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May 14, 2022
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Russia Threatens Retaliation over Finland's NATO Bid - ALLOW IMAGES

Russia Threatens Retaliation over Finland's NATO Bid

May 14, 2022
What You Need To Know

Tensions are increasing in a number of regions around the world.

Finland Joint Statement on NATO Membership

While the battle in eastern and southern Ukraine continues, on Thursday of this week a joint public statement was issued by the President and Prime Minister of Finland on the topic of NATO membership. Quoting directly from the statement:

"During this spring, an important discussion on Finland’s possible NATO membership has taken place. Time has been needed to let Parliament and the whole society establish their stands on the matter. Time has been needed for close international contacts with NATO and its member countries, as well as with Sweden. We have wanted to give the discussion the space it required."

"Now that the moment of decision-making is near, we state our equal views, also for information to the parliamentary groups and parties. NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days."

Russia Fumes

As to be expected, Moscow issued a harsh response to the joint statement. Russia's Foreign Ministry warned that Moscow "will be forced to take retaliatory steps of military-technical and other characteristics in order to counter the emerging threats to its national security."

Readers are reminded that the invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland, which shares more than 800 miles of border with Russia, to move away from its decades-long history of neutrality and military nonalignment.

As previously reported by Threat Journal, public opinion in both nations shifted dramatically in favor of NATO membership after the invasion, which stirred fears in countries along Russia's border that they could be targeted next.

As if intended to bolster these concerns, this week a Russian lawmaker close to Vladimir Putin warned that recent comments from Poland’s leaders are encouraging Moscow to "put it in first place for denazification after Ukraine."

Medvedev Warns of Full Fledged Nuclear War

Also on Thursday, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia's security council and former President of Russia, said in a Telegram post:

"NATO countries pumping weapons into Ukraine, training troops to use Western equipment, sending in mercenaries and the exercises of Alliance countries near our borders increase the likelihood of a direct and open conflict between Nato and Russia."

"Such a conflict always has the risk of turning into a full-fledged nuclear war." Medvedev added "This will be a disastrous scenario for everyone."

Turkey: Not So Fast...

In an interesting twist to the whole topic of Finland and Sweden joining NATO, Turkish President Recep Erdogan said Friday that his country is “not favorable” toward Finland and Sweden joining the alliance, indicating Turkey could use its membership to veto moves to admit the two countries.

Erdogan told reporters, “We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion.”

Readers are reminded that all NATO decisions are made by consensus, after discussion and consultation among member countries. Per NATO:

"When a 'NATO decision' is announced, it is therefore the expression of the collective will of all the sovereign states that are members of the Alliance."

Erdogan explained his opposition by citing Sweden and other Scandinavian countries’ alleged support for Kurdish militants and others whom Turkey considers to be terrorists.

Despite his words, it is likely Erdogan is simply using this opportunity as leverage to gain concessions on an unrelated matter involving the U.S., NATO or the EU (think Syria and Iraq, immigration, pipeline transit fees, etc..).

Britain Signs Security Agreements w/ Sweden and Finland

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to Sweden and Finland to sign mutual security agreements with the two countries completely separate from any NATO treaties. Under the agreements, signed separately with Swedish Prime Minster and Finnish President, the countries would provide military and other assistance to the other signatory upon request and tailored to the specific request.

N. Korea Continues Work at Nuclear Test Site

Recent commercial satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site in North Korea indicates efforts to restore an access tunnel and support facilities continue. According to the nonprofit monitoring and analysis group 38 North, on imagery from May 10th, a shelter used to house equipment providing air, lighting, ventilation and power to the tunnel network can be seen. In addition, cabling seen leading to the portal now clearly extends into the entrance. Additional equipment and materials have also arrived and are staged near the entrance. Roads leading to the facility are also being improved using spoils from the tunnel clearing effort.

Last Friday, State Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said during a telephone briefing that "the United States assesses that the DPRK is preparing its Punggye-ri test site and could be ready to conduct a test there as early as this month."

20 States Sue for Title 42

A federal judge on Friday declined to issue an immediate ruling on whether the Biden administration can rescind COVID-related border restrictions that prevent immigrants from requesting asylum in the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays of Louisiana said he would leave in place the Trump-era policy while he weighs a legal challenge filed by more than 20 states seeking to bar the White House from rescinding what has become known as the Title 42 policy.

Readers are reminded that Title 42, a public health order issued by the Trump administration, allows Customs and Border Protection to expel migrants to Mexico or back to their home countries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in holding facilities.

In mid March, Axios published a report that U.S. intelligence officials are privately bracing for a massive influx of migrants at the Mexico border if Title 42 is lifted.

