|March 16, 1999|
Eleven Signs of a Russian Surprise Attack
Here are eleven more disturbing signs Nyquist identifies as Russian war preparations:
1. Russia’s Alert Status. As reported last year, Russia regularly put its missiles on a high state of alert, claiming their early warning systems did not work properly. Nyquist calls these periodical high alerts "one of the ominous signs of Russian duplicity.”
As Nyquist explains, firing a missile is not as simple as simply "pushing a button.” An alert status means, in real terms, increased activity around a missile base as fuel and other preparations are made for a launch. Putting missiles on high alert means Russia is capable of launching in a matter of hours or even minutes.
American intelligence analysts have scrupulously monitored such activity, largely through satellites. During Soviet days, an alert status would have been a huge red flag to US intelligence, leading the US to also heighten their alert status. The Russian’s high state of alert and their frequent changes in alert status, have made the US military complacent. What normally would be a warning sign of an attack -- Russia going on alert -- is now viewed as business as usual.
2. Mock attacks. In the past two years, Russia has engaged in numerous mock attacks against the United States, including nuclear attacks.
On February 21, 1997, then Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin "was at the Odinstovo nuclear command center, overseeing an exercise whose assignment was ‘to destroy the US in less than an hour,’” according to a press account in Segodnya.
In September of 1997 Russia’s defense forces conducted a three-day nuclear attack exercise, which included a test firing of ICBM’s, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and bomber-launched cruise missiles.
The Washington Times reported that in the fall of 1997, a Russian attack submarine stalked "close enough to sink ... with high speed cruise missiles” three carrier battle groups off the coast of Washington state.
In October of 1998, TASS reported that Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces practiced a mock nuclear attack, firing an ICBM, against the United States. The exercise was coordinated with the Russian’s strategic bomber force.
The Washington Times reported that in April of 1998, "Russia’s strategic bomber forces recently carried out simulated nuclear bombing raids against the United States in an exercise that included test firings of long-range cruise missiles.” During these exercises, Russian bombers flew to the polar regions, as they would in an attack against the United States.
These are the exercises that have been reported. Are these the actions of "America’s friend?” In military strategy, mock attacks are a classic way to launch a real, surprise attack. Like high alert status, such repeated exercises create complacency on the part of American analysts who are being conditioned to view these exercises as normal.
3. Russia is stockpiling food in the midst of a supposed "famine”:
Three years ago, Ambassador Richard Starr, a top Reagan administration arms control expert, writing in the Wall Street Journal, said that Russia had stockpiled some 362 million metric tons of wheat. (One economist calculated this was enough grain to feed the entire population of the former Soviet Union for three years.)
Recent Russian national budgets have also allotted large amounts for civil defense, including the purchase of provisional supplies like food stocks.
Such food stockpiles are crucial in fighting and winning a nuclear war. Russia has a much more sophisticated civil defense system than the United States. During a nuclear war, millions of Russians would be underground, unable to plant, harvest or process food. Russia also has always used its armed forces to harvest food, which would be difficult during a war.
A nuclear war would likely create a complete breakdown of the economy of the warring parties, and the rest of the world’s economy. Any nation engaged a war would need food, oil and other vital supplies. A nation without such supplies would likely have no alternative but to surrender or be destroyed.
Nyquist noted to me six months ago that unusual changes in the food requirements of Russia could be a tip-off that war is close at hand.
In the fall of this year, just months after Nyquist’s comments, Russia announced that it had suffered its worse famine in more than forty years. Russian authorities claimed, alternatively, there will be mass starvation later this winter, and near famine is already taking places in some regions of Russia. There are good reasons to be skeptical of Russian claims of a "famine.”
The government claims the harvest was half of what it was last year. Other press reports state it was 25 percent less than last year. In either case, as a result of these claims of famine, the US and Europe are transferring huge quantities of food to Russia.
The European community has agreed to send approximately $550 million in food. The aid package includes a million tons of wheat, 100,000 tons of pork, 150,000 tons of beef, and 50,000 tons of milk powder and rice.
The United States aid package was formalized just two days before Christmas 1998. The US agreed to ship Russia $625 million in food. The package includes an outright gift of 1.5 million metric tons of wheat. The US will also "lend” Russia funds to purchase an additional 1.5 million tons of other commodities -- including corn, soybean meal, rice, beef, pork, and nonfat dry milk. [Note: why, with a "wheat shortfall,” does Russia desperately need everything from beef to milk?]
