Report: War Between Russia, NATO Almost Broke Out 66 Times in Past Year – Breitbart

Experts believe a war between NATO and Russia almost broke out 66 times in the past year as tensions continue to escalate after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. Russian diplomats only made matters worse with threats against former Soviet Union republics and current NATO members.

“The situation is ripe with potential for either dangerous miscalculation or an accident that could trigger a worsening of the crisis or even a direct military confrontation,” stated the European Leadership Network.

NATO intercepted hundreds of Russian jets over NATO airspace in 2014. NATO said these Russian planes do not use on-board transponders utilized for surveillance. The organization said the plans “pose a potential risk to civil aviation as civilian air traffic control cannot detect these aircraft or ensure there is no interference with civilian air traffic.” Portugal, a member of the European Union and a founding member of NATO, chased a Russian ship out of their waters on November 6. Russia claims the ship conducted “marine research,” but Portugal intervened when the ship floated almost fourteen miles from the coast.

Report: War Between Russia, NATO Almost Broke Out 66 Times in Past Year – Breitbart

What’s going to happen if a Russian military aircraft collides with a civilian aircraft because the Russian aircraft did not use a transponder? NATO countries will certainly tighten the screws on Russia which could lead to even worse behavior by Russia.

Are we really all that far away from war? Apparently, not that far given the reality of the last year and current Russian behavior. We are at a tipping point in terms of war. One little incident could send everything over the edge and into a full blown nuclear war. How many years do you think we can remain in this state?

Bringing Venezuela’s Economic Crisis Into Focus | Stratfor

Summary

Satellite images of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela’s main port of entry for imported goods, show just how far the country has fallen into economic disrepair. Reliable economic statistics are difficult to come by, so comparing imagery taken years apart can provide some insight that the government does not, particularly as legislative elections draw near.

Analysis

The images below were taken in February 2012 and June 2015, respectively. The first image came as Venezuelan imports, financed in part by high oil prices, were almost as high as they ever were in recent years. In February 2012, Puerto Cabello was bustling with activity. Container yards were stacked high, a result of the government’s oil-fueled spending spree ahead of the November presidential election.

But in 2013, the pace of Venezuela’s imports began to slow. When global oil prices plunged in the latter part of 2014, Venezuelan imports dropped precipitously, a trend that has continued to this day. The second image, taken only a few months ago, shows a much different picture: Container yards are far emptier because the government simply has much less money to import goods.

Bringing Venezuela’s Economic Crisis Into Focus | Stratfor via Google Search

‘A dangerous cocktail’ is brewing in Turkey – Business Insider

Just over one month after Turkey launched a two-front war against ISIS in northern Syria and the Kurdish PKK in Iraq, the country is facing violent blowback within its borders.

Clashes between Turkish security forces and insurgents in the country’s southeast have reportedly escalated to the level of “urban warfare,” the Wall Street Journal reported recently, as PKK-linked youths dig “explosive-laden trenches” and carve out “autonomous zones” free from state control.

‘A dangerous cocktail’ is brewing in Turkey – Business Insider

Iran may have built extension at disputed site: U.N. nuclear watchdog – Yahoo News

Iran appears to have built an extension to part of its Parchin military site since May, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a report on Thursday, as part of its inquiry into possible military dimensions of Tehran’s past nuclear activity.

The IAEA says any activities Iran has undertaken at Parchin since U.N. inspectors last visited in 2005 could jeopardize its ability to verify Western intelligence suggesting Tehran carried out tests there relevant to nuclear bomb detonations more than a decade ago. Iran has dismissed the intelligence as “fabricated”.

Iran may have built extension at disputed site: U.N. nuclear watchdog – Yahoo News

Russia’s plans for the Arctic have hit ‘two major setbacks’

The first setback came from the seriously reduced value of the natural resources that are presumed to be hidden in the depths of the Arctic shelf. Putin’s lieutenants — including Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Security Council of Russia — loved to engage in speculations about the fierce competition for access to the rich oil and gas fields that were certain to be discovered there.

