Russian Fighter Jets Stalk US Bomber North Of Japan

by The Chicago Times Staff

September 28, 2021

TOKYO — According to Pacific Air Forces, three Russian Sukhoi-35S fighters intercepted a US B-52H Stratofortress bomber Sunday near disputed territory claimed by Russia and Japan.

On the day of the incident, the Russian state-owned news agency TASS was the first to report it.

Russia’s military announced plans to expand its military facilities on Etorofu in August, and troops have been conducting live-fire military drills there this month, according to intelligence sources.

The dispute over the islands, which Japan refers to as its Northern Territories and Russia refers to as the Southern Kurils, is still a source of contention and the reason the countries have yet to sign a peace treaty 76 years after World War II.

The US bomber was detected over the Pacific Ocean by air defense radars in Russia’s Eastern Military Region before it was intercepted on Sunday, according to TASS.

The Russian fighters returned to base after the US bomber flew away from the Russian border, according to TASS, citing the Russian military.

UK Gas Shortage Brings Hoarding

by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

September 26, 2021

LONDON — Thousands of British gas stations ran dry on Sunday, according to an industry group, as motorists scrambled to fill up amid a supply disruption caused by a truck driver shortage.

The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents nearly 5,500 independent outlets, reported that roughly two-thirds of its members had sold out of fuel.

The shortages, according to Association Chairman Brian Madderson, are the result of “panic buying, pure and simple.”

“This country has plenty of fuel, but it is in the wrong place for motorists . . . It remains in the terminals and refineries.” Madderson told the BBC.

Over the weekend, long lines of vehicles formed at many gas stations, and tempers flared as some drivers waited for hours.

Several countries, including the United States and Germany, are also experiencing a truck driver shortage.  The issue has been particularly visible in the United Kingdom, where it has contributed to empty supermarket shelves and closed gas pumps.


by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

September 14, 2021

MOSCOW – The Kremlin stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin went into self-isolation after inner circle staffers became infected with the coronavirus COVID-19.

Putin, who has been fully immunized from COVID-19 with Russia’s Sputnik V, held several public appearances indoors on Monday and even hinted that he may need to quarantine soon.

At the time, an aide attempted to imply that he was speaking broadly, and on Tuesday, he insisted that no one’s health was jeopardized.

During a videoconference with government officials and members of the ruling United Russia party, Putin said that several people in his “immediate circle” including a staff member with whom he had close contact all day Monday, were infected with the virus.

That employee had been immunized and recently “revaccinated,” Putin said, presumably referring to a third shot that Russia is providing to people who were immunized more than six months ago.

Russian authorities have been repeatedly chastised for downplaying the pandemic and rarely imposing control measures, even in the face of infection surges.  Russia’s death toll is currently at its highest point of the pandemic, with just under 800 people dying every day. 

Putin has rarely worn a mask in public, despite the fact that he appeared to work largely remotely and was rarely seen in public prior to being vaccinated.

Daily coronavirus infections in Russia have dropped from over 20,000 to around 17,000 in the last month, but experts have questioned how Russia is tracking cases and deaths.  Despite heavy caseloads, Russia has struggled to vaccinate its citizens, and its rates lag far behind those of many other countries.  As of Friday, only 32% of the population had received at least one coronavirus vaccine shot, and only 27% had been fully vaccinated.


by The Chicago Times Staff

September 12, 2021

CAIRO – According to The SITE Intelligence Group, Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri appeared in a video commemorating the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, months after rumors that he was dead circulated.

The video was released Saturday in which al-Zawahri declared that “. . . Jerusalem will never be Judaized,” and praised al-Qaida attacks, including one in January against Russian troops in Syria.  Al-Zawahri also mentioned the United States military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

Al-Zawahri made no mention of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the capital Kabul last month fueling rumors that the al-Zawahri had passed away shortly after the pre-recorded video.


by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

September 10, 2021

AFGHANISTAN – After Taliban promises of an inclusive government and amnesty, the Taliban have executed the brother of former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh’s who has become one of the leaders of anti-Taliban opposition forces in the Panjshir valley.

The news that Saleh’s brother Rohullah Azizi had been killed came just days after Taliban forces seized control of Panjshir.  Sources on the ground stated that the Taliban refused the Saleh family’s request of a proper burial and according to Ebadullah Saleh, the Taliban insisted that his body should be left rot as an example of an “Enemy of the State”.  According to the Taliban’s information service Alemarah, Rohullah Saleh was killed during fighting in Panjshir. 

Even after the fall of Panjshir’s provincial capital Bazarak, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, which brings together opposition forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, has pledged to continue fighting the Taliban.  However, their resistance is likely to fail since there have been reports of Taliban fighters utilizing abandoned US military weapons and night vision goggles.  Darkness continues to cover Afghanistan.


by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

September 6, 2021

TOKYO – With the growing threat of China and Russia, the Japanese government is seeking an t increase in military spending by nearly a sixth over a decade.

Since last year, Japan has identified China as its primary national security threat, citing a “sense of crisis” over Beijing’s threat to Taiwan, which lies close to Japanese islands on the East China Sea’s rim.

The ministry’s budget proposal, released on Tuesday, calls for a 2.6 percent increase in spending, to a record 5.48 trillion yen ($49.93 billion) for the fiscal year beginning April 1.  Officials from the Finance Ministry will review and possibly amend the request before submitting it to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s cabinet for approval.

However, Japan’s defense spending increases are insufficient to keep up with China’s growing military budget, which increased 6.8 percent this year and is now roughly four times larger than Japan’s and second only to the United States in size.

Instead, Tokyo’s strategy is to build a force armed with cutting-edge technology to deter Beijing from taking military action in the region to settle territorial or other disputes.  A total of 130 billion yen has been requested for 12 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighters, four of which will be short take-off and vertical landing B variants operating from converted helicopter carriers.

The defense ministry has requested 105 billion yen for the development of its first new domestic jet fighter in three decades next year.  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is leading the project, which is expected to be completed in the 2030s at a cost of around $40 billion.