Netanyahu Warned Putin of Israeli Attacks on Weapons to Hezbollah [video]

The official statement after their hour-long talk simply said that the Prime Minister criticized Russia’s sale of the S-300 advance anti-missile system to Iran as a “direct result of the dangerous deal on the table” between Iran and the P5+1 countries.

What was not reported was Netanyahu’s warning to the Russian president that Israel’s “red line” is any attempt by Iran or Syria to transfer, to place any advanced weapons in the hands of Hezbollah, Iran’s world-wide proxy terrorist network operating out of Lebanon.   Syria and Hezbollah are heavily armed with Russian weapons, and Hezbollah’s missile arsenal is considered to be larger than almost any army in the world.

The Jewish Press » » Netanyahu Warned Putin of Israeli Attacks on Weapons to Hezbollah

Eugene Kaspersky: The ‘Cyber Cold War’ era has begun | Digital News Asia

Speaking of wars, Kaspersky Lab recorded a rare and unusual example of one cybercriminal attacking another in 2014.

Hellsing, a small and technically unremarkable cyber-espionage group targeting mostly government and diplomatic organisations in Asia, was subjected to a spear-phishing attack by another threat actor, and decided to strike back.

The discovery was made by Kaspersky Lab researchers looking into the activity of Naikon, a cyber-espionage group also targeting organisations in the Asia Pacific region.

The researchers noticed that one of Naikon’s targets had spotted the attempt to infect its systems with a spear-phishing email carrying a malicious attachment.

The target questioned the authenticity of the email with the sender and, apparently dissatisfied with the reply, did not open the attachment. Shortly thereafter, the target forwarded to the sender an email containing the target’s own malware.

This moved triggered Kaspersky Lab’s investigation and led to the discovery of the Hellsing APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) group. The method of counter-attack indicates that Hellsing wanted to identify the Naikon group and gather intelligence on it.

Eugene Kaspersky: The ‘Cyber Cold War’ era has begun | Digital News Asia

“The target questioned the authenticity of the email with the sender and, apparently dissatisfied with the reply, did not open the attachment. Shortly thereafter, the target forwarded to the sender an email containing the target’s own malware.”

I love that counterattack.

Russia and America: Stumbling to War | The National Interest

“While many Americans have persuaded themselves that nuclear weapons are no longer relevant in international politics, officials and generals in Moscow feel differently.”

Could a U.S. response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine provoke a confrontation that leads to a U.S.-Russian war?

Americans would do well to recall the sequence of events that led to Japan’s attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into the Second World War. In 1941, the United States imposed a near-total embargo on oil shipments to Japan to punish its aggression on the Asian mainland. Unfortunately, Washington drastically underestimated how Japan would respond. As one of the post–World War II “wise men,” Secretary of State Dean Acheson, observed afterward, the American government’s …

COULD A U.S. response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine provoke a confrontation that leads to a U.S.-Russian war? Such a possibility seems almost inconceivable. But when judging something to be “inconceivable,” we should always remind ourselves that this is a statement not about what is possible in the world, but about what we can imagine. As Iraq, Libya and Syria demonstrate, political leaders often have difficulties envisioning events they find uncomfortable, disturbing or inconvenient.

Prevailing views of the current confrontation with Russia over Ukraine fit this pattern. …

… While many Americans have persuaded themselves that nuclear weapons are no longer relevant in international politics, officials and generals in Moscow feel differently. …

There are three key factors in considering how today’s conflict might escalate to war: Russia’s decision making, Russia’s politics and U.S.-Russian dynamics.

… The Russian public largely supports the hard-line camp, whom one Putin adviser called the “hotheads.” …

While none of the “hotheads” criticize Putin, even in private conversations, a growing number of military and national-security officials favor a considerably tougher approach to the United States and Europe in the Ukraine crisis. …

… In these debates, many ask whether President Obama would risk losing Chicago, New York and Washington to protect Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius. …

… Many in Beijing fear that if the United States and its allies were successful in defeating Russia, and particularly in changing the regime in Russia, China could well be the next target. …

Russia and America: Stumbling to War | The National Interest

Let us remember that the Russians get a vote too. And if they feel differently about the use of nuclear weapons then you had better pay attention and come out of your fantasy land.

