Russian Defense Minister calls for ‘symmetrical response’ to NATO activities near Western borders

The Russian minister noted that, in the first half of 2018, NATO conducted 13 large-scale military exercises involving over 40,000 servicemen and 2000 units of combat hardware near the bloc’s south-western borders.

Shoigu also told the Russian military command that when preparing a response to NATO’s unfriendly actions they should combine the operations aimed at strategic containment and boosting the combat preparedness of troops of the Southern Military District. However, the minister noted that a recent inspection at the district revealed that forces there were ready for any scenario involving confrontation with foreign opponents.

The minister emphasized that Russia was not increasing the strength of its military forces deployed on the “contact line” with the NATO bloc, but increased their combat ability through more intensive training and the introduction of new, more effective weapons.

At the same time Shoigu noted that, since 2015, the strength of NATO military groups stationed in the Baltic countries, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria increased from 2000 to 15000 people. This increase was conducted “on the background of the Baltic and Polish hysteria caused by imaginary plans of alleged Russian aggression,” he added.

As for the Crimean Republic which hosted Wednesday’s session of the Defense Ministry’s collegium, Shoigu emphasized that the Russian military group stationed on the peninsula “would not leave a single chance to any potential adversary who would risk making a claim on the originally Russian lands.” He also revealed that the Defense Ministry has created and is now perfecting a unique group that combines servicemen from various branches of the military.

In late May, the chair of the Upper House of Russian Parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, reiterated the position that is currently shared by many Russian officials – that the image of a hostile Russia had been invented by NATO generals and Western spin doctors for internal purposes and has little to do with reality.

NATO is a relic from the bipolar period of history that by definition cannot survive without looking for opponents. Today they found this opponent in the so-called ‘Russian threat’ and I would like to emphasize that the so-called ‘hostile’ and ‘revisionist’ Russia is not an objective reality but purely internal project of the West itself through which the West is trying to solve its own internal problems,” Valentina Matviyenko said was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

In early June, Russian military forces conducted major exercises in the Crimea and in South Russia’s Krasnodar Region with participation of marines, anti-aircraft units, and about 100 helicopters. The war games were held at the time as Ukrainian Navy training which led to some parts of the Azov Sea being temporarily sealed off.

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EU army looms? Merkel backs Macron’s European Defense Force initiative

“I am in favor of President Macron’s proposal for an intervention initiative,” the German chancellor told Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper on Sunday.

“However, such an intervention force with a common military-strategic culture must fit into the structure of defense cooperation,” she said.

Merkel said that the German military, the Bundeswehr, “must, in principle, be part of such an initiative,” but added that her statement “doesn’t mean that we are to be involved in every mission.”

During his key speech at Sorbonne University last September, Macron proposed a European military “intervention force” that would protect the continent by taking action in hotspots around the globe. It’s a crucial element of the French leader’s defense reform, which is aimed at integrating European defense capacities. But the talks on implementing the European Defense Force have so far been complicated due to Berlin’s cautions approach to the initiative.

“European defense cooperation is very important. Of the 180 weapon systems that currently co-exist in Europe, we must move to a situation like the United States, which has only about 30 weapons systems,” Merkel said.

Following Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, which the EU considers crucial, and a tariff war unleashed by Washington against Brussels, the European leaders began questioning the ability and desire of the US to be the guarantor of security for Europe.

READ MORE: Time to ‘take fate into its own hands’: Europe can’t rely on US protection anymore, says Merkel

“It’s no longer the case that the United States will simply just protect us,” Merkel said in early May. “Rather, Europe needs to take its fate into its own hands. That’s the task for the future.”

The German chancellor was fully backed by Macron, who urged the European Union “not to be weak.” Last week, Austrian chancellor also called on Europe to “remain united” because “the US has [recently] become more and more unreliable for us.”

READ MORE: Trump vows to ‘deal with’ Germany & other NATO allies ‘not contributing enough’

Trump also promised to “deal with” Germany as a country that “has not contributed what it should be contributing” to the US-led NATO military block. The statement came after German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said last month that Berlin will only increase its military spending by 1.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2025 instead of the 2 percent desired by Washington.

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Russia and Rwanda discuss air-defense systems supplies

Russia and Rwanda have good cooperation in the military-technical sphere, and Russian-developed vehicles in service in the country’s army may soon get new additions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Sunday. “The supplies of air-defense systems are currently being discussed,” the top Russian diplomat said during a press briefing with his Rwandan counterpart Louise Mushikiwabo. The two countries are also ready to cooperate in relation to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, with Lavrov calling for the transformation of the agreements “into concrete steps” in the area.

