Friday, August 29, 2008

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), USA

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), USA (NSI News Source Info) August 29, 2008: The joint light tactical vehicle (JLTV) is a new support vehicle programme being developed by the US forces, specifically the US Army, USSOCOM, and the Marine Corps to replace the rapidly ageing and outmoded high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV), the design of which is over 25 years old.
The concept joint light tactical vehicle prototypes will be tested in 2012. The JLTV variations are based on three joint functional concepts. The joint light tactical vehicle will have two armour configurations. The joint light tactical vehicle will have two armour configurations. The JLTV will have two run-flat tyres and other systems to allow continued operation after sustaining small-arms fire.
The new JLTV vehicle range is expected to confer more survivability from insurgent attacks such as road-side bombings and will also have a greater payload. The HMMWV was not designed from the outset to be an armoured combat and patrol vehicle but nevertheless has been employed as one. In contrast the JLTV has been specifically designed for patrol and combat operations. The JLTV project has been able to benefit from some of the knowledge gained during the future tactical truck system (FTTS) project. The JLTV range will contain five armoured versions including infantry combat vehicles, command vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles, and armoured utility vehicles. There will probably also be an armoured personnel carrier and a number of other non-armoured versions for other purposes such as ambulances, utility vehicles and general purpose mobility. Joint functional concepts According to the brief there will be three major variations of the JLTV. These are categorised according to the payload of the vehicle and the general mission requirement but there may also be other variants if required. The general categories (joint functional concepts) are 'battlespace awareness' (BA), 'force application' (FA) and 'focused logistics' (FL). All of these have to be transportable by CH-47 and CH-53 helicopters and also C-130 aircraft. There are three payload capacity categories A, B and C which correspond to 3,500lb (1,600kg), 4,000lb to 4,500 lb (1,800kg to 2,000kg) and 5,100lb (2,300kg) respectively. The lower payload will be for the BA category for use as general purpose utility vehicles with a four personnel capacity. The mid payload capacity is for the FA category used as a six-seat infantry carrier (carrying a small fire team), reconnaissance scout (six seats), reconnaissance knight (six seats), command and control on the move (four seats), heavy guns carrier (four seats and a gunner position), close-combat weapons carrier (four seats), utility vehicle (two seats) or an ambulance (three seats and two litter beds). The higher payload is for the FL category used as shelter carrier / utility / prime mover (two seats), high-capacity ambulance (three seats and four litter beds). Companies involved in the JLVT project There are several companies involved in the development of the JLTV project with several joint efforts having been established including Northrop Grumman and Oshkosh Corp, General Tactical Vehicle, a joint venture between AM General and General Dynamics Land Systems, Lockheed Martin and BAE (formerly Armor Holdings), BAE Systems and International Military and Government LLC, an affiliate of Navistar International Corporation (International Military and Government LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Truck and Engine Corporation), Boeing, Textron, SAIC, DRS Sustainment Systems Inc and Force Protection Inc. "The new JLTV vehicle range is expected to confer more survivability from insurgent attacks." The three contract awards for development of JLTV prototypes will be in October 2008 with a JLTV system development demonstration phase planned to begin in 2012. After this two contractors will complete the design and development of the JLTV FoV (family of vehicles) and companion trailers and then compete to produce the multiple JLTV variants. The MRAP-mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle development has been given priority but all authorities agree that this will not replace the JLTV as it does not have the payload or versatility of the JLTV. Design requirements For the vehicle there are several general requirements that have been stipulated by the US Army and Marine Corps. These include: A 30kW generator to give sustained power with the engine running and when the vehicle is moving A trailer capable of carrying the same payload as the vehicle at speed with reliability to match Ammo-carrying capacity: each JLTV will have capacity to carry two cans of M16 ammo, one can of M203, four cans of M249 and six cans of either MK19, M2, or M60 / M240 ammo Jam-resistant doors for easy escape after attack or damage An automatic fire-extinguishing system, a extra spall liner to minimise the effect of perforation after small-arms attack Two armour configurations (A and the enhanced level B) for protection against mines, artillery and RPG warheads Two run-flat tyres Systems to keep going after small arms attacks to systems such as fuel tank, coolant tank, or engine oil reservoir Electronic monitoring to diagnose equipment and system failures so that they can be fixed