Europe faces a ‘real threat’ from Russia, warns US army commander – Telegraph

The commander of the US army in Europe has warned that Nato must remain united in the face of a “real threat” from Russia.

“It’s not an assumption. There is a Russian threat,” Lt-Gen Frederick “Ben” Hodges said.

“You’ve got the Russian ambassador threatening that Denmark will be a nuclear target if it participates in any missile defence programme. And when you look at the unsafe way Russian aircraft are flying without transponders in proximity to civilian aircraft, that’s not professional conduct.”

Gen Hodges spoke to the Telegraph on the sidelines of a military debriefing after an exercise to move live Patriot missiles 750 miles across Europe by road and deploy them on the outskirts of Warsaw.

The sight of a US military convoy crossing the German-Polish border more than 20 years after the end of the Cold War made international headlines and brought traffic to a standstill as people posed for selfies beside the troops.

Europe faces a ‘real threat’ from Russia, warns US army commander – Telegraph

The Russian banking sector is about to implode – Yahoo Finance

Hundreds of Russian banks have no choice but to close down, merge or be acquired by larger rivals as a result of mismanagement, experts told Bloomberg.

The country has more than 820 lenders, a staggering number of which have a high ratio of bad loans on their balance sheets. Many will soon disappear.

“Russia has far too many licensed banks,” Christopher Weafer, a senior partner at Moscow-based consulting firm Macro Advisory, told Bloomberg. “Cutting the number to between 200 and 300 would be a very positive step.”

Corruption, poor lending practices and suspicions of money laundering and terror financing are also dragging the sector down — causing central bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina to revoke licenses or severely restrict some banks’ viability.

The Russian banking sector is about to implode – Yahoo Finance

America’s China consensus slowly unravels

For a long time American (and Australian) thinking about China has been dominated by a broad consensus that, despite many signs of growing assertiveness, Beijing does not pose a fundamental challenge to US leadership in Asia. The argument goes that, whatever they might say, China’s leaders know that its economic future is too uncertain, its political system too fragile, its military too weak and its friends too few to allow it to contest American primacy. They also know that China’s own stability and prosperity depend on the regional order that only America can uphold.

Therefore, the consensus has concluded, America doesn’t have to do much in response except remind everyone that it intends to stick around. Hence the ‘pivot’, which has emphasised declaratory statements rather than substantive actions.

But that consensus may be unravelling, at least in America. Washington’s AIIB debacle seems to have sounded a wake-up call and now, in just the past week, two major reports from the heart of the US foreign policy establishment have chimed in too. Both reports argue that China’s challenge to US primacy in Asia is for real, and that America’s policy in Asia needs to shift radically to respond.

America’s China consensus slowly unravels

The Edge: Is the Military Dominance of the West Coming to an End? | The Guardian

Mark Urban is the BBC’s respected diplomatic and defence journalist and a military historian, and his book asks “Is the Military Dominance of the West Coming to an End?”. The answer is: “Yes, of course.” That is, in the way the west’s conventional weapons have in the past been vastly superior to those of Russia, India, China and other Asian powers.

Now, warns Urban, projected cuts “will make it impossible for America to have the kind of military reach it used to”. Many Americans, he adds, “do not realise that the age of a single global hyperpower is over. And, actually, it’s worse than that. For it is only by combining metrics of that decline with the growth in military capabilities elsewhere that you can gain a sense of how quickly the scales are tipping”.

Now, says Urban, Russia, China and India have such strong conventional forces, and America has cut its forces so much, that in the event of a conflict “the US would be left with the choice of nuclear escalation or backing down”. He adds: “Against a full-scale invasion of South Korea, the US would have little choice but to go nuclear.” Russia, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea and some other countries could “mount a credible conventional defence that would leave the United States having to think the unthinkable, with profound implications for the world”.

The Edge: Is the Military Dominance of the West Coming to an End? by Mark Urban – review | Books | The Guardian

Countdown to War: A U.S.-Russia War Over Ukraine?

