Monthly Archives: August 2009

>Blogger’s Note: Back by popular demand

>We began Once Upon a Time in the West nearly four years ago with the intention of exposing the Soviet strategic deception, as first detailed by KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn and others. We are grateful for the positive responses from our visitors after announcing an indefinite leave of absence. Feeling somewhat remorseful about that original decision, we have decided to continue posting, but only on an occasional basis. Other commitments make regular posts difficult. We foresee the outbreak of a communist-provoked hot war as the only reason for returning to daily posts.

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>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Russia sets up anti-missile system in Far East to counter DPRK “threat”; USA backs down on NMD plans in E. Europe

>– Russian Navy Eats Humble Pie to Accelerate Modernization and Expansion: Buys French-Built Amphibious Assault Ship, Negotiates Production of More Such Vessels

– Russian Military Analyst Assesses Above Purchase, Speculates Moscow Possibly Preparing to Reinvade Ukraine, Georgia, and Baltics

– Eastern European “Cyber-Gangs” Target Small, Medium-Sized US Businesses, Electronically Rob and Transfer Funds within Minutes

– Lyricist Who Wrote Russia’s Soviet and “Post”-Communist National Anthems Dies, Praised by Stalin, Putin, Medvedev

The MSM reported on August 27 that Russia has deployed its most advanced anti-missile system close to its short border with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Russia’s Chief of the General Staff, Nikolai Makarov, informed reporters on a trip with President Dmitry Medvedev to Mongolia that the military’s third operational S-400 anti-missile division was tasked with shooting down ballistic missiles that could conceivably stray over Russian territory from North Korea. On the surface this story has some plausibility as the Russian naval port of Vladivostok is only 93 miles from North Korea. In 2006 an off-course North Korean missile reportedly plunged into Russian waters near the port of Nakhoda. Incidentally, nearly 90 years after the reds seized Mongolia, that country’s “ex”-communists continue to hold the reins of government in Ulan Bator.

“We are definitely concerned by the conditions under which tests are being carried out in North Korea, including nuclear devices,” Makarov fretted. One analyst, though, described the general’s comments as “baffling.” Mikhail Barabanov, a Moscow-based defense analyst insisted that there was no evidence that Russia had deployed its S-400 Triumf system in the Far East. “Either the general was doing some sort of PR, or the journalists didn’t understand what he was talking about,” Barabanov pondered. However, he conceded that the military may have transferred the radio-location system for the S-400 to the North Korean border to monitor missile tests.

“Makarov’s remarks,” editorializes The Guardian, “indicate that Russia apparently shares the US’s assessment of North Korea’s nuclear threat, after the north’s nuclear test in May and a series of launches of small- and medium-size missiles, which provoked international condemnation.” The Iranian media, uncritically citing Russia Today, quoted Makarov as saying: “We have deployed an S-400 battalion [in the Far East] already. We are taking preventative measures to secure ourselves from misfired missiles and to make absolutely sure their debris does not fall on Russian territory.” The other two S-400 divisions are stationed around Moscow and in southern Russia, the country’s industrial heartland, sometimes known as the “Red Belt” due to its reliable popular support for the Communist Party.

A more credible explanation for the reported deployment of Russia’s third S-400 division is to counter the still-growing US National Missile Defense system, which includes interceptor missiles at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vanderbilt Air Force Base, California. It may be, too, that the neo-Soviet leadership is still nervous about the Pentagon’s apparent interest in setting up anti-missile batteries around the periphery of the “post”-Soviet space. Although Moscow has dissuaded the Obama White House from carrying out former US President George W. Bush’s plans of deploying interceptor missiles in “post”-communist Poland and a radar base in the “post”-communist Czech Republic, the Department of Defense is now eyeing NATO member Turkey and EU ally Israel as possible sites for interceptor missiles.

“The Kremlin, however,” rightly observes the UPI news agency, “says the planned location in Eastern Europe is compromising Russia’s national security and a further sign of NATO’s eastward expansion. Russia believes the alliance has turned from a security coalition into a geopolitical tool used by the United States to increase its political and economic clout in Eastern Europe.”