North Korea remains on U.S. terrorism list

North Korea remains on U.S. terrorism list (NSI News Source Info) August 29, 2008: North Korea refuses to allow verification of its dismantling of its nuclear weapons program, and wants to be taken off the U.S. terrorism list immediately. The U.S. refuses to take North Korea off the list until there is verification. So North Korea has ceased its dismantling of its nuclear weapons program. North Korea has always been a hard bargainer, often to the point where they lost more than they could possibly gain. This makes no sense, but that's the way North Korea operates. North Korea wants off the terror list so they can move forward with their counterfeit money and illegal drug operations. These activities are much more profitable when the government has complete access to the international banking system. Being on the U.S. terrorist list hampers banking access. Radios that can receive foreign broadcasts, and MP3 players, are increasingly popular in the north. Some radio broadcasts are passed around as MP3 files, but mostly the MP3 players are mainly used to hear foreign pop music. There is a lot more money in North Korea, and most of it is illegal. There are a growing number of criminal gangs. The larger and wealthier gangs can go into business with government officials. This is often the case when it involves illegal drugs, like methamphetamine ("speed" or "ice"). The spreading corruption means that, eventually, the government will lose control of the country, piece by piece. Or, as the local says goes, "death by a thousand cuts." August 27, 2008: U.S. and South Korean military commanders are openly stating their belief that any North Korean invasion would fail. In the past, there was always some hesitation about being this confident. But apparently the readiness and capabilities of the North Korean armed forces have declined so much that even the professionals doubt the north could get very far if they went to war. August 24, 2008: North Korea has developed a new food (soybean noodles) which they claim are highly effective at making starving people feel less hungry. Soybeans have never been a staple dish in the north. But these days, after over a decade of food shortages, hunger has become a hot topic, and tips on how to eat anything are big news, even in the state controlled press. August 22, 2008: South Korean audits of aid given to North Korea continue to reveal many cases of theft and diversion of aid to other projects. August 17, 2008: Russia and North Korea are adjusting their border along the Tumen river. This was last done 18 years ago, and has to be done every decade or so because the river keeps changing its channel, and moving border markers. North Koreans also use the Tumen river bridges to escape into Russia (where life as an illegal migrant is possible, because of a labor shortage). But North Korea has increased the security along the Russian border, and the cost of bribing the North Korean guards to get across has now risen past $700 per person. August 9, 2008: China has laid claim to Suyan Rock, which the Chinese call Ieo island. Two years ago, the Chinese had agreed not to challenge South Korean claims, which are supported by the international community. This is actually a submerged (nearly five meters under water) rock in the East China sea that is 150 kilometers from South Korea and 245 kilometers from China. In 1987, South Korea built a warning beacon on the rock, which is a navigation hazard to large ships. August 5, 2008: South Korean tourism in the north dropped 60 percent in July. To make matter worse, North Korea is forcing South Korean firms to remove their staff from North Korea (which has never been an easy place to run a business in). Overall trade between the north and south has dipped nearly two percent versus last year. August 4, 2008: Heavy rains in the north, over the past few days, have caused severe damage to crops, meaning that there will be even larger food shortages next year.

More Stryker Mobile Gun System

More Stryker Mobile Gun System (NSI News Source Info) August 29, 2008: The U.S. Army has ordered 62 more M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System (MGS) vehicles, at a cost of about $5.3 million each. The vehicle has a 105mm gun turret mounted on it, as well as a 12.7mm and 7.62mm machine-gun. It weighs 19 tons. The vehicle has a crew of three, and carries 18 rounds for the 105mm gun, 400 for the 12.7mm machine-gun, and 3,400 for the 7.62mm machine-gun. The army sent the first of its Stryker Mobile Gun Systems to Iraq last year. The gun has an automatic loader. The gun is stabilized, and can be fired on the move. Once in Iraq, the gun performed well, providing accurate and effective firepower when needed. There were some problems, however. In order to get all the gear needed for a 105mm gun into a Stryker vehicle, there was no room for air conditioning. In summertime Iraq, this presents a problem. The three man crew had to be equipped with something that would prevent heat stroke. The solution was the "air conditioned suit" of legend, and science fiction. Back in 2003, after three years of development, the U.S. Army put into service the "Air Warrior Microclimate Cooling System." It's a vest full of tiny tubes that carry cooled water (with some non-toxic antifreeze added). Worn under the flak jacket, it keeps the trunk of the wearer cool, thus greatly reducing the "heat load" and potential for heat stroke or heat fatigue. It was originally meant to be used by pilots in smaller (un-air-conditioned) helicopters or door gunners of larger choppers.

