INTL Developments in Russia


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Russia To Launch Its Own ‘F-35’ Stealth Fighter Jet At Upcoming MAKS-2021 Aviation Expo — Russian Expert

ByJayanta Kalita
July 14, 2021

Russia is set to unveil its own ‘F-35 fighter jet’ on the first day of the MAKS-2021 air show on July 20. The “promising combat aircraft” will compete with the US fifth-generation fighter F-35, a Russian aviation industry expert said.

On July 14, Russia’s Rostec State Corporation released a cryptic teaser saying, “The new product developed by UAC specialists should arouse genuine interest not only in our country but also in other regions of the world, including our competitors abroad”.

Oleg Panteleev, executive director of the branch agency “Aviaport ”, told reporters (translated from Russian to English): The recent video published by Rostec – all this indicates that the domestic light fighter is entering into competition with the American F-35 in foreign markets.

I am sure that the demonstration of the aircraft at MAKS-2021 will have a positive effect. It was not for nothing that Rosoboronexport invited over 120 delegations from 65 countries to the exhibition

Mark D

Now running for Emperor.
Having seen Russian aerospace work up close and personal, I'm kinda dubious about the performance of their "5th Generation" fighter.


Veteran Member
a little more info/hints here:

Rostec Gets Ready to Reveal Its New Russian Fighter Jet
The new fighter jet will be unveiled on the first day of MAKS-2021 aviation exhibition.
by Mark Episkopos

Russia’s defense industry is set to unveil a “fundamentally new aircraft” later this month.

Russian defense giant Rostec (founded by Vladimir Putin himself - my insert) published a Youtube video on Tuesday teasing a new fighter jet that is expected to be unveiled at the MAKS-2021 aviation exhibition. The trailer featured a blurry, long-distance shot of an aircraft, accompanied by B-roll footage of what appears to be —namely, the United Arab Emirates, India, Vietnam, and Argentina—reacting to the announcement. All four of these countries have been in talks with Russia or they are currently in talks with the country over prospective weapons sales, suggesting that the fighter will be marketed as an export product. The thirty-second trailer is saturated with chess references, centered around the black knight piece—that same chess piece is prominently featured on the splash page for the new fighter, which displays a countdown timer for the MAKS-2021 event. The messaging is cryptic but highly consistent: several days ago, the Twitter page of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) posted an edited photo of a giant black knight piece floating over a landscape, along with a caption that said, “Guys, everything is simpler than you think.” This could mean any number of things, though, perhaps the UAC is making a playful reference to the unclassified U.S. UFO report that was released in late June.

Rostec’s accompanying press statement was likewise quite vague, announcing the introduction of a “fundamentally new aircraft.”

“Russia is one of the few countries in the world with full-cycle capacities for producing advanced aircraft systems, as well as a recognized trendsetter in the creation of combat aircraft,” according to the press statement. “The new product developed by UAC specialists should arouse genuine interest not only in our country, but also in other regions of the world, including our competitors abroad.” Curiously, the press statement added that the plane’s “individual elements can already be seen” in its promotional, thirty-second Youtube clip. “The video also contains allusions to the key characteristics and unique properties of the project,” it continued. Perhaps the most obvious “allusion” from the video is that the new fighter will be offered as an export product. The chess motif is too vague to warrant a specific guess—at this stage, it could denote everything from a program name to how Rostec intends to outplay its foreign competitors in the fighter export market.

The state news outlet TASS interviewed Executive Director of Aviaport Aviation News Agency Oleg Panteleyev, who believes that the new fighter is intended to compete with Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II. "The teasers in English and the regions that the pilots presented in a video released by Rostec [state tech corporation] suggest that the domestic light fighter will be in competition with the US F-35 aircraft on foreign markets,” he said. “I am certain that the fighter’s demonstration at the MAKS-2021 will create a wow effect. It is not accidental that [Russia’s state arms exporter] Rosoboronexport has invited over 120 delegations from 65 countries of the world to the aerospace show.” While this is an intriguing prospect, geopolitics doesn’t leave much room for direct-market competition between American and Russian fighter jets. From NATO to the post-Soviet sphere, the import options of most governments are constrained by their foreign policy commitments. There are, however, a few big wildcards in the global export market. India is among the clearest examples, having signed major arms import contracts with both Moscow and Washington in recent years. Without explicitly citing any sources, TASS suggested that the aircraft could be a stealth-oriented strike platform with a large weapons payload and high thrust-to-weight ratio.


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An unusual ad campaign gives a first glimpse of Russia's new stealthy fighter jet

Jacek Siminski, The Aviationist
5 hours ago

A photo posted on social media by Russian state-owned firm Rostec hinting at the company's new fifth-generation fighter jet. Rostec/Twitter
  • Rostec published some photos of a new design (or mock up) of a 5th-generation fighter jet ahead of MAKS 2021 airshow next week.
  • Not much is known about the new jet, but the media campaign seems to indicate that it will be oriented toward the export market.
Photos started circulating on Twitter on July 15, 2021, of an aircraft believed to be a new Russian 5th-generation design.
The jet, covered by black canvas, was rolled to the static display at the MAKS 2021 show, that starts next week.
The appearance of the mysterious aircraft did not come completely unexpected. On July 11, Rostec posted a mysterious tweet that teased an announcement.

On July 13, TASS did a short report on what is expected to be the new Russian aircraft. TASS directly stated that the new jet would compete with the F-35, quoting Executive Director of Aviaport Aviation News Agency Oleg Panteleyev.

Panteleyev said that this is also the main reason why the teaser of the new design, released by Rostec, has been published in English. Rosoboronexport, as Panteleyev said, has invited over 120 delegations from 65 countries of the world to the aerospace show.
This suggests that this year's edition of MAKS may be export-focused, with a significant emphasis placed on the promotion of the new aircraft.

It remains unclear whether the airframe is a prototype or just a mock-up.
The characteristics of the jet are also somewhat cryptic. TASS claims the jet would feature low RCS, high thrust-to-weight ratio, advanced weapons and significant payload — these are somewhat generic descriptors, usually assigned to most of the 5th-generation, or wannabe-5th-generation multirole combat aircraft.

The premiere is scheduled to take place on the first day of the MAKS show in Zhukovskiy — July 20, 2021. The Aviationist will have two correspondents on site and will probably be able to provide additional details on the new stealthy aircraft.