Turkey, which moved into Russia’s orbit following last year’s Caucasian War, may not be receptive to that idea of hosting elements of Washington’s NMD. Israel, which armed and trained the Georgian army, much to the Kremlin’s displeasure, already hosts a mobile US radar system in the Negev Desert, ostensibly to track Iranian ballistic missile launches. Russia and Iran, of course, are close allies, while Tehran has submitted an application for full membership in the Moscow-Beijing-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The above story was first reported by the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza but the US embassy in Ankara, according to the Turkish media, denies that any such negotiations to place US interceptor missiles in Turkey are underway. During the (first) Cold War, Turkey, then a reliable bastion of anti-communism, also hosted US ballistic missiles that were trained on Soviet targets.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin, which has re-projected a limited naval influence throughout the world over the last two years, acknowledges that its navy is sorely in need of accelerated modernization and expansion in the face of a deficient military-industrial establishment. To that end, Moscow, tapping its oil and natural gas revenue, intends to buy a helicopter-carrying Mistral-class amphibious assault ship, equipped with hovercraft and landing craft, from NATO member France. The agreement for purchase will be completed by the end of 2009, revealed General Makarov, who refused to name a price. Earlier this month, though, the Russian government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported that the assault ship, which can carry 16 heavy helicopters, 470 airborne troops and other gear, costs 700 million euros (US$995 million). The 200-metre (656-foot) assault ship is equipped with high-tech communications equipment and is designed to control a NATO amphibious operation.

Tellingly, Makarov admitted that Moscow intends to forge a deal with Paris on joint production of more such ships. “We also want to establish production of a series of at least four or five ships of this class. No country in the world can do everything on its own,” he conceded, no doubt swallowing some neo-Soviet pride as he did so, “Some things will have to be purchased from foreign producers.”

That the Soviets are purchasing military equipment from NATO to upgrade their own forces is not surprising in view of the fact that Moscow has sold combat helicopters, tanks, and armored personnel carriers to NATO countries such as Turkey and Greece. However, such treasonous familiarity simply exposes the fact that the NATO leadership not only does not recognize the Soviet strategic deception but also is compromised at the highest organizational levels. Indeed, KGB-trained Hungarian spy master Sandor Laborc assumed NATO’s rotating top intelligence post in 2008. In both the czarist era and later in the Soviet era, through Washington’s ill-conceived Lend-Lease Program, coordinated by documented Soviet agent Harry Hopkins, Russia routinely made substantial weapons purchases from suppliers in the West.

“This is the first major step in that direction—of Russia turning to the West to modernise its military and military industry,” observed Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, “It is a major change. We’re talking not just about buying off the shelf but also getting the technology. There is going to be discussion about this. The ship purchase and production agreements with France will likely come under scrutiny from Washington as naval ships built in France and other NATO states contain potentially sensitive US technologies.” Felgenhauer speculated that the Russian Navy could use its French-built amphibious assault ships to land special forces along the coast of “former” Soviet republics like Ukraine, Georgia, and the Baltic states.

On August 26, in what could be a case of disinformation, possibly like the story about the S-400 deployment in Far East Russia, General Makarov announced that production of the troubled Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) has been moved to an alternative factory due to “problems in the production cycle.” According to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, Russian military and defense industry experts were taken aback by Makarov’s statement since there is only one plant in Russia—Votkinsky Zavod in the Ural Mountains—that manufactures solid-fuel ballistic missiles for the Strategic Missile Forces, including the Topol-M, Iskander-M, and Bulava-30.

“Apparently, the media misinterpreted what Gen. Makarov said because there is nowhere to transfer Bulava production to from the Votkinsky plant,” commented former chief of staff of the Strategic Missile Forces, Colonel General Viktor Yesin. He added: “On the other hand, it is possible to change manufacturers of faulty components supplied to the plant. Here we have some options, but the choice is still limited.”

The Bulava, which is being developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, has suffered six failures in 11 tests. The SLBM carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has an estimated range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage missile will be deployed on new Borey-class nuclear-powered strategic submarines. Russia’s top brass expects the Bulava, along with Topol-M land-based ballistic missiles, to become the core of Russia’s nuclear triad.

