Israel is furious with Putin

Israel is furious with Putin

Kirill Govorov (Russia)

Israel’s stomach turned as Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said in Washington that Russia, in spite of everything, will deliver «Yakhont” anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria. Major Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronothcalled Moscow’s decision nothing less than a personal slap in the face from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Israeli officials intend to demand an explanation from Russia for this announced plan, and the rhetoric of some Israeli politicians has gone as far as ultimatums and threats, beginning with proposing to blackmail Russia by resuming negotiations to sell military equipment to Georgia (including UAVs). After Georgia’s military aggression in August 2008, the Russian leaders convinced their Israeli colleagues to end their policy of actively promoting the revenge-seeking ambitions of the Georgian president.

Unlike the Caucasian situation, in the Middle East, the Israeli government has, in its short history of existence, managed to engage in violent confrontation with almost all of its neighbors and it not only regularly violates of international law, but it is very irritated when anyone impedes it from doing so. For its part, Russian policy has remained committed to the idea of a balance of power in one of the most volatile regions of the planet. This remains important, as the Israel’s military leadership has not yet turned into an absolute hegemony in the region, backed by its close strategic alliance with the United States.

In this sense, supplying Syria with purely defensive weapons cannot be regarded as a destabilizing factor. Rather, these Russian Yakhonts (meaning «rubies” or «sapphires” in Russian) will prevent Israeli hawks from romping through Syria’s territorial waters.

Igor Korotchenko, editor-and-chief of Russian magazine, National Defense, spoke about the decision by the Russian government to sell Damascus the Yakhont anit-ship missiles, and Israel’s reaction.

“I think this decision is entirely in keeping with Russian national interests,” he said. “Don’t forget that Syria has been our ally in the region since Soviet times. Russian leaders have contact with Damascus at the very highest level – very recently Dmitri Medvedev made a visit to the Syrian capital. All of this creates a good foundation for expanding the format and variety of the military cooperation between the two countries.”
“Regarding the contract for the “Bastion” mobile anti-ship missile system (the supersonic Yakhont missiles are component of this system), this is a purely defensive weapon. The missiles have a range of 300 km. What’s more, it meets all missile technology limits and regulations. So delivering it to any country, including Syria, does not violate the current laws limiting the spread of missile technology.”

“Why then, do Israeli politicians seem to be so afraid and are reacting so nervously to this? The fact is that the Bastion is a weapon against which modern warships – including the latest American designs – have no defense. When a Yakhont missile is fired, it follows an adaptive trajectory taking into account all the nuances – target composition (singular targets or groups), heat or electronic interference, etc., automatically selecting the optimal trajectory to hit a target. No one has such an anti-ship weapon. The kinetic force of the impact plus 200 kg of explosives, which detonates only after the missiles has pierced the hull and reached the center of the warship – all of this simply breaks the ship in two (a large aircraft carrier could be felled by less than five of these missiles).”

“It’s understandable that Israel, which feels like it has monopolized and dominated militarily in the region, does not want to see any gain from its neighbors, even though Syria and Israel are not currently at war. At the same time, they do not currently have any diplomatic ties. And so, Syria has signed a “end user certificate” ensuring that these weapons will not fall into the hands of extremist groups — a worrisome scenario for Israel. Most importantly, terrorists simply wouldn’t be able to use such a weapon, as it is a complex technical system. Syrian personnel will be trained to use it in Russia. This weapon will provide security to Syrian costal areas on the Mediterranean, and thus will not pose any direct threat to Israel. Moreover, the Syrian coast does not even border Israel. As long as Israeli ships do not enter Syrian territorial waters, they should feel totally calm.”

“With regard to Israel’s blackmail of offering to resume arms supplies to Georgia – already a frightening prospect for us – we can go ahead and reconsider our decision to freeze our contract to supply S-300s to Iran. We have our own cards to play. Moscow could hit back in a way that would be totally disadvantageous to Israel. So the latter should act with restraint and take into account Russia’s political, military and financial interests in the region.”

Lyovochkin: Kuchma Likely Has ‘Grounds’ to Believe In ‘Foreign Hands’ Theory

Lyovochkin: Kuchma Likely Has ‘Grounds’ To Implicate Foreign Agents In Gongadze Murder, Melnychenko Tape Scandal

KIEV, Ukraine — Serhiy Lyovochkin, chief of staff to Ukraine’s current President Viktor Yanukovych, said that his former boss, Leonid Kuchma, must have had “grounds” to suggest – as he did on Sept. 15 – that foreign intelligence services tried to undermine Ukraine by orchestrating the 2000 murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze and the subsequent Melnychenko tape scandal.

Serhiy Lyovochkin, chief of staff to current president Viktor Yanukovych, was a top aid to former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma.
“Kuchma is a politician with a vast amount of experience. He likely had grounds to declare so,” said Lyovochkin, who served as Kuchma’s assistant in 2001 and top aid in 2002-2005.

