Trump Now Lying About Remains Of Soldiers Being Returned From North Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

U.S. STILL HASN’T RECEIVED SOLDIERS’ REMAINS FROM NORTH KOREA, SAYS POMPEO

Despite President Donald Trump’s boast at a rally that he had secured the remains of U.S. troops killed during the Korean War, his secretary of state says North Korea is yet to send any.

Around 7,700 U.S. soldiers remain unaccounted for from the conflict, the majority of whom are presumed dead in North Korea. As the U.S. military moved 100 wooden coffins to the border between North and South Korea in preparation last week, Trump told a rally in Minnesota: “We got back our great fallen heroes, the remains, in fact today already 200 have been sent back.”

Speaking to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not confirm the president’s comments, when Senator Cynthia Shaheen raised the issue of the Korean War dead. Shaheen asked on behalf of charity workers who have dedicated years to repatriating the remains of U.S. soldiers missing in action.

“I am optimistic that we will begin to have two opportunities: One is to receive some remains in the not-too-distant future, but then there is a great deal of work with companies like the one you described, nonprofits,” Pompeo said. Asked if this meant that the U.S. had in fact not yet received the remains, Pompeo confirmed that was correct. “We have not yet physically received them,” he said.

RUSSIA MILITARY SAYS U.S. CEASEFIRE IS OVER IN SYRIA

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RUSSIA MILITARY SAYS U.S. CEASEFIRE IS OVER IN SYRIA AS ISRAEL REPORTEDLY ATTACKS IRAN WEAPONS IN DAMASCUS

The Russian military’s main air force base in Syria announced on Tuesday an end to a ceasefire agreement reached with the U.S. and Jordan in southwest Syria, citing breaches by insurgent groups. The decision comes at a time when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stages a new offensive to retake one of the last rebel-held regions in the country.

The Hmeymim base, an airfield located in the west coast province of Latakia, is one of two major Russian-leased military installations in Syria, the other being a naval base about 40 miles down the coast in Tartous. Russian warplanes—likely based in Hmeymim—reportedly struck targets Monday in the southwestern province of Daraa, where Russia and Syria had agreed last year to a ceasefire with rebel groups attempting to overthrow Assad since a 2011 uprising backed by the U.S., Turkey and Gulf Arab states.

“The end of the period of reduced escalation in southern Syria can be confirmed after it was breached by extremist groups and illegitimate armed groups operating against Syrian government forces, while the agreement remains in the Syrian province of Idlib,” the Central Channel for the Hmeymim Military Base wrote on Facebook.

The base also denied reports of civilian casualties in a later message, maintaining that “Russian bombers do not target civilian sites by any means. Our missions are limited to the destruction of the terrorist bases belonging to the Nusra Front and ISIS [Islamic State militant group] terrorists, in order to support friendly land forces advancing on the ground.”

GettyImages-984308400Smoke rises above opposition-held areas of Daraa during airstrikes conducted by the Syrian military, June 26, 2018. Russia-backed Syrian troops have for weeks been preparing an offensive to retake Syria’s south, a strategic zone that borders both Jordan and the Israel-occupied Golan Heights.MOHAMAD ABAZEED/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The news, which was also reported by Saudi Arabian newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, came as elite Syrian troops stormed through southern towns and villages held by various rebel groups, including elements of the Free Syrian Army and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadi coalition recently added to the list of U.S.-recognized terrorist organizations due to its Al-Qaeda ties. Quick government gains have prompted Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to issue a series of statements calling on rebel factions to unite against the military and condemned those currently attempting to broker reconciliation deals with Damascus.

The ceasefire collapse also occurred as airstrikes reportedly struck Damascus International Airport on Tuesday. While the attack remains unclaimed, it has been widely blamed on Israel, who rarely takes responsibility for strikes against Iranian and pro-Iran targets in neighboring Syria. The U.K.-based, pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Israeli warplanes struck “a shipment of Iranian weapons” that had arrived at the airport, while Russia’s state-run Sputnik News highlighted reports claiming an Iranian cargo plane may have been the target.

Related: Iran Says ‘War’ with U.S. and Israel Is ‘Possibility’ But It Has ‘a Plan for Every Possible Threat’

The official Syrian Arab News Agency said that two Israeli missiles fell near the country’s main airport, without specifying the target. The channel connected the suspected Israeli attack to the Syrian military’s retaking of large swathes of territory in the Al-Lajat region in Daraa, where international powers have rushed to prevent an even larger escalation between Iran and Israel.