AlertsUSA continues to monitor the domestic and international threat environment around the clock and will immediately notify service subscribers, via SMS messages to their mobile devices, of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.


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SMS ALERTS FROM THIS WEEK
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5/11 - US Embassy Paris warning of reports across France of individuals being "stung by unidentified objects" at concerts and festivals resulting in nausea. See email.

 
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Ukrainian 2S22 Bohdana 155-mm wheeled self-propelled howitzer.  - ALLOW IMAGES

Ukraine War Update

May 14, 2022
What You Need To Know

According to the UK Ministry of Defence:

Russia is investing significant effort in the vicinity of Izium and Severodonetsk in an attempt to achieve a breakthrough towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. The primary objective on this axis is to envelop Ukrainian forces in the Joint Forces Operation area, isolating them from support or reinforcement by units in the west of the country.

Ukrainian forces successfully prevented an attempted Russian river crossing in the Donbas. Images indicate that during the crossing of the Siverskyi Donets river west of Severodonetsk, Russia lost significant armoured manoeuvre elements of at least one Battalion Tactical Group as well as the deployed pontoon bridging equipment.

Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky manoeuvre and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have failed to make any significant advances despite concentrating forces in this area after withdrawing and redeploying units from the Kyiv and Chernihiv Oblasts.

UK Defence intelligence conflict map for May 13, 2022. - ALLOW IMAGES

Atlas 5 rocket launch, Jan 20, 2015 Photo: Lauri Väin via Flickr.- ALLOW IMAGES

Commentary / Analysis / Research

May 14, 2022

Outer Space and the Veil of Ignorance

Outer space continues to get more and more dangerous and more “congested, contested, and competitive” than at any point in history. In 1976, for example, only about 750 satellites (PDF) were in orbit around the earth; as of January 5 this year, there were 12,480, with tens of thousands more expected in the years to come. SpaceX alone has been granted licenses to launch 12,000 more Starlink satellites over the next five years as part of its megaconstellation efforts. Other companies and countries are following suit: Amazon plans to launch over 3,000 satellites, Britain's OneWeb plans to launch nearly 100,000, and China plans to launch nearly 13,000.

In 2013, there were approximately 21,000 pieces of debris about the diameter of a softball or larger, and about 500,000 pieces at least the size of a marble; in 2022, those numbers have grown to 36,500 and 1 million respectively. Any debris in space can be incredibly dangerous: While a wrench dropped by a sailor sinks harmlessly to the bottom of the ocean, a wrench dropped in space becomes a 7,000 meter per second projectile (PDF) capable of destroying a satellite or space station.

Equally as concerning, terrestrial conflicts like the war in Ukraine automatically have a space conflict component. Currently, there are no international binding rules that would address these growing threats.

~ READ MORE HERE (RAND) ~

Ukraine – Can the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Survive?

[The war in Ukraine] does raise concerns as to how smaller states view the protections nuclear weapons provide and might seek them after viewing the hesitancy of Western intervention in Ukraine. China’s quest to surpass the U.S. globally could be one of the largest shifts in geopolitical power the world has ever seen. Unfortunately, China has shown they are willing to exploit the social global contracts built around human rights. China, Russia, and North Korea all give the international community much to worry about these days as other notable hostile nations (Yemen, Libya, Algeria, and Syria) evaluate their risks based on Western responses to the situation in Ukraine.

~ READ MORE HERE (Small Wars Journal) ~

Ghosts In The Machine

A new and somewhat unnerving recruiting pitch from the U.S. Army’s 4th Psychological Operations Group asks viewers one simple question: “Have you ever wondered who’s pulling the strings?” 

Do not miss this.

~ READ MORE HERE (Task and Purpose) ~


Fleet and Marine Tracker Map as of May 9, 2022.  - ALLOW IMAGES
 
USNI Fleet and Marine Tracker
May 14, 2022

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of May 9, 2022 based on U.S. Navy, public data provided by the U.S. Naval Institute, and open source reporting. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.


U.S. Air Force operators with the 492nd Special Operations Wing conduct a free-fall jump mission out of the back of an MC-130J Commando II assigned to the 27th Special Operations Wing during an Emerald Warrior 22.1 mission over Eglin Range, Fla., May 4, 2022. Emerald Warrior is the largest joint special operations exercise involving U.S. Special Operations Command forces training to respond to various threats across the spectrum of conflict. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Harrison Winchell)  - ALLOW IMAGES
 