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RAF F-35s to land in UK next week as MoD defense spend review looms

According to reports, the first batch of four F-35s will touch down at RAF Marham in Norfolk and will be supported on their flight with several aerial refuelings from Voyager tanker aircraft.

Five more F-35s are expected to follow by the end of July, according to the UK Defence Journal.

So far, 15 of the fighter’s B-variant – which allows for short take-offs and vertical landing of jets without using a conventional runway – have been delivered to the RAF from manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

By purchasing the F-35B, the aircraft will be capable of operating from the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

The aircraft, however, have been based at US Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina, while RAF and Royal Navy pilots and maintenance crew train with the fleet ahead of their transfer to the UK.

They will be flown by members of the newly reformed 617 Squadron, which flew and was immortalized by the Lancaster bombers that carried out the 1943 Dambusters mission

Speaking on the new Squadron, Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Just like those Lancasters which played such a vital role in the Second World War, the F-35B Lightning is based on great British design, operating with futuristic technology to adapt to an increasingly dangerous world.”

The 617 Squadron’s commanding officer, Wing Commander John Butcher, said: “I have the great privilege of leading a jointly manned Squadron made up of the best engineers, mission support personnel and pilots from the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.”

From July 2019, the training of pilots and crew on the F-35 will be carried out by 207 Squadron and will be based at RAF Marham.

However, while the MoD has already committed to purchasing 48 F-35Bs, with the intention of adding a further 138, there are concerns that funding may not allow for such an acquisition of the £100 million ($133 million) per unit plane.

Earlier this month, the Daily Telegraph made the claim that Williamson was considering a reduced buy of the F-35B, bulking up fleet numbers with the more affordable, and British-built, Eurofighter Typhoon.

A decision on the matter is expected to be revealed after the MoD publishes a long-awaited defense review in July, which promises to readjust the British armed forces spending as a funding hole that could reach as much as £20 billion ($26.5 billion) leaves the feasibility of such procurements in doubt.

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Israel Massacres Gazans, Claims Self-Defense, Its High Court Agrees

Israel Massacres Gazans, Claims Self-Defense, Its High Court Agrees

by Stephen Lendman ( – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Since Great March of Return peaceful demonstrations began on March 30, Israel massacred 120 Gazans, including 14 children, injuring other 13,000 others, hundreds in serious condition.

The toll keeps mounting, about 50 Palestinians near death, according to health officials. Gazans demonstrated against 11 years of suffocating/illegal blockade – the world community doing nothing to end it. 

For weeks, Israel responded to demonstrators with overwhelming bloodshed, despite facing no threat.

Six human rights groups – Adalah, Al Mezan, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) Gisha, Hamoked, and Yesh Din – sued Israel for using lethal force against peacefully demonstrating Gazans.

Israel’s High Court of Justice heard the case in late April – plaintiffs challenging the IDF’s open-fire rules of engagement, calling for it to be struck down as unlawful.

Representing Adalah, attorney Suhad Bishara said “(t)he great majority of those shot were at a distance from the (border). There (was) systematic use of lethal fire with no justification.”

Israel’s High Court ruled otherwise, rejecting the suit, siding with the IDF’s unjustifiable right to massacre Palestinians with impunity.

Justices called use of live fire lawful, claiming demonstrators posed a threat to Israeli soldiers and civilians – a bald-faced lie. They were unarmed, peaceful and nonthreatening.

Late Thursday, an Adalah and Al Mezan statement said the following:

“The Israeli Supreme Court completely ignored the broad factual basis presented to it by the petitioners, which includes multiple testimonies of wounded and reports of international organizations involved in documenting the killing and wounding of unarmed protesters in Gaza.” 

The “Court refused to watch video clips, documenting Israeli shootings of demonstrators and, rather than actually examining the case, fully accepted the claims presented to it by the state.” 

“The extreme nature of the ruling is also highlighted by the striking absence of any mention of the casualty figures that had been presented to the court.”

“(T)his this ruling, which justifies the shooting of protesters, contradicts the conclusions and preliminary results of international human rights organizations and United Nations bodies documenting and evaluating the events in Gaza.” 

“The Supreme Court’s ruling gives full legitimacy to the illegal actions of the Israeli military,” justifying what’s unjustifiable, giving a green light to IDF mass murder at its discretion – actions clearly illegal under international and Israeli law.

High Court President Esther Hayut, Deputy Chief Justice Hanan Melcer and Justice Neal Hendel disgracefully turned truth on its head.

They wrongfully called Hamas and other Strip groups terrorist organizations – mixing terrorists with other demonstrators, claiming soldiers acted under conditions of “armed conflict” – disgraceful bald-faced lies.

Gazans are defenseless civilians threatening no one. Hamas has a military wing, a police force equivalent, for self-defense.

