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Daily Observations for 19 August 2019

August 19
07:47 2019

Russia, Serbia expanding military cooperation as tensions rise with Croatia, Bosnia

Russia is set to transfer seven helicopters to its Balkan ally Serbia during the first quarter of 2020, after transferring six MiG-29 fighters to the air force in October 2018. Serbia will receive four Mi-35 gunships and three Mi-17 transport choppers. The country expects to receive 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 reconnaissance and patrol vehicles from Russia as well, and is in talks to acquire on Buk-M1 and Buk-M2 air defense missile systems and Tunguska anti-aircraft missile/gun weapons.

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said cooperation between his country and Russia is the highest since World War II. [source]

Analyst comment: Tensions between the three nations have been steadily rising in recent months which is concerning given that ethnic and religious rivalries remain front and center in a region of the globe where World War I began.

Iran not interested in talks with U.S.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Monday his country isn’t interested in talks with the U.S. to reduce tensions, adding that any future talks should include U.S. adherence to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Zarif’s comments come as an Iranian oil tanker, formerly the Grace 1 but renamed the Adrian Darya 1, left waters near Gibraltar overnight after being detained for a month. The ship is carrying $130 million worth of light crude that has been sanctioned by the U.S. The ship’s destination is believed to be Greece.

Iran has warned that any attempt to detain the tanker would have “serious consequences.”

Trump said to still be considering Venezuelan naval blockade

President Trump, who has floated the idea of blockading Venezuela’s coastline with U.S. Navy warships in the past, is reportedly considering the idea again. The president sought counsel with national security officials on the idea as recently as several weeks ago.

“He literally just said we should get the ships out there and do a naval embargo,” one source who claims to have heard the president’s comments said. “Prevent anything going in.”

This comes as Diosdado Cabello, an alleged drug lord with powerful contacts inside the Venezuelan government and military, has been reportedly communicating with U.S. National Security Council official Mauricio Claver-Carone, via back-channel emissaries.

Some Trump administration officials assess this as a sign that President Nicolas Maduro’s inner circle is beginning to show signs of breaking.

Overall, however, the president has no interest in committing U.S. ground forces in Venezuela but instead wants to impose maximum pressure on Maduro via in-country opposition forces. [source]

About Author

Jon

Jon

Jonathan Davis holds a BA in political science and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis. He has 30 years' worth of experience reporting on domestic politics and foreign policy.

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