Anticipating last year’s ceasefire agreement to unravel as the Syrian military retook rebel enclaves outside the capital, the U.S. and Russia entered quiet negotiations with Jordan aimed at excluding Iranian and pro-Iran forces from taking part in the Syrian campaign. Israel considers their presence a provocation and has for years bombed military assets allegedly associated with Iran. When these forces reportedly responded to a deadly pre-emptive Israeli attack last month by launching rockets at the Israel-occupied Golan Heights, Israel retaliated with its largest aerial assault on Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

GettyImages-890107316Russian President Vladimir Putin (3r-L), his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad (4th-R), and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (L) pose with Russian air force pilots during their visit to the Russian air base in Hmeymim in the northwestern Syrian province of Latakia, December 11, 2017. Russian air support has been vital in helping the Syrian military and its allies defeat insurgents and jihadis.MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Despite their opposition to Assad, the U.S. and Jordan have stepped back their support for rebel groups as they became increasingly saturated with jihadi movements. Washington told Free Syrian Army commanders that “you should not base your decisions on the assumption or expectation of a military intervention by us” in a stern message published Saturday by Reuters. Jordan has repeatedly stated that it would not grant entry to any fighters or civilians fleeing to Syria’s southern border with the kingdom, with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi asserting “our borders will remain closed” in a tweet Tuesday.

Iran-backed groups, such as the Lebanese Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement, have reportedly pulled back from southwestern Syria as part of a recent agreement, but Iran has maintained that it would not leave Syria unless asked to do so by the local government. The latest airstrikes in Damascus, however, may indicate that the deal has fallen apart or did not preclude Israeli attacks elsewhere in the country. Last week, unclaimed airstrikes blamed on both the U.S. and Israel reportedly killed dozens—including Iraqi militias—in Syra’s far eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

Assad has welcomed both Russia and Iran as partners in the battle against insurgents and jihadis, but he has called the U.S. and Turkey to withdraw their forces immediately. Iraq, while deeply critical of U.S. and Israeli targeting of pro-Syrian government forces, has managed to maintain close relations with both the Syria-Russia-Iran axis as well as the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.

HOW DOES ISRAEL’S MILITARY COMPARE TO IRAN?

(THIS ARTICLE SI COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

HOW DOES ISRAEL’S MILITARY COMPARE TO IRAN?

Relations between Israel and Iran are at breaking point. The multinational nuclear deal signed with Iran is on the verge of collapsing—partly thanks to Israeli lobbying against it. Iranian leaders have warned that if it fails, the country will resume its uranium enrichment program, a step Israel considers a threat to its very existence.

Meanwhile, multiple Israeli strikes have sought to dislodge Iranian forces from Syria, where Tehran enjoys increasing influence. Israeli leaders are fighting hard to stop Iranian soldiers deploying along its northern border.

Though it would appear that neither nation wants a full-scale war, the potential for miscalculation and escalation remains. Both nations have considerable military clout, and any prolonged confrontation between them would be bloody.

RTS1IFO9Israeli forces are seen near a border fence between the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights and Syria, on November 4, 2017. Israel is wary of Iran’s growing influence across its northern border.REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD

Iran is a much larger country with a far higher population than Israel, but numbers alone do not dictate military capability—combat technology and experience are vital factors too. Technological capability is even more important in an era where technology is changing the way war is waged, allowing nations to hit each other harder, from further away and with less human involvement.

A small nation with a population of just 8.5 million, Israel’s military punches significantly above its weight. Formed amid a war with seven Arab neighbors, the country’s short history is punctuated with conflicts fought for its survival. This tough history combines with a burgeoning technology sphere and close relations with powerful western nations to create one of the world’s most formidable fighting forces.

According to Global Firepower, Israel has approximately 170,000 active personnel with a further 445,000 in reserve. Conscription exists for all non-Arab citizens of Israel over the age of 18, giving the country a large and well-trained pool of fighters to call up in the event of war.

Though less sophisticated than Israel, the Iranian military is a force to be reckoned with. Its large population—around 82 million—enables Tehran to maintain a standing force of around 534,000 soldiers, with a further 400,000 in reserve, making it the largest force in the Middle East.

In a drawn-out engagement, national manpower becomes an important issue. Iranian available manpower is around 47 million compared with just 3 million for Israel. Of course, how important this is will depend on the nature of any war being fought.