Sri Lanka: Setting Up The Last Stand

Sri Lanka: Setting Up The Last Stand (NSI News Source Info) August 29, 2008: The LTTE "capital" is the town of Kilinochchi, 330 kilometers north of the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. Kilinochchi was captured in 1999, during a major LTTE offensive that drove the army from the northern tip of the island. But now, after 19 months of fighting, and nearly 7,000 dead, the army is closing in on Kilinochchi. With that town captured, the LTTE will be operating more like guerillas than an army. That would bring an end to a 25 year long rebellion that has killed over 70,000. In the last week the fighting has created nearly 500 casualties, most of them poorly trained LTTE fighters. The LTTE has lost about three-quarters of its northern territory in the last year or so. The LTTE still has over a thousand veteran fighters and troop leaders, who could inflict high casualties on advancing army troops. But if the LTTE losses these key personnel, they lose their ability to wage a terror campaign, after they have lost control of all their remaining northern territory. While the LTTE is now dominated by radical factions, some of the rebel leaders are still willing to make some kind of deal. The question is, with the LTTE so close to defeat, are enough people in the government interested in a deal. August 27, 2008: Police arrested more than three dozen LTTE terrorist suspects in the city of Kandy (in the hill country in the center of the island), after tips led to bomb making materials, and some of those arrested. August 26, 2008: Two LTTE aircraft (single engine commercial types) bombed a naval base in the north. One of the improvised bombs did not go off, while the other one wounded four sailors. New government radar systems spotted the aircraft, as they approached at about 9 PM. Gunfire caused the two aircraft to turn back before they reached their intended target. The last LTTE air raid was four months ago. August 23, 2008: Acting on a tip, police discovered suicide bomber belts hidden in a Catholic church in the capital, while in the city of Kandy, police discovered LTTE bomb making materials. As alert as the public is to LTTE terrorism efforts, the LTTE persists in planning and carrying out attacks. August 22, 2008: Troops advanced to within artillery range (about 12 kilometers) of the town of Kilinochchi, the "capital" of the LTTE. August 19, 2008: For the first time, the LTTE has admitted to heavy losses of fighters and territory in the north. The rebels also warned the government to beware of bombing civilians. The LTTE has long used civilians as human shields, usually by putting military facilities (supplies, headquarters, barracks) in civilian residential areas, and forced the civilians to stick around. If the government bombed anyway, there was some propaganda value for the rebels. But civilians are increasingly risking the wrath of the LTTE, and fleeing to government controlled territory.

Georgia.... Today's in Pictures

Georgia....Today's in Pictures August 29, 2008 NSI News Source Info A Russian soldier stood guard during a demonstration by Georgians outside the Russian peacekeepers' base near the town of Chorotchku in northwestern Georgia. About 1,000 Georgians called on soldiers to leave the country. The crowd approached to within a couple of yards of the barbed-wire fence encircling the Russian position at Chorotchku.

