Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

US Senate to Ban US Weapon Supplies to Turkey Over Potential Purchase of Russian S-400 System

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On Monday, the US Senate adopted the National Defence Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which obliges the Secretary of Defense to present a special report regarding the potential purchase by Turkey of the S-400 air/missile defence system from Russia. The document stated:

Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of the Act, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the status of the US relationship with the Republic of Turkey. The Secretary of Defense may not take any action to execute the delivery of a foreign military sale for major defence equipment to Turkey until the report is submitted.

The document stipulates:

The required report should include an assessment of the potential purchase by the Government of Turkey of the S-400 air and missile defence system from the Russian Federation and the potential effects of such purchase on the USA-Turkey bilateral relationship, including an assessment of impacts on other US weapon systems and platforms operated jointly with Turkey to include the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike aircraft, the Patriot surface-to-air missile system, the CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter, the AH-1 Attack helicopter, the UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter, and the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. The Secretary of Defense isn’t allowed to take any action to execute the delivery of a foreign military sale for major defence equipment subject to congressional notification to the Republic of Turkey until the Secretary submits to the appropriate congressional committees the report.

Earlier reports said that Ankara intends to purchase over 100 F-35 warplanes. The proposed measure may hinder the execution of the contract.

The S-400 Triumf is an advanced long-range antiaircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and surface targets. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 kilometres and at an altitude of up to 30 kilometres. In November 2016, Turkey and Russia were negotiating a contract for the supply of S-400 air defence systems. Russia confirmed the conclusion of the contract on 12 September 2017.

19 June 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/world/1010065

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Pentagon Sez Washington and Seoul Suspend Joint Military Drill

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Late Monday, US officials said that US and ROK forces won’t conduct a joint military drill that scheduled to take place in August, following a historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un in which the two heads of state agreed to make peace on the Korean peninsula. Trump verbally vowed to end USA-ROK “war games” following the summit with Kim in Singapore on 12 June. An official told Reuters that the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill wouldn’t take place this year as it did last year. Meanwhile, on Monday, Pentagon source Dana White said in a press release that the USA and the ROK suspended planning for a joint military exercise near the Korean peninsula scheduled to take place in August:

Consistent with President Trump’s commitment and in concert with our ROK ally, the US military suspended all planning for this August’s defensive war-game Freedom Guardian. There have been no decisions on subsequent war-games. Also, this decision hasn’t affected Pacific exercises outside of the Korean peninsula. US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Advisor John Bolton will meet later this week to discuss the issue.

Last year, Pyongyang requested the UN Security Council to discuss Ulchi Freedom Guardian because it was essentially a rehearsal for an invasion of the DPRK. According to the Pentagon, the drill would involve 17,500 of the 28,000 US troops in the ROK and UN Command forces from seven countries, including Australia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Britain.

19 June 2018

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201806191065528849-south-korea-usa-drills-suspension/

Monday, 18 June 2018

Nobody Likes It: California Moving to Eliminate Daylight Savings Time

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On Wednesday, the California State Senate approved a new law… innocuously titled Assembly Bill 807… that could lead to the elimination of Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the Golden State. According to the author of the bill, California Assemblyman Kansen Chu of San Jose, the biannual practice of moving the clock back and forth one hour is now unsuitable, given the state’s current energy consumption data. According to SFGate, Chu said:

We have so many electronic gadgets and air conditioning and you name it. Back in the 1940s, when they [went] home, they pretty much retired, but nowadays, energy consumption in the evenings is actually higher than in the day-time. Eliminating the much-hated twice-a-year practice could help save money on electricity bills and even save lives.

According to statistics, heart attacks and strokes increase during periods directly after the switch, as diurnal humans struggle to acclimate with a sudden and biologically-arbitrary time change. Chu observed according to SFGate:

Studies show that work-related accidents and traffic accidents actually increase the week after we change the clock.

If California voters approve the measure during the upcoming November general election, it’d generate a new bill that must first pass both houses before a newly-elected governor can sign it into law. The Florida House and Senate passed similar bills. Arizona and Hawaii also don’t recognise the necessity of shifting the clock back and forth every six months.

18 June 2018

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/society/201806181065498264-california-eliminate-daylight-savings/

Media Reports Speculate that Trump May Meet with Putin in Europe in July

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The Washington Post cited “a senior administration official and two diplomats familiar with his schedule”:

We expect that President Trump shall meet Russian President Vladimir Putin next month while he’s in Europe for a NATO summit. On Friday, in a nod to those plans, Trump told reporters that “it’s possible” he’d meet with Putin this summer.

NATO is going to hold a summit in Brussels 11-12 July. The Post went on:

Trump’s interest in a meeting with Putin became public in March after the Kremlin disclosed that Trump extended an invitation in a phone call with the Russian leader. However, US officials say Trump privately asked his aides for a bilateral meeting ever since he met with Putin in Vietnam in November on the sidelines of a multilateral economic summit. A US official said, “After that meeting, the president said he wanted to invite Putin to the White House. We ignored it. At the time, top aides in the National Security Council opposed the idea of a meeting and said they didn’t view Trump’s interest in a summit as an order to set one up. They decided, ‘Let’s wait and see if he raises it again’”.

The push for engagement with the Kremlin follows months of prodding by Trump, who faced resistance from senior political aides and diplomats questioning the value of meeting with Putin and worry that a tête-à-tête could cast a shadow over the NATO summit in Brussels. Senior officials at the State Department acknowledged that a meeting between the two leaders could, in theory, help resolve long-standing differences on the Ukraine, Syria, cybersecurity issues, and interference in foreign elections. However, some of those officials said a summit between the two leaders is premature given the lack of progress on resolving minor issues, such as the return of Russian dachas on the East Coast seized as punishment for Moscow’s interference in the election.

In late December 2016, the Obama administration introduced a new round of sanctions against some Russian companies, the Federal Security Service, and the Main Intelligence Agency of the General Staff. Besides that, US authorities expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland. Washington attributed these sanctions to cyberattacks against US political institutions, accusing Russia of being involved. However, Moscow fully rejected all allegations and refrained from giving a tit-for-tat response at the time.

On Wednesday, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia with the US National Security Council Richard Hooker told us that Washington and Moscow were considering the possibility to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. On 20 March, the two presidents held a telephone call and agreed to hand down instructions to start preparations for a Russia-USA summit. Putin and Trump earlier held talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit held in Hamburg in July 2017. They had another opportunity to negotiate during the APEC summit in Vietnam in November 2017 but managed only to exchange a couple of phrases. On 4 June, Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov said that we’ve taken no specific steps in order to prepare for a summit. Meanwhile, Putin confirmed on 10 June that he was ready to meet with Trump as soon as the USA was also ready for that.

16 June 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/world/1009827

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