RTXYQI5Members of Iranian armed forces march during the Army Day parade in Tehran on April 18, 2013.REUTERS/HAMID FOROOTAN/ISNA/HANDOUT

In 2017, Israel spent $16.5 billion on its armed forces, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Iran was not far behind on $14.5 billion. Though this does not seem like a big gap, the fact that Israel is spending billions more than Iran on a smaller military indicates the gulf in the quality of equipment used.

Israel fields more tanks than Iran—2,760 compared to 1,650. Israel wins this matchup on quality as well as quantity, the latest version of its Merkava tank being one of the best and most heavily defended in the world. Iran is mostly using second-rate tanks, though it has announced the development of the new Karrar platform, which it claims will be able to compete with top-class opponents.

The Israeli air force is one of the best in the world, equipped and trained to the highest level. Its pilots are experienced too, having regularly conducted missions against targets in Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and even Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Its 250 or so fighters include a handful of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft, one of just four fifth-generation fighter planes in the world. Israel will eventually have 50 F-35s.

By contrast, Iran fields around 160 fighter jets, none of which are as advanced as the F-35. Furthermore, its pilots are less well-trained and experienced than their Israeli counterparts.

Neither nation is a significant maritime power. Iran has more than 30 submarines, five frigates, three corvettes and more than 200 patrol craft. Israel currently has five submarines, three corvettes, eight missile boats and 45 patrol boats. Considering the geography, the naval theater is unlikely to play any significant role in a potential conflict.

RTX2UPSIAn Israeli soldier sits inside a F-35 fighter jet after it landed at Nevatim air base in southern Israel on December 12, 2016.REUTERS/AMIR COHEN

In the event of an all-out war, Israel holds the nuclear trump card. Notoriously secretive about its nuclear arsenal, the country is believed to possess between 75 and 400 warheads. The weapons can be delivered using Israel’s Jericho ballistic missiles, submarine-launched cruise missiles or even fighter planes.

Iran has no nuclear capability. Even if talks break down, it will take many years before Tehran joins the nuclear club. Iran is working hard to improve its ballistic missile arsenal, already one of the most potent in the region and well-able to hit Israel.

But Iran has other tricks up its sleeves. Financial and military support for anti-Israeli militant groups across the Middle East give it an unconventional way to hit its rival in the event of conflict. The Shiite Lebanese Hezbollah group, especially, is a worry for Israeli leaders. Hezbollah has a well-trained and well-equipped military, far more powerful than the Lebanese army and able to operate freely.

Hezbollah’s experience fighting alongside regime forces in Syria has given it vital combat exposure. The group maintains a huge rocket arsenal, and its weapons can hit anywhere in Israel. Iran also provides support to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad groups in Gaza, which maintain smaller, but still significant, rocket capabilities.

Mystery Wolf-like Creature Shot and Killed In Montana Puzzles Experts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF YAHOO NEWS AND NEWSWEEK)

 

U.S.

Mystery Wolf-like Creature Shot and Killed In Montana Puzzles Experts

 Aristos Georgiou,Newsweek 10 hours ago

CHINA SNUBS TRUMP, SAYS RUSSIA TIES BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT IN WORLD

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

CHINA SNUBS TRUMP, SAYS RUSSIA TIES BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT IN WORLD

 

China’s envoy to Russia has praised the increasingly powerful relationship between the two countries as both the strongest and most important ties between two major states. Beijing’s man in Moscow also took the opportunity to offer a veiled slight at Washington.

Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui spoke Wednesday at a government news conference organized in response to the results of the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress in October. Russia and China, the two leading diplomatic and military rivals of the U.S., have pursued closer relations in past years while embarking on initiatives to modernize their forces and assume a more assertive role in international politics.

Related: U.S. and Western Europe could lose badly in a war against Russia without China’s help

“The Chinese-Russian relations of comprehensive strategic cooperation and partnership are the most important bilateral relations in the world and, moreover, the best relations between big countries,” Li told the state-run Tass Russian news agency, which hosted the gathering.

“One can say that they are a classic example of the healthiest and most mature interstate relations and an important force to protect peace and stability throughout the world,” Li added.

RTX3MLVU Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Zhang Youxia, China’s Central Military Commission vice chairman, at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, on December 7. China has described its relationship with Russia as the strongest and most important in the world, leaving out the U.S. altogether.SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS

One of the key reasons the diplomat cited as being responsible for Russia and China’s success was that they “abandon the thinking of the Cold War” and a “zero-sum game” policy. Both countries have frequently criticized the U.S. for viewing the world in black-and-white, portraying Russia and China as enemies rather than partners in global affairs.

