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Russian Armed Forces and the Rebirth of Russia as a Super Power.

Is Russia the political and military equal of the USA

  • Yes

    Votes: 10 11.9%
  • No

    Votes: 57 67.9%
  • Mostly Yes

    Votes: 8 9.5%
  • Mostly No

    Votes: 9 10.7%

  • Total voters
    84
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Minsk and Moscow yet to agree eight integration roadmaps

"The task is to harmonize the entire legal framework, both Belarusian and Russia, with hundreds of laws and dozens of intergovernmental agreements by June 1, 2020", Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Vladimir Semashko noted


© Michail Klimentiev/Russian President's press service/TASS
MOSCOW, December 8. /TASS/. Eight roadmaps on closer Russian-Belarusian integration have not yet been agreed, Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Vladimir Semashko said on Sunday commenting on the results of the talks between the two countries’ leaders in Sochi.

"Eight roadmaps have not yet been agreed," BelTA news agency quoted him as saying.

He recalled that at a meeting on December 6 the two countries’ prime ministers had heard reports from the energy ministers to "state that they have found a solution on the energy roadmap." Moreover, "a solution on the roadmap for cooperation between the customs services" was found at a meeting between the presidents.

"The most important thing is that the prime ministers audited what has been done. They were not tasked to find ultimate solutions on the remaining roadmaps. It was done by the presidents on December 7," Semashko said, adding that the talks were held in a constructive and friendly atmosphere.

"The task is to harmonize the entire legal framework, both Belarusian and Russia, with hundreds of laws and dozens of intergovernmental agreements by June 1, 2020," he noted.

He recalled that as many as 21 draft roadmaps out of 31 had been agreed at the previous round of talks between the two countries’ prime ministers on November 19. As of now, eight roadmaps are yet to be agreed.

December 8 marks the 20th anniversary of the Russian-Belarusian Union State Treaty that was signed by the two countries’ presidents. The document came into force following the exchange of ratification papers on December 26, 2000. Currently, the countries are agreeing 31 roadmaps on closer integration.

On December 7, the two countries president, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, held hours-long talks on integration-related problems in Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi. Among the key problems are Russian gas prices for Belarus in 2020 and compensation for Minsk’s losses from the tax maneuver in Russia’s oil sector. They agree to continue dialogue on December 20.
 
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    Project 20386 Corvettes Fully Substitute Project 11356 Frigates, Russian Navy’s Official Says

    In the Russian Navy, Project 20386 corvettes will completely replace Project 11356 frigates, reports Mil.Press Today referring to the director of the Russian Navy’s shipbuilding and armament department, Vladimir Tryapichnikov, at the launching ceremony of the Project 12700 (Alexandrite class) minesweeper Vladimir Yemelyanov.

    The Project 20386 multipurpose corvettes were developed at Almaz Design Bureau. They are intended for short/long-range naval warfare, protection of sea lanes and maritime commercial facilities.

    Displacing 3,400 tons (length 109 meters), the ships will be armed with A-190-01 100-mm artillery system, two AK-630M 30-mm artillery mounts, Redut air defense system, two Paket-NK antisubmarine system launchers, and Caliber high-precision cruise missiles (or Uran antiship missiles). Also, each corvette will carry either Ka-27 or Ka-29 helicopter.

    The Project 20386 lead ship was laid down on September 28, 2016 at Severnaya Verf shipyard. Initially called Derzky, in 2019 it was renamed into Mercury, after the Imperial Russian Navy’s brig. The shipbuilders plan to launch the ship in the spring of 2021.

    Currently, the Russian Navy operates three Project 11356 frigates: Admiral Grigorovich, Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov. Building of the second trio of the project was suspended after frustrated deliveries of the gas turbine powerplants made by Ukrainian Zorya-Mashproject.

    Displacement of Project 11356 frigates is 4,000 tons, speed is 30 knots, endurance is 30 days; onboard weapons include: A-190 100-mm artillery mount, air defense artillery/missile systems, torpedo and ASW warfare facilities, and Caliber-NK long-range cruise missiles. The frigates accommodate Ka-27 or Ka-31 helicopters.
     
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    Russia boosts air component of its nuclear triad

    This work has provided "the planned number of combat-fit strategic bombers" in the fleet of long-range aviation, the defense minister said

    Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS
    Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu
    © Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS
    MOSCOW, December 9. /TASS/. The upgrade of operational long-range aircraft and the manufacture of new combat planes have considerably boosted the air component of Russia’s nuclear triad, Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said at the ministry’s conference call on Monday.

    READ ALSO
    Share of modern weapons in Russian army should reach 70% in 2020, minister says
    "This year, the Tupolev Aircraft Company carried out a considerable amount of work for the 1st and 2nd stage upgrade of Tu-95MS aircraft with the replacement of outdated radio-technical and navigational equipment," the defense minister said.

    This work has provided "the planned number of combat-fit strategic bombers" in the fleet of long-range aviation, Shoigu said.

    "Today we can say with confidence that the upgrade of the existing fleet of long-range aviation and the creation of new aircraft have considerably boosted the air component of the nuclear triad," Russia’s defense minister stressed.
     
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    All new Russian warships fit to carry Tsirkon hypersonic missiles — shipbuilders’ chief

    Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at the ministry’s conference call on Monday that the Russian Navy would increase the number of warships capable of carrying Tsirkon hypersonic missiles

    MOSCOW, December 9. /TASS/. All Russian warships of new Projects can carry Tsirkon hypersonic missiles, President of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation Alexei Rakhmanov told reporters on Monday.

    "All the new Projects of ships we are building are universal for a whole family of missiles from the standpoint of launchers, including those, which you mentioned," Rakhmanov said, replying to a question about rearming all the Russian Navy’s combat ships with Kalibr cruise missiles and Tsirkon hypersonic weapons.

    As for rearming the warships operational in the Russian Navy with new missiles, the shipbuilders’ chief said he did not consider this as "a too costly issue."