The shape seems to be (loosely) similar to the one of the YF-23.

According to some analysts, the new aircraft has been developed by the Sukhoi bureau. Based on the hashtags used on social media and images released so far the new type could be named "Checkmate."
As noted Stephen Trimble on his Twitter account.

We may be dealing with an export product, modeled after the Su-57 Felon, but made cheaper to operate than the first of the Russian stealthy fighter aircraft.

Yesterday Rostec released an ad teasing the jet, also pointing to the export profile of the design, suggesting UAE, India, Vietnam and Argentina might be potential customers.

We have also noted that one of the pilots, in the last shot of the video, is wearing an American flight suit.

Still, for now, we know little about the jet, hence everybody needs to wait for it to be officially unveiled during MAKS 2021.

It is symptomatic, however, that Russia follows the footsteps of the US, creating a tandem of fifth-generation platforms. This may be viewed as an analogy of the US F-22/F-35 duo, with the Raptor being a counterpart of the Su-57, and Lighting being a counterpart of the new, lighter, single-engine design.

Panteleyev seemingly confirmed this, saying that the new, lighter design would be an answer to tactical problems.

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Russia reports successful test launch of hypersonic missile
The Russian military says it has conducted another successful test launch of a new hypersonic cruise missile
By The Associated Press
19 July 2021, 08:15

In this photo taken from video distributed by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, a new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile is launched by the frigate Admiral Gorshkov of the Russian navy from the White Sea, in the north of Russia, Russia, Monday, J

Image Icon
The Associated Press
In this photo taken from video distributed by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, a new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile is launched by the frigate Admiral Gorshkov of the Russian navy from the White Sea, in the north of Russia, Russia, Monday, July 19, 2021. The Russian military has reported another successful test launch of a new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile. Russia's Defense Ministry said the launch took place on Monday from an Admiral Groshkov frigate located in the White Sea, in the north of Russia. The ministry said the missile successfully hit a target more than 350 kilometers (217 miles) away on the coast of the Barents Sea. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

MOSCOW -- The Russian military reported another successful test launch of a new hypersonic cruise missile on Monday.

Russia's Defense Ministry said the Zircon missile was launched from the Admiral Groshkov frigate in the White Sea.

The ministry said the missile flew at a speed seven times the speed of sound and successfully hit a designated practice target more than 350 kilometers (217 miles) away on the coast of the Barents Sea

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Zircon would be capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound and have a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). Putin has emphasized that its deployment will significantly boost Russian military capability.

The Russian navy has conducted several previous test launches of the new missile, including one on Putin's birthday in October, and officials said the tests are to be completed later this year.

Zircon is intended to arm Russian cruisers, frigates and submarines. It is one of several hypersonic missiles under development in Russia.

NATO responded to Monday's test with a statement that claimed Russia's missile development “create a greater risk of escalation and miscalculation.”

“Russia’s new hypersonic missiles are highly destabilizing and pose significant risks to security and stability across the Euro-Atlantic area," the statement said.

“NATO allies are committed to respond in measured way to Russia’s growing array of conventional and nuclear-capable missiles,” the alliance said. “We will not mirror what Russia does, but we will maintain credible deterrence and defense, to protect our nations.”

The Kremlin has made modernizing the country’s arsenals a top priority amid the tensions with the West that followed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Russia reports successful test launch of hypersonic missile - ABC News (


Disaster Cat
I wasn't sure if I should put it there here or in the Western Fires thread because I'm sure there is a connection there in terms of weather.

‘Everything is on fire’: Siberia hit by unprecedented burning
Locals fear for their health and property as smoke from raging forest fires shrouds an entire region of eastern Russia

‘Airpocalypse’ hits Siberian city as heatwave sparks forest fires
A volunteer heads to douse a forest fire in the republic of Sakha also known as Yakutia, in Russia’s far east.
Siberia hit by unprecedented heatwave and forest fires – video report
Andrew Roth in Moscow
Tue 20 Jul 2021 18.01 BST

Every morning and evening for the last few days, shifts of young villagers have headed out into the taiga forest around Teryut with a seemingly impossible task: to quell the raging fires that have burned closer and closer for a month, shrouding this remote eastern Siberian village in an acrid haze.

So far, little has worked. Amid the worst wildfire season in memory, locals have vowed to defend their village to the last, sending away small children for their protection from the smog while they stay on to fight back the flames.

“For a month already you can’t see anything through the smoke,” said Varvara, a 63-year-old pensioner from Teryut, a village in the Oymyakonsky district. “We have already sent the small children away. And the fires are very close, just 2km [1.2 miles] from our village.”

The extraordinary forest fires, which have already burned through 1.5m hectares (3.7m acres) of land in north-east Siberia have released choking smog across Russia’s Yakutia region, where officials have described this summer’s weather as the driest in the past 150 years. And that follows five years of hot summers, which have, according to villagers, turned the surrounding forests and fields into a tinderbox.

I don’t know how the locals could stand it. People are both depressed and angry
Ivan Nikiforov
Varvara said their main hope was that this week brought heavy rains to their region, which is located more than 400 miles from the city of Yakutsk across mostly impassable taiga, or snow forest.

“Emergency workers have come and villagers are also fighting the fires but they can’t put them out, they can’t stop them,” she said by telephone. “Everything is on fire.”

More than 50 settlements have been covered in smog, which has periodically halted operations at Yakutia’s main airport and disrupted river traffic.

The unprecedented scale of the fires has prompted locals to join auxiliary fire brigades.

“These are our homes, our forests, and our people,” said Ivan Nikiforov, a resident of Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia, who has joined a volunteer fire brigade for the first time this year. “Our relatives are breathing smog. I couldn’t stand by.”

“It’s a thick smoke, yellow,” said Nikiforov, describing the fires near Magaras, a village about 100km from the capital Yakutsk. “I don’t know how the locals could stand it. It will probably have health effects for them in the future. People are both depressed and angry. This situation should not have been allowed to take place.”

Volunteer appeals on Instagram for help tackling forest fires in Siberia – video
Volunteer appeals on Instagram for help tackling forest fires in Siberia – video
Grigory Mochkin, who runs several Crossfit gyms in Yakutsk, said he had spent the last few days volunteering to build firebreaks and helping set up controlled burns to try to stop the spread of the flames.