A likely precursor of the Communist Bloc assault against the West will be a pre-“Missile Day” cyberattack against military and civilian infrastructure computer networks in the West. Peace-time probes have already taken place, instigated by security agencies, military sabotage divisions, and state-sponsored criminal groups in Russia, Eastern Europe, China, and North Korea. Russian hackers also purportedly disrupted websites in Estonia in 2007, in connection with the international dispute over a Soviet war monument in the capital Tallinn, and Georgia in 2008, in advance of the neo-Soviet occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Along this theme, on August 25 the Washington Post reported that criminal “cyber-gangs” in Eastern Europe are targeting small and medium-sized companies in the USA. These invisible cyber-gangs electronically transfer money from bank accounts via “money mules,” who are willing or unwitting individuals involved in the fraud. Sometimes these illegal transactions are conducted within half an hour, before the account holder realizes that he has been robbed. “Eastern European organized crime groups are believed to be predominantly responsible for the activities that are employing witting and unwitting accomplices in the U.S. to receive cash and forward payments — from thousands to millions of dollars to overseas locations — via popular money and wire transfer services,” warns an alert from the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center. The reader should be reminded that the deliberate disruption and demise of the capitalist economies, which are already experiencing serious convulsions, is a key objective of the communist conspiracy.

Finally, in a related story that will no doubt enflames the hearts of many Russians with neo-Soviet pride, children’s writer and poet Sergei Mikhalkov, who penned the lyrics to the Soviet and “post”-communist Russian national anthems, died on August 27 at the ripe old age of 96. President Medvedev, a Soviet Komsomol graduate, expressed condolences to the poet’s widow, sons, and other family members. Mikhalkov died in a Moscow hospital.

In 1943 Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin commissioned a new national anthem, with the lyrics to be written by Mikhalkov and music composed by Alexander Alexandrov. As a result of his contribution to the Soviet cause, Mikhalkov received a series of major awards, including the highly prestigious Stalin prizes. In the 1970s he altered the lyrics to delete reference to Stalin. After the Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991, the anthem was briefly abolished by President Boris Yeltsin but restored under his hand-picked successor, Vladimir Putin. Yet another version of the national anthem was officially adopted in 2001, after Mikhalkov was picked once again to rewrite the lyrics to Alexandrov’s music. Two years later Putin visited Mikhalkov at his home, decorating the lyricist with the Order for Service to the Fatherland and recognizing his contributions to Russian culture.

In conclusion, we see through the venerable Mikhalkov’s close relationship with both Stalin and Putin perfect harmony between the paleo-Soviet and neo-Soviet leaderships.

>Gray Terror File: Scotland releases Lockerbie bomber, “repentant” arch-terrorist Qaddafi welcomes Megrahi home, states war against West "justified"

>“Scotland’s decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi from prison gives comfort to terrorists around the world and makes a mockery of the rule of law,” Robert Mueller declared in a latter addressed to Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, dated August 21, and posted at the website of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. “I am outraged at your decision,” the FBI director added, “Your action rewards a terrorist even though he never admitted to his role in this act of mass murder.”

Megrahi, who is dying of prostate cancer, was released the day before by MacAskill. He was sentenced in 2001 to serve 27 years for the killing of 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. Doctors estimated this month he had less than three months to live. Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer, has maintained his innocence in the bombing of the Boeing 747 flying to New York from London. He was the only person convicted in the atrocity, which took place on December 21, 1988. Libya formally accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing.

On arrival at Tripoli’s airport, Megrahi was greeted by hundreds of people cheering and waving Scottish flags. Libyan strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi (pictured above) hugged the 57-year-old Megrahi and praised Scottish authorities, as well as Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for releasing his agent. Even US President Barack Hussein Obama, a leftist who is pro-Islam, called the display “highly objectionable.”

