China will join Russia later this week for its largest-ever naval drills with a foreign partner, underscoring deepening ties between the former cold war rivals along with Beijings desire for closer links with regional militaries.
China has long been a key customer for Russian military hardware, but only in the last decade have their militaries begun taking part in joint exercises.
Chinas defence ministry said on Tuesday that its navy would send four destroyers, two guided missile frigates and a support ship for the “Joint Sea 2013” exercises, which start on Friday in the Sea of Japan and run until 12 July. The ships departed on Monday from the port of Qingdao, where Chinas Northern Fleet is based, and headed for the rallying point in Peter the Great Bay near Vladivostok.
“This marks our navys single biggest deployment of military force in a China-foreign joint exercise,” the ministry said.
General Fang Fenghui, the Peoples Liberation Army chief of the general staff, announced the exercises during a visit to Moscow, where he met his Russian counterpart, Valery Gerasimov. The two also announced that another round of anti-terrorism joint drills would be held in Russias Ural Mountains region of Chelyabinsk from 27 July to 15 August.
In comments reported by the official Liberation Army Daily, Fang emphasised that outsiders should not consider the exercises threatening.
“The joint drill conducted by the two militaries of China and Russia do not target any third parties. Their aim is to deepen co-operation between the two militaries in the training field, boost capacity in co-ordinating military activities, and serve the purpose of safeguarding regional security and stability,” Fang said.
China began deploying ships to the anti-piracy flotilla off the coast of Somalia in 2008 and in recent years its navy has joined in a series of joint drills in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Chinese land units have also taken part in border security and anti-terrorism exercises organised by the six-nation Shanghai Co-operation Organisation.
Co-operation with the US navy, the predominant maritime force in the region, has been more limited, although China will take part next year in the US-organised multinational Rim of the Pacific exercises, the worlds largest maritime exercise.
Syrian Catholic priest Francois Murad killed last weekend by jihadi fighters was beheaded, according to a report by Catholic Online which is linking to video purportedly showing the brutal murder.
As TheBlaze reported last week, Murad, 49, was setting up a monastery in Gassanieh, northern Syria. Last Sunday, on the Christian leader’s Sabbath, extremist militants trying to topple President Bashar Assad breached the monastery and grabbed Murad.
While earlier reports suggested Murad may have been shot to death, Catholic Online reported Saturday: “The Vatican is confirming the death by beheading of Franciscan Father, Francois Murad, who was martyred by Syrian jihadists on June 23.”
The ability of contractor-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden to evade arrest is raising new concerns among U.S. officials about the security of top-secret documents he is believed to have in his possession — and about the possibility that he could willingly share them with those who assist his escape.
It’s unclear whether officials in Hong Kong or in Russia, where Snowden fled over the weekend, obtained any of the classified material. A spokesman for the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which has been assisting the former National Security Agency contractor, strenuously denied reports that foreign governments had made copies of the documents.
“This rumor that is being spread is a fabrication and just plays into the propaganda by the administration here that somehow Mr. Snowden is cooperating with Russian or Chinese authorities,” spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said in a phone interview Monday.
Nonetheless, in 2010 and 2011, WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of sensitive U.S. documents it obtained from Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, and co-founder Julian Assange suggested in a teleconference call with reporters Monday that the group was interested in gaining access to the documents Snowden had obtained.
“In relation to publishing such material, of course WikiLeaks is in the business of publishing documents that are supposed to be suppressed,” Assange said. He declined to say whether Snowden had shared any of the material.
The NSA has teams of analysts scouring systems that they think Snowden may have accessed, officials said. Analysts are seeking to retrace his steps online and to assemble a catalogue of the material he may have taken.
“They think he copied so much stuff — that almost everything that place does, he has,” said one former government official, referring to the NSA, where Snowden worked as a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton while in the NSA’s Hawaii facility. “Everyone’s nervous about what the next thing will be, what will be exposed.”
Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian columnist who has published a series of stories based on documents provided by Snowden, said he has exercised discretion in choosing what to disclose. Snowden, too, has said he was selective in choosing what to disclose.
“I know that he has in his possession thousands of documents, which, if published, would impose crippling damage on the United States’ surveillance capabilities and systems around the world,” Greenwald told CNN. “He has never done any of that.”
Whether they are new or old details that surface, Edward Snowden continues to play out the virtual chess match that is unfolding against Obama and the U.S. government.
Why refer to it as a chess match? Simply put, Snowden’s first move put Obama and his administration in check and has led them on a global chase ever since.