The second disappointment has to do with international maritime transit along the Northern Sea Route (called Sevmorput in Russian). …

The problem is that the old Soviet infrastructure along the Sevmorput is so rotten that navigation in the difficult northern waters remains too risky. Egypt, in the meantime, has swiftly constructed the New Suez Canal, which offers a far more reliable route for tanker and container traffic.

Russia appears firmly set on its course of militarization of the Arctic. In a region where economic activities are mostly declining and where environmental challenges are on the rise, Russia appears to be engaged in a one-sided arms race. It is glaringly obvious to observers outside the Kremlin that Russia’s severe economic recession makes this course unsustainable. Russia may aspire to Arctic greatness, but there is little there to achieve and Russia is unlikely to be able to achieve it.

Russia has two problems in Arctic – Business Insider

Xi just changed the rules of the game in China — and that makes things scarier for everyone

The rules of engagement have changed in China.

There was a time when loyalty to the party, and loyalty to President Xi Jinping, meant the government left you alone.

But there is now a crisis on, and even those who thought they might be safe from the president’s ongoing crackdown on corruption need to watch their backs.

Someone has to take the fall for a crashing stock market, a slowing economy, and the 145 people killed as a result of an industrial accident in Tianjin earlier this month.

And it’s not going to be President Xi Jinping.

On Thursday the news broke that Liao Hong, president and editor-in-chief of The People’s Daily Online, has been arrested.

Xi just changed the rules of the game in China — and that makes things scarier for everyone – Business Insider

If everyone has to watch their own back, then perhaps Xi Jinping better be watching his as well. As things start unraveling in China due to the slowing world economy, Chinese leaders could be in increasing trouble. Xi Jinping should be a little worried about his neck hanging from the end of rope, right next to Putin.

The world economy is never going to get going again until there is a full blown decade long worldwide depression. Too many problems have built up for too many years that are holding down the world. The only way to clear them out is a depression.

Evidence mounts that soon-to-be flush Iran already spurring new attacks on Israel | Fox News

An unsettling surge in terrorism by Iranian proxies has many Israelis convinced the release to Tehran of tens of billions of dollars in frozen funds is already putting the Jewish state in danger.
 
In recent days, rockets have rained down on Israel from Gaza in the south and the Golan Heights to the north, Israeli forces foiled a bomb plot at the tomb of biblical patriarch Joseph, and Gaza-based terrorist groups that also have a presence in the West Bank have openly appealed for aid on Iranian television. Israeli officials fear the terrorist activity is spiking as groups audition for funding from Tehran, which is set to receive the long-frozen funds as part of its deal to allow limited nuclear inspections. They say the international focus on Iran’s nuclear ambitions has left its more conventional methods of attacking regional adversaries unaddressed.

Evidence mounts that soon-to-be flush Iran already spurring new attacks on Israel | Fox News

How Vladimir Putin’s paranoia could lead to nuclear war

Vladimir Putin is a bad strategist: He does not understand the relationship between military violence and political objectives. In the last two years, he has all but ruined his aspiration to return Russia to the ranks of the great powers. His ham-fisted annexation of Crimea, along with his transparent support for secessionists in the ongoing civil war in East Ukraine, has been disastrous for Russian interests. Putin’s adventurism led to stock market chaos, a major currency crisis, and staggering levels of capital flight — all of which have compounded the problem of collapsing oil prices. The loss of revenue is damaging Russia’s conventional military power because the government will struggle mightily to modernize its forces. Meanwhile, Putin has breathed new life into NATO, an alliance that had been searching for common purpose and sagging under the weight of the war in Afghanistan.