Colonel Qaddafi has ruled Libya with a party-less socialist dictatorship since seizing power in an anti-monarchist coup in 1969. During and after the Cold War he sponsored rebels and revolutionaries throughout Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa, including Sudan, Chad, Niger, Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Relations between Washington and Tripoli reached a nadir in 1986 when Ronald Reagan, the last “great” US president in our opinion, ordered the air force to bomb the Libyan capital and Benghazi. Reagan rightly described Qaddafi as a “mad dog.” General Secretary of the African Union, an ardent promoter of African federalism, and an open enemy of Israel, Qaddafi allegedly abandoned a nuclear arms program and publicly renounced terrorism between 2002 and 2005.

In addition to being a staunch ally of Moscow, Qaddafi is also chummy with Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s past/present Marxist dictator. The troubling relationship between Tripoli and Managua afforded international terrorism a conduit into the Central America during the 1980s and since January 2007, when Ortega re-assumed the presidency, has once again opened that dangerous door. Ortega, it should be added, is also closely allied with the Islamic terrorist state of Iran. Last year Qaddafi met former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in what was the highest-level official visit by a US dignitary to Libya in more than 50 years. As an aside, in 2008 more than 200 African tribal chiefs blasphemously crowned Qaddafi “king of kings,” a title given in the Bible to Jesus Christ.

Following the hero’s reception for Megrahi, Qaddafi’s statement to Libya’s official news agency revealed that he has never at any time privately renounced international terrorism as an instrument of state policy: “The West still has a policy of double measures resulting from its arrogance and disdain it has for other nations and their public opinion. It is a policy that generates the terrorism which they now suffer. Terrorism is a phenomenon with a double cause and it finds its justification in these policies.”

Notwithstanding Qaddafi’s candor this week, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a business magnate who like the Libyan strongman is buddy buddies with Russia’s KGB-communist dictator Vladimir Putin, indicated that he will go ahead with his official trip to Tripoli, scheduled for August 30. The Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini offered the following pathetic, self-congratulatory excuse for not immediately severing relations with arch-terrorist Qaddafi:

First of all because Gaddafi is the Chair of the African Union; in the second place, we have shown both Libya and the rest of the world that we have made a break with our colonial past. No other country has done so and we deserve praise for this. In the third place because we now have a consolidated relationship with Libya which goes beyond economic ties, but it is a rapport of Mediterranean collaboration.

The last is a reference to the new Union for the Mediterranean (UPM), the brainchild of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Libya was the only North African state to refuse Sarkzoy’s invitation to take out full membership in the UPM, which embraces the terrorist-sponsoring state of Syria.

Lastly, it should come as no surprise that Moscow has no compunction about revitalizing its Soviet-era relationship with Tripoli. According to Novosti, Russia will send an honor guards company to Libya to take part in a military parade dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the Libya’s socialist revolution on September 1. Neither President Dmitry Medvedev nor Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will attend the celebrations in the Libyan capital, but a delegation of state-level officials will be sent.

>Event Convergence Alert: Two Bear bombers fly within 50 miles of Iceland on Aug. 5, Russian subs simultaneously spotted off US East Coast

>– One Akula-Class Attack Submarine Reportedly Made Port of Call in Cuba

– Kremlin Commissions Tupolev to Develop Fifth-Generation Strategic Bomber, Tu-180 Stealth Bomber Reported to Exist Already

We’re back from our three-week summer vacation. Our information war against the Communist Bloc continues.

On or around August 5 the US military detected two Russian, nuclear-powered Akula-class attack submarines within 200 miles of the eastern seaboard. However, dot.gov was not alarmed. “Is it unusual?” a senior Pentagon official asked, admitting: “Yes, but we don’t view it as provocative at all.” He then swept the incident under the carpet of diplomatese: “Both subs remained in international waters at all times.” “During the Cold War,” relates the Wall Street Journal, citing the New York Times “subs from both the U.S. and the Soviet Union regularly patrolled the North Atlantic in an elaborate game of naval brinkmanship intended to track rival fleets and position themselves strategically in case of war.”

In the event of war, attack submarines are tasked with destroying enemy subs and ships with torpedoes and missiles, while larger ballistic missile subs are tasked with destroying land-based military and civilian targets with nuclear weapons. The US Navy equivalent of the Akula is the Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered sub.

