Only in Russia: New armored vehicle airdropped WITH crew during 'historic' drills (PHOTOS)

By ethan / July 18, 2018

The Russian military has successfully tested a new airmobile armored personnel carrier during large-scale drills in central Russia. The APC was parachuted with a crew onboard – a daring technique used only by Russian troops.

Over 200 armored vehicles and some 2,500 servicemen took part in the joint drills of Transport Aviation and Airborne Troops, which concluded on Friday. One highlight of the exercise was the airdrop of a new APC – complete with a crew on board.

“The drills went well. The personnel is ready to carry out combat missions. The airdrop of the BTR-MDM with the test crew inside is a historic event,” chief of Military Transport Aviation Lieutenant General Vladimir Benediktov told reporters. No other military in the world has successfully implemented the risky technique, instead of parachuting vehicle crews separately from their machines.

Dropping vehicles with a crew inside allows them to get combat-ready within minutes after the airdrop. The unique technique was conceived and implemented by the legendary commander of the Airborne troops, Army General Vasiliy Margelov.

The very first airdrop of its kind was performed back in 1973 with Margelov’s son, Aleksandr, personally taking command of the test vehicle. The elder Margelov wanted to go himself, but the Soviet leadership did not permit it.

Naturally, such airdrops require the most reliable kind of equipment, as any malfunction would spell certain death for the servicemen. Not to mention the material losses – a certain sabotaged NATO airdrop in 2016 provided an example of what happens to a combat vehicle after a freefall from a plane.

The BTR-MDM armored personnel carriers (APC) were adopted by the Russian military back in 2015, but they’ve never been airdropped with a crew inside until this latest exercise. The vehicle and its crew safely parachuted from an altitude of over 1,800 meters (over 5,900 feet). The new machine weighs nearly 14 tons and houses two crewmembers and 13 paratroopers. Its predecessor, the BTR-D, weighs only eight tons.

Apart from the new APCs, the paratroopers used two different types of parachutes during a jump from a single plane for the very first time – the rusted Arbalet-3 and new Tandem Military parachute system. The latter parachute is undergoing final testing and is expected to get to the Airborne Troops en masse before the end of this year.

All in all, over 200 armored vehicles and some 2,500 servicemen took part in the drills. The Ryazan Airborne Regiment was bolstered with two battalions of airmobile self-propelled 2S9 Nona mortars, D-30 towed howitzers, an anti-aircraft squad and other units. Several observation UAVs were also engaged in the exercise. Transport aviation brought various planes, such as the iconic Il-76 and An-124.

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‘It looks like it will catch us’: Russian fishermen film stunning waterspout (and it did catch them)

By ethan / July 17, 2018

They got their viral video, but maybe these Russian fishermen should have moved away a bit faster.

“A whirlwind. A Twister. 500 meters from us. Very beautiful. It’s huge,” said Pavel Chernyavsky, as he narrates his Instagram video, geolocated off the coast of Gelendzhik in the Black Sea.

“Maybe it will catch up with us,” he joked in the next sentence, though the slightest note of genuine concern could be heard in his voice. He then points to a second twister, noting that the other column of wind-spun water is black, not white like the first one.

So a video of beautiful natural phenomenon just on the edge of danger was uploaded, and it was immediately picked up by the local media.

READ MORE: Rare 25,000ft ‘firenado’ captured in epic footage (VIDEO)

But the story didn’t end there – whether it was because people who think they are about to die don’t always film themselves, or perhaps the language behind the camera was not suitable for public display.

In a video on his account posted a day later, on Tuesday, Chernyavsky stands on the outside of his moored ship, which is scratched and covered in black marks.

“I want to show you the end result of the tornado,” he said to the camera, with a smile, but evidently still a little shaken. “As the storm broke out, we tried to tether ourselves to a larger ship, but the ropes broke apart, and we had to unmoor from them and we collided.”

“It was a miracle that we survived.”

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X-rated: Prison guard allegedly gives blowjob to inmate in French jail (VIDEO)

By ethan / July 17, 2018

Prison authorities have launched an investigation after an X-rated video released online allegedly showed an intern prison guard pleasuring an inmate in a jail in northern France, according to media reports.

