United States European Command
March 30, 2014
US delivers 300,000 meals to Ukrainian military
March 30, 2014
YAVORIV, Ukraine:- The United States provided its first delivery of non-lethal aid to government of Ukraine this weekend. The aid came in the form of approximately 300,000 meals-ready-to-eat (MREs), which were delivered to the Ukrainian military.
The meals were transported from the Defense Logistics Agency European Distribution Depot in Gemershiem, Germany. Ukrainian authorities received the shipment near the city of Krakovets, Ukraine, along Ukraine’s western border with Poland, and provided the final delivery to the International Security and Peacekeeping Center March 28-29 in Yavoriv .
The cost of the meals, fuel and transportation was approximately $3 million, which was authorized by U.S. Defense Secretary’s Emergency and Extraordinary Expense (EEE) funds.
The Office of Defense Cooperation, U.S. Embassy Kyiv, the Defense Logistics Agency and the U.S. European Command provided a whole of government approach and worked closely with the Ukrainian government to provide this assistance. More non-lethal items are being considered for future delivery.
This effort was an excellent demonstration of interagency cooperation between the US Department of State, the U.S. Defense Department and the Ukrainian authorities in the Ministry of Defense, General Staff and the National Security and Defense Council.
Stars and Stripes
March 31, 2014
NATO commander ordered back to Europe in response to Ukraine crisis
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany: America’s top general in Europe has been ordered back from Washington to meet with NATO leaders because of growing uncertainty over Russia’s intentions in Ukraine.
Gen. Phillip Breedlove, who is dual-hatted as the head of U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, was slated to testify before Congress Tuesday and Wednesday. But he returned to Germany on Saturday to confer with allies and staff ahead of a long-scheduled, two-day meeting in Brussels with NATO foreign ministers.
The decision to send Breedlove back early was made Friday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.
Hagel “considered Breedlove’s early return the prudent thing to do, given the lack of transparency and intent from Russian leadership about their military movements across the border. More broadly, he felt it was important for Gen. Breedlove to continue our efforts to consult with NATO allies, and to discuss specific ways to provide additional reassurance for our NATO allies in Eastern Europe,” the statement said.
The Senate Armed Services Committee canceled its Tuesday hearing; the House will either try to reschedule Breedlove’s appearance slated for Wednesday for a later date or have one of Breedlove’s deputies testify instead, said committee staff member Claude Chafin.
The gathering of NATO’s top diplomats in Brussels will include U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met in Paris on Sunday with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in an attempt to defuse the Ukraine crisis.
The first day of the NATO ministerial will focus on support for Ukraine and a review of the alliance’s relations with Russia, according to a schedule of events posted on NATO’s website. Originally, the meeting was expected to focus on the impending withdrawal of NATO combat troops from Afghanistan after more than 12 years of war and the international implications of that move, diplomats said.
Breedlove’s premature return to Europe “does not foreshadow imminent military action in Ukraine,” Kirby wrote, but “the general’s return will allow him more time to confer closely with his staff and our allies and partners, and to better advise senior leaders.”
Breedlove typically attends the foreign ministerials, a NATO official said, but his participation is often limited. Breedlove’s deputy, a British four-star general who has been officially on the job for less than a week, was scheduled to attend the gathering on his behalf.
U.S. officials decided to have Breedlove attend the ministerial in person. “The bottom line is he’s got the experience and the awareness of exactly what the situation is, and they thought he would be quite useful … as they made their mind up about what the way forward would be,” said the NATO official, who could not be named under standing alliance rules.
Jon Harper and Slobodan Lekic contributed to this report.
March 31, 2014
NATO preps for military exercises in Baltic airspace
The Ministry of Defence presents this scenario: A Lithuanian Air Force C-27J Spartan transport aircraft is flying over the Baltic Sea and suddenly loses radio communication. The Airspace Control Centre of the Kingdom of Sweden immediately allows the Lithuanian aircraft to enter Swedish airspace and raises the Swedish Air Force’s JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets from standby status.
Simultaneously, the U.S. contingent conducting the NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltic States with F-15Cs is activated. As the Swedish aircraft escort the Lithuanian C-27J to the border of international airspace, US fighter jets are waiting to escort it back to the Lithuanian Air Force base in Šiauliai.
This is just one of the training scenarios in a NATO air capability exercise taking place in Baltic airspace from 1-2 April. Other scenarios that will be simulated during the training event include emergency landing and search and rescue operation using the Mi-8 helicopter of the Lithuanian Air Force.
“As unrest has escalated in the near vicinity of the Baltic States, NATO has augmented the Baltic Air Policing mission with additional warplanes to further strengthen our security. This BRTE is not only proof of Alliance solidarity and commitments, but also an opportunity for the Lithuanian military to renew their knowledge and hone their interoperability with allies and partners,” Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas says.
The air training event will involve an F-15C Eagle of the U.S. Air Force currently deployed on NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, a JAS-39 Gripen aircraft of the Swedish Air Force, C-27J Spartan transport aircraft and an Mi-8 helicopter of the Lithuanian Air Force. NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft based in Germany and U.S. KC-135R air refuelling aircraft are also expected to join the exercise
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations
March 31, 2014
DUTCH GENERAL THANKS MISSILE DEFENDERS IN TURKEY
Adana, TURKEY – “Your deployment is a huge effort. We ask more than we really should expect from you.” The Dutch Chief of Defence (CHOD) General Tom Middendorp said during his visit to the Dutch unit in the Turkish city of Adana last Thursday, 27 March 2014.
Over 200 Dutch military men and women protect…General Middendorp was informed personally by the deployed personnel about their efforts. Some of them have been rotated three times since January 2013.
Last week the Dutch reached a milestone of 10.000 hours non-stop missile defence. Middendorp said, “It is admirable the amount of effort you do to protect the city of Adana. I express this appreciation to your families at home because by your flexibility, and their support, this deployment is possible.”
Dutch Pioneering Role
General Middendorp was accompanied by Mr. Raymond Knops, the CDA (Christian Democratic Party) member of parliament, who is also a former air defence officer. MP Knops said, “Your effort shows the importance of the alliance and international cooperation. The Netherlands take their responsibility to the alliance seriously and the Dutch armed forces have a pioneering role especially with this valuable asset.”
The Patriot air defence system is a so called niche capacity within NATO. This means that only few NATO-members possess this asset. “We are a relatively small unit and the deployment is demanding on the personnel and material” explains Colonel Laurens Jobse after 14 months of his unit’s deployment. “Although we experienced some friction, we were able to protect the Adana population continuously.”
The mission lasts until January 2015.
Story courtesy of The Dutch Ministry of Defence. Translation by SHAPE Public Affairs Office.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations
March 31, 2014
Voice of Russia
March 31, 2014
Fighting drugs trade – most urgent issue new Afghan president will face
The April 5 presidential vote will be held in a climate of uncertainty as NATO combat forces ready their withdrawal at the end of 2014. If successful, the election will usher in the first handover from one elected president to another in Afghan history.
With 11 candidates vying to succeed Hamid Karzai, the country’s permanent leader for the last decade, whoever wins will have a load of vital issues to deal with. The most urgent and obvious one seems to be the economy and in the case of Afghanistan that means fighting the drugs trade.
Afghanistan supplies over 90% of the world’s opium, the raw ingredient of heroin. In 2007, 92% of the non-pharmaceutical-grade opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan. This amounts to an export value of about $4 billion. International bodies and governments say the drugs trade is helping to fuel the hard-line Islamic movement Taliban insurgency, which is estimated to receive up to $100m a year from the trade. In addition to opiates, Afghanistan is also the largest producer of cannabis in the world.
In the fourteen years since the launch of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, over one million people in Eurasia have died of Afghan heroin. Intensive transit of drugs from Afghanistan, estimated at $80 billion a year, has contributed to a growth of paramilitary drug trafficking groups, a surge of violence and involvement of several millions of residents of the region in this process. The only unarguable accomplishment of NATO’s military assault in Afghanistan is the fact that opium production has increased by a factor of 40, says Rick Rozoff, the owner and manager of the Stop NATO website and international mailing list.
“This means – and we have to look at this in human terms – this means hundreds of thousands if not millions of Afghans themselves have become addicted to heroin. This means that millions in Russia, in Iran, in Central Asia and elsewhere in the general region have become dependent on heroine. This means tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of deaths through overdose, through HIV, through criminal activity, as a result of this epidemic of heroin,” Rick Rozoff said.
Given the fact that a third of the combined legal and illegal Afghan economy is based on the illegal opium industry, counter-narcotics policy is currently one of the most important elements of domestic politics. So whoever the country chooses as its next President, he has to find the remedy for this disease, and better he does it fast.
Voice of Russia
March 31, 2014
Will Afghanistan get peace?
It is hard to rule a country like Afghanistan for a number of reasons – territorial, economical, ethnical – but it is twice as hard to rule a country which safety is in the hands of foreign military forces. One of the major issues on the Afghan political agenda for the last two years has been the withdrawal of NATO combat troops.
They are leaving the country after 13 years of fighting a fierce Islamist insurgency that erupted when the Taliban were ousted from power after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
Amid a rising death toll and the increasing unpopularity of the conflict among Western voters, pressure grew for a withdrawal of foreign forces. In 2012, the 11th year of the conflict, NATO backed plans to hand over combat duties to Afghan forces by mid-2013. Some 130,000 NATO-led combat troops will leave Afghanistan by December 2014. The alliance says it is committed to a long-term strategic relationship with Afghanistan beyond that date. Foreign military trainers will stay on.
The reason why NATO came to Afghanistan in the first place was to drive the radical Taliban movement from power. If battling Islamic terrorism was the goal of the foreign invasion of Afghanistan, it didn’t succeed much, says Rick Rozoff, the owner and manager of the Stop NATO website and international mailing list.
“Taliban is still active, other groups, which by the way, like the Haqqani network or Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin, which are led by people the US supported, supported primarily in the Mujahedeen war in the 1980s, these forces are still active both in Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan. There has been no consolidation of a viable representative or even reputable government in Kabul. So this has been an unequivocal debacle first of all for the Afghan people who have suffered immeasurably by 12 more years of dislocation, of night raids, of bombing raids, of other catastrophes, destruction effectively of their infrastructure and their agricultural economy,” Rick Rozoff said.
So it looks like the Afghan people are finally getting what they were craving for during the last decade – an independent and hopefully democratic government. But will they get peace? This is what the new president has to take care of on his own now.
William Butler Yeats
The Rose of Peace
The Rose of Peace
If Michael, leader of God’s host
When Heaven and Hell are met,
Looked down on you from Heaven’s door-post
He would his deeds forget.
Brooding no more upon God’s wars
In his Divine homestead,
He would go weave out of the stars
A chaplet for your head.
And all folk seeing him bow down,
And white stars tell your praise,
Would come at last to God’s great town,
Led on by gentle ways;
And God would bid His warfare cease.
Saying all things were well;
And softly make a rosy peace,
A peace of Heaven with Hell.
U.S. Africa Command
March 27, 2014
Marines celebrate 10th graduating class of Military Intelligence Basic Officer Course with students from Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, and Kenya
Capt. Justin Moeykens
Marine Forces Europe and Africa
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania: Twenty-five Students representing the countries of Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, and Kenya graduated from the Military Intelligence Basic Officer Course – Africa which was hosted in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, March 19th 2014.
The semi-annual, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa-led event is considered the flagship course of intelligence training engagement for U.S. Africa Command on the continent.
Over the first half of the course, the students underwent extensive education and training on the fundamentals of intelligence to include: intelligence preparation of the environment (IPOE), collections management, collections operations, patrol debriefing, map-reading skills, and the integration of intelligence into the military planning process.
Over the second half of the course, students focused on the application of intelligence operations in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations…Formal material was presented by U.S. Africa Command Regional Joint Intelligence Training Facility, Canadian Combined Joint Operations Command, and partner-nation instructors, reinforced by the experiences and anecdotes of the Marine officer-in-charge. These brought intelligence concepts from theory into real-world application.
The week prior to graduation, the students engaged in a five-day final exercise culminating with briefings to the MarForEur/Af Assistant Chief-of-Staff of Intelligence, LtCol Vernon Williams, and the Kenyan Defense Attaché to Tanzania, Col Cyrus Oguna, both of which provided insight and perspective from a commander’s point-of-view. This was undoubtedly a nerve-racking but proud experience for the young officers.
The graduation was attended by distinguished guests including the Acting Tanzanian Chief of Defense Intelligence, Director of Tanzanian Defense Intelligence Plans and Projects, Acting High Commissioner of Canada to Tanzania, Mr. Eric Bertram, AFRICOM Deputy Director for Intelligence, Brig. Gen. Jody Daniels, Assistant to the AFRICOM Director of Intelligence, Ms. Vivian Turnbull, and Defense Attaché’s from the U.S., Kenya, Canada, and Uganda.
Since 2008, ten MIBOC-A iterations have been executed in eight countries, resulting in the training of 247 intelligence officers from 23 partner nations from the ranks of 2nd Lieutenant to Major in both East and West Africa.
“Coalition Response To Contingency Operation”: U.S., British, French Warplanes Begin First Of New Twice-Yearly Exercises
U.S. Air Forces in Europe
U.S. Air Forces Africa
March 28, 2014
Exercise Tonnerre Lighting 14-1: Refining the language of war
By U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany: British, French, and U.S. Airmen wrapped up the inaugural Exercise Tonnerre Lightning 14-1 here and other operating locations Friday.
The tri-lateral exercise, which replicates a coalition response to a contingency operation, developed as a method for the U.S., the United Kingdom and France’s air forces to strengthen their combined interoperability.
“We are always looking for ways to exercise and improve our methods as allies,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher J. Bence, Joint Forces Allied Air Component commander for the exercise. “We are extremely fortunate that our forward-based presence allows us to constantly train with our French and British allies.”
The first of these multiple tri-lateral exercises, which has been in the planning phase for over six months, focused on communications integration and interoperability to support air operations.
Partner nations synchronized command and control efforts at the 603rd Air and Space Operations Center at Ramstein Air Base while deployed forces conducted training operations off the coast of England.
“This exercise allowed us to test and refine secure communications with our close partner nations,” said Maj. Jan-Peter Linch, U.S. Air Force action officer for the exercise. “In a short amount of time, our three nations’ teams effectively validated significant capabilities that are crucial to the success of our tri-lateral operations.”
Planners coordinated and directed a large-scale air campaign including aircraft from the 48th Fighter Wing and the 100th Air Refueling Wing along with allied strike, refueling and airborne control aircraft.
Friendly forces conducted strikes against simulated enemy targets while simultaneously fighting enemy air forces, all played by allied fighters.
The overall goal for the exercise was to smooth out complications that arise when communicating between air forces, said Linch.
“The training is aimed at reinforcing a common understanding between partner nations,” he said. “This allows for more effective operations at any given time while strengthening our combined capabilities.”
During contingencies, allied air coalitions can be quickly assembled to meet desired objectives, which can range from delivering humanitarian assistance to launching air strikes.
The United Kingdom, France and the U.S. have continuously collaborated over the years to provide airpower assistance on numerous occasions, including Libya in 2011, and the recent crises in Mali and the Central African Republic.
“Based on past experiences with our allies, I have seen our effectiveness at quickly putting teams together and achieving the objectives,” said Squadron Leader Gordon Ferguson, UK action officer for the exercise. “But this success does not come without complications. That’s the advantage of practicing–we can refine our processes together through robust training exercises.”
Tonnerre Lightning is planned to be held twice a year with the command rotating among the three nations.
While this iteration was led by the U.S., the next Tonnerre Lightning will be led by France later this year.
“The goal for each exercise is to become progressively more complex than the previous one,” said French Lt. Col. Pascal Sotty, director of the French JFAC in Lyon. “For this iteration we focused on communications and creating the products needed for forces to effectively talk, plan and execute the mission. We look forward to the next opportunity together to test our procedures.”
From My Past and Thoughts
Translated by Constance Garnett
Work…Officials recognise as such only civil and legal affairs, the merchant regards nothing but commerce as work, military men call it their work to strut about like cranes armed from head to toe in times of peace…
Man is cruel and only prolonged suffering softens him; the child is cruel in its ignorance, the young man is cruel in the pride of his purity, the priest is cruel in the pride of his holiness, and the doctrinaire in the pride of his learning – we are all merciless, and most of all merciless when we are in the right. The heart is usually melted and grows soft after severe wounds, after the wings have been burnt, after acknowledged downfalls, after the panic which makes a man cold all over when alone, without witnesses, he begins to suspect what a weak and worthless creature he is. His heart grows softer; as he wipes away the sweat of shame and horror, afraid of an eye-witness, he seeks excuses for himself and finds them for others. The part of judge, of executioner, from that moment excites his loathing.
Belarusian Telegraph Agency
March 28, 2014
Belarus president: We are not afraid of NATO, but have to respond to its actions
MINSK: NATO’s actions in the region need an adequate response. The statement was made by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in an interview for the Ukrainian TV show Shuster Live on 26 March, BelTA has learned.
“We see their concrete actions. Therefore, we are forced to at least say: we don’t think you are going to fight us tomorrow and we don’t think you are a potential aggressor, but, please, don’t move on to the east, stop, let’s cooperate in economic, political matters but stop your advance in military sense,” said the President.
“What is the advance I am talking about? Militarization, tanks, aircraft, other weapons, soldiers moving closer to us. Why? The same thing was done after East Germany and West Germany were reunited. Back then we heard sworn testaments that NATO would not move closer. Now not only former socialist states but ex-USSR republics are NATO members. Georgia and Ukraine are willing to be NATO members. Why do you fail to deliver on your promises?” noted Alexander Lukashenko.
“Commitments are failing everywhere and international agreements are violated. We are not afraid of NATO but we have to adequately respond. If you stage an army exercise, we do the same. You keep combat-ready troops, we are forced to do the same in case, God forbid, a military conflict happens and we have to cause unacceptable damage to you. It is just a reason for you to think whether it is a good idea to invade Belarus again like the Nazis did. It is what the situation is all about,” explained the Belarusian head of state.
Belarusian Telegraph Agency
March 28, 2014
NATO’s Ukraine undesirable for Belarus, Russia
MINSK: Russia and Belarus would not like to see Ukraine as part of NATO. The statement was made by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in an interview for the Ukrainian TV show Shuster Live on 26 March, BelTA has learned.
“I’ve told Putin that making Crimea part of Russia is not a problem. Doing something in Ukraine, helping someone is not a problem either. But one has to bear in mind the consequences at every step,” said the Belarusian leader.
“What is the most dangerous thing for Belarus and Russia now? I and President Putin understand that the most dangerous thing would be Ukraine’s accession to NATO or NATO’s deployment and reinforcement in Ukraine. It is the worst thing that could happen for Russia and Belarus! It is more important than Crimea. I said that, too,” stated the Belarus President.
“On the other hand, did the events in Crimea give a reason to Ukraine to reciprocate? Yes, they did. If, God forbid, NATO troops enter Ukraine and straddle the country — on request of the government because the president has yet to be elected — and will secure the country’s integrity with support of the Ukrainian people, it will be the most undesirable consequence for Russia after what has happened,” said the head of state.
“The Ukrainian authorities have exposed themselves, giving Russia a reason to go and protect Crimea. The move has virtually invited NATO to come here, without a thought of the consequences. It is the most dangerous thing in the situation! It is what we should think about now. While negotiating with the West, Russia should keep in mind this possibility. It may be even more dangerous and more important for us. Russia is a nuclear power and so on while NATO’s arrival is a more dangerous thing for us,” believes Alexander Lukashenko.
The Belarus President also outlined his vision of how the Crimean events would proceed if Ukraine was a NATO member. “Certainly, it would not have happened. The thought of assaulting one NATO member and getting a war with the entire NATO bloc would have been a powerful deterrent. Nobody would have dared to go as far as waging a war on NATO,” remarked the Belarusian head of state. “But the argument would have been effective only until Russian citizens and Russian-speaking people had started dying in Crimea”.
“If bloodshed had started, neither Russia nor Belarus would have been able to stay indifferent about it regardless of considerations about NATO. But these are only speculations. I don’t think there are so many cutthroats in Ukraine as to start the bloodshed. God forbid, I don’t even want to think about it,” concluded Alexander Lukashenko.
Ministry of Defence of Georgia
March 27, 2014
NATO Positively Evaluates Georgia’s Defence Reforms
A NATO assessment team is on a four-day official visit at the Ministry of Defence of Georgia. Today, Deputy Defence Minister Mikheil Darchiashvili held a tête-à-tête meeting with the Director of Force Planning, NATO Defence Policy and Planning Directorate Frank Boland.
The sides discussed the implemented and ongoing defence reforms in the Georgian defence sector. NATO assessment team gave a positive evaluation to implementation of commitments undertaken in the framework of Planning and Review Process (PARP). The sides focused on Georgia’s contribution to international mission in Afghanistan and post-ISAF mission, also participation in NATO Response Force in 2015.
“NATO allies pay great attention to progress achieved by the aspirant countries, especially in defence sphere before the upcoming NATO Summit to be held in Wales in autumn. We discussed the ongoing defence reforms in Georgia with NATO experts. We also had a comprehensive discussion of Georgia’s contribution to NATO-led international operation in Afghanistan and our future plans in this regard. The main topics of the meeting were the programs and mechanisms of cooperation with the Alliance. These mechanisms are used as tools to streamline the ongoing processes in the defence system. We are doing our best to make these programs interoperable with our plans that is very positively assessed by NATO. The progress achieved by the Defence Ministry is another step forward aimed at strengthening the defence capabilities of Georgia and increasing interoperability with NATO that will be considered at NATO Summit in autumn,” declared Mikheil Darchiashvili.
The visit aims at reviewing and updating existing Partnership Goals (PGs) of the Planning and Review Process (PARP) in full compliance with the defence priorities and SDR recommendations. Generally, the PARP itself represents a two-year process and the PGs are reviewed once in two years. An assessment of the progress in achieving these goals is conducted annually.
Voice of Russia
March 27, 2014
Before casting aspersions upon Russia, West should look at own interventions – expert
As the situation develops in Ukraine, Western countries are continuing to sharply criticize Vladimir Putin’s policy. The European leaders accused Russian President of Crimea’s occupation and interference in Ukraine’s domestic matters. “They seem to have a very short collective memory of their own actions. Before we start to cast aspersions upon Russia, what is happening in the Crimea, we need to look at last 15 years, the number of interventions as they call them, that the US has led, into the former Yugoslavia, the death and destruction that they caused there,” Scott Taylor, editor of Esprit de Corps magazine and the author of an article in the Chronicle Herald.
Why is the West taking such a harsh stance with respect to Russia when it comes to Crimea?
They seem to have a very short collective memory of their own actions. That is the whole purpose of the column – to remind people that before we start to cast aspersions upon Russia, what is happening in the Crimea, we need to look at last 15 years, the number of interventions as they call them, that the US has led, into the former Yugoslavia, the death and destruction that they caused there. There was no clarity on what was happening but they did redraw the map of Europe, particularly in Kosovo. That was without the UN sanctions that they went to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and Libya. It was where NATO jumped in on UN authorization to enforce a non-fly zone and properly launched several months long bombing campaign against Gadaffi. They had no moral authority, no right to do what they did. And yet they seem to have pushed it beyond and they are pointing the finger of blame at Vladimir Putin saying “you can’t just go around doing these things” when apparently if you are NATO, you can.
President Barack Obama has admitted that imposing sanctions against Russia will hurt the global economy, but proceeded with them nevertheless. What’s the logic in that?
Again North America and Canada have been the most strident in accusing the Russians of aggression and wanting to level sanctions and Canada led the judge to kick them out of G8, which again they’ve already withdrawn their ambassador from Moscow. So, when there is a crisis like this, the first thing you want to do is keep dialogue open and by shutting that down and kicking them out of these organizations when a huge element of the Ukrainian crisis lies in the fact that the Ukrainian economy is in a toilet. That is the problem. It needs financing. Where is that coming from – either from the EU or from Russia? Whatever happens, has to be a decision that is agreed upon, whatever party takes power. They still will face the economic crisis. So, to kick out a member of the G8 makes no sense when they obviously have a vested interest of Russia that borders Ukraine. Canada for its part is taking its position so aggressively, it is based upon, and everybody in the media knows, and the parliamentarians admitted that, because we have 1.2 million Ukrainian Canadians, Canadians of Ukrainian decent. That is a lot of votes and that is a lot of votes in key electoral writings, which this government knows they need to win. So, that is why they are doing it. But if that allows us a stake at the table, I think that it would definitely give us a stake to Russia which has got a huge ethnic portion of Ukraine.
Could Americans’ persistence in trying to portray Russia as an aggressor be an attempt to restore President Barack Obama’s image both domestically and internationally?
It is always good to show your domestic support by having an external threat, and that has always been the case, whether it is going to be about increased defense spending, whatever you need, if you are going to create this cold war mentality, that there is now a new threat emerging, we need to protect ourselves from, it is classical. It has always been done. But in this case people forget how things have changed. Right now you’ve got Western Europe dependent upon Russian oil and natural gas, which is 40% of their imports. If you really want to start waving the sanctions around, it is going to really hit hard in Europe and that is why I don’t think the Canadians or even America have thought this through. The Europeans have got a much more vested interest. If it comes down and we have a new Iron Curtain descend upon the divisions in Europe based on Ukraine, you are going to have people in Berlin and Paris lined up for gas at the gas stations immediately. Industry will come to a crippling halt and their economies will tank as well. So, that is really not a possibility but the way we saw it around here, I should say that in Canada and North America, people have very little real knowledge of this stuff, of the situation of the crisis. It just seems that Russia has invaded a neighboring country and everybody else sees it black and white, you know “we need to do something, they can’t just go around doing that”. The referendum, whether they want to call it illegal or not, the fact was that it did demonstrate the will of the people and the right of self-determination was what they hinged in Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence back in 2008. There was no referendum in Kosovo, and Serbs would not have participated, and they certainly wouldn’t have accepted what is now the status-quo, that they effectively recognize as the country.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations
March 28, 2014
EXERCISE ARRCADE RECCE CONCLUDED THIS WEEK IN ITALY
Story by HQ ARRC Public Affairs Office
Pisa, ITALY: Headquarters, Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC) completed a one-week training exercise in Tuscany, Italy on Thursday, 27 March 2014.
Exercise ARRCADE RECCE saw over 40 multinational ARRC personnel deploy to Pisa to conduct a training exercise designed to test the short-notice, rapid deployment of the Innsworth, United Kingdom-based headquarters’ reconnaissance elements.
The multinational personnel participating in the exercise spent the week traveling to many locations throughout the greater Tuscany area, from Genoa in the north, to Grossetto in the south, all in an effort to practice the NATO rapid deployment headquarters’ deployment (logistics, transportation-related) and reach-back (communications-related) tasks and procedures.
During the exercise, HQ personnel were required to train not only the ARRC’s ability to set up and utilise the HQ’s state-of-the art communications equipment (communicating with SHAPE/NATO, the ARRC in the UK, etc.), but also to conduct necessary recces of the surrounding area to establish potential follow-on locations for deploying command posts, enablers, and the main force.
To do this, ARRC personnel visited airports, seaports, military bases, and met with a plethora of local and regional civic leaders, all of whom agreed in advance to assist the ARRC in their exercise by ‘acting out’ different roles in the exercise’s scenario.
Ultimately, the training event was designed to simulate a real ARRC deployment, at the beginning of which the ARRC would traditionally deploy its Operational Liaison and Reconnaissance Teams (OLRT) in advance of the rest of the headquarters in order to get everything ready and coordinate any/all logistics/transportation/etc. needs before the rest of the multinational headquarters deploys.
“This exercise was an excellent opportunity for us to not only practice our ability to plan for and conduct an operational deployment, but to work with one of our Partner Nations – Italy, said ARRC spokesman Major Chris Hyde.
Russian Information Agency Novosti
March 28, 2014
Ukrainian Civil War Would Likely Spill Across Border – Expert
MOSCOW: The killing of a notorious ultranationalist by police in Ukraine has ignited a firestorm that could lead to a civil war and spark a broader European conflict, said Stephen Lendman, a Chicago-based radio host and author.
“Kiev residents are unhappy about what’s going on in the country, especially given the continuing anti-government protests in eastern Ukraine. A possible civil war could erupt. It could spill across the border,” Lendman said.
“A potential East-West confrontation could follow,” he added.
Around 2,000 supporters of the country’s ultranationalist Right Sector movement encircled and threatened to storm the country’s parliament late Thursday night.
They demanded the country’s interior minister stand trial for the killing of notorious right-wing militant Olexander Muzychko, also known as Sashko Bilyi, who was wanted for war crimes committed in Russia’s Chechnya and died on Monday in a shootout with police.
Meanwhile, Ukraine and the IMF reached a tentative agreement Thursday on an $18 billion loan to Kiev in a bid to save the country’s shattered economy.
Lendman called the loan a plunder of Ukraine for profit. “The loan guarantees a Greek-style depression. Greece is a zombie country. Ukraine faces the same thing,” he told RIA Novosti.
Ukraine’s economy has been hammered by the ongoing political crisis that followed the unconstitutional seizure of power last month by the country’s new leadership.
Sergei Mikheyev, the head of the Russian think tank Center for Political Conjecture, believes Ukraine is likely to see another coup attempt.
“There was a power split the day after their victory,” Mikheyev told RIA Novosti, adding this is a normal stage of a revolution when “victors start dividing power and fighting for influence.”
Lendman echoed the sentiment, saying Right Sector played a leading role in ousting President Viktor Yanukovych last month. “It appears they want more power and may try getting it by force,” he said.
Russia has consistently warned that the new government in the country has a dangerous fascist element of Ukrainian ultra-nationalism, leading Moscow to take steps to protect ethnic Russians in the country.
I dreamed kind Jesus fouled the big-gun gears;
And caused a permanent stoppage in all bolts;
And buckled with a smile Mausers and Colts;
And rusted every bayonet with His tears.
And there were no more bombs, of ours or Theirs,
Not even an old flint-lock, not even a pikel.
But God was vexed, and gave all power to Michael;
And when I woke he’d seen to our repairs.
There was a whispering in my hearth,
A sigh of the coal.
Grown wistful of a former earth
It might recall.
I listened for a tale of leaves
And smothered ferns,
Frond-forests; and the low, sly lives
Before the fawns.
My fire might show steam-phantoms simmer
From Time’s old cauldron,
Before the birds made nests in summer,
Or men had children.
But the coals were murmuring of their mine,
And moans down there
Of boys that slept wry sleep, and men
Writhing for air.
And I saw white bones in the cinder-shard,
Bones without number.
For many hearts with coal are charred,
And few remember.
I thought of all that worked dark pits
Of war, and died
Digging the rock where Death reputes
Peace lies indeed.
Comforted years will sit soft-chaired
In rooms of amber;
The years will stretch their hands, well-cheered
By our lifes’ ember.
The centuries will burn rich loads
With which we groaned,
Whose warmth shall lull their dreaming lids,
While songs are crooned.
But they will not dream of us poor lads
Left in the ground.
Xinhua News Agency
March 27, 2014
Denmark to send F-16 fighters to patrol Baltic airspace
[Added to ten U.S. F-15s in Lithuania and twelve F-16s in Poland and offers of several more warplanes to be deployed to the Baltic area by Britain and France, with more to come.]
The Danish government has decided to send a group of F-16 fighters to patrol the airspace over the Baltic nations Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, according to the Copenhagen Post on Thursday.
There would be six planes in the group, four of which would be active and two would remain grounded in reserve, the local newspaper said.
The Baltic countries reportedly feel threatened by Russia due to the crisis in Ukraine, and the Danish cabinet met Thursday to discuss a plan to dispatch the fighters in May.
“Some of the Baltic nations are a little concerned about their large neighbor, so they have asked their NATO partners if they can help provide a little more security and Denmark has agreed to this,” Johannes Riber Nordby, a military analyst with the Danish defence academy Forsvarsakademiet was quoted as saying.
He said the jet group’s mission would mostly involve the patrolling of the Baltic airspace in case any unexpected aircraft arrive. The three nations don’t have their own air force and require assistance from NATO.
The mission may seem like an escalation of sorts considering the current state of affairs between Europe and Russia, but Nordby said: “I don’t think the Russians have territorial ambitions in the Baltic nations at all, so I don’t think that it will end in a ‘warm war’.”
North Atlantic Treaty Oranization
Allied Command Operations
March 27, 2014
Columbia’s Vice Minister of Defence visits SHAPE
Earlier this month, Enrique Bedoya Vizcaya, Colombian Vice Minister of Defence, visited SHAPE. During his visit, he sat down to speak with SHAPE Public Affairs where he reaffirmed the partnership that Colombia has with NATO and outlined his key points about the areas of cooperation and capabilities shared between Colombia and the Alliance.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
March 19, 2014
NATO and Colombia discuss future of cooperation
NATO Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Alexander Vershbow welcomed Colombia’s interest in broadening consultations and cooperation with the Alliance in talks with Colombia’s Vice Minister of Defence, Jorge Enrique Bedoya, on Wednesday (19 March 2014).
During the meeting, the Deputy Secretary General reiterated NATO’s readiness to explore the potential for doing more together. Possible areas of future cooperation could include ammunition safety and military training courses. Closer cooperation is a gradual process that will evolve over time, Ambassador Vershbow said.
Colombia already engages in several NATO programmes and activities. This includes the participation of Colombian experts in NATO’s Building Integrity initiative which promotes transparency in the defence sector. Colombia also participates in NATO codification activities which seek to set common logistics standards.
In June 2013, NATO and Colombia signed an Agreement on the Security of Information which sets the basis for NATO and Colombia to explore future cooperation and consultation in areas of common interest. The Agreement is a first step toward Colombia being considered as a NATO partner. Colombia’s participation in additional NATO-run activities will continue to be decided by Allies on a case-by-case basis.
March 26, 2014
West overreaching itself on Russia
The White House announced on Monday that Russia’s participation in the G8 was suspended. The decision made after US President Barack Obama’s talks with other Western leaders was interpreted as having kicked Russia out of the group. Russia joining the group in the 1990s was a “reward” that the West granted to Moscow for its democratization efforts. Now the G8 has shrunk to G7 again, leaving the relationship between Russia and the West back to its starting point.
However, the G7 is no longer the group of leading industrialized nations which once accounted for over 70 percent of the global GDP and Russia isn’t the country plagued by debt and begging for Western assistance it used to be. Not only has the G20 outweighed the G8, but new emerging groups such as BRICS are also undermining its influence. The G8 excluded Russia at a time when it has already lost its appeal. Russia’s shrugging off the decision is more eye-catching.
The G7 will gradually be marginalized on the global stage without Russia. Despite its relatively small economic scale, Russia’s G8 membership represents a leapfrog development of the “rich country club,” while the exit symbolizes the failure of major Western countries to open to the world.
The G7 now produces less than 50 percent of the world’s GDP, and the figure is expected to further drop in 10 years. Due to the emerging economies, the West will play a shrinking role and Western centralism will face grim challenges. Nonetheless, this decline is relative, and the West needs to stop acting as “leaders” and instead integrate with the rest of the world.
If the G8 had given Russia the proper respect, it would have become G9 or G10 with the inclusion of major emerging countries like China, and a G20 could have been the outcome of the expansion. In this case, the crack in the European political landscape caused by the Ukraine crisis could have been avoided.
The West is the one that should reflect more on why it has to break with Russia. Why can’t the G8 be a melting pot of different civilizations? How far can a self-centered West move forward under globalization?
Expelling Russia from the G8 demonstrates the selfishness and narrow-mindedness of Western politics. We have reason to believe that the G7 will become more conservative. Without collisions of ideas at meetings, it will become more lackluster in front of the G20.
The West can no longer dictate to the world. If the West firmly clings to the doctrine that its interests take precedence over others’, it will be loaded with danger and perils.
Is Russia resisting against the long-term suppression of the West? Is the country moving onto a path of imperial expansion once again? Or is the Crimea crisis an indication of both situations? How to perceive these factors mirrors the West’s fundamental attitude toward the world. The West has been boundlessly expanding its interests. It’s high time to cut things down to size both politically and psychologically.
Stars and Stripes
March 27, 2014
New focus on artillery training prepares Army for future conflicts
By Adam L. Mathis
LONDON: U.S. Army field artillery is preparing for future wars by returning to Cold War-era tactics supplemented by modern, mobile technology, a U.S. general says.
Though counterinsurgency has been at the center of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the recent past might not be the best guide to new threats, participants at the Future Artillery conference in London, hosted by Defense iQ, said earlier this week.
Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, commander of the Fires Center of Excellence at Ft. Sill, Okla., told Stars and Stripes on the margins of the conference that U.S. artillery has to regain the capability to fight in more traditional, force-on-force style conflicts.
His vision of artillery training re-emphasizes 20th-century-style tactics but with 21st-century equipment. Soldiers would focus less on training to fire guns manually, by doing calculations themselves, and would instead rely more on the digital tools.
“We’ve got most of the pieces in place to be able to train the digital system. What we have to do is get everybody really comfortable with it, train with it more often, so that’s their go-to system,” McDonald said.
McDonald’s concerns about artillery preparedness were echoed several years ago in a white paper subtitled “The Impending Crisis in Field Artillery’s Ability to Provide Fire Support to Maneuver Commanders.” The authors of white paper urged the Army to resume training on larger-conflict skills and to do so soon “before we lose so much expertise that we have to reconstitute the branch from the ground up.”
The authors noted that some artillery officers cited concerns of unpreparedness in commanding a battery of guns because they had spent so much time serving in nonartillery roles.
“They didn’t sign up for motorized infantry, transition team membership, ‘in lieu of’ transportation units, detainee camp guards or any other of a number of hole-filler duty descriptions,” the authors wrote. “They wanted to be artillery officers and ended up being anything but.”
Maj. Aaron Bright, another conference participant, is an example of that lack of experience.
Bright, who is a U.S. exchange officer at the Royal School of Artillery in the U.K., did three tours in Iraq, all of them in an infantry role. He said U.S. artillery should train for more-traditional conflicts because not every conflict will look like the recent ones.
Still, he thinks that recent wars have contributed to the artillery’s capabilities and that concerns about unpreparedness are overstated.
“During the 20th century artillery was the biggest killer on the battlefield by far,” he told Stripes. “Afghanistan and Iraq have been just one more stepping stone, one more addition to what we can do.”
McDonald concurred, telling Stripes that artillery had gained “considerable experience” at providing support to a wide area but that now “our emphasis is going to go back toward combined-arms maneuver.”
Though he said there is a ” training shortfall we have to overcome,” he characterized U.S. artillery as being “in reasonable shape.”
He said the U.S. is working on introducing a digital, hand-held device for forward observers that would instantly transmit targeting information. This device is a couple of years away.
When the transition to digital is complete “it will provide a more effective use of our artillery,” McDonald said.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 26, 2014
FACT SHEET: U.S. Efforts in Support of NATO Allies and Partners
[Bold print added – RR]
The United States has a solemn commitment to the collective defense of all NATO allies. As has been true since we signed the Washington Treaty in 1949, we will respond if the security or territorial integrity of our allies is violated. We also have built constructive security and defense cooperation with Ukraine and other members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) over the past two decades to help build a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.
Russia’s aggressive actions have already led many to call for reinforcing NATO’s readiness through Article 5-related planning, training, and adjustments to force posture. The United States took several immediate steps to demonstrate solidarity with our NATO allies, such as augmenting the Baltic Air Policing mission with the deployment of additional U.S. aircraft. We also will take additional measures to enhance NATO military plans and defense capabilities. We expect other allies will join us in these efforts. These measures should include:
–A demonstration of NATO’s visible resolve to ensure collective defense of all allied territory through enhanced deployment of air, land, and sea assets for training and exercises;
-Continued review and updating of NATO plans for collective defense; and
–Increased readiness and exercising of the NATO Response Force.
The President discussed these measures with NATO Secretary General Rasmussen on March 26, and we will continue to consult with allies, including at the upcoming April 1-2 Foreign Ministerial. To date, we and NATO have undertaken the following specific efforts:
New U.S. Measures
Poland Aviation Detachment (AVDET) Training: On March 13 and 14, the United States deployed 12 F-16s and approximately 200 support airmen from Aviano, Italy, to Lask, Poland, to participate in a U.S.-Poland AVDET training rotation. The deployment will focus on training and interoperability with the Polish Air Force. Three C-130J aircraft will deploy to Powidz Air Base, Poland, on March 31 as part of the next pre-scheduled AVDET rotation.
Open Skies Treaty Flight: On March 14 the United States conducted — at Ukraine’s request — an Open Skies observation mission over Ukraine.
Senior Leader Engagement: The Department of Defense is scheduling near-term Bilateral Defense Consultations with Ukraine, during which senior DoD leaders will discuss defense-related issues with their Ukrainian counterparts.
At the request of the Ukrainian government, the Department of Defense will deliver approximately 25,000 cases (300,000 meals) of Meals Ready-to-Eat to Ukraine.
Joint U.S.-Ukraine Humanitarian Assistance Command Post Exercise (CPX): Ukraine requested U.S. officials travel to Kyiv to help plan a humanitarian assistance CPX. Planning may be conducted in conjunction with the Bilateral Defense Consultations and the CPX executed when the situation in Ukraine is stabilized.
Preplanned but Enhanced U.S. Measures
NATO Baltic Air Policing: On March 6, the United States deployed an additional six F-15Cs to augment the four F-15Cs already in Lithuania filling a NATO peacetime requirement to have quick reaction interceptor aircraft “ramp-ready” for a four-month period to ensure the integrity of the airspace above Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The U.S. rotation began in January and is due to end in early May, after which Poland and the United Kingdom have offered to deploy aircraft to support the mission.
USS Truxtun: The USS Truxtun entered the Black Sea through the Turkish Straits on March 7 to conduct port calls in Constanta, Romania, and conduct a passing exercise (PASSEX) with Romanian and Bulgarian naval forces. She extended her stay in the Black Sea to conduct a port visit in Varna, Bulgaria, to hold an onboard maritime planning conference with Bulgarian and Romanian officers, and to conduct a second PASSEX.
Chiefs of Defense Staff Conference: U.S. European Command Commander/Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Philip Breedlove added discussion on the situation in Ukraine to the scheduled meeting of Eastern and Central European Chiefs of Defense (CHODs) in Croatia from 19-20 March. In addition to the Croatian CHOD, who was the co-host, the CHODs from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia attended.
United States Ongoing/Steady State Measures
U.S. Force Presence: There are approximately 67,000 service members in Europe. Approximately 57,000 active duty service members are assigned to U.S. European Command and approximately 10,000 support other organizations, such as U.S. Africa Command.
NATO Response Force (NRF) Commitment: The United States pledged several thousand service members to the NRF, including a brigade combat team from the Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division, a hospital ship, air-to-air refueling tankers, and escort ships.
Army Rotational Forces: The United States will send a battalion-sized unit from the United States to Europe twice a year for up to two months per rotation. The unit will participate in NRF exercises, such as the French Rapid Reaction Corps Exercise ROCHAMBEAU in May, and U.S. European Command-hosted multinational exercises such as COMBINED RESOLVE II in June. Additionally, they participated in Exercise STEADFAST JAZZ this past November.
Missile Defense / European Phased Adaptive Approach: The U.S. contribution to European missile defense, whose aim is to protect against emerging threats from outside of the Euro-Atlantic area, includes a missile defense radar in Turkey, plans for four Aegis destroyers to be forward deployed in Rota, Spain (the first, USS Donald Cook, recently arrived), and two planned Aegis Ashore sites; in Romania (2015) and Poland (2018).
Exercise COLD RESPONSE: The United States participated in COLD RESPONSE, a Norwegian Joint Headquarters command post and field training exercise involving maritime, land, and air forces. The exercise began on March 10 and went through March 21. The exercise involved approximately 660 U.S. service members, 470 of whom deployed from the United States. Overall, 16,000 service members from 16 nations participated in the exercise.
Exercises in the Baltic Sea and Poland: The United States will send U.S. Marines from the Black Sea Rotational Force to the Baltics this April to participate in exercise SUMMER SHIELD. The United States will also deploy 18 F-16CJs and one KC-135 tanker to Lask Air Base, Poland, concurrent with this year’s BALTOPS exercise, which is an annual, multinational maritime exercise focusing on interoperability, maritime security, and cooperation among Baltic Sea regional partners.
Exercise SABER GUARDIAN: U.S. Army and Bulgarian land forces, along with military personnel from 12 other NATO and partner countries, are conducting Exercise SABER GUARDIAN, a pre-planned consequence management and peace support exercise at the Novo Selo Training Area in Bulgaria, March 21- April 4.
North Atlantic Council Meetings: Since March 2, the North Atlantic Council has met regularly to review developments in the crisis.
NATO-Ukraine Commission Meeting: On March 2, the NATO-Ukraine Commission met at Ukraine’s request. On the same day, NATO allies underlined their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, condemned Russia’s military escalation in Crimea, called on Russia to de-escalate, and agreed to increase economic and political pressure on Russia. There will also be a NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting held at the Foreign Ministerial on April 1-2.
Article 4 Consultations: Subsequent to a request from Poland, the North Atlantic Council held consultations under Article 4 of the Washington Treaty on March 4 and agreed to intensify its on-going assessment of the implication of the crisis for NATO, continue to consult with Ukraine, support efforts for a peaceful solution to the crisis, and meet with Russian representatives on March 5.
Support to Ukraine: On March 5, NATO allies decided on a number of measures to intensify NATO’s partnership with Ukraine and strengthen cooperation to support democratic reforms. Measures included an increased engagement with the Ukrainian civilian and military leadership, strengthened efforts to build the capacity of the Ukrainian military, including with more joint training and exercises, and increased efforts to include Ukraine in multinational projects to develop capabilities.
Suspension of NATO-Russia Council (NRC) Activities: At an NRC meeting on March 5, allies condemned Russian military intervention and announced they would be reviewing the entire range of NATO-Russia cooperation in the period before the April 1-2 NATO Foreign Ministerial. Allies also suspended staff-level civilian and military meetings with Russia, but ambassadorial-level meetings of the NRC will continue.
AWACS: On March 10, the North Atlantic Council approved establishing AWACS orbits over Poland and Romania to enhance NATO’s situational awareness of activities in the region and to reassure NATO allies. These aircraft will only fly over NATO territory and will come from the NATO fleet and allied contributions.
Crimea Referendum: On March 17, the NATO Secretary General issued a statement on the referendum calling it illegal, illegitimate, and a violation of the Ukrainian constitution and international law and noted that NATO allies do not recognize its results.
March 26, 2014
NATO next for Sweden and Finland?
Russia’s annexation of Crimea has prompted non-aligned Sweden and Finland to weigh defense options such as beefing up partnership with NATO or formally joining the alliance. Analysts say it’s up to Russia what’s next.
The Crimean crisis has rekindled discussions in Sweden and Finland of whether to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)…This comes after Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Jan Björklund had publicly called for a “doctrinal shift” in the country’s defence policy, reportedly saying he wanted Sweden to “set the wheels in motion” to join NATO.
Sweden and Finland have long been engaging in NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program…
“The mere fact that you have discussions about Sweden and Finland joining NATO is a clear sign that – in the big scheme of things – Putin’s behavior is backfiring,” Charles Kupchan, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)…
Discussions on Sweden’s defense flared up again in March after Russia carried out a military exercise in an area close to the small Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Sweden then moved two fighter jets to Gotland. Last year, Russian fighters staged a mock attack on Sweden; at the time, NATO’s Baltic air patrol responded while Sweden did not react.
After Russia’s recent exercise, some have argued that Putin might want to try to seize Gotland. According to Dick Zandee, a Senior Research Fellow at the Dutch Clingendael Institute, this incident “has been blown up by the Swedish press.” He says that the argument that it would be easier to invade the Baltic States from Gotland would not hold up. “Russia is bordering all three states, so the easiest thing for Russia to do would be to invade over land,” he told DW, but was quick to add that he didn’t think that would happen.
If Sweden and Finland were to join NATO, Zandee doesn’t expect Russia to retaliate. His view is widely echoed by other analysts.
“Russia has objected to the expansion of NATO from the get-go. Were there to be further additions, the Russians wouldn’t like it,” Kupchan said. But since Finland and Sweden were never one of the Soviet Union’s satellite states, he added, joining NATO “would not be as provocative as when the Baltics joined or as provocative as it would be were NATO to restart the process of Georgian and Ukrainian membership.”
Russian economic retaliation?
Apart from becoming a full member of NATO, Sweden and Finland have other options to weigh as well. According to Christopher Chivvis, a senior political scientist at the RAND corporation and a professor at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least two other possibilities that come to mind. For one, they could develop a closer relationship with NATO – something Sweden has been doing already, for instance by vigorously participating in NATO operations. Finland could follow suit. Another possibility – which would not exclude from both countries working more closely with NATO – could see Sweden and Finland draw closer together through the Nordic Defense Cooperation, which also includes Denmark, Iceland and Norway.
“That might allow them to avoid to a certain degree antagonizing Russia by becoming members of NATO,” Chivvis added.
CFR’s Kupchan also believes Sweden and Finland will go for closer cooperation through the Nordic security framework, while Zandee says they might beef up NATO partnership and Nordic cooperation.
Even if NATO is not obligated to come to the defense to a non-member state, Chivvis argues that this “doesn’t mean that it cannot come to the defense of a country like Sweden that has been a close partner. And I think in the horrible event that we were to see things deteriorate to that point, there would be a very serious discussion within NATO about what it could do to help Sweden defend itself.”
For now though, despite a more positive attitude toward NATO in a Swedish public opinion poll, the chances for full Swedish and Finnish NATO membership remain slim. Public opinion might change if Russia were to continue its behavior as we have seen in Crimea, Zandee said.
According to Tuomas Forsberg, a professor of International Relations at Finland’s University of Tampere, more people argue in favor of NATO membership these days. However, “a defence union with Sweden is more popular [even] though everyone knows that it cannot replace NATO,” he told DW in an email.
While Olsson says that NATO membership is feasible in the next 10 to 15 years, according to Kupchan, the ball is in Putin’s court. “My guess is that if this crisis [in Crimea] passes without further Russian military action in Ukraine, these discussions about the possibility of Finland and Sweden joining NATO will probably recede.”
From Threepenny Novel (1934)
Translated by Desmond I. Vesey
…Coax had gone down to the West India Docks. Peachum had told him that his beggars were going to demonstrate against the strike. He had dressed them up in soldiers’ uniforms. They were going to express indignation at the avarice of the dockers which prevented the British soldier from being transported to the field of battle.
Placards had been painted in Oak Street with the inscriptions: “You are keeping our comrades away from their duty!” and “Look what we have sacrificed!”
“It’s quite a large demonstration,” said Beery excitedly. “Only about a third of our people are here, but, believe it or not, a lot of real soldiers have come. All the streets up there are full of genuine wounded soldiers. Of course we couldn’t have foreseen that. Our people are paid for the demonstration, so it’s natural that they demonstrate. Besides they’ve seen nothing of the war. But those who have joined in now are real soldiers. They are really blaming the dockers because they’re not willing to sacrifice enough for the nation! Just listen to them shouting. That’s not the workers against the strikebreakers; it’s the soldiers, and the crippled ones at that, against the strikers! At first we wanted to engage proper invalids, because Mr. Peachum thought they got so little money and were so wretched that they would do anything for a few pennies, even demonstrate for the war. But then we gave up the idea, because our people seemed more reliable. It only shows how wrong it would have been to pay them. They do it for nothing! One can never make enough allowance for people’s stupidity! These men, without arms and legs and eyes, are still in favour of the war! This cannon-fodder really thinks it is the nation!…It’s amazing! But I always say: one’s only got to make a war and then the chances to make money become unlimited; movements come to light which you’d never have expected and you only have to make the right use of them to become a millionaire; and you can run any business you like without capital! It’s wonderful!”
But they all had this in common, that they wanted the ships to be finished as soon as possible so that they could be laden with new flesh, with healthy men still possessing two arms and two legs and seeing eyes. The wounded, the useless, the outcasts wanted, above all else, to increase their numbers. For misery always possesses an irresistible instinct for self-propagation.
Together with Beery, he evolved the exact plans for a complete reorganization of the workshops. Over half the employees were to be dressed up in uniforms and given wounds of various kinds. From the viewpoint of the begging business, a national catastrophe like this was the same as a victory. There was no doubt at all that London, with the description of the disaster still fresh in its memory, would be ready to give. Anybody in uniform with the slightest recognisable injury would be a national hero for the next few days.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
March 26, 2014
NATO Secretary General and US President stress commitment to collective defence
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and US President Barack Obama stressed the Alliance’s strong commitment to collective defence during talks in Brussels on Wednesday (26 March 2014). “Our commitment to the defence of our Allies is unbreakable,” said the Secretary General.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen expressed his strong appreciation for the leadership role the United States plays in the Alliance during his meeting with President Obama. The talks focused on the crisis in Ukraine, relations with Russia and implications of the crisis on the preparations for this September’s NATO Summit in Wales. “I welcome the steps that the United States has taken in response to Russia’s reckless and illegal military actions in Ukraine. Collective defence of our Allies is a core task for NATO and I join you in your call for additional measures to enhance our collective defence including updated and further developed defence plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments,” said Mr. Fogh Rasmussen.
He added that NATO is “firm in our support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will intensify our military cooperation with Ukraine including helping the Ukrainians to modernise their armed forces.” Allies will review the viability of their relationship with Russia in preparations for the Wales Summit. NATO will also enhance its cooperation with partners, including Ukraine and Allies will further strengthen their collective defence and reinforce their transatlantic bond, the Secretary General said.
“NATO is a force for peace but also unmatched militarily. We do not seek confrontation but we will not waver if challenged and our Alliance is more than just a military Alliance, we are a community of values that also brings hope for all people seeking freedom and peace,” Mr. Fogh Rasmussen states.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
March 26, 2014
By NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen following the meeting with the President of the United States, Barack Obama
Thank you very much Mr. President for those very kind words, I’m very grateful for your support throughout my tenure as Secretary General and I look forward to working with you to prepare a substantive summit in Wales in September.
I thank you very much for your strong leadership and for your steadfast commitment to our Alliance. The transatlantic bond between North America and Europe is the bedrock of security in Europe and in North America. And I really appreciate your reaffirmation of the commitment of the United States to our shared defence and security.
And I welcome the steps that the United States has taken in response to Russia’s reckless and illegal military actions in Ukraine. Clearly collective defence of our Allies is a core task for NATO and I join you in your call for additional measures to enhance our collective defence including updated and further developed defence plans, enhanced exercises, and appropriate deployments.
Our commitment to the defence of our Allies is unbreakable and at the same time we are firm in our support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will intensify our military cooperation with Ukraine including helping the Ukrainians to modernise their armed forces. As we prepare for our next summit in Wales later this year, we will review the viability of our relationship with Russia, we will enhance cooperation with our partners, we will further strengthen our collective defence and we will reinforce the transatlantic bond. NATO is a force for peace but also unmatched militarily. We do not seek confrontation but we will not waver if challenged. And our Alliance is more than just a military Alliance, we are a community of values that also brings hope for all people seeking freedom and peace.
March 26, 2014
U.S. president, NATO secretary general talk about additional security measures for allies in view of situation with Ukraine
U.S. President Barack Obama has discussed with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen additional security measures for alliance members in the light of the developments in Ukraine.
Obama said their meeting in Brussels on Wednesday focused on the situation in Ukraine.
“We share the view that Russia’s illegal incursion into Ukraine and the violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty have to be condemned, but it also reminds us that the NATO commitments that we made under Article 5 are not just items on a piece of paper, but are critically important to all NATO members. And we have to use the resources and preparations to make sure that every member of NATO feel confident,” he said.
The NATO secretary general welcomed the steps that the United States took “in response to Russia’s reckless and illegal military actions in Ukraine.”
“Clearly collective defense of our Allies is a core task for NATO and I join you in your call for additional measures to enhance our collective defense including updated and further developed defense plans, enhanced exercises, and appropriate deployments,” Rasmussen said.
He said NATO was firm in its support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Alliance intended to intensify its military cooperation with Ukraine including helping the Ukrainians to modernize their armed forces.
U.S. Department of Defense
March 26, 2014
U.S., British Defense Leaders Discuss Ukraine, NATO
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON: U.S. and United Kingdom defense leaders today reiterated that there must be consequences for Russia following President Vladimir Putin’s forced annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hosted British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond at the Pentagon. The two discussed a range of subjects, but the main focus was Ukraine, Hagel said at a news conference with Hammond after their meeting.
“I thanked Secretary Hammond for the U.K.’s steadfast support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and for the U.K.’s important contributions to NATO,” Hagel said. “We reaffirmed the strong commitment of both our countries to NATO’s collective defenses, as President Obama has emphasized throughout his trip to Europe.”
Economic and diplomatic sanctions that have been imposed against Russia by the European Union and the United States will further isolate Russia, Hagel noted. “As the leaders of both our countries and the other G-7 nations affirmed this week in the Netherlands, we will continue to coordinate closely on future actions and sanctions we may take against Russia,” he added.
Hammond said Russia’s action was completely unacceptable, and he called the Russian occupation of Crimea “illegal annexation of a sovereign territory.”
The United Kingdom stands with the United States and the rest of NATO in opposing the Russian action and supports “wide-ranging economic and diplomatic sanctions to force President Putin to stop his bullying behavior,” Hammond said.
“The Russian government should be in no doubt that should there be further acts of aggression, there will be further consequences for Russia,” he added.
Hammond confirmed that in addition to the offer of Royal Air Force Typhoon combat jets to bolster the Baltic air policing mission, the United Kingdom is working with its allies and partners to scope options for additional measures of reassurance to Eastern European and Baltic allies.
Hammond stated that evidence suggests that the Russian agenda is being run by Putin personally. “Other Russian players, including [Defense] Minister [Sergei] Shoigu, may express views, but it’s a moot point, and we cannot know, we do not know, to what extent all of those people are really inside the inner circle in which President Putin is planning this exercise,” the British leader said.
The situation in Ukraine demonstrates the continued need for NATO, Hagel said. “The essential character and commitment of this alliance, of its 28 members to one another, remains unchanged, but we will look for new ways to collaborate and improve the alliance’s capabilities and readiness,” the secretary said. “That means we will make continued necessary investments in defense.”
The two men and their staffs also discussed the progress of the campaign in Afghanistan.
Both countries are grappling with budget constraints, and both leaders look on this as an opportunity to explore new areas of cooperation. Hammond said the United States and United Kingdom could work together in nuclear deterrence, special operations forces, intelligence, unmanned aerial vehicles, surveillance aircraft and carrier strike regeneration.
Incirlik Air Base
March 24, 2014
NATO forces work together for Patriot exchange
By Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey: Airmen from the 39th Air Base Wing and 728th Air Mobility Squadron continued Incirlik Air Base’s support of NATO’s ongoing Patriot missile mission in Turkey by helping replace an Patriot missile for the U.S. Army 5-7 Air Defense Battalion March 20, here.
Airmen from the 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 5-7 ADA soldiers handled the paperwork, transportation and customs for the shipment while 728th Air Mobility Squadron worked by the aircraft coordination.
Personnel from the 39th Maintenance Squadron munitions secured the Patriot missile after it was downloaded from a U.S. C-130J Super Hercules cargo aircraft.
The 5-7 ADA is deployed to Gaziantep, Turkey, where they provide round-the-clock augmentation of Turkey’s air defense capabilities by means of two Patriot missile batteries located near the city.
The U.S. is joined by NATO partners, Germany and the Netherlands, in the deployment of Patriot missile systems to help protect the population and territory of Turkey against Syrian ballistic missile threats and to contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along the Alliance’s border.
NATO stated millions of people are better protected on Turkey south-eastern border as a result of the Patriot batteries.
Incirlik Air Base serves not only as a logistical hub for the ongoing NATO mission, but also hosts one of the two Dutch Patriot batteries that provides air defense support for the city of Adana.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Land Command
March 25, 2014
LANDCOM put one step forward towards Full Operational Capability with Loyal Bonus
IZMIR-Turkey: Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) has concluded LOYAL BONUS 2014 (LOBS14) Battle Staff Training (BST) successfully. The event took place between March 17 and 21 in HQ LANDCOM. BST is an integrated training event designed to maintain and improve the command’s proficiency in mission-essential tasks comprised of responsibilities from several functional areas. LOBS is aimed at improving the internal work of LANDCOM as a Land Component Command (LCC) for a Major Joint Operation (MJO+). To synchronize activities and coordination between the different functional areas, LANDCOM staff conducted a variety of boards, meetings and working groups during the BST.
Lieutenant General Frederick Ben Hodges, Commander of LANDCOM, presented his guidance to the LANDCOM staff on 14 March 2014 at Auditorium during Start of Exercise (STARTEX) briefings before BST.
Major General Uğur Tarçın, LANDCOM Chief of Staff, Officer Conducting the Exercise (OCE) for LOBS14, expressed that ” LOBS has built a confident and cohesive LANDCOM Battle Staff with a greater situational awareness and a shaped Common Operational Picture. LOBS effectively combined Individual training and Collective training. He asked from staff to take previous BST’s lessons learned into consideration. ”
Brigadier General Wilhelm Grün, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations (DCOS Ops), who was also the Officer Directing the Exercise (ODE) stated that “During this battle staff training we were able to prove to ourselves that we are on the right track. We could fortify structures and procedures within our battle staff and, more importantly, take away lessons of where and how to adjust them for improvement. People became more comfortable with those structures, identifying their partners for the information flow, and that information flow is most important for our headquarters. We will invest our strongest efforts into the improvement of shortfalls in this field and be ready for our next big exercise in the LANCE series.”
BG Grün summarized by saying “We are much better today than we were last week. All exercise objectives were met, although in some cases only partially; however, the Battle Staff did a great job which is promising for the next steps on our “Stairway to Heaven.”
March 25, 2014
Time to Disband NATO
By Alice Slater
With 16,000 of the world’s 17,000 nuclear bombs in the US and Russia, the US should certainly not be fanning the fires for a new cold war after the distressing events in Crimea and the Ukraine. Rather, we should acknowledge our broken promise to Gorbachev that we wouldn’t expand NATO if Russia didn’t object to a reunified Germany’s entry into NATO when the wall came down, and promise not to invite the Ukraine or Georgia to become members of our old Cold War military alliance. We should be disbanding NATO and working for reform of the UN system so that it can fulfill its peacekeeping mission without archaic reliance on regional military competitive alliances.
Further, we should remove our missiles from Poland, Romania and Turkey and negotiate the space weapons ban which China and Russia repeatedly proposed, and which only the US blocked for several years in the UN’s committee on Disarmament in Geneva which requires consensus. We should also reinstate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which Bush walked out of in 2001 and take up Russia’s offer to negotiate a treaty to ban cyberwarfare, which it proposed after the US boasted about its virus attack on Iran’s enrichment facilities and which the US rejected out of hand.
We need to stop being the world’s bully, as described last week by Jack Matlock, Reagan and Bush’s Ambassador to Russia who has examined our provocative actions towards Russia which resulted in these terrible events in Crimea. See this piece in the Washington Post. It’s ironic that Obama is now in the Hague at his third “Nuclear Security Summit” to talk about locking down and securing loose bomb-making materials, without any discussion about how to honor our Non-Proliferation Treaty promise to eliminate our massive nuclear arsenal, for which we are planning to spend $640 billion over the next ten years for two new bomb factories, and new lethal delivery systems—missiles, planes, submarines.
The sad history of our bad faith relationships with Gorbachev and Putin and our aggressive military provocations, including today’s announcement that NATO will be doing military war games in Poland, will do nothing to make our world a safer, more peaceful place. The US needs more creative 21st century thinking on how to relate to the rest of the world.
Alice Slater is NY Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and serves on the Council of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
March 26, 2014
Azerbaijan to expand presence in NATO
By Sara Rajabova
Azerbaijan plans to increase the number of its officers serving in the NATO in summer.
The news was announced by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry on March 25.
Currently, seven officers of Azerbaijani Armed Forces serve in several NATO headquarters.
Also, the participation of about 900 soldiers in events held in the framework of the NATO Individual Partnership was considered in 2014.
Eighty one of these events are scheduled to take place in foreign countries, while nine will take place in Azerbaijan.
Last year, over a thousand Azerbaijani soldiers took part in 100 events under this program.
During the events, defense strategy issues, military training, logistics, international humanitarian law, budget and resource management, and other issues were in focus.
Azerbaijan-NATO cooperation within IPAP
Azerbaijan has also prepared and submitted a bill on the fourth stage of the program IPAP (Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO), which covers 2014-2015 to the NATO for approval.
Meetings were held within the framework of the IPAP and the Planning and Review Process (PAP) in Baku and Brussels on the analysis of tasks and actions of the partnership in the 28 +1 format with the international headquarters of the NATO, the Defense Ministry told Trend Agency.
Twenty eight of the 42 Partnership Goals adopted by Azerbaijan within the PAP refer to the Armed Forces (General-18, Land Forces-5, Navy-1 and Air Force-4). The country has already completed some of the Goals, and relevant work on the implementation of the other long-term objectives of the partnership is underway.
The peacekeeping forces, platoon for search and rescue operations, medical platoon, Engineer-Sapper Platoon, and a helicopter group have been detached for participation in peacekeeping operations conducted by the NATO in the framework of the PAP document.
The Defense Ministry has successfully implemented the first three stages of the IPAP, which covers 2005-2007, 2008-2010, and 2011-2013. The Military Doctrine was adopted in 2010 and Strategy for Maritime Security was adopted in 2013 in accordance with the commitments under the IPAP.
The NATO and Azerbaijan are actively cooperating on democratic, institutional, and military reforms, and enjoy practical cooperation in various areas. The cooperation plan between Azerbaijan and the NATO is set out in the IPAP on Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan aspires to achieve Euro-Atlantic standards and get closer to Euro-Atlantic institutions. In this regard, supporting reform in the security sector and establishing democratic institutions are the key elements of the NATO-Azerbaijan cooperation.
The Azerbaijani peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan doubled in 2009. Currently, some 90 Azerbaijani servicemen are serving in ISAF. A company and then a battalion of peacekeepers were established as part of the Azerbaijani armed forces in 1997.
In the past, Azerbaijan has also actively supported the NATO’s operations in Kosovo.
Azerbaijan boost military cooperation
Azerbaijan is holding discussions on signing memorandums and agreements that constitute the legal framework in the military sphere with 26 more countries.
During the current year, an average of 300-400 different language courses and specialization, workshops, seminars, conferences, study tours, staff talks, consultations, and other activities are held within the framework of bilateral military cooperation, in which some 1,500 servicemen of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces participate.
From The Strangled Queen (1955)
Translated by Humphrey Hare
“Monseigneur of Valois has just said that he wants to return to the good old customs of Monseigneur Saint Louis. But what does he mean by that? Are all the old customs to be brought back into use?”
“Certainly,” replied Valois not well understanding what the other was leading up to.
“For instance, is the right of the great barons to mint money within their domains to be reintroduced?”
The two lords looked at each other as if a great light had suddenly dawned upon them. How had they failed to think of that one before?
Indeed, the unification of the currency, as well as the royal monopoly in issuing it, were institutions of Philip the Fair. Before that, the great lords minted or had minted for them, concurrently with the royal coinage, their own gold and silver coins which had currency within their domains; and they drew huge profits from the privilege. And those who, like the Lombard bankers, furnished the raw metal and played the exchanges between one province and another found it equally profitable.
Charles of Valois at once saw himself re-establishing his fortune.
“Do you also mean, Monseigneur,” went on Tolomei, still gazing at the reliquary as if he were valuing it in his mind, “that you will re-establish the right to private war between the barons?”
This was another feudal custom which Philip the Fair had abolished so as to prevent the great vassals from causing bloodshed, at the slightest excuse, within the kingdom in order to regulate their differences, establish their glory, or banish their boredom.
“Oh, if we could do that again,” cried Robert of Artois, “I should soon recover my county from my bitch of an Aunt Mahaut.”
“If you need arms for your troops,” said Tolomei, “I can obtain them for you at the lowest possible prices from the Tuscan armourers.”
Ministry of Defence of Georgia
March 25, 2014
NATO PARP/PGs Assessment Team Visit to Georgia
The NATO Assessment Team led by Mr. Frank Boland, the Director of the Planning Directorate of the NATO Headquarters in Brussels conducts an official visit to the Ministry of Defence of Georgia.
The visit aims at reviewing and updating existing Partnership Goals (PGs) of the Planning and Review Process (PARP) in full compliance with the defence priorities and SDR recommendations. Generally, the PARP itself represents a two-year process and the PGs are reviewed once in two years. An assessment of the progress in achieving these goals is conducted annually.
Upon discussions the PGs will be revised and new spheres of cooperation with the Alliance will be identified that will contribute to more efficient defence transformation and enhancement NATO interoperability that will accelerate Georgia’s membership to NATO.
Trend News Agency
March 25, 2014
NATO assessment mission visits Georgia
By Nana Kirtzkhalia
NATO assessment mission headed by the NATO Defence Policy and Planning Directorate Frank Boland is on four-days visit in Georgia.
The purpose of the visit is the revision and renovation of existing partnerships goals in the framework of planning and review process with the given recommendations on renovation prioritizes and defense strategy review, the Georgian Defense Ministry told Trend.
Planning and Review Process is a two-year process in which partnership goals are revised each year. From this perspective, NATO assessment team evaluates progress annually.
The goals of the partnership will also be considered and new areas of cooperation with NATO will be determined during the discussions that will contribute to the process of Georgia’s integration into NATO.
Translated by S.I.
Ministry of Defence of Georgia
March 25, 2014
Meeting with NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Deputy Defence Minister Mikhail Darchiashvili met the representatives of NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Courtyard Marriot today.
The sides discussed Georgia’s NATO integration process and future partnership. The implemented reforms and progress made by MOD in terms of NATO interoperability were the main topics of the discussion.
Mikhail Darchiashvili delivered the detailed information about the reforms carried out in defence field to the members of NATO Parliamentary Assembly and once again reaffirmed that NATO integration is one of the main priorities of Georgia.
“We discussed the current security situation in the region, and the challenges Georgia faces to. The ongoing reforms in the defence sector were also outlined at the meeting. The members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly positively evaluate the transformation and progress Georgia has achieved in the defence reforming process. They also appreciate our contribution to global security, which will continue after the completion of ISAF mission” – said Mikhail Darchiashvili.
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Political Committee gave a positive assessment to the reforms carried out in defense sector and pledged Georgia full support in this respect.
“We discussed a lot of defence-related issues, as well as the reforms carried out in the Georgian Armed Forces. 70% of army officers are professional and their skills are quite relevant to the armed forces of the US. They serve very important areas where other allies are involved as well. In total, we have received very positive information at the meeting” – said the Chairman of the Political Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Jose Lello.
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Political Committee representatives have already held meetings with the MPs, the President of Georgia and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Tomorrow they plan to visit the Vaziani Military Site.
Capitals of US, EU, Moldova to Host NATO’s Enlargement Anniversary
Washington, Brussels and Moldova are the cities where celebrations of Eastern Europe’s 10th Anniversary in NATO will take place.
At a news conference revealing the Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 2014 timetable for celebrations of its 2004 enlargement, the biggest one up to date, details were revealed regarding NATO’s jubilee activities scheduled for the rest of 2014 and set to begin as early as next week.
Apart from Bulgaria, from 2004 NATO includes Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The organization thus ascribes importance to the 10th anniversary, which marks the fact that an unprecedented number of ex-Soviet states were integrated into its structures.
Moldova’s bolstered role
Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, is expected to have a special role in these events alongside Washington and Brussels.
Moldova, an Eastern European Country neighboring Romania and Ukraine, is not currently part neither of NATO (as neutrality is enshrined in its constitution) nor of the EU. However, it is expected to host numerous cultural events involving art, cinema and music dedicated to the ten-year-long history of Eastern Enlargement.
In mid-March, NATO raised fears Russia could carry out an incursion in Moldova’s region of Transnistria, a Russian-populated enclave struggling to break away from the country. It did not immediately become clear whether NATO’s plans for enhancing Chisinau’s diplomatic role in this year’s celebrations is connected to such military calculations.
Bulgaria, on its behalf, has been designated a key role in Chisinau’s activities, as Bulgaria’s Embassy to Moldova is also NATO’s contact point with the country in 2013-2014.
Petyo Petev, who heads the NATO and Regional Security Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, declared that most of the events will be aimed at raising awareness among Bulgaria’s young people, who reached maturity in the years of Bulgarian membership but may not properly realize its meaning, and also among doubtful citizens who are not sure why NATO could be important to Bulgaria.
Petev also said Bulgaria’s NATO membership was once more described as a key priority in foreign affairs and an instrument of utmost importance to the country’s sovereignty.
Debates and arts – 2014’s two top diplomatic priorities
Activities are to be held during the whole year, starting with an international conference in Sofia on April 3-4 to mark the anniversary, bringing together political and defense officials from member states. Bulgaria’s President Rosen Plevneliev is to inaugurate the conference, which will also be attended by Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin and Defense Minister Angel Naydenov. Bulgaria’s former Prime Minister Simeon Sakskoburggotski, who was head of the government at the time Bulgaria joined NATO, will be a special guest.
Issues such as NATO’s open doors, the Trans-Atlantic connection, Bulgaria’s contribution to the functioning of NATO, the future of the organization’s partnerships, and the modernization of Bulgaria’s army were reported to be on the upcoming conference’s agenda.
A concert is also to be held on April 4 in Sofia, on Knyaz Aleksander Batenberg Square, honoring the anniversary, Lyudmila Dimitrova, Director of Bulgaria’s State Cultural Institute, announced at the conference. The access-free event, be a gift to all residents and guests of the capital, will begin at 18.30 and will include music performed by Bulgaria’s National Guard.
Exhibitions, as well as films dedicated to Bulgaria’s membership and to its participation in NATO’s operations and missions are scheduled for the upcoming months.
Arts are expected to become more and more important in such diplomatic jubilees, as Dimitrova explained that she and her colleagues put a strong emphasis on the role of cultural activities in promoting issues in politics and defense to a wider public.
Could NATO become more “popular”?
Lt Col Violina Valeva, who heads the Public Relations and International Activity Department at the G.S.Rakovski Military Academy in Sofia, announced that efforts are already being stepped up to make NATO and defense institutions more popular among the younger generations.
Valeva expressed her belief that children are largely interested in these issues, but are lacking comprehensive communication channels to connect them with institutions, and this can be made in schools, during classes already scheduled to assist pupils in getting to know Bulgaria’s role in the Treaty.
A summer camp for children will also be set up for the first time this year, in cooperation with Nikola Vaptsarov Higher Naval Officer School, located in the city of Varna.
The fact that targeting young people has been a key priority this year was illustrated by the announcement that the preparation of a social media campaign is under way to make NATO more popular. A new website that will be launched on March 29 will also serve that purpose.
Solomon Passy, the ex-Foreign Minister and current President of Bulgaria’s Atlantic Club, who is considered to have had a significant role in Bulgaria’s admission into NATO, was not among those who attended the conference. The organizers chose to skip a question of a Bulgarian journalist who asked why Passy was not present.
His Atlantic Club is nevertheless expected to be active in preparations for this year’s anniversary.
March 25, 2014
NATO planning war on Transnistria: Analyst
NATO’s deployment of troops along the Russian border with Ukraine is a sign of the military alliance’s plan for attacking Moldova’s breakaway province of Transnistria, an analyst tells Press TV.
“NATO is…is trying to portray its own aggressive designs on the breakaway region of Transnistria as being a defensive maneuver in some manner to protect Moldova against Russia. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Rick Rozoff said.
He said 28-nation NATO has been wrongly accusing Russia of coveting Transnistria, adding, “That is sheer nonsense. It’s a provocation. It’s actually the reverse of the truth.”
“What we’re seeing right now is arguably the final push by the United States and its major NATO allies to push this military bloc – unprecedented in history in terms of size and scope – right up to the Russian border; up to the 1,500 some-odd kilometers whereby Ukraine borders with Russia,” said Rozoff.
He said NATO’s “major military buildup” on Russia’s northwest border also threatens Belarus.
“Its members and its partners have encroached not only on the Russian border, but on the borders of Iran and China as well,” said Rozoff.
He said Russia’s military power should not be underestimated despite being “a very circumscribed and weakened version of the former Soviet Union.”
Rozoff said Russia “is along with the United States the world’s major nuclear power.”
“Any tension that increases to the level that it has now… is a threat not only to the region of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, but ultimately to the world and this is a cause of very serious concern,” he said.
Progressive Radio Network
March 24, 2014
Progressive Commentary Hour – Rick Rozoff & Professor Stephen Zunes – 03/24/14
Gary Null speaks with guests Rick Rozoff & Professor Stephen Zunes about NATO’s mission in militarized globalization and intervening on behalf of US interests.
Progressive News Hours
March 24, 2014
Rick Rozoff and John Kozy
Rozoff is an activist, anti-war supporter. He’s Stop NATO web site editor.
He documents global militarist trends daily. He provides vital information on what’s ongoing in Ukraine.
Discussion will focus on Obama’s latest imperial target. He’s responsible for potentially the most serious post-WW II crisis.
Kozy is a retired philosophy professor. He now writes on social, political and economic issues. He taught for many years. He’s been writing for many more.
Kozy’s latest writing will be discussed.
March 25, 2014
U.S., NATO divest themselves of responsibility for “catastrophic growth” of Afghan drug production – FSKN
MOSCOW: The decision by Western countries to stop cooperation with Russia in the G8 format because of the Crimean events will damage the anti-drug fight in Afghanistan, Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) head Viktor Ivanov said.
“The West scrapped the G8 at a time when Russia made the anti-drug fight a priority of its presidency of the G8 this year,” Ivanov said at a conference in Moscow on Tuesday.
“This can hardly be seen other than a radical method by the U.S. and NATO to divest themselves of responsibility for the surge in Afghan drug production which has seen a surge in production of nearly 40 times since the moment of occupation of this long-suffering country by the armed forces of the U.S. and NATO,” he said.
“Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001, the UN has objectively registered an explosive and catastrophic growth in drug production in Afghanistan. Heroin production grew by more than 40 times,” Ivanov continued.
He is one of the Russian citizens put under U.S. sanctions after the Crimean accession to Russia.
“The main impressive result of Operation Enduring Freedom is the transformation of Afghanistan into a drug production zone of a planetary scale; it now makes twice as many opiates than the entire world made a decade ago,” Ivanov indicated.
“Clearly, it was not that the West banished Russia from the G8 but it [the West] moved away from solving the global problem of drug production in Afghanistan,” he said.
“In the course of its presidency of the G8, Russia intended to propose a comprehensive strategy for solving this problem, and, consistent with UN policy, its top priority was modern programs of alternative development, to which today’s meeting is dedicated,” Ivanov said.
March 25, 2014
Russia can not influence process of NATO expansion – Rasmussen
BRUSSELS: The countries, which are not NATO members, can not influence the process of the Alliance’s expansion, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
Neither Russia nor any other country, which is not a NATO member, can influence this issue, Rasmussen said at a news conference in Brussels in regard to the relations between NATO and Moscow.
NATO has an open door policy, according to which European countries, complying with a number of demands, can seek membership in the Alliance, Rasmussen said.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
March 25, 2014
NATO Secretary General encourages Montenegro to maintain reform momentum
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen described Montenegro as an important partner for the Alliance and welcomed the significant progress made in the reform process. Mr Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday (25 March 2014) held talks with Prime Minister Milo Đukanović, who also met with the North Atlantic Council to discuss the progress in Montenegro’s reform agenda.
The Secretary General thanked the Prime Minister for his country’s contribution to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan and for the positive role Montenegro plays in the Western Balkans. Commending the good progress made by Montenegro in implementing reforms, he said the momentum of implementing reforms will be key to the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration. “Continuing this hard work is the best way to bring Montenegro into NATO and the European Union,” said the Secretary General.
The Secretary General said Montenegro’s Membership Action Plan had identified key challenges that will need to be addressed, including reinforcing the rule of law, fighting corruption and organised crime and finding the resources to modernise the country’s armed forces. He also noted that more could be done to explain the importance of Euro-Atlantic integration to the public. Mr. Fogh Rasmussen stressed that Montenegro could count on the Alliance’s support. “NATO’s commitment to the Western Balkans is strong,” he said. “We see your future in the Euro-Atlantic family and we are determined to help you get there.”
From The Sea Wall (1950)
Translated by Herma Briffault
…He had been hired from the very first days of the project. His work consisted in clearing the ground, banking it up, paving it, and pounding it with wooden hand-pounders.
It would have been work like any other if at least eighty per cent of it had not been effected by convicts and supervised by native troops who, in ordinary times, were put in charge of the Colonial prisons. These convicts, these great “criminals” that, like so many mushrooms, had been discovered by the whites, were serving life sentences. Thus, they were made to work sixteen hours a day, chained together by fours, in close ranks. Each rank was supervised by a soldier dressed in the uniform of the “Native Militia for Natives,” chartered by the whites. Besides these convicts there were a few recruited laborers, such as the Corporal. If in the beginning there was some distinctions made between the convicts and the other hands, it gradually became attenuated except for the fact that the convicts were fed while the recruits were not. And finally the convicts had the advantage of being without their wives while the others had theirs with them, following in moving camps to the rear of the construction yards. These wives were eternally bearing children and were eternally starving. The militiamen saw to it that there were always labor recruits, in order to have women available, even when isolated in the forest and at a distance of many kilometers from any hamlet. Moreover, the women as well as the men and children died of malaria at a regular rate so that they could be replaced sufficiently often by the militiamen who, themselves, had a ration of quinine to assure their own survival and the maintenance of their authority which daily became more assured and more fantastic. This could effect a change of women with enough frequency, since the death of an enlisted man’s wife immediately lost that man his job.
…During this time, as did all the wives of the recruits, the Corporal’s wife gave birth to children, one after another, thanks to the virility of the militiamen. During all this time, too, there were the sixteen hours of road-pounding with heavy cudgels under a sun which deprived the recruits and convicts alike of all power of initiative, even the most natural. One only of her children had survived, the others having died of malaria or starvation. It was a girl, and the Corporal had kept her with them. How many times in six years had the Corporal’s wife borne a child in the midst of the forest, to the deafening sound of the road-pounders and the axes, the yells of the troops and the cracking of their whips? She could not now remember. What she did remember was that she had been kept constantly pregnant by the militiamen and that it was the Corporal who had got up at night to dig the little graves for the dead children.
March 24, 2014
NATO agenda targets Russian border territories: analyst
Press TV has conducted an interview with Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO International Network in Chicago, about Russia’s move to take control of Ukrainian naval bases situated inside Crimea.
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: We have heard Moscow time and again saying it is committed to restoring stability within the region and yet we are seeing a concerted effort on the part of NATO and the West as a whole to give this rhetoric and this crisis a military nature. What do you make of it?
Rozoff: First of all, Nowruz (New Year) greetings to your viewers. May this be a new year of peace, unlike the past 20 years or more unfortunately in the post-Cold War period.
I’m afraid what we’re seeing right now is the end game, if you will, of 20 years of NATO expansion – actually 15 years of NATO expansion beginning in 1999.
At this very date in Tehran, March 24th, 15 years ago NATO began its first war, which was a 78-day air war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Subsequent to that of course and at the very same time they incorporated the first new members since the end of the Cold War – Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
NATO has subsequently waged a full-fledged war in Asia in Afghanistan; in Africa against Libya; it’s conducting permanent naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. It has in fact become a global military force dominated by the United States.
Its members and its partners have encroached not only on the Russian border, but on the borders of Iran and China as well.
And what we’re seeing right now is arguably the final push by the United States and its major NATO allies to push this military bloc – unprecedented in history in terms of size and scope – right up to the Russian border; up to the 1,500 some-odd kilometers whereby Ukraine borders with Russia.
The most dangerous aspect of what we heard today and you relayed it to your viewers is the fact that the top military commander of this 28-nation military bloc – one which consists incidentally including partners as well as members of over 70 nations in the world – that is, over one third of the countries on the planet – is stating that not only is Russia allegedly guilty of aggression in Crimea – It is not; but that somehow Russia covets a breakaway region of Moldova, Transnistria, and has its troops poised to attack Moldova.
That is sheer nonsense. It’s a provocation. It’s actually the reverse of the truth.
I for one have been warning since the beginning of this Ukraine crisis that the US and its NATO [allies] were planning a military attack against Transnistria, which is bordered by Moldova to its west, Ukraine to its east and just as Moldova is likely to be absorbed into Romania – which is a full NATO member – so a Moldavian attack against Transnistria in one direction, a Ukrainian one by the junta in Kiev from the other would have the support of Romania in service of NATO.
So what NATO is doing is trying to portray its own aggressive designs on the breakaway region of Transnistria as being a defensive maneuver in some manner to protect Moldova against Russia. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Press TV: We have seen the West time and again miscalculating Russia’s response, its might and its capabilities. Is this going to be one of those instances as well?
Rozoff: If it is it could be one of the more dangerous in history.
I’m not the only person I’m sure who’s drawn the conclusion that the current tensions between the world’s two major nuclear powers – and let us recall that even though Russia is a very circumscribed and weakened version of the former Soviet Union – it is along with the United States the world’s major nuclear power.
It not only has an arsenal roughly comparable to the United States, but has delivery systems analogous to those of Washington.
So, any tension that increases to the level that it has now – and I for one can’t remember quite anything of this intensity since arguably the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 – is a threat not only to the region of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, but ultimately to the world and this is a cause of very serious concern.
We know that the US is moving dozens of war planes into Poland and Lithuania – ten F15s into Lithuania; they’re rotating twelve F-16s into Poland; France is talking about moving war planes into the Baltic region as well; NATO has AWACS aircraft over Poland and Romania.
There is a major military buildup particularly on Russia’s northwest border and this could be a threat not only to Russia, but maybe to the nation of Belarus, which is also I believe in the gun sights of the United States, NATO as well as Transnistria.
There’s another autonomous region within Moldova called Gagauzia, which could also be threatened.
Their parliament voted last week for independence as did the reassertion of independence of Transnistria.
These unresolved conflicts on the territory of the former Soviet Union are now rich grounds for NATO military provocation and escalation. And they’re so dangerously close to the Russia border in every instance.
You have to remember the two nations I mentioned, Lithuania and Poland where there is a massive military buildup of US war planes, both have borders with Russia.
Voice of Russia
March 24, 2014
Yugoslavia bombings 15 years later: US, NATO aggression in Europe
Fifteen years ago a hot spot appeared on the map of Europe – on March 24, 1999 the air forces of the United States and NATO started bombing Yugoslavia, which lasted for over two months. The aggression of the West took the lives of two thousand peaceful civilians.
The North Atlantic Treaty’s aggression against Yugoslavia at the end of the 20th century was one of the final acts of the long-term campaign of the West against that powerful Balkan state. The bombs and missiles that fell from the night sky on Belgrade, Pristina and other Serbian cities completed the formation of the new map of East Europe, said Alexander Bovdunov, an expert at the Center for Conservative Studies of the Sociology Department of the Moscow State University, in his interview to the Voice of Russia:
“A seat of tension was created in Europe, which prevented it from standing up as an independent geopolitical center. And secondly, the forces that could have become an ally of the Russian world were suppressed and destroyed. Primarily, it concerned Serbia and the Serbs. It was no accident that in that conflict the US and Europe it controlled first supported the Croatians, and then made a decision to destroy the Serbian state, to reduce its influence in the Balkans by unleashing the conflict around Kosovo.”
One of the main goals of the United States back then was to demonstrate to the world that it was capable of imposing its will and had the right to use the territory in any place in Europe. Thus, with Washington’s efforts a quasi-state appeared called the Republic of Kosovo, the role of which was reduced to one thing – to become yet another military base of the US, thinks Vasily Kashirin, a senior researcher at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies:
“It is a dependable and loyal satellite of the West. The largest military base on the entire European continent is located there. The Americans built a real military fortress there. They came there to stay for decades and have no plans of leaving. From the point of view of the triumph of the rough American military power, of the American imperialism it is a true success.”
After splitting the Yugoslavian state into several small republics and enclaves the West did not stop at that. By its “ballistic democracy” it created devastation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. It was about to get rid of the unruly Syria, when the mechanism of unipolar influence failed – Russia stood up in the way of the Euro Atlantic policy, says Vasily Kashirin:
“The global distribution of power in the world has changed. Russia is no longer as weak as in 1999. And Russia clearly showed that last year in the course of the Syrian crisis, when Moscow with its rational diplomacy and position of principles prevented the West from starting military aggression against Syria.”
Crimea became the next failure of the Euro Atlantic strategy. The Western community portrays Moscow’s desire to protect the Russian-speaking population of the peninsula from ultranationalists as a military aggression against Ukraine. Europe considers the results of the expression of the free will of Crimea’s residents regarding joining Russia to be violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state. According to Vasily Kashirin, such a reaction coming from Western Europe and the US is a reflex continuation of their policy of double standards. But times have changed and that policy will never be as effective as it was in the past. It has become too obvious for the entire world.
15-year anniversary of NATO aggression on Yugoslavia
In March 1999, at the direction of the United States of America, NATO engaged in its first act of illegal aggressive war, beginning what can only be called the “dark age of intervention” in which we are living today. The fact that NATO was allowed to get away with the aggression on Serbia and Montenegro emboldened US/NATO and the US military industrial intelligence banking complex and since that day, under a doctrine of Responsibility to Protect, Humanitarian Interventionism, Preventive War and then the all encompassing “War on Terror”, US/NATO have proceeded to destroy country after country and do away with leaders that they have not found to be submissive enough to their will.
The events of 9-11-2001 were a watershed moment for the geopolitical architects and served as a catalyst to allow them to expand their military machine to every corner of the world and invade countries at will and conduct operations with complete disregard for international law and accepted international norms.
In light of the 15th Anniversary of the NATO aggression the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals and other independent Civic associations in Serbia will hold an international conference from the 21st to the 24th of March 2014. The conference will gather 100 prominent intellectuals from all over the world, in addition to those from Serbia, Montenegro, the Republica Srpska and 10 to 15 guests from Russia, including Academician and retired Russian Army General Leonid Ivashov. The conference will also include the participation of the Veterans Alliance of Serbia and the Club of Generals and Admirals of Serbia.
The President of the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals and the last Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Zivadin Jovanovic wrote the following summary of the events in light of the 15 year anniversary of the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia. (John Robles)
Do Not Forget, by Zivadin Jovanovic
Fifteen years have passed since the beginning of NATO aggression against Serbia and Montenegro (24 March 1999). This aggression resulted in the loss of 4,000 human lives, including 88 children, and 10,000 people were severely wounded. Over two third of these victims were civilians. How many human lives have been lost in the meantime due to the consequences of weapons with depleted uranium, as well as of remaining cluster bombs, will hardly ever be established.
Breaching the basic norms of international law, its own founding act as well as constitutions of member countries, NATO was bombing Serbia and Montenegro during 78 days continuously destroying the economy, infrastructure, public services, radio and TV centers and transmitters, cultural and historical monuments. NATO bears responsibility for polluting the environment and endangering the health of present and future generations. Economic damage caused by the aggression is estimated at over USD 120 billion. War damage compensation has not yet been claimed, and judgments ruled by our court, by which the leaders of aggressor countries were convicted for the crimes against peace and humanity, were annulled after the coup d’état in 2000.
Governments of aggressor countries seized and occupied the Province of Kosovo and Metohija, and then formally delivered it to former terrorists, separatists and international organized crime bosses. An American military base was established in the Province – “Bondstill”, one of the largest beyond the U.S. territory.
After the aggression, over 250,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians have been forced out the Province of Kosovo and Metohija; even today, 15 years later they are not allowed to return freely and safely to their homes. Ethnic cleansing and even drastic change of ethnic population structure are tolerated by so called international community if only to the detriment of Serbs. The remaining Serbian population in the Province of about 120.000 continues to live in fear and uncertainty. Attacks upon Serbs, detentions and killings, including liquidations of their political leaders, have been continuing up to these days, and nobody is held responsible.
NATO aggression against Serbia and Montenegro (FRY) in 1999 is a crime against peace and humanity. It is a precedent and a turning point towards global interventionism, arbitrary violation of the international legal order and the negation of the role of the UN. The “Bondstill” military base is the first and crucial ring in the chain of new American military bases reflecting strategy of expansion towards East, Caspian Basin, Middle East, towards Russia and its Siberia natural resources. Europe has thus got overall militarization and the new edition of the strategy “Drang nach Osten” (“Thrust to the East”). Destabilization and the tragic developments in Ukraine are just the most recent consequence of that strategy.
