17 October 2018

D.S.M. WEEKLY REPORT - WEEK 41

Monitorul Apărării şi Securităţii

Image source: Mediafax
  1. THE UNITED STATES - CHINA. The visit paid by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to China revealed the deep tensions between the two world powers. The Security Adviser to the President, John Bolton, announced that China is stepping up its confrontation policy.  

II. RUSSIA. The annual Strategic Nuclear Forces exercise showed some problems. Meanwhile, the conflict in Ukraine gains momentum by triggering a possible “big orthodox schism”. Additionally, new issues pile up on top of previous problems.

III. WESTERN BALKANS. In BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, the presidential and parliamentary elections allow the nationalists to increase the political instability.

IV. "Simple" criminal cases, but having international impact, show high levels of political corruption in SAUDI ARABIA, CHINA, and BULGARIA, indicating a dangerous direction we are heading globally.

I. THE UNITED STATES - CHINA. The visit paid by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to China revealed the deep tensions between the two world powers. The Security Adviser to the President, John Bolton, announced that China is stepping up its confrontation policy.

It seems to be a fair statement to say that, this past week, a ”cold war”  has been declared between the US and China, not only in the economic realm, but also in the political and military domains. The visit paid to Beijing by Mike Pompeo, the American Secretary of State, on October 10th, was a failure. Vice-President Mike Pence’s speech[i] was answered with a cold welcome, and especially with public criticism by Chinese officials. The visit was also shrouded in a worrisome lack of transparency, which indicates that the gap was so wide that public communication had to be avoided. The US National Security Adviser John Bolton provided the American response in the form of the warnings matching a ”cold war declaration”.

At the begining of Mike Pompeo’s visit, the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, bluntly criticised the US’s constant interference in the Chinese domestic and foreign policy. More precisely, The accusations maintained that the US damages the Chinese interests regarding Taiwan, as the Trump Administration ”permanently escalates” the trade tensions, and generates uncertainty in the bilateral relations. Mike Pompeo answered that the US and China have ”fundamental disagreements” in the issues mentioned above. During his meeting with Mike Pompeo, Yang Jiechi, Chinese Foreign Ministry Councillor[ii], asked the US to stop the attacks against the Chinese interests, and called for a mutually beneficial cooperation instead an antagonistic approach leading to confruntation and conflict. Yang Jiechi noticed that the bilateral relations reached a critical moment, and the US should make the right choice, which means implementing the agreements made by the two presidents. But Mike Pompeo reaffirmed that Washington still holds its ”One China” position. It seems that the differences were big even regarding the only issue where the two powers have previously cooperated, i.e. the denuclearization of North Korea. Consequently, the continuation of this process seems unlikely.

The Beijing talk failure was followed by an unprecedented event: the arrest of a high Chinese official with the State Security Minister[iii], on October 10th, and his indictment by the US judiciary for economic espionage, more precisely the theft of aeronautic industry secrets.

On October 13th, John Bolton made public that the US would intensify its tough policy towards China: Beijing’s ”behavior needs to be adjusted in the trade area, in the international military and political areas”. He added that China had taken advantage of the international order for far too long and not enough Americans had stood up to it. “Now’s the time to do it”. Thus, the violation of international trade rules allowed China to gain substantial economic advantages, and to evolve onto a military power: ”If they’re put back in the proper place they would be if they weren’t allowed to steal our technology, their military capabilities would be substantially reduced. And a lot of the tensions we see caused by China would be reduced”. The US are prepared to take additional measures to reduce the high-tech exports to China, especially regarding dual technologies, with military utilization. Even more, John Bolton specified that Washington considers its right to do the same in the cyber domain. He also mentioned that resuming of trade negotiations with the US requires China to implement  structural economic reforms. John Bolton reminded China’s aggressive policy in the South China Sea, mentioning that the US will continue to secure open maritime communication lines, and ”this is something the Chinese need to understand”. Moreover, he stated Washington’s intention „to exploit mineral resources in the South China Sea, with or without Chinese cooperation”. The only positive news is the possible meeting between the two presidents in November, at the G20 Summit in Argentina. 

