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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Putin, Vladimir V"

OPEC Meeting Is Delayed as Saudi and Russian Tensions Flare

Westlake Legal Group opec-meeting-is-delayed-as-saudi-and-russian-tensions-flare OPEC Meeting Is Delayed as Saudi and Russian Tensions Flare United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Putin, Vladimir V Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Westlake Legal Group merlin_170835546_3e63c48c-0cd2-4d8d-a9f4-da42365e31bd-facebookJumbo OPEC Meeting Is Delayed as Saudi and Russian Tensions Flare United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Putin, Vladimir V Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

A meeting planned for Monday between officials of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other oil producers, which had buoyed hopes for a deal to end the turmoil in energy markets, has been put off, according to two OPEC delegates.

The news comes as lingering tensions have surfaced once again between Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, and Russia over who is to blame for the recent collapse in oil prices. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin partly blamed Saudi Arabia for the price drop. The Saudis responded with angry statements from their ministers of foreign affairs and energy blaming Russia.

News of the meeting’s delay may roil the markets when trading resumes on Monday. The meeting, which was never officially announced but was widely reported on Friday, added to hopes that OPEC and Russia would agree on production trims.

On Thursday, President Trump said he believed that Russia and the Saudis were nearing a deal to cut production, prompting a surge of nearly 40 percent in oil prices, to about $34 a barrel for Brent crude, the international benchmark.

The OPEC delegates indicated that further talks would be required before moving ahead with a meeting, which could be rescheduled for later in the week. Saudi Arabia had called for the meeting last Thursday, responding to pressure from President Trump.

In early March, Russia declined to go along with a Saudi-led OPEC proposal to further trim production to deal with the plummeting demand for oil because of the coronavirus epidemic, leading the Saudis to walk away from a three year agreement with Moscow on production trims. Recently, the Saudis have been increasing production and offering steep discounts to their customers.

On Friday, Mr. Putin said that these Saudi actions were one “reason behind the collapse of prices.” The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan al Saud, responded in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency that Mr. Putin’s comments were “fully devoid of truth” and that “Russia was the one that refused the agreement.”

Mr. Putin did indicate that he was willing to have Russia participate in the now delayed meeting.

The Saudis want Russia and other producers to absorb some of the burden of new production trims. They are also hopeful that American oil producers will somehow share in output reductions.

Analysts estimate that because of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, demand for oil is likely to fall by as much as 25 million barrels a day, or about a quarter of consumption in normal times, meaning that if oil producers don’t reach agreement on output curbs, involuntary shutdowns are likely to occur as refineries and other customers slash their purchases of crude and storage tanks fill up.

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Trump Sees Hope for Boosting Global Oil Prices and Helping U.S. Firms

Westlake Legal Group trump-sees-hope-for-boosting-global-oil-prices-and-helping-u-s-firms Trump Sees Hope for Boosting Global Oil Prices and Helping U.S. Firms United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Russia Putin, Vladimir V Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Economic Conditions and Trends
Westlake Legal Group 02dc-virus-oil-facebookJumbo Trump Sees Hope for Boosting Global Oil Prices and Helping U.S. Firms United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Russia Putin, Vladimir V Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Economic Conditions and Trends

WASHINGTON — When oil prices crashed in early March after a dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia, President Trump put a positive spin on the news. “Good for the consumer, gasoline prices coming down!” he wrote on Twitter as markets tumbled. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said that falling gasoline prices amounted to “the greatest tax cut we’ve ever given.”

But the president has also nervously eyed the dire threat that American energy producers face from rock-bottom oil prices, and American officials have spent weeks pressing Saudi Arabia and Russia to settle a dispute that has created a global oil glut and further shaken an already-traumatized global economy.

Leaning on two authoritarian leaders he has befriended as president, Mr. Trump spoke this week with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, urging them to bolster prices by cutting their domestic oil production.

In two tweets on Thursday, Mr. Trump said that he expected they would jointly cut output by as much as 15 million barrels in a move that he said would “be GREAT for the oil & gas industry!”

Prices for Brent crude initially leapt by nearly 50 percent after Mr. Trump’s tweets, but dipped again as it became unclear whether his supposed breakthrough would materialize.

Neither Russia nor Saudi Arabia publicly committed to such a cut, and a Saudi statement issued on Thursday called only for a meeting of oil producing nations to reach a “fair agreement.” The Kremlin cast further doubt on the possibility, denying a claim that Mr. Trump made on Twitter that Mr. Putin had discussed the matter with the crown prince.

The picture emerged of a president eager to find some good economic news amid the pain of a largely shuttered domestic economy, and of an embattled Saudi leadership feeling financial strain of its own, perhaps seeking the favor of Mr. Trump. Analysts said the major outstanding question was how Moscow, which has been waging a price war with Riyadh, will respond.

Executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Occidental, Devon, Phillips 66, Energy Transfer and Continental Resources are scheduled to meet on Friday with Mr. Trump at the White House, according to two industry insiders familiar with the plans.

Deal or no, Mr. Trump’s unusual oil diplomacy and his eagerness to claim a victory reflects his growing anxiety about the United States’ coronavirus-gripped economy. It also underscores his sudden reliance, after years of happy talk about growing American energy independence, on foreign oil industries. But if Mr. Putin and Prince Mohammed fail to strike an agreement that bolsters global oil prices, Mr. Trump will find himself left twisting in the wind by two repressive leaders whose good will he has spent years cultivating at significant political cost.

Writing Thursday on Twitter, Mr. Trump said he had spoken that morning to Prince Mohammed, who told him he had been in touch with Mr. Putin, adding: “I expect & hope that they will be cutting back approximately 10 Million Barrels, and maybe substantially more which, if it happens, will be GREAT for the oil & gas industry!” In a subsequent tweet, Mr. Trump said the production cut could be five million barrels per day larger.

American oil executives immediately reacted positively to the tweet. “I’m totally surprised and I’m glad the president took charge,” said Scott Sheffield, the chief executive of Pioneer Natural Resources, a major Texas oil company, who has urged the Trump administration to put pressure on Saudi Arabia and Russia.

But the Kremlin quickly played down Mr. Trump’s statement. Dmitri S. Peskov, a spokesman for Mr. Putin, told the Interfax news agency that the Russian president had not spoken with the Saudi crown prince. “No, there was no conversation,” he said.