“The fires have touched absolutely every single person’s life in Yakutia,” said Mochkin. “The fires are very large this year. And since the smoke has gotten to Yakutsk, people are very vocal on social networks because every person’s life has been affected. In past years, the smog has covered the city for at most a day.”

The smoke has been seen as a health hazard for young children and the elderly in particular. “It’s like standing next to a campfire,” said Aytalina, a 26-year-old from Yakutsk. “This year you open a window and the stench just fills the room. People are feeling very poorly.”

The choking smog has hovered for days over the city of more than 280,000, where residents have been warned to stay at home. “The level of air pollution went down [on Monday] for three hours thanks to the wind,” Aytalina said. “We went out to the store for 15 minutes for groceries. That was our first time outside of the apartment since [Friday].”

Smoke from forest fires engulfs Yakutsk.
Smoke from forest fires engulfs Yakutsk. Photograph: Yevgeny Sofroneyev/AP
Locals have blamed various factors for the fires, from the climate crisis to poor government preparedness, to a ban on purging dry grass, budget cuts to forestry services, alleged arsons, and, in particular, the hot summers.

“There never used to be summers with such large fires,” said Nikolai Verkhovov, a native of Srednekolymsk, a village on the River Kolyma more than 750 miles from Yakutsk. “But last year a village in my district nearly burned down.” He suggested that budget cuts to forest ranger services and corruption could play a role in the fires.

“In Yakutsk itself the fire season has been growing exponentially since 2018,” he said. “This year has been unbelievably awful. Enormous parts of the forest are on fire. It’s so smoky it is hard to breathe and your eyes tear up.”

Many of those contacted sent screenshots from IQAir, an air quality app that showed that the concentration of pollutants in the air in downtown Yakutsk was so high that it was accompanied by an icon of a man in a gas mask and the description “life-threatening”.

Some people from Yakutsk have sought to leave the region during the wildfire season or considered emigrating permanently. One young woman said that as she got off a flight to Moscow from Yakutsk, she realised that her hair and clothing stank of smoke.

Others fear for those at risk in the region.

“Here in Yakutsk I have many elderly relatives, we are all worried for them,” said Verkhovov. “Some are also sick with coronavirus. My aunt was in the hospital for a month, she finally managed to get her temperature down and then the smoke has just made it worse and slowed down her recovery.”

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
All it takes is a spark to ignite in the region: Russia has deployed 50 tanks...

War News 24 / 7
21/07/2021 - 23:46

It is enough for a "spark" or better a Taliban attack with anti-tanks on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border to ignite a total flare-up in Asia.

The 201st Russian military base in Tajikistan is "emptying" for a major exercise-preparing war with the Taliban. At least 50 Russian T-72 tanks along with artillery line up on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border amid Taliban advance.

Russian tanks on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border

Moscow has decided to mobilise tanks near the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border ahead of the start of military high schools next month, as regional tensions following the Taliban's intervention in Afghan territory remain intense.

Tanks left the Russian military base located in Tajikistan and after crossing a distance of 200 km, they reached close to the border with Afghanistan and specifically to the Harb-Maidon exercise field.

There are currently 50 tanks deployed in the region, and it has not been announced how many in total will take part in the upcoming joint military exercises, which will involve military forces from Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and will take place between 5-10 August.

The crews of the Russian T-72 tanks, during their march to the military exercises field, carried out exercises to protect the tank, repelling mock attacks by sabotage groups and blows from the "enemy" air force.

As soon as they reached
the field of exercises the tank crews began to deploy and take a position covering the tanks," the Central Military Command statement said.

And new exercises on the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan border

Today Russia announced the holding of joint military gymnasiums with Uzbekistan in southern Uzbekistan, also near the border with Afghanistan, which are expected to take place between 30 July and 10 August, with the participation of 1500 military, 200 vehicles and warplanes.

Earlier, the Commander of the Central Military Region, Alexander Lapin, revealed that Russia will conduct exercises with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan from 5-10 August at the Harb-Maidon firing range. This camp is located about south of Tajikistan 80 km from the border with Afghanistan.

During the military exercise, the staff of the three countries will work on scenarios of repelling terrorists who "invade" across the country.

The core of Russian forces is the 201st military base.

A "spark" is enough to ignite in the region: Russia deployed 50 tanks on afghanistan border (video) - WarNews247


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PAK DA: Russia's Mysterious Stealth Bomber Is Coming

While little or nothing is known about the B-21 or the PAK DA in some respects, both appear slated to fire air-launched cruise missiles, weapons that clearly enable a wider range of attack options.

by Kris Osborn

The first model of Russia’s new PAK DA stealth bomber is expected to be completed at some point this year, a development expected to lead toward additional prototypes and testing over the next several years.

This timeframe, should it come to fruition, aligns the emergence of the PAK DA with the U.S. B-21 which is also being completed and prepared for its first test flights and early operational assessments. Can it rival the U.S. B-21? Or the Chinese H-20? Those may not be answerable questions at the moment, but there do appear to be some similarities between the PAK DA and the U.S. B-2 or even B-21. Of course, the PAK DA’s horizontal blended wing-body shape is to be expected for these kinds of stealthy platforms. Yet available renderings of the PAK DA show rectangular-shaped inlets aligned with or somewhat parallel to the top of the fuselage.

Looking at the back of the B-21 and the PAK DA on available images show some potential design similarities as neither model has anything that looks like a protruding external exhaust or visible area from which heat can dissipate. Have one or both of these stealth bombers been engineered with any kind of cooling technology or exhaust management system to manage thermal signature?

While little or nothing is known about the B-21 or the PAK DA in some respects, both appear slated to fire air-launched cruise missiles, weapons that clearly enable a wider range of attack options. According to a TASS report from last year. “The PAK DA is expected to deploy Kh-102 nuclear-tipped stealthy cruise missiles, and a number of newer hypersonic designs including derivatives of the Kh-47M2,” the TASS story writes. This brings up yet another parallel. The U.S. B-21 is slated to fly armed with the new Long-Range Stand-off weapon, a nuclear-capable, air-launched cruise missile intended to hold targets at risk at greater standoff ranges to reduce the risk of destruction by enemy air defenses.