    READ ALSO
    Russia plans new trials of Tsirkon hypersonic missile before yearend — source
    However, the combat ships with the expiring service life are unlikely to be armed with Tsirkon hypersonic missiles, he added.

    "Perhaps, such work will be premature and this may lead partly even to unjustified expenses," the head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation said.

    Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at the ministry’s conference call on Monday that the Russian Navy would increase the number of warships capable of carrying Tsirkon hypersonic missiles.

    Tsirkon hypersonic missile

    In his State-of-the-Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on February 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the work on the Tsirkon hypersonic missile was proceeding as scheduled. As the Russian leader said, the Tsirkon is capable of developing a speed of Mach 9 and its striking range capability can exceed 1,000 km. The Russian leader also said that the Tsirkon could strike both naval and ground targets. Experts say the Tsirkon hypersonic missile cannot be intercepted by any existing air defense capabilities.

    A source in the defense industry told TASS in late 2018 that more than ten Tsirkon launches had been carried out against naval targets to ranges of several hundred kilometers since the start of the missile’s trials. According to media reports, the missile firings from a sea platform were conducted in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

    Russian warships and submarines currently armed with Kalibr or Oniks cruise missiles are expected to carry Tsirkon hypersonic weapons. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said on November 8 there were plans to deploy Tsirkon missiles on the frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov currently undergoing modernization and on the Project 949A multi-purpose nuclear-powered submarine Irkutsk. Before that, Russian President Putin said that the corvette Gremyashchiy might be armed with Tsirkon hypersonic missiles.
     
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    Admiralty Shipyard expects to sign deal to build Project 636.3 subs for Baltic Fleet
    In November, a source in the shipbuilding industry told TASS that the Russian Navy Command was discussing the issue of building a series of Project 636.3 diesel-electric submarines for the Baltic Fleet


    © Alexander Demianchuk/TASS
    MOSCOW, December 11. /TASS/. The Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg expects to sign a contract in 2020 on building a series of Project 636.3 diesel-electric submarines for the Baltic Fleet, Shipyard CEO Alexander Buzakov said on Wednesday.
    "There is no contract yet. We would like to sign a deal in 2020 and start implementing it in 2021 but life will show how it will be," the chief executive said, responding to a question about a contract on building Varshavyanka-class submarines for the Baltic Fleet.
    The Baltic Fleet has great demand for new subs but there is no clear idea yet about the volume of work, specific projects and models, he said.
    READ ALSO
    Russian Baltic Fleet research vessel to set sail on round-the-world voyage on December 3

    A source in the shipbuilding industry told TASS in November that the Russian Navy Command was discussing the issue of building a series of Project 636.3 (Varshavyanka-class) diesel-electric submarines for the Baltic Fleet. The emergence of submarines armed with Kalibr missiles in the Baltic Fleet will considerably strengthen Russia’s striking potential in the Baltic region, the source added.


    Another source told TASS that instead of six submarines as in the Black Sea and Pacific Fleets, the series for the Baltic Fleet "may include a lesser number."
    The Admiralty Shipyard (part of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation) earlier built a series of six Project 636.3 submarines for the Black Sea Fleet. Six more submarines of this Project are at various stages of their construction and trials for the Pacific Fleet. All of Project 636.3 submarines are armed with Kalibr-PL missile systems. The submarines of this Project built for the Black Sea Fleet earlier delivered missile strikes against terrorist targets in Syria from the Mediterranean Sea.
    Project 636.3 submarines
    Project 636.3 submarines (NATO reporting name: Improved Kilo-II) are 74 meters long and displace more than 3,900 tonnes. Due to its strong hull, the submarine has an operational depth of 240 meters and can dive to a maximum depth of 300 meters. Submarines of this Project have an operational range of up to 7,500 miles. They are armed with Kalibr cruise missiles that are launched from torpedo tubes from the sub’s submerged position.
    Project 636 submarines are considered among the world’s most noiseless underwater cruisers. They can develop a speed of up to 20 knots, have their sea endurance of 45 days and a crew of 52 men.
     
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    Russia retains world’s 2nd place by active combat aircraft — research data
    The list of the world's top ten active aircraft types includes Russian MiG-29 fighters, Su-25 attack aircraft and Su-24 frontline bombers

    Su-27 fighters Sergei Bobylev/TASS

    Su-27 fighters
    © Sergei Bobylev/TASS
    MOSCOW, December 11. /TASS/. Russia continues to rank second in the world by the number of its operational military aircraft, according to the World Air Forces 2020 review published by the Flight International leading global aerospace magazine on Wednesday.
    READ ALSO
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    As of December 2019, Russia operates 4,163 military aircraft and helicopters of various designation or 8% of the global military fleet and is second only to the United States by this indicator (13,266 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft or 25% of the total figure). China ranks third with 3,210 military aircraft and helicopters or 6% of the global military fleet, the research shows.
    Compared to the previous World Air Forces research released in December 2018, Russia’s active military fleet grew inconsiderably — by 85 aircraft. Over the same period, the US Air Force downsized its fleet by 132 aircraft and helicopters while China beefed up its military aviation by 23 aircraft.
    The Flight International experts also noted that Russia and CIS countries demonstrated the highest rates of growth in the number of operational military aircraft. Specifically, the number of active combat aircraft and helicopters in that region grew by 4% while this number actually remained unchanged in the Asia-Pacific region and declined by 1% in North America.
    Russia’s Su-27/30 fighters ranked among the world’s most popular combat aircraft
    READ ALSO
    Belarus to receive 1st two Su-30SM fighters from Russia on November 13



    As the research shows, the global military fleet operates 1,067 Su-27 and Su-30 fighters as of December 2019 (or 7% of the total number of active combat aircraft in the world). The first place belongs to US F-16 fighter jets (2,280 units or 16% of the total number). F-15 fighters rank third (949 aircraft or 7% of the total number of combat planes in active service with militaries around the globe).
    The list of the world's top ten active aircraft types also includes Russian MiG-29 fighters, which hold the fifth place in the ranking (791 aircraft or 5% of total active combat planes around the globe), Su-25 attack aircraft (the sixth place, 487 combat planes or 3% of the total number) and Su-24 frontline bombers (the ninth place, 391 units or 3% of the total number of military planes in the world).
    In the combat aircraft category, Russia ranks second with 1,616 units (11% of the global operational fleet). The first place belongs to the United States with 2,657 aircraft or 18% of the total number while China ranks third with 1,603 planes or 11%, the research shows.
     