Regarding the trade dispute, President Donald Trump declared, on October 10th, that the Sino-American relations must become ”a two way path” before reaching a trade agreement: ”China wants to make a deal, and I say they’re not ready yet”. The signals sent by Chinese officials regarding the trade dispute with the US followed the traditional line, encouraging moderation[iv] and hinting to a trade-off, as first suggested by Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to US, who had declared, on October 3rd, that his country is prepared to reach a compromise. This approach has been confirmed on October 10th by an official with the Chinese Finance Ministry, who expressed optimism regarding the trade negotiations with the US, and minimized the impact of postponing the economic negotiations (other channels are also available). Representatives of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce also reaffirmed, on October 11th, that China does not meddle in the American domestic policy. They also encouraged the US to stop the ”unilateralism and protectionism”, and announced that currency manipulations would not be used in the framework of the trade dispute with the US[v].

In the military field, while the high level military contacts were suspended, the US Air Forces conducted a show of force, on October 9th, by deploying to Hawaii strategic bombers B-2 escorted by F-22 fighters, the latter having taken off from Pearl Harbour for missions in the western Pacific. Thus, Pearl Harbour was unprecedently turn into a forward base for the strategic aviation. In addition, the American aircraft exercized a new tactic for dispersing the aircraft and for increasing the strike capability against Chinese targets by using Pacific islands for take-off.

In the present circumstances, where many analysts see a long lasting cold war, and others focus on the trade dispute alone, one would wonder what to choose for reality. Perhaps the answer is that we have both, based on their acknowledgement by the US, although their dimension is overrated by an agressive Trump Administration. So, the trade deficit, as well as the systematic breach of the international trade rules were the highlight of the bilateral relations, already for decades. The US have tolerated this situation, hoping that China would develop and reform politically and economically, then it would shed these practices. This approach was also explained by the consistent profit gained by American companies investing in China. Beijing considered natural to continue this behavior, stating that it abides by the rules, while actually manipulating the trade arrangements up to denying the regulations[vi]. The same happens on the ”cold war”. Benefiting from the US reserve, which is natural for the main sponsor of the postwar economic and political order, China turned to more agressive foreign policies, as it developed as a nation: in the South China Sea, China breached the international maritime laws, and its investments and foreign aquisitions policy has a colonial flavor.

However, one should notice that President D. Trump focused on the trade dispute, leaving the ”programatic declarations” to M. Pence and J. Bolton. Actually, right now, there is only the trade dispute, and Washington’s decision to stop its tolerance towards the Chinese practice (especially the technology theft[vii]). D. Trump wants a trade and economic behavior accord, all efforts pointing in this direction.

As for the ”cold war”, the US National Defense Strategy is a clearer, yet more moderate ”declaration of cold war” on China than the recent declarations, which only resume the issue, adapted to the moment. Thus, M. Pence’s accusations regarding Beijing’s meddling in the American Congressional elections were not supported by evidence. On the other side, the US officials’ speech show a change in attitude to respond to ”the Chinese challenge” from defensive to ofensive, also involving certain risky elements: so, the US intention to ”see more exploitation of mineral resources in the South China Sea” imply the presence of American platforms / artificial islands, a symmetric response to the Chinese policy to consolidate and militarize some rocks / islands, because the ”South China Sea is not a Chinese province”. This cannot but increase the risk of a conflict. More risky, however, is the statement regarding the necessity of the Chinese economy structural reformation, should Beijing attempt to reach an agreement with Washington. To the Chinese leaders, this means nothing less than attacking the economic and political system of the communist state.

But China did not attempt to export its political system, nor did it breach the international laws. So, the grounds of a ”cold war” do not exist... However, this does not mean that a ”hot economic war” at global level will occur, mirrored by the danger of spilling into a real ”cold war”, if a solution of political and economic cohabitation is nor found.

II. RUSSIA. The annual Strategic Nuclear Forces exercise showed some problems. Meanwhile, the conflict in Ukraine gains momentum by triggering “the big orthodox schism”. Additionally, new issues pile up on top of previous problems.

On September 9th, the Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces conducted the annual testing exercise, by alert and missile launching. During the exercise, ballistic missiles were launched from the nuclear submarines, and cruise missiles were launched by strategic bombers. Interstingly enough, there was no announcement about any launching of ballistic missiles or cruise missiles from land based platforms, as happened during previous similar exercises. Also intersting is that the declarations and images provided by the authorities were much less, by comparison with previous years.

