web analytics
October 10, 2015 / 27 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Moscow’

Russian Navy’s First Port Visit to Egypt in 21 Years

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Suddenly, even Vladimir Putin looks more attractive.  He looks, at least, like he actually intends to fight radical Islamism – in some of its varieties anyway.  In theory, he has some pull with Iran.  He can exert a certain level of “check” on the Syria crisis.  His relatively well armed nation sits on the other side of Erdogan’s wild-card Turkey, which keeps bouncing from China to Iran to NATO and back again.  He’s not “Europe” – not really – but “Europe” acknowledges that he has to be given a place at the table.

Maybe he doesn’t look attractive, exactly; maybe the word is interesting.  Whatever it is, it’s showing up in real forms now, in regional nations’ decisions in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Last week came the flurry of reports that Putin would visit Egypt in November and announce a major arms sale, which will inevitably serve as something of a counter-smack to the U.S. decision to halt arms deliveries to Egypt a few weeks ago.

The newer news is from Monday, November 11, when Russia’s Slava-class missile cruiser Varyag pulled into Alexandria for the Russian navy’s first port visit in Egypt since 1992.  Pundits of varying quality have rushed to speculate that Moscow will soon have the use of Egyptian ports as bases in the region.  I doubt that; Egypt is too anxious to retain her stature and independence of action – properly so – and doesn’t “need” to accord Russia such privileges to keep useful ties going between the two of them.

In the current, comparative disarray of some Arab governments in the region, Egypt’s actually looks solid and moderate, and has the overt support of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, as well as the tacit support of Israel – all of which are well armed, well connected regional powers with common interests in a status quo.  The situation over which Al-Sisi presides is different from that of the Nasser regime in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was so eager for the great-power patronage of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Russia, for her part, is unlikely to press this issue.  Between Syria, Greece, Cyprus, Montenegro, and Malta, the Russian navy has a lot of options now for making temporary landfalls for logistics.  Moscow wouldn’t necessarily even save money by concluding more literal “basing” agreements in the Mediterranean.

But I’m sure we can expect to see the Russian navy welcomed in Egyptian ports.  This makes a noteworthy, and regrettable, contrast with the U.S. Navy, which has been scarce in Egyptian ports in recent years – in spite of our two nations’ close relationship – largely because of the threat of terrorism.

Egypt, meanwhile, isn’t the only nation to roll out the welcome mat for the Russian navy in the past year.  In May, the Russian amphibious ship Azov arrived in Haifa for the first port visit ever by a Russian navy ship to Israel.  Russia and Israel have of course found some common ground in their opposition to radical Islamism, and the Netanyahu government has had a robust program of diplomatic outreach to Russia since it took over in the spring of 2009.  After Putin visited Jerusalem in June 2012 to pray for the rebuilding of the Temple, a naval port visit could hardly have been far behind.

Russian warships also visited Lebanon in March 2013, an exceedingly rare occurrence.  According to Russia’s defense ministry, the visit involved a frigate and two amphibious ships, and signified no intention on Moscow’s part to establish any permanent basing arrangement.

Cyprus hosted multiple visits by Russian warships in 2013, fueling the usual speculation that Moscow is negotiating for basing rights on the island.  (See here for more on Russia’s strategic approach to Cyprus.)  It has become routine in the last few years for Russian navy ships to visit ports in Greece and Malta.  Russian officials announced earlier this year that the navy’s newly constituted (or, in effect, reconstituted) Mediterranean squadron would use a port in Montenegro as well, referring to the port of Tivat (which for many years during the Cold War was a Yugoslav navy base, used as a Mediterranean base by the Soviet navy).  A September 2013 press release on the upcoming activities of amphibious landing ship Yamal indicated the ship would visit Greece and Montenegro this fall.

Did Your Shul Pocket $660,000 from Maftir Yona?

