The strategic command and staff exercises »Caucasus 2020» have begun in Russia. The exercises are the final operational training of the Russian forces for the current year. The exercises will be held from 21st to 26th of September, on the territory of the Southern Military District, as well as on the Black and Caspian Seas. The exercises are headed by the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Forces — army general Valery Gerasimov. The Russian Defense Ministry reported that 80,000 servicemen are involved in the exercises, including the staff from the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the National Guard. The militaries of Armenia, Belarus, China, Myanmar and Pakistan will take part in the exercises as well. The number of the foreign troops won’t exceed 1,000 servicemen. The representatives from Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Sri Lanka will attend as observers.
The deputy head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Parties in Syria, Rear-Admiral Alexander Grinkevich, reported about a preparation of provocations, with the use of poisonous substances, in the south of the Idlib DMZ, by the terrorists from the ‘Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’ group. “According to our information — the activists of the pseudo-human rights organization ‘White Helmets’ are taking part in the preparation of the planned chemical provocations, including the staged video filming” — Grinkevich added. According to him — the terrorists are planning to fake those attacks in the coming days in the settlements of Erich and Besames, in order to «accuse the Syrian government forces of using chemical weapons against the civilians».
«The Russian and Turkish military conducted a joint patrol drill in the Idlib DMZ, in Syria» — said Yevgeny Polyakov, the deputy head of the Idlib DMZ coordination center. «The actions of the military personnel, involved in the patrolling, were worked out. The organization of the communications on the route, with the use of special signals, was trained as well» — he added. During the training, the interaction of the military of the two countries was worked out in case of the emergency situations, including the terrorist attacks. During the training the servicemen evacuated the ‘wounded’ and drove away the ‘damaged’ vehicles. They also practiced the procedures for the support units, including the case of the use of chemical weapons against the civilians».
4 The USA
The US Presidential Special Envoy for the Arms Control, Marshall Billingsley, stated during an interview to the newspaper »Kommersant» that the US might put forward new conditions for the extension of the ‘START Treaty’ if Russia won’t accept the offer before the US presidential election. He underlined that the USA consider the proposal made to Russia as «moderate at this stage, and very reasonable». «I suppose that if Russia won’t accept it — then, after the Trump’s re-election, the ‘entrance fee’ will be increased. If by that time we do not move forward — we will have a number of new conditions on which we will have to insist» — Marshall Billingsley explained and added that if by February Russia and the USA won’t sign the agreement — the USA intend to not re-new the ‘START Treaty’ since it is not beneficial for the USA.
The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, called the statement of the US Presidential Special Representative for the Arms Control, Marshall Billingsley, that Washington supposedly will offer Moscow «new conditions» to extend the ‘START treaty’ to be »an ultimatum that reduces the chances of concluding any agreement. It is no less strange that Billingsley, in his comments, said that Russia has already agreed with the USA on the need to involve China in the negotiations on this matter. This is a deliberate distortion of our position” — Sergei Ryabkov explained and added that Russia considers that joining any agreements or negotiations is «the sovereign choice of any country, including China. We haven’t taken, and we don’t intend to take any steps to drag China into such negotiations, which was repeatedly said to our American colleagues. Thus, their statements about our supposed agreement with their approach are absolutely contrary to the facts. But this is not the only example of how the Americans distort the matter» — Sergei Ryabkov concluded.