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    Defense contractor completes delivery of upgraded T-80BVM tanks to Russian troops
    The T-80BVM is an upgraded version of the T-80BM tank, featuring an improved 125mm cannon and an enhanced 1,250 hp gas turbine engine

    T-80BVM tank (right) Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

    T-80BVM tank (right)
    © Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
    MOSCOW, December 12. /TASS/. Omsktransmash (part of Uralvagonzavod defense manufacturer within the state hi-tech corporation Rostec) has completed the delivery of upgraded T-80BVM tanks to Russian troops, the Rostec press office reported on Thursday.
    "The upgrade allows enhancing the vehicle’s basic combat properties: its firepower, defense capability, mobility and crew’s control. The tanks are successfully undergoing all the trials: the gas turbine engine does not fail even in the most severe frost. It is not without reason that the T-80BVM has been dubbed ‘Arctic’ for its unique properties and the vehicle’s easy operation in low temperatures," the press office quoted Omsktransmash CEO Igor Lobov as saying.
    READ ALSO
    About 40 upgraded T-80 tanks arrive for motorized infantry troops in Russian Far East

    Before its delivery to the troops, each combat vehicle underwent a factory check of all its systems and the required trials at a testing range and its acceptance by the customer, Rostec noted.
    At the first stage of the trials, the combat vehicle test-fires all its weapons. After that, it enters running tests on a track across rough terrain where steep slopes 3-7 meters high interchange with unpaved roads and rugged sections with a large number of turns, it said.


    After that, Defense Ministry representatives accept combat vehicles. In the assembly workshop, specialists check the combat vehicle’s fire control system and loading mechanism, carry out necessary technical work and coating and supply it with spare parts, tools and other accessories, the Rostec press office informed.
    READ ALSO
    Russia’s upgraded T-80BV tank to feature capability of firing depleted uranium shells

    Russia’s Northern Fleet reported in November that a tank battalion of its separate motorized infantry brigade had received a batch of 26 T-80BVM tanks.
    The T-80BVM is an upgraded version of the T-80BM tank. It features an improved 125mm cannon and an enhanced 1,250 hp gas turbine engine. A multi-channel gunner sight, a mechanic-driver’s vision device and an armament stabilizer are also mounted on the upgraded tank. The combat vehicle is reinforced with slat armor and a modular active protection system.
     
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    About 40 upgraded T-80 tanks arrive for motorized infantry troops in Russian Far East
    The tanks will reinforce armored units of the motorized infantry brigade in the Amur Region

    T-80 tank Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

    T-80 tank
    © Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
    BLAGOVESHCHENSK, May 23. /TASS/. About 40 upgraded T-80 tanks have arrived for motor rifle troops stationed in the Amur Region in the Russian Far East, the press office of the Eastern Military District reported on Thursday.
    READ ALSO
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    "About 40 modern upgraded T-80 tanks have arrived for a motorized infantry large unit of the Eastern Military District stationed in the Amur Region. The tanks will reinforce armored units of the motorized infantry brigade in the Amur Region," the statement says.
    The T-80 tank is distinguished by its gas turbine powerplant, for which it was called "a flying tank." The tank can develop a speed of over 70 km/h and cover a distance of about 500 km without refueling.
    "The hardware proved its worth during its operation in extreme Arctic conditions, which largely corresponds to severe Far Eastern winters. The combat vehicles that have arrived will boost considerably the efficiency of using armored units in accomplishing combat training missions," the statement says.
     
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    Russia’s upgraded T-80BV tank to feature capability of firing depleted uranium shells
    The use of depleted uranium ammunition does not violate any international treaties, expert says

    T-80BVM tank Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

    T-80BVM tank
    © Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
    MOSCOW, December 20. /TASS/. Russia’s T-80BV main battle tank has been upgraded to feature the capability of firing depleted uranium shells, the Defense Ministry said in the bulletin ‘The Russian Army in Comparison’ published on Thursday.
    The bulletin notes that the T-80BVM (the letter M stands for ‘modernized’) features "the improved weapons stabilizer and the loading mechanism for the 3BM59 Svinets-1 and 3BM60 Svinets-2 munitions."
    Open sources suggest that the Svinets-1 armor-piercing fin-stabilized sub-caliber projectile has the core made of tungsten carbide while the Svinets-2 features the uranium alloy core.
    According to various data, the Svinets-1 is capable of piercing 700-740 mm of the homogeneous armor at a distance of 2 km while the Svinets-2 can pierce 800-830 mm at the same distance.


    The information that one of the shells has the depleted uranium core was confirmed to TASS by military expert, Editor-in-Chief of the Arsenal of the Fatherland journal Viktor Murakhovsky. "It has the alloy of the depleted uranium and tungsten," he said, adding that the open sources mentioned it as "the Material B."
    READ ALSO
    Russia’s anti-tank missile system gets ‘top attack’ capability similar to US Javelin

    The use of depleted uranium ammunition does not violate any international treaties, the expert said.
    Such munitions are stored outside of the arsenals of military units in the Russian Army and are referred to the category of special stockpiles, he added.
    The US Army also has tank shells with the depleted uranium core, he said.
    In particular, the ammunition load of the US Abrams tank can include M829A1 munitions capable of piercing from 650 mm to 700 mm of the homogenous armor at a distance of 2 km, according to various data. The armor-piercing shells with the tungsten/depleted uranium alloy are more efficient than steel due to their higher density.
    T-80BVM
    The T-80BVM is a further upgrade of the T-80BV tank. The armored vehicle is furnished with the Sosna-U multi-channel gunner sight, the improved 125mm gun 2A46M-4, the upgraded gas turbine engine and the Relikt explosive-reactive armor.
    As the Defense Ministry’s press office reported, T-80BMV tanks have started to arrive for the Russian Army this year.
     