Here are a few updates on the developments throughout the night:
Since his first day in office, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy has rested on outreach: resetting ties with Russia, building a partnership with China and offering a fresh start with antagonistic leaders from Iran to Venezuela.
Russia’s foreign minister has said the surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden never crossed the border into Russia, deepening the mystery over his suspected flight from Hong Kong.
“I would like to say right away that we have no relation to either Mr Snowden or to his relationship with American justice or to his movements around the world,” Sergei Lavrov said.
“He chose his route on his own, and we found out about it, as most here did, from mass media,” he said during a joint press conference with Algeria’s foreign minister. “He did not cross the Russian border.”
According to WikiLeaks, which said it facilitated his travel, Snowden fled Hong Kong on Sunday morning to transit via Moscow to an undisclosed third country. He has applied to be granted political asylum by Ecuador, whose London embassy is currently sheltering the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The United States on Monday increased pressure on Russia to hand over Edward Snowden, the American charged with disclosing secret U.S. surveillance programs, and said it believed he was still in Moscow despite earlier reports he was leaving for Cuba.
The whereabouts of Snowden, until recently a contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency, remained a mystery. He had flown to Moscow after being allowed to leave Hong Kong on Sunday despite Washington asking the Chinese territory to detain him pending his possible extradition on espionage charges.
White House spokesman Jay Carney defended the administration’s attempts to bring Snowden into U.S. custody and instead blamed China for assisting in his release from Hong Kong. He said it would damage U.S. China relations.
Sources at the Russian airline Aeroflot had said he would be aboard a flight to Havana on Monday morning, but reporters who took the flight said another person occupied the seat that had been set aside for him, 17A, and he had not been seen.
“He didn’t take the flight (to Havana),” a source at Russia’s national airline Aeroflot told Reuters.
However, before the plane left for Cuba, a white van for VIPs approached it on the tarmac. Police stood by as a single man in a white shirt climbed the stairs on to the plane soon afterwards but he could not be identified by reporters watching in the transit area. It was not clear whether the plane had a section in which Snowden could have been concealed.
Julian Assange, the founder of anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks which is assisting Snowden, said the 30-year-old had fled to Moscow en route to Ecuador and was in good health in a “safe place” but did not say where he was now.
The hunt for Edward Snowden stretched around the globe Sunday as the 30-year-old leaker of U.S. classified material flew out of Hong Kong under cover of darkness, dropped into the protective embrace of Russia and made plans to hopscotch through Cuba and Venezuela to eventual asylum in Ecuador.
His stealthy movements, aided by the anti-secrecy WikiLeaks organization and its high-powered lawyers, played out like an international game of Where’s Waldo. The American citizen — a traitor to some and a folk hero to others — kept a step ahead of his government, which has charged him with violating the Espionage Act and revoked his U.S. passport in an effort to bring him to ground.
In his rush to elude arrest, the onetime low-level computer analyst appeared to be showing up the most powerful national security apparatus in the world, just as his campaign to expose vast U.S. surveillance programs had embarrassed the Obama administration by contradicting the president’s pledge to run a government with an “unprecedented level of openness.”
With the collusion of several governments, Snowden managed over the weekend to make Washington appear stumped in its attempts to extradite the former National Security Agency contract worker for leaking details of secret phone and Internet eavesdropping programs.
The drama afforded nations with histories of being thorns in the side of the U.S. a rare and low-cost opportunity to frustrate the administration.
Nevertheless, administration officials remained confident that, despite not succeeding in having Snowden detained in Hong Kong, they will eventually catch their man. “The belt will tighten. We will get him,” said one Department of Justice official, speaking anonymously because of the delicate matter of handling both a criminal case and an awkward game of multinational diplomacy.
The hearings on Benghazi are underway and the puzzle pieces are being dumped out. In this short 17 minute video, thanks to The Blaze and Glenn Beck, those pieces are being put together. Is this the end? NO, this is just the start of bigger things to come!
The North Korea strike target list could include the following targets: Hawaii, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. This news comes after the United States sent B2 bombers to South Korea for test runs.
Here are the photos of such plans, in detailed fashion, thanks to NKNEWS.org:
For detail on the photos, please read their write-up HERE.
Tuesday, North Korea ordered strategic long-range artillery units to be combat ready.
Reuters reports that the North’s KCNA news agency said:
“From this moment, the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army will be putting into combat duty posture No. 1 all field artillery units, including long-range artillery units and strategic rocket units, that will target all enemy objects in U.S. invasionary bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam.”
This comes after repeated warnings from North Korea on the annual joint military drills conducted by South Korea and the United States.
North Korea has recently said that it has ended the armistice that ended the Korean War.