Montenegro defies Russia to become NATO member

NATO is set to expand for the first time after eight years by welcoming Montenegro into the alliance. The tiny Balkan nation is attending the NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday practically as a member, although the entry process formally will be wrapped in early June. To get there, Montenegro has stood up against Russia, which has sought to maintain strong historic, political and cultural influence in the country it considers a zone of interest. Russia has threatened economic and political retaliation. Montenegro says Moscow was behind a foiled coup attempt in October, which Russia denies.

Read More at ABC News.

 

Russia strengthens its Baltic forces with additional warships and fighter jets in bid to out-gun NATO

Russia is beefing up its Baltic Fleet with the arrival of more warships and fighter jets – and NATO’s ‘aggressive ambitions’ have been blamed.

By the end of the year the fleet will have additional guided missile craft, fighters and support vessels, the Russian military has announced.

The boost comes at a time of heightened tensions, with NATO members anxious over planned Russian war games in September following missile deployment in the region.

Writing for Sputnik News, which was set up by the Russian government, defence analyst Alexander Khrolenko said NATO can ‘only dream’ of dominating the Baltic.

He wrote: ‘The swift military buildup of the Baltic Fleet is a natural response on Russia’s part to NATO’s aggressive ambitions in the region, increased war-gaming, Baltic air policing, anti-Russian sentiments and spy fever.’

He added that NATO war games ‘simulate a hybrid war with Russia, of course’.

Among the planes set to be deployed to the fleet are Sukhoi Su-30SM fighters, Sputnik reports.

Last week Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said the United States and NATO are prepared to deploy any capabilities necessary to help improve air defence systems in the Baltic region.

Read more at the Daily Mail UK.

US Protests ‘Unprofessional’ Intercept by Chinese Jets

A pair of Chinese fighter jets conducted an “unprofessional” intercept of an American radiation-sniffing surveillance plane over the East China Sea, the U.S. Air Force┬ásaid Friday, the latest in a series of such incidents that have raised U.S. concerns in an already tense region.

On Wednesday, the two Chinese SU-30 jets approached a WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft — a modified Boeing C-135 — conducting a routine mission in international airspace in accordance with international law, Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Lt. Col. Lori Hodge said in a statement.

The WC-135 crew characterized the intercept as unprofessional “due to the maneuvers by the Chinese pilot, as well as the speeds and proximity of both aircraft,” Hodge said.

She declined to provide further details and said the issue would be addressed with China through “appropriate diplomatic and military channels.”

“We would rather discuss it privately with China,” Hodge said in an email to The Associated Press. “This will allow us to continue building confidence with our Chinese counterparts on expected maneuvering to avoid mishaps.”

Read more at Military.com

 

North Korea ‘tests ballistic missile’ amid reports Pyongyang stating war ‘imminent’

North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile in the early hours of Saturday morning, reports in South Korea said, amid rising military tensions with the US.

The missile, launched from a region north of the capital, Pyongyang, appeared to have blown up a few seconds into flight, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said.

The exact type of weapon being tested was unclear. It was the second failed test of a ballistic missile this month and came amid a flurry of rhetoric from North Korea warning of “imminent” war against the US.

“North Korea fired an unidentified missile from a site in the vicinity of Bukchang in Pyeongannam-do (South Pyeongan Province) early this morning,” Yonhap reported, quoting a statement issued by South Korea’s military. “It is estimated to have failed.”

On Friday, Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, warned that failure to curb North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes could lead to “catastrophic consequences”.

He called for a greater enforcement of UN sanctions against North Korea and requested the help of the rest of the world in pressuring North Korea to step back from its military threats.

China said it was not only up to Beijing to solve the North Korean problem.

“The key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side,” Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister said.

Read More at the The Telegraph UK.

Russian spy ship collides with freighter, sinks in Black Sea

A Russian naval reconnaissance ship sunk in the Black Sea Thursday after colliding with a freighter near the Turkish coast.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the collision occurred about 25 miles northwest of the Bosphorus Strait and left a hole in the hull of the Liman. The ministry statement, carried by Russian news agencies, said none of the crew members was hurt.

A Turkish coastal official told the Reuters news agency that almost 80 personnel from the Russian ship had been safely evacuated from the stricken vessel, which sunk near Bosphorus, Turkey.

Turkey’s state-run news agency said the prime minister had called his Russian counterpart to express his “sadness” over the collision.

Read more at CBS News.

 

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