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    Russia’s anti-tank missile system gets ‘top attack’ capability similar to US Javelin
    As its specific feature, a Javelin missile climbs above using an arched flight trajectory and then strikes down the turrets of tanks and other armored vehicles where the armor is the thinnest

    Kornet anti-tank missile system Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

    Kornet anti-tank missile system
    © Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS
    KUBINKA /Moscow Region/, August 24. /TASS/. Russia’s Kornet anti-tank missile system has been fitted with the ‘top attack’ capability to strike the armor from the above like the US FGM-148 Javelin weapon, High Precision Systems (the Kornet’s developer) said at the Army-2018 international military and technical forum on Friday.
    READ ALSO
    US signs new contract for Javelin anti-tank missile systems production for Ukraine

    "Already now, given its skillful use, when it is fired above the sight line, the Kornet anti-tank missile system allows attacking the target’s upper semi-sphere," the company said, responding to a question about whether the Kornet would get the ‘top attack’ mode like the Javelin.
    The Javelin portable anti-tank weapon went into service with the US Army in 1996. As its specific feature, a Javelin missile climbs above using an arched flight trajectory and then strikes down the turrets of tanks and other armored vehicles where the armor is the thinnest. This technology also allows skirting the area of armored vehicles’ active defense systems designated to strike attack weapons.
    High Precision Systems has developed the Kornet anti-tank missile system that is capable of hitting armored targets at a distance of up to 10 km. According to open sources, a munition is capable of piercing over 1m homogeneous armor. The Kornet-M version is currently operational in the Russian Army.
     
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    This Means War: Yes, Russia's Su-35 Can Take on the F-15 or F-16

    November 21, 2019 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Su-35MilitaryAir ForceF-35F-15F-16
    What would happen?
    by TNI Staff

    Key point: As good as the F-16 and F-15 are, it would be close and the Su-35 would prevail in close-quarters combat.


    The U.S. Air Force does not use the F-16 primarily as an air superiority fighter—the air-to-air mission is secondary—the AESA is needed to keep the venerable jet relevant. With an AESA, the F-16 could probably hold its own against the Su-35 at longer ranges—but it would still be a challenge.

    Russia’s Su-35 fighter certainly has western defense outlets buzzing--and for good reason.
    Moscow, despite heavy sanctions and an economy that has certainly seen better days, keeps pumping out new combat systems one after another--items like new tanks, submarines, nuclear weapons platforms and more.
    While many were indeed designed and planned for ahead of the imposition of sanctions, Russia is clearly making a big effort to modernize its armed forces, especially its air force, and moving past older Soviet platforms. The Su-35 is a good example of such efforts.

    DEC
    15

    2001
    The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens after 11 years and $27,000,000 spent to fortify it, without fixing its famous lean.

    2017
    The 6.5 megawatts Java earthquake struck Java Island in the city of Tasikmalaya, Indonesia. Four confirmed deaths, 36 injured, and 200 missing.








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    So how would the Su-35 do against America’s best planes? How would it fare against an American air force that is clearly the best in the world. How would, for example, the Su-35 do in a combat situation against Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter? How would Russia’s new plane do against older aircraft like the F-15 or say F-16?
    Such scenarios matter--and not just in the context of a possible NATO/Russia or Middle East situation, but now that Russia is set to deliver the Su-35 to China, such comparisons matter even more. There are many places where all of these lethal aircraft will overlap, making such comparisons even more timely.

    Compiled below are three articles, written several years ago by TNI’s former Defense Editor, Dave Majumdar, that looks at these questions in depth, combined in one posting for your reading pleasure. With that said, let the debate begin.
    This first appeared in September 2016.

    ***
    While the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is slated to become the mainstay of the Pentagon’s tactical fighter fleet, not everyone nation on Earth can afford to fly an expensive fifth-generation fighter.

    Even Russia and China are not likely to attempt to develop an all fifth-generation fighter fleet—instead, for the foreseeable future, the derivatives of the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker air superiority fighter will make up the bulk of their tactical air arsenals. The most potent Flanker derivative is the Su-35, which is a much-improved version with vastly improved avionics, engines and airframe. In the years ahead, this latest Flanker-E is likely to proliferate around the world.
    To counter the proliferation of Flanker variants, the U.S. Air Force, Marines and to a far lesser extent, the U.S. Navy will have to rely on versions of the F-35 even though it was never intended to be an air superiority fighter. It was and continues to be a strike aircraft with a robust air-to-air self defense capability even though the Pentagon has pushed it to a be a jack-of-all-trades.

    How would a group of four F-35s fare if it were confronted by a formation of four Su-35s? The most likely answer is that they would change course and call in the F-22 Raptors and F-15Cs, which are tasked with gaining and maintaining air superiority. Meanwhile, the F-35s would go on their merry way to their assigned targets.
    However, as history shows us, many times in war you do not always get to chose from the most optimal of solutions. If the F-35s were left to their own devices, they would probably be alright even against the Su-35––if they played their cards right. The F-35s pilots would have to use their stealth, onboard and offboard sensors and smart tactics that play to the F-35s strengths and avoid its weakness. That means using the jet’s stealth and sensors to engage enemy fighters from beyond visual range and avoiding a visual range turning fight where the F-35 is vulnerable.