Tass, a Russian state news agency, carried a more pointed exchange in which the Kremlin spokesman declined to say whether Mr. Trump might be manipulating markets. Asked if Mr. Trump had “intentionally mistaken” news about a phone call, Mr. Peskov said, “It’s difficult for me to answer.”

Oil prices have been hammered in recent weeks as the coronavirus pandemic has all but eliminated travel and dampened demand for energy. The price war that broke out between Saudi Arabia and Russia last month intensified the decline.

After failing to reach a deal on production cuts in March, Saudi Arabia and Russia began pumping huge amounts of oil, adding to a world glut. One aim has been to gain market share from American producers that have been increasing output and exports in recent years. But as Saudi Arabia has been shipping new production, it has been having trouble finding buyers.

The combination of slumping demand and the contest between two of the world’s largest oil producers had pushed crude oil prices down by 55 percent in March alone, wreaking havoc on the energy industry, with oil companies slashing budgets and refineries cutting production of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Mr. Trump made clear his anxiety on Wednesday during a news briefing at the White House. After saying the 17-year low in oil prices was “incredible, in a lot of ways,” he went on to express alarm about the fate of U.S. energy companies, including shale oil producers facing disaster. Whiting Petroleum, a big shale producer in North Dakota, filed for bankruptcy protection this week.

“You don’t want to lose an industry. You’re going to lose an industry over it,” Mr. Trump said. “Thousands and thousands of jobs.”

Administration officials have pressed Saudi Arabia for weeks to change course. On March 25, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Prince Mohammed and urged Saudi Arabia to “rise to the occasion and reassure global energy and financial markets,” according to a State Department readout of the call. Mr. Trump spoke with the crown prince on March 31. But their pleas appeared rebuffed when Saudi Aramco, the national oil company, tweeted boastfully on April 1 about its continued production.

During a teleconference briefing last month, the American ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Gen. John Abizaid, said Prince Mohammed’s decision to increase production seemed impulsive and driven by pique against Moscow, and was poorly coordinated across the Saudi government, according to an American official familiar with the discussion.

Independent of American pressure, Saudi Arabia has, along with its allies in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, reason to reverse course on the decision to boost production. In recent days, the kingdom’s tankers left port brimming with oil but with few destinations as global inventories filled to the brim. With tanker fees climbing fast, the kingdom’s shipping costs are rising to painful levels.

Saudi Arabia depends on oil revenues to finance its sweeping social programs, and much of its population owns shares of Saudi Aramco, which was partly privatized last year and whose shares have sharply declined over the past month.

Prince Mohammed also has a strong interest in retaining Mr. Trump’s good will, which was not diminished even in the face of evidence of the crown prince’s role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, according to Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute. The crown prince now faces threats from Iran and a continuing military quagmire in Yemen.

“It looks like Riyadh might be willing to compromise a little more with Moscow because, in the cold light of day, this isn’t going to work very well for Saudi Arabia — or Russia for that matter,” Mr. Ibish said. “But they’re also clearly linking it to pressure from the U.S. in general and Trump in particular, and making it clear that they are trying to, in effect, do him a favor.”

Saudi Arabia’s statement on Thursday said its call for a meeting of oil producers was “in appreciation of President Donald Trump of the United States of America’s request and the U.S. friends’ request.”

Russia has its own problems in the face of shrinking demand. It has thousands of aging oil wells across Siberia far from markets that will soon be producing oil with no place to go. Shutting those wells would deprive the country revenues, but also lead to extra costs to revive them later, a process that could damage some of the fields permanently.

In one indication that Russia had softened its stance, Russia’s energy minister, Aleksandr Novak, told Reuters that Russia no longer planned to ramp up production after the collapse of its deal with OPEC last month.

But some energy analysts predicted that even after supply cuts, global oil prices would soon resume their steep decline because markets are likely to be oversupplied through at least the first half of the year. A recent Citibank research report said that any potential agreement by American, Saudi and Russians officials “looks like it is too little too late.”

President Trump said on Thursday that he did not agree to cut American oil production in return for cuts from Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The $25 price for the American oil benchmark is still at least $15 below the break-even price for the typical American oil well, leaving much of the industry in jeopardy unless demand recovers quickly. Nevertheless, deeply depressed shares of Chevron, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips surged by more than 8 percent after Mr. Trump’s tweet.

The industry received little from the recent $2.2 billion stimulus package, as Congress refused to endorse an administration proposal to buy $3 billion in oil to add to stockpiles in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Analysts said that because of the crushing economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic, cuts in oil production were inevitable.

“Oil production is going to go down anyhow,” said Bhushan Bahree, a senior director at IHS Markit, a research firm. “The question is whether they are going to be managed or enforced through brutal shutdowns.”

Michael Crowley reported from Washington, Clifford Krauss from Houston and Andrew E. Kramer from Moscow. Mark Mazzetti and Edward Wong contributed reporting from Washington, and Stanley Reed from London.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Same Goal, Different Playbook: Why Russia Would Support Trump and Sanders

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-cyber-facebookJumbo Same Goal, Different Playbook: Why Russia Would Support Trump and Sanders Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2020 House Committee on Intelligence democratic national committee Cyberwarfare and Defense Clinton, Hillary Rodham central intelligence agency

At first glance, it may seem contradictory that the nation’s intelligence agencies were telling Congress that President Vladimir V. Putin is presumably striving to get President Trump re-elected, while also warning Senator Bernie Sanders of evidence that he is the Russian president’s favorite Democrat.

But to the intelligence analysts and outside experts who have spent the past three years dissecting Russian motives in the 2016 election, and who tried to limit the effect of Moscow’s meddling in the 2018 midterms, what is unfolding in 2020 makes perfect sense.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders represent the most divergent ends of their respective parties, and both are backed by supporters known more for their passion than their policy rigor, which makes them ripe for exploitation by Russian trolls, disinformation specialists and hackers for hire seeking to widen divisions in American society.

While the two candidates disagree on almost everything, both share an instinct that the United States is overcommitted abroad: Neither is likely to pursue policies that push back aggressively on Mr. Putin’s plan to restore Moscow’s influence around the world, from the former Soviet states to the Middle East.