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

“Auctioning” off the honor of being called to the Torah and for the privilege of reading the “Haftorah,” or “Maftir” section of the Prophets, is common in the Diaspora and also in many urban and more affluent communities in Israel, but it takes a lot to top an unidentified Moscow millionaire, or perhaps billionaire, who paid $660,000 for the honor to read the Book of Yona (Jonah).

Hadrei Haredim reported that the money was pledged at Moscow’s central syangogue for Jewish institutions and a yeshiva.

Several Israeli Hassidic synagogues did not do as well but can’t complain. Tzvi Frank of the United States paid $17,000 to read ‘Maftir Yona” during afternoon prayers on Yom Kipper at the Navdorna yeshiva synagogue, according to Kikkar Shabbat. Navdorna is a town that was in Poland between the two world wars and now is Ukraine.

At the Erlau Hassidic synagogue, the same honor was “sold” for $28,000 but Bnei Brak’s Luvlin yeshiva settled for “only” $6,200. However, one person paid nearly twice that sum for opening the Holy Ark continuing Torah scrolls.

Russia Heats Up Cold War with Sale of Iran S-300 Missiles (Video)

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Russian media reported Wednesday that Moscow now is ready to go through a long-promised deal to supply the Iranian regime with advanced S-300 missiles that can shoot down ballistic missiles and commercial airplanes from a distance of up to 120 miles.

It is one of most lethal, if not the most lethal, anti-aircraft system in the world. Iran signed a purchase deal in 2007  for five S-300 missile batteries, but the sale was frozen three years ago when the U.N. Security Council slapped sanctions on Tehran..

Russia got around the embargo in its sale of the S-300 to Syria by claiming the weapons were for defense, and presumably that will be the excuse to sell them to Iran.

Just in case the international sanctions get in the way of the sale, Russia has come up with an alternative that might be just as useful for Iran and which does not fall under the sanctions. It would sell Iran the  Antei-2500, AKA S-300VM, or SA-23 Gladiato, according to the Russian Kommersant Daily.

The Antei-2500 was specifically tailored for the needs of ground forces, which could also be an advantage for Iran, known for its large land force,” the Iranian government-controlled Fars News Agency stated.

Kommersant said Iran has asked it to fulfill its promise to complete the S-300 missile sale, and Russia has thrown in an extra goodie by agreeing to build a second nuclear reactor in Bushehr, just what the United States and Israel don’t need.

The Russian and Chinese appetite for money has driven it to become huge weapons suppliers to Iran and Syria, giving them the lever to counter Western influence. The missile sale to Iran will add approximately $700 million to the Kremlin coffers.

Besides the financial angel, Putin is doing his best to establish Russia as the most powerful influence in the Middle East, at the expense of President Barack Obama. Moscow and Beijing have consistently thrown up barriers to American-led efforts to place sanctions on Iran and Syria.

Iran more than welcomes Moscow in its campaign to rid the world of American influence that goes against fundamentalist Muslim regime policies, such as the deprival of human rights..

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said earlier this week that Russia should complete the 2005 deal and supply Iran with S-300 missiles and “should believe themselves and don’t follow the US so much,”  Fars reported Wednesday.

Navalny Misses Runoff in Moscow Mayoral Race, Seeking Recount

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny called for a recount in Moscow’s mayoral election after missing the runoff vote cutoff by one percentage point. He is asking for a recount.

Incumbent Sergei Sobyanin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, garnered just over 51 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election to 27 percent for Navalny. Four others also ran to unseat Sobyanin, a former Kremlin chief of staff.

Navalny’s candidacy, which was managed by a pair of tech-savvy Jews, Leonid Volkov and Maksim Kats, had divided Russian Jews. They were torn between the candidate of an establishment that mostly has been good for the Jews and an opposition leader with nationalist associations some found troubling who nevertheless promised to restore democracy and good governance.

Reports circulated last month that Navalny had raised a toast to the Holocaust during a reception in the Russian capital; Navalny and his Jewish campaign staffers denied the claims.