    Unlike a Raptor, which was designed from the outset as an air-to-air killer par excellence—the F-35 was not. The Raptor combines a very stealthy airframe with a high altitude ceiling and supersonic cruise speeds in excess of Mach 1.8. Compared to that, the F-35 can just barely touch Mach 1.6 in full afterburner. Further, the F-22 possesses excellent maneuverability for close-in visual-range dogfights––it crushes the competition in terms of turn rate, radius, angle-of-attack and energy addition at all altitudes.
    Whereas a four-ship flight of Raptors cruising at high supersonic speeds in the rarified atmosphere above 50,000 feet can effectively choose when and where to fight, a flight of slower, lower-flying F-35s might find themselves forced to react to better-performing enemy planes if they are not careful.

    Moreover, the F-35 does not have the speed or altitude to impart as much launch energy to the AIM-120 air-to-air missile as the Raptor can, which means the missiles will have less range when fired from a JSF. Nor can the F-35 carry as many air-to-air missiles—which is a problem given that digital radio frequency memory jammers can wreak havoc with the AMRAAM’s guidance system.
    Close in, the JSF does not have the maneuverability of the Raptor––or even a F-16 or F/A-18. If forced into a dogfight, an American F-35 pilot’s superior skills and experience might be the only factor that might save him or her from being shot down. The fact is that an F-35 in stealthy configuration armed only with internal weapons cannot currently carry the AIM-9X high off-boresight missile. If the AIM-9X were one day integrated into the weapons bays, it would come at the cost of an AIM-120 rail—which is arguably a better weapon for an aircraft like the F-35. Basically, an F-35 pilot should avoid a close in fight at all costs.

    It is highly unlikely that a U.S. Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC) would assign an air superiority mission to an F-35 unit if alternatives were available. But given the tiny fleet of Raptors and dwindling F-15C fleet, it is possible that the JFACC could be forced to use the F-35 as an air superiority asset. However, that being said, the real threat to American air power in most regions around the world is not enemy air power—but rather advanced enemy integrated air defense systems.
    ***

    The Boeing F-15C Eagle has been in service with the U.S. Air Force for nearly 40 years and will likely serve for decades to come. Over the years, the mighty F-15 has been upgraded to keep pace with evolving threats, but does the venerable Eagle still have what it takes to dominate the skies?

    The answer is yes—absolutely. The Eagle may be old, but it’s still one of the best air superiority fighters flying. The only operational aircraft that is definitively superior to the F-15 in most respects is the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor—other machines have the edge in certain aspects, but the F-15C is still competitive overall despite what the business development departments at various rival contractors might say.
    Perhaps the most advanced threat the F-15 is likely to encounter is the Russian-built Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E. While there are more advanced threats in development, those aircraft are likely to be too expensive to ever become commonplace. The Su-35 isn’t the most common potential threat out there, but there is a good chance it will proliferate. Indonesia has reportedly decided to purchase the Su-35, and we know that the Chinese have had discussions about a potential purchase.
    The Su-35 is a genuinely dangerous war machine, and in many metrics, it matches or even exceeds the capabilities of the latest upgrades for the F-15. In terms of pure kinematic performance, the Su-35 is slightly slower than the F-15C in terms of max speed but it can out accelerate the Eagle with its powerful twin Saturn Izdeliye 117S engines, which put out 31,900lbs of thrust each. Further, when the jet is relatively lightly loaded, it can maintain supersonic speeds without the use of its afterburners.
    While excellent acceleration at high altitude to supersonic speeds is a huge advantage, the F-15C is no slouch—and it wouldn’t be a decisive edge for the Russian jet. However, where the Su-35 does have an insurmountable edge is at low speeds. The Flanker-E has three-dimensional thrust vectoring and is unbelievably maneuverable at low speeds. However, given the advent of helmet mounted cuing systems and high off-boresight missiles like the AIM-9X and Russian R-73, more often than not, close in visual encounters tend to be “mutual kill” situations as many pilots can attest. A lot of it is going to come down to pilot skill and, frankly, luck.
    At longer ranges, the F-15C and the F-15E still have the advantage over the Su-35 with their active electronically scanned array radars. The Raytheon APG-63 (v) 3 and APG-82 (v)1 on the two Eagle variants are still considerably superior to the Su-35S’ Tikhomirov IRBIS-E phased array radar. The Su-35 does hold a fleeting advantage for now for passive sensors since it has a built-in infrared search and track system (IRST), but the F-15 fleet will receive a very capable IRST in the near future—nullifying the Flanker’s edge.
    One area the Flanker-E probably holds the edge is with its electronic warfare suite. The Su-35S boasts a potent digital radio frequency memory jamming suite that can wreck havoc with the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. While American missiles are likely to eventually make it through, it will take many more missiles to achieve a kill than planners were counting on. The Su-35, meanwhile, carries a huge arsenal of air-to-air missiles versus the F-15 fleet’s obsolete defensive electronics. The U.S. Air Force is keenly aware of the problem, which is why it places such emphasis of on the $7.6 billion Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System upgrade.
    The real dilemma is that the Su-35 and the current day F-15 Eagle are comparable—and that’s what is worrisome for the U.S. Air Force. The service is used to fighting adversaries where it has a huge technological advantage—against the Su-35 that deficit does not exist and the Flanker-E even has some advantages over the Eagle. Overall, if all things were equal, even a fully upgraded F-15C with the latest AESA upgrades would have its hands full versus the Su-35. But that would mean the United States would be fighting a war against Russia or some other great power—like China. That’s not likely to happen.


    More likely to happen is that a F-15 would run into a Su-35 operated by some Third World despot. The pilots are not likely to have the training, tactics or experience to fight against an American aviator with a realistic chance of winning. Further, Russian jets are not exactly known for their reliability, combine that with poorly trained maintenance crews and lack of spare parts, some random Third World power is not likely to be able generate a fully operational jet much of the time. Furthermore, other than Russia and China, a potential adversary is not likely to have an AWACS or full ground controlled intercept capabilities—which further hampers the enemy.