And if you are trying to sow chaos in an already chaotic, vitriolic election, Mr. Putin could hardly hope for better than a face-off between an incumbent with a history of race-baiting who is shouting “America First” at rallies — while darkly suggesting the coming election is rigged — and a democratic socialist from Vermont advocating a drastic expansion of taxes and government programs like Medicare.

“Any figures that radicalize politics and do harm to center views and unity in the United States are good for Putin’s Russia,” said Victoria Nuland, who served as ambassador to NATO and assistant secretary of state for European affairs, and had her phone calls intercepted and broadcast by Russian intelligence services.

The intelligence reports provided to the House Intelligence Committee, inciting Mr. Trump’s ire, may make the American understanding of Mr. Putin’s plans sound more certain than they really are, according to intelligence officials who contributed to the assessment. Those officials caution that such reports are as much art as science, a mixture of informants, intercepted conversations and intuition, as analysts in the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies try to get into the heads of foreign leaders.

Though intelligence officials have disputed that the officer who delivered the main briefing said Russia was actively aiding the president’s re-election, people in the room said that intelligence officers’ responses to lawmakers’ follow-up questions made clear that Russia was trying to get Mr. Trump re-elected.

Intelligence is hardly a perfect process, as Americans learned when the nation went to war in Iraq based in part on an estimate that Saddam Hussein was once again in search of a nuclear weapon.

But in this election, the broad strategy — as opposed to the specific tactics — are not exactly a mystery. Mr. Putin, the analysts agree, mostly seeks anything that would further take the sheen off American democracy and make presidential elections in the United States seem no more credible than his own. After that, he is eager for a compliant counterpart in the White House, one unlikely to challenge his territorial and nuclear ambitions.

Not surprisingly, the Kremlin says this is all an American fantasy, aimed at demonizing Russia for the United States’ own failings. “These are more paranoid announcements which, to our regret, will multiply as we get closer to the election,” Mr. Putin’s confidant and spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters on Friday. “They have nothing to do with the truth.”

No matter who is elected, Mr. Putin has likely undermined one of his own primary goals: getting the United States and its allies to lift sanctions that were imposed after he annexed Crimea and accelerated a hybrid war against Ukraine.

“By actively exploiting divisions within American society and having its activities revealed, the Kremlin has ensured that its longer-term goal of having the U.S. remove sanctions and return to a less confrontational relationship so far has been thwarted,” Angela E. Stent, a former national intelligence officer for Russia and now a professor at Georgetown University, wrote in her book “Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest.”

On Saturday, Ms. Stent noted that if the Russians are in fact interfering in this election, “it could bring about new energy sanctions.’’ She noted that one piece of legislation in the Senate, the DETER bill, would require new sanctions if evidence of Russian meddling emerges from intelligence agencies. Ms. Stent noted that, so far, Mr. Putin may have concluded that the penalties are a small price to pay if he can bring his geopolitical rival down a few more notches. And the early intelligence analyses suggest that, by backing Mr. Sanders in the primary and Mr. Trump in the general election, he would probably have a good chance of maximizing the electoral tumult.

Mr. Sanders is hardly a new target for the Russians. The 2018 indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for their activities in the last presidential election — issued by the Justice Department under the Trump administration — claimed that the officers “engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

Robert S. Mueller III, in the report on his investigation into Russian operations, concluded that the release of memos hacked from the Democratic National Committee were meant to inflame Mr. Sanders’s supporters by revealing that the committee was funneling assets to Mrs. Clinton.

The more recent public reports emerging from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I., and classified reports generated by the C.I.A. and others suggest that while the Russian objectives have remained the same, the techniques have shifted.

“The Russians aren’t going to use the old playbook, we know that,” said Christopher C. Krebs, who runs the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

His organization, along with the National Security Agency and British intelligence, has been steadily documenting how Russian operatives are becoming stealthier, learning from the mistakes they made in 2016.

As they focus on evading more vigilant government agencies and technology companies trying to identify and counter malicious online activity, the Russians are boring into Iranian cyberoffense units, apparently so that they can initiate attacks that look as if they originate in Iran — which itself has shown interest in messing with the American electoral process. Russians are putting more of their attack operations on computer servers in the United States, where the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies — but not the F.B.I. and homeland security — are prohibited from operating.

And, in one of the most effective twists, they are feeding disinformation to unsuspecting Americans on Facebook and other social media. By seeding conspiracy theories and baseless claims on the platforms, Russians hope everyday Americans will retransmit those falsehoods from their own accounts. That is an attempt to elude Facebook’s efforts to remove disinformation, which it can do more easily when it flags “inauthentic activity,” like Russians posing as Americans. It is much harder to ban the words of real Americans, who may be parroting a Russian story line, even unintentionally.

Mr. Krebs noted that this was why the Department of Homeland Security had to focus on educating Americans about where their information was coming from. “How do you explain,” he asked last year, “‘This is how you’re being manipulated, this is how they’re hacking your brain?’”

In 2018, the United States Cyber Command and the National Security Agency mounted a new and more public campaign to push back at the Russians, attacking and blocking their Internet Research Agency for a few days around the November elections and texted warnings to Russian intelligence officers that they were being watched. The N.S.A. is preparing for similar counterattacks this year: On Thursday, the United States cited intelligence and blamed Russia for a cyberattack last fall on the republic of Georgia, another place where Mr. Putin seems to be holding dress rehearsals.

Now American intelligence agencies face a new question: How do they run such operations, and warn Congress and Americans, at a moment when the president is declaring the intelligence on Russian election meddling is “another misinformation campaign” that is “launched by Democrats in Congress?”

The intelligence agencies are loath to cross him. The acting director of national intelligence at the time, Joseph Maguire, resisted appearing in public to provide the “Worldwide Threat Assessment” that is usually given to Congress before the president’s State of the Union address. (He was dismissed last week before he had to testify.) Because Mr. Trump was so angered by how his predecessor’s testimony contradicted his own statements last year — particularly on Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State — Mr. Maguire was in no hurry to repeat the experience.

His successor, Richard Grenell, the current American ambassador to Germany, is known for his political allegiance to Mr. Trump, not for his knowledge of the American intelligence agencies. He is widely viewed by career officials as more interested in making sure public intelligence reports do not embarrass Mr. Trump than sounding the clarion call that the Russians are coming, again.