State terrorism reflects longstanding Israeli policy, daily brutality inflicted on Palestinians throughout the territories.

World community failure to hold Israel accountable assures continued high crimes committed against Palestinians – defenseless under ruthless occupation harshness.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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Israel defends Gaza crackdown as self-defense: ‘We are saving human life’ (Only Jews are human): Zio-watch, May 22, 2018

The Israeli minister of military affairs has lashed out at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for its condemnation of the recent Gaza carnage, saying Tel Aviv and the US should immediately withdraw from the Geneva-based body.

In a post on his Twitter account, Avigdor Lieberman claimed that “Israel is under a double attack,” one from Gaza and another campaign of “hypocrisy headed by the United Nations Human Rights Council.”

“We must stop permitting this celebration of hypocrisy and immediately withdraw from the Human Rights Council, and work diligently so that the United States joins us in this step,” he added.

Lieberman’s comments came two days after the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Right condemned “the appalling, deadly violence in Gaza.”

“The rules on the use of force under international law have been repeated many times but appear to have been ignored again and again. It seems anyone is liable to be shot dead or injured: women, children, press personnel, first responders, bystanders, and at almost any point up to 700m from the fence,” it noted.

The 47-member UNHRC is also scheduled to hold a special session on Friday to discuss “the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem [al-Quds].”
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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan answers questions after giving a speech at Chatham House in central London on May 14, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan answers questions after giving a speech at Chatham House in central London on May 14, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the recent violence in the Gaza Strip shows that the United Nations has “collapsed”.

“If the silence on Israel’s tyranny continues, the world will rapidly be dragged into chaos where banditry prevails,” said Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Erdogan accused the Tel Aviv regime of “state terror” and “genocide” over the Palestinian deaths.

“What Israel has done is genocide,” the Turkish president said, adding, “I condemn this humanitarian drama, the genocide, from whichever side it comes, Israel or America.”

“We will continue to stand with Palestinian people with determination,” he added.

Ankara has withdrawn its ambassador to Israel for consultations and called on Israel’s ambassador to Ankara to leave.
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(JTA) — The African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling political party, compared Israel’s actions on the Gaza border to Nazi Germany’s actions against the Jews.

The ANC in a statement said it “views with complete shock and dismay the Israeli armed forces’ massacre of peaceful Palestinian protesters.”

“We watched in complete disbelief as a people, who continuously remind us all about the hate and prejudice Jews went through during Hitler’s anti-Semitism reign, will exhibit the same cruelty less than a century later,” the statement said, adding that the ANC once was the “target of a Nazi-like Apartheid regime.” It said it would never accept another county’s government that “regards other human beings as insignificant.”

South Africa on Monday announced its ambassador will leave Israel “until further notice.”
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Video created by Plus61J

SYDNEY (JTA) — Two men who have been in a relationship for 47 years became the first Jewish same-sex couple to be married in an Australian synagogue.

Australia legalized same-sex marriage five months ago.

At their wedding ceremony earlier this month, Ilan Buchman, 70, and Oscar Shub, 71, stood under a huppah. Sticking to Jewish tradition, each groom circled the other three times and on the seventh revolution they simulated a figure eight. Each man broke a separate glass simultaneously.

Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, the spiritual leader of Sydney’s Emanuel Synagogue, told JTA: “It was an incredible honor and privilege, on behalf of Emanuel Synagogue, to officiate at the first same-sex ceremony under the legislation.”
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Jonathan Greenblatt, left, is the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. Morton Klein, right, is the head of the Zionist Organization of America. (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Last year, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations updated its secret rules to ban “insults, ad hominem attacks, and name-calling” among member organizations and instituted a special committee to consider complaints in strictest confidence.

On May 2, the committee met, in strictest confidence, to hear three complaints. The session, all parties agree, soon devolved into insults, ad hominem attacks and name-calling — and without a decision or definitive plans for what happens next.

Three Jewish organizations — the National Council of Jewish Women, the Anti-Defamation League and HIAS — accused the Zionist Organization of America of inappropriately criticizing them; in turn, the ZOA filed complaints against member groups that have yet to be scheduled for hearings. (The ZOA says it was not told that the meeting was off the record.)

The complaints range from differences as picayune as who is responsible for anti-Zionist signs at a mass rally to intimations of corrupt intent to allegations of violence.
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SHOCK: CBS Allows Spirited Defense of the Greatness of Capitalism

CBS This Morning

NORAH O’DONNELL: Business icon Ken Langone is on Forbes magazine’s list of the richest people in the world. But he insists he is not a self-made success. Langone grew up in a working class family in Roslyn Heights, New York. He first made a name for himself on Wall Street as billionaire Ross Perot’s banker. Langone went on to co-found one of the world’s largest retailers,  Home Depot. In 2008 after a $200 million donation, NYU Langone Medical Center was renamed in his family’s honor. Langone wrote a memoir about his unique path to success called “I love Capitalism: an American story.” Ken Langone, welcome. So great to have you here. 

