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Russia: As Obama Mulls Retribution for Wikileaks & Hacks, Putin Prepares for Nuclear War

US and Russia Build for Conflict. Last Soviet Premier Gorbachev Warns "the world has reached a dangerous point."

The Obama administration officially accused Russia of orchestrating hacking efforts to interfere with the election process on Friday. It cannot be doubted that the US administration will have to retaliate for this act of cyberwarfare.

The retribution may take the form of a cyber counterattack--what the US did a few years ago to get back at the North Koreans for hacking Sony studios in Culver City, CA. We may never know what it is, or whether it's effective.

"I love WikiLeaks!" Donald Trump exclaimed at a rally Monday night in rural Pennsylvania. He did not hide his pleasure that the Russians hacked John Podesta Clinton's campaign chairman.

It has become clear that Putin and Obama are at war, cold war anyway, in the waning days of the Obama administration. For both men, it's personal. "We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities," said Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, and James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, in a statement.

Johnson's accusations are based on findings by several private cybersecurity firms that have studied digital break-ins at the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. These experts believe that several prominent Russian hacking groups, known as "Fancy Bear" and "Cozy Bear" are the perpetrators. The same Russians also hacked Clinton campaign staffers, high-profile officials of both parties, and state-level party officials.

In total, it's believed suspected Russian hackers have gone after hundreds of political-affiliated organizations and officials.

How is Putin responding to Obama's threats of retaliation?

Russia will create a permanent naval base in Syria to expand its military footprint in its closest Middle East ally, a government official said on Monday, a week after Moscow said it was considering reopening Soviet-era bases in Vietnam and Cuba.

The move, announced by Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov, is further evidence Russia is building up its capabilities in Syria despite a partial draw-down in March and another sign it is preparing for a longterm commitment to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"By doing this Russia is not only increasing its military potential in Syria but in the entire Middle East," Senator Igor Morozov, a member of the upper house of parliament's International Affairs Committee, told the RIA news agency.

A Reuters analysis of publicly available tracking data shows Moscow has steadily built up its forces in Syria since a ceasefire collapsed in late September, doubling supply runs by air and sea.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and Russia's deputy defence minister Nikolay Pankov told the Russian Parliament that Moscow was looking to reopen military bases in Cuba as well as Vietnam. "The global situation is not static, it is in flux, and the last two years have made significant changes to international affairs and security," Peskov told journalists.

US military news site Stars and Stripes reports, meanwhile, that the United States is planning on reopening its shuttered Air Force base in Iceland. Poseidon P-8 Submarine hunting planes will once again be based at Keflavik, where 2500 US Servicemen were stationed from 1970 to 1995. They all came home when the cold war ended.

In Moscow, a Russian news presenter sometimes called the "Kremlin's chief propagandist", has warned the United States any "impudent behaviour" towards Moscow could have "nuclear" implications.

Dmitry Kiselyov, who was appointed by Vladimir Putin to head the country's government-owned news agency, warned on Monday night's edition of his current affairs programme Vesti Nedeli (News of the Week).

Relations between the two countries hit a new low on Friday after Washington accused Moscow of war crimes following a sustained bombardment of the besieged Syrian city Aleppo, where at least 250,000 people are still living in the rebel-held east of the city.

On Saturday, Russia vetoed a motion put to the UN Security Council demanding an immediate end to the bombing campaign in Aleppo. A rival motion proposed by Russia was also rejected at the meeting calling for a fresh ceasefire but did not explicitly mention the bombing.

Russian website Znak published Tuesday, according to which Russian state officials and government workers were told to bring back their children studying abroad immediately, even if means cutting their education short and not waiting until the end of the school year, and re-enroll them in Russian schools, with some concern. The article adds that if the parents of these same officials also live abroad "for some reason", and have not lost their Russian citizenship, should also be returned to the motherland. Znak cited five administration officials as the source of the report.

The Russians are apparently concerned about the internal political implications of elite children studying abroad, at a time when Putin and other government officials are appeals to patriotism.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned on Monday that the world has reached a "dangerous point" as tensions between Russia and the United States spike over the Syria conflict.

Relations between Moscow and Washington -- already at their lowest since the Cold War over the Ukraine conflict -- have soured further in recent days as the United States pulled the plug on Syria talks and accused Russia of hacking attacks.

The Kremlin has suspended a series of nuclear pacts, including a symbolic cooperation deal to cut stocks of weapons-grade plutonium.

"I think the world has reached a dangerous point," Gorbachev, 85, told state news agency RIA Novosti.

"I don't want to give any concrete prescriptions but I do want to say that this needs to stop. We need to renew dialogue. Stopping it was the biggest mistake."

As the last leader of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev oversaw an easing of decades of tensions with the West that helped to end the Cold War.


Reader Comments(1)

BigToad writes:

This is a VERY poor time for another Cold War. We have about 1/4 of the active fighter aircraft we did then and of those currently active a large percentage are not combat ready. We are short of pilots and maintenance crews. The navy is but a glimmer of it's former self with many ships in port without parts. Adding to that is the fact that we are broke. I served during the Cold War. It is best addressed from a position of strength. We do not have that advantage. The Cold War was a delicate dance of checks and balances. A global chess match. I don't see current leadership as qualified to address this danger. I shudder to think of Hillary paired against Putin. I just don't think she has the temperament required as noted by her shoot first political record as S.O.S. Trump is equally unprepared. But I believe if he addresses issues from a trade standpoint it may buy us time to rebuild. We need to get our fiscal house in order and rebuild as quickly as possible. Very dangerous times ahead.