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Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-sanders-sub-facebookJumbo Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Putin, Vladimir V Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Internet Research Agency (Russia) Democratic Party Cyberwarfare and Defense

WASHINGTON — Russia has been trying to intervene in the Democratic primaries to aid Senator Bernie Sanders, according to people familiar with the matter, and intelligence officials recently briefed him about Russian interference in the election, Mr. Sanders said on Friday.

In a statement on Friday, Mr. Sanders denounced Russia, calling President Vladimir V. Putin an “autocratic thug” and warning Moscow to stay out of the election.

“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” Mr. Sanders said.

He also told reporters that he was briefed about a month ago.

“The intelligence community is telling us Russia is interfering in this campaign right now in 2020,” Mr. Sanders said on Friday in Bakersfield, Calif., where he was to hold a rally ahead of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. “And what I say to Mr. Putin, ‘If I am elected president, trust me you will not be interfering in American elections.’”

Senior intelligence officials told members of the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was continuing its election sabotage campaign, including intervening in the Democratic primaries.

Intelligence officials also warned House lawmakers that Russia was interfering in the campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, according to people familiar with the matter. They said that the disclosure to Congress angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

Republicans have taken issue with the idea that Russia supports Mr. Trump, insisting that Mr. Putin simply wants to broadly spread chaos and undermine the democratic system. But some current and former officials say that a Russian campaign to support Mr. Sanders may ultimately be aimed at aiding Mr. Trump, with Moscow potentially considering Mr. Sanders a weaker opponent to the president than a more moderate Democratic nominee.

The Washington Post first reported the briefing of the Sanders campaign.

Mr. Sanders said it was his understanding that the Russians were again trying to interfere in the campaign. Some “ugly stuff on the internet” had been attributed to his campaign that could be coming from falsified accounts, he said.

The Russians also worked to support — or at least not harm — Mr. Sanders in 2016. Operatives at a Russian intelligence-backed troll factory were instructed to avoid attacking Mr. Sanders or Mr. Trump, according to the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The report quoted internal documents from the Internet Research Agency ordering operatives to attack Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest except for Sanders and Trump — we support them,” the document said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-sanders-sub-facebookJumbo Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Putin, Vladimir V Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Internet Research Agency (Russia) Democratic Party Cyberwarfare and Defense

WASHINGTON — Russia has been trying to intervene in the Democratic primaries to aid Senator Bernie Sanders, according to people familiar with the matter, and intelligence officials recently briefed him about Russian interference in the election, Mr. Sanders said on Friday.

In a statement on Friday, Mr. Sanders denounced Russia, calling President Vladimir V. Putin an “autocratic thug” and warning Moscow to stay out of the election.

“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” Mr. Sanders said.

He also told reporters that he was briefed about a month ago.

“The intelligence community is telling us Russia is interfering in this campaign right now in 2020,” Mr. Sanders said on Friday in Bakersfield, Calif., where he was to hold a rally ahead of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. “And what I say to Mr. Putin, ‘If I am elected president, trust me you will not be interfering in American elections.’”

Senior intelligence officials told members of the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was continuing its election sabotage campaign, including intervening in the Democratic primaries.

Intelligence officials also warned House lawmakers that Russia was interfering in the campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, according to people familiar with the matter. They said that the disclosure to Congress angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

Republicans have taken issue with the idea that Russia supports Mr. Trump, insisting that Mr. Putin simply wants to broadly spread chaos and undermine the democratic system. But some current and former officials say that a Russian campaign to support Mr. Sanders may ultimately be aimed at aiding Mr. Trump, with Moscow potentially considering Mr. Sanders a weaker opponent to the president than a more moderate Democratic nominee.

The Washington Post first reported the briefing of the Sanders campaign.

Mr. Sanders said it was his understanding that the Russians were again trying to interfere in the campaign. Some “ugly stuff on the internet” had been attributed to his campaign that could be coming from falsified accounts, he said.

The Russians also worked to support — or at least not harm — Mr. Sanders in 2016. Operatives at a Russian intelligence-backed troll factory were instructed to avoid attacking Mr. Sanders or Mr. Trump, according to the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The report quoted internal documents from the Internet Research Agency ordering operatives to attack Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest except for Sanders and Trump — we support them,” the document said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-sanders-sub-facebookJumbo Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Putin, Vladimir V Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Internet Research Agency (Russia) Democratic Party Cyberwarfare and Defense

WASHINGTON — Russia has been trying to intervene in the Democratic primaries to aid Senator Bernie Sanders, according to people familiar with the matter, and intelligence officials recently briefed him about Russian interference in the election, Mr. Sanders said on Friday.

In a statement on Friday, Mr. Sanders denounced Russia, calling President Vladimir V. Putin an “autocratic thug” and warning Moscow to stay out of the election.

“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” Mr. Sanders said.

He also told reporters that he was briefed about a month ago.

“The intelligence community is telling us Russia is interfering in this campaign right now in 2020,” Mr. Sanders said on Friday in Bakersfield, Calif., where he was to hold a rally ahead of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. “And what I say to Mr. Putin, ‘If I am elected president, trust me you will not be interfering in American elections.’”

Senior intelligence officials told members of the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was continuing its election sabotage campaign, including intervening in the Democratic primaries.

Intelligence officials also warned House lawmakers that Russia was interfering in the campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, according to people familiar with the matter. They said that the disclosure to Congress angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

Republicans have taken issue with the idea that Russia supports Mr. Trump, insisting that Mr. Putin simply wants to broadly spread chaos and undermine the democratic system. But some current and former officials say that a Russian campaign to support Mr. Sanders may ultimately be aimed at aiding Mr. Trump, with Moscow potentially considering Mr. Sanders a weaker opponent to the president than a more moderate Democratic nominee.

The Washington Post first reported the briefing of the Sanders campaign.

Mr. Sanders said it was his understanding that the Russians were again trying to interfere in the campaign. Some “ugly stuff on the internet” had been attributed to his campaign that could be coming from falsified accounts, he said.