Is there really a famine in Russia or is it a propaganda creation of the government? Interfax reported that by the fall of 1998, overall farming production was actually up, ".4 percent higher than it was in 1996.”
Russia’s demand for wheat has also fallen considerably in recent years. Why? Russia has been slaughtering her herds during the past five years -- another ominous sign.
In 1997, Russia had a bumper grain crop of nearly 90 million tons of wheat, with claimed reserves of 20 million tons. Since Russia has about fifty percent fewer livestock than five years ago, this should have left substantial reserves for this winter.
Major General Sergei Shoigu, minister of emergency situations, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times this past October stating, "I am totally sure that there will be no sort of famine at all, since there are sufficient reserves in the country.”
As word of the "famine” spread from Russian sources this past September, Russian Agricultural Minister Viktor Semyonov, also denied that Russia had a serious food problem.
"This campaign is being waged in the interests of foreign agricultural producers who, under the pretext of severe food shortages, are trying to gain advantages importing their products.” Reuters reported that Semyonov said domestic producers "are still capable of filling the shops with food.”
Another contradictory statement: Mikhail Zadornov, Russia’s Finance Minister, said as late as October 22, that "Russia’s financial situation is not such that it requires direct humanitarian aid. I would express gratitude for such [food aid] proposals, but I think food imports will continue on the normal market basis.”
A poor, all-around harvest, was then redefined. Russia is now claiming that its grain harvest was generally OK except "in wheat grown for animal feed.”
"The food portion, of the milling quality (wheat), is just as large as last year,” Gerald Rector, the head of USDA’s wheat and food grains forecasting committee, reportedly told a USDA meeting.
ARMY TO GET FOOD
In October Prime Minister Primakov announced that Russia was allocating some $600 million to purchase food stocks for "special consumers” and "certain regions.” The Associated Press reported that Primakov’s reference to "special consumers” referred to "soldiers.”
Claims that the army urgently needs emergency food and other reports that the army is starving or eating "dog food,” seem far fetched. It is well known that the Russian army has generous funding for secure stockpiles of food, and that troops are traditionally fed from food reserves, which in some cases are over six years old. Thus, a current food shortfall for the military would have to be the result of bad harvests in previous, recent years -- which is not the case. The current claim of a bad harvest could effect the army’s food supply sometime down the road, but would not require the emergency shipments of food which Russia says she desperately needs.
HOW CAN RUSSIAN PROMISES BE TRUSTED?
As word was spreading of the Russian famine, Russia’s second highest ranking auditor, accounts chamber chief Boldyrev, went public in Germany’s Der Spiegel, with allegations of massive fraud of Western loans to Russia. Boldyrev claims there is massive fraud and misappropriation of funds, and that he "does not know of a single case in which government activities were investigated and no gross violations were discovered.”
The Los Angeles Times reported recently that the American negotiators were concerned that food aid would actually get to the intended people and might instead end up on the black market, or simply disappear into a black hole, as had happened with previous food shipments.
According to news reports, the US-Russian food deal had hit a snag because Russia did not want monitors overseeing the distribution of the food to make sure it is delivered to the Russian people. [It is important to note that such food supplies are fungible and that foreign food aid could be distributed to the population while domestic supplies are stockpiled.] Russia did, eventually, agree to monitors. As it turns, the United States will have two -- yes, just two -- monitors in Moscow to oversee the $625 million food distribution program.
Food exchanges could endanger US security, as Nyquist points out, because each ton of food shipped from the US and Europe is one less ton America or Europe will have during the next war.
Quite remarkably, the Clinton administration is considering drawing down critical US military food stocks to help Russia. According to a Washington Times report, "a retired Russian general has informally asked the US government to ship defense food stockpiles,” known as MRE’s, or meals-ready-to-eat. That move would be disastrous if war breaks out because, at current US troop strength, the Pentagon only has 150 days of food reserves (a very low number in the event of war). According to the Times, the Clinton administration is actually considering this dangerous move.
If Russia is really in the midst of a famine and our friend, why are they building up military food stockpiles? This makes no sense, unless Nyquist’s scenario is correct.
4. Russia is cutting back on planting. If the famine this year is for real, Russian planners should be seeking expanded planting and harvesting next year. But, this is not the case.
In fact, according to TASS, the State Statistics committee reported on October 15 that Russia is dramatically reducing the number of acres to be planted next year, from 60 million acres this year to 54 million acres.