Moscow’s post-Soviet relationship with Washington has been tumultuous but was thought to have been salvaged with the election of President Donald Trump, who promised a reset after the administration of his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, witnessed heightened tensions and historic military mobilizationsbetween U.S.-led Western military alliance NATO and Russia across Europe. Ongoing investigations into Trump’s alleged conspiracy to win the election with the help of the Kremlin and differing views between the Republican leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, have damaged the chance of a future U.S.-Russia alliance.

Russia has denied any interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and has portrayed efforts of U.S. authorities to produce evidence of such a plot as being reminiscent of the anti-Communist wave of the 1940s and 1950s.

Unlike Russia, China was an early and frequent target of Trump’s and his allies’ both before and after the billionaire real estate tycoon took office earlier this year. The Trump campaign accused China of currency manipulation and stealing U.S. jobs. As he prepared to assume the role of secretary of state, Rex Tillerson suggested the U.S. should potentially use military force to deny Beijing its vast territorial claims in the disputed seas of the Western Pacific.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping expanded his nation’s sphere of influence, his country has accused the U.S. of portraying this rise as a malicious one. Trump has tried to boost cooperation between the two, but mostly in regard to the nuclear crisis between the U.S. and North Korea, during which China has appeared most eager to work with Russia to reach a political framework.

RTX3LKDSChinese armed police and Russian national guards take part in a joint counterterrorism drill in Yinchuan, the capital of China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region, on December 5. Both countries have criticized the U.S. for pursuing policies they view as destabilizing in the Middle East and contributing to a rise in extremist movements.STRINGER/REUTERS

China and Russia’s joint simulated anti-missile drills, geared at deflecting potential U.S. or North Korean missiles, on Monday were also the latest evidence of the burgeoning military cooperation between the two powers. The countries have been deeply suspicious of the U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific, and although both Beijing and Moscow share Washington’s opposition to a nuclear North Korea, they have urged Trump to pursue direct talks and avoid provocative shows of force in the tense region.

China and Russia also have joined forces against the West in other parts of the world, including in Syria, where they both backed the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against jihadist and rebels who received international support. Over the summer, Russia and China also launched their first joint drills in the Baltic Sea, near one of the tensest flash points between NATO and Russian forces in Europe.

As China and Russia empower their partnership as well as their respective militaries, the Rand Corporation noted in a report earlier this week that despite superior technology and defense spending, “U.S. forces could, under plausible assumptions, lose the next war they are called upon to fight.”

MONSTER SHARKS: FOUR FIERCE GIANTS

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

MONSTER SHARKS: FOUR FIERCE GIANTS THAT RIVAL GREENLAND’S ANCIENT BEAST

Sharks have been making headlines recently after a 2016 report of a Greenland shark that was around 512 years old resurfaced this week. In November, a dinosaur-era frilled shark was on our minds. The ocean’s deadliest sharp-toothed predators are both loved and feared. They are also an incredibly diverse and successful group, appearing in the fossil records millions of years before dinosaurs and even insects.

Here are just a few of the most terrifying examples of sharks from across time.

MegalodonOnly the jaws of megalodon fossilized, but put to the scale of a great white shark, this prehistoric creature must have grown to 60 feet long.ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES

Megalodon
Carcharocles megalodon is the star of such B thrillers as Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, Megashark vs. Mechashark, and Attack of the Jurassic Shark. Before its movie days, real megalodons lived all over the world in the Miocene and Pliocene epochs.

Megalodon would have put the shark in Jaws to shame, with teeth as big as your hand and a body as long as a bowling lane. Sixty feet of shark is nothing to mess with, and it probably ate whales.

HelicoprionHelicoprion was an ancient ratfish, not a shark, but was just as scary, with a whorl of teeth like a buzz saw.WILLIAM WEST/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Helicoprion
Though not technically a shark, this shark-like ratfish had an unforgettable maw. Scientists first found this animal’s teeth in a bizarre spiral, and for years, they could only speculate as to how the teeth actually fit in its mouth.

Luckily for swimmers, it lived and died 270 million years ago.