As for fuselage shape, the U.S. B-21 does appear to have more rounded and indented inlets when compared with the B-2 or the Russian PAK DA. The B-2 has small, protruding rectangular structures on top of the fuselage for inlets, and the PAK DA looks like it has a rectangular inlet built directly into the front end of the wing. The new B-21 bomber does appear to have a smaller or more blended incline between the fuselage and wings. Granted, protruding configurations of any kind, if even rounded or covered in a radar-absorbing exterior, are more likely to generate some kind of radar “ping” return from ground-based air defense systems. Vertical structures and uneven contours are therefore more likely to generate radar returns, as electromagnetic “pings” will discern the differences in shape.

The concept with these kinds of stealth bombers is to not only elude surveillance radar systems but also evade higher-frequency, more precise engagement radar, ensuring that the platform will not only be difficult or impossible to hit but also remain completely undetected. The idea is for adversaries to “not even know something is there.” A stealthy platform can succeed by appearing as a “bird” or “insect” to enemy radar, yet the precise measure of performance or efficacy against advanced air defenses may not be well known

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.


passin' thru
Russia moves equipment away from training ground near Ukrainian border

Video footage and imagery sourced from social media and analysed by Janes between 13 July and 21 July appears to show that Russia has begun to withdraw equipment from a training ground in Voronezh, close to the Ukrainian border.
The equipment, which is assessed by Janes to belong to the Central Military District's 41 st Combined Arms Army, was deployed over thousands of kilometres from central Russia to Voronezh during a buildup of forces in March and April. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed on 22 April that the 41 st Combined Arms Army's equipment would not return to central Russia until after it took part in ‘Zapad-2021', a large-scale Western Military District exercise scheduled to take place in September.

Videos and images analysed by Janes were all captured in the immediate vicinity of Maslovka railway station – one of the primary stations used by Russian forces to deliver equipment to the Pogonovo training ground during the March-April buildup. Two additional stations, Tresvyatskaya and Kolodeznaya, were also used to move equipment into Pogonovo, but as of 21 July Janes has not identified any movement out of these stations.

Videos and images posted to social media by multiple users on13 and 14 July show around 20 T-72-type main battle tanks, BAT-2 engineering vehicles, an MTU-72 armoured bridgelayer, and Borisoglebsk-2 electronic warfare systems either being loaded onto trains or parked next to the tracks at Maslovka. Meanwhile, images posted on 20 July show BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, 2S3 self-propelled howitzers, and Borisoglebsk-2 systems onboard trains at Maslovka, and at least three TOS-1A thermobaric multiple rocket launchers (MRLs), three TZM transloaders, three BM-21 Grad MRLs, and three MT-LB armoured personnel carriers parked next to the tracks, likely waiting to board trains.
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Russia’s Rosatom and DP World Team Up to Develop Arctic Shipping Route
Mike Schuler
Total Views: 133 July 23, 2021

Russia’s state-run nuclear energy company Rosatom and Dubai-based logistics firm DP World have agreed to establish a joint venture to develop the Northern Sea Route as a viable shipping route between Asia and Europe.

The joint venture intends invest in, build and operate transport and logistics capacity, including for containers, through the Arctic route.

A record 33 million tons was carried along the NSR in 2020 and Russia has targeted 80 million tons by 2024. Rosatom has previously said that establishing the NSR as a viable sea route, including the development of ports and transport links along Russia’s north coast, would require $11.7 billion in investments.

Using the Northern Sea Route shortens the distance between Northwest Europe and East Asia compared to going through the Suez Canal and can shave up to 19 days off voyages and reduce CO2 emissions.

In a statement, Rosatom said the partnership is seeking to test container shipping, a sector that has so far been hesitant and unwilling to head north due to risks related to its remoteness, lack of infrastructure and environmental impact. MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company earlier this year reaffirmed its commitment not to use the NSR after the Ever Given became stuck in the Suez Canal, sparking conversation about alternative trade routes. Although Maersk tested the NSR route once in 2018 on a one-off voyage, the company has no plans to use the NSR as an alternative for East-West trade.

“Building of sustainable transport infrastructure in the Arctic opens up new opportunities in developing the Eurasian transit which can be achieved in an optimal timeframe and help reduce the environmental footprint through shorter route distances and the advanced low-carbon energy solutions applied. Today is an important step in the development of a strategic international partnership between ROSATOM and DP World,” said Alexey Likhachev, General Director of Rosatom.

“As the leading provider of worldwide, smart, end-to-end supply chain logistics, DP World supports Russia’s efforts to diversify trade flows between Asia and Europe,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World. “The Northern Transit Corridor holds out the prospect of shorter transit times between East and West. DP World has already committed to invest $2 billion with the Russian Direct Investment fund, and we will continue to work with our partners in Russia to find solutions that allow the Northern Transit Corridor to develop sustainably.


passin' thru
Putin says Russian navy can carry out 'unpreventable strike' if needed

2 minute read
Russian Navy's warships are seen ready for the Navy Day parade in Saint Petersburg, Russia July 25, 2021. Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attend the Navy Day parade in Saint Petersburg, Russia July 25, 2021. Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS

Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Nikolai Yevmenov attend the Navy Day parade in Saint Petersburg, Russia July 25, 2021. Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attend the Navy Day parade in Saint Petersburg, Russia July 25, 2021. Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS

MOSCOW, July 25 (Reuters) - The Russian navy can detect any enemy and launch an "unpreventable strike" if needed, President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday, weeks after a UK warship angered Moscow by passing the Crimea peninsula.

"We are capable of detecting any underwater, above-water, airborne enemy and, if required, carry out an unpreventable strike against it," Putin said speaking at a navy day parade in St Petersburg.

Putin's words follow an incident in the Black Sea in June when Russia said it had fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British warship to chase it out of Crimea waters.

Britain rejected Russia's account of the incident, saying it believed any shots fired were a pre-announced Russian "gunnery exercise", and that no bombs had been dropped.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 but Britain and most of the world recognise the Black Sea peninsula as part of Ukraine, not Russia.