The Russians also worked to support — or at least not harm — Mr. Sanders in 2016. Operatives at a Russian intelligence-backed troll factory were instructed to avoid attacking Mr. Sanders or Mr. Trump, according to the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The report quoted internal documents from the Internet Research Agency ordering operatives to attack Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest except for Sanders and Trump — we support them,” the document said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

3 Takeaways from Today’s Trump Impeachment Trial

Westlake Legal Group 31dc-takeaways-facebookJumbo 3 Takeaways from Today's Trump Impeachment Trial Zelensky, Volodymyr Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schiff, Adam B Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Rubio, Marco Republican Party Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2020 Portman, Rob Murkowski, Lisa Kelly, John F (1950- ) impeachment House of Representatives Giuliani, Rudolph W Democratic Party Cipollone, Pat A Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — After 10 days of arguments and deliberations, the Senate voted against hearing from new witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, signaling a vote to acquit him would likely come in the coming days.

House impeachment managers and President Trump’s defense team made their final arguments for and against hearing from new witnesses as the Senate trial entered its final stages on Friday before the evening vote. Not long before the session started, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, announced that she would vote against a measure to hear new witnesses erasing any doubt that the Republicans would have the support to end the trial without considering new material.

Here are five key takeaways from the afternoon.

In a nearly party-line vote, the Senate decided not to hear testimony from witnesses or review evidence before it moves to vote on whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office.

The 51-49 outcome was not surprising and paved the way for the Senate to acquit Mr. Trump. Senate leaders are negotiating over the next steps to end the trial.

Many of the arguments from the House managers over the past two weeks have been centered on the importance of hearing from witnesses, like Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, who has firsthand accounts of Mr. Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine.

Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, voted in favor of hearing witnesses, as they had signaled ahead of the trial.

Democrats have said that a trial without witnesses and documents is not a fair one. Republicans said that they did not need to hear any additional information and that the Democrats brought a weak case.

The top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, said the trial was a sham and a tragedy.

“To not allow a witness, a document — no witnesses, no documents — in an impeachment trial is a perfidy,” Mr. Schumer said after the vote. “America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities.”

In the hours before the vote, House impeachment managers made their final plea, citing a New York Times report that published about an hour before the trial started.

The report, which draws from new details from an upcoming book by Mr. Bolton, shows that Mr. Trump had a direct role in the Ukraine pressure campaign earlier than previously known, and senior White House advisers were aware of it.

“Yet another reason why we want to hear from witnesses,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the lead manager.

In the book, Mr. Bolton describes a meeting in early May at which Mr. Trump instructed him to call President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to press him to meet with Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. According to the book, one of Mr. Trump’s defense lawyers for the impeachment trial, Pat Cipollone, was also in the meeting, which took place months before Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky spoke by phone on July 25. That conversation ultimately set the impeachment proceedings in motion.

The fight over witnesses had largely been an argument about hearing testimony from Mr. Bolton, particularly as details about what he knows of Mr. Trump’s motives and his efforts to pressure Ukraine emerged in the past week.

Mr. Trump blocked Mr. Bolton from testifying in the House impeachment inquiry, but Mr. Bolton has said he would comply with a subpoena to testify during the Senate trial.

Even before the Senate trial resumed on Friday, some Republican senators announced their plans to vote to acquit Mr. Trump, and there was noticeably less note-taking in the Senate chamber compared with previous days of the trial.

“Can anyone doubt that at least half of the country would view his removal as illegitimate — as nothing short of a coup d’état?” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, wrote in a statement on Friday.

His decision, he said, was made out of concern of further dividing the country.

Mr. Rubio added that if the president was removed from office, it would be a victory for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

“It is difficult to conceive of any scheme Putin could undertake that would undermine confidence in our democracy more than removal would,” he wrote.

Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, said that he did find some of Mr. Trump’s actions “wrong and inappropriate,” but he wanted to leave it to voters decide on a verdict in November.

“Our country is already too deeply divided and we should be working to heal wounds, not create new ones,” Mr. Portman said in a statement.

“It seems it was half a trial,” said John F. Kelly, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff, hours before the Senate officially voted.

“If I was advising the United States Senate, I would say, ‘If you don’t respond to 75 percent of the American voters and have witnesses, it’s a job only half-done,’” Mr. Kelly said, ahead of delivering a speech in New Jersey on Friday. “You open yourself up forever as a Senate that shirks its responsibilities.”

Mr. Kelly appeared to be referring to a recent national poll from Quinnipiac University, which found that 75 percent of independents think witnesses should testify. The independent vote is expected to be a critical one in November.

A retired four-star Marine general, Mr. Kelly was well-liked in the Senate — he was confirmed with bipartisan support to be Mr. Trump’s first homeland security secretary — which made his criticism on Friday even more pointed. He was later drafted to be the president’s chief of staff with the hope he would bring order to a White House defined by chaos.

Earlier this week, Mr. Kelly said he believed Mr. Bolton’s account of the president’s dealings with Ukraine, which the president has denied.

“If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton,” he said on Tuesday.

Mr. Kelly and Mr. Bolton overlapped at the White House for much of 2018 but were not always in lock step. On Friday, Mr. Kelly described Mr. Bolton as “an honest and an honorable guy,” and “a copious note-taker.”

Senators will vote at 4 p.m. on Wednesday to render a verdict in President Trump’s impeachment trial. But before then, they will vote on procedural motions on Friday and return at 11 a.m. on Monday to give closing arguments, senators said. They will also have a chance to give floor speeches on Tuesday before the Wednesday vote.

“I’d rather conclude it right away,” said Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri. But the rules allowed for more time, and Democrats insisted, he added.

“It gives everybody the flexibility if they need to go somewhere over the weekend,” said Senator Mike Braun, Republican of Indiana.

The schedule means Mr. Trump would deliver the State of the Union address Tuesday night with his all but certain acquittal pending.

For the four senators running for the Democratic nomination to face Mr. Trump in November, it will be a busy few days as they rush to Iowa ahead of the caucuses there on Monday before needing to return to Washington for the closing phase of the trial.

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In Impeachment Trial, Geography Dictates Politics

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-assess1-facebookJumbo In Impeachment Trial, Geography Dictates Politics United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment

WASHINGTON — When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a curse-laden tirade to a reporter on Friday, asked, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” he was getting at an essential element of President Trump’s defense in the impeachment trial. White House officials are convinced that Americans are indifferent to what happens in the struggling former Soviet republic, and they may well be right.