“Could a U.S. response to Russia’s action in Ukraine provoke a confrontation that leads to a U.S.-Russia War?”

This jolting question is raised by Graham Allison and Dimitri Simes in the cover article of The National Interest. [Apparently, this article is not out yet.]

The answer the authors give, in “Countdown to War: The Coming U.S. Russia Conflict,” is that the odds are shortening on a military collision between the world’s largest nuclear powers.

The cockpit of the conflict, should it come, will be Ukraine.

What makes the article timely is the report that Canada will be sending 200 soldiers to western Ukraine to join 800 Americans and 75 Brits on a yearlong assignment to train the Ukrainian army.

And train that army to fight whom? Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine whom Vladimir Putin has said will not be crushed, even if it requires Russian intervention. Says Putin, “We won’t let it happen.”

What are the forces that have us “stumbling to war”?

A U.S.-Russia War Over Ukraine? | RealClearPolitics

We aren’t going to stumble into anything. We are going to fall into war. Since both sides must move forward and can’t accept defeat, then the option that is left is war. The key questions are when and precisely how. A better scenario for Russia is to acknowledge that war is likely, and launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the US. It only needs a good excuse to pin the attack on the US.

Chile, the star pupil of the Chicago school, has turned out to be a dope-smoking shoplifter | beyondbrics

Let’s be blunt: the current crisis in Chile is serious and runs deep. And not only because senators and congressmen from various parties (although most are members of the UDI, the party closest to General Pinochet’s legacy) allegedly sought to illegally finance their campaigns with money they asked for directly from Délano and Lavín. When the scandal first emerged, the legislators denied any wrongdoing. Since then, Délano, Lavín and at least one senator have confessed. Meanwhile, a separate scandal has erupted, involving more than 50 legislators alleged to have taken illegal payments from Soquimich, Chile’s non-metallic mining giant. The company has recognised “irregular payments” of about $11m and is collaborating with investigators. None of the legislators has been named in public but the damage to congress has been done.

There is another reason why the crisis is so serious: the model, the theoretical model, the Chicago blackboard model, was neither greed nor delinquency-proof; once it was put to work in real-world conditions, the system ended up being corrupted by its patron saints. Entrepreneurs in the US, by the way, wouldn’t believe the profit margins that their Chilean colleagues are used to pocketing.

The story of “Los Carlos” is a tale of greed. …

Chile, the star pupil of the Chicago school, has turned out to be a dope-smoking shoplifter | beyondbrics

I have said this often in the past: Time + Stability = Crash

Corruption and problems grow during the relatively stable times. Eventually, all these issues get you and bring you down. Welcome to Chile.

Russia’s silent war against the west | beyondbrics

Despite the numerous attacks against the US and Europe, Russia’s primary targets remain those closest to its borders. Putin’s strategy in this regard is obvious: to undermine and destabilise the democratically elected governments of Russia’s neighbours in order to gain political, economic and strategic influence within them. By generating domestic support for Russia’s policies through political and cultural elites as well as the media, Putin hopes to rebuild a European sphere of influence and exert control over decisions of strategic importance for Russia. These tactics, like the intelligence war itself, are not new, but their use has now reached a level of intensity not seen since the height of the Cold War.

This process began in the early 2000s, as the Russian military-intelligence complex gradually recovered and modernised itself after the Cold War. The mastermind of this reformed complex was Putin himself, who served as a KGB officer in the Soviet era and later became head of its successor organisation, the FSB. He more than anyone has been responsible for rehabilitating the Chekist legacy and incorporating its methods into the day-to-day functioning of the Russian state and its external relations. Even his Soviet predecessors did more to ensure that the various branches of the security establishment remained subordinate to civilian power. In Putin’s Russia, however, the main levers of power have long been controlled by former and serving intelligence operatives. The extent to which Russia’s diplomatic and military structures have been redesigned to incorporate advanced intelligence features forms the backbone of a new, modern threat to the west.

Russia’s silent war against the west | beyondbrics

Monitoring emerging risks.