The comment by Lvoyochkin was made in response to a question about Kuchma’s claim that Gongadze’s murder was part of an international provocation. “It’s an international scandal designed to compromise Ukraine. They didn’t give me or Ukraine any peace for five years,” Kuchma said on Sept. 15.

The former Ukrainian president hinted that foreign secret services were involved in Gongadze’s disappearance. He added that agents from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency were present at [anti-presidential] demonstrations following Gongadze’s disappearance.

“This was paid for. Money makes everything possible,” Kuchma said on Sept. 15, adding that he is satisfied that the U.S. under President Barack Obama has changed its view of the world and is no longer trying to spread democracy around the globe.

Lyovochkin, who was speaking to a group of journalists during a Sept. 20 briefing, did not directly answer whether he and Ukraine’s current president see evidence of such major interference from foreign intelligence agencies in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.

Kuchma claims to have seen such a risk. But he has, himself, been implicated in the murder of Gongadze. In secret recordings made of conversations in his presidential office druing 1999-2000 and known as the Melnychenko tapes, a voice resembling Kuchma is heard ordering subordinates to do away with Gongadze, whose reporting was critical of Kuchma’s administration.

Kuchma has also been implicated in the crime by the testimony ex-police General Oleksiy Pukach, who investigators say physically carried out Gongadze’s murder.

Ukraine’s prosecutors said last week that they are close to filing their case against Pukach in court. They say that Pukach testified that former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko gave him immediate orders to murder Gongadze in 2000.

Corroborating the claim could provide difficult, given that Kravchenko died in 2005 from two gunshots to the head under suspicious circumstances that were officially called a suicide by investigators.

Valentyna Telychenko, the lawyer representing Gongadze’s widow, claims that the case submitted by prosecutors also includes testimony by Pukach that implicates Kuchma and other individuals that held top posts back in 2000.

They include former deputy head of the Interior Ministry Mykola Dzhyha and Volodymyr Lytvyn, who served as presidential administration chief under Kuchma. Dzhyha today serves as governor of Vinnytsia oblast while Lytvyn is parliament speaker.

Media watchdogs and Telychenko fear that rather than investigating the possibility that Kuchma and other high-level officials could have ordered Gongadze’s murder, investigators could try to hang the crime entirely on Kravchenko.

Asked if Ukraine’s current president would be satisfied if in such a scenario, Lyovochkin said on Sept. 20 that it would not be good if the entire crime is “hung on one person.” But he stressed that concrete evidence was needed to clearly implicate other individuals.

Source: Kyiv Post

New Delhi Has a Plan

[SEE: Rebuilding the Northern Alliance, India Courts Iran ; Robert Blackwill’s ‘Plan B’ is Recipe for New Civil War In Afghanistan ]

New Delhi has concerns about TAPI pipeline

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan, Sept. 21 (UPI) — Final approval for a framework agreement on the multilateral gas pipeline from Turkmenistan still needs Cabinet approval, the Indian government announced.

The four parties to the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline met Monday in Ashgabat to sign a natural gas sales purchase agreement and a gas pipeline framework agreement.

Jitin Prasada, the Indian state minister for petroleum and natural gas, said the project had widespread support from the India government, the Indo-Asian News Service reports.

“The Cabinet has already given in-principle approval to the GPFA,” a government statement read. “However the final signing would be done only after the Cabinet approves this document.”

Prasada warned that the project would only be successful if transit fees for natural gas through each of the host countries was kept “at a minimum.”

Security issues for the portion of the pipeline running through Afghanistan and Pakistan were also concerns for the Indian government, he added.

The 1,043-mile TAPI pipeline would move natural gas from the Dauletabad field in Turkmenistan to consumers in Pakistan and India after transiting Afghanistan. Turkmenistan has more than 40 trillion cubic feet of gas in its Dauletabad gas field.

The Asian Development Bank financed a feasibility study for TAPI in 2005 despite the war in Afghanistan. The project is seen as a rival to Iran’s plans to build its own pipeline to Pakistan from the giant offshore South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf.

China Tells U.S. to Stay Out of South China Sea Dispute

China Tells U.S. to Stay Out of South China Sea Dispute

China on Tuesday warned the United States not to interfere in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea at an upcoming meeting in New York between President Barack Obama and Southeast Asian leaders.“We are resolutely opposed to countries not involved interfering… and we oppose the internationalization of the South China dispute because it will only make the issue more complicated,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

“Right now, the South China Sea is generally stable and China is deepening and expanding its relations with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries” on the issue, she said.

Obama will meet ASEAN leaders in New York on Friday on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly as the United States seeks to bolster its role in a region faced with a rising China.