A Thresher shark hunts fish by whipping its long tail at a school.PLOS MEDIA

Whip-Tailed Shark
Also known as a common-thresher, Zorro thresher shark, swiveltail, and slasher, this modern shark makes the list for its odd hunting style. This shark swims toward schools of fish, then at the last minute, whips its bizarrely long tail at its prey to stun or kill them.
Whale_sharkThis picture taken on August 1, 2014, shows a dead whale shark being carried on a tractor in a seafood wholesale market in Xiangzhi township in Quanzhou, east China’s Fujian province. Local fishermen caught the whale shark which they thought was a “sea monster” and reported to local police after returning from the sea, local media reported.STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Whale Shark
You would think that the largest living shark would be the most terrifying. This monster can weigh 20 tons and grow 18-32 feet long. But these wide-mouthed creatures, with spots on their backs resembling constellations in the night sky, have very small teeth and eat only plankton.
https://www.instagram.com/p/Ba2QKc5HKH4/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7&wp=822#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A1016.5950000000001%7D512-Year-Old Greenland Shark
In 2016, scientists documented the world’s oldest living vertebrate: a Greenland shark that had been alive for 512 years, give or take. While other long-lived animalshave been discovered, a shark that has lived for half of a millennium takes the cake for incredible survival skills.

11_10_Frilled_shark_head2This living fossil has remained unchanged for 80 million years.BY OPENCAGE (HTTP://OPENCAGE.INFO/PICS.E/LARGE_13408.ASP) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (HTTPS://CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY-SA/2.5)], VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Frilled Shark
The frilled shark is even older than megalodon, having evolved 80 million years ago. But the especially concerning thing about the frilled shark is that they still exist.

Fortunately frilled sharks live deep in the ocean and aren’t known to attack humans. If they did, their rows of extremely-sharp teeth would be sure to leave a mark.

STEPHEN HAWKING AI WARNING: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE COULD DESTROY CIVILIZATION

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

(JUST YESTERDAY NOV. 6th, I WROTE AN ARTICLE TITLED ‘THE UNNEEDED POOR WILL BE EXTERMINATED’, THINGS I POINTED OUT IN THAT ARTICLE DO AGREE WITH WHAT MR. HAWKING IS SAYING HERE IN THIS ARTICLE TODAY, PLEASE CONSIDER READING YESTERDAYS ARTICLE ALSO, THANK YOU.)

STEPHEN HAWKING AI WARNING: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE COULD DESTROY CIVILIZATION

World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has warned that artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to destroy civilization and could be the worst thing that has ever happened to humanity.

Speaking at a technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Hawking told attendees that mankind had to find a way to control computers, CNBC reports.

“Computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence, and exceed it,” he said. “Success in creating effective AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know. So we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI, or ignored by it and side-lined, or conceivably destroyed by it.”

stephen hawking Earth extinction colonizeStephen Hawking sits onstage during an announcement of the Breakthrough Starshot initiative with investor Yuri Milner in New York City, on April 12, 2016. Hawking, the English physicist, warns humanity needs to become a multiplanetary species to ensure its survival.REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON

Hawking said that while AI has the potential to transform society—it could be used to eradicate poverty and disease, for example—it also comes with huge risks.

Society, he said, must be prepared for that eventuality. “AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization. It brings dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It could bring great disruption to our economy,” he said.

This is not the first time Hawking has warned about the dangers of AI. In a recent interview with Wired, the University of Cambridge Professor said AI could one day reach a level where it outperforms humans and becomes a “new form of life.”

artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence GLAS-8/FLICKR

“I fear that AI may replace humans altogether,” he told the magazine. “If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”

Even if AI does not take over the world, either by destroying or enslaving mankind, Hawking still believes human beings are doomed. Over recent years, he has become increasingly vocal about the need to leave Earth in search of a new planet.

In May, he said humans have around 100 years to leave Earth in order to survive as a species. “I strongly believe we should start seeking alternative planets for possible habitation,” he said during a speech at the Royal Society in London, U.K. “We are running out of space on Earth and we need to break through the technological limitations preventing us from living elsewhere in the universe.”

The following month at the Starmus Festival in Norway, which celebrates science and art, Hawking told his audience that the current threats to Earth are “too big and too numerous” for him to be positive about the future.

“Our physical resources are being drained at an alarming rate. We have given our planet the disastrous gift of climate change. Rising temperatures, reduction of the polar ice caps, deforestation and decimation of animal species. We can be an ignorant, unthinking lot.

“We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.”

Putin’s Russia Is Crumbling From The Inside

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

This article first appeared on the Atlantic Council site.

At first glance, Russian actions since the 2014 annexation of Crimea appear to signal a resurgence of power in the international system. Increases in military spending, forays into the Middle East and a foreign policy punching above its weight have all served to remind the world that Russia maintains influence on the global stage.

However, behind the Cold War-levels of military activity and violations of international laws are fundamental issues which will plague Russia going forward.

