Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gog Alliance

Russia gets permission to use Iran's Hamadan air base for Syria airstrikes - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Russia is considering using Iran's Hamadan airbase to launch airstrikes on insurgents in Syria if its aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, leaves Syria's coastline on the Mediterranean for a new mission, Russian and Iranian officials said. [...] Iran allowed Russia to operate from the base in mid-August. The jets returned to Russia after completing their anti-terror mission one week later. Iran became uneasy about the situation because the Iranian constitution prohibits the presence of any foreign forces on Iranian soil."

Comment: An alliance of prophetic importance is growing stronger. This is noteworthy. 

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Rumors of War - Kings of the East

Experts divided on impact of new U.N. North Korea sanctions - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The United Nations Security Council adopted a new sanctions resolution that will target North Korea's nuclear weapons program by tightening restrictions on coal exports. But some experts are skeptical sanctions Resolution 2321 is enough to alter Pyongyang's ability to proliferate weapons of mass destruction, Yonhap reported. The latest sanctions also ban exports of copper, nickel, silver, zinc and even the sale of statues, the BBC reported Wednesday."

Comment: Quick question: Have the previous sanctions worked? 

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Covenant With Many

AIMonitor - Will Trump's win prompt EU to adopt independent Mideast policy?
The AIMonitor reports: "The European states, as expressed by many of their leaders in the past months, are concerned about Trump’s lack of experience in foreign and security matters, by his pro-Russian stance and his various expressions against the EU, NATO and free trade deals. He is viewed in most EU capitals as an American nationalist and isolationist who intends to bolster the US military. [...] Therefore, EU policy planners have been requested to focus on developing independent EU policy engagements on a two-state solution. Such engagements will express EU goals in this context. [...] the EU will propose that, within a two-state solution, both Israel and Palestine will be offered the highest nonmember status, namely membership in the European Economic Area. The EU will also use its economic clout to encourage the parties to advance toward a two-state solution, both by economic and scientific incentives and, possibly, by punitive measures."

Comment: According to this report, one possible result of the "Trump effect"  in international affairs would be to bolster the EU role in negotiating a Middle East peace deal. As you know, more EU involvement is something many Bible prophecy commentators have been expecting for many years. We don't yet know what a Trump foreign policy will look like, but we should watch carefully for any hints as to what his Mideast policy will be. If the U.S. stands down, the EU is waiting in the wings to take over the search for peace in the volatile region.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

War

Syrian military captures part of rebel-held Aleppo as civilians flee - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Syrian military continued its progress to retake Aleppo, scene of some of the worst fighting in the four-year-old civil war in Syria, capturing several districts in the city on Sunday and driving out rebel militants. Government sources say Syria has retaken about one-third of the area controlled by rebels in eastern Aleppo, moving neighborhood by neighborhood. Thousands of civilians have fled the city to safer ground as the battle there intensifies."

Comment: How's the civil war in Syria going? Pretty good for the government, not so good for the rebels.  Would it be fair to say that the U.S. and allies have pretty much signed off on a government victory? Well played Vlad, well played.

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Future Fear - Roaring Waves

Scientists: Unchecked Arctic melting may bring irreversible change - UPI.com
UPI reports: "In the Arctic Resilience Report, released Friday, the team of scientists said Arctic ice is melting faster than ever before and it will probably only get worse. In fact, the ecological change currently happening in the Arctic region is unprecedented, they say, and could one day become irreversible. [...] If the Greenland sheet melted away completely, global sea levels would rise by about 25 feet, the report warns."

Comment: Everyone knows that climate change is a myth, right? Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along. 

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pestilence

Zika babies may look fine at birth, display defects later: CDC - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Babies exposed to the Zika virus in the womb can look normal at birth but later show signs of the devastating birth defect microcephaly and other brain abnormalities, researchers reported Tuesday."

Comment: That there can be delayed symptoms is pretty scary. I wonder how they are doing on that Zika vaccine? 

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Earthquakes

Major 6.9 earthquake hits Japan near site of deadly '11 tsunami - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A powerful earthquake rocked the east coast of Japan early Tuesday, in the same area a quake-induced tsunami killed more than 15,000 people five years ago. The quake, measured at a magnitude of 6.9 by the U.S. Geological Survey, hit off the coast about 20 miles southeast of the town of Namie at about 6 a.m. local time Tuesday. The Japan Meteorological Agency measured the quake at 7.3. [...] Tectonic activity that produces earthquakes and volcanic eruptions is common in Japan and other nations in the Pacific Rim, which is commonly referred to as the 'Ring of Fire.'"