But the impeachment trial is about more than the fate of Ukraine — and whether Mr. Trump sold it out for a “domestic political errand,” as his former adviser, Fiona Hill, put it so bitingly. To Democrats, it’s about a president who undercut his own administration’s stated goal of pushing back hard against Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia — the geopolitical challenge of a new, very different Cold War.

It is one of those cases where the geography of the debate shapes the politics of the argument.

As long as the president’s lawyers can focus the debate on the narrower question of Ukraine, they can argue that the charges against the president focus on a foreign policy sideshow: how the president uses the spigot of American aid and attention to mold another country’s behavior.

“They basically said, ‘Let’s cancel an election over a meeting with the Ukraine,’” Mr. Trump’s White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, said on Saturday, characterizing the Democrats’ arguments as he opened the president’s defense. Mr. Cipollone made the case that the Democrats are seeking to undo Mr. Trump’s 2016 victory or fear that they cannot beat him in 2020.

Yet the defense team’s characterizations about Ukraine are also designed to make the impeachment charges appear to be on a fundamentally trivial affair, surrounding the treatment of a faraway country that, as Mr. Pompeo suggests, most people could not find on a map stripped of country names. (He challenged the NPR reporter, Mary Louise Kelly, to identify Ukraine, and she reported that she did.)

That is precisely why the man leading the Democrats’ prosecution of the case, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, focused so relentlessly on Russia last week.

Mr. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, understands that Russia resonates in a way that Ukraine never can. His argument revives questions of whether Mr. Putin has some strange, still unexplained control over the American president — which is why Mr. Schiff played the cringe-worthy tape of Mr. Trump’s news conference with Mr. Putin in Helsinki, Finland, in summer 2018. In his public statements, Mr. Trump appeared to adopt the Russian leader’s self-interested theory that someone else was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers in the last presidential election.

“It’s a breathtaking success of Russian intelligence,” Mr. Schiff said. “This is the most incredible propaganda coup,” he continued, because “it’s not just that the president of the United States standing next to Vladimir Putin is reading the Kremlin talking points. He won’t read his own national security staff talking points.”

Cast that way, this is no argument over the history of American aid to Kyiv. It is part of a battle over Russia’s use of Ukraine as a petri dish in disruption — the place where Mr. Putin has experimented with seizing territory, undermining a hostile government and conducting cyberattacks that literally turned off the lights.

And it is an argument over Mr. Putin’s efforts to manipulate the 2020 election, at a moment when even Mr. Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security says the Russians are already testing new techniques. By demanding that the new president of Ukraine investigate Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president and a political opponent of Mr. Trump, and reviving theories that the Democratic National Committee’s server is somewhere in Ukraine, Mr. Trump was essentially joining that manipulation effort, Mr. Schiff was saying.

“The threat that he will continue to abuse his power and cause grave harm to the nation,’’ Mr. Schiff said of the president, “is not hypothetical.”

In less partisan times — say, when a presidential election does not loom — Mr. Schiff’s argument might strike a political chord, chiefly because it is the Republicans who, until recently, have been particularly hawkish about Mr. Putin’s Russia.

It is easy to forget now, but when Mr. Trump tried to water down sanctions on Russia two years ago, his own party pushed back so hard that new penalties for Moscow passed 98 to 2. (In one of the strange twists of history, one of the two opposing votes was cast by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is a leading contender to take on Mr. Trump in November.) In the House, the measure passed 419 to 3. Angry, Mr. Trump signed the bill, knowing any veto would be overturned.

But the politics of impeachment are different than the politics of sanctions. So it is no surprise that, as the Republicans focus on Ukraine and the Democrats focus on Russia, both are bending the facts to fit their case.

Mr. Pompeo, for example, has been known to pause his episodic blasts at State Department correspondents to make the legitimate point that it was the Trump administration that gave powerful anti-tank weapons — called Javelins — to Ukrainian forces, a step that President Barack Obama refused.

The issue came up this weekend, as Jay Sekulow accused the Democrats of keeping that fact out of their 23 hours of arguments. “Javelin missiles are serious weapons,” Mr. Sekulow, the president’s personal lawyer, reminded the senators at the trial on Saturday. He quoted the testimony of the two previous top American diplomats in Ukraine, including Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her post last year, in one of the events at the center of the impeachment charges.

The Javelin decision is the best piece of evidence that the Republicans have at hand that Mr. Trump has been willing to stand up to Mr. Putin. Almost everything else cuts the other way, leaving little doubt that in twisting the arm of the new Ukrainian government, Mr. Trump was not only pursuing his own political interests but also helping Mr. Putin’s.

Even before he was elected, Mr. Trump wondered aloud why the United States was helping Ukraine fight off the Russians. It made no sense, he argued in a March 2016 interview on foreign policy, his first extended discussion of his worldview as a candidate.

“Now I’m all for Ukraine, I have friends that live in Ukraine,” Mr. Trump said during the interview at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida golf resort. He complained that when the Obama administration moved to sanction Russia for its annexation of Crimea and “was getting very confrontational, it didn’t seem to me like anyone else cared other than us.”

He added: “Even their neighbors didn’t seem to be talking about it. And, you know, you look at Germany, you look at other countries, and they didn’t seem to be very much involved.”

In fact, they were very involved and continue to provide aid to Ukraine to prop up its democracy and its economy while often complaining about rampant corruption. But in the interview, Mr. Trump made no mention of corruption; instead, he lumped Ukraine in with the many other examples he cited of nations that the United States supports while other countries freeload.

The release over the weekend of a recording of Mr. Trump at a dinner in 2018 makes clear that the president understood early in his term that unless aid continued to Ukraine, it could be easily overrun.

“How long would they last in a fight with Russia?” Mr. Trump asked at the dinner.

“I don’t think very long,” said Lev Parnas, the Soviet émigré who worked for Rudolph W. Giuliani in pressuring Ukraine. “Without us, not very long.”

What’s missing from the record of Mr. Trump’s manipulation of the aid to Ukraine last summer is any indication that he sought an assessment from the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies or his own National Security Council over whether suspending American help could, in fact, lead to the downfall of the government.

And that, in the end, may be the most telling fact of all.

If nothing else, what Americans learned from watching the impeachment trial over the past week is that Mr. Trump regarded the conduct of foreign policy the way he has regarded any other policy: a chess move toward re-election rather than geopolitical advantage for the United States. Otherwise, there would be conversations weighing the benefits of restricting aid against the harm to American interests in countering the power of Russia.

