Are Russia and the U.S. Planning for War? Hacks, Nuclear Missile Tests, and Threats of Nuclear War
Russian television journalist Dmitry Kiselyov, who was appointed by Vladimir Putin to head the country’s government-owned news agency, threatened the United States government this week saying that the actions the U.S. is taking against Russia could have “nuclear” implications.
“The loud talk in Washington of a ‘Plan B’ for Syria. Everyone understands what this means: direct military force in Syria,” he said on Monday night’s edition of his flagship current affairs program Vesti Nedeli (News of the Week).
During Monday’s program, a Russian defense ministry spokesman also warned US bombers not to target the Syrian army.
“We’ll shoot them down,” commented Mr Kiselyov.
Obama’s Cold War?
Relationships between Russia and the U.S. have hit cold war level lows as the Obama administration seems to be adding to the tensions on multiple fronts.
Earlier in the week the US suspended communication with Russia after the country broke the September ceasefire agreement brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.
On Friday, Kerry accused Russia of War Crimes, claiming Russia attacked a UN humanitarian aid convoy near the Syrian city of Aleppo. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported 20 civilians were killed and 18 vehicles destroyed.
But today, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the attack was carried out by one of the Islamic terrorist groups who operate in the area.
“It was one of the terrorist groups. And we know that, say, the Americans know it too, but prefer to take a different position, to falsely accuse Russia. This is not helping,” Putin said at an economic forum in Moscow.
On Saturday, Russia vetoed a motion put to the UN Security Council demanding an immediate end to the bombing campaign in Aleppo. That same day Russia confirmed it has started moving nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles into the Kaliningrad, something Poland said it considers a matter of the “highest concern”.
Earlier today, Secretary of State John Kerry threatened to retaliate against Russia, citing unsubstantiated claims that Russia is somehow trying to hack into U.S. election databases to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump.
“We released this information to put the people doing it on a notice that they’re not, quote, ‘getting away with it’ for free, as well as to put states on notice that we’re serious when we say they need to take every measure possible to guarantee the integrity of our elections,” Kerry said Monday at The Internet Association’s Virtuous Cycle Conference. “And we will and can respond in ways that we choose to at the time of our choice.”
That threat comes days after the Obama administration sought to drum up charges against both the Russians and the Trump campaign, claiming Russia perpetrated a series of politically-charged hacks, including targeting the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. While the Obama administration stopped short of formally accusing the Russians of hacking two state voter registration databases, the DNC and the Clinton campaign have been pushing the notion that Russia is responsible for these so-called hacks.
Earlier in the year, the Department of Homeland Security made similar claims, saying that the threat from Russia was enough for them to take control over the election process. They claim the election is a “critical infrastructure,” therefore giving DHS the same control over election security as it has over Wall Street and the electric power grid.
“We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process, is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said.
“There’s a vital national interest in our election process, so I do think we need to consider whether it should be considered by my department and others critical infrastructure,” he said at a media conference earlier this month hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Russia tests ballistic missiles as tensions with West Reach Critical Mass
Russia´s forces conducted a series of intercontinental ballistic missile tests on Wednesday, firing a nuclear-capable rocket from a Pacific Fleet submarine in the Sea of Okhotsk north of Japan. A Topol missile was also fired from a submarine in the Barents Sea, and a third missile was fired from an inland site in the north-west of the vast country, Russian agencies reported.
These tests come as Russia is building up its military presence throughout the Mediterranean and the Baltic regions.
Russia recently deployed S-300 anti-aircraft missiles system to Syria and sent three war ships armed with Malakhit cruise missiles from the Black Sea Fleet to the Mediterranean.
In an interview with German newspaper Bild, German foreign minister Frank-Walker Steinmeir claimedtensions between the US and Russia are so high that the global political situation is now “more dangerous” than during the Cold War.