So, a DELTA IV class nuclear submarine belonging to the Russian North Fleet launched ballistic missiles from the Barents Sea, and a DELTA III submarine belonging to the Russian Pacific Fleet launched ballistic missiles from the Ohotsk Sea. There were likely launched salvos of Sineva, respectively Vysota ballistic missiles (the latter being of older generation, with liquid fuel). The first question: why there was no modern Bulava ballistic missile being launched from the new BOREY class submarines? An explanation might be a decision to launch only old missiles. However, after the operationalisation of the Bulava, wouldn’t it have been natural to launch one in the appropiate exercise? Are there problems with the intensely trumpeted operationalisation?

The strategic aviation stole the thunder though, as cruise missiles were launched from Tu 16o and Tu 95MS bombers – the new Kh 101 missile, as well As from Tu-22M3 bombers – probably the Kh 22 missile. 

All missiles were declared to have hit the targets, as certified by the space based EKS system, and by the ground based early warning RADAR systems. This announcement was meant to dismiss any doubt regarding the capacity of the space based EKS system, as Russia makes efforts to develop and improve its satellite system.

Regarding the missiles launched from land based platforms, there are more questions: 1) Why no Topol or Yars ground based missile was launched? Judging by the notified closed areas, such launch was scheduled, but has not been executed, or has failed for technical reasons. This would represent an important failure in demonstrating Russia’s nuclear capabilities; 2) Why no cruise missile was launched from ground based platforms? The answer is connected to the American accusations regarding the breaching of INF by Russia: precisely the cruise missiles launched from the Iskander K platforms are in breach of the INF. Facing the recent protests by the US and NATO, Moscow preferred to leave this system in the shade. The Russian defense ministry had announced that, in the following period, the main priority would be the strategic aviation. Here the problems pile up too, as the age of the fleet cannot be compensated by the scheduled improvements.

Bottom line, the verification of the Russian strategic nuclear force command and launching system, ordered by President Vladimir Putin, showed that part of the nuclear triad is up to its purpose. However, doubts arise about the most important component of the triad, and that is the land based subsystem. And this happens in the conditions where, although the exercise was expected, Russia, cornered by the reactions by the West, was expected to use the event to send the political signal that “the way the West is talking is not the way to talk to a nuclear power”.    

Also in the domain of rockets, this time space rockets, Russia recorded another important failure, as the Soyuz rocket transporting two astronauts, one Russian and one American, to the International Space Station (ISS), missed the launch on October 11th, and the two astronauts were saved in extremis. This is the first such incident in the post-Soviet history, and an unprecedented step back of the Russian space industry. The failure of the Soyuz rocket spells the failure of the last area of Russo – American cooperation, which secured not only funding, but a communication channel for the experts of this top domain of human activity. The whole fleet of Soyuz rockets was grounded, but NASA declared its confidence in this respect[viii]. The Russian authorities “asked for understanding” from the US, and promised that ROSSCOSMOS would grant full access to the investigation information. The space sector is one of the top areas where Russia managed to hold a top position, but this field has been plagued by corruption, which was seen in important failures. Even the official Russian press admits that the space sector cannot continue in its present shape, and it has to be reformed. However, reform is not the buzzword at the Kremlin, and the very ROSSCOSMOS director stands to prove it: the vocal nationalist, long ago fallen in disgrace, Dmitry Rogozin.

 

Regarding the Russian military threat, the statements by the Romanian defense minister, Mihai Fifor, were noticed at international level. On October 10th, he declared for the Aspen Institute conference, that “the situation has changed dramatically in the last year”, with Russia increasing its military activities in the Black Sea region; and that “the Russian Federation is using the Black Sea to project force in the eastern Mediterranean”. The declaration is remarkable, as it brings back the Black Sea into the atention, as the place where wars take place, and from where Russia projects its force into the Middle East wars. This declarations folds into the efforts to make the US and NATO more aware of the importance this region has, and in efforts to gain military support from the Allies. This will not diminish, though, the imperative requirement “to make ourselves a military”, in the conditions where we earmark 2% of the GDP for defense programs. Mihai Fifor mentioned that soon, new acquisition programs will commence. Among these, during this meeting with the US Defense Secretary, James Mattis, M. Fifor declared that five more F-16 aircraft will be bought from Portugal, which will be followed by a future bid for 36 F-16 aircraft from the US. Considering that, in the past, the procurements were not great successes, the present trend, to acquire integrated systems, especially from the US, promises to pan out differently. Taking into consideration the potential first rank threat, only modern systems, correctly acquired, can secure a credible deterrence: only last generation F-16 aircraft, able to operate in a network of capabilities, with AESA RADARs and modern avionics, armed with high-tech air-to-air missiles (”beyond visual range” and ”all-aspect” respectively) can provide the credible defense, anything else being just justifications for spending 2% of the GDP.