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

War - Persecution

AP - Iraqi troops face stiff resistance from IS in eastern Mosul
The AP reports: "In the heavily damaged town of Bashiqa, about 13 kilometers (8 miles) northeast of Mosul's outskirts, Christians rang the bells of Saint George's church for the first time to celebrate its liberation from IS, which was driven out earlier this month. [...] Men prepared a large cross to mount on the rooftop, replacing one destroyed by the extremists. [...] Bullet holes marked the walls inside the church courtyard, strewn with garbage and graffiti left by the extremists, including some of their names. Much of the church's inside had been smashed, with rubble strewn across the ground and holy inscriptions covered with black paint. [...] The church graveyard was desecrated, with graves broken into and tombstones smashed and painted over."

Comment: I came across this news report earlier today. At first glance, it appears to be a report about how the war against the Islamic State is going in Iraq. As I continued reading the article I found some interesting insights into how the war is going for the small Christian community and their efforts to return to a town church destroyed by IS. Please join me in praying for the church in Iraq.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Pestilence

WHO no longer considers Zika a global health emergency - The Washington Post
The Washington Post reports: "The Zika virus that has spread to more than 50 countries is no longer considered an international public health emergency, the World Health Organization declared Friday. But the change in designation does not represent a downgrading of Zika's importance, officials said. [...] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been leading the Zika response in the United States and playing a major surveillance and research role in Brazil and other countries. It stressed Friday that despite the "technical declaration" by the WHO, Zika infection continues to be a serious threat to pregnant women, babies born to pregnant women with Zika and their families."

Comment: It's nice to have some good news to share for a change. 

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Rumors of War

How did Hezbollah get U.S. armored personnel carriers? - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah showed off U.S.-made armored personnel carriers alongside Russian-made tanks in a military parade in Syria, but U.S. officials have no idea how they got them. Images of the parade, held in Qusayr, Syria, are raising concern about terror groups in the Middle East using U.S. military armored personnel carriers distributed as part of aid to various nations in the region."

Comment: The U.S. is the largest arms-seller in the world so we can't be too surprised when our military hardware ends up far from the point of sale. 

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Wickedness Increases

Parents, religious groups protest Portland, Ore., After School Satan Club - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Worried parents and religious groups in Portland, Ore., protested the inaugural meetings of the After School Satan Club at local elementary and middle schools, which were started as part of an effort to counter evangelical Christian after-school organizations. [...] After School Satan Clubs are located in cities that include Atlanta, Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake City."

Comment: This is what happens when a society is unable to make value judgements because that would be politically incorrect. 

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Persecution

AP - Gasps, tears as Iraqis return to IS-destroyed parish
The AP reports: "There were gasps, followed by tears at a small church in northern Iraq as a group of Christians returned to their parish Sunday to find that everything had been destroyed, including the statue of the Virgin Mary, which Islamic State militants had decapitated before they left. A confessional had been turned into a closet, a tomb had been desecrated, red prayer benches were burned. [...] Keramlis, a Christian town on the Nineveh plains in northern Iraq, fell to IS in August 2014 [...] The town was retaken by Iraq forces three weeks ago as part of the push for Mosul, but most of its homes were destroyed in the process. [...] Christians once constituted a sizeable minority in Iraq, but their numbers have dwindled since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion as many have emigrated to the West to escape violence."

Comment: It's really a shame what's happening to Christian communities in the Middle East. You may think it's just Iraq but really, it's happening in the entire region. Please join me in praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters living in the Middle East. 

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Wars & Rumors of War - King of the North

Russia's naval buildup off Syria grows alarmingly - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Russian naval buildup in the eastern Mediterranean off Syria has reached disturbing proportions and threatens to intensify the war in Syria, a clear challenge to the United States and NATO made more pointed because it is taking place as Donald Trump prepares to become the United States' commander-in-chief. Some military experts said they suspect the naval force that Russia has assembled in the eastern Mediterranean presages a significant intensification of Russia's air and missile strikes against rebel forces battling its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. [...] Others see it as a glorified train­ing exercise [...] to consolidate Russian President Vladimir Putin's push to reinstate Moscow's Cold War influ­ence in the region."

