US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande will be speaking about ISIS and the crisis in Syria after a morning of talks at the White House.
Hollande has been vocal in his efforts to get the international community more engaged in directly fighting ISIS after terror attacks struck his nation two weeks ago.
It is unclear how much the events of today: the Turkish downing of a Russian fighter jet and the Syrian rebels (who are armed by the US) downing of a Russian helicopter will impact the international response.
WATCH LIVE: Obama, Hollande speak after joint meetings.
Cover Photo Credit: U.S. Army Europe Images/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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By John Massey
An approximately 60 mile stretch of land separates the Russian district of Kaliningrad, from the country of Belarus. It just so happens that this stretch of land is the border between Poland and Lithuania, and one of the most militarized regions in Europe.
As a result, this area has been called by some within the defense community “the New Fulda Gap“, referring to the presumed flashpoint of conflict between NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War.
Kaliningrad is a small Russian enclave separated from the rest of the country, and nestled between the Baltic Sea, Poland, and Lithuania. It was awarded to Russia in the Potsdam Accords of 1945, and functions as the home base for the Baltic Fleet. As the Kremlin continues takes an adversarial view of NATO, a heavily armed garrison in the district would seem a rational act. This is precisely what they’ve done by positioning several brigades as well as a Motor Rifle Regiment in the territory.
This in itself is not an overtly aggressive move. The Russian Government has just as much a right to defend its territory as any other.
However, the Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Juozas Olekas, said that the types of units being moved to Kaliningrad in large numbers are a threat to the Baltic States.
The Minister reports that “there are 30,000-35,000 troops, two mechanized brigades, armored vehicles in the hundreds rather than the dozens… Moreover, Kaliningrad hosts huge air defense forces. The older complexes get replaced by new and modern ones. Their range is rather extensive, over 400 kilometres.”
Olekas also claims that there is intelligence to suggest the deployment of SS-26 “Stone” ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad which are potentially capable of striking targets at 400 km, with a target accuracy of 5-7m.
An evolution of the infamous “Scud”, this system would be capable of destroying Command and Control Systems, landed aircraft, artillery, and civilian infrastructure. The Baltic States are understandably worried that their key advantages of superior organization and airpower could be knocked out.
Olekas is not the only one worried about Russian capabilities in the Baltic.
Lt. General Ben Hodges, who commands US Army Forces in Europe, recently said that the potential for conflict in the gap as something that keeps him up at night.
According to Hodges, the growing frequency of unannounced Russian military exercises in both Belarus and Kaliningrad can be viewed as a potential scenario to snatch the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, before their allies can muster a coherent response.
Lt. General John Nicholson, Commander of Allied Land Command concurs with Hodges’ fears but cites recent exercises, attended by Russian observers, as demonstrating NATO’s ability to “mobilize brigades and divisions within days”, further underlining the primary mission of the Alliance, deterrence.
Hodges went on to tell NBC News that there is no immediate reason for the Russians to seize the Baltic States, but notes that he was also taken aback by recent Russian adventures in Ukraine and Syria.
Retired General Bob Scales also has some fears related to NATO’s ability to respond to a crisis in the Baltic States. In a recent interview with Ryan Evans of War on the Rocks, Scales said that he has fears that Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty (the provision which calls for mutual defense of members under attack) has a credibility problem.
The claim is that NATO members, in particular Germany, Britain, France, and the United States, would not come to the aid of an alliance member further East, and recent Pew polling among people in NATO countries lends some credence to this fear.
Scales went further to note that NATO has eroded its ability to project on land over the last fifteen years, and while “this is not the Cold War”, and “the Russian military is not what it used to be”, he is adamant that the mission of deterrence is not being adequately filled, and that Anti Ship Missiles in Kaliningrad being able to block off the entire Baltic sea from NATO’s superior naval forces negate that advantage.
Scales did not request a hike in defense spending from the United States, suggesting that a “modest repositioning of existing American forces” would be sufficient.
Such an adventure into the Baltics is likely not going to occur in the near future. RISE NEWS has previously reported on the problems the Russian military has had in recent years with its ability to project. However some unknown rift in the future could ignite this flashpoint.
The immediate objective and cause would not be known to us, but the Grand Strategy objective would be, according to Western understandings of Russian Grand Strategy and history, would be to secure space between Russia and the presumably hostile NATO forces.
This is due to Russia’s industrial and agricultural core being concentrated in the European section of the country.
This seeking of space is a result of several invasions of Russia by aggressive actors to both the East and West, including but not limited to: Germany, Sweden, France, Britain, and the Mongols over the course of history.
Space is therefore a geopolitical imperative when Russia feels threatened. As is the case with Russia’s current adventure in Ukraine, so too could be the case at the Suwalki Gap.
This line of thinking is why NATO expansion is a contentious issue. On the one hand, NATO expansion causes the Kremlin to fear NATO forces crashing through their borders, and annihilating the state.