The amorous encounter took place in Sequedin Prison near the city of Lille, Le Parisien newspaper reported on Monday. The video originally posted on Snapchat shows a woman, believed to be an intern prison guard, and a man, allegedly an inmate, somewhere in the facility. The woman exchanges a few words with the prisoner and then checks the corridor of the prison to make sure that no one is there to see them.

The footage then shows the woman kneeling and giving the inmate oral sex. The man is reportedly a 26-year-old prisoner serving his term on drug trafficking charges. Following the incident, he was transported to another facility. The prison administration discovered three mobile phones in his cell, including the one used to film the X-rated scene.

The French prison administration launched an investigation into the case on June 12, French media reported.

READ MORE: Russian meddling or World Cup hopes? Wrong French flag color at July 14 parade puzzles (PHOTOS)

The woman, in the meantime, is banned from working in jails, at least in the position of a prison guard. This behavior is “unprofessional” and doesn’t respect “the principles of proper distance and safety taught at ENAP [National School of the Penitentiary Administration],” the jail administration said, as cited by Le Parisien newspaper. 

The whole situation is unbearable, the secretary general UFAP-UNSA penitentiary syndicate Guillaume Pottier told 20 Minutes. “It’s complicated and it tarnishes the image of the administration,” he added.

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‘Quadrillion tons’ of diamonds located 160km below Earth’s surface, researchers say

By ethan / July 17, 2018

There are over a quadrillion tons of diamonds waiting to be found – the only problem is that they’re 160km beneath the Earth’s surface, according to researchers, who used soundwaves to reveal the massive precious stone deposit.

The incredible discovery was made by scientists at MIT, Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley after they analyzed seismic records.

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© ALROSA

“Diamond in many ways is special,” Dr. Ulrich Faul, a research scientist at MIT, said. “One of its special properties is that the sound velocity in diamond is more than twice as fast as in the dominant mineral in upper mantle rocks, olivine.”

The team found that sound was moving much faster than expected within sections of rock known as cratonic roots. According to the study, up to two percent of these roots may be composed of diamond – meaning there could be a whopping quadrillion tons (a staggering 15 zeroes) of diamonds scattered below our planet’s surface.

“This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the [geological] scale of things, it’s relatively common,” Faul said

However, the diamonds are buried more than 160km (100 miles) beneath the Earth’s surface – making it unlikely the discovery will spark a diamond rush. The deepest drill ever made was at a depth of 12 kilometers (7.5 miles), in the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russia. The boring took 20 years to complete, underscoring that we are a long way off from having the technology to tap into the massive diamond deposits below us.

Faul admitted the evidence of the mind-melting subterranean diamond reserves is “circumstantial” but says it was the only reasonable explanation for the data they had collected.

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Netanyahu hails Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, thanks leaders for discussing Israel’s security

By ethan / July 17, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed Israel’s relations with the US and Russia after Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin said that the Jewish state’s security concerns were discussed during their summit in Helsinki.

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© Yuri Kadobnov

The prime minister’s office released a statement applauding both nations shortly after Putin and Trump concluded their meeting on Monday.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes the deep commitment of the United States and President Trump to Israel’s security, as expressed in the meeting between President Trump and President Putin. The friendship between Israel and the US has never been stronger,” the statement said, adding that Netanyahu “also greatly appreciates the security coordination between Israel and Russia and President Putin’s clear position on the need to implement the 1974 separation agreements between Israel and Syria.”

The Russian president told reporters during a joint press conference that his US counterpart had raised the issue of Israel’s security during their talks. Trump added that both leaders had consulted with Netanyahu regarding “the safety of Israel” before heading into the summit. However, Trump dodged a question asking about specific agreements between the US and Russia regarding Israel’s security.

Israel has reserved the right to attack alleged Iran-affiliated targets inside Syria, claiming that an Iranian military presence in the Arab Republic poses an existential threat to the Jewish state.

While the IDF does not comment on every engagement on its neighbor’s territory, previously acknowledged targets by Israel in Syria included weapons storage facilities, logistics sites and intelligence centers.

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Russian military ‘ready to work with US’ after Trump & Putin talk Syria, nuclear arms in Helsinki

By ethan / July 17, 2018

The Russian military is ready to work with the US colleagues on all the areas discussed by the two presidents during the Helsinki summit, namely cooperation in Syria and mutual reduction of the strategic nuclear arsenals.

“Russian Defense Ministry is ready to implement the agreements on the international security, reached by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump during the Helsinki summit yesterday,” Ministry’s spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Tuesday.