    Bottom line: unless the F-15 is fighting World War III, the Air Force is probably going to be ok keeping the Eagle in service for another two decades. It might not be the one-sided turkey-shoot the Air Force has gotten used to, but the United States isn’t in danger of losing air superiority.
    ***
    The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon has been the mainstay of the U.S. and allied air forces for decades. Over the years, the aircraft has evolved from a lightweight visual range dogfighter into a potent multirole warplane that flies the gamut of missions ranging from the suppression of enemy air defenses to air superiority. Though it has been operational since 1980, the “Viper” continues to evolve and will remain in service with the U.S. Air Force and other militaries for decades to come. But while the F-16 remains a potent fighter, potential adversaries have caught up—the latest Russian aircraft like the Sukhoi Su-35 can match or exceed the Viper in many respects.

    DEC
    15

    2014
    Man Haron Monis takes 18 hostages inside a café for 16 hours in Sydney. Monis and two hostages are killed when police raid the café the following morning.

    1791
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    While the Su-35 is more of an analogue to the Boeing F-15 Eagle, Russia is selling many more Flankers than MiG-29 Fulcrum derivatives around the world. Indeed, the U.S. Air Force usually has its “red air” aggressors replicate Flanker variants (usually the Flanker-G) rather than the MiG-29 or its derivatives during large force exercises like Red Flag or Red Flag Alaska. That’s because derivatives of the massive twin-engine Russian jet are amongst the most likely aerial adversaries American pilots might face.
    The Su-35 is not the most common Flanker derivative, but it is the most capable version built to date. In the right hands—with properly trained pilots and support from ground controllers or an AWACS—the Su-35 is an extremely formidable threat to every Western fighter save for the F-22 Raptor. The F-35 would probably be ok too—if the pilots used its stealth, sensors and networking to their advantage—tactics and training makes all the difference.

    What about the workhorse fleet of F-16s? The Viper doesn’t have the latest upgraded F-15C’s massive active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar nor can the F-16 usually lob the AIM-120 missile from the speeds and altitudes that the Eagle can attain. But then the F-15C was built as a dedicated air superiority fighter. Most in-service F-16s don’t have an AESA installed at all. The UAE’s advanced F-16E/Fs have the APG-80 AESA—which has excellent capability—but that’s a tiny fleet of aircraft. U.S. Air Force F-16s are not currently fitted with an AESA and are at a severe disadvantage versus the Su-35 or other advanced Flanker derivatives.
    The U.S. Air Force is keenly aware of the problem. The service had intended to retrofit 300 or so F-16s with an upgrade called the Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite (CAPES), but that program was cancelled because of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. Nonetheless, the Air Force knows it needs to urgently retrofit the F-16 fleet with new radars sooner rather than later.

    Earlier this year, the Air National Guard issued an urgent operational need statement calling for an AESA to be installed in their F-16s performing the homeland defense mission. The radars are needed to track cruise missiles and other small, hard to detect targets. The active Air Force is also aware of the problem and issued a request for information for a new radar for the F-16 fleet in March. That same month, Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh told the House Armed Services Committee, “We need to develop an AESA upgrade plan for the entire fleet.”
    The U.S. Air Force does not use the F-16 primarily as an air superiority fighter—the air-to-air mission is secondary—the AESA is needed to keep the venerable jet relevant. With an AESA, the F-16 could probably hold its own against the Su-35 at longer ranges—but it would still be a challenge.

    At shorter ranges, it comes down to pilot skill and the performance of each jet’s high off-boresight missiles. The advent of missiles like the R-73 and AIM-9X have turned visual range fights into mutually assured destruction scenarios. Mutual kills are not uncommon during training sorties. While the Su-35’s thrust vectoring gives it an edge at very low speeds (mind you, low speeds mean a low energy state), it’s not an insurmountable problem for an expert F-16 pilot—who knows how to exploit his or her aircraft to the fullest—to overcome.
    The bottom line is that the Su-35 and the other advanced Flankers are extremely capable aircraft. The Pentagon’s fourth-generation fighter fleet no longer enjoys a massive technological advantage as they did in years past. The United States must invest in next-generation fighters to replace the existing fleet as soon as possible.
     
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    Besides, Russia plans to start creating a national remote satellite sensing center next year

    MOSCOW, November 12. /TASS/. Russia plans to start creating a national remote satellite sensing center next year and, by 2022, the country is expected to have about 20 remote sensing satellites on the orbit, said Valery Zaichko, the deputy director of the navigational space systems department of Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos.

    "By 2025, even starting from 2022, we plan to have about 15-20 spacecraft as part of Russia’s orbital group, including for hydrometeorological and radar survey, Zaichko said on Monday, during a conference, headlined ‘Modern challenges for remote sensing of the Earth from space.’

    The official said that Russia’s current remote sensing orbital group has 11 satellites, mostly of the Kanopus family.

    "We can get [imagery] of the same object on a daily basis, twice a day. In the course of one week, we make images of an area of about 17 million square kilometers," he said.

    According to Zaichko, an Elektro-L satellite will be launched by the end of the year. Three more satellites, including Resurs-P and Meteor satellites, are to be put into the orbit by 2020. In the same year, Russia will start creating a space system headlined Arktika (Arctic).

    In 2021, Russia plans to launch satellites of the Resurs-P, Meteor, Kondor-FKA, Obzor-R and Elektro-L series.
    Remote satellite sensing center

    In 2020, Russia plans to start creating its National Center for remote sensing of the Earth, similar to the existing National Defense Management Center of the Russian Defense Ministry and the National Crisis Situations Management Center of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, Zaichko said.

    "We have created an operator of remote sensing space systems, but we plan to go further. Today, at the basis of this operator, Roscosmos is establishing the National Center for Remote Sensing of the Earth from space," the official said.

    He added that the center’s main facililty will be located in Moscow, and some of the auxiliary facilities - in the city of Kalyazin, on the basis of the deep space communications center.

    The works are to begin in 2020 and are scheduled for completion in 2023.