Putin said last month Russia could have sunk the British warship HMS Defender, that it accused of illegally entering its territorial waters, without starting World War Three and said the United States played a role in the "provocation". read more



passin' thru
24 Jul, 20:25
Tsirkon hypersonic missile may be test-launched from Severodvinsk submarine in August
According to various sources, the Tsirkon boasts an operating range of about 1,500 km to strike ground targets and slightly less to hit naval targets

ZHUKOVSKY /Moscow Region/, July 25. /TASS/. The first test-launch of Russia’s Tsirkon hypersonic missile from the Northern Fleet’s nuclear-powered submarine Severodvinsk may take place in August, a source in the domestic defense industry told TASS.
"The first test-launch of the Tsirkon missile from the Severodvinsk nuclear-powered submarine as part of the flight development test may take place in August," the source said speaking on the sidelines of the MAKS-2021 international air show.

The Reutov Research and Production Association of Machine-Building, which has developed and is producing Tsirkon hypersonic missiles, declined to comment on the sources’ information.
According to various sources, the Tsirkon boasts an operating range of about 1,500 km to strike ground targets and slightly less to hit naval targets. The Tsirkon hypersonic missile was earlier planned to be accepted for service in 2023.

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on July 19 that the frigate Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov had successfully test-launched a Tsirkon hypersonic missile at a ground target. The missile flew at Mach 7 (seven times the speed of sound) across a distance of over 350 km.

As the Defense Ministry specified, the Project 22350 lead frigate Admiral Gorshkov test-fired the Tsirkon hypersonic missile from the White Sea. The ground target was located on the coast of the Barents Sea.
Russia intends to outfit its submarines and surface ships with Tsirkon hypersonic missile systems.
The Severodvinsk, which is the Project 885 (Yasen) lead and sole underwater cruiser, was delivered to the Russian Navy on June 17, 2014.
The MAKS-2021, one of the world’s top three air shows, is running in the suburban town of Zhukovsky outside Moscow on July 20-25.


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I suppose 'leaders' of countries will posture back and worth til someone trips on a banana, then it's on.


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Russia is producing two new Doomsday planes, says government news agency
By: Alexander Bratersky   4 hours ago

ZHUKOVSKY, Russia — Russia is reportedly working on two so-called Doomsday planes to carry the country’s senior military and political leadership in case of a nuclear attack.

The Russian Air Force and Space Forces will receive two airborne commanding posts based on the Il-96-400M plane, according to Russian government news agency RIA Novosti, citing a source in the country’s defense sector.

The Il-96-400M is the modernized version of the Il-96 long-haul, wide-body civilian jetliner. An Il-96 variant currently operates as President Vladimir Putin’s primary means of travel by air, similar to that of the United States’ Air Force One.
Both Russian planes will be remodeled in the city of Voronezh, a several-hours drive from Moscow at the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association’s aviation assembly plant, which produces transport planes for civilian and military use.
RIA Novosti reported the source said that a third such plane will be made in the future.

The new Doomsday plane is to replace the more outdated Il-80 plane, based on the Il-86 civilian version.

Russian media reported December 2020 that parts of the radio equipment from one the Il-80 Doomsday planes were stolen during maintenance in the city of Taganrog. An unemployed local citizen was later charged with the crime. The plane’s location at the repair facility was allegedly poorly guarded. Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Vladimir Popov told Russain daily Moskovsky Komsomolets at the time that thieves were possibly looking for parts containing precious metals.


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Kremlin says Biden is wrong to say that Russia only has nuclear weapons and oil

3 minute read
U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they arrive for the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland June 16, 2021. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they arrive for the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland June 16, 2021. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS
MOSCOW, July 28 (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Wednesday that U.S. President Joe Biden's assessment of Russia as only having nuclear weapons and oil was wide of the mark and betrayed a lack of knowledge about the country.

Biden made the remark on Tuesday during a speech in which he warned that if the United States ended up in a "real shooting war" with a "major power" it could be the result of a significant cyber attack on the country, highlighting what Washington sees as growing threats posed by Russia and China. read more
Biden boasted that the U.S. intelligence services were superior to their Russian counterparts and said Putin had "a real problem."
"... He's sitting on top of an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wells and nothing else. Nothing else. Their economy is, what?, the eighth smallest in the world now, largest in the world? He knows he's in real trouble, which makes him even more dangerous, in my view," said Biden.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged Russia's nuclear prowess and its large oil and gas sector, but disputed Biden's allegation.
"Claiming that there is nothing else in Russia is wrong," Peskov told reporters. "This is incorrect knowledge and a misunderstanding of modern Russia."

Peskov said it looked as though Biden, who gave the speech while visiting the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), had tailored his message for his country's intelligence community and wanted to make an impression.
Peskov said the United States was an opponent of Russia even though efforts to normalise ties were underway. Senior U.S. and Russian officials began talks on Wednesday on strategic nuclear stability. read more

"(The United States) can hardly be called a partner. It is more like an opponent or a 'vis-a-vis'," Peskov said. "Still the fact that experts are sitting in Geneva today is a positive sign."
Peskov also rejected Biden's allegations that Russia was already interfering in the United States' 2022 mid-term elections.
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Russian and Chinese drills to be held together in August... Update: Russian Defense Minister Shoigu: "I am pleased to accept China's invitation to participate in military exercises that will be held on the territory of the People's Republic of China."

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Belarus leader ready to invite Russian troops 'if necessary'
Belarus’ authoritarian president says he's prepared to invite Russian troops into the country, if necessary, to ensure security of both Belarus and Russia

By YURAS KARMANAU Associated Press
30 July 2021, 10:14

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko speaks during a meeting with officials in Minsk, Belarus, Friday, July 23, 2021. (Pavel Orlovsky/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)

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The Associated Press
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko speaks during a meeting with officials in Minsk, Belarus, Friday, July 23, 2021. (Pavel Orlovsky/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)

KYIV, Ukraine -- Belarus' authoritarian president said Friday he's prepared to invite Russian troops into the country if such a move is necessary to ensure the security of both Belarus and Russia.

But, President Alexander Lukashenko said, at the moment “there is absolutely no need” to do that.

In remarks carried by the state-run Belta news agency, Lukashenko stressed that he had dealt with last year's anti-government protests without involving other countries' armed forces, but added that he would not hesitate to bring in Russian troops if necessary.

Belarus is able to quickly deploy 500,000 of its own personnel, but “if it is not enough, all Russian armed forces will be brought in,” Lukashenko said, according to Belta. “If it is necessary, we won't hesitate.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that Moscow hasn't received any official requests from Belarus to deploy troops, and the move “is possible only after an official request from the leadership of one country to the leadership of other.”