Comment: This article suggests two reasons for the Russian military buildup in Syria. There's another equally plausible reason: it's a demonstration of new hardware for arms buyers. After all, Russia sells an enormous amount of weaponry all over the world and the Syrian conflict provides a showcase for all the latest hardware. Personally, I think it's actually a combination of the three.

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Signs in the Moon

AP - Supermoon to light up sky beginning Monday morning
AP reports: "The brightest moon in almost 69 years will be lighting up the sky this week in a treat for star watchers around the globe. The phenomenon known as the supermoon will reach its most luminescent in North America before dawn on Monday. It will reach its zenith in Asia and the South Pacific on Monday night. Across the international dateline in New Zealand, it will reach its brightest after midnight on Tuesday local time. [...] The moon will be at its brightest this week because it is coming closer to the Earth along its elliptical orbit than at any time since January 1948."

Comment: Many Bible prophecy commentators are noting the relationship between this supermoon and the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948, as if this sign is a prophetic bookend of some kind marking the end of an era. Could there be something to that?

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Earthquakes

Tsunami warnings for New Zealand after 7.8-magnitude earthquake - UPI.com
UPI reports: "New Zealand warned a 'destructive tsunami' is possible for the country's east coast after a strong 7.8-magnitude earthquake rattled the South Island. The earthquake struck early Monday, about 2 a.m. local time, just outside Christchurch, the biggest city on South Island, the U.S. Geological Survey said."

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

War

Four killed, 17 wounded in U.S. military base suicide bombing in Afghanistan - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A suicide bomber killed four Americans and wounded 17 other people at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Saturday. [...] The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in which the suicide bomber entered the large and heavily guarded base around 5:30 a.m. dressed as a day laborer a foreign security source told the Wall Street Journal. Upon entering the base the bomber stood in a line with Afghan laborers reporting for duty and detonated the explosives on his vest, the BBC reported."

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Nations in Distress

Report: China building new military base near North Korea border - UPI.com
UPI reports: "China is building on its military presence at its border with North Korea, a source in North Korea tells Radio Free Asia. [...] North Korea is responding to the new measures by deploying about 20 soldiers to monitor the situation [...] 'The Chinese leadership seems to preparing for the collapse of the North Korean regime,' the source said."

Comment: The collapse of the North Korean government would prompt both a humanitarian and military crisis for the region. China probably has a plan to make sure that such collapse did not benefit South Korea and their U.S. ally.  

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Rumors of War - Persia - King of the North

Iran can't have military presence in Syria, Israel tells Russia - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Republic of Iran cannot be allowed to have a military say in how things turn out in civil war-torn Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Russian counterpart Thursday.[...] 'Israel, Russia, the United States and many other countries share the objective of defeating the Islamic State,' Netanyahu told Medvedev. 'At the same time, we are also concerned by the second actor promoting radical Islam, Iran, which champions the destruction of Israel and also supports 360-degree terror on five continents.' Netanyahu is right about Iran's disdain for Israel. Tehran has never been shy about expressing its hope that the Jewish nation will someday be wiped off the face of the Earth."

Comment: This is an extraordinary news report that highlights how the conflict in Syria is placing Israel on a collision course with Russia and Iran. Things seem to be relatively friendly between Russia and Israel right now, but the strategic tensions are real and will only grow stronger over time. 

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Pestilence

DNA-based vaccine protects against Zika in animal study - UPI.com
UPI reports: "An experimental Zika vaccine shows promise, researchers report. In animals infected with Zika virus, the synthetic DNA-based vaccine was 100 percent effective in protecting against infection, brain damage and death, the study found. [...] More than 2,000 children have been born with microcephaly or birth defects of the central nervous system in Brazil, the nexus of the Zika outbreak in South America, according to the World Health Organization. More than 60 countries have reported mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus."

Comment: This is great news, I'm sure a lot of mothers-to-be in the outbreak zones will be relieved to know that a vaccine is in the works. 