Assad Warns US and Israel to Expect Chemical Attack (Video)

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Syrian President Bassar al-Assad told interviewer Charlie Rose that the United States, Israel and other American allies can expect to be hit with chemical weapons if President Barack Obama carries out his threat to attack.

Assad, who has denied that his regime used chemical weapons despite widespread evidence to the contrary, implied that Iran and Hezbollah or rebels could use chemical weapons to repel a military strike.

“It could happen…if the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have” chemical weapons, he explained.

The United States “should expect everything, not necessarily from the government,” if the United States attacks, he said. Assad added that Syria is “not the only player in the region” and that “you have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology.”

It would only take one or two deranged Al Qaeda terrorists, and not necessarily Assad’s soldiers, to use an American attack as an excuse to try to be the Great Arab hero who tried to destroy Israel with a “dirty bomb” or poison gas.

However, based on Assad’s previous actions and statements during the civil war, he used the interview to prepare the groundwork to use chemical weapons and blame others for it.

Rose is one of the few journalists allowed into the country and to meet Assad, dispelling rumors that he is hiding underground. Rose described Assad as “remarkably calm.”

As for the chemical attack on Syrian civilians last month, Assadcontinued to maintain a “What, me?” attitude in the interview, which will be aired in full on Rose’s PBS show Monday evening after excerpts were viewed Monday morning on CBS.

“Our soldiers, in another area, were attacked chemically,” Assad maintained. “But in the area where they say the government used chemical weapons, we only have video, pictures and allegations. We were not there, our forces, our police, our institutions, don’t exist.

“How can you talk about what happened if you don’t have evidence?”

While Assad was warning of a chemical attack, an Israeli official who has been briefed by Washington told Reuters that the Obama administration would give Israel only “hours” notice before attacking Syria.

That could mean two hours or 10 years. In either case, that is enough to rev up the F-16 engines but not enough to mobile troops.

Former Defense Ministry top honcho Amos Gilad, who has sounded suspiciously dovish and often has been dead wrong since leaving office, said in a speech at a counterterrorism center that Israel is totally out of the picture concerning if and when President Obama orders an attack.

There also is the possibility that the unidentified Israeli official who spoke with Reuters simply is lying and that the United States and Israel are cooperating closely towards a military strike.

If the Obama administration were not to give Israel enough notice to prepare for an attack, then Washington would have to take on the job of answering a lot of questions if Israeli civilians end up being killed.

It also is no secret that the American government relies heavily on Israel for intelligence information in the Middle East in general and in Syria specifically. Israel, and not the United States, has the human resources to plant dark-skinned Arabic-speaking agents in Syria.

Regardless of whether Israel will have no notice or plenty of notice before an American attack, President Obama already has given the world a least a couple of weeks to prepare for it.

The results have been panic. Russia has sent warships to the region and has threatened that Obama is laying with fire that will erupt into a regional war, or not a world war. Israel has deployed a battery of the anti-missile Iron Dome system around Jerusalem, and Turkey has placed anti-aircraft batteries along its southern border with Syria.

The rhetoric is great for headlines, and no one will say that Syria will throw out the welcome mat for an American attack.

But so far, Obama has one powerful diplomatic weapon on his side: Russia and Syria bear the burden to prove that the Assad regime did not deploy chemical weapons. No one believes Assad’s’ denials accept, perhaps, his properly British educated wife.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has given Assad the “exit option” of turning over chemical weapons in a week to the international community in return for President Obama’s pushing the “stop” button.

Chemical Weapons Expert: Russia Is Key to Avoid War with Syria

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Russia is the only key to end the bloodshed in Syria and to neutralize the chemical weapons threat without a foreign military intervention, according to a former Israeli Dense Ministry chemist who is considered perhaps the country’s best expert on chemical weapons in Syria.