There is anecdotal evidence that many around Mr. Trump did in fact push back — including Mr. Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, and the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel. Their arguments were ignored until a whistle-blower’s complaint made clear that the suspension of aid to Ukraine was about to become public.

So far, not one has testified as part of the impeachment process or spoken publicly about what they told Mr. Trump about the potential consequences of his domestic political errand. It is a silence that speaks as loudly as the arguments made in the Senate.

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Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-missile1-facebookJumbo Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Treaties Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Russia Putin, Vladimir V Nuclear Weapons Moscow (Russia) Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Defense Department Defense and Military Forces Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

WASHINGTON — The Russian military on Friday said it had deployed a hypersonic weapon that flies at superfast speeds and can easily evade American missile defense systems, potentially setting off a new chapter in the long arms race between the world’s pre-eminent nuclear powers.

American officials said Friday they have little doubt that the Russians have a working hypersonic weapon — which sits on top of a modified missile and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead at speeds faster than 3,800 miles per hour.

Moscow has been working on the technology for years and has invested heavily in it, determined to reverse the pattern in the Cold War, when it was often struggling to catch up with American nuclear weapons systems. If the new system, called “Avangard,” works as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia boasted when he described the weapon a year ago, it would significantly enhance Moscow’s already powerful nuclear forces, American officials said.

Hypersonic weapons fly extremely fast and can maneuver along unpredictable trajectories, making them incredibly difficult for current systems to track, much less shoot down. Senior American military officials said the United States plans to deploy its own hypersonic weapons by 2022, but some experts believe that schedule may prove optimistic.

Yet the Russian announcement may be as much about spurring a new round of diplomatic talks as it is about reviving an arms race, current and former diplomats said. Moscow is anxious for President Trump to renew the last remaining arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, called New START, which limits strategic nuclear missile launchers and deployed warheads for both nations. The treaty expires soon after the next presidential inauguration in 2021.

The Trump administration has been noncommittal about extending the treaty, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that he would only renew it if it includes China and other nuclear powers. China has said it is not interested in any numerical limits on its arsenal, which is one-fifth of the size of America’s and Russia’s.

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that “the world has changed” in the decade since the Obama administration negotiated New START and arms control treaties can no longer be limited “to the United States and Russia.”

By showcasing its new weapon, Russia could be trying to pressure Mr. Trump to open talks. Mr. Putin said earlier this week that Russia was ahead on hypersonic technology, reveling in a rare moment of superiority to American and Chinese technology. The Russian leader has been unafraid to use “nuclear diplomacy” in the past and Moscow has been designing new weapons that can threaten the United States.

Mr. Trump has at times called for starting a new arms race, saying that American technology would ultimately win. Yet while the United States military was once thought to be well ahead in hypersonic technology, the pace of development flagged in recent years.

“China and Russia made hypersonic weapons a national priority. We didn’t,” William B. Roper, the head of Air Force acquisitions and technology, said on Friday. “Every service now has a major hypersonics program in a departmentwide effort to catch up.”

The United States Air Force has two hypersonic prototypes in testing and while development is on an accelerated pace, the weapons are not scheduled to be operational until 2022. Other parts of the Pentagon, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, have other hypersonic initiatives, but they are many years down the road.

Still, experts say the threat to the United States appears limited. Russia’s system is being deployed in relatively low numbers, likely no more than a couple of dozen, according to Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. As a result, the system “does not significantly increase the threat to the United States and the world” of Russia’s already fearsome nuclear arsenal, Mr. Kimball said.

But he said the two countries should discuss hypersonics as part of any new treaty negotiations.

“Washington and Moscow should immediately commence talks on how new weapons technologies and all types of nuclear weapons should be regulated so that neither side believes they can gain an advantage by ‘racing’ ahead of the other,” Mr. Kimball said.

The Russian weapon — known as a hypersonic glide vehicle — can fly lower in the atmosphere, avoiding ballistic missile defense radars. It is mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, allowing the warhead to be initially carried toward a target on a traditional piece of technology. But as it gets closer to the target, it is designed to fly at hypersonic speeds in an unpredictable path — making detection, tracking and interception extremely difficult. Most American missile defenses work by predicting the path of an incoming weapon, and shooting an “interceptor” at it.

On Friday, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, informed Mr. Putin that the first missile regiment armed with the glide vehicle was operational, the ministry said in a statement. The strategic missile forces chief, Gen. Sergei Karakayev, said at a meeting later in the day that the new missile was deployed with a military unit in the town of Yasny of the Orenburg region on the border with Kazakhstan.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the Russian statement, but other American officials said there was no reason to doubt Moscow had deployed the new weapon.

Nothing in the existing arms treaty would prohibit the new Russian weapon from being mounted atop an intercontinental weapon. In November, before Friday’s deployment of the hypersonic weapon, the Russian military exhibited it for American officials, as required under the treaty, and to show off the technology to the United States.

The weapons that Mr. Putin has tried to highlight in recent years have all been systems designed to reach the United States.

“The Russians are developing capabilities to reach out and attack us,” said Brig. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, a senior Air Force official said in an interview earlier this month, before the Russian technology was declared operational. “When you look at some of the capabilities Russia has announced, they are designed for offensive attack into the homeland of the United States.”

The Avangard project was among the few new Russian strategic weapons Mr. Putin unveiled during his State of the Union speech in March 2018. Mr. Putin boasted the new weapon “flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire” and is “absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defense system.”

Russia began looking at ways to improve the capabilities of its strategic missile force after the United States withdrew from the antiballistic missile treaty in 2002 in order to expand its missile defenses.

Russia has several other projects underway, including a long-range torpedo that could detonate a nuclear weapon on the American West Coast, and a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Neither would be covered by New START but development is still years away.

The new American defense budget devotes significant funds to developing both new weapons and new defenses against hypersonic weapons. Progress has been cloaked in considerable secrecy. But Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a Pentagon spokesman, said hypersonic weapons “remain a technical research and engineering priority” for the Pentagon.

Unlike the new Russian system, two Air Force prototypes are designed to be carried and released by aircraft, not launched atop ICBMs.