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Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Persecution

North Korea continues to persecute citizens for practicing religion - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea continues to persecute citizens for their religious beliefs, going as far as physically battering victims until they lose control of their bowel movements, according to a South Korean NGO report released this week. In its annual white paper on North Korea's record on religious freedom, the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights said those caught practicing religions not sanctioned by the state face imprisonment and even death, according to local news service Christian Today."

Comment: Please join me in praying for persecuted believers in North Korea. 

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Monday, November 07, 2016

Covenant With Many

Israel won't attend French peace conference, wants direct talks with Palestinians - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Israel has rejected France's invitation for a Middle East peace conference in Paris later this year and instead reiterated hopes to meet directly with Palestinians. French envoy Pierre Vimont was informed of Israel's intentions at a meeting Monday with Israel's acting national security adviser and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's diplomatic adviser in Jerusalem."

Comment: France continues their agenda to internationalize Mideast peace talks even as we continue to hear rumblings about Obama seeking to solidify his legacy  with a last minute peace deal. It's unclear how Obama views the French effort, which seems to be taking place in the vacuum of American leadership. Given the stakes, I'd rather blame France for dividing the covenant land of Israel and allow the inevitable divine wrath to fall on Paris rather than Washington.

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War

Turkey, U.S. agree on long-term plan to capture, govern Raqqa, Syria - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Turkish and U.S. military leaders agreed on a long-term plan to seize and hold the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, the U.S. Defense Department announced. The statement Sunday quoted U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, who after meeting in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, said, 'The [U.S.-led] coalition and Turkey will work together on the long-term plan for seizing, holding and governing Raqqa.' "

Comment: The battle for Mosul is ongoing and plans are now underway to conquer the Islamic State capital of Raqqa.  It appears that the war against IS has entered a decisive phase.

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Earthquakes

40 buildings damaged in Cushing, Okla., earthquake - UPI.com
UPI reports: "More than 40 buildings in Cushing, Okla., were damaged by a 5.0-magnitude earthquake that could be felt 250 miles away in Dallas, Texas. The earthquake struck Sunday evening, four miles below the surface, and was centered one mile west of Cushing, a city between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The quake could be felt as far away as Dallas and Kansas City. Although the U.S. Geological Survey downgraded its magnitude from the originally announced 5.3-magnitude, the earthquake remains the state's 5th largest ever recorded."

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Saturday, November 05, 2016

War

Islamic State launches counter-offensive south of Mosul - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Islamic State launched a counter-attack Saturday in the outskirts of Mosul, pushing Iraqi government forces back from some of the gains they reported Friday. Islamic State fighters emerged from deeper within the embattled city and launched a fierce attack on Iraqi forces using mortars, shoulder-mounted missiles and suicide bombers in vehicles masquerading as civilians fleeing the bloodshed. The heaviest fighting was in the Gogjali district on the city's southern edge, an area the Iraqi military declared 'liberated' on Friday."

Comment: So, how's the battle for Mosul going? We knew there would be some reverses and it would not be easy. That is proving to be the case. Is the "new" Iraqi army professional and steady enough to hold the course this time? Stay tuned!

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Friday, November 04, 2016

Rumors of War - King of the North

U.S. intelligence officials on guard for potential Russian election hacks - UPI.com
UPI reports: "U.S. intelligence officials said they are preparing for the potential of Russian cyber meddling on the eve of a presidential election and in the days afterward. Officials told The Washington Post and NBC News they view it as unlikely the Russians have the ability to directly hack election systems and sway the outcome of the race, but cautioned they may ramp up their steady efforts to influence voters and sow doubts that could delegitimize the outcome for some voters."

Comment: It's an extraordinary testament to Russia's lack of respect or fear of the U.S. that they would even dare interfere in the U.S. presidential election. You would think that would be a self-evident "red line" that they would not dare cross. The ability of the U.S. to respond to such attacks in not in doubt. The consequences of a full-scale cyberwar though, definitely in doubt, as it would be unprecedented. Perilous times indeed.

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Pestilence

CDC reports first U.S. cases of drug-resistant fungus Candida auris - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that 13 cases of Candida auris have occurred in the United States. Candida auris is an infectious fungus known to resist most drugs and treatments. Infections are sometimes fatal, and are identified by white patches on the tongue or other parts of the body. According to the CDC, 7 cases occurred between May 2013 and August 2016. The remaining 6 were found after the initial report, and are currently under investigation. Researchers with the agency discussed the infection events in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report."