Russia and Georgia to close embassies

Russia and Georgia to close embassies (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - August 29, 2008: Russia will be forced to shut its embassy in Tbilisi following Georgia's announcement that it is severing diplomatic ties with Moscow, a Foreign Ministry source said on Friday. Georgia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said on Friday that Georgia was cutting diplomatic ties with Russia following Moscow's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. "When diplomatic relations are severed, embassies also shut," the source said. "Perhaps some kind of office or consular service will remain there." A spokesman for Russia's Foreign Ministry said commenting on the decision that Georgia's authorities, "essentially are leaving their citizens to the mercy of fate," adding that there are between 600,000 to 1 million Georgians currently in Russia. Igor Lyakin-Frolov also said that there are just "maybe several hundred Russians in Georgia." A source in Georgia's embassy in Russia said that it would take about a week to close the diplomatic mission, adding that "no instruction [to leave Russia] has been given as yet by the Georgian Foreign Ministry." The source said that some legal issues are being considered to allow the consulate to continue its work, "because it must protect the interests of its citizens, so that Russian nationals can come to Georgia." The current diplomatic crisis emerged after Russia officially recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Tuesday despite warnings from Western powers, saying the move was needed to protect the regions following Georgia's August 8 attack on South Ossetia, which was followed by five days of hostilities between Georgia and Russia.

Russia missile test heightens stand-off with West

Russia missile test heightens stand-off with West
(NSI News Source Info) Moscow - August 29, 2008: Russia on Thursday tested an inter-continental missile, heightening tensions with the West as France said the European Union could impose sanctions on Moscow over the Georgia conflict. Russia also sought international support at a summit with China and Central Asian nations. The missile test in northern Russia came barely a week after the United States completed an accord with Poland on basing an anti-missile shield in central Europe and as Russia accuses NATO of building up its navy vessels in the Black Sea. A spokesman for Russia's strategic nuclear forces said the 6,000 kilometre (3,700 mile) test of the Topol RS-12M was successful, news agencies reported. Russia has been developing the missile in response to US plans to develop a missile-defence shield. The announcement came as Russia complained about the number of NATO ships in the Black Sea and said it was taking "measures of precaution." NATO said there were five warships taking part in exercises in the Black Sea that were organised before Russia's military offensive in Georgia on August 8. The stand-off with the West has deepened since President Dmitry Medvedev's announcement that Russia recognised South Ossetia and another rebel region, Abkhazia, as independent states. "There is no NATO naval build up in the Black Sea as Russian authorities are claiming in the media," alliance spokeswoman Carmen Romero said. US warships have taken relief supplies to Georgia outside of the NATO exercises and other western nations are believed to have vessels in the Black Sea. Russia has moved some of its own naval forces to the Abkhaz port of Sukhumi. EU states are considering imposing sanctions on Russia at an emergency summit on the Georgian crisis on Monday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said. "Sanctions are being considered, and many other means," said Kouchner, whose country holds the European Union presidency. "We are trying to draw up a strong text showing our desire not to accept" events in Georgia, Kouchner said, adding that France was not among the EU countries proposing sanctions. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shrugged off the threat, saying it was made "just because they're upset that the 'little pet' of certain Western capitals didn't fulfil their expectations." Lavrov said the French minister had a "sick imagination" for suggesting on Wednesday that Moscow could have designs on Ukraine and Moldova. Russia claimed it had secured support from China and four other nations at a summit in Dushanbe, the Tajikistan capital. A statement released by the six nations at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit voiced support for Russia's "active role" in "assisting in peace and cooperation in the region" but also called for dialogue and respect for "territorial integrity." "The SCO member states express their deep concern over the recent tensions surrounding the South Ossetia question and call for the sides to peacefully resolve existing problems through dialogue," said the statement signed by Medvedev, President Hu Jintao of China and the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The declaration called for respect for "territorial integrity" without specifically naming the Georgia case. Medvedev described the "united position" of the SCO members as a "serious signal" to the West. "I am sure that the united position of the SCO member states will have international resonance," Medvedev said. "And I hope it will serve as a serious signal to those who try to turn black into white and justify this aggression." China said Wednesday it was "concerned" at the Georgia conflict and called for "dialogue and consultation" to resolve the issue. On Wednesday, the Group of Seven industrialised powers condemned Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. "We deplore Russia's excessive use of military force in Georgia and its continued occupation of parts of Georgia," said the statement from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. South Ossetian prosecutor general Teimuraz Khugayev said Thursday that 1,692 people were killed and 1,500 wounded in the attack by Georgian forces on the breakaway region, news agencies reported. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on Russia to allow an international probe into allegations of abuses by the Georgian military in South Ossetia. Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili accused Russia of pursuing "ethnic cleansing" in South Ossetia, at a special meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