Russia and Belarus have close military and defense ties. Two Russian radar stations communicating with nuclear submarines in the Atlantic and Indian oceans and parts of the Pacific are based in Belarus. In September, the two ex-Soviet nations are scheduled to conduct large-scale joint military exercises.

Until recently, Lukashenko's government had resisted Moscow's attempts to expand military presence in Belarus and rejected requests to open an airbase and station additional troops in the country.

But amid the political crisis that unfolded in Belarus after Lukashenko's reelection to a sixth term in August 2020 was met with huge protests, Russia promised its neighbor military support and allocated a $1.5 billion loan for Belarus' ailing economy.

Lukashenko faced months of protests that were triggered by his being announced the winner of an August 2020 presidential vote that the opposition and the West saw as rigged. He responded to demonstrations with a massive crackdown that saw more than 35,000 people arrested and thousands beaten by police.

The United States and the European Union have imposed multiple sanctions targeting the Belarusian leadership and key sectors of its economy in the wake of the crisis.

Belarusian political analyst Valery Karbalevich told The Associated Press that Lukashenko's statements on Friday were a clear attempt to scare the West.

“For the first time, he threatened with the deployment of Russian troops to Belarus. However, the Kremlin is no hurry to support these initiatives," Karbalevich said.

Lukashenko has accused the West of attempting to orchestrate a revolution in the country he has ruled with an iron fist for decades and of plotting a coup, including by pressuring Belarus with sanctions. His challenger in the election fled to Lithuania and Lithuanian officials say authorities in Belarus are now flooding Lithuania's border with migrants to put that EU nation under pressure.

“They seem to seek out our sore spots. They hit primarily the export sectors of the Belarusian economy: petrochemistry, mechanical engineering, potash, and so on. But the main goal is to leave the people without pensions, salaries, benefits, education, medical care and cause discontent among Belarusians,” Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian president called for further action against the country's human rights groups, alleging that behind them are foreign masterminds, and said government pressure on independent media would continue.

“Freedom of speech that we're protecting under the constitution today has turned into extremist activities,” Lukashenko charged, urging state officials to closely control every journalist and blogger. “It's one thing to criticize the authorities. We have always took criticism adequately ... It's a different thing to call for a rebellion and massacre of those who don't support these so-called revolutionary, thuggish sentiments."

Belarusian authorities in recent weeks have ramped up the pressure against non-governmental organizations and independent media, conducting more than 200 raids of offices and apartments of activists and journalists this month alone, according to the Viasna human rights center.

The Belarusian Association of Journalists said raids and detentions targeting reporters continued Friday in Minsk and other cities. Earlier this week, the authorities declared the Polish-funded Belsat TV channel an extremist group.

A total of 28 Belarusian journalists remain in custody either awaiting trial or serving their sentences. Journalist groups on Thursday demanded that authorities give urgent hospital care to a leading journalist who has been in pre-trial detention.


Associated Press writer Daria Litvinova contributed to this report from Moscow.

Belarus leader ready to invite Russian troops 'if necessary' - ABC News (

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Is Putin’s next big chance to take Ukraine now?
UkraineAlert by Mark Temnycky

Atlantic Council
TUESDAY, JUL 27, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently published an opinion essay “On the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians.” He argues that Russians and Ukrainians are one people, that Ukraine has fake borders, and that the West has established an anti-Russia project to instill fear in Ukrainians.

Putin’s saber rattling and ahistorical claims don’t seem new. He has often made these assertions. The Russian president has called the collapse of the Soviet Union a “genuine tragedy,” and he has worked hard to preserve Russia’s sphere of influence.

Some new claims in his essay, however, should be a cause for concern. While discussing the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Putin argues that Kyiv “does not need the Donbas.” He states that the “inhabitants of these regions will never accept [Western] order,” and that Ukrainian sovereignty can only be achieved by partnering with Russia.

So is Putin preparing for a new incursion into Ukraine?

Perhaps. This scenario is not as far-fetched as it may seem. In April, Russia amassed over 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s eastern border. Russian forces blockaded parts of the Black Sea, and it restricted airspace near the Russian occupied Donbas and Crimea. This snap buildup demonstrated that Moscow could mobilize its forces on short notice, and the West could do little but issue stern denouncements.

Now, Putin has another chance to strike. A new incursion may occur during the Tokyo Olympics. Over the next two weeks, millions of viewers around the world will tune in. He may use this as his window of opportunity while the world is distracted.

This would not be the first time Putin has relied on sporting events to meddle abroad. For more than a decade, Russia’s overseas adventures have coincided with various sporting events.

First it was the 2008 Beijing Olympics. On August 8, amidst the opening ceremony and all the attending hoopla, there was a devastating affair. South Ossetian separatists surrounded the Georgian city of Tskhinvali. Russian units had also advanced on the city. Heavy fighting commenced, and the international community was caught by surprise. Western leaders were slow to respond, and by the time they offered their assistance, Russia had occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia. These regions remain occupied.

Two years later, Russia did it again. During the summer of 2010, millions of soccer fans tuned into the FIFA World Cup. 32 teams from around the world gathered for the most prestigious international award, and millions of fans anxiously watched as their national teams competed.

Meanwhile, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka had engaged in a spat with Putin over the flow of natural gas from Russia to Belarus. Russia cut its natural gas to Belarus after Minsk did not pay. This became a serious matter for the European continent as Russia exported “approximately 20 percent of its gas to Europe through Belarus.” Günther Oettinger, the European Union’s Energy Commissioner at the time, stated that the dispute between Belarus and Russia was an “attack” on the European Union. While the matter was eventually resolved, it underscored Europe’s dependency on Russian gas.

By 2012, Russia’s aggressive moves during sporting events had become entirely predictable. While the West anxiously awaited the Olympic games in London, Russia ramped up its involvement in the Syrian conflict. During the summer months, Russia sold weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad which helped bolster Assad’s position over Syrian rebel forces. Then, when the Olympic games had begun, the conflict in Syria escalated. Over 100 civilians were killed on the opening day of the London Olympics, and a series of lengthy battles emerged between Assad’s government and the Syrian rebels. This escalation also forced the United Nations to pull its monitors from Aleppo out of concerns for their safety.