Dr. Roper said the Air Force is moving more aggressively than usual to test the prototypes in an effort to build new weapons faster. Even if the new prototypes work, he said there can be no “sense of comfort” and warned that the United States will need to continue developing new hypersonic weapons “if we want to dominate this new domain of fast flight.”

Ivan Nechepurenko in Moscow contributed reporting.

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Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-missile1-facebookJumbo Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Treaties Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Russia Putin, Vladimir V Nuclear Weapons Moscow (Russia) Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Defense Department Defense and Military Forces Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

WASHINGTON — The Russian military on Friday said it had deployed a hypersonic weapon that flies at superfast speeds and can easily evade American missile defense systems, potentially setting off a new chapter in the long arms race between the world’s pre-eminent nuclear powers.

American officials said Friday they have little doubt that the Russians have a working hypersonic weapon — which sits on top of a modified missile and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead at speeds faster than 3,800 miles per hour.

Moscow has been working on the technology for years and has invested heavily in it, determined to reverse the pattern in the Cold War, when it was often struggling to catch up with American nuclear weapons systems. If the new system, called “Avangard,” works as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia boasted when he described the weapon a year ago, it would significantly enhance Moscow’s already powerful nuclear forces, American officials said.

Hypersonic weapons fly extremely fast and can maneuver along unpredictable trajectories, making them incredibly difficult for current systems to track, much less shoot down. Senior American military officials said the United States plans to deploy its own hypersonic weapons by 2022, but some experts believe that schedule may prove optimistic.

Yet the Russian announcement may be as much about spurring a new round of diplomatic talks as it is about reviving an arms race, current and former diplomats said. Moscow is anxious for President Trump to renew the last remaining arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, called New START, which limits strategic nuclear missile launchers and deployed warheads for both nations. The treaty expires soon after the next presidential inauguration in 2021.

The Trump administration has been noncommittal about extending the treaty, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that he would only renew it if it includes China and other nuclear powers. China has said it is not interested in any numerical limits on its arsenal, which is one-fifth of the size of America’s and Russia’s.

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that “the world has changed” in the decade since the Obama administration negotiated New START and arms control treaties can no longer be limited “to the United States and Russia.”

By showcasing its new weapon, Russia could be trying to pressure Mr. Trump to open talks. Mr. Putin said earlier this week that Russia was ahead on hypersonic technology, reveling in a rare moment of superiority to American and Chinese technology. The Russian leader has been unafraid to use “nuclear diplomacy” in the past and Moscow has been designing new weapons that can threaten the United States.

Mr. Trump has at times called for starting a new arms race, saying that American technology would ultimately win. Yet while the United States military was once thought to be well ahead in hypersonic technology, the pace of development flagged in recent years.

“China and Russia made hypersonic weapons a national priority. We didn’t,” William B. Roper, the head of Air Force acquisitions and technology, said on Friday. “Every service now has a major hypersonics program in a departmentwide effort to catch up.”

The United States Air Force has two hypersonic prototypes in testing and while development is on an accelerated pace, the weapons are not scheduled to be operational until 2022. Other parts of the Pentagon, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, have other hypersonic initiatives, but they are many years down the road.

Still, experts say the threat to the United States appears limited. Russia’s system is being deployed in relatively low numbers, likely no more than a couple of dozen, according to Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. As a result, the system “does not significantly increase the threat to the United States and the world” of Russia’s already fearsome nuclear arsenal, Mr. Kimball said.

But he said the two countries should discuss hypersonics as part of any new treaty negotiations.

“Washington and Moscow should immediately commence talks on how new weapons technologies and all types of nuclear weapons should be regulated so that neither side believes they can gain an advantage by ‘racing’ ahead of the other,” Mr. Kimball said.

The Russian weapon — known as a hypersonic glide vehicle — can fly lower in the atmosphere, avoiding ballistic missile defense radars. It is mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, allowing the warhead to be initially carried toward a target on a traditional piece of technology. But as it gets closer to the target, it is designed to fly at hypersonic speeds in an unpredictable path — making detection, tracking and interception extremely difficult. Most American missile defenses work by predicting the path of an incoming weapon, and shooting an “interceptor” at it.

On Friday, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, informed Mr. Putin that the first missile regiment armed with the glide vehicle was operational, the ministry said in a statement. The strategic missile forces chief, Gen. Sergei Karakayev, said at a meeting later in the day that the new missile was deployed with a military unit in the town of Yasny of the Orenburg region on the border with Kazakhstan.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the Russian statement, but other American officials said there was no reason to doubt Moscow had deployed the new weapon.

Nothing in the existing arms treaty would prohibit the new Russian weapon from being mounted atop an intercontinental weapon. In November, before Friday’s deployment of the hypersonic weapon, the Russian military exhibited it for American officials, as required under the treaty, and to show off the technology to the United States.

The weapons that Mr. Putin has tried to highlight in recent years have all been systems designed to reach the United States.

“The Russians are developing capabilities to reach out and attack us,” said Brig. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, a senior Air Force official said in an interview earlier this month, before the Russian technology was declared operational. “When you look at some of the capabilities Russia has announced, they are designed for offensive attack into the homeland of the United States.”

The Avangard project was among the few new Russian strategic weapons Mr. Putin unveiled during his State of the Union speech in March 2018. Mr. Putin boasted the new weapon “flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire” and is “absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defense system.”

Russia began looking at ways to improve the capabilities of its strategic missile force after the United States withdrew from the antiballistic missile treaty in 2002 in order to expand its missile defenses.

Russia has several other projects underway, including a long-range torpedo that could detonate a nuclear weapon on the American West Coast, and a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Neither would be covered by New START but development is still years away.

The new American defense budget devotes significant funds to developing both new weapons and new defenses against hypersonic weapons. Progress has been cloaked in considerable secrecy. But Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a Pentagon spokesman, said hypersonic weapons “remain a technical research and engineering priority” for the Pentagon.

Unlike the new Russian system, two Air Force prototypes are designed to be carried and released by aircraft, not launched atop ICBMs.

Dr. Roper said the Air Force is moving more aggressively than usual to test the prototypes in an effort to build new weapons faster. Even if the new prototypes work, he said there can be no “sense of comfort” and warned that the United States will need to continue developing new hypersonic weapons “if we want to dominate this new domain of fast flight.”

Ivan Nechepurenko in Moscow contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com