As Nyquist points out, that doesn’t make sense if Russia has a long-term food problem. It does make sense if Russian planners know that a large area of Russian farmland will be contaminated with fallout, or that the population will be underground during the planting or harvest season.
Another disturbing fact is that Russia’s food situation is being handled by Andrei Kokoshin, secretary of Russia’s Security Council. The Security Council is a military agency. Consider how such a food shortage in the United States might be handled. Would the Pentagon be handling the matter or the Agricultural, Commerce or would other, civilian departments be used?
Also noteworthy is information that Russia had increased food imports well before any knowledge of the harvest was apparent. In August, Russian imports of chicken from the United States increased a dramatic 20 percent.
5. Russia has been slaughtering its herds. According to SovEkon, a Moscow think tank, during the past five years, about half of Russia’s cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens have been killed.
In the past year, the slaughtering of the herds, particularly of cattle and sheep, has dramatically increased. Interfax reported that as of October 1, 1998, Russia had 16 percent fewer sheep and goats, and 9 percent fewer cattle than a year previous. These are extreme reductions, and it is difficult to re-build those stocks.
Why the reduction? Nyquist believes that the Russians are canning the meat from their herds because they know that grazing herds, such as sheep and cattle, will be less valuable after a nuclear war begins. Fallout from such a war would contaminate livestock, making them useless for food. [And remember, last year Russia had a bumper harvest, so there should have been no shortage of animal feed, and it is still cheaper to raise livestock in Russia than it is to ship meat and poultry from United States or Europe.]
6. Russia is hoarding oil. Oil has been an important commodity for Russia for decades, and a major source of hard foreign currency. Russia has long been a net exporter of oil.
In October, 1998 TASS reported that Russia had "cut export of petroleum products by 26.6 percent to 30.2 million tons in 8 months of 1998.” Why would cash-starved Russia cut back on exports and of its best sources of hard currency in the midst of an economic crisis?
Though Russia has modernized its oil production capabilities in recent years thanks to a huge infusion of Western capital and expertise, Russia’s First Vice premier Yuri Maslyukov told Interfax (as reported in the Wall Street Journal, November 4, 1998), that Russia was quickly "turning into an oil importing nation.”
One of the nations Russia has been buying oil from is Iraq. In a six-month period in 1998, Russia purchased 107 million barrels of Iraqi oil, making Russia the largest purchaser under the UN’s "oil-for-food” program. Why does Russia find it necessary to buy so much oil and why from Iraq? Nyquist believes this is a payoff to Iraq and another big tip-off of an impending war.
Like food, a modern society cannot exist without oil. Nyquist notes that the Russian military is very aware of the lessons of World War II. They know that the German war machine was actually more productive at the height of allied bombing in 1944. Not until Russian troops physically occupied the Romanian oil fields, the lifeblood of the German war machine, did German war production grind to a halt.
In a global war in which nuclear weapons are used, the nation that has resources of food and oil will have a critical advantage. The nation that doesn’t have significant reserves will likely be utterly destroyed -- no matter how wealthy that nation is before the war starts.
7. Russia is moving its strategic nuclear weapons from land to sea. This is perhaps one of the most ominous developments to take place in Russia during the past six months.
Any military strategist knows that sea-based nuclear weapons, particularly those on submarines, are considerably less vulnerable to attack than land-based weapons. Strategists in both Russia and the United States also know that land-based missiles can be knocked out by ground-bursting nuclear weapons, making the need for sea- based weaponry critical. Russia has long had numerical superiority over the United States in both nuclear weapons and submarines. Russia has 42 ballistic missile submarines compared to 18 for the United States.
In July of 1998, the commander-in-chief of Russia’s navy announced -- as widely reported in the Russian press -- that the Russian military was moving a huge number of their total land-based, strategic nuclear weapons onto naval ships, where they will be much less vulnerable to attack or counter-attack. Previously, the Russian navy only controlled 30 percent of Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons. That number will dramatically increase to 50 percent under the new plan.
Why is this being done? Why now? Why during a fiscal crisis when their whole country is supposedly in disarray and their soldiers are supposedly being fed dog food?
8. Russia is hoarding gold. Gold is a precious commodity, and in times of war it’s even more precious. When war breaks out, the price of gold can go up 3, 5, even 10-fold overnight in a warring nation.