Russia’s most grievous offense occurred during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Prior to the games, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had reneged his decision to sign an association agreement with the European Union and eventually fled as the country embraced Western integration

Russia had other plans. During the winter Olympics, Russia had amassed a large security force in Sochi to protect the athletes and dignitaries at the games. While the world was distracted by the games, a large unidentified military force invaded Crimea. Although these soldiers wore no military insignia, they were quickly identified as Russian. Within a matter of weeks, Russia had illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine, falsely claiming that it had come to aid ethnic Russians and Russian speakers. Then, in April 2014, armed militants in Donetsk and Luhansk stormed their respective government buildings, and the Verkhovna Rada declared an anti-terrorist operation in these regions. These events led to the Donbas conflict. To this day, more than 14,000 people have died and nearly 1.3 million are displaced.

As Russia expanded its efforts in Ukraine, Putin also became fully invested in Assad’s cause. During the summer of 2016, Russian forces and advisors were deployed to assist with Assad’s Aleppo campaign. Russian troops were seen fighting alongside Assad’s forces. The Russian Federation also started reporting casualties during these battles. As the fighting intensified, the world was occupied by the 2016 Rio Olympics. This allowed the Russians to dictate the state of play on the Syrian battlefield. Assad’s forces had gained a series of advances against rebel forces, and Russia became a “decisive force” during the conflict.

Russia’s meddling was not limited to just Europe and Asia. During the 2018 FIFA World Cup, millions of soccer supporters watched as the Russian Federation hosted the competition while Russian political leaders actively worked with Libyan rebels. Russia provided economic and military assistance to rebel commander Khalifa Haftar, and the World Cup happened to coincide with the Battle of Derna. Over 30 Libyans were killed during this battle.

Given this long pattern of Russian meddling during major sporting events, Putin’s next incursion into Ukraine could coincide with the Tokyo Olympics. First, Putin’s essay on Russia and Ukraine is rather timely. We know that Putin will go to great lengths to ensure that Russia and Ukraine are unified, or to destroy Ukraine as a cohesive state. Second, the weather in eastern Ukraine favors a new Russian offensive. According to military experts, the spring in eastern Ukraine is known as mud season. This would have made it difficult for the Kremlin to move its heavy machinery into the Donbas, but with a dry summer, it is possible that Russia’s troop movement near Ukraine’s eastern border in April 2021 was a precursor to what may come. Or it could deploy more forces in the Black Sea or take the Zmiiyni Island, as analysts at the Kyiv-based Center for Defense Strategies have warned. Finally, the West has been preoccupied with the fight over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. As several European states continue to lobby against the pipeline’s completion, the United States and Germany recently announced a joint statement on Nord Stream 2. Distractions favor Putin.

The West would be wise to observe Russia’s behavior during the Tokyo Olympics. A new Russian offensive would put the West on high alert, and Western officials must be ready for this potential scenario. Otherwise, this incursion could be catastrophic for Europe and deadly for Ukraine.

Mark Temnycky is an accredited freelance journalist covering Eastern Europe.

Is Putin’s next big chance to take Ukraine now? - Atlantic Council


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Russia says U.S. asked 24 of its diplomats to leave by Sept. 3

3 minutes

Russian and U.S. state flags fly near a factory in Vsevolozhsk, Leningrad Region, Russia March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov/File Photo/File Photo

MOSCOW, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Russia's ambassador to the United States said Washington had asked 24 Russian diplomats to leave the country by Sept. 3 after their visas expire, heightening tensions between the two countries.
In an interview with the National Interest magazine published on Sunday, Ambassador Anatoly Antonov did not say whether the U.S. action was prompted by a particular dispute. He said nearly all would be leaving without replacements "because Washington has abruptly tightened visa issuing procedures."

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price, responding to the comments, said on Monday that Washington was not using Russian diplomats' visas to retaliate against Moscow. He said the ambassador's characterization was "not accurate."
Price did not dispute the fact the Russian diplomats would have to leave the United States and said it was "nothing new" that Russians have to apply for an extension to their visas after three years. Those applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Moscow and Washington have long differed over a range of issues, and ties slumped further after U.S. President Joe Biden said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was a killer.
Tensions somewhat eased after Biden met Putin for talks on June 16, which even led to the return of some foreign investors' money into Russian government bonds.
But Russia from this month banned the U.S. embassy in Moscow from retaining, hiring or contracting Russian or third-country staff, except for guards, forcing the mission to let go 182 employees and dozens of contractors, the State Department said on Friday.

"We reserve the right to take appropriate response measures to Russia's actions," Price said during a regular briefing on Monday.
Washington imposed sanctions on Russia in March and April for interfering in last year’s U.S. election, cyber hacking, bullying Ukraine and other alleged malign actions, but Price said those moves were "a response" rather than an escalation.
In the interview Antonov said: "We hope that common sense will prevail and we will be able to normalize the life of Russian and American diplomats in the United States and Russia on the principle of reciprocity."
Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh in Moscow and Simon Lewis in Washington; Editing by Howard Goller
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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Russia, Belarus to press ahead with military drills criticised by Ukraine
August 5, 20217:50 AM EDT Last Updated 6 hours ago

MOSCOW, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Russia and Belarus will hold large-scale crossborder military drills next month, Belarus' defence ministry said on Thursday, which Ukraine has described as a threat to its own security and that of NATO.

The "West-2021" drills will involve thousands of servicemen, including those from Moscow-led defence bloc member Kazakhstan, as well as tanks, artillery and aircraft, the ministry said in a statement.

Military exercises will be held at training grounds in both Russia and Belarus and will be based on a scenario where "international tensions are escalated to a level that may destabilise the situation in the region and provoke aggression against the Union State (of Russia and Belarus)", it said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's deputy chief of staff, Roman Mashovets, said in April the planned drills were "a threat to Euro-Atlantic security" and "aggressive in nature".

Belarus' defence ministry said, in turn, that the exercise carried no threat, "neither for the European community as a whole not for any neighbouring countries".

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov, Editing by William Maclean


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Northern Sea Route developer pleads Putin to approve big plan for Arctic container shipping

"There is a huge interest in the international business community," Chief of Rosatom Aleksei Likhachev tells the President.

By Atle Staalesen
5 August 05, 2021

“With your approval, and on the basis of our Northern Sea Route project, we would like to start the development of a great transport corridor for containers,” Likhachev said in his meeting with Putin on Wednesday this week.