Demographic struggles have stricken the state since World War II, commodity price fluctuations and sanctions have crippled economic output and the current defense spending trends are unsustainable. Against the backdrop of harsh economic reality, the illusion of Russian resurgence can only be maintained for so long, and NATO policymakers should take note.

An increased NATO presence in the Baltics and more robust defense measures are all necessary and proportional steps towards creating a formidable deterrent to protect the United States’s more vulnerable allies in Russia’s neighborhood.

Russia, however, is not the existential threat to Europe that the Soviet Union once was, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. Time is not on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s side, and he can only ignore fundamental flaws in the socioeconomic landscape of Russian society for so long.

Building submarines and nuclear weapons will not reinvigorate the Russian economy and could eventually degrade what progress has been made to re-establish Russian prominence on the world stage.

Related: Nolan Peterson: The Syria strike deals Putin a double blow

The inertial nature of demographic pressure makes it an exceedingly difficult problem to address but also allows nations to forecast more easily. By nearly all calculations, Russia’s projected population growth appears stagnant at best. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the population of Russia (despite upward of 9 million immigrants) declined each year until 2013.

04_14_Putin_Vulnerable_01Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 11. Jacob Sharpe writes that the war in Ukraine, once popular among Russians, is now hurting morale and draw attention to the economic malaise at home.SERGEI CHIRIKOV/REUTERS

The combination of a decreased standard of living, a decline in the number of women aged 20 to 30 and an increased mortality rate have all damaged the prospects for growth in Russia. Rosstat, the Russian state statistical agency, estimated that the population will decline 20 percent in the next 35 years if current trends continue. This decline has been halted and even reversed to a minor extent in recent years, but reversing long-term trends will be difficult.

The economic outlook for Russia offers similarly bleak prospects, yet there are some signs of a slight turnaround. When compared to a negative 3 percent growth over the past two years, even the small 1.2 percent growth projected by the Russian finance minister (as well as the World Bank) is something to celebrate. Moscow has made some spending adjustments to reflect current oil prices, and Standard & Poor’s has upgraded its credit rating to stable.

The Russian people, however, are still in dire straits. In 2016, one-quarter of Russian companies cut salaries. Overall, the average Russian wage dropped 8 percent last year and 9.5 percent the year before. International sanctions imposed on Russia continue to cause problems, and energy prices have not recovered to previous highs.

Even as some Russians celebrated the election of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, who has expressed a desire for better relations with Russia and suggested that sanctions may be at least partially lifted, the potential for the removal of sanctions could lead to a speculative capital rush, creating more uncertainty in an already fractured economy.

Worsening the economic downturn is the Kremlin’s spending to modernize and expand its military capabilities amidst declining revenue and depleted reserves.

In a recent defense industry meeting, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated that “funding has already been set aside for the coming years and that amount won’t be changed.” That statement doesn’t appear to be entirely correct, as defense spending is set to decrease by 7 percent, but it is telling when other federal departments were dealt 10 percent reductions.

For the time being, it seems this plan has won Putin praise at home and power abroad, but in the long-term it could place him on unsteady ground.  As early as 2015, Russia had begun tapping into its “rainy day fund ” (generally regarded as an emergency measure to address economic slowdowns), and the minor economic recovery is not enough to make up for these shortfalls.

Related: Putin’s Flirtation with Le Pen is likely to backfire

A continuation of this spending behavior combined with budgetary constraints could force Putin to make politically risky fiscal adjustments. He may have convinced his admirers that a bit of budgetary belt-tightening is necessary to ensure Russian security and stature, but economic backpedaling is only digestible for so long.

Even the Ukrainian conflict, once a source of popularity among the Russian people, has begun to hurt morale and highlights the economic malaise at home.

However, Vladimir Putin is not a man to be underestimated, and Russia will remain a threat. It still possesses one of the most powerful militaries in the world, a massive stockpile of nuclear weapons and a reinvigorated willingness to use its political muscle to influence the international system.

Yet while a cursory examination of approval ratings may show an unassailably popular leader, Putin’s power structure is more fragile than it first appears. Financial strain will continue to pressure state-dependent segments of the Russian populace, which have historically been the bedrock of Putin’s support.

It seems Putin’s Russia won’t perish in a Manichean clash in the Fulda Gap, but like the Soviet Union before it, today’s Russia will crumble under the weight of its own mismanagement and economic failure. Perhaps history does repeat itself.

Jacob Sharpe is an intern with the Transatlantic Security Initiative in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.

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