 

In other issues, Russia continued the well-known lines:

In Ukraine, the explosion at an ammo depot was, very likely, a Russo-separatist sabotage. It is of obvious interest if such a kinetic action is or is not an act of war, as it was conducted on Ukrainian territory neither occupied by the separatists, nor at the contact line. In the Azov Sea, the Ukrainians conducted a complex littoral defense exercise, and Russia persisted in arresting Ukrainian ships. The tensions will continue, as the status of the Azov Sea further complicates the problems, because this inland body of water is not divided, but used in common.

More important, both the Russian Patriarchy and the Kremlin reacted roughly to the Constantinople’s Ecumenic Patriarch intention to recognize the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (the basic document, the tomos, is to be issued soon): they threatened both with actions to protect the Moscow followers in Ukraine, and with a schism within the Orthodox Church, by withdrawing the recognition of the Constantinople’s Patriarch’s prime role. Already the Greek and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches signaled they would observe the Constantinople Patriarch’s status.

In its policy towards the US, Russia proposed five party talks regarding North Korea, to include the two Koreas, the US, Russia, and China. Since this means to slow down to a standstill the American plan for denuclearization of North Korea, Washington will reject it at once, and the tensions between the two countries will increase again. In the Skripal case, an NGO published the name of the third Russian GRU agent involved in the attack. Although the UK adopted the approach to not confirm at official level the names of the culprits, the seriousness of the situation is obvious, and Moscow is left just to defend itself by the victimization tactic against the “western anti-Russian hysteria”.

 

Internally, popular protests continue in Ingushetia, for one week now, against the territory exchange with Chechnya, actually a land grab by Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader, using his armed forces. Facing the popular indignation, Moscow keeps quiet, thus paying the price for tolerance up to complicity with R. Kadyrov’s authoritarian Islamic regime (but Kremlin friendly). The concern increases in Moscow, as the Russians remember that the USSR problems started at the periphery, in the Caucasus, and other far regions dropped from the control by the Center.

 

III. WESTERN BALKANS. In BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, the presidential and parliamentary elections allow the nationalists to increase the political instability. The October 7th presidential and parliamentary elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) resulted in the victory of the nationalists, the only exception being even more dangerous. This initiated a season of instability both at national level, and within the Croat-Muslim Federation (CMF). At national level, the Serb Milorad Dodik will try to impose his agenda, while in the CMF the Muslims broke an unwritten law for the presidential elections and created a framework for the Croatian nationalists to sabotage CMF institutions. The election campaign highlighted nationalist platforms, with no discussion about the serious economic and social problems of the society: poverty and crime, sometimes with state institutions’ complicity.  

For the central tripartite presidency, the seats were won by: the nationalist (SNSD party) Milorad Dodik for the Serbs, the nationalist (SDA party) Sefik Džaferović for the Muslims, and the moderate Želko Komšić for the Croats, elected with Muslim votes! M. Dodik, faithful to his belief in the separation Republika Srpska (RS) from BiH, announced that he would defend the interests of the Serbian people in BiH, and would attend the collegial presidency meetings in Sarajevo… via video link from Banja Luka, where his party retains the political control on RS. However, M.Dodik could only block, not to impose decisions. Anyway, the problem is Želko Komšić, the moderate Croat, who won the place reserved for Croats against the nationalist Dragan Čović (HDZ), but with the help of Muslim vote, which the Croats perceive as a violation of the unwritten law of the CMF. Even before the elections, the issue of the electoral procedure has strained relations between Croats and Muslims within the CMF, and the effects have been seen: D. Čović warned that a crisis "like no other before" is about to unfold. He referred to the fact that HDZ, the winner of the parliamentary elections, would sabotage CMF institutions, and thus bring about the prospect of major tensions weakening the CMF. In this situation, the issue of accelerating the Euro-Atlantic integration course is more about aspiration, and the only thing that currently stays on is the compliance with the Dayton Agreement. However, the post-elections pragmatic political games show that the nationalist message is just a tool and the ultimate goal is the power. Therefore, at the BiH level, the Serbian nationalists (SNSD) are going to ally with the Croatian nationalists (HDZ), each of them threatening the future of a different target: SNSD, the future of BiH, and HDZ, the future of CMF. However, the political tension will not escalate, each of the political leaders paying attention to their respective sponsors: M. Dodik to Russia, even more than to Serbia, and all the others to the West: HDZ to Zagreb and SDA to the Muslim states headed by Turkey. Nevertheless, there are also problems, especially for M. Dodik: no more money. Russia bought what was for sale in RS, and the West, having bigger problems to solve, cannot be easily blackmailed to give more money to BiH under the threat that ethnic tensions will explode in a new conflict. To conclude, the word of order is "stalemate and a useful instability for nationalists". Where from that much power for nationalists? The answer, provided by a simple citizen in Banja Luka, is true throughout BiH: "you cannot even be a motorman if you are not linked to a nationalist party". All nationalist parties in BiH have a structure that resembles Hamas more than a democratic party: the party controls everything, from administration to economy, so there is no alternative to that, neither political nor social. For BiH population, the moment of change has not yet arrived.