According to the general director of the state nuclear power company, the container shipping will open “a completely new level of business and completely new economic position for Rosatom, as well as for our country,” a transcript reads.
It will also benefit the entire world economy, he argues.

Rosatom has over the past years actively worked with plans for container shipments on the Northern Sea Route, and subsidiary company Rusatom Cargo intends to build a new seaport with infrastructure for shipping containers in Murmansk.

According to the company, there is a potential for at least 4,5 million TEU across Russian Arctic waters. Two terminal hubs and up to 30 ice-class container ships could be built as part of the so-called Northern Sea Transport Corridor project, the company has argued.

Up to 42 billion rubles (€461 million) are planned invested in a transit terminal located between Lavna and Belokamenka on the western shore of the Kola Bay. The new infrastructure is to be up and running in the summer of 2024.
Aleksei Likhachev and his Rosatom has since late 2018 been in charge of the development of the Northern Sea Route. In addition to its management of the Russian fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers, Rosatom is responsible for development of infrastructure along remote and icy sea coasts.

According to the Rosatom chief, the development of the sea route is progressing quicker that originally planned, and Russia now risks running short of icebreakers. A renewed analysis on the need for icebreaker capacities for the period after 2024, as well as after 2030, will now be conducted, Likhachev said in this week’s meeting and handed the President a list of preliminary proposals.

Rosatom is currently in the process of building a fleet of five LK-60 icebreakers (project 22220) that ultimately will replace and complement the ageing fleet of vessels project 10520 and 10580. In addition, the building the first Lider, a super-power 120 MW icebreaker capable of opening large shipping lanes through the sea-ice, is underway at the Zvezda yard outside Vladivostok, Russian Far East. A total of three Liders are planned built, the first of them to be ready for sailing in 2027.


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Russia now U.S.' No. 2 oil supplier

Russia is supplying more oil to the U.S. than any other foreign producer aside from Canada as American refiners scour the globe for gasoline-rich feedstocks to feed surging motor-fuel demand.

U.S. imports of crude and refined petroleum products from its former Cold War adversary surged 23% in May to 844,000 barrels a day from the month before, government data showed. Mexico was edged out of the No. 2 spot as its shipments to its northern neighbor rose by less than 3%.

Russia has become a favored source for U.S. fuel makers largely because it produces ample supplies of semi-refined oils such as Mazut 100, an ideal feedstock for American refineries accustomed to processing thick, sludgy crude from Venezuela and the Middle East. Cargoes from the former dried up because of sanctions, and OPEC-orchestrated output limits have crimped shipments from the latter, leaving an opening for Russian exporters.

The rise in Russian shipments is happening despite intensifying rancor between Washington and the Kremlin over a controversial pipeline that will move Siberian gas to Germany. But in the absence of actual sanctions, U.S. companies are not bound by the diplomatic and geopolitical goals of the White House.

Russian feedstock "seems to be functioning as a good substitute for Venezuelan oil, particularly in the high-demand summer season," said Shirin Lakhani, director of global oil service at Rapidan Energy Group.

Despite Russia's ascendance, it's no threat to Canada's pre-eminence as the largest foreign crude supplier to the world's biggest economy. In fact, Canada accounts for almost half of U.S. imports, delivering almost five times as much as Russia, the data showed.

Nevertheless, the importance of the U.S. market looms large in Moscow, where Federal Customs Service records show America is the single largest buyer of the nation's heavy-oil products, the category that includes Mazut 100. U.S. buyers absorbed almost one-fifth of Russian heavy-oil exports during the first five months of the year.

Most of the U.S.-bound Russian crude has docked along the West Coast to feed refineries like Phillips 66's plant 100 miles north of Seattle and California refineries owned by Chevron Corp. and Valero Energy Corp., government data showed.

Refiners in Texas and Louisiana also have been buying Russian oil products; just last week, 1.5 million barrels from the Black and Baltic seas landed in the region. The influx was substantial enough to cut prices at the Houston Ship Channel by 3% earlier this week.

Russian shipments to U.S. shores appear bound to increase as the Middle East benchmark that governs the nation's oil exports comes under pressure from slowly rising output by OPEC and its allies, Rapidan's Lakhani said.

Lower prices relative to other available sources of similar fuel oils will invite even more purchasing, she said.

relative to:

Aramco raised pricing for all grades to the U.S. for September by between 10 cents and 20 cents a barrel. It’s cutting all grades to the Mediterranean region and Northwest Europe after regional benchmarks there weakened.

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Russia Says Military Drills Along Afghan Border Mimic Syria Anti-Insurgent Operations

SATURDAY, AUG 07, 2021 - 07:35 AM

This week Russia and Uzbekistan held joint military drills near the Afghan border as the Kremlin bolsters its troop presence with central Asian allies along border areas which have seen heavy fighting on the other side as US forces withdraw. Both countries are said to be "nervous that a worsening security situation in Afghanistan could spill over into Central Asia," Reuters writes.

Russia's defense ministry said the war drills which ran into Friday included about 1,500 troops and 200 pieces of military equipment, also with Tupolev-22M3 long range strategic bombers coordinating with ground forces, said to be based on experienced gained in "operations against illegal armed groups in Syria."

Tupolev Tu-22M Strategic Bomber file image

The reference reflects operations geared toward ensuring Afghan jihadi insurgents don't pour across the border, which has also seen national forces as well as fleeing civilians seek refuge. Russia has been bolstering its military cooperation with Tajikistan of late as well.

"In a simulated special operation a joint contingent prevented illegal armed groups from crossing the state border," a Russian military press release stated. "The joint force conducted air reconnaissance and prevented a penetration of large armed groups. The militants were sealed off, chased and eventually eliminated in a rural community."

While the Taliban has recently made rapid gains against national forces in the north and south, it's particularly Afghanistan's southern provinces which are most heavily threatened this week. On Friday for the first time a provincial capital fell to the Taliban, specifically Zaranj - capital of southwest Nimruz province and key border crossing with Iran.

Map via The Economist

And neighboring Helmand province, which is the country's largest province by area, is also this week under threat - likely to soon fall as Afghan national forces are said to be on the defensive and surrounded, with 9 of 10 of its districts under control of the jihadists.

Russia Says Military Drills Along Afghan Border Mimic Syria Anti-Insurgent Operations | ZeroHedge