US naval expert Norman Polmar, quoted in the original New York Times article, observed that this was probably the first time in 15 years that the Russian Navy deployed two subs in proximity to its not-so-former Cold War rival. Ominously, the original article reported that one of the subs recently made a port of call in Cuba, which is once again openly consorting with neo-Soviet Russia. However, the Department of Defense official quoted above would not confirm the first sub’s movements, conceding only that the second sub remained close to Greenland, an autonomous overseas territory of Denmark.

A senior Kremlin official was quoted by Interfax as retorting: “Patrols in international waters are routine, and there is no need for hysteria.” Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia’s deputy chief of general staff, complained about the attention given to his subs: “I don’t know if it’s news to anyone. The navy should not stay idle at its moorings.”

The British media picked up the story above by probing the Royal Navy for information concerning Russian subs lurking near the United Kingdom, particularly in one of their old Cold War haunts, the Iceland Gap, north of Scotland: “We don’t want to let them know that we know where they are operating,” protested a British Defence Ministry official. Commodore Stephen Saunders, a former submarine commander and editor of Jane’s Fighting Ships, commented on the incident:

The arrival of Akula Class submarines off the US eastern seaboard is as much a political move by the Russian Navy as a military one, although these deployments would always have to be approved from high-up. It’s unquestionably the Russian Navy trying to raise its profile. The Russian Navy has been suffering from neglect for years, to such an extent that a Russian navy commander admitted in June that they might have to buy ships from abroad.

However, the Times of London quoted a Pentagon official, presumably the one interviewed by the New York Times above: “Any time the Russian Navy does something out of the ordinary, it is cause for worry. We’ve known where they were and we’re not concerned about our ability to track the subs, but we’re concerned just because they are there.”

On August 11 the Canadian Press reported that in response to the Russian sub sighting off the US eastern seaboard Ottawa dispatched a CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft to monitor the vessels in the event that they approach Canada’s Atlantic coast. It is not clear, though, whether the Canadian military unilaterally made the decision to track the subs, or followed a request from US Northern Command, which regularly performs this duty. “We don’t talk about ongoing activity, especially if it’s a surveillance flight,” explained Lt. Noel Paine, spokesman for Canada Command, the Ottawa-based headquarters in charge of the Canadian Forces’ continental defense. “We don’t discuss any activity of vessel of interest – or any area that [the aircraft] is flying.” Earlier this month the Canadian Maritime Command conducted a four-week exercise near Baffin Island that was personally viewed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as part of his five-day tour of Canada’s three Arctic territories.

Harper’s defense minister, Peter MacKay, who criticized Moscow over a planned exercise to drop paratroopers on the North Pole next April, admitted that the subs had done nothing threatening, but insisted that their presence off the east coast of North America is part of “Russia flexing its muscle on the world stage.” Last February, Canadian fighter jets scrambled to intercept an approaching Russian bomber less than 24 hours before US President Barack Hussein Obama’s visit to Ottawa.

Although the North American and British media published news of the Russian sub sightings, it failed to point out that on August 5, even as the vessels lurked off the US east coast, two Bear bombers flew within 50 nautical miles of Iceland. The task of reporting this separate incident was left to the Icelandic media.

The Russian Air Force’s strategic bomber fleet is aging, like much of its US counterpart, especially the B-52 Stratofortress and B-1 Lancer. In response, the Kremlin is modernizing its fleet of Tu-160 Blackjacks, Tu-22M3 Backfires, and Tu-95 Bears, as well as the Il-78 Midas aerial tankers that support the bombers on overseas missions. Upgrades for the Tu-160 include conventional smart weapons and new radar systems. However, Russia’s upgraded, nuclear-capable bombers will become obsolete by 2020. Thus, Moscow is committed to developing a fifth-generation stealth bomber that would rival the US Air Force’s B-2 Spirit.

State-run Tupolev has been granted the contract to design and build Russia’s 21st-century long-range bomber, which will possess both conventional and nuclear capabilities. “We signed a contract this year on research and development of a future strategic bomber for the Russian strategic aviation. It will be a conceptually new plane based on the most advanced technologies,” Tupolev general director Igor Shevchuk explained at the MAKS-2009 air show near Moscow, earlier this month. According to some reports, Tupolev, which is the only Russian aerospace company with experience in bomber production, has already developed a stealth bomber called the Tu-180.

