Biden And Xi Talk To Ease Tensions And Promote Cooperation

By Bernard P. Lawson, The Chicago Times

July 28, 2022

WASHINGTON –  President Joe Biden’s call with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping will center on tensions facing both nations spanning from intellectual property thrift, espionage, to CCP silence on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a press conference, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said “There is an awful lot in the bilateral relationship between the United States and China for these two leaders to talk about the next few days.”

The meeting between Biden and Xi comes as the US Congress looks to pass the CHIPs act which will promote the US semiconductor industry with $52 billion in subsidies and tax credits to chip plants worth nearly $24 billion.  Many lawmakers and voters are waking up to the fact that China has virtually taken control of all manufacturing of vital products leaving the US homeland in a vulnerable position on the world stage.  Many on Capitol Hill are beginning to call for the return of manufacturing in the US or at least to countries that are true allies, not strategic enemies.

Photo: Reuters

Russia Strikes Port Of Odessa Port One Day After Ukraine Grain Deal

By H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

July 23, 2022

ODESSA — Russian missiles strike Ukraine’s port of Odessa just one day after Russia and Ukraine signed a deal to reopen Black Sea ports.

According to Ukraine military officials, Russia attacked the Odessa sea trade port with Kalibr cruise missiles.  Two of the missiles were shot down by air defense forces while two missiles struck infrastructure of the port.

The landmark grain deal signed on Friday, which was brokered by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, includes the port of Odessa as well as the ports of Yuzhne and Chornomorsk, was hoped to ease the looming food crisis.  Odessa has been under Russian blockade since the start of hostilities.

According to the grain deal, a coalition of Turkish, Ukrainian, and the United Station will oversee the loading of grain into cargo ships before they transit a preplanned route through the heavily mined Black Sea.  Some critics have argued that Russia agreed to the deal so they can access information on unmined areas.

According to Ukraine officials, there are about 20 million tons grain waiting to be exported.  It is feared that a global food crisis is eminent as hostilities between Russia and Ukraine continue.

Ukraine To Receive Advanced Surface-To-Air Missile System

By Harold W. Reid, The Chicago Times

July 3, 2022

WASHINGTON – The United States will send Ukraine two NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems to assist Ukraine in its fight against Russian forces.

The Pentagon announced Friday that Ukraine will receive the advanced National/Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) system as part of the latest $820 million US assistance package.  The Pentagon will also include ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).  US military aid to Ukraine has reached the $7.6 billion mark since the Russian invasion in February.

“I am especially grateful today to the United States and to Biden personally for the package of support for Ukraine announced today, which includes very powerful NASAMS – an anti-aircraft missile system that will significantly strengthen our air defense. We have worked hard for these supplies.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a statement.

NASAMS is an Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile system that became operational in 1998 and has seen three successive generations.  Currently, NASAMS 3 was deployed in 2019 and is capable of launching AIM-9 Sidewinder and IRIS-T SLS short-range missiles, in addition to AMRAAM-ER extended-range missiles.

Russia: Former US Embassy Worker Sentenced For Smuggling Drugs

By H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

June 17, 2022

MOSCOW — A former US embassy worker has been sentenced to 14 years in a Russian maximum-security prison for after being found guilty of cannabis smuggling and illegal storage of drugs.

Former US embassy worker, Marc Fogel, was found guilty by a Russian (nee Soviet) court in Khimki on Thursday.

Fogel joins a growing list of US citizens being held in Russian prisons as US-Russian relations have soured over the past 2 years.

According to Russian authorities, Fogel was arrested by customs police in August 2021 after arriving from New York at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow.

Russian officials claim Fogel had been found in possession of marijuana and hash oil during routine customs check of his luggage.  Court documents claim the drugs were hidden inside Fogel’s contact lens case and e-cigarette cartridges.

Fogel insisted the cannabis was prescribed in the US for medicinal purposes after a spinal operation.  Russian law prohibits the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Fogel, a former US embassy worker, had been working as a teacher at the Anglo-American School of Moscow at the time of his arrest.  According to the US State Department, Fogel’s protection of diplomatic immunity had expired in May 2021.

Currently, the US State Department has issued a “do not travel” advisory for Russia and urged US citizens to depart immediately.  It is believed Russia will harass US citizens and block the ability of the US embassy to assist Americans held hostage by Russian authorities.

Russia Fires Zircon “Plasma Stealth” Hypersonic Cruise Missile In Test-Launch

by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

May 28, 2022

OSLO – Russia test-fired a hypersonic Zircon nuclear capable cruise missile that traveled over 625 miles.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the missile was launched from the Barents Sea and hit a target in the White Sea. Video of the test fire showed the missile being fired from a ship.

The Zircon has been described as part of a new generation of anti-ship hypersonic cruise missiles that can travel at nine times the speed of sound. Russia has conducted previous test-launches of the Zircon from warships and submarines over the past year.

The Zircon can travel at speeds of Mach 8 to Mach 9 (6,100–6,900 mph).  Western military leaders believe the missile could penetrate existing naval defense systems.  Since the Zircon travels at hypersonic speeds within the atmosphere causing “Plasma Stealth” in which the air pressure in front of it forms a plasma cloud as it travels making it nearly invisible to active radar systems.  As a result, targets will not have time to carry out defensive maneuvers or retaliatory strikes.

According to the Pentagon, last month Russia test-launched a new nuclear-capable Sarmat intercontinental missile, capable of carrying 10 or more warheads.  The Sarmat is capable of striking the United States.

Europe: Russia To Suspend Natural Gas Supplies To Poland

by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

April 27, 2022

WARSAW – According to the Polish government, Moscow has decided to suspend natural gas to Poland since the Polish government will not pay in Russian rubles, which is required by Russian sanctions imposed in response to sanctions imposed by western allied nations.

Russian (nee Soviet) state run Gazprom, Russia’s largest source of gas, notified the Polish government that gas supplies will be cutoff starting Wednesday unless payment is made in Russian rubles.

The Polish government, which staunchly supports Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression, declared that Poland is prepared to make do and would never again live under the Russian yoke of tyranny.  Poland has been developing its own source of liquefied natural gas and a partnership with Norway for natural gas supplies.  According to a government source in Poland, Poland will not become dependent on Russian gas as Germany has decided to do.