KEN LANGONE: I’m honored to be here. 

O’DONNELL: It’s a great story of how you got to being where you were as a kid to now. One of the really nicest things you say in the beginning is that you could fill Yankee stadium with all the people that helped you. 

LANGONE: Absolutely. 

O’DONNELL: It’s not just a story about a self-made billionaire. 

LANGONE: I’m far from self made, starting with my parents. Humble, uneducated, great, great capacity for unconditional love. I was kind of a so-so kid and they’d get upset with me. My father used to say more than once, “If I never see you again, it would be too soon.” But they always loved me. I knew that. And that’s a powerful  incentive. 

BIANNA GOLODRYGA: And you had been approached many times to write your life story in a book and turned it down until the election of 2016 and you said you were motivated because you saw a whole new generation gravitate towards Bernie Sanders. That bothered you, why? 

LANGONE: Because they hadn’t even started and they were quitting. They were 21, 22 years old. Give life a shot. Take a few risks. Take some chances. Nobody should go to bed hungry in America. Nobody in America should not be educated. None of those things. But if we don’t have kids believing they can make a difference, that they can contribute, something’s wrong as a society. Something is wrong. I don’t want anybody —  I should not —  this is the insanity of our system. I get a check every month from our government. What a disgrace. There are people out there that need it that should get it. Not me. 

GOLODRYGA: You draw a line between the private sector and the government and where they should stand. 

LANGONE: Yes. Yeah. I think the more we can do for ourselves, the better we are. Remember this, somebody who gets a check from the government and does nothing for it, you’re taking away from them in my opinion self respect. The kid that gets his first job and has a check, holy smokes, I did that. You know, you build —  success is built on that. 

JOHN DICKERSON: But the Sanders supporters would say — they talk about the system being rigged and so they look at Washington and say, you know, the President’s lawyer is getting a lot of money from companies who want influence with the President. So they see that system and they say, you know what, we need a real change in this system. It’s a system where you have ten million people who are in the working poor. So they’re working hard, they’re not being lazy, and they still can’t succeed in America, so they say something has got to change. 

LANGONE: Okay. Bernie, Arthur, myself and Pat Farrah started Home Depot. We have 400,000 associates working for the company full time. We have 80,000 seasonal in the spring and fall. We have 3000 kids that come to work to us out of high school, barely out of high school, pushing carts in from the parking lot. Ready? They’re multimillionaires today. That’s the capitalistic system. Look, do we do everything right? Absolutely not. My fervent belief is capitalism is the best way to spread good things among a massive number of people. 

DICKERSON: Do capitalists need then to —  Home Depot took the tax cut and gave $1,000 bonuses. 


DICKERSON: A lot of companies didn’t. I think there was one study that found that 45 of the top 500 companies only gave those bonuses. Do capitalists need to be more like Home Depot? 

LANGONE: I’ll answer that question this way. The biggest challenge to ameca opi is income inequality. If you don’t fix income inequality, you know what happens? Cuba happens, Venezuela happens, Russia happens. People that were way down — I was on bear in mind, my parents, mom had to go to work to work in the school cafeteria to put food on the table. We ate well and had a warm home. We didn’t have an air conditioned home. The point is we’ve got to help these people. But the best way out is to offer them opportunities where they can develop, not only their own skills but their sense of self worth. When you take away from me my sense of personal belief in myself, nothing is left. 

DICKERSON: But should people in your position in other companies be doing more? If it’s not to be done by government, should the capitalists — 

LANGONE: Norah very nicely talked about Yankee Stadium. I’m not a self-made man. There are a lot of people out there saying they were self made. That’s for them to decide, I’m not. Home Depot, look at what we do for veterans. Look at what we do — There’s a program at Home Depot, and I’m proud of this, called Ken’s Crew for challenged people, we have 400 in the company now. Down syndrome, autism, you name it. 

I can’t tell somebody else what’s good for them. If somebody wants to say they’re self made, that’s their call. My call is, Man, first of all, this goes on every morning. I look up, grandma and grandpa, thanks for coming to America. My grandfather went to school until he was six years old. In that book there’s a picture of him. You look at his hand, it’s gnarled. Why? The man for 66 years from the time he was six years old had a shovel in his hand. Look, we’ve got a lot of things we need to work on in America, but we’re still the best place on Earth and we’re going to get better and better and better. 

GOLODRYG: Ken, you have said there will be no other America. 

LANGONE: There will never be another America. No, no. 

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