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Thursday, November 03, 2016

War

Iraqi forces roll into Mosul for first time in two years - UPI.com
UPI reports: "For the first time in more than two years, Iraqi government troops are on the ground in Mosul and ready to take on Islamic State fighters determined to stand their ground in what's been the terror group's biggest stronghold. Iraqi special forces soldiers entered the less-populated eastern city limits on Thursday afternoon, and planned to establish a foothold there before attacking the urban centers of Iraq's second-largest city. The long-awaited showdown with the Islamic State is now at hand, after Iraqi and U.S.-backed coalition forces have been pushing toward Mosul for weeks."

Two U.S. soldiers, dozens of Afghan civilians die in Kunduz attack - UPI.com:
UPI reports: "Two U.S. Special Operations soldiers and more than 30 Afghan civilians died Thursday during a battle in Afghanistan's Kunduz province, military officials said. Afghan government troops and elite U.S. forces on a 'train, advise, assist' mission were targeting Taliban commanders northeast of the city of Kunduz when they came under heavy gunfire, officials from the U.S.-led coalition said. "

Comment: No rumors here, just real war. 

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Pestilence

Ebola virus mutated to become more infectious, scientists say - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Mutations in the Ebola virus boosted its ability to infect people during the 2013-2016 epidemic in West Africa, two independent teams of researchers say. By the time the epidemic ended, more than 28,000 people had been infected and more than 11,000 had died."

Comment: So glad that's over. I know there are many here in the U.S. who became cynical about the epidemic, largely because of how the media overplayed it, but it's important to remember the human cost in Africa. 

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Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

U.S., South Korea commanders affirm 'ironclad' alliance - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The United States' top military commander in South Korea said war with North Korea ought to be avoided, but preparations must be made in the case of a worst-case scenario. [...] North Korea's multiple provocations in 2016 have raised tensions on the peninsula."

Comment: I love the understated way the U.S. representative said that war should be avoided. Any conflict that could draw in the U.S. and China on opposite sides should indeed be avoided.

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Rumors of War - Kings of the East

Moscow, Tokyo working on a peace treaty draft, Russian lawmaker says - UPI.com
UPI  reports: "Ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Japan on Dec. 15, Moscow and Tokyo are working on the draft of a peace treaty [...] Japan and Russia have not signed a World War 2 peace treaty on account of the former's claim to the Southern Kurils. On a few occasions, Russia has offered the islands of Shikotan and the Habomai Archipelago to Japan as a final settlement. These offers were rejected by Japan, fearing a political backlash among former residents of the islands."

Comment: The South China Sea and the Korean peninsula are not the only possible flash points for conflict in Asia, Russia and Japan could easily come to blows over these disputed islands. 

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Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Rumors of War

13 civilians killed in Kashmir shelling - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Thirteen civilians -- seven in India and six in Pakistan -- were killed in cross-border shelling from both sides of the Line of Control in the disputed region of Kashmir, military officials said. Indian authorities said two of the fatalities were children -- ages 5 and 7 -- and 22 were injured in the mortar bombs on their side since Monday. In Pakistan, eight were reported injured Tuesday. India's Border Security Force said it destroyed 14 Pakistani posts in return fire."

Comment: We should all pay attention when nuclear armed neighbors India and Pakistan exchange gunfire across the Kashmir border. 

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Kings of the East - King of the North

Russia walks tightrope in supplying arms to India and China - UPI.com
UPI reports: "India is the world's biggest weapons importer, with the country's defense spending expected to cross a staggering $250 billion over the next decade. Russia expects to grab a sizable chunk of this pie by supplying high-performance fighter aircraft, submarines, missiles and aircraft carriers. Meanwhile, China is also stocking up on advanced Russian weapons in its bid to match U.S. military power in the Asia Pacific. As Moscow exports increasingly powerful weapons to New Delhi and Beijing, it will have to strike a balance so that neither side feels threatened or weakened by these acquisitions."

Comment: There's nothing like a little friendly competition to spur weapons sales.  Will Russia's arms exports convince China and India that they, like Russia, have the capability to project power into the Middle East? Stay tuned!

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