World News Roundup
May 14, 2022

AMERICAS

New White House Covid projection puzzles experts
Are 100 million new COVID-19 cases coming?
U.S. surpasses 1 million COVID-19 deaths: A look at the numbers
Congress wants potential 15 hull, 5-year destroyer deal at 3 ships a year
Tank-busting switchblade drone closer to joining aid to Ukraine
USS George Washington suicides raise alarm on Capitol Hill
MDA looks to narrow competition for hypersonic missile killer
United States passes one million Covid deaths
US increases sanctions to fight ISIS financing
House Democrats urge Biden to lift Venezuela sanctions
Body of last missing person recovered after explosion at Cuba's Hotel
Fatal boat trip highlights Haitians fleeing violence
Congress to hold UFO hearing next week

EUROPE

Finland’s leaders say country should apply to NATO ‘without delay
Sweden is following Finland’s lead on joining the NATO alliance
Seven (initial) drone warfare lessons from Ukraine
Russia threatens ‘military-technical’ retaliation over Finland’s NATO bid
Russia's Inter RAO to halt power exports to Finland due lack of payment
Finland’s NATO membership will trigger response – Moscow
Tuberville says US risks war with Russia by ‘poking the bear’ in Ukraine
Russia must withdraw to pre-invasion position for a deal - Zelensky
Russia curbs gas supplies to Germany in warning for Europe
Brussels reverses shipping ban for Russian crude after protests
The EU has a major problem with securing non-Russian gas
Germany accuses Russia of ‘weaponizing’ energy in escalation of gas feud
Ukraine won't restart gas flows to Europe until it has control of pipelines
EU seeks bigger role in Asia's 'theatre of tensions', warns on China
Number of refugees fleeing Ukraine war exceeds 6 million -UN agency
Biden administration cancels oil and gas lease sales in Alaska, Gulf of Mexico
West's support for Ukraine risks 'full-scale nuclear war,' Medvedev warns
Greek shipowners kill EU’s Russian oil tanker ban

MIDDLE EAST / AFRICA

Gulf OPEC members sound alarm about dwindling global energy capacity
N. Korea fires 3 ballistic missiles amid 1st virus outbreak
Saudi Aramco overtakes Apple as world's most valuable company
Somalia set to elect new president amid growing insecurity
Iran spies on US military base in Bahrain
What’s drawing the US back into Libya? Ukraine, Russia, and oil
Iran arrests dozens protesting sudden price hike in food staples
EU sees reopening of Iran nuclear talks but US cautious
Israel fires missiles at central Syrian town, killing 5: Reports
Israeli police clash with mourners at funeral of slain Palestinian journalist
France condemns arrest of two citizens in Iran
South Africa's COVID-19 spike intensifies
Niger: NGOs complain over alleged loss of $99m in state funds
Sudanese protests against military rule persist
Somalia finally holds long-delayed election
Slavery still exists in Mauritania - UN envoy

ASIA

Rumors that Xi Jinping will step down amid harsh COVID lockdown
Chinese bases in the Pacific: a reality check
The U.S. and Japan need training with Taiwan to deter China
North Korea test-fires ANOTHER rocket towards Japan
North Korea's Kim orders lockdown as first covid-19 outbreak is confirmed
Great Wal of naval targets discovered in Chinese desert
Is a wheat crisis developing in China as farmers cut crops early?
Sri Lanka crisis: Gotabaya Rajapaksa appoints veteran politician as PM
Sri Lankans running out of food, fuel and medicine
Preparing a post-invasion Taiwan for insurgency
Biden touts 'free and open' Indo-Pacific in summit with ASEAN rulers
Bridge in disputed territory between China and India sparks concern
Shanghai moves to impose tightest restrictions yet
Locked down Shanghai aims to eliminate Covid over the next week
21 more dead as North Korea battles Covid outbreak


Book - Three Seconds Until Midnight by Dr. Steven Hatfill et al..

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Travel Security Resources

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The U.S. Dept. of State Travel Website is the authoritative federal source for information on the security situation at travel destinations worldwide. With tensions rapidly increasing in most regions, readers planning international travel, even to such common destinations as Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, are strongly encouraged to research on the security situation at your destination prior to departure.

Active USGOV Travel Notices
Worldwide Caution


Active USGOV Travel Advisories
Alphabetical Country List
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Other USGOV Travel Resources
Traveler's Checklist
Smart Traveler Enrollment Prog (STEP)
Travelers with Special Considerations
Travel to High-Risk Areas
Faith-Based Travel Information
Information for Women Travelers
Cruise Ship Passengers
Students Abroad
Your Health Abroad
Driving and Road Safety Abroad

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The Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides a variety of resources to enhance the safety and security of the U.S. private sector businesses and organizations operating abroad.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is the authoritative federal source for information on current health issues related to specific destinations worldwide. These issues may arise from disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters, or other conditions that may affect travelers’ health.

Foreign Sources of Travel Guidance

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