    Earlier this year, the Russian Space Systems holding company (a Roscosmos subsidiary) opened a ground center in the Antarctic for gathering and processing data from remote sensing satellites.

    It became the first facility of Russia’s integral information system of remote sensing of the Earth in the southern hemisphere.

    The full-scale operation of the integral information system of remote sensing of the Earth began in 2016. It consists of centers scattered over the whole territory of Russia - from the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad in the west to the Far Eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk, including the Arctic zone (an already operational center in Dudinka plus two planned facilities in Chukotka and Anadyr). The system ensures the centers’ cooperation with the cluster of remote sensing satellites, plans remote sensing, gathers and processes data and provides information to the end users.
     
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    Russian heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser to leave repair dock in 2020
    The work aboard the ship is proceeding in accordance with the schedule, according to Sevmash CEO Mikhail Budnichenko

    SEVERODVINSK /Arkhangelsk Region/, December 20. /TASS/. The Sevmash Shipyard will roll out the Project 11442M heavy nuclear-powered missile-carrying cruiser Admiral Nakhimov from the repair dock in 2020, Sevmash CEO Mikhail Budnichenko told TASS on Friday.
    "Work will be fulfilled on the Project 11442M ship in 2020 in order to move it away from the dock," the chief executive said.
    The next stage will involve the ship’s further construction at the Shipyard’s quay and its preparations for sea trials, he said.
    READ ALSO
    Russian missile cruiser completes drills with South Africa and China in Atlantic

    "The work aboard the ship is proceeding in accordance with the schedule. After its upgrade, the ship will be outfitted with long-range precision weapons and powerful anti-submarine warfare armament," the chief executive added.


    In September, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said that the cruiser was 50% ready and was set to be delivered to the Navy in 2022. After its repairs and upgrade, the ship will get the Fort-M and Pantsyr-M air defense systems and the powerful Paket-NK and Otvet anti-submarine warfare armament, he said.
    The heavy nuclear-powered missile-carrying cruiser Admiral Nakhimov was laid down on May 17, 1983. The cruiser was initially named the Kalinin. The warship was put afloat on April 25, 1986 and made operational in Russia’s Northern Fleet on December 30, 1988. The nuclear-powered cruiser was renamed into the Admiral Nakhimov on April 22, 1992.
    The Admiral Nakhimov has been in the repair dock of the Sevmash Shipyard since 1999. Actual work on the cruiser’s repair and heavy upgrade began in 2013. After the repair and upgrade are over, the warship will get Kalibr-NK and Oniks cruise missiles and eventually Tsirkon hypersonic weapons.
     
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    TASS posts first video of Russia’s latest Borei-A nuclear-powered sub
    Over the period of its operation, the Shipyard has built 132 nuclear-powered vessels or more than a half of the nuclear-powered fleet of the Soviet Union and Russia, the CEO informed


    © Sergei Bobylev/TASS
    MOSCOW, December 20. /TASS/. The Russian news agency TASS posted the first video of the country’s latest Project 955A (Borei-A) strategic fourth-generation nuclear-powered missile-carrying submarine Knyaz Vladimir built at the Sevmash Shipyard.
    READ ALSO
    Russian shipbuilders to deliver latest Project 955A nuclear-powered sub to Navy

    TASS has issued a material on the Sevmash Shipyard’s 80th anniversary that will be celebrated on December 21. It includes a video made by TASS correspondents that shows the aerial footage of the latest nuclear sub (the sub is seen at 2:54 of the footage), which the Shipyard intends to deliver to the Navy this year.
    The footage also depicts the Sevmash territory, the water area around it and also the Northern Fleet’s Belomorsk naval base, the home station for the world’s largest Project 941 Akula-class strategic heavy nuclear-powered missile-carrying underwater cruiser Dmitry Donskoi.
    On the eve of the jubilee, the Shipyard’s staff told TASS the history of establishing the giant northern Shipyard whose territory is six times the size of the Vatican, that of the record construction of ships and of the golden age of shipbuilding.
    READ ALSO
    Russian latest nuclear-powered sub test-fires Bulava missile for first time during trials



    The delivery of the cutting-edge Borei-A-class strategic nuclear sub Knyaz Vladimir to the Navy will be a major event for the Shipyard in the jubilee year. The submarine successfully test-fired a seaborne Bulava ballistic missile during its state trials in October.
    As Sevmash CEO Mikhail Budnichenko told TASS, over the period of its operation, the Shipyard has built 132 nuclear-powered vessels or more than a half of the nuclear-powered fleet of the Soviet Union and Russia.
    "Today the Shipyard is one of the country’s advanced and most ambitious shipbuilding enterprises. We were the pioneers in developing some areas in nuclear-powered vessels' construction. Sevmash, which is the home for the first domestic nuclear-powered submarine, even today has no rivals in this sphere among Russian enterprises. It is the place where a strong shipbuilding school has been created, which allows us to address the tasks, which no other Russian shipyard can cope with," he said.
    The Knyaz Vladimir is the improved Project 955A strategic missile-carrying underwater cruiser and represents the fourth generation of nuclear-powered subs built for the Russian Navy.
    Compared to the first three Borei-class submarines — the Yuri Dolgoruky, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh — the Knyaz Vladimir is less noisy and features improved maneuvering, depth and armament control systems.
     
