Both China and Russia share borders with the North and are the key to any solution. They each have economic interests that favour stability in the region. North invests heavily in its military and advanced weapons programmes, spends an estimated 23.3 per cent on the military, in comparison to the South’s 2.6 per cent. The only reason for such high service numbers in both countries is the very palpable threat of renewed conflict. A key sticking point to any solution remains the American troop presence in South Korea. US military personnel are there currently, and multiple installations serve as deterrents to aggression by the North. America benefits in this case not only from the avoidance of nuclear conflict, but also from its continued strong commercial connections with an enlarged Korean market, and the military cost savings of withdrawal. The new reality also ensures greater geopolitical stability in the region (important to allies Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan), and serves as a confidence-building measure for further cooperation by the US with China and Russia on other issues.
The Russian Defense Ministry is surprised at the statement made by German’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen claiming 100,000 Russian military will be involved in the Russia-Belarus West-2017 exercise, spokesman of the Russian authority Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday. “We are surprised at the statement, made by the German defense minister, Ms. Ursula von der Leyen, as she quoted the unreasonable figures concerning claimed 100,000 Russian military to be involved in the West-2017 exercise and about consequent threats to Europe”, the spokesman said. “The German side was notified and it has received all the exhaustive information about the plot, defense character and real numbers of the Russian military involved in the West-2017 exercise”. The joint strategic exercise Zapad-2017 is scheduled for September 14-20. Six proving grounds in Russia and Belarus will be used. It is expected that 12,700 troops will take part (about 10,200 in Belarus) and 680 pieces of military equipment. The Belarussian Defense Ministry has dispatched invitations to monitors from seven countries and a number of international organizations, including NATO, CSTO, CIS, UN and OSCE. Russia, too, has invited senior officials from a number of foreign defense ministries to see the final phase of the exercise.
Tell Rifaat, the “key” to Afrin, one of the main bases of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization, where Turkey prepares to launch an operation, was handed over to the Syrian regime by the PKK with the efforts of Russia. Russia then declared Tell Rifaat as a “de-escalation zone”. Tell Rifaat is a large district in the north of Syria, its population being comprised mostly of Arabs. Turkey’s possible Afrin operation was expected to advance to the center of Afrin, starting from Tell Rifaat. A major part of the PKK terrorists in Tell Rifaat withdrew to Afrin, after leaving the district. The remaining PKK terrorists are expected to gradually abandon Tell Rifaat. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. The PKK has been conducting armed violence in the southeastern part of Turkey since 1984. More than 40,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the three-decade long conflict.
The National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine in February 2015 approved an appeal to the UN and the European Union regarding the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine. “The issue was considered and a decision was made to appeal to the UN and the EU regarding the deployment of peacekeeping and security missions in Ukraine,” NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov told journalists at the time. It was noted that the peacekeepers should be deployed both along the line of contact in Donbas and along the uncontrolled section of the Russian-Ukrainian border. The reason for the decision was another escalation in Donbas. But Moscow’s reaction was unequivocal: Minsk accords do not presuppose any peacekeepers – exclamation mark.
A command center and a communication hub have been destroyed and 40 militants of the Islamic State terror group were killed near the city of Deir ez-Zor, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
MOSCOW, September 8. /TASS/. Russian aircraft have delivered airstrikes near the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, destroying a militant command center and a communication hub, and eliminating four important field commanders, including IS “minister of war” Gulmurod Khalimov, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“As a result of a precision airstrike carried out by Russian warplanes near the city of Deir ez-Zor, a command center and a communication hub have been destroyed, while around 40 militants of the Islamic State terror group were killed,” the statement reads. “It has been confirmed that there are four important field commanders among the eliminated militants, including the so-called ‘Emir of Deir ez-Zor’ Abu Muhammad al-Shimali, who was responsible for financial affairs and the transfer of recruits to the IS training camps. It has also been established that the so-called ‘minister of war’ of the Islamic State terror group, Gulmurod Khalimov, was present at the meeting and died of fatal wounds”, the Russian Defense Ministry added. Khalimov was a former commander of the Tajik Interior Ministry’s special forces. In May 2015, together with six of his soldiers, he joined the IS. After Abu Omar al-Shishani was killed, Khalimov became the IS minister of war.
Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday, on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in the Chinese city of Xiamen, state-run news agency MENA reported.The meeting included talks on several bilateral and international topics of a common interest. According to the presidency spokesperson Alaa Youssef, Putin praised the increase in trade between the two countries, as well as the bilateral coordination on regional and international issues. Meanwhile, El-Sisi invited Putin to attend a celebration at the site of the Dabaa nuclear-power station, which Egypt is planning to build with Russian assistance. El-Sisi is also expected to holding bilateral meetings with his Chinese and Indian counterparts during the three-day summit, as well as meeting with a number of large Chinese companies investing in Egypt.Earlier today, Sisi delivered a speech before the BRICS Business Forum, where he spoke of Egypt’s economic reform program, and related reforms of the subsidy system and social security system.
Russia’s hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian troops in Donbas 26 times on Saturday, September 2; there were no casualties among Ukrainian soldiers, according to the press center of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. “Late last night, the enemy intensified shelling of Ukrainian positions in the ATO zone. After 18:00 local time, provocations with the use of small arms became more frequent both in the Donetsk and Mariupol sectors”, the ATO HQ said in an update on Facebook on Sunday morning. In particular, Ukrainian positions near Avdiyivka’s industrial zone came under fire four times – the militants used small arms and a grenade launcher. In the evening and at night, the enemy attacked Ukrainian troops stationed near the villages of Zaitseve and Kamianka twice, near the village of Mayorsk three times. Russian proxies also shelled Ukrainian positions near the village of Vodiane in the Mariupol sector four times, using a grenade launcher, a large-caliber machine gun and small arms, the ATO HQ said. Attacks on Ukrainian positons with the use of small arms were reported near the villages of Talakivka and Hnutove, while the village of Shyrokyne, which is about 23 km from the Ukrainian-controlled strategic port city of Mariupol, came under fire from a large-caliber machine gun twice. The situation in the Luhansk sector was relatively calm. However, at about 20:00 local time on Saturday, Russian-backed militants opened fire from a grenade launcher near the village of Novozvanivka, the ATO HQ said.
Russia’s new Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov said in an interview with the Russian television he is focused on development of the Russian-U.S. relations and considers it necessary to stabilize them. “I believe, counterparts from the Department of State, the National Security Council, Pentagon, those who remained from Barack Obama, have not ruined completely the Russian-American relations”, he said, adding the existing cooperation with the U.S. under programs of the Ministry of Culture, in the spheres of fishery, industries, space development “add to certain optimism and the opportunity to hold on to something to develop those relations”. “I am focused on progress of the kind”, the ambassador added. Russia is interested in development of relations with the U.S. as much as it is, he continued, but at the first stage it would be necessary to attempt stabilizing the relations, “trying not to allow further slide towards a crisis in the relations”. “As of today, the most important is not to allow further sanctions spins”, he said. “I hope the U.S. counterparts do not follow this route”. It is necessary to be talking to the U.S. despite the problems in bilateral relations, he continued. “My opinion is talking with this America it is not only possible but necessary”, the ambassador said. “No matter, how complicated the time is, talking is necessary”. “It is rather diplomats sit by the negotiations table than the military watch each other though rifle scopes”, he said. “We had to experience such a period, and we shall calmly and professionally solve the tasks emerging from the Russophobia policies, inherited from Obama’s Administration”.
Moscow is concerned over contacts between officials of Ukraine and Croatia on “returning uncontrolled territories,” which run counter to the Minsk peace agreements, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday. In late August, Kiev hosted contacts of Ukraine’s authorities with Croatia’s Former Justice Minister Vesna Skare-Ozbolt, Former Deputy Interior Minister Yoshko Moric and ex-chairman of the government’s committee for refugees and displaced persons Lovre Peykovich. “Judging on the current information from mass media, the meetings discussed issues of “returning uncontrolled territories” based on Croatia’s experience in the 1990s,” the ministry said. This was “negative experience” as Zagreb’s military operations in 1995 resulted in 250,000 Serbian refugees and numerous deaths, it noted. “Any mentioning of “military scenarios” towards Donbass looks especially flawed and immoral now, in the first days of the school ceasefire approved in the Normandy format”, the ministry said. Russia seeks to foster friendly ties with Croatia and calls on Zagreb to “use all possibilities to encourage Kiev to consistently and fully comply with the Minsk agreements for the soonest settlement of the domestic Ukrainian crisis by peaceful means and ensuring sustainable stabilization of situation in Ukraine’s southeast”.