“We will pay attention to any statement that the U.S. and ASEAN may issue,” Jiang said.

But she added: “China enjoys indisputable sovereign rights on the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters.”

China insists it has complete sovereignty over the potentially resource-rich Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea. However the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have competing claims.

In security talks in Hanoi in July, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said resolving the South China Sea dispute was “pivotal” to regional stability and called for multilateral talks — a position long opposed by Beijing.

Jiang however said Beijing was willing to work for a peaceful resolution of the long-standing dispute through dialogue with the parties concerned.

China has called the disputed maritime region a “core” issue of national sovereignty on par with Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang.

U.S. commanders have made it clear they are watching China’s military buildup, particularly its naval reach into the South China Sea.(AFP)

Delhi Games village ‘unfit for athletes’

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Delhi Games village ‘unfit for athletes’

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Sanjoy Majumder explains the problems with the athletes’ village

The Commonwealth Games Federation head has demanded the Indian government take immediate steps to improve conditions at the athletes’ village in Delhi.

Team delegates described the accommodation as filthy, unhygienic and unfit for human habitation.

But organisers of the event, which runs from 3 to 14 October, said they would provide an “excellent facility”.

Meanwhile, at least 19 people were injured as a footbridge collapsed near the main Games venue.

Collapsed pedestrian bridge outside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi on 21 September 2010 The collapse of a footbridge near the main venue is the latest setback

Two days before the village officially opens to the first of 7,000 athletes and officials, New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie warned that organisers would struggle to finish everything in time.

There was even a possibility the Games could be cancelled, he added.

He said toilets in the accommodation were leaking and did not flush, and there were piles of building debris in bathrooms.

He told New Zealand commercial radio on Tuesday: “If the village is not ready and athletes can’t come, obviously the implications of that are that it’s not going to happen.

“It’s pretty grim really and certainly disappointing when you consider the amount of time they had to prepare.”

In Melbourne, Australia’s chef de mission, retired marathon runner Steve Moneghetti, said the hosts “have got two days to do what’s probably going to take about two weeks”.

But organising committee vice-chairman Randhir Singh told reporters in Delhi that everything would be ready on time.

“I can assure everyone there is no cause for worry,” the news agency AFP quoted him as saying. “Delegates have praised the village as one of the best.

“We are working round the clock to take care of any problems. When the athletes arrive here, they will find an excellent facility.”

There have also been safety concerns surrounding the Games, heightened on the weekend after gunmen on a motorcycle shot and wounded two tourists near Delhi’s Jama Masjid, one of India’s biggest mosques.

Rebuilding the Northern Alliance, India Courts Iran

After months of under-the-radar discussion, India will be part of a regional initiative on Afghanistan along with Iran. It’s learnt that foreign ministers of India, Iran and Afghanistan are working on meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York to signal the start of this trilateral.Significantly, the formal proposal for the meeting came from Iran last week and, sources said, the three countries have agreed and officials are busy setting it up. Also, Tehran has sent a letter supporting New Delhi’s candidature for a non-permanent member in the UN Security Council.

The trilateral initiative will be an important breakthrough for India because it has been left out of every other regional effort at the behest of Pakistan. Islamabad’s discomfiture is what led to Turkey not inviting India to a regional meet last year. Then, of course, India was quite taken aback with Russia not including India at the quartet — Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan — meet in Sochi last month.

India discussed this proposal at length with Afghanistan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul when he was here last month and then followed it up with the Afghanistan NSA Rangin Dadfar Spanta. If all goes by plan, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Iran Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Rassoul will meet in New York during the next 10 days.

With Pakistan making its intentions clear to block Indian efforts, India began quiet talks with Iran given how both are in sync on Afghanistan. Both countries worked closely when the Taliban was in power in Kabul and are now cooperating on key infrastructure projects. Given that Pakistan does not allow transit rights to India, most Indian equipment and goods are transported via Iranian ports.

However, the chill in India-Iran ties following New Delhi’s decision to vote against its nuclear programme in the IAEA upset equations in the relationship. At that time, India was also pursuing closure of its nuclear deal with the US and other western powers. More so, India has maintained that another nuclear armed country in the region was not in its interests.

Despite these reservations, New Delhi has often put a rider that Iran has a right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy as long as it abides by its international treaty obligations. Two actions on the part of India in the past month, sources said, have sent out the signal to Iran that New Delhi does not always toe the US line on the Iranian nuclear programme.

First, India decided to approach the UN on removing Iran-o-Hind, an Indo-Iranian shipping joint venture, from the list of entities that UN recently sanctioned in Iran. Second, India supported a strongly worded NAM resolution against the IAEA on the DG’s recent report on the Iran programme. New Delhi seemed to have agreed with the NAM view that proper procedures were not be followed.

India had also floated the idea of a India-US-Afghanistan trilateral, the fate of which is still not known, said sources.