Putin seems unable to recognize the depth of his blunders. Instead of reconsidering the wisdom of his approach, he has doubled down on his Ukrainian misadventure. One of the marks of a competent strategist is the ability to understand failure and change course as needed. Putin has not demonstrated that he can measure success or failure, or that he is capable of change. Instead of fostering serious strategic debate in Moscow, he has created an ideological echo chamber based on the idea of his own steadfastness against a rapacious West seeking Russia’s destruction. Such old-fashioned agitprop has helped him consolidate power at home, but it has badly weakened Russia’s position abroad.

But Putin’s incompetence also creates new risks. His inability to learn from Ukraine, for instance, suggests that he might be willing to try the same gambit in the Baltics on the pretext of defending ethnic Russians. Putin may believe that he can attempt a similar sort of covert coup using special operators and supporting separatists while publicly denying any involvement. He might also begin overt conventional maneuvers near the Estonian or Latvian border to send a tacit threat of Russian intervention. Making good on that threat, however, would risk a conflict with the United States, which would be obligated to come to the defense of its NATO allies.

In the abstract, there are psychological, political, and military pathways to nuclear escalation. First, intense wartime psychological stress might cause leaders to misinterpret signals of restraint, exaggerate the costs and danger of fighting, and become risk-acceptant. Second, paranoid leaders might believe the price of losing is regime change. If they are convinced that staying in power requires decisive victory, even against a vastly superior conventional enemy, they might be willing to gamble for resurrection by crossing the nuclear threshold. Third, leaders may opt to use nuclear weapons through a process of inadvertent escalation. They may reasonably construe attacks on their command and control systems, for instance, as part of a campaign to disable their deterrent force. Under these circumstances they might act on a terrible “use it or lose it” impulse, even if their adversary had no intention of destroying their nuclear capabilities.

While all three of these scenarios could occur during a NATO–Russia conventional conflict, Putin’s strategic myopia is particularly troubling because it exacerbates the psychological and political pathways to escalation. The inability to recognize failure might give him false confidence about Russia’s prospect against NATO forces, especially because Russia would enjoy initially superior numbers in a hypothetical war. This lead might not last long. In the last 30 years the United States has demonstrated extraordinary abilities to overcome enemy defenses through a combination of rapid maneuver, electronic warfare, suppression of enemy air defenses, and brute force. A successful counter-attack against Russian forces, especially including strikes on Russian air defense installations, would come as a terrifying shock to Russian leaders. In this case a host of familiar psychological pathologies could take hold, making it possible for Putin to lash out in anger and frustration rather than seeking some way of limiting the damage.

There is also reason to believe that Putin may view losing to NATO as tantamount to regime suicide. …

How Vladimir Putin’s paranoia could lead to nuclear war

Report: Likelihood of Israeli-Hamas war greater then that of multiyear cease-fire

Haaretz 26 Aug by Amira Hass — The chances are greater of a new war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas than of a medium-range cease-fire between them. The likelihood of a new war is also greater than that of success in reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas, based on resolution of the salary crisis among civil servants or on lifting the closure of the Strip. These are the findings of a report by the conflict-resolution NGO International Crisis Group. The report was released Tuesday on the first anniversary of the cease-fire that ended the 50-day war in Gaza. According to the report, neither side is interested in war, but the root causes for last year’s war are still there: siege of Gaza, economic and financial crisis, and Hamas-Fatah rivalry. The report also summarizes the tangle of opposing interests and frictions between Hamas and Israel and Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and Egypt. Residents of the Strip are living in conditions of unprecedented distress and feel that Palestinian political leaders have abandoned it, the report notes, adding that per capita income in the Gaza Strip is 31 percent less than it was in 1994. Based on conversations over the past year with officials from all sides, the report concludes that under circumstances of economic and social stagnation, Israeli restrictions on movement and the internal Palestinian disconnection, war might serve Hamas as an outlet in facing internal challenges such as attacks by Muslim Salafists, the collapse of government services and social protests. A war would allow Hamas to gather its strength, reestablish its military credibility and perhaps ease the closure on the Strip by means of a new cease-fire agreement.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.672953

Monitoring emerging risks.