China hails three-billion-dollar oil deal with Iraq

China hails three-billion-dollar oil deal with Iraq
(NSI News Source Info) Beijing - August 29, 2008: China hailed Thursday a three-billion-dollar oil agreement with Iraq as a win for both nations, as it sought to reassure the rest of the world that it should not be concerned by the deal. Becoming the first foreign firm to enter such an agreement since the end of Saddam Hussein's regime, state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) this week won the right to develop the Al-Ahdab oil field south of Baghdad. "The cooperation between the relevant oil companies from China and Iraq is mutually beneficial," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters after the Iraqi embassy in Beijing said the deal had been reached. "It will be conducive to the economic development of Iraq, and will meet China's demands in the oil field as well, and is also conducted according to market rules and will not harm any interests of any third parties." The agreement, reached during a visit to China by Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, revives a 1997 contract that granted China exploration rights to the Al-Ahdab oil field in the province of Wassit. After China won the rights to the al-Ahdab field in a deal then valued at 700 million dollars over 23 years, activities were suspended due to UN sanctions and security issues following the US-led war in 2003 that toppled Saddam. Planned oil production was then 90,000 barrels per day (bpd), and CNPC had been expected to win the new exploration rights. The Iraqi embassy statement said the new deal would be worth three billion dollars, but other details were sketchy. The oil field will become operational in three year's time and is likely to produce oil for 20 years after that, an Iraqi oil ministry official who took part in al-Shahristani's delegation told AFP. For China, the deal is another potential success in its sometimes controversial global quest for oil that has seen it sign a flurry of contracts in Africa and the Middle East in recent years. China's demand for oil has grown markedly in recent years, as its economy has grown at double-digit pace and its population of more than 1.3 billion people has grown richer. "This is certainly a breakthrough," said Liu Youcheng, a Beijing-based analyst with Hongyuan Securities. "With oil prices surging, the global contest for oil resources is becoming ever fiercer. Many governments have realised this and have become unwilling to sell their oil resources cheaply to the multinationals." The Al-Ahdab oil field deal is a service contract, which gives oil companies a flat fee for their efforts rather than a share of the profits from the exploitation of oil resources. In this light, the deal may not be as attractive to China as it could have been. However China, a net importer of oil since the 1990s, is so desperate for energy that it is prepared to make significant concessions to secure oil supplies, according to Hongyan Securities' Liu. "Since it has become more and more difficult to obtain equity and exploit rights in oil fields, it's good for China to participate in the development through a service contract. It diversifies our oil sources and helps guarantee China's oil supplies," he said. At the end of June, Iraq's oil ministry threw open six oilfields and two gas fields for international bidding by 41 companies. The deals, which are service contracts only, pave the way for energy firms based abroad to return to Iraq 36 years after Saddam threw them out. Iraq wants to ramp up output by 500,000 bpd from the current average production of 2.5 million bpd, about equal to the amount being pumped before the US-led invasion of March 2003. CNPC declined comment Thursday on the revived deal.