It is totally inconceivable to bomb the chemical and biological weapons because an attack could cause exactly the horrid result that everyone outside of Syria wants to prevent – a large scale humanitarian disaster, retired Lt. Col Dr. Dany Shoham told The Jewish Press Sunday. He is a former macro-biologist and chemist for the Defense Ministry and specialized in chemical and biological warfare in the Middle East.

There are two ways to make sure their chemical and biological weapons will not be used – either by foreign military intervention, which would entail getting rid of Assad and replacing him temporarily with a non-Syrian; or ending the bloody civil war by diplomacy, an approach that is virtually impossible without Russia’s cooperation, he said.

There is no doubt that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and it is “99 percent certain” that it is Assad and not the rebels who have committed a war crime by unleashing them, in violation of the Geneva Convention and all rules of war, Dr. Shoham stated. “In my opinion, there is only the slightest chance that rebels have used chemical weapons, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do so,” said the former macro-biologist for the Defense Ministry.

Syria is manufacturing the chemical and biological weapons within Syria, but Russia may be assisting Syria, he added.

As for the military option, he pointed out that the United States is “planning and practicing for an operation” in Jordan, using its own officers and soldiers as well as Jordanians.

“Whoever wants to prevent danger ideally should replace Syrian guards,” he said. Dr. Shoham  did not say what would happen next, but it is clear that any foreign invader would be stuck with local resentment far worse than what the United States faced in Iraq after its invasion. A foreign takeover also would likely plant the seeds for an eventual radical Muslim regime that could make the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood look like bleeding heart liberals.

However, the invading force at least would be able to confiscate the chemical and biologic weapons, according to Dr. Shoham. “We know where most, but not all, of them can be found,” he said.

The diplomatic option so far has not taken hold for the simple reason that without Russia, it can’t happen.

“The solution has to come from Russia. Russia has to force Syria diplomatically,” he said, and “America knows it.”

How and when they might happen is conjecture, but Dr. Shoham pointed out that President Barack Obama will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in five weeks.

The two leaders spoke by phone last week, and the White House stated, “President Obama and President Putin reviewed the situation in Syria, with President Obama underscoring concern over Syrian chemical weapons,” and they agreed to “stay in close consultation” by instructing their foreign ministers to continue discussions on Syria.

President Obama and Putin are due to meet in June during the Group of Eight industrialized nations meet in Northern Ireland.

Moscow is invested up to its neck in the Syria military arsenal, and if it does not want to see it boomerang on itself by letting it fall in the wrong hands, Putin will have the opportunity to play the role as world leader and twist Assad’s arm – if it is not too late.

Russian Jewish Billionaire’s Death a ‘Mystery’

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

London forensics experts found no traces of hazardous materials to explain the mysterious death of Boris Berezovsky, a 67-year-old Jewish oligarch and Kremlin critic.

Russia’s Channel One reported that his body was found on Saturday in the bathroom of his home in the London area, and that he had suffered a heart attack last week. But ThamesValley police say his death is being treated as “unexplained,” the Guardian reported.

“Officers found nothing of concern in the property and we are now progressing the investigation as normal,” said a statement from police about tests for biological or chemical poisons,

Berezovsky fled to Britain about 10 years ago, after a bitter falling out with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid fraud charges that Berezovsky said were politically motivated. He was born in Moscow in 1946 to a Jewish father and a mother with Jewish roots. He immigrated to Israel in 1993 but later renounced his Israeli passport.

Berezovsky became a strident and frequent critic of Putin, accusing the leader of ushering in a dictatorship.

He accumulated his wealth in the years following the collapse of Soviet Russia, when he acquired local firms, among them oil companies and television stations, rising to prominence during the term of Boris Yeltsin in the nineties. Russian media reported recently that Berezovsky, once the richest man in Russia, had suffered heavy losses.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/russian-jewish-billionaires-death-a-mystery/2013/03/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: