5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

The true conquest of a country is more than just invading its land borders. To truly conquer a country, an invader has to subdue its people and end its will to fight. There are many countries in the world with a lot of experience in this area and there are many more countries who were on the receiving end of their subjugation. At the end of World War II, the age of colonialism was officially ended for most of these conquerors and what grew from that end was a rebirth of those people and their culture, which just went to show that their people were never really subdued in the first place.

And then there were some countries that either never stopped fighting in the first place or have been constantly fighting for their right to exist since they won their independence. Some of them overcame great odds and earned the respect of their neighbors and former enemies rather than allow themselves to be subject to someone just because they didn’t have the latest and greatest in military technologies.

In the last installment, we looked at countries whose people, geography, sheer size, populations, and culture would never allow an invader to conquer them. This time, we look at smaller countries who took on great powers as the underdog and came out on top.


Related: The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

“Khan? Never heard of her.” – General Tran Hung Dao

1. Vietnam

The Vietnam War wasn’t some historical undercard match, it was actually a heavyweight championship fight – the United States just didn’t realize it at the time. The history of Vietnam’s formidable people and defenses date well before the Vietnam War and even before World War II. Vietnam has historically been thought of as one of the most militaristic countries in the region, and for good reason. Vietnam has been kicking invaders out since the 13th century when Mongol hordes tried to move in from China.

While it wasn’t Genghis Khan at the head of the invading army, it wasn’t too far removed the then-dead leader’s time. Kubali Khan’s Yuan Dynasty tried three times to subdue the Vietnamese. In the last invasion, Khan sent 400 ships and 300,000 men to Vietnam, only to see every ship sunk and the army harassed by the Vietnamese all the way back to China.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

Cue the music.

Vietnam maintained its independence from China for 900 years after that. In more modern times, Vietnam was first invaded by the French in force in 1858 and they couldn’t subdue the whole of the country until 1887, 29 years after it first started. It cost thousands of French lives and the French even had to bring in Philippine troops to help. Even then, they won only because of a critical error on the part of Vietnamese emperor Tu Duc, who terribly misjudged how much his people actually cared for his regime.

The Japanese invasion during WWII awakened the Vietnamese resolve toward independence and they immediately started killing Japanese invaders – and not out of love for the French. They famously gave France the boot, invaded Laos to extend their territory, and then invaded South Vietnam. That’s where the Americans come in.

The American-Vietnam War didn’t go so well for either side, but now-Communist Vietnam’s dense jungle and support from China and the Soviet Union gave the North Vietnamese the military power to match their will to keep fighting, a will which seemed never-ending, no matter which side you’re on. North Vietnam was able to wait out the U.S. and reunite Vietnam, an underdog story that no one believed possible.

Vietnam’s resistance to outsiders doesn’t end there. After Vietnam invaded China-backed Cambodia (and won, by the way), Communist China’s seemingly unstoppable People’s Liberation Army with its seemingly unlimited manpower invaded Vietnam in 1979. For three weeks, the war ground Vietnamese border villages in a bloody stalemate until the Chinese retreated back across the border, taking an unexpectedly high death toll.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

Bad call, Joe.

2. Finland

Though not much about early Finnish history is known, there are a few Viking sagas that mention areas of Finland and the people who inhabit those areas. Those sagas usually involve Vikings getting murdered or falling in battle. The same goes for Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, and virtually anyone else who had their eyes set on Finland. In the intervening years, Finns allowed themselves to be dominated by Sweden and Russia, but after receiving their autonomy in 1917, Finland wasn’t about to give it up. They eventually became a republic and were happy with that situation until around World War II began.

That’s when the Soviet Union invaded.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

Frozen Soviet troops were also left out for display by the Finns, just to let the Russians know what fate awaited them.

The invasion of Finland didn’t go well for the USSR. It lasted all of 105 days and the “Winter War,” as it came to be called, was the site of some of the most brutal fighting the world has ever seen to this day. Finns were ruthless and relentless in defending their territory. For example, the Raatteentie Incident involved a 300-Finn ambush of a 25,000-strong Soviet force – and the Finns destroyed the Russians almost to the last man. The Finnish sniper Simo Hayha killed 505 Russians and never lost a moment’s sleep. When the retreating Finns destroyed anything that might be of use to an invader, it forced Soviet troops to march over frozen lakes.

Lakes that were mined by the Finns and subsequently exploded, downing and freezing thousands of Red Army invaders.

The Winter War is also where Finnish civilians perfected and mass-produced the Molotov Cocktail.

From the British War Office:

The Finns’ policy was to allow the Russian tanks to penetrate their defences, even inducing them to do so by ‘canalising’ them through gaps and concentrating their small arms fire on the infantry following them. The tanks that penetrated were taken on by gun fire in the open and by small parties of men armed with explosive charges and petrol bombs in the forests and villages.

This was the level of resistance from a country of just 3.5 million people. Finns showed up in whatever they were wearing, with whatever weapons they had, men and women alike. In short, Finns are happy to kill any invader and will do it listening to heavy metal music while shouting the battle cry of, “fire at their balls!”

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

Also, they’re all insanely attractive.

3. Israel

If part of what makes the United States an unconquerable country is every citizen being able to take up arms against an invader, just imagine how effective that makeshift militia force would be if every single citizen was also a trained soldier. That’s Israel, with 1.5 million highly-trained reserve troops.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

In all your years, you will never look as cool in uniform as Moshe Dayan and his eyepatch.

Israel has had mandatory military service for all its citizens – men and women – since 1949 and for a good reason. Israel is in a tough neighborhood and most of their neighbors don’t want Israel to exist. This means the Jewish state is constantly fighting for survival in some way, shape, or form and they’re incredibly good at it. In almost 70 years of history, Israel earned a perfect war record. Not bad for any country, let alone one that takes heat for literally anything it does.

Not only will Israel wipe the floor with its enemies, it doesn’t pull punches. That’s why wars against Israel don’t last long, with most lasting less than a year and the shortest lasting just six days. As far as invading Israel goes, the last time an invading Army was in Israel proper, it was during the 1948-49 War of Independence. Since then, the farthest any invader got inside Israel was into areas seized by the Israelis during a previous war.

In fact, when an Arab coalition surprised Israel during Yom Kippur in 1973, the Israelis nearly took Cairo and Damascus in just a couple of weeks.

More than just securing their land borders, Israel keeps a watchful eye on Jewish people worldwide, and doesn’t mind violating another country’s sovereignty to do it. Just ask Uganda, Sudan, Argentina, Germany, Norway, France, Italy, UAE, Tunisia… get the point? If a group of Jewish people are taken hostage or under threat somewhere, the IDF or Mossad will come and get them out.

The Mossad is another story entirely. Chance are good that any country even thinking about invading Israel is probably full of, if not run by, Mossad agents. Israel will get the entire plan of attack in plenty of time to hand an invader their own ass. Just before the 1967 Six Day War, Mossad agent Eli Cohen became a close advisor to Syria Defense Minister. He actually got the Syrians to plant trees in the Golan Heights to help IDF artillery find the range on their targets.

Now read: The hilarious way an Israeli spy convinced Syria to help Israel

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

The ultimate in “be careful what you wish for” lessons.

4. Japan

One of the world’s oldest civilizations, Japan was able to keep its culture and history relatively intact over the centuries because mainland Japan has never been invaded by an outside force.

Contrary to popular belief, the “divine wind” typhoons didn’t destroy the Mongol fleets outright. Mongol invaders were able to land on some of the Japanese islands, but after a few victories and a couple of stunning defeats, the Japanese exhausted the Mongols and they were forced to retreat back to their ships. That’s when the first typhoon hit.

Mongols invaded again less than seven years later with a fleet of 4,400 ships and some 140,000 Mongol, Korean, and Chinese troops. Japanese samurai defending Hakata Bay were not going to wait for the enemy to land and actually boarded Chinese ships to slaughter its mariners.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

Sleep well tonight, China.

Since then, the Bushido Code only grew in importance and Japan’s main enemies were – wait for it – the Japanese. But once Japan threw off its feudal system and unified, it became a force to be reckoned with. Japan shattered the notion that an Asian army wasn’t able to defeat a Western army in a real war, soundly defeating the Russians both on land and at sea in 1905, setting the stage for World War II.

Although the attack on Pearl Harbor was not a great idea, the Japanese made sure the Americans knew that any invasion of Japanese territory would cost them dearly – and they made good on the promise, mostly by fighting to the death. The United States got the message, opting to drop nuclear weapons on Japan to force a surrender rather than attempt an invasion. Even though the U.S. got the demanded surrender, Japan was not a conquered country. The United States left Japan after seven years of occupation and the understanding that Communism was worse than petty fighting.

“Bushido” began to take on a different meaning to Japanese people. It wasn’t just one of extreme loyalty to traditions or concepts, or even the state. It morphed throughout Japanese culture until it began to represent a kind of extreme bravery and resistance in the face of adversity. While many in Japan are hesitant to use bushido in relation to the Japanese military, the rise of China is fueling efforts to alter Japan’s pacifist constitution to enable its self-defense forces to take a more aggressive stand in some areas.

Since the end of World War II, Japan has worked not to dominate the region militarily, but economically. Japan’s booming economy has allowed the country to meet the threats raised by Chinese power in the region, boosting military spending by billion and creating the world’s most technologically advanced (and fifth largest) air force, making any approach to the island that much more difficult.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

And the Moro fought on.

5. The Philippines

The 7,000-plus islands of the Philippines are not a country that any invader should look forward to subduing. The Philippines have been resisting invaders since Filipinos killed Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. For 300-plus years, people of the Philippines were largely not thrilled to be under Spanish rule, which led to a number of insurrections, mutinies, and outright revolts against the Spanish. As a matter of fact, for the entire duration of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines, the Moro on Sulu and Mindinao fought their occupiers. That’s a people who won’t be conquered.

By the time the people of the Philippines rose up to throw off the chains of Spanish colonizers, there was already a massive plan in place as well as a secret shadow government ready to take power as soon as the Spanish were gone. This revolution continued until the Spanish-American War when the Americans wrested the island nation away, much to the chagrin (and surprise) of the Philippines.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

Fun Fact: She was a schoolteacher before she started collecting heads.

Freedom fighters in the Philippines were so incensed at the American occupation that U.S. troops had to adopt a new sidearm with a larger caliber. Moro fighters shot by the standard-issue Colt .38-caliber M1892 Army-Navy pistol would not stop rushing American troops and the U.S. troops in the Philippines were getting killed by lack of firepower.

Meanwhile, the Philippines created a government anyway and immediately declared war on the United States and, even though it ended with the capture of rebel leader Emilio Aguinaldo, American troops would be in the Philippines until 1913, attempting to subdue guerrillas in the jungles and outlying islands. Until, that is, Japan invaded.

If you want to know how well that went for the Japanese, here’s a photo of Filipino freedom fighter Capt. Nieves Fernandez showing a U.S. soldier how she hacks off Japanese heads with her bolo knife.

So, even though the actual Armed Forces of the Philippines might be a little aged and weak, anyone trying to invade and subdue the Philippines can pretty much expect the same level of resistance from the locals. Consider hot climate and dense jungles covering 7,000-plus islands, full of Filipinos who are all going to try to kill you eventually — the Philippines will never stop resisting.

Like the Moros, who are still fighting to this day.

MIGHTY HISTORY

‘Shoot it down!’: The tragic tale of two American balloonists over Belarus

It was the fourth day of the 1995 Gordon Bennett Cup, one of the world’s most prestigious balloon races and one of the most challenging as well.

Alan Fraenckel, 55, and John Stuart-Jervis, 68, were over the skies of Poland before dawn on September 12, 1995, heading toward Belarus with a real chance of winning.

The two Americans, residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands, were excited by the prospect of flying over the former Soviet republic, which was mostly off limits until gaining independence following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Race organizers said Belarusian authorities had been informed about the Americans’ plans and had cleared them, along with four other American racers who were also planning to fly over Belarus in two other balloons.

However, as Fraenckel, an airline pilot by profession, and his copilot, Stuart-Jervis, headed into Belarus, they were tracked for more than two hours by Belarusian air-defense system before a military helicopter sprayed the balloon – which was filled with some 900 cubic meters of highly flammable hydrogen — with machine-gun fire, sending it crashing into a forest in western Belarus and killing both men.

Belarusian authorities said the balloon – registered in Germany as D-Caribbean — had strayed too close to a military airbase and missile-launch site and had failed to respond to radio calls or warning shots.

The International Aeronautical Federation would later say that Belarusian authorities had known about the race since March, had authorized the balloon of Stuart-Jervis and Fraenkel as well as those of J. Michael Wallace, Kevin Brielmann, David Levin, and Mark Sullivan. Moreover, race officials said the pilots had provided specific flight plans during the race.

Belarus did express regret over the tragedy, but stopped short of issuing a formal apology. Washington slammed Minsk for dragging its feet on notifying them of the incident and was further incensed when Belarusian authorities issued fines of $30 to the other balloonists – who had been forced to land — for not having visas.

“This is a farce,” said State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns at the time. “We expected an apology from the Belarusian government and instead we got a bill.”

The incident came a year after Alyaksandr Lukashenka — a former collective farm manager who cast himself as a crime and corruption buster — had been elected president of Belarus, a post he would hold for decades as he erected an authoritarian system much like the former Soviet one, crushing all opponents who stood in his way.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (center) with his American and Russian counterparts, Bill Clinton (right) and Boris Yeltsin, shortly after he came to power in 1994.

Spirits High

Hours before tragedy struck, Fraenckel and Stuart-Jervis were in radio contact with Wallace and Brielmann, who were only 20 kilometers away after more than 60 hours of flight.

“We have 12 bags [of ballast] left,” said Fraenckel, “and all our water. We’re going to do a fourth night.”

“If you can’t find your crew,” answered Wallace, a close friend of Fraenckel’s, “you could still land now. My guys are right under you.” Half joking, half serious, Wallace was aware that the other balloon stood a good chance of winning if it stayed aloft.

“I don’t think so,” chuckled Fraenckel.

The Gordon Bennett Balloon Race, named for the millionaire sportsman and owner of the New York Herald newspaper, is the premier event among balloon racers. In principle, it is a simple event — the winner is the balloon that flies the furthest from the starting point without landing.

But it is literally a killer, and dozens have fallen victim to it over the years. In the 1923 race, which was held in Europe, five balloonists were killed by lightning, and a half dozen more were seriously injured in storms.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world
The 1995 Gordon Bennett Cup, which Stuart-Jervis and Fraenckel had high hopes of winning before tragedy struck.

In 1995, the year of the Belarus tragedy, German balloonists Wilhelm Elmers and Bernd Landsmann set the race record for longest flight time, remaining aloft for more than 92 hours before touching down in Latvia on September 13.

That year, the race began on September 9 when 17 balloons lifted away from the starting point at Wil, Switzerland. By the evening of September 10, six of the balloons had landed in various locations in Western Europe, ending their bid for the trophy.

Witness To A Tragedy

As the Americans were traversing the skies of western Belarus, Vasil Zdanyuk, editor in chief of the Belarusian newspaper Svododnye Novosti and a correspondent for the Moscow-based Military Journal, sat down for an interview in his Minsk office with Belarusian Air Force commander Valery Kastenka.

“About 20 minutes into our interview, the operative on duty at the Air Defense Forces called and said: ‘We have the following situation: an unidentified object has appeared not far from our facilities, not far from an airfield.’ There is a military airbase nearby,” recounted Zdanyuk to Current Time, the Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.

In fact, according to Zdanyuk, Kastenka was at that moment explaining the nuisance that low-flying probes — mostly weather balloons — posed for Belarus’s air defenses.

“Kastenka recounted how one of these balloons flew right over Minsk and almost caused a panic, although there was no danger,” he recalled. “And he says, ‘See how lucky you are. We are discussing it, and there is a balloon in the air.'”

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world
The gunship that shot down the balloon was a Russian-made Mil Mi-24 combat helicopter. (file photo)

Kastenka ordered a military helicopter – a Mil Mi-24 — up in the air to check out the object.

As the military gunship got closer to D-Caribbean, Kastenka flicked on the speakerphone, letting Zdanyuk hear the conversation between Kastenka and the helicopter commander.

“After five more minutes, when the helicopter had flown around [the balloon], the operative asked: ‘What should we do with it?’ ‘What should we do? Let’s shoot it down,’ [Kastenka] added a few tough expletives. And I’m sitting there, doing the interview, and all of this is being recorded,” Zdanyuk said.

Zdanyuk said he could even hear the fusillade of machine-gun fire as Kastenka allegedly boasted to him: “You see, this is how we work. This is how we serve.”

The bodies of Fraenckel and Stuart-Jervis were later found in a forest near the town of Byaroza, after having fallen some 2,000 meters.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world
The balloon Stuart-Jervis and Fraenkel were traveling in was shot down near the town of Byaroza in western Belarus.

Zdanyuk told Current Time in his December 2019 interview that he was confident Kastenka did not know the balloon was manned, speculating things may not have taken a tragic turn had Kastenka waited some 20 minutes until the other two American balloons appeared.

“Then he would have been more cautious: Why are they flying one after another,” Zdanyuk said. “And it would have become clear that a world ballooning championship from Switzerland was taking place.”

The Other Americans

Of the two remaining U.S. balloons, the first to land was the N69RW, navigated by David Levin and Mark Sullivan.

“At first we stuck to a more northern route: we headed to a small part of Russia near Latvia and climbed over the Baltic. But when in the morning the balloon began to rise due to solar energy, we turned east to Belarus,” Sullivan later recounted.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world
Competitors line up a the start of the Gordon Bennett Cup in September 1995. Stuart-Jervis and Fraenkel’s balloon can be seen in the foreground.

Two hours before crossing the border, the balloonists tried to contact the Minsk air traffic control center. Their signal was confirmed, but they were answered in Russian, although English is normally used in international aviation communication.

Wallace and Brielmann landed in Belarus after being ordered to do so by the Belarusians. Levin and Sullivan ignored a similar order, but also landed in Belarus because of deteriorating weather.

A Mockery?

The Belarusian government expressed regret for the incident but stopped short of offering a formal apology.

“We would call upon the Belarusian government to get its act together and to make sure that all the entities of the Belarusian government…begin to understand that the way they are handling this incident and the way they are treating American citizens is really a mockery,” the State Department’s Burns said on September 16, 1995.

“Whatever the circumstances may have been, and whether or not the balloon was able to answer radio calls from the Belarus military, the shooting was absolutely indefensible,” he said. “Moreover, the Belarus government took 24 hours even to notify us of the incident. We are strongly protesting and demanding a full investigation by the Belarus government.”

The Interstate Aviation Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) — a loose grouping of former Soviet republics — investigated the incident with representatives of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and German aviation authorities also participating.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world
Balloonist John Stuart-Jervis in 1986.

In its final report, the committee concluded the causes of the shooting were: “Unauthorized flight into the airspace of [Belarus] by an unidentified balloon, with no radio communication [between the balloon crew and Belarus air traffic control (ATC)0],” and “errors by [Belarus] anti-aircraft defense elements in the identification and classification of the airship that violated [Belarus] airspace.”

Yury Sivakou, head of the Belarusian Security Council at the time of the incident, defended Belarus’s actions, telling Current Time in 2019 that any country under similar circumstances would have done the same.

“If an unidentified aircraft appears in foreign space — in any country — first they negotiate with it, then they raise the appropriate air defense forces, which either enter into communication or force it to land,” said Sivakou, now blacklisted by the EU for his alleged role in the abduction and killings of opposition leaders in Belarus in the 1990s. “Even if radio communication does not work, there is a whole range of various [actions]: flapping wings and so on to force it to land, or indicating manually, ‘Follow me.’ In this case, the balloon did not react at all, and that was very strange at the time.”

According to Sivakou, the military assumed there could be “anything” in the balloon gondola. They came to this conclusion because there was an air base and other military facilities nearby.

He dismissed reports that the crew involved in the downing had been awarded medals as “speculation and rumors.”

“People died – it’s a tragedy,” he said. “Who awards anything in such cases? This was no act of aggression. It was just an accident.”

‘Forgive Us’

While families of the victims have never received a formal apology or any compensation from Minsk, many ordinary Belarusians expressed sorrow and shame for how its government had acted.

Alyaksandr Artsyukhovich, studying at a U.S. university at the time, expressed hope the shooting would be the last such tragedy.

“My country is a mess now,” he wrote at the time. “Millions of people feel themselves manipulated and frustrated. I only hope that the [recent] incident [will] be the only tragedy. Only removal of the artificial barriers built by the West to our integration into the world’s community can normalize things in Belarus.”

On the first anniversary of the tragedy, activists in Belarus placed a simple stone at the crash site with a cross, the date of the accident, and the phrase in Belarusian: “Forgive us.”

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Canadian Forces will lead the NATO mission in Iraq

In the days leading up to the latest NATO summit, President Donald Trump was harshly critical of the contributions made by other NATO members, especially in comparison to the United States. But when called on to start a new mission in post-ISIS Iraq focused on civil-military planning, vehicle maintenance, and explosives disposal, NATO stood up.

Canadian Forces will contribute half the required troops and take command of the joint effort.

Whether this development comes because of meetings among North American and European leaders at recent G7 and NATO summits is unclear. Coming away from June 2018’s G7 summit, President Trump criticized Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as both “dishonest” and “weak.” At the most recent NATO meeting, Trump claimed Germany was a Russian client state due, primarily, to energy partnerships with Russian gas providers.


The 2018 NATO summit was focused primarily on how the alliance would foot the bills for its actions everywhere in the world. The United States demands the members of the alliance increase their contributions to an agreed-upon two percent of GDP, while the U.S. maintains its 3.5-percent contribution.

“Because of me, they’ve raised billion over the last year, so I think the Secretary General [of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg,] likes Trump,” the President of the United States said after the summit. “He may be the only one, but that’s okay with me.”

Another result of the summit was a British pledge to double the number of UK troops in Afghanistan. Canada will also contribute helicopters to the NATO mission in Iraq.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

Kandahar, Afghanistan. 12 February, 2002. For the first time since the end of the Korean War, Canadians relieve Americans in a combat zone.

(Photo by Sgt. Gerry Pilote, Canadian Armed Forces Combat Camera)

“We are proud to take a leadership role in Iraq, and work with our allies and the government of Iraq, to help this region of the Middle East transition to long-lasting peace and stability,” Trudeau said in a statement.

Canada currently spends 1.23 percent of its output on the alliance, but its commitment requires it to move up to two percent by 2024, an agreement signed by Trudeau’s predecessor, Stephen Harper. Canada’s special forces are also training and assisting Kurdish fighters still battling the Islamic State.

MIGHTY HISTORY

A brief history of high stakes US-Russia summits

When U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in July 2018, they’ll shake hands in a city with a history of high-profile negotiations between Moscow and Washington.

The July 16, 2018 talks will mark the fourth time that Helsinki has hosted negotiations between the leaders of the two nuclear powers, continuing Finland’s legacy as neutral territory for the former Cold War foes to hash out their differences.

Finland fought Soviet forces during World War II and signed a cooperation deal with Moscow in 1948. Wary of its massive Soviet neighbor, Finland allowed significant Soviet influence on its domestic and foreign policy while formally retaining its independence.



That approach — which spawned the term Finlandization — continued for decades as the Finnish government sought to maintain a deft balance between the two Cold War superpowers, both of which used the Nordic country as a platform for intelligence-gathering operations.

Offering Helsinki as a forum for negotiations between the Soviets and the West became a prominent strategy by Finland, which joined neither NATO nor the Warsaw Pact, to demonstrate its bona fides as a neutral geopolitical player.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

From treaties limiting nuclear weapons to the Helsinki Accords, U.S. – Russia summits have earned quite the legacy.

“From the Finnish perspective, it was part of our active policy of neutrality,” Finnish historian Mikko Majander told RFE/RL. “Finland was between the blocs, East and West, and, by offering good services to international diplomacy, kind of strengthened its position.”

‘Recognition from East and West’

The Finnish capital’s most famous Cold War-era security summit came in 1975 and resulted in the signing of the Helsinki Accords, spelling out the guiding principles — including territorial integrity and respect for human rights — of relations between the United States, the Soviet Union, and 33 European states.

U.S. President Gerald Ford and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev both signed the accords for their respective governments in Helsinki and held arms-control talks there that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger described as “very useful.”

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

Chancellor of Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) Helmut Schmidt, Chairman of the State Council of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) Erich Honecker, US president Gerald Ford and Austrian chancellor Bruno Kreisky

Speaking to Ford outside the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Helsinki, Brezhnev told Ford that the Soviets backed the Republican’s upcoming election bid — which he would ultimately lose to Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter — and “for our part will do everything we can to make that happen.”

Ford responded that he expected to be elected and expressed support for “the cause of strengthening detente,” according to a Soviet memorandum of the private conversation that, according to the White House, was “reconstructed from scraps of paper retrieved from Brezhnev’s ashtray” at the Helsinki hall where the 1975 summit was held.

Hosting the 1975 summit where the Helsinki Accords were signed was a “major goal of Finnish diplomacy in the early 1970s,” Jussi Hanhimaki, a Finnish historian with the Graduate Institute of Geneva, told RFE/RL.

“This was a way of getting sort of recognition from both the East and the West that yes, the neutrality was for real,” Hanhimaki added.

Bush, Gorbachev, Clinton, Yeltsin

The next meeting of U.S. and Soviet leaders in Helsinki was held in September 1990 between U.S. President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Those talks were devoted almost exclusively to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Two years earlier, Bush’s predecessor, Ronald Reagan, had stopped in Helsinki on his way to Moscow for a summit with Gorbachev. Reagan used his three-day sojourn in the Finnish capital to deliver a speech in which he said “there is no true international security without respect for human rights.”

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev meeting with Ronald Reagan and President-elect George H. W. Bush in New York City in December 1988

The most recent Helsinki-hosted summit between the two sides was held in 1997, when U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin addressed a range of issues, including Moscow’s staunch opposition to NATO expansion into countries of the former Soviet bloc.

According to the White House, the talks nonetheless yielded agreement “on the importance of crafting a cooperative relationship between NATO and Russia.”

Two months later, Russia and NATO signed a historic road map for cooperation known as the NATO-Russia Founding Act. That agreement, however, has been mired in mistrust and mutual accusations of violations following Russia’s 2014 seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea territory and backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

‘Bridge-building’

The July 16, 2018 Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki comes amid battered relations between Washington and Moscow over a range of issues, including the Ukraine conflict, Russia’s backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and U.S. accusations of Russian election meddling.

Finland joined the European Union following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has not joined NATO but did join the alliance’s Partnership For Peace program, and Finnish troops have participated in NATO peacekeeping missions.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has maintained contacts with Putin despite the tensions between Moscow and the West and has also met Trump in the White House.

Hanhimaki said Finnish leaders “like to see Finland as very firmly” part of the West, “despite not being a NATO member yet.”

He added that there is some concern in the country “about the meeting giving too much legitimacy to Russia and Russia’s foreign policy.”

“But I think that’s still being overweighed by the fact that…the only way to increase Finland’s international standing today is by acting as a kind of a host,” Hanhimaki said.

Majander told RFE/RL that “from a Finnish perspective, it’s very well that we still can be kind of a bridge-building place.”

“We don’t have our own agenda here, but, of course, we, as a neighbor of…Russia, we want detente relations between the West and the East. And if we can do any service on that, it’s good for us as well,” Majander added.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time the Viet Cong took out a Navy transport

Historically, the Vietnam War is one of America’s longest-running conflicts — only Operation Enduring Freedom has been longer. But, of all the chaos and carnage that characterized the Vietnam War, one of the most notable clashes is similar to one performed on the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) about 36 years later.


The date was May 2, 1964. Viet Cong commandos had been trying to hit an American transport ship in Saigon to stop the flow of materiel to the South Vietnamese government. Two ships, the USNS Card and the USNS Core, had been serving as transports for helicopters and other essentials. The ships were World War II-era Bogue-class escort carriers that displaced about 16,600 tons and could travel at a top speed of 18 knots while carrying a dozen F4F Wildcats and nine TBF/TBM Avenger torpedo bombers.

U-Boat.net credits aircraft from the Card with sinking eight Nazi subs. Planes from the Core put four U-boats to rest on the seafloor.

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A TBF Avenger comes into land on USS Card (CVE 11) during World War II. The Card sank eight U-boats in that conflict. (U.S. Navy photo)

After World War II, these carriers were too small to operate jets and a bit too slow for front-line service. Still, when a ship has a flight deck that is 439 feet by 70 feet — almost 31,000 square feet – and a hangar deck of roughly the same size, it’s still useful. So, the Military Sea Transport Service (the forerunner to today’s Military Sealift Command) took these ships. After all, they were pretty much free.

According to the National Interest, the Viet Cong managed to pull off the May 2 attack by sending a commando through the sewer system. A pair of limpet mines were stashed by the sewer’s exit, waiting for the commando as swam out toward the ship. He then planted the limpet mines on the side of the Card, set the timer, and made a clean getaway. At three in the morning, the mines went off. Severely damaged, the Card settled on the bottom of the harbor with five of her crew killed.

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USS Card (CVE 11) in World War II. While she wasn’t able to operate jets, she had a lot of space to transport materials, giving this escort carrier a second lease on life as a transport. (U.S. Navy photo)

But she didn’t stay there. It took the Navy 17 days to do the temporary repairs required to get the Card out of the harbor. By the end of the year, the former escort carrier was back in service, and she made other runs carrying materiel. She did so for five more years after returning to service. In 1971, the Card was scrapped. Any claims that the Communists in Vietnam sunk a carrier are nothing but propaganda.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Here are 14 ship names the US Navy needs to bring back to the fleet

Ship names were a controversy of sorts during the Obama Administration. (The USS Carl Levin and USS Joe Murtha come to mind.) It’s time to make the Navy great by christening combatants with proper names, ones that reflect the heritage and tradition of the sea service.


Here are 14 recommendations:

1. USS Lexington

Last of her name: AVT 16/CV 16

The last Lexington served as a training carrier for decades before her 1991 retirement, having replaced CV 2, which was sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea. The “Lady Lex” is now a museum docked on the shores of Corpus Christie, Texas. This classic name is way overdue for a comeback.

2. USS Saratoga

Last of her name: CV 60

If “Lady Lex” is coming back, why not “Sister Sara”? The previous one served for decades and was in reserve until the premature decision to send her to Brownsville to become razor blades. CV 60’s predecessor survived World War II, only to be sunk during the tests at Bikini Atoll.

3. USS Yorktown

Last of her name: CG 48

While the last Yorktown was a guided missile cruiser, the two previous ones were legendary “Fighting Ladies” in World War II. CV 5 sank at the Battle of Midway, but not before her fliers sank Soryu and helped put Hiryu on the bottom. CV 10 replaced CV 5, and made it through the war and is now a museum docked in Charleston, S.C. The cruiser served from 1984 to 2004, and is still in reserve.

4. USS Hornet

Last of her name: CV 12

The two carriers named Hornet in World War II both had honorable careers. CV 8 carried the Doolittle raiders on their mission to bomb Tokyo. CV 12 — now a museum docked in Alameda, California — fought across the Pacific, and later was the ship that recovered the crew of Apollo 11 after the historic moon landing.

5. USS England

Last of her name: CG 22

The first USS England, a destroyer escort, was famous for sinking six Japanese submarines in two weeks, a performance that lead then-Chief of Naval Operations Ernest J, King to vow “There will always be an England in the United States Navy.” The last one was decommissioned in 1994. It is well past time for England to return.

6. USS Basilone

Last of her name: DD 824

While HBO’s miniseries The Pacific brought the heroism of John Basilone to the world’s attention, the Navy had honored the Marine gunnery sergeant with a destroyer that was sunk as a target in 1982.

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Crewmen abandon ship on board the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2) after the carrier was hit by Japanese torpedoes and bombs during the Battle of the Coral Sea, on 8 May 1942. (Photo: U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation)
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USS Basilone in action in 1960. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

7. USS Laffey

Last of her name: DD 724

Both destroyers named Laffey served in World War II, and both became legends in fights against long odds. The last one was decommissioned in 1968, then became a museum. It is well past time for a new Laffey to sail the seas.

8. USS Callaghan

Last of her name: DDG 994

Daniel J. Callaghan is one of the least-known combat commanders in the Navy. Given that his force saved the Marines on Guadalcanal, that is an undeserved situation. Perhaps it is time for a new Callaghan.

9. USS Jesse L. Brown

Last of her name: FF 1089

The Navy recently named a Burke-class destroyer after Ensign Brown’s wingman, so it seems fitting for a new Jesse L. Brown to join the Thomas Hudner as a named warship.

10. USS Johnston

Last of her name: DD 821

The first USS Johnston was one of two destroyers from Taffy 3 lost during the Battle of Samar. A second USS Johnston served in the United States Navy from 1946 until she was sold to Taiwan in 1981, where she gave two more decades of service.

11. USS Tang

Last of her name: SS 563

The first USS Tang was a legendary and very lethal submarine from World War II that sunk after getting hit with one of her own torpedoes in 1943. A second Tang later served in the Cold War. Time for iconic skipper Richard O’Kane’s sub to prowl the oceans again.

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USS Tang returning to port after her second patrol. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

12. USS Harder

Last of her name: SS 568

Harder was another famous submarine from World War II, which carried out six successful war patrols before being lost. Her replacement, decommissioned in 1974, was sold to Italy, and served until 1988.

13. USS Wahoo

Last of her name: SS 565

Famous as the command of “Mush” Morton, Wahoo carried out seven patrols before Japanese forces sank her on her way back to base. Her replacement, part of the Tang-class diesel-electric subs that served in the early Cold War, was decommissioned in 1980 and scrapped in 1984.

14. USS Growler

Last of her name: SSG 577

The fame of the third USS Growler (SS 215) came because of the noble sacrifice of Commander Howard C. Gilmore, who famously ordered, “Take her down!” After World War II, a new Growler briefly served as a cruise-missile sub before being decommissioned and becoming a museum.

Are there other names you’d like to see the Navy bring back? Tell us in the comments below or on the WATM Facebook page.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran tried and failed for the fourth time in a row to put a satellite into orbit

Iran’s latest attempt to put a satellite in space in spite of US opposition ended in failure, an Iranian defense ministry official told state media, Reuters reported Sunday.


“It was launched with success and … we have reached most our aims … but the ‘Zafar’ satellite did not reach orbit as planned,” the official told state television Sunday.

The latest failure marks the fourth time in a row Iran has been unable to successfully put a satellite in space.

In January 2019, the Iranian rocket carrying the satellite into space failed to reach the “necessary speed” during the third stage of flight, a senior telecommunications official told state media, the Associated Press reported at the time.

The US has criticized Iran’s efforts, arguing that its satellite program is a cover for the development of long-range ballistic missile technology.

President Donald Trump has said that Iran’s space program could help it “pursue intercontinental ballistic missile capability.” Iran argues that the Simorgh rocket is nothing more than a satellite launch vehicle.

In February of last year, Iran made another attempt. Iran’s foreign minister revealed in an interview with NBC News that it failed as well. He added that his country was looking into the possibility of sabotage after a New York Times report suggested the US could be behind the failures.

Iran tried again in August, but the rocket apparently exploded on the launchpad.

In denying US culpability, Trump inexplicably tweeted out an image of the scorched Iranian launchpad from a classified briefing, a photo that appeared to have come from one of the US’ most secretive spy satellites.

After the second failed test, Dave Schmerler, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told NPR that this is a “trial and error” situation, explaining that “eventually they’re going to get it right.”

Iran managed to put a satellite into orbit in 2009, 2011, and 2012, but lately their efforts have been unsuccessful.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Lists

6 surprising things that are against the laws of war

They may seem like they’re tying troops’ hands behind their backs — especially given that today’s wars are very different from those when the former laws of war were written — but there’s a good reason why certain rules have been imposed to protect troops in combat.


Though not every country ratified all of the protocols of the Geneva Convention, and fewer still signed the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, many still hold to the general provisions and restrictions.

The laws of war contain a lot of things that make sense. Don’t hurt civilians. Don’t attack places of worship or medical aid. They may seem small at first glance, but they are a line US troops cannot cross.

While the major laws of war are well known, there are some provisions that may surprise the average reader.

#1: Filing down your bullet. (The 1899 Hague Declaration IV,3 and Geneva Convention Protocol I Art. 35)

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(Screen grab via YouTube)

There is always the loophole of “military necessity” — that’s why flamethrowers are okay, because they have an actual purpose if used on foliage and clearing tunnels.

So while hollow points are legal, filing down a bullet to make in improvised dum-dum round is a no no. The purpose of doing that is to cause unnecessary harm.

So that 5.56 round some jackass took a Multi-tool to to “make it hurt more” committed a serious offense.

#2: A chaplain picking up a weapon. (Geneva Convention Art. 24)

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sean Campbell)

If troops become shipwrecked or parachute out of a destroyed aircraft, they now have non-combatant status. They’re technically out of the fight.

The most protected service member in the ranks is still the chaplain, who should never enter combatant status.

Regardless of their denomination, chaplains have a duty to uphold the spiritual, moral, and religious well-being of everyone on the battlefield. They will enter combat zones, but only to provide aid. To date, 419 U.S. Chaplains have died in war and eight Medals of Honor were bestowed to chaplains.

It is a part of their duty to never lose non-combatant status to help the needs of all. Picking up a weapon immediately revokes that status. If you ever wondered why armed chaplain assistants are so valuable, that’s why.

#3: Taking war trophies. (Fourth Geneva Convention. Art. 33-34)

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There’s a fine line between taking a souvenir and pillaging.

Anything you take off the battlefield is pillaging — even if it belonged to an enemy combatant. It is subject to strict regulations after it’s turned over for inspection and clearance. If it’s a weapon, it must also be made unserviceable at the expense of whomever is taking it back.

Stashing it goes against tons of laws.

#4: Putting a large Red Cross on your equipment for combat operations. (Geneva Convention Protocol I Art. 85)

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(U.S. Army photo by Spc. JD Sacharok, Operations Group, National Training Center)

The Red Cross, Red Crescent, Red Crystal, and Red Shield of David are all protected as the international symbol for medical aid. When it is painted on a vehicle or on an armband, it lets everyone know that they are only there to render aid. Like chaplains having protections, so too do medics if they are performing aid and evacuation.

If a combat medic takes up arms, they lose their status as a non-combatant, which has been the norm in modern conflicts. If they drop their weapon to give aid, they regain that status.

But the red cross symbol doesn’t give you noncombatant status. If the symbol is on a piece of equipment, such as a first aid kit or pack, it is only signifying that the contents are for first aid.

#5: Not protecting journalists. (Geneva Convention Protocol I Art. 79)

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Legendary BBC War Corespondent, Robin Duff, on D-Day (Image via BBC)

War corespondents are just as protected as any other civilian on the battlefield. They must never pick up arms or else they losing their status. The difference between members of the press and other non-combatants is that they are required by their job to be in the middle of a firefight to report what is happening.

In the modern era, journalists have been easier and more valuable targets than ever. If one is embedded in a unit, no matter how pesky and nosy as they seem, they are valuable assets to the war effort and still must be protected.

#6: Insulting prisoners of war. (Third Geneva Convention. Arts. 13-16)

Writer’s Note: For the final point on this list, there will not be a photograph of a prisoner of war, regardless of nationality, in reference to their mistreatment.

One of the goals of the Hague and Geneva Convention was to protect the rights of prisoners of war. They must be given medical attention (Art. 15). They keep the civil capacities they had at the time of capture (Art. 14) and must always be treated humanely (Art. 13).

The definition of humane treatment covers no physical mutilation (including torture). This also means you must provide protection from acts of violence, intimidation, and verbal insults.

It doesn’t matter who the person is or what they did before they are captured, they are now a prisoner of war.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

COVID-19: One Iranian ‘dying every 10 minutes’; Romania urges expats to stay away

The global coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 230,000 people worldwide, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.

Here’s a roundup of developments in RFE/RL’s broadcast countries.


Iran

The death toll from the coronavirus in Iran continues to rise as the worst-affected country in the Middle East prepares for scaled-down celebrations of Norouz, the Persian New Year.

“With 149 new fatalities in the past 24 hours, the death toll from the virus has reached 1,284,” Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said on state television on March 19.

“Unfortunately, we have had 1,046 new cases of infection since yesterday,” Raisi added.

Iran has the third-highest number of registered cases after China and Italy.

With the country reeling from the outbreak, officials have recommended that Iranians stay home during the March 20 holiday, a time when hundreds of thousands usually travel to be with friends and relatives.

The government has closed schools at all levels, banned sports and cultural events, and curtailed religious activities to try and slow the spread of the virus.

Kianoush Jahanpour, the head of the Health Ministry’s public relations and information center , noted on March 19 that the data on the outbreak means an Iranian dies every 10 minutes from COVID-19, while 50 infections occur each hour of the day.

“With respect to this information, people must make a conscious decision about travel, traffic, transportation, and sightseeing,” he added.

Despite the dire circumstances, many Iranians were angered by the temporary closure of Shi’ite sites, prompting some earlier this week to storm into the courtyards of two major shrines — Mashhad’s Imam Reza shrine and Qom’s Fatima Masumeh shrine.

Crowds typically pray there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, touching and kissing the shrine. That’s worried health officials, who for weeks ordered Iran’s Shi’ite clergy to close them.

Earlier on March 19, officials announced that the country wouldn’t mark its annual day celebrating its nuclear program because of the outbreak.

Georgia

The Georgian government has ordered the closure of shops except grocery stores and pharmacies beginning March 20 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The measure, announced on March 19, also exempts gas stations, post offices, and bank branches. The South Caucasus country has so far reported 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, and no deaths.

Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia on March 19 said he would declare a state of emergency, as many countries in Europe already have, if health authorities advise him to do so.

“As of today, I would like to emphasize that there is no need for this. However, in agreement with the president, we have decided, as soon as that need arises, that we will be able to make this decision within a few hours,” he said.

Romania

President Klaus Iohannis has urged Romanians working abroad to refrain from traveling home for the Orthodox Easter amid fears of a worsening of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Romania has been under a 30-day state of emergency since March 16.

Iohannis made the appeal in a televised speech on March 19 as thousands of workers returning from Western Europe were slowly crossing into Romania after having clogged Hungary’s borders both to the west and the east for two days in a row.

Romania is the European Union’s second-poorest country, and at least 4 million Romanians work abroad, according to estimates.

The bottlenecks were worsened by Hungary’s decision to close its borders on very short notice from March 17 at midnight — a measure relaxed by Budapest after consultations with the Romanian government.

“Romanians from abroad are dear to us, and we long to be with them for Easter,” Iohannis said. “However, that won’t be possible this year…. We must tell them with sadness but also with sincerity not to come home for the holidays,” he added.

Some 12,500 mostly Romanian travelers had crossed into Romania in 4,600 vehicles as of the morning of March 19, Romanian border police said.

They said 180 people were immediately quarantined, while some 10,000 were ordered into self-isolation once they reached their destinations.

The rest were mostly travelers in transit toward Moldova and Bulgaria, according to the police.

Romania has confirmed 277 coronavirus cases.

One of the patients is in serious condition in intensive care, while 25 people have recovered, according to health authorities.

No deaths have been reported so far.

However, authorities are concerned that the massive number of Romanians returning, mostly from Italy and Spain — the European countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic — will lead to a spike in infections in the run-up to Orthodox Easter on April 19.

The Romanian military has started building an emergency hospital in Bucharest amid fears that the country’s crumbling health-care system will not be able to cope with the outbreak.

Ukraine

Some 900 Ukrainians are embarking on March 19 on a train journey from Prague to Kyiv as part of an evacuation plan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The train is set to travel through the Czech Republic and Poland, where it will make a stop at Przemysl, before heading to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv and the capital.

Yevhen Perebiynis, the Ukrainian ambassador to Prague, tweeted that more than 3,000 Ukrainians residing in the Czech Republic had asked to be evacuated.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Zhytomyr, Serhiy Sukhomlyn, said the city located 140 kilometers west of Kyiv recorded its first coronavirus infection.

Sukhomlyn said the patient, aged 56, had recently returned from Austria.

As of March 19, there were 21 confirmed cases of the respiratory illness in six regions and the capital, Kyiv, the Health Ministry said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine recorded its third death linked to COVID-19 in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region.

An elderly woman died one day after visiting a hospital with severe flu-like symptoms, according to the Health Ministry.

Russia

Russian officials have reported the country’s first death connected to the coronavirus outbreak, but quickly backtracked, saying an elderly woman perished due to a detached blood clot.

The Moscow health department said on March 19 that the 79-year-old, who had tested positive for COVID-19, died in a Moscow hospital from pneumonia related to the virus.

Svetlana Krasnova, head doctor at Moscow’s hospital No. 2 for infectious diseases, said in a statement that the woman had been admitted with “a host of chronic diseases,” including type 2 diabetes and heart problems.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin then confirmed the coronavirus-releated death, saying on Twitter, “Unfortunately, we have the first loss from the coronavirus infection.”

Hours later, however, health officials put out another statement saying an autopsy had confirmed the woman had died of a blood clot.

A subsequent official tally of the number of official coronavirus cases in Russia showed 199 confirmed infections but no deaths.

It was not clear whether the woman’s death would eventually be counted as a result of the virus.

Though President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that the situation was “generally under control,” many Russians have shown a distrust for official claims over the virus, and fear the true situation is much worse than they are being told.

Amid a recent rise in the number of cases, officials have temporarily barred entry to foreigners and imposed restrictions on flights and public gatherings.

The national health watchdog on March 19 tightened restrictions for all travellers from abroad with a decree requiring “all individuals arriving to Russia” to be isolated, either at home or elsewhere.

Serbia

Serbia has closed its main airport for all passenger flights and said it will shut its borders for all but freight traffic in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The government banned commercial flights to and from the Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade on March 19.

However, the airport will remain open to humanitarian and cargo flights, according to the Ministry of Construction, Traffic, and Infrastructure.

Later in the day, President Aleksandar Vucic said that as of March 20, Serbia’s border crossings will be closed for all passenger road and rail transport.

“Nothing but trucks will be allowed to enter,” Vucic said. “From noon tomorrow we will also halt commercial passenger transport inside the country.”

The move comes after some 70,000 Serbs working in Western Europe and their families returned to Serbia in the last few days despite appeals by authorities not to do so.

Serbia currently has 103 confirmed coronavirus cases, with no fatalities.

The Balkan country had already imposed a state of emergency, introduced a night curfew for all citizens, and ordered the elderly to stay indoors.

Pakistan

Authorities in Pakistan have closed shrines of Sufi saints in the capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere while access to museums, archaeological, and tourist sites have been banned as confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to 301, mostly in pilgrims returning from Iran.

Two Pakistanis who had returned from Saudi Arabia and Dubai became the country’s first victims when they died on March 18 in the northwest.

Schools have already been shut in Pakistan.

Thousands of Pakistanis, mostly pilgrims, have been placed into quarantine in recent weeks at the Taftan border crossing in the country’s southwestern province of Balochistan after returning from Iran, one of the world’s worst affected countries.

Pakistani authorities on March 19 plan to quarantine hundreds more pilgrims who returned from Iran. These pilgrims will be kept at isolated buildings in central Pakistan for 14 days.

Uzbekistan

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev’s influential son-in-law says police have identified individuals who allegedly published the names of Uzbek nationals who tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Otabek Umarov, who is also the deputy head of the president’s personal security, said on Instagram that officials are now trying to determine the legality of the perpetrators’ actions.

A joint working group set up by the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor-General’s Office has also identified 33 social media accounts involved in “disseminating false information that provokes panic among people,” Umarov wrote.

He called the accounts a “betrayal” of the country and a matter of “national security.”

Umarov’s comments come amid a campaign by the Uzbek government to crack down on information that incites panic and fear among the public amid the coronavirus crisis.

On March 16, the country’s Justice Ministry said that, according to Uzbek law, those involved in preparing materials with the intention of inciting panic — and those storing such materials with the intent to distribute them — will face up to ,400 in fines or up to three years in prison.

Those who spread such information through media and the Internet face up to eight years in prison, the ministry added.

The statement came a day after the Central Asian nation announced its first confirmed coronavirus infection, which prompted the government to introduce sweeping measures to contain the outbreak, including closing its borders, suspending international flights, closing schools, and banning public gatherings.

The number of infections had risen to 23 as of the morning of March 19, the Health Ministry said.

The ministry said that the 23 individuals are all Uzbek nationals who had returned home from Europe, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

The Health Ministry regularly updates its social media accounts with information on the outbreak in Uzbekistan. Posts are frequently accompanied by the hashtag “quarantine without panic” in both Uzbek and Russian.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan

The Kazakh national currency, the tenge, has continued to weaken sharply as the number of coronavirus cases in the oil-rich Central Asian nation reached 44.

Many exchange points in Nur-Sultan, the capital, and the former Soviet republic’s largest city, Almaty, did not sell U.S. dollars or euros on March 19, while some offered 471 tenges for id=”listicle-2645571641″, more than 25 percent weaker than in early March when the rate was around 375 tenges.

The tenge has plunged to all-time lows in recent days following an abrupt fall in oil prices and chaos in the world’s stock markets caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Kazakh Health Ministry said on March 19 that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country had increased by seven to 44.

In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, three people, who returned home from Saudi Arabia several days ago, tested positive for the virus, which led to three villages being sealed off in the southern Jalal-Abad region.

In two other Central Asian nations, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, no coronavirus cases have been officially recorded to date.

Armenia

A relative of an Armenian woman blamed for spreading the coronavirus in the South Caucasus country alleges that criminal offenses have been committed against members of their family.

It emerged last week that the woman had traveled from Italy before attending a family gathering with dozens of guests in the city of Echmiadzin, disregarding health warnings about the coronavirus pandemic.

The woman, whose name was not released, later tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized. Dozens of other people who attended the gathering were placed under a 14-day quarantine.

Armenia has reported a total of 122 cases so far, including dozens in Echmiadzin. It has not yet reported any deaths.

Echmiadzin was locked down and a nationwide state of emergency has been announced in a bid to slow the spread of infection in Armenia.

Many on social media in Armenia expressed anger over what they said was irresponsible behavior by the woman.

Some ridiculed the woman and used offensive language against her. A photo of her also was posted online.

The woman’s lawyer, Gohar Hovhannisian, said that one of her relatives who lives abroad filed a complaint with the public prosecutor on March 17.

The complaint alleges that personal information about infected people was illegally obtained and published by the press and social media along with insults and photographs.

“It affects the mental state of a person. Imagine that a person is sick and such language is used against her or him and her or his personal data are published,” Hovhannisian said.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office forwarded the report to police to investigate the case.

Human rights activist Zaruhi Hovhannisian, who is not related to the lawyer, noted that the protection of personal data is enshrined in Armenia’s law. He said that disclosure of personal data in this case made it possible to identify the infected woman.

“Moreover, under the law on medical care and public services it is forbidden to disclose medical secrets, talk about people’s medical examinations and the course of their treatment as well as to pass these data to third parties,” the activist said.

Earlier this week, a shop owner in Yerevan filed a complaint with police alleging that he had been attacked by three relatives of the woman in question for posting a joke about her on Facebook.

Police said they had identified and questioned three people over that complaint. But the authorities did not reveal their identities.

Azerbaijan

The Azerbaijani capital, Baku, has been sealed off to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the South Caucasus state.

According to a government decision, as of March 19 entrance to Baku, the nearby city of Sumqayit, and the Abseron district has been banned for all cars, except ambulances, cargo trucks, and vehicles carrying rescue teams and road accident brigades. The measure will run until at least March 29.

All railway links between Baku, Sumqayit and the Abseron district, and the rest of the country were also suspended.

Azerbaijan has reported 34 confirmed coronavirus cases, with one fatality.

In neighboring Armenia, where authorities announced a state of emergency until April 16, the number of coronavirus cases is 115.

Elsewhere in the South Caucasus, Georgia, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached 40.

Afghanistan

The United States is temporarily suspending the movement of new soldiers into Afghanistan as a way of protecting them from the coronavirus outbreak.

U.S. Army General Scott Miller said in a March 19 statement that the move could mean that some of the troops already on the ground in Afghanistan may have their deployments extended to ensure that the NATO-led Resolute Support mission continues.

“To preserve our currently healthy force, Resolute Support is making the necessary adjustments to temporarily pause personnel movement into the theater,” he said.

“We are closely monitoring, continually assessing and adjusting our operations so we can continue to protect the national interests of the NATO allies and partners here in Afghanistan,” he added.

About 1,500 troops and civilians who recently arrived in Afghanistan have been quarantined, Miller said, stressing that this was purely a precautionary measure and “not because they are sick.”

Earlier this month, the United States began reducing its troop presence in Afghanistan as part of a peace deal signed in February with the Taliban.

The agreement sees an initial reduction of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from about 13,000 to 8,600 soldiers.

Miller did not mention the agreement in his statement.

So far, 21 U.S. and coalition staff exhibiting flu-like symptoms are in isolation and receiving medical care, Miller’s statement said.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.


MIGHTY SPORTS

10 simple moves that will burn fat and build cardio

Stairs workouts are among the quickest, most accessible, and straightforward ways to get in shape, fast. No, you don’t need a gym’s stair climber to do them. Find some stairs, run, jump, and step up them, come down, and repeat — that’s all it takes to burn a ton of calories, and, if you keep it up, lose weight. It’s an effective workout for a number of reasons: For one, it’s a heart rate exercise that’s equivalent to a sprint-style running session. Second, stair work adds up. Research has shown that taking just 200 steps a day, five days a week for 8 weeks, can improve cardio fitness by almost 20 percent. An added bonus: it’s a leg day workout that puts a minimal impact on your joints.


The biggest downside to stair workouts is that they get, well, boring. The workout below aims to solve this. It features 10 moves to shake it up and is intended to be a 20-minute sweat session. The faster you do each sequence, the higher your heart rate and the more calories you will burn. But it’s more important to practice good form than it is to be fast: Keeping your back straight, shoulders back, and knees over toes as you climb will build strength in the right muscles so you’ll be stronger the next time you tackle a stairs routine.

1. Step ups

Stand at the base of the staircase. Raise your right leg and place your right foot one the second step (skipping the first step). Push off the floor with your left foot and shift your weight onto your right as you step up. Swing your left leg in front of you, bending your left knee, while swinging your right arm forward for counter balance. Step back down to start position. Perform 10 step-ups with your right leg, then switch sides. Do 3 sets total.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

(Photo by Bruno Nascimento)

2. Mini box jumps

Stand at the base of the staircase. Bend your knees and swing arms behind you, then swing them forward as spring off the ground and propel yourself onto the second step. Land on both feet. Jump back down using both feet. Do 10 jumps x 2 sets.

3. Fast feet

Starting at the base of the staircase, sprint to the top as fast as you can, moving your feet rapidly like a football drill. Do the equivalent of 5 flights of stairs. That means if you only have a single flight to work with, you’ll sprint to the top, sprint back down, and repeat 5 times.

4. Triceps dips

Sit on the second step, knees bent, keeping feet on the floor below the stairs. Place hands at either side of your hips on the edge of the second step, palms facing forward. (Note: If you are tall, sit on the third step instead.) Slide your hips forward until your butt is off the step, using your arms to support your weight. Bend and straighten your arms, feeling the burn in your triceps. Do 10 reps, 3 sets.

5. Incline lunges

Stand at the base of the staircase. Work your way to the top taking three steps at a time. Pause in the lunge position between each step, allowing maximum load on your front quad with every step. Do the equivalent of 5 flights of stairs, jogging back down to the start and repeating if you only have one flight to work with.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

(Photo by Gesina Kunkel)

6. Side jogger

Stand perpendicular to the staircase, right hip closest to the stairs. Bend right knee and step up onto the first step, bringing your left leg with you. Quickly step up onto the second step. Work your way to the top using your right side to propel you. At the top of the flight, work your way back down using your right side to lead you again. At the bottom, reverse and jog sideways up the stairs using your left side to lead the way. Jog back down left-side first. That’s one set. Repeat 3 times.

7. Incline clapping push-ups

Stand at the base of the staircase. Place hands on the third step, arms straight. Keeping your back straight and in line with your legs, bend elbows and lower chest to the stairs. Hold for a second, then explosively push off the stairs and clap your hands together before landing in the extended push up position. Do 10 reps, 3 sets.

8. Backwards jog

Stand with your back to the base of the staircase. Using caution, walk up the stairs backward, engaging your glutes and hamstrings with every step. Note: This moves requires a bit of balance and coordination (more than you might think!). Use the side wall for support with one hand if needed. For those more advanced, try this exercise at a slow-jog pace. Complete the equivalent of 5 flights of stairs.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

(Photo by Gesina Kunkel)

9. Single-leg jumps

Stand at the base of the staircase. Shift weight onto your right leg, lifting left foot off the floor. Bend right knee, swing arms behind you, then swing them forward as you push off the floor and jump onto the first step with the right leg. Hop back down, keeping left foot off the floor. Complete 10 jumps on right side, then switch legs. (Note: Use side wall for balance as needed.) Do 2 sets total.

10. Decline push-ups

Squat facing away from the stairs and the base of the staircase. Place your hands on the floor in front of you and shift your weight forward so your arms arm supporting your body. Keeping hands on the floor, walk your feet backwards up the stairs behind you until they are on a step that allows you to create a straight line from your extended arms to your toes (probably the third step). Keeping your back and legs straight, bend your elbows and do a push up. Note: Decline push ups are hard and it’s normal that you can’t go as deep as you would on a flat surface.) Do 10 reps, 2 sets.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

95 year old veteran passes hours after achieving dream to visit WWII Memorial

A 95-year-old World War II veteran died during a so-called Honor Flight carrying him home from a weekend in Washington, DC.

Frank Manchel was returning home to San Diego, California, after an all-expenses-paid trip to DC honoring WWII veterans when he died on May 5, 2019, the non-profit Honor Flight San Diego said in a statement.

The American Airlines flight was about an hour from landing in San Diego when Manchel collapsed, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Dave Smith, founder of Honor Flight San Diego, told the Union-Tribune that Manchel’s death was “almost instantaneous.”

“He was laughing, chatting, having a good time — and then he collapsed,” he said.


Manchel, who served as an Army technical sergeant in WWII, had flown to DC with 82 other veterans, family members, and volunteers, to visit historic landmarks in the country’s capital.

The group visited the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, the Navy Yard’s museum, and the military electronics museum.

Manchel’s sons, Bruce and Howard, as well as his 93-year-old brother, Jerome, and nephew, David, joined him on the trip.

Bruce Manchel said in a statement on May 6, 2019 seen by INSIDER that his father died after “the most amazing weekend, surrounded by his newest best friends.”

“We thank all of you — Honor Flight San Diego, American Airlines, San Diego International Airport, friends, and supporters for your concern and for allowing the weekend to be so special for all of us to share together.”

Following Manchel’s death, an American Flag was draped over his body, and two chaplains on board the flight said prayers.

When the plane landed in San Diego, veterans saluted as they passed by his body.

Honor Flight San Diego told INSIDER that American Airlines offered to take Manchel’s remains and relatives to Detroit, Michigan, at no charge ahead of May 9, 2019’s funeral. Honor Flight San Diego’s founder will be in attendance.

This is the seventh death to happen during an Honor Flight Network flight, the Associated Press reported. Honor Flight San Diego requires veterans and their guardians to complete medical questionnaires before flying.

In 2018, fewer than 500,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII were still alive, according to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics cited by the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Man makes silencer with 3D printer

Just how strong is SLA resin for printing? Robert Silvers, formerly of AAC and Remington, sought to find out exactly that. After performing some experiments Silvers determined that Siraya Blu was the strongest. And he further tested it by designing a .22LR silencer out of it.


5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

(RECOIL)

Here is the description from his YouTube video:

I have seen people say that FDM (filament) printers make strong parts, but SLA resin printers do not. That is only true if you use typical resins. After much testing, I have discovered which resin is the strongest and it is Siraya Blu. This video is a case study in using this resin to prototype tough functional parts, such as a gun / firearms silencer / suppressor, for experimental and research purposes. I have also used this resin on an Anycubic Photon, a Zortrax Inkspire, A Peoply Moai, and an EPAX X1.
Everyone involved has a manufacturing license with the BATF.

Spoiler Alert: It worked. Well, at least for the 50 rounds used during testing.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

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5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

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You can watch the video below, but he warned that it is not short on technical detail. Silvers demonstrates the materials testing he did, discusses types of printers, and goes into the legality of building your own suppressor. If you just want to see the silencer, skip ahead to around the six minute mark.

This article originally appeared on Recoilweb. Follow @RecoilMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

Here’s what happened when these bodybuilders went vegan for a month


Following the debut of the documentary “The Game Changers” on Netflix, which aims to debunk the myth that vegan athletes struggle to get enough fuel and protein, athletes and recreational exercisers have contemplated trying out a plant-based diet.

Fitness influencer brothers Hudson and Brandon White, known for their YouTube Channel “Buff Dudes”with over 2 million subscribers, tried the vegan diet for 30 days and recounted their experience in a video watched more than 600,000 times.

The pair has tried other month-long challenges like keto and intermittent fasting. As first-time vegans, they take viewers step-by-step through their journey into plant-based eating, including shopping for veggies, meal prepping, and hitting the gym.


The Buff Dudes focus on incorporating simple, whole-food options like broccoli, spinach, and asparagus, as well as complex carbs like sweet potatoes and oatmeal. They also eat plenty of healthy plant-based fats like nuts and seeds, along with protein sources like quinoa and beans.

WE TRIED VEGAN for 30 Days, Here’s What Happened

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Although the brothers find it surprisingly easy to stick to a vegan diet, especially with the help of meal prepping, they find it has a unfortunate downside — gastrointestinal distress.

Switching to a plant-based diet can cause more flatulence a

It’s true that going vegan might lead to an initial gassy phase. That’s because plant-based foods are high in fiber, a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest, according to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

While fiber is linked to health benefits like lower cancer risk, stable blood sugar, satiety, and weight loss, it can also make you gassy because bacteria in your gut produce gas as a byproduct of processing fiber.

Certain types of veggies and grains can exacerbate the situation. Broccoli, for instance, is high in complex sugars, which take longer to break down in the digestive tract and produce more gas along the way.

However, research suggests that a plant-based diet can actual change the gut microbiome, promoting the growth of different beneficial bacteria that thrive on a high-fiber, plant-rich diet. This means that the body can adapt over time, eventually helping you get past the gassy phase.

Meantime, drinking plenty of water, especially with meals, can help ease symptoms, according to the T. Colin Campbell School of Nutrition Studies. Eating more slowly can also help. And, particularly for people transitioning from a diet high in processed foods, taking probiotics can also speed the growth of a healthy microbiome for better digestive health.

5 more of the most unconquerable countries in the world

(Photo by Ella Olsson)

Finally, transitioning to a plant-based plan, rather than making an abrupt change, can be gentler on your digestive tract. “It’s really important to pay attention to your body, what it needs, and how you’re feeling” when making any major diet change, Robin Foroutan, a registered dietitian nutritionist and representative for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, previously told Insider.

Plant-based meals can keep you full and energized 

The upside of all that fiber, and all those complex carbohydrates, is that they can help keep you feeling full and energized while eating meat-free meals.

“I’m pretty happy so far,” Hudson said on the video. “I think having a little bit of additional carbs has really helped me. I feel fuller, very pumped … I feel bigger after every workout, and my strength levels really haven’t decreased, which is great.”

Both the Buff Dudes found a vegan diet helped them felt good, including during their workouts, and was able to meet their nutritional needs, especially with a little bit of planning. Although neither of them decided to stick to the diet, opting to add in eggs, yogurt, and other animal products back in, they recommend giving it a try.

“No matter what kind of lifestyle you choose, you’re going to have something available to you to make sure you’re happy, content, satiated and buff,” Brandon said.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

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