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    Russian shipbuilders to deliver latest Project 955A nuclear-powered sub to Navy
    The developer continues building two groupings of fourth-generation nuclear-powered submarines, according to the CEO

    The Project 955A (Borei-A) nuclear-powered submarine Knyaz Vladimir Central Design Bureau Rubin

    The Project 955A (Borei-A) nuclear-powered submarine Knyaz Vladimir
    © Central Design Bureau "Rubin"
    SEVERODVINSK /Arkhangelsk Region/, December 20. /TASS/. The Sevmash Shipyard (part of the United Shipbuilding Corporation) is preparing the Project 955A (Borei-A) nuclear-powered submarine Knyaz Vladimir for its delivery to the Navy, Shipyard CEO Mikhail Budnichenko told TASS on Friday.
    "The enterprise is preparing the latest strategic fourth-generation missile-carrying submarine Knyaz Vladimir for its delivery to the Navy and also for rolling out the Project Yasen-M nuclear-powered submarine Novosibirsk from the slipway," the chief executive said on the eve of the Shipyard’s 80th anniversary that will be celebrated on December 21.
    READ ALSO
    Shipbuilders to deliver four nuclear-powered subs to Russian Navy in 2020

    The Sevmash Shipyard continues building two groupings of fourth-generation nuclear-powered submarines. Also, the Shipyard signed a contract at the Army-2019 international arms show on the delivery of two more Yasen-M submarines to the Navy, the chief executive informed.
    During the state trials in October, the nuclear-powered submarine Knyaz Vladimir successfully test-fired a Bulava seaborne ballistic missile, Budnichenko noted.


    "This year, we have had another grand event: on April 23, we rolled out the nuclear-powered sub Belgorod from the workshop. Next year, the vessel is due to be delivered to the Navy," he went on.
    The Knyaz Vladimir is the improved Project 955A strategic missile-carrying underwater cruiser. It represents the fourth generation of nuclear-powered subs built for the Russian Navy.
    Compared to the first three Borei-class submarines — the Yuri Dolgoruky, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh — the Knyaz Vladimir is less noisy and features improved maneuvering, depth and armament control systems.
     
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    Russia, Ukraine sign protocol on gas transit, claim settlement — Gazprom
    The current contract between Russia's Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz on Russian gas transit expires on 31 December 2019


    © Sergei Savostyanov/TASS
    READ ALSO
    Payment of around $3 bln by Gazprom may be part of package gas agreement with Ukraine

    MOSCOW, December 20. /TASS/. Russia and Ukraine have signed a protocol on agreements for continuation of gas transit via the territory of Ukraine and settlement of mutual claims, a spokesperson of the Russian gas holding Gazprom told reporters on Friday.
    "The Russian and the Ukrainian parties signed a protocol of agreements on continuation of gas transit over the territory of Ukraine and settlement of mutual claims," the spokesperson said.
    Trilateral consultations on gas between Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission were held in Berlin on Thursday for over six hours. The current contract between Russia's Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz on Russian gas transit expires on 31 December 2019. The previous trilateral consultations were held on October 28.
     
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    Payment of around $3 bln by Gazprom may be part of package gas agreement with Ukraine
    Trilateral gas talks between Russia, the European Union and Ukraine were held in Berlin on Thursday where the sides agreed on a draft gas deal

    Gazprom office Grigory Sysoyev/TASS

    Gazprom office
    © Grigory Sysoyev/TASS
    MOSCOW, December 20. /TASS/. Gazprom’s payment of around $3 bln to the Ukrainian side under the Stockholm Arbitration decision is being discussed as one of the terms of the package gas agreement between Moscow and Kiev, a source in the Russian delegation told reporters on Friday.
    "Payment of around $3 bln by Gazprom under the decision of the Stockholm Arbitration Court may become part of the package gas agreement with Ukraine. The talks on the whole range of issues are expected to continue today in Minsk," the interlocutor said.
    READ ALSO
    Putin says Russia strives to conclude gas transit agreement with Ukraine
    Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the arbitration decision at the annual news conference on Thursday saying that Ukraine has a similar $3 bln debt to Russia on Eurobonds. A portion of Russia’s reserved funds from the National Wealth Fund was invested in Ukrainian securities worth $3 bln. The court decision in London has already been present, he informed, adding though that the decision is not being implemented.
    Putin noted that Moscow is ready to look for a solution of the Ukrainian gas issue suitable for everyone, although the decision of the Stockholm Arbitration in the gas dispute between Gazprom and Naftogaz of Ukraine was politically motivated.




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    Trilateral gas talks between Russia, the European Union and Ukraine were held in Berlin on Thursday where the sides agreed on a draft gas deal. At the press conference, they said that the parties plan to coordinate a package deal with the leadership of their respective countries on Friday. The details of the draft agreement were not made public. However, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak clarified that the sides discussed specific volumes and terms of the contract on Russian gas transit via Ukraine.
    The high-level talks in the bilateral format will continue in Minsk on Friday.
     
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    Allseas suspends Nord Stream 2 activities due to threat of US sanctions
    It was reported earlier that sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream gas pipelines came into force


    © Nord Stream 2/Paul Langrock
    MOSCOW, December 21. /TASS/. Switzerland-based Allseas, pipe-laying company for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, reported suspension of pipelay activities, the company said in a press release on Saturday.
    "In anticipation of the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Allseas has suspended its Nord Stream 2 pipelay activities. Allseas will proceed, consistent with the legislation’s wind down provision and expect guidance comprising of the necessary regulatory, technical and environmental clarifications from the relevant US authority," the company said.
    It was reported earlier on Saturday that sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream gas pipelines, included in the military budget for the 2020 fiscal year signed by US President Donald Trump (began on October 1), came into force.
    Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 violate international law and present a perfect example of unfair competition. "Such actions [possible US sanctions] are a direct violation of international law, they present an ideal example of unfair competition and spread their artificial dominance in European markets, imposing more expensive and uncompetitive products on European consumers - more expensive natural gas," he told reporters.




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    The United States Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) specifying the annual budget and expenditures of the US Department of Defense for 2020 fiscal year (started on October 1), which obliges the administration to impose sanctions on the Russian Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines. Earlier, on December 11, the House of Representatives voted for the document.
    The Nord Stream 2 project involves construction of two lines with a total capacity of 55 bln cubic meters of gas per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. Gazprom’s European partners in the project are German Uniper and Wintershall, Austrian OMV, French Engie and Anglo-Dutch Shell. The pipeline bypasses transit states - Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and other East European and Baltic countries - through the exclusive economic zones and territorial waters of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.
     
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