Russia has long been one of the world’s largest gold producing nations. At the end of the Soviet period, Russia was said to have had large reserves of gold, but these reserves mysteriously disappeared during the break-up of the USSR.
In recent months more strange activity. In October of 1998, the Associated Press reported that Russia’s gold production this year was approximately 120 tons, and that next year, the cash-strapped Russian government planned to spend $411 million to buy 50 tons of gold.
The Russian government announced that it would begin something that is highly unusual: it would mint and issue to the public $1.5 billion in gold and silver coins.
Still more interesting is the Interfax report just a month later. The Russian government approved legislation that abolished taxes on the sale of gold coins and ingots, giving its citizens a strong incentive to buy gold.
This is extremely odd because Russia is in the middle of a major currency crisis in which their currency has been repeatedly devalued. Typically, during such a crisis, governments do everything they can to prevent their citizens from dumping the national currency and buying foreign currencies or gold.
Nyquist believes that the Russian government is encouraging its citizens to buy gold because it wants to have as much gold as possible within its borders in the event of war. The Russian government knows that gold would be the most stable currency in a war time economy.
9. Russia has openly entered into an alliance with China and is increasingly working with other totalitarian powers hostile to the US. During the last few years, Russia and China have increased their military ties and technology transfers, including the purchase of some $15 billion of Russian armaments by China.
In just the past few months, China and Russia have also sharply reduced troops along their mutual border. For instance, this fall alone, Russia removed 300 army units from the Chinese border.
In late 1998, Russia and China openly announced that the purpose of their new alliance was to challenge US global dominance. Nyquist believes this could mean that Russia and China have agreed to war protocols along their border and are preparing to confront America with "one clenched fist.”
The new alliance between China and Russia is a major blow to US strategic deterrence. Since Nixon "opened up China” in the 1970s, the US has regarded China as an important ally in containing Russian expansion. Time and again I was told, as odious as strengthening China might be, it was essential to curbing Russia. Based on the belief that China was America’s ally in Russian containment, the US and Europe have given China tens of billions of dollars in aid, loans, and trade concessions. That Western aid and trade has made China the commercial tiger of Asia, and a world military power.
By allying with Russia, China has shattered decades of US strategic planning -- and incredibly this has not made headlines and no one in Congress or the media seems concerned.
This new alliance also means that in the event of war, America will probably have to fight both Russia and China, which together have both the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and the world’s largest conventional army. The 1998 World Almanac credits China with the world’s largest armed forces with 2.9 million active troops and 1.2 million reserve troops. Including local militias (the equivalent of our National Guard), China could quickly field some 5 million troops, compared to less than 1 million for the US. Russia could field an additional 1.2 million troops and has an incredible 20 million reserve troops. Together, Russia and China could field 26-times as many troops as the US.
In the past few months, Russia has also been making diplomatic overtures and formalizing treaties with a half-dozen militant rogue states, including North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Several analysts see this as the possible beginning of an immense and very sinister anti-American axis.
10. Russia’s Nuclear War Bunkers. Perhaps the clearest sign that Russia is planning on fighting and winning a nuclear war is their investment of billions of precious dollars to build a vast system of underground bunkers and shelters. This system has just one purpose: To enable millions of Russians to survive a nuclear war.
In 1996 the New York Times described just one of these huge underground facilities, which was being was built under the Ural Mountains. Its size alone is staggering: Over 10 square miles of shops, homes, and storage facilities were being built underground -- an area greater than that of the entire city of Washington, DC. The Times reported that the facility includes railways, factories, and apartment complexes -- everything hundreds of thousands of people need to survive a nuclear war. And this is just one of scores of such facilities throughout Russia and the CIS.
In 1997, the Washington Times reported that a CIA report detailed the vast underground network includes a subway from the Kremlin directly to facilities in the Ural Mountains. If the Cold War is really over and Russia is our friend, why have they built this enormous system of shelters?
11. Russia has a sophisticated anti-ballistic missile system. According to William Lee, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, Russia has between 10,000 and 12,000 anti-ballistic missiles ringing Russia, controlled by 18 battle management radar systems. The only possible use for this system is to neutralize a nuclear counterattack by the United States. Under Russia’s 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the United States, this anti-missile system is completely illegal. Moreover, the system is widely believed to use nuclear weapons at the tips of their interceptor missiles, which could be exploded high above the atmosphere to knock out incoming US missiles. Clinton has yet to utter one word of protest.