spending could be triple the published figure. Another scenario that might require the PLA’s “uncompromising obedience” to the CPC leadership is the eruption of war between North and South Korea, where Beijing would more than likely ally itself with Pyongyang.