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On Monday, Russian and the US leaders agreed to revitalize the military cooperation in several fields. During the press conference in the aftermath of the summit, Trump stated that Russian and US militaries proved to actually get along better than the politicians of the two countries over the past few years, naming deconfliction communication in Syria as an example.

Putin and Trump agreed to work together on returning the people displaced by the Syrian conflict, since several million of refugees are still living in Turkey and Lebanon. These people might take off and head for Europe, the US and other destinations, Putin warned.

“One should not wait until they start moving towards these destinations, the conditions for their return must be created,” Putin stated.

The two agreed also to step up negotiations on the prolonging of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), aimed at mutual reduction and limitation of the strategic nuclear arsenals. The existing third iteration of the START agreement expires in 2021. Putin said Moscow was ready to prolong the deal, while some “details” must be ironed out first.

Konashenkov said the military was ready “to intensify contacts with its American colleagues through the General Staff and other available channels of communication” on all of the aforementioned issues, as well as other outstanding problems of the international security.

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Russia ready to extend gas transits through Ukraine once legal dispute settled – energy minister

By ethan / July 17, 2018

Russia, the EU and Ukraine held talks Tuesday over the extension of a gas transit contract between Moscow and Kiev which expires next year. Russia says the transit will be extended when legal issues are settled with Ukraine.

“In my opinion, the negotiations have been constructive enough. We exchanged information, exchanged views on the current situation and the prospects for gas supplies to European consumers through the territory of Ukraine,” Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said after negotiations in Berlin on Tuesday. The next talks will be held in October, he added, after experts from all sides discuss the transit volumes.

The negotiations were held between Russia, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic. The meeting was also attended by top executives from major Russian energy firm Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz.

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© Gleb Garanich

Russia is ready to extend transits through Ukraine, Novak  said, repeating the words of President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki meeting with US President Donald Trump. Putin said Russia will extend the current transit contract with Ukraine if the two sides can settle their legal battle.

Earlier this year, the Stockholm Arbitration ordered Russia’s Gazprom to pay Ukraine’s Naftogaz $ 2.6 billion in compensation over a gas transit dispute. Gazprom has not paid Naftogaz while the Russian company is appealing the court decision. At the same time, the Ukrainian state company has been trying to seize Gazprom’s assets in Europe.

According to Novak, Moscow insists that Kiev drop the demand to sieze Gazprom’s European assets until the dispute is resolved. Russia doesn’t rule out the possibility of a settlement with Ukraine, he added.

Germany’s Altmaier said he expects difficult talks but “it’s possible to reach solutions ensuring that Ukraine’s justified security interests are protected well beyond 2020 and that substantial gas transit from Russia to Europe through Ukraine will take place.” Ukraine’s Klimkin didn’t comment on the talks.

Kiev is concerned that Gazprom will cut its transits through Ukraine after the current contract expires and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany is built. However, President Putin has assured both Brussels and Washington that transit through Ukraine will continue.

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Watch the vast flow of US arms exports over 6 decades (VIDEO)

By ethan / July 17, 2018

A stunning timelapse video demonstrates the massive flow of US weapons exports across the globe over the last 67 years, revealing some surprising recipients in a video that’s going viral.

Using data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Arms Transfers Database, which tracks the movement of major conventional weapons, data scientist Will Geary created the jaw-dropping data visualization which depicts a heavy deluge of US weapons flying across the globe from 1950 to 2017.

The US is the world’s biggest arms exporter. In the 1950s, the majority of US arms went to Europe, Canada, Japan and Turkey. In the 1960s, Germany appeared to receive the largest amount of weapons, with Iran joining the list of recipients. Iran’s receipt of US weapons reached an all-time high in the 1970s, right up to the fall of the US-backed Shah and the Iranian Revolution in 1979, making Iran the biggest receiver of weapons that decade. Israel climbed to second on the list of recipients in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, Japan saw the greatest amount of arms in the 1980s, followed by Saudi Arabia and then Israel and Egypt. This was largely repeated in the 1990s, while in the 2000s, South Korea and Israel took the greatest slice of the US arms pie. From 2010, Saudi Arabia received the greatest number of weapons, with Australia next in line.  

After the US, Russia, France, Germany and China provide the greatest number of arms exports. Between 2013 and 2017, the US accounted for 34 percent of total arms exports, an increase of 25 percent from its exports between 2008-2012.