IV. "Simple" criminal cases, but having international impact, show high levels of political corruption in SAUDI ARABIA, CHINA, and BULGARIA, indicating a dangerous direction we are heading globally.

A Saudi journalist, most likely killed in the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, a missing Chinese international official... ”found” in an arrest in his home country, as well as a Bulgarian journalist raped and murdered by a criminal were  the “litmus test” that indicated the degree of lawlessness and corruption in the above mentioned countries. While the US seems to have abandoned its role as a monitor of democratic principles, a "new jungle" emerged, and it is populated with high-profile locals above the law.

On October 12th, the Turkish authorities have announced that they possess audio and video evidence proving that Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Istanbul Consulate of Saudi Arabia. Although they have had evidence since the announcement of his disappearance, they waited for the signal from the US to conduct the investigation to an end, given the complicated relations Turkey has with Saudi Arabia[ix]. This signal came late, president D. Trump reluctantly yielding[x] to the pressure of some congressmen, who have called for the elucidation of this political crime, in the already well-known American tradition. That murder shows the discretionary behavior of the Saudi prince Mohammad bin Salman. In his struggle to strengthen his power, he does not believe necessary to respect neither the international laws nor those of his own country. It is a good opportunity for Turkey, who does not keep itself aloof of kidnapping and "punishing" dissidents, to reset the relationship with the US, especially after the releasing of the American pastor imprisoned for the stereotyped accusation of "terrorism". Jamal Khashoggi's case cannot be covered up any longer. Moreover, it will affect both the image of the Saudi Kingdom and its relations with the West: on October 14th, a joint statement signed by France, Germany and Britain condemned the murder. Even Donald Trump declared, one day earlier, that those responsible will be punished.

Interpol's president, the Chinese Meng Hongwei, who had disappeared since September, was finally “found” ...in a prison in his native country. China acknowledged late, on October the 7th, that he was arrested and would be charged with corruption. The whole matter shows not only the gravity of the corruption phenomenon at the highest level in China (the world's first policeman, representing China internationally, a corrupt person), but also that the fight against corruption is as murky as the phenomenon itself. It seems that the campaign against corruption in China is more like a struggle to secure the position of president Xi Jinping, than to actually defeat this scourge. But we have seen this movie though…

On October 7th, the investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova was killed in Ruse (Bulgaria). The perpetrator was rather quickly identified as an ordinary offender who had fled to Germany. The European reactions demanded a responsible, even international, investigation. These reactions are quite relevant to the situation in Bulgaria, where the reform in justice did not start yet.  Typically, Sofia has always suggested that her death is not related to the investigations she conducted together with a Romanian journalist[xi]... arrested by the Bulgarian police for trying to retrieve documents that were burned to hide a fraud involving European funds. The phenomenon of corruption protected by the institutional omerta will not likely have a long life, but the delay will increase the bill paid by the Bulgarian society.

Is this the future world we are going to live in, where all the fundamental democratic principles and law are brutally silenced? Probably yes. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres summarized this concern: "I'm afraid that such situations will become the new normality".

V. Next week – developments to track.

EUROPEAN UNION       

            This week will be crucial for the future of our Union, because the final decision on Brexit is expected to be made. Signals on a possible agreement are optimistic, but no solution can be ruled out, especially given the political fragility of Theresa May government. Both the EU and the UK want a tension-free divorce, providing the prerequisites for optimal further co-operation. The devil lies in details though: the UK wants full access to the common market, but without assuming any obligations towards the Union. On the other hand, the border in Ireland must exist. This is the sovereign right of the British state, no matter how much Europeans want to help the Irish.