On the other hand, Article V protection deincentivizes Russian adventures in neighboring states, due to the collective protection offered by the Alliance.
The validity of Russian fears of NATO, much like the validity of the fear of Russians seizing the Baltic States, is irrelevant. What is important is that these fears exist, and are real to those who have them and shape policy.
Working through these issues should then be the key objective of European policy, preferably without “little green men” in Estonia Latvia and Lithuania.
Cover Photo Credit: U.S. Army Europe Images/Flickr (CC by 2.0)Post Views: 93
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By Staff Report
UPDATE – 1:48 PM EST:
Russia deploys missile cruiser off Syria coast, ordered to destroy any target posing danger, Russia Today reports.
UPDATE – 11:53 AM EST: Turkey tells Reuters that both pilots are still alive
A Russian warplane has been shot down near the Turkey-Syria border.
CNN.com is reporting that Turkey first warned the plane: “Turkey says it issued 10 warnings to the aircraft that violated its airspace Tuesday before responding “within engagement rules” near the Turkey-Syria border.
Currently the Russian military is searching for the pilot. A video posted online by rebels meanwhile appeared to show a Russian pilot immobile on the ground, either badly wounded or dead reports BBC.com.
In a twist, the Turkish government is now saying that both pilots are still alive and that Turkey is working to bring them to their territory.
According to Reuters the aircraft did not identify itself to the pair of Turkish F-16s that intercepted it in Turkish airspace. After multiple warnings were issued the F-16s brought down the aircraft in the “Turkmen Mountain” area. The pilots apparently ejected from the aircraft. One is reported to have been captured by local Turkmen forces in Syria.
A video released earlier in the day apparently showed a dead Russian pilot, in opposition to the statement by the Turkish government.
(Warning for graphic content)
In a separate yet released incident: new video also apparently shows Syrian rebels destroying a downed Russian helicopter today as well. The helicopter was reportedly searching for the missing Russian pilots shot down by Turkish jets. The Syrian rebels were armed with American military technology.
WATCH: Syrian rebels destroy Russian helicopter with American arms
ISTANBUL: Turkish fighter jets shot down Russian warplane near Syrian border today, Russia denied violating airspace pic.twitter.com/RdWsZXpdlK
— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) November 24, 2015
Stay with Rise News as we monitor this breaking news story. John Massey contributed to this report.Post Views: 73
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By Kyle Jones
Some twenty of Ben Carson’s top aides resigned last Thursday, throwing Carson’s campaign into turmoil with less than a month before the Iowa Caucuses.
According to CNN, Carson’s campaign manager Berry Bennet, deputy campaign manager Lisa Coen, and communications director Doug Watts all resigned following speculation of a staff shake-up.
The Carson campaign has been dogged for months by internal conflict and rumors of personnel change. According to Reuters, Bennet said his resignation was due to differences with another top adviser to Carson, Armstrong Williams.
Bennet blamed Williams for an interview given by Carson to the Washington Post in which Carson spoke openly about the problems in his own campaign, as well as a number of articles detailing Carson’s weakness on foreign policy.
“It’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen a candidate do,” Bennett said.
Williams has blamed Bennett as well as former communications director Doug Watts for not adequately preparing Carson for public appearances, and said that they chose to leave Carson’s campaign over being fired. Carson and Williams have both stated their belief that a change in campaign staff will reinvigorate the neurosurgeon’s campaign.
According to Politico, Robert Dees, a Carson foreign policy advisor and retired Army general, will now chair the campaign, filling another leadership role that’s been vacant for months. It is still unclear who will fill the newly vacated positions, but it is widely speculated that veteran campaign strategist Ed Brookover may fill the position of campaign manager.
Carson was in stiff competition with businessman Donald Trump for the position of GOP front runner in mid-October. Carson has since fallen to a distant fourth place behind Trump, Texas senator Ted Cruz, and Florida senator Marco Rubio in most national polls over concerns surrounding his lack of experience in foreign policy.
Williams stated his belief that Dees’ foreign policy and national security experience will be a vital asset to the Carson campaign and that his leadership will help to reinvigorate it.
If Dees does take over as chairman of Carson’s campaign, the decision may come with some degree of controversy.
In the former army general’s 2014 book, “Resilient Nations”, Dees argued that the greatest threat to the United States isn’t an external threat but rather the loss of the nation’s “spiritual infrastructure.”
In 2014 Dees also stated in an interview, “trying to appease the Muslim religion by saying that they are a peace-loving religion is problematic,” and that, “they need to demonstrate how their religion does not lead people to a final end state of violence and oppression.”
Despite sliding poll numbers and internal conflict, Carson’s campaign on Wednesday announced that it had raised an impressive $23 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. With the Iowa Caucuses only a month away, time alone will tell whether this staff-shake up will be a fresh start for the Carson campaign or the beginning of its end.
Cover Photo Credit: Marc Nozell/Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 37
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