755 US diplomats must leave Russia: Putin

President Vladimir Putin said 755 US diplomats must leave Russia and warned ties with Washington could be gridlocked for a long time, in a move Sunday that followed tough new American sanctions.

The Russian foreign ministry had earlier demanded Washington cut its diplomatic presence in Russia by September to 455 — the same number Moscow has in the US.

“More than a thousand people were working and are still working” at the US embassy and consulates, Putin said in an interview with Rossia-24 television.

“755 people must stop their activities in Russia.”

Putin added that an upturn in Russia’s relations with Washington could not be expected “any time soon”.

“We have waited long enough, hoping that the situation would perhaps change for the better,” he said.

“But it seems that even if the situation is changing, it’s not for any time soon.”

On Thursday, the US Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to toughen sanctions on Russia for allegedly meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and for its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Read More at Yahoo News.

U.S. analysts say North Korea’s missile test puts U.S. mainland in range: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday the second flight test this month of an intercontinental ballistic missile shows that his country can hit the U.S. mainland, a view shared by U.S. analysts who say a stretch from Los Angeles and Chicago now appears technically within range of the North’s weapons.

Kim, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), expressed “great satisfaction” after the Hwasong-14 missile reached a maximum height of 2,314 miles and flew 620 miles before landing in waters off Japan.

The agency said that the test was aimed at confirming the maximum range and other technical aspects of the missile it says was capable of delivering a “large-sized, heavy nuclear warhead,” according to the Associated Press.

Kim also noted that the rare night launch showed North Korea’s ability to mount a surprise attack. The KCNA quoted him as saying the launch reaffirmed the reliability of the country’s ICBM system and an ability to fire at “random regions and locations at random times” with the “entire” U.S. mainland now within reach.

The July 4 test indicated that Alaska was technically in range, but not the U.S. mainland.

A U.S. expert, David Wright, co-director and senior scientists for the Union of Concerned Scientists, writes Saturday that Friday’s launch sent the missile on a “very highly lofted trajectory” that narrowed its range, but that one flown on a standard trajectory would have a range of 6,500 miles.

A chart of U.S. cities “shows that Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago appear to be well within range of this missile, and that Boston and New York may be just within range,” he writes in his blog All Things Nuclear. “Washington, D.C., may be just out of range.”

Read More at USA Today.

U.S. THAAD missile hits test target amid growing pressure from North Korea

The United States said it shot down a medium-range target ballistic missile in its latest test of the country’s THAAD missile defense program, which is designed to protect the country against potential threats from countries such as North Korea and Iran.

The test, conducted over the Pacific Ocean, comes amid heightened tensions with North Korea, which on Saturday said it had conducted its own successful test of a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that proved it has the capacity to strike American’s mainland.

The latest U.S. test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system was planned well before North Korea’s latest missile launch, but it comes at a time of rising tension with the country since Pyongyang launched its first-ever test of an ICBM on July 4.

Read More at Yahoo News.

US flies two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula days after North’s ballistic missile test

A pair of US supersonic bombers have flown over the Korean Peninsula, less than 48-hours after North Korea’s successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Flanked by South Korean fighter jets The B-1 bombers carried out a low-pass over the Osan Air Base, near South Korea’s capital Seoul.

The military aircraft took off from the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and flew to Japanese airspace where they were joined by Japanese F-2 fighter jets, the US Pacific Air Forces said in a statement. They then returned to base.

The US Missile Defense Agency also said a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system located in Kodiak, Alaska, was successfully tested on Saturday night, Alaska time.

It said that a medium-range ballistic missile was air-launched over the Pacific, and that the THAAD system detected, tracked and intercepted the target, the Associated Press has reported.

US officials have refused to rule out a tough military response to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” General Terrence J O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander said. “Diplomacy remains the lead. However, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario.”

Read More at the Independent UK.

 

Xi Calls for Strong Army, Tells China Troops ‘World Isn’t Safe’

President Xi Jinping said China needs to speed up the modernization of its military to fend off threats in increasingly dangerous times.

“The world isn’t safe at this moment” Xi, wearing a camouflauge military uniform, said on Sunday after riding in an open jeep at an army parade in Inner Mongolia. “A strong army is needed now more than ever.”

The speech came just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump lambasted China for failing to do more to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, saying “we will no longer allow this to continue.” North Korea, which relies on ally China for food and fuel, test-fired a second intercontinental ballistic missile late on Friday night.

Over the past two years, Xi has overseen the most sweeping changes to China’s military since the 1950s in an effort to create a fighting force that can win modern wars. The modernization drive, which has focused on expanding China’s air and naval reach, is challenging more than 70 years of U.S. military dominance in the Western Pacific.

The parade at Zhurihe Training Base on Sunday marked the 90th anniversary of the creation of the People’s Liberation Army. It featured the Chengdu J-20, China’s stealth jet fighter that some have compared to the F-22 Raptor. About 40 percent of the military equipment in the parade was publicly displayed for the first time, according to Phoenix TV, a pro-Beijing media outlet.

Read More at Bloomberg.

 

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