GERMANY

            The elections in the German land of Bavaria announce the unprecedented defeat of Christians Bavarian Democrats party (CSU), the coalition partners of Angela Merkel's party (CDU). The coalition was already weakened, both Christian democrats and social democrats descending into national polls in favor of the far-right party, AfD. With such domestic problems in hands, Angela Merkel will no longer have the power to coordinate the European response to the major issues. The most urgent problem comes from the South, where the Italian populist government pushes it too far by trying to accommodate a budget deficit higher than the Euro-zone rules allow. Eventually, the market's response will be diluting its generosity.

RUSSIA - UKRAINE

            There is little room for surprises in a continuous, multidimensional crisis, ranging from military and political to the spiritual dimension. The latter could also affect Romania but let us hope that it will be in the sense of staying with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Probably, the Kremlin will try to “keep a low profile” and “stay out of the spotlight” until the US midterm elections hoping that the Republicans win. That will save not only President Donald Trump, but also a Russia “under the Damocles sword”, threatened by new sanctions prepared in the American Congress.

CHINA – U.S.

            The Chinese leadership is also carefully watching what is happening in the US, seeking compromise solutions to the economic war, but without giving up too much in the run-up to the meeting between the two leaders at the G20 Summit in Argentina. China too will try not to make itself conspicuous but hoping that the Democrats win, and the huge economic pressure created by the current US administration is going to lessen.

 ● THE MIDDLE EAST

As if the war in Syria and the Iranian-American tensions were not enough, the situation is getting even more complicated, with Saudi Arabia now emerging as a state that has recourse to political crimes. Donald Trump is compelled to take an attitude towards a dear ally, not only politically but... personally too.



[i] There is information that the Chinese leadership was “stunned” by Vice-President Mike Pence’s speech.

[ii] Yang Jiechi is member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the highest party and state decision board. He is also the head of the Foreign Affairs Commission with the CCP Central Committee, the main decision-making body for China’s foreign policy.

[iii] Yanjun Xu, high official with the Chinese State Security Minister, who also used other identities – Qu Hui and Zhang Hui, was arrested in Belgium and extradited in the US, where he was accused for conspiracy and the attempt to conduct economic espionage and theft of economic / air industry secrets, having important American defense industry companies as targets.

[iv] A first indication regarding the stability of world economy in the new context was the drop of the American stock exchanges. Although not the main one, one of the causes is the investor concern about the perspective of a Sino-American trade war. IMF had previously warned about the danger of a decreasing world economy on the background of increased protectionism.

[v] The past comes to differ though: China has systematically manipulated its national currency aiming to reach Beijing’s trade objectives, although not recently. China might also use the so called ”nuclear option”, although Beijing did not mentioned it yet. This ”nuclear option” means exploiting the three billion dollar American debt, but risking its own economic interests in the process. At minimal level, China might buy more American Treasury bonds, and the maximal option would be to sell large amounts of the one it holds. The consequences are so unpredictable that this option was ruled out from the economic analyses. However, in this context, the ”nuclear option” can be revisited.

[vi] When caught red handed, the Chinese officials expressed, in particular, an explanation which contradicts the official position: Why would we abide by these rules, since they were not imposed by us, but by the imperialist West!

[vii] This past week, the US announced the blunt limitation of nuclear technology transfer to China.

[viii] On the other hand, NASA considers the quick development of its own launching capabilities, aiming at resuming the flights to the ISS and retrieve the three astronauts still on board the ISS. A new Soyuz mission is scheduled in December, and this promise made by ROSSCOSMOS proves that the situation is serious.

[ix] Turkey imports oil from Saudi Arabia, but it is politically close to Qatar, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the political enemies both for the Saudi monarchy, and the military power in Egypt.

[x] The US President developed a complex relation with the heir of the Saudi Crown, as D. Trump’s son-in-law has strong relations with the Saudi royal.

[xi] Amusingly, the Bulgarian authorities rushed to arrest a Romanian citizen, questioning him for a whole day long, even though they did not have a shred of proof against him. After identifying the real killer, they announced that he "had fled through Romania" (why not through Hungary and Austria too, since he did not hide in Romania). Most likely, the Bulgarian authorities hurried to do comparisons with Romania, just in case they have difficulties (it is true, they do it as seldom as possible because they are not in favor!). But they must know the saying: “a fool's tongue is long enough to cut his own throat”.