Report: German Forces Face Recruitment Crisis

Report: German Forces Face Recruitment Crisis (NSI News Source Info) August 29, 2008: The German armed forces face a recruitment crisis as combat losses in Afghanistan and low pay appear to be deterring prospective volunteers. (Bundeswehr photo)The number of volunteers signing up to join the German Bundeswehr has reportedly slumped by up to 62 percent this year. The Bundeswehr mission in Afghanistan appears to be one major reason for the drop in applicants. The death on Wednesday, Aug. 27, of a German soldier in an attack in northern Afghanistan brought to 28 the number of Bundeswehr troops who have lost their lives in the country since 2002. In international comparison, this might seem a relatively low figure. But it is unprecedented in post-war Germany and a reflection of the radical revision of the German armed forces' role in recent years. When the Bundeswehr was created in 1955, it was for the sole purpose of defense. Its first armed engagement outside Germany's borders came with the NATO-led mission in Kosovo in 1999. The Rheinische Post cites an internal army document as the source of its recruitment statistics. In addition, the newspaper reports that the recruitment and retention of doctors and pilots is becoming increasingly difficult. A money problem? Remuneration here also appears to be a factor. According to the newspaper, pilots are increasingly being enticed by civilian jobs offering wages of up to 9,000 euros ($13,270) a month, compared to some 3,000 euros a month on deployment in Afghanistan. And some 10 percent of officer recruits are reportedly leaving the force before their career has really taken off. The deputy head of the Federal Armed Forces Association, which represents the interests of both conscripts and professional soldiers and their families, also reported a drop in the number of volunteers. Ulrich Kirsch told the Osnabruecker Zeitung that the number of applicants had gone down by more than 50 percent when compared to last year. Kirsch said that soldiers in Afghanistan received 92 euros untaxed extra pay a day. But "money isn't everything," he added. The latest attack in the Hindukush showed that death and injury was part and parcel of the Afghan mission, he said. Wilfried Stolze, a spokesman for the Federal Armed Forces Association, told the Rheinische Post that there were no official statistics about why people were leaving the forces. "But we are also witnessing this phenomenon", he said and added that Afghanistan was seldom the sole reason for the decision, but was often the result of several factors, including further cost-cutting measures. "If Christmas bonuses are reduced by 50 percent that gives a corporal food for thought," he said.

U.S. to sell new arms to Taiwan

U.S. to sell new arms to Taiwan (NSI News Source Info) TAIPEI - August 29, 2008: The United States will sell anti-ship missiles to Taiwan in a $90 million deal, ending what analysts said had been an arms sale freeze designed to ease tension between Beijing and Taipei. Taiwan will buy 60 Harpoon Air Launch missiles made by McDonnell Douglas Corp., the U.S. Department of Defense said. The surface-skimming missiles can sink ocean-going warships. "Due to rising tension in the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. had postponed the decision," said Andrew Yang, secretary-general with the Taiwan think-tank China Council of Advanced Policy Studies. Current Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has reached out to China since taking office on May 20. "It is a good sign, a positive gesture that the U.S. is taking some actions in regard to Taiwan's defence requests." Washington is still sitting on a $12 billion package of additional weaponry sought by Taiwan. China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists (KMT) fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary. The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, recognising "one China", but remains Taiwan's biggest ally and is obliged by the Taiwan Relations Act to help the island defend itself. Last month reports in local and international media cited a top U.S. military official as saying the United States had frozen new arms sales to Taiwan. "The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance and economic progress in the region," the U.S. government said in a statement on the Harpoon missiles last year. But U.S. officials later quit selling weapons to Taiwan under the island's former President Chen Shui-bian, fearing Chen would provoke Beijing, defence analysts said. Current Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has reached out to China since taking office on May 20, making landmark progress in trade and travel. But his defence minister has said China remains a military threat.

U.S. failure to restrain Georgia harmed Russia-U.S. relations - Putin

U.S. failure to restrain Georgia harmed Russia-U.S. relations - Putin (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - August 29, 2008: Russia's prime minister blasted the United States on Thursday for its inability to keep Georgia from attacking South Ossetia, and said that this had damaged bilateral relations. "This [inability] of course harmed our relations, first of all intergovernmental," Vladimir Putin told CNN in an interview. Tbilisi launched a military offensive against South Ossetia on August 8, seeking to retake control of the breakaway region. At least 64 Russian peacekeepers and hundreds of South Ossetian civilians died, with thousands more forced to flee the devastated republic. Putin said Russia had hoped the United States would step into the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict and stop Georgia attacking South Ossetia. "We expected the U.S. to intervene in the conflict and stop the aggressive actions of the Georgian leadership," Putin told CNN. However, Putin said, "The U.S. administration not only failed to restrain the Georgian leadership from this criminal action, but the American side in fact trained and equipped the Georgian army." Seven of the world's leading industrialized nations have condemned Russia's decision on Tuesday to recognize Georgia's breakaway republics as independent, while calling on Moscow to withdraw its troops from Georgia. "We, the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom, condemn the action of our fellow G8 member," the group said in a joint statement. Meanwhile, the former Russian president said Russia had no intention of turning a blind eye to the killings of its citizens for the sake of membership of the G8. Speaking on Russia's relations with the West, Putin said that Russia would not use energy to achieve its aims, as Russia also depended on the stability of its gas supplies. However, Putin dealt a blow to U.S. poultry exporters, announcing that 19 U.S. companies are to be banned from exporting their products to Russia as they "failed health and safety tests." He also added that 29 other companies had been warned to "improve their standards or face the same ban."

