Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts

In Arms Race For Air Superiority, Russia Challenges US Hegemony

Five years since its return to the Middle East with a military base in Syria, Russia is moving into weapons markets left vacant by the United States and boosting sales to traditional clients.

Moscow’s expanding arms sales bring money and geopolitical influence, as it seeks to challenge US hegemony.

On February 25, Russia officially announced that Egypt had received five Sukhoi Su-35 advanced multi-role fighter aircraft, the first of an order of 24.

Egypt ordered the planes despite threats of US sanctions after Washington refused to sell Cairo its fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bomber.

Turkey, a NATO ally, is in talks with Russia to buy the Su-35 and eventually the state-of-the-art Su-57 fifth generation combat plane, after being shut out of the US’s F-35 programme.

On March 12, Russia announced it was ready to open official negotiations with Ankara, and to help Turkey develop its own fifth-generation fighter, the TF-X.

Algeria, Russia’s biggest customer in the MENA, is to receive 14 upgraded Sukhoi-34 light bomber jets this year, and is also reportedly interested in the Su-57.

Iran, an historic client of Russian weaponry since the days of the Shah, is free to consider Russian goods again, since a decade-long UN arms embargo against the Islamic republic expired in October.

In part, Russia is marketing its weapons because they are a major source of foreign currency, experts said.

“Weapons exports are critical for the Russian economy, unlike the US which is such a huge market on its own that it doesn’t really care about exports,” said Kostas Grivas, professor of weapons systems at the Hellenic Military Academy.

Russia’s share of global weapons exports was 21 percent in 2015-19, making it the world’s second largest exporter after the US, according to figure from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The 1979 Camp David Accords, which awarded Israel diplomatic recognition from an Arab country for the first time, elevated Egypt to the status of a key US ally.

Since then, the US provided more than $80bn in military and economic aid to Egypt.

That changed in 2011, when then-President Hosni Mubarak was deposed by a popular uprising and a 2012 election saw Mohamed Morsi win. The US then withheld deliveries of weapons systems, fearing a threat to Israel.

Morsi’s removal by a military coup after a year in office did little to assuage US concerns about underlying political instability, and there were added worries over President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s clampdown on the Muslim Brotherhood Morsi hailed from.

Citing human rights abuses, the US suspended military aid to Egypt for two years, worth an estimated $1.3bn a year.

“There is a position of the US against human rights problems in Egypt,” retired Egyptian army general Gamal Mazloum told Al Jazeera, adding, “They must drop it.”

“Since the new president [Biden] of the United States [took office] he did not call president al-Fattah el-Sisi. There is no connection between them at all … It is not good.”

Egypt’s fall from grace now contrasts with the US-Israeli relationship.

In March 2011, as revolutions swept across North Africa and Syria, Israel announced it would buy 19 F-35s.

Israel now has two combat-ready squadrons of 24 aircraft each, and in February approved the purchase of a third, along with airborne tankers to increase their range. Leadershipng 


US govt imposes sanctions on Russia over cyber-attacks, election interference

The US government on Thursday imposed new sanctions on Russia over “harmful foreign activities” against the country’s sovereignty and interest.

According to the White House, the sanctions are retaliatory moves against what the administration described as interference of the Russian government in the 2020 presidential election and cyber-attacks on federal agencies.

Sanctions were imposed on 32 entities and individuals linked to the Russian government over the attempt to influence the 2020 presidential elections.

The expulsion of 10 personnel from the Russian diplomatic mission in the US was also announced.

“President Biden signed a new sanctions executive order that provides strengthened authorities to demonstrate the administration’s resolve in responding to and deterring the full scope of Russia’s harmful foreign activities,” the White House said in a statement.

“This includes, in particular, efforts to undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections and democratic institutions in the United States and its allies and partners; engage in and facilitate malicious cyber activities against the United States and its allies and partner.

“Foster and use transnational corruption to influence foreign governments; pursue extraterritorial activities targeting dissidents or journalists; undermine security in countries and regions important to United States national security; and violate well established principles of international law, including respect for the territorial integrity of states.”

In 2020, several federal agencies were attacked with a software that contained malicious codes in an attempt to gather top government secrets, which was tagged, “SolarWinds”.

US cybersecurity experts alleged that the Russian government was responsible for the attack.

This is the second sanction within two months as the US government earlier sanctioned seven mid-level and senior Russian officials over the attack on Alexei Navalny, an opposition leader in Russia. TheCableng

Russia offers Egypt assistance in freeing ship blocking Suez Canal

Russia’s ambassador to Egypt on Sunday offered the country “any possible assistance”, as efforts continue to free a megaship that has been blocking the Suez Canal for nearly a week.

The MV Ever Given has been stuck diagonally across the span of the canal since Tuesday, blocking the waterway in both directions.

In comments to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, Russian ambassador Georgy Borisenko said that Moscow is ready to help any way it can.

“We hope that this problem will be overcome in the very near future, that the work of the channel will be restored, and, naturally, we are ready to provide our Egyptian friends with any possible assistance from our side,” the ambassador said.

Borisenko added that Egypt has not reached out to Moscow for support, but said Russia “empathises with what’s happening now in the Suez Canal”, describing it as “an important waterway for the whole world”.

On Saturday, Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie had told reporters that the massive ship could be afloat by Sunday night.

The jam has crippled international trade and forced companies to reconsider re-routing vessels around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, a longer and more expensive way to travel between Asia and Europe.

Another Russian ambassador had earlier this week seized on the Suez Canal blockage to promote Russia’s northern shipping route as a reliable alternative, part of a broader push by Moscow to develop the Arctic and capitalise on climate change.

Moscow has invested heavily in the development of the Northern Sea Route that allows ships to cut the journey to Asian ports by 15 days compared with the conventional route via the Suez Canal. Theguardianng

Russia to fine social media platforms over youth protests

Russia said Wednesday it would punish top social media platforms for failing to delete posts calling for minors to join unsanctioned protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Ahead of the rallies that took place across the country on Saturday, social media platforms including TikTok, which is popular among teenagers, were flooded with thousands of posts calling for Russians to demonstrate.

In response, Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor warned the platforms they would face fines for failing to delete such posts and said that several had removed a significant number.

But on Wednesday the watchdog deemed they had not done enough and said platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube, would be fined “for failure to comply with the requirements to suppress the spread of calls to minors to participate in unauthorised rallies”.

“Despite the request of the prosecutor general’s office and the notification from Roskomnadzor, these internet platforms did not remove in time a total of 170 illegal appeals,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement.

It added that the fines would range from 800,000 rubles ($10,520) to 4 million rubles ($52,760).

Protests in Russia are banned if they are not approved by the authorities, as are calls for people under 18 to join demonstrations.

Also on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin complained about the growing influence of large technology companies, which he said are “competing” with states.

Hashtags dedicated to Navalny have been trending on TikTok, where they have garnered more than 1.5 billion views after the anti-corruption crusader was jailed on his return to Russia from Germany.
His allies have called for a new round of demonstrations this Sunday.


Russia Accuses United States Of Meddling After Arrest Of 3,500 Protesters

The Kremlin on Sunday accused the United States of interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs and downplayed the scale of the weekend’s protests, when tens of thousands rallied in support of jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

More than 3,500 demonstrators were detained in protests across the country on Saturday, with several injured in clashes with police in Moscow, following Navalny’s call to rally against President Vladimir Putin’s 20-year rule.

The West has widely condemned the “harsh tactics” used against demonstrators, with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian saying Sunday the mass arrest of protesters was “an intolerable affront” and a “slide towards authoritarianism”.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said the bloc would discuss “next steps” on Monday.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Sunday accused the US embassy of interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs after the mission distributed a “demonstration alert” to US citizens in Russia recommending they avoid protests.

“Of course, these publications are inappropriate,” Peskov told a state TV channel. “And of course indirectly, they are absolutely an interference in our domestic affairs.”

A US mission spokeswoman said US embassies and consulates around the world routinely issue safety messages to US citizens.

“This is a common, routine practice of many countries’ diplomatic missions,” she told AFP on Sunday.

The US embassy in Moscow on Saturday said that Washington supported “the right of all people to peaceful protest, freedom of expression”.

– Protests in over 100 cities –

Peskov also accused protest organisers of seeking to “rock the boat” and said the number of people who had demonstrated paled in comparison to Putin supporters.

“A lot of people vote for Putin,” Peskov said, pointing to last year’s constitutional plebiscite that allowed 68-year-old Putin to remain in power until 2036.

Navalny, Putin’s most prominent critic, was arrested on returning to Moscow last weekend following months of treatment in Germany for a near-fatal poisoning with a Soviet-designed Novichok nerve agent.

He then called for Saturday’s unauthorised protests, which took on an unprecedented geographic scale, spanning more than 100 cities.

Around 20,000 people protested in Moscow and more than 10,000 in Saint Petersburg, according to estimates from AFP journalists, with rallies also held in numerous countries including France and Lithuania.

Leonid Volkov, the head of Navalny’s regional network, praised the turnout.

“I am certainly proud, very impressed and inspired,” Volkov told AFP. Navalny’s team is hoping to stage another rally next weekend.

Many at the protests said they were angered by the findings of a Navalny investigation into an opulent Black Sea property allegedly owned by Putin.

The two-hour report, which claims that Putin owns “the world’s most expensive palace” allegedly financed through a massive corruption scheme, has been viewed nearly 80 million times on YouTube.

Peskov said the luxury mansion on the Black Sea was “private” property and had nothing to do with Putin.

– Protester in intensive care –

Moscow officials said that 29 people received medical assistance in hospitals and were released.

Saint Petersburg prosecutors said they were probing violations on “the part of law enforcement” and the use of force against a woman.

The statement was released after local media published a video showing a middle-aged woman falling to the ground after being kicked by riot police.

In the video, a woman — identified as Margarita Yudina — is seen asking three policemen in full riot gear why they were detaining a young unarmed protester. One of the policeman then kicks her in the stomach.

Yudina was hospitalised in a “serious condition” with a head injury before being released on Sunday evening, local health committee spokeswoman Olga Riabinina told AFP.

The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said it had launched criminal inquiries in Moscow over the use of violence against law enforcement, hooliganism and property damage.

In a separate statement, investigators said a 36-year-old man was detained after hitting two policemen at the Saint Petersburg protest.

The OVD Info monitor said police seized at least 3,521 protesters, with 1,398 people detained in Moscow and 526 in Saint Petersburg.

The head of the Kremlin’s human rights council, Valery Fadeyev, said most of those detained in Moscow had been released.

He also defended the detentions, saying the protests were illegal and took place during a coronavirus pandemic. “I see no violations whatsoever,” he said.

Navalny, who rose to prominence a decade ago, accuses the FSB security agency of seeking to poison him on Putin’s orders.

He is the target of several criminal probes and supporters fear authorities are planning to sentence him to a long prison term.


US: Russia warns of ‘scary consequences’ over Donald Trump ban

Russia has warmed that there may be scary consequences after Twitter and other social media platforms removed Donald Trump, the outgoing President of the US.

The country compared the actions of the platforms to a “nuclear blast in cyber space.”

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova said this on Facebook, adding that “It’s not the destruction that’s scary but the consequences.

“A blow has been dealt against democratic values proclaimed by the West.”

Owners of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and even Trump’s favourite social media platform, Twitter suspended his accounts last week following the deadly attack on the US Capitol by the outgoing President’s supporters.

The attack was said to have been Trump’s final push to stop the confirmation of Joe Biden as the November 3 presidential election winner by the Congress.

Twitter has now deleted the President’s account completely, depriving him of his favorite megaphone.

The spokesperson added that Trump’s social media ban was one more reason for American authorities to “take care” of their own country instead of criticizing Russia.

This was in response to US’ concern over a crackdown on independent media in Russia, among other issues. Dailypost

Russia Denies Microsoft Claims Of Healthcare Cyber Attacks

Moscow on Tuesday vehemently rejected claims by Microsoft that Russia was behind cyberattacks on companies researching coronavirus vaccines and treatments, saying it was being made a scapegoat.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state news agency RIA Novosti it had become “politically fashionable” to pin the blame for cyber attacks on Moscow.

Russia announced in August that it had registered the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V — named after the Soviet-era satellite — but did so ahead of large-scale clinical trials.

In October, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had also registered its second coronavirus vaccine, EpiVacCorona.

“We do not need anything other than a normal approach towards the projects we already have in Russia and are promoting including in cooperation with foreign partners,” Ryabkov said.

Ryabkov also claimed that Russian companies themselves were frequently becoming targets of foreign cyber attacks.

He said Russia and the United States should allow experts to look into the issue.

“However, Washington has persistently steered clear of such dialogue,” Ryabkov added.

Last week, Microsoft urged a crackdown on cyber-attacks perpetrated by states and “malign actors” after a spate of hacks disrupted healthcare organisations fighting the coronavirus.

The US tech giant said the attacks came from Russia and North Korea.

The Kremlin has previously denied US claims that Russian military intelligence was behind cyberattacks targeting Ukraine’s power grid, the 2017 French election, and the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, describing them as “Russophobia”.



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