Some military aviation experts believe that Russia’s proposed new heavy bomber will actually be an advanced knock-off of the Blackjack, production of which resumed in December 2007. Russia’s air force commander, Colonel General Alexander Zelin, elaborated: “The new plane will use a wide selection of high-precision weapons, and will have a whole range of new combat capabilities, allowing it to apply new methods to carrying out deterrence tasks.”

Intriguingly, from the vantage of the Soviet deception strategy, after the so-called collapse of Soviet communism in 1991, Moscow took the precaution of preserving Tupolev’s industrial base for the development and production of new heavy bombers by issuing Russian Government Decree No. 720 in 1999. This legislative instrument placed the famed design bureau on a list of companies essential to Russia’s national security. In 2006 Tupolev and other well-known Soviet aerospace companies were absorbed into the Kremlin-run United Aircraft Corporation.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Russian paratroopers to carry out North Pole drop in April 2010, 48,000-member force to receive new weapons, AIVs

>Your resident blogger is in the midst of his summer vacation, but decided to post during a pitstop at a relative’s home.

In the 1968 action thriller Ice Station Zebra, directed by John Sturges and starring Rock Hudson, US Marines and Soviet paratroopers face off at Drift Ice Station Zebra, on the polar ice pack, in their attempt to recover a film capsule ejected by a spy satellite. Four decades later Russian paratroopers will land at the North Pole in a military exercise slated for April 2010 and designed to reassert the Kremlin’s power in the Arctic region.

General Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov, commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, however, denies that Moscow is saber rattling. “We do not intend to engage in rattling, we only intend to make a peaceful visit to the North Pole,” the good general insists, adding: “Today, when the issue of protection of national interest in the northern direction, a working group on the organization of the trip has been established together with Artur Chilingarov.” General Shamanov then has the audacity to describe the paratrooper operation as a “demilitarizing mission.”

Incidentally, Chilingarov is Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s special representative for Arctic and Antarctic issues. A recent publication of the Russian Security Council, the secretary of which is former FSB/KGB chief Nikolai Patrushev, proposes the establishment of an Arctic Group of Forces.

Not so coincidentally, Russia’s airborne troops will receive new equipment and weapons by the end of 2009 and transform itself into a fully professional force by 2011. “At the end of August we will receive a battalion of 10 Nona self-propelled guns and two fire-control vehicles,” Shamanov related. In addition to procuring BMD-4 airborne infantry vehicles, the general revealed that his airborne troops are planning to procure aerial spy drones, possibly the Israeli ones reported earlier this year, and modernize the TIGR armored multipurpose vehicle.

Russia’s paratroopers, boasts state-run Novosti at the previous link, are considered the country’s most capable mobile assault forces. Various estimates put the current personnel at about 48,000 troops deployed in four divisions and a brigade. Russian paratroopers participated in last month’s Sino-Soviet war game in northeast China, Peace Mission 2009 (pictured above).

Historically, Canada has been very sensitive about its sovereignty over its Arctic islands and waterways, even when its closet ally, the USA, is involved. During the (first) Cold War Canadians lived in fear that their country, geographically situated between the USA and the Soviet Union, would be caught in the middle of a superpower nuclear conflagration. Since 2007 Russia’s revitalized bomber missions over the North Pole and the Kremlin’s re-assertion of influence over the Arctic’s natural resources have struck a particularly raw nerve in Ottawa.

To counter Moscow’s brazen moves in the polar region, Canada’s conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, plans to carry out a five-day trip to the Canadian Arctic, and witness part of a four-week naval drill near Baffin Island. This past Friday Defence Minister Peter MacKay acknowledged that Ottawa is “closely monitoring the Russian plans” for the Arctic, and warned that Canada is ready “to meet any challenge” to its territorial sovereignty. That may be so, but it will only be in conjunction with the USA’s protective “nuclear umbrella,” which the plucky Canadians enjoy via their membership in the North American Aerospace Defense Command.