Russia 'could destroy NATO ships in Black Sea within 20 minutes'

Russia 'could destroy NATO ships in Black Sea within 20 minutes' (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - August 29, 2008: Russia's Black Sea Fleet is capable of destroying NATO's naval strike group currently deployed in the sea within 20 minutes, a former fleet commander said on Friday. Russia's General Staff said on Tuesday there were 10 NATO ships in the Black Sea - three U.S. warships, the Polish frigate General Pulaski, the German frigate FGS Lubeck, and the Spanish guided missile frigate Admiral Juan de Borbon, as well as four Turkish vessels. Eight more warships are expected to join the group. "Despite the apparent strength, the NATO naval group in the Black Sea is not battle-worthy," Admiral Eduard Baltin said. "If necessary, a single missile salvo from the Moskva missile cruiser and two or three missile boats would be enough to annihilate the entire group." "Within 20 minutes the waters would be clear," he said, stressing that despite major reductions, the Black Sea Fleet still has a formidable missile arsenal. However, Baltin said the chances of a military confrontation between NATO and Russia in the Black Sea are negligible. "We will not strike first, and they do not look like people with suicidal tendencies," he said. In addition to its flagship, the Moskva guided missile cruiser, Russia's Black Sea Fleet includes at least three destroyers, two guided missile frigates, four guided missile corvettes and six missile boats. NATO announced its decision to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia after the conclusion of hostilities between Tbilisi and Moscow over breakaway South Ossetia on August 12. Moscow recognized on Tuesday both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgia republic, despite being urged by Western leaders not to do so. Russia's General Staff later said the alliance's naval deployment in the Black Sea "cannot fail to provoke concern", with unidentified sources in the Russian military saying a surface strike group was being gathered there. According to Russian military intelligence sources, the NATO warships that have entered the Black Sea are between them carrying over 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

S.Ossetia set to sign deal on Russian military base on Sep. 2

S.Ossetia set to sign deal on Russian military base on Sep. 2 (NSI News Source Info) TSKHINVALI - August 29, 2008: Russia and South Ossetia will on Tuesday sign an agreement on friendship and cooperation, which will stipulate the deployment of a Russian military base in the republic, a South Ossetian official said Friday. Znaur Gassiyev, the chairman of the South Ossetian parliament, said President Eduard Kokoity gave orders to lawmakers to prepare all the necessary documents for the signing of the agreement. Georgia attacked South Ossetia on August 8 in an attempt to regain control over the separatist republic, which split from Tbilisi in the early 1990s. Most people living in South Ossetia have Russian citizenship and Moscow subsequently launched an operation to "force Georgia to accept peace." The operation was concluded on August 12. Russia's president signed decrees Tuesday recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states and called on other countries to follow suit, although none has.

Russia launches RapidEye remote sensing satellites

Russia launches RapidEye remote sensing satellites (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - August 29, 2008: Russia has launched a constellation of five remote Earth sensing satellites from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, the federal space agency said Friday. The satellites were launched by a converted Dnepr rocket under a contract with Britain's Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), to be operated by Germany's RapidEye AG. The small-satellite mission will enable global monitoring of the Earth's surface, according to the company. RapidEye says the constellation is designed to provide insurance and food companies, farmers, governments, and other agencies and institutions throughout the world with up-to-date, customized information products and services. The constellation will image any area in the world at all latitudes between plus or minus 75 degrees within one day and take an average of five days to produce a complete data set for the agricultural land of North America and Europe. The Ukrainian-Russian-Kazakh consortium Kosmotras converts RS-20 (Satan) missiles into Dnepr launch rockets.