“Based on deals signed during the Obama administration, US arms deliveries in 2013–17 reached their highest level since the late 1990s,” said Dr Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. “These deals and further major contracts signed in 2017 will ensure that the USA remains the largest arms exporter in the coming years.”

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Lawyer who filed complaints to UN against Lithuania over CIA black sites wants leaders indicted

By ethan / July 17, 2018

A human rights lawyer, who sent complaints to the UN against Lithuania for allowing the CIA to host secret prisons on its soil, is sure he will see the country’s leadership indicted. He talks exclusively to RT.

In May of this year, Lithuania and Romania were found responsible for knowingly allowing the torture of prisoners at secret CIA facilities on their territories, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled.

The ECHR decision referred to the cases of Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, both of whom are currently held at the US Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

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A military area in the forest in Stare Kiejkuty village, close to Szczytno in northeastern Poland, August 16, 2013.  © Kacper Pempel

The two governments will have to pay €100,000 ($ 117,000) to each man, the court decided. Lithuania and Romania have three months to file an appeal, should they wish to contest the ruling.

Professor Stanislovas Tomas, a human rights lawyer, filed complaints against Lithuania to the UN Human Rights Committee. He said the ruling is due on July 26. The lawyer insists that the investigation in Lithuania has already lasted eight years and during these years the Lithuanian prosecution failed to even identify the victims and the criminals.

“The European Court of Human Rights says that Abu Zubaydah is a victim and UN says that Mustafa Al-Hawsawi is a victim. So Lithuania failed to identify the victims and failed to identify the criminals,” he concluded. Mustafa al-Hawsawi, another Saudi citizen, claims to have been kept at a ‘black site’ in Lithuania once.

Tomas believes that then-Lithuanian president Rolandas Paksas was impeached back in 2004 only because he refused to host such CIA prisons on Lithuanian soil. His successor Valdas Adamkus who claimed to have been the moral authority in the state, gave the green light to such secret facilities.

The human rights lawyer states that both Adamkus and Arvydas Pocius, the current Chief of Defense of Lithuania, should be declared “suspects” in the case. He has no doubt that those complicit in the hosting of CIA secret prisons will be prosecuted. “The problem is when,” Tomas stressed.

‘Poland paying damages to CIA inmates may force US officials’ accountability for tortures’

Tomas assumes that the greatest obstacle to the development of human rights in Lithuania is that it denies “the binding nature” of the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The lawyer claims that there are secret tapes on which Lithuanian judges are heard talking to each other and complaining that the president of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė sent her advisor to talk to judges in order to convince them to take one or another decision. “That’s a public tape, it was made secretly. This is clear pressure,” he stressed.

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Russia & EU negotiate Ukraine gas transit as exports to Europe reach seasonal high

By ethan / July 17, 2018

Russia is holding talks with the EU and Ukraine over extending a new gas transit contract after 2019 as the country continues to increase its share of the European market.

Gazprom exported 513 million cubic meters per day to Europe in the first two weeks of July, setting a new record high. The Russian energy major increased gas production by 8.5 percent to 270.1 billion cubic meters in the first 6.5 months of 2018. Its exports to Europe and Turkey increased by 5.8 percent to 108.9 billion cubic meters, another record high.

Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak and Gazprom executives are in Berlin on Tuesday for European Commission-mediated talks on extending gas transit through Ukraine after the current contract expires at the end of 2019.

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© David W Cerny

The issue came up during the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump in Helsinki, Finland on Monday. President Putin said Russia will extend the current transit contract with Ukraine if the two sides can settle their legal battle in Stockholm Arbitration, which has awarded Kiev $ 2.6 billion in compensation. Russia’s Gazprom has appealed the decision.

Earlier, the head of Gazprom, Aleksey Miller, said that gas exports to Europe could reach a record 200 billion cubic meters this year. According to Miller, the main factors of growth in demand are the increase in economic activity in European countries and a long-term decline in European gas production.

The Russian share of the European gas market increased to 34 percent last year, and Gazprom is seeking to increase it. However, it is still unknown how much of it will come through Ukraine.

Kiev is concerned that Gazprom will cut its transits through Ukraine after the current contract expires and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany is built. However, President Putin has assured both Brussels and Washington that transit through Ukraine will continue.

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