15 years after objectives of US/NATO military aggression continue to be pursued by other means. Serbia has been blackmailed to de facto recognize illegal secession of its Province of Kosovo and Metohija through so called Brussels negotiations. The most of the puppet states of the former Yugoslavia are much dependant on and indebted to the leading NATO/EU countries, their financial institutions and corporations so that they could hardly be considered independent states but rather neo-colonies. There is no stability in the Balkans, redrawing of borders has not ended, overall situation is dominated by devastated economy, unemployment, social tensions and misery. Europe, particularly its south-east regions, are experiencing profound economic, social and moral crisis.
Preparations for NATO military aggression against Serbia and Montenegro (FRY) and 1999 aggression itself have been used in the meantime as a blueprint for many other NATO aggressions and occupations – Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali and so on. Wherever NATO undertook “humanitarian intervention”, like in former Yugoslavia, it left thousands of dead and mutilated, millions of refugees and displaced persons, ethnic and religious divisions, terrorism and separatism, economic disaster and social misery. NATO expansionist strategy made Europe militarized. There are more US/NATO military bases in Europe today than at the peak of the Cold War era. What for? NATO imperial expansionist strategy has provoked new arms race with unforeseen consequences. Who really needs an organization threatening global peace and stability?
During and after the aggression, 150 Serb monasteries and churches built in the Middle Ages were destroyed. Killed or abducted were some 3,500 Serbs and other non-Albanians, and fates of many of them have not been established until today. Not even one of the thousands of crimes against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija got a court clarification. Even such terrorist crimes as was blowing up the “Nis-express” bus on 16 February 2001, when 12 people were killed and 43 wounded, neither the murder of 14 Serb farmers reaping in the field in Staro Gracko, on 23 July 2009 remained without thorough investigation, be it by UNMIK, be it by EULEX, or by any other of so many structures of the so called international community.
The Swiss senator, Dick Marty, revealed documented report on trafficking in human organs of Serbs abducted in Kosovo and Metohija. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the oldest European democratic institution, adopted his Report as the official CE document. Although all factors stand verbally for an efficient investigation and bringing the perpetrators to justice, for many years now there have been no results whatsoever. The documentation on human organ trafficking submitted to The Hague Tribunal had been – destroyed!
The Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals, with support of other non-partisan and independent associations from Serbia, from the region and from the Serb Diaspora throughout the world, are organizing a number of activities under the common title “NOT TO FORGET”, with the aim to remind domestic and international public of human loss, destructions and other consequences of NATO aggression.
On Friday, 21 March 2014 at 6 p.m., in Sava Conference Centre, Belgrade (Milentija Popovica No. 1) an opening ceremony will launch a photographic exhibition presenting consequences of NATO aggression.
On Saturday, March 22 and on Sunday, March 23rd, 2014, International conference “Global Peace vs. Global Interventionism and Imperialism” will be held (Sava Conference Centre. Conference starts at 10 a.m. Some 100 prominent personalities from all over the world have confirmed their participation.
On Monday, March 24th, 2014, at 09.30 a.m., the International Memorial Marathon Belgrade-Hilandar will start in front of Saint Sava Church.
The same day, at 11 am, civic associations, representatives of Serb Diaspora, guests from abroad and individuals will lay flowers at the monument to children – victims of the aggression, in the Tašmajdan park, and the same day at 12 a.m. flowers will be laid at the Monument to all victims of the aggression, Friendship park, Ušće, New Belgrade.
Sad Anniversary: 15 years since NATO began bombing Yugoslavia
On March 24, Serbia and Montenegro are observing the sad anniversary of NATO air strikes against former Yugoslavia. On that day 15 years ago, NATO launched a US-led massive bombing campaign in an operation codenamed Allied Force, which lasted 78 days.
The collapse of the Rambouillet talks on Kosovo and Serbia’s rejection of an external peacekeeping force as it actually meant foreign invasion served as the formal pretext for the bombings. For over two months, NATO aircraft and warships were pouring tons of air bombs and cruise missiles almost daily on industrial, infrastructure and other facilities throughout Serbia and Montenegro.
Nineteen NATO member states took part in the operation which went ahead without the approval of the UN Security Council after a mass grave was found in the village of Racak in Kosovo, where the bodies of dozens of Albanian civilians allegedly killed by Serbian troops were said to have been dumped. Later it turned out that it was a “hoax” cooked up by Western secret services. Most of the bodies in the Racak grave were militants of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, who had died in clashes with Yugoslav police in various parts of Kosovo.
NATO delivered a total of 2,300 air strikes on 995 targets during its 11-week bombing campaign, according to Serbian sources. Some 1,150 NATO warplanes were involved in the operation. More than 420,000 shells weighing a total of 22,000 tones hit former Yugoslavia, including 20,000 heavy aviation bombs, 1,300 cruise missiles and 37,000 pellet bombs, most of them stuffed with depleted uranium.
More than 2,000 civilians and 1,000 servicemen were killed in the bombings and over 5,000 others were wounded. Serbia’s defense industry was completely destroyed along with 1,500 villages, 60 bridges, one-third of schools and about 100 historical and cultural monuments.
Serbian experts estimated the damage from NATO’s Allie Force operation at between $60 billion and $100 billion.
The use of depleted uranium shells pushed radiation levels in southern Serbia, especially in Kosovo and Metohija, above the permissible norm and drove cancer rates up.
Voice of Russia
March 24, 2014
Serbia remembers victims of the 1999 NATO bombardments
BELGRADE: Serbia commemorated one of the most tragic dates in its history on Monday – the beginning of NATO bombardments of the former Yugoslavia on March 24, 1999. Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic laid a wreath to the memorial of the victims of a NATO missile strike in Varvarin.
“Until now, we have not received any genuine condolences for that senseless missile strike at a bridge during a religious holiday,” the Serbian head of state said.
“I will never forget what happened during the (NATO) aggression against Serbia – in those 78 days and nights from March 24 to June 9, 1999.
Nikolic said it was impossible to forget a NATO air strike at a bridge over Morava River on St. Trinity Day on May 30, 1999 that killed 10 people and wounded 17.
“All these days we have kept remembering the victims of tyrants’ political goals. Alongside the names of the dead, we would like to know the name of at least one person who was punished for the aforesaid crimes,” the Serbian president went on to say.
Those monstrous acts were committed as part of the Merciful Angel operation while the NATO propaganda machine called the suffering and death of innocent civilians as collateral damage. “Our task is never to forget this injustice which led to the death of innocent civilians in Serbia,” Nikolic said.
Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic laid a wreath to the Glasnik monument on top of Strazevica Hill in the town of Rakovica.
“A nation that forgets its victims and history is doomed to live through similar hardships again. It is our duty to remember those who defended our homeland,” Dacic said, noting that today Serbia was pursuing a policy of peaceful solution to problems which it had faced then.
“I hope that such tragedies will never recur,” the Serbian prime minister emphasized.
Representatives of Serb local self-government in Kosovska Mitrovica and Zvecan, northern Kosovo, and the Society of Serbian-Russian Friendship laid wreaths to the Monument of Truth near the main bridge over the Ibar River and on the Brother Milic Square in the centre of Kosovska Mitrovica.
According to Serbian sources, more than 1,100 NATO planes delivered a total of 2,300 air strikes at 995 military facilities over the 11-week bombing campaign. About 420,000 bombs with a total weight of 22,000 tonnes, including 20,000 heavy aviation bombs, 1,300 cruise missiles and 37,000 cluster bombs, were dropped on Serbia and exploded on the ground.
More than 2,000 civilians (predominantly in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija) and over a 1,000 servicemen died in the bombardments. More than 5,000 people were wounded. More than a thousand people went missing. Serbia’s military-industrial infrastructure was totally destroyed. More than 1,500 populated localities, 60 bridges, one third of schools and about a hundred monuments were ruined. Serbian experts put the material damage from bombardments at 100 billion dollars.
Russian Information Agency Novosti
March 24, 2014
Ukraine-EU Pact Signals Step Towards NATO – Russian Ministry Source
MOSCOW: The signing of a political pact between Ukraine and the European Union is a hasty step which points to the prospect of closer military ties between Kiev and NATO, a Russian foreign ministry source said Monday.
“The political provisions of the association deal pave the way for further entrenchment of Ukraine into the foreign policy and military orbit of the EU and the West in general,” the official said.
Russia has vociferously opposed any further eastward expansion by NATO, particularly by former Soviet republics on its borders. President Vladimir Putin said last week Moscow was open to further cooperation with NATO, but remained opposed to the organization’s presence in historic Russian territories.
Ukraine and Georgia have been lobbying to become NATO members for years, enjoying full support for their bids from the US, but alliance members rejected a proposal to offer them membership at a NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008.
Ukraine’s Western-backed interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, appointed by the country’s parliament last month, signed the political portion of an expanded association agreement with the European Union in Brussels on Friday. A similar agreement was rejected by the country’s ousted president in November in favor of closer ties with Russia.
The economic and trade provisions of the deal will not be agreed upon until after the upcoming presidential election scheduled for May.
“We can expect that under current circumstances the signing of the agreement will be followed by steps towards closer cooperation, including in terms of the evolution of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) and its potential link with NATO activity,” the source said.
“If the political association is considered a long-term choice made by both sides, why would the signing of such an important document be made with the head of a self-imposed government, without waiting for presidential elections in May?” the source said.
Russia does not recognize the interim government in Ukraine and insists that all new decisions should be taken by democratically-elected Ukrainian leaders after the May vote.
March 24, 2014
15 years on: Looking back at NATO’s ‘humanitarian’ bombing of Yugoslavia
Exactly 15 years ago, on March 24, NATO began its 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia. The alliance bypassed the UN under a “humanitarian” pretext, launching aggression that claimed hundreds of civilian lives and caused a much larger catastrophe than it averted.
Years on, Serbia still bears deep scars of the NATO bombings which, as the alliance put it, were aimed at “preventing instability spreading” in Kosovo. Questions remain on the very legality of the offense, which caused casualties and mass destruction in the Balkan republic.
Codenamed ‘Operation Allied Force,’ it was the largest attack ever undertaken by the alliance. It was also the first time that NATO used military force without the approval of the UN Security Council and against a sovereign nation that did not pose a real threat to any member of the alliance.
NATO demonstrated in 1999 that it can do whatever it wants under the guise of “humanitarian intervention,” “war on terror,” or “preventive war” – something that everyone has witnessed in subsequent years in different parts of the globe.
Nineteen NATO member states participated to some degree in the military campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), which lasted for 11 weeks until June 10, 1999.
More rubble, less trouble
In the course of the campaign, NATO launched 2,300 missiles at 990 targets and dropped 14,000 bombs, including depleted uranium bombs and cluster munitions (unexploded cluster bombs continued to pose a threat to people long after the campaign was over.) Over 2,000 civilians were killed, including 88 children, and thousands more were injured. Over 200,000 ethnic Serbs were forced to leave their homeland in Kosovo.
In what the alliance described as “collateral damage,” its airstrikes destroyed more than 300 schools, libraries, and over 20 hospitals. At least 40,000 homes were either completely eliminated or damaged and about 90 historic and architectural monuments were ruined. That is not to mention the long-term harm caused to the region’s ecology and, therefore, people’s health, as well as the billion-dollar economic damage.
News correspondents Anissa Naouai and Jelena Milincic, the authors of RT’s documentary ‘Zashto?’ – which means “Why?” in English –traveled through former Yugoslavia to Belgrade, Kosovo, and Montenegro and spoke to people who endured the atrocities and horrors of the war and lost their friends and relatives.
“There is a bridge near the city of Nis, which was bombed at the time when a passenger train was passing through it,”Milincic recalls.The tragedy on April 12, 1999 killed 15 people and wounded 44 others, while many passengers were never accounted for.
“We felt the blast and saw flames under the locomotive. The train was blown so powerfully, half a meter from the ground. I don’t know how we stayed on the rails,” recalled witness Boban Kostic.
“Our colleague got off the train when I did,” he said. “He was really scared. But another rocket hit and blew him to pieces,” added another witness, Goran Mikic.
“Why? Why civilians? Why a train?” said Dragan Ciric. “It still torments me, if the first rocket was a mistake, what were the next three for?” he told RT.
The Chinese embassy in the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade was also hit and set on fire by NATO airstrikes on May 7, 1999. Three citizens of the country were killed. The alliance called the attack “a mistake.” China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and, along with Russia, did not support a military solution for the Kosovo crisis.
Prior to the military assault, the Milosevic regime was accused of “excessive and disproportionate use of force in Kosovo.” But was the force that NATO used when bombing the sovereign state’s territory proportionate and restrained? Rights organization Amnesty International accused the allied forces of committing war crimes.
“Indications are that NATO did not always meet its legal obligations in selecting targets and in choosing means and methods of attack, On the basis of available evidence, including NATO’s own statements and accounts of specific incidents, Amnesty International believes that – whatever their intentions – NATO forces did commit serious violations of the laws of war leading in a number of cases to the unlawful killings of civilians,” the rights watchdog said in a report published in June 2000.
The alliance dismissed the accusations, saying that cases involving civilian deaths were due to technological failure or were simply “accidents of conflict.” NATO failed to say that they were due to the alliance’s own failure to take all necessary precautions.
“We never said we would avoid casualties. It would be foolhardy to say that, as no military operation in history has been perfect,” said Jamie Shea, NATO’s chief spokesman, the Guardian reported at the time.
Former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana ordered military action against Yugoslavia following a failure in negotiations on the Kosovo crisis in France’s Rambouillet and Paris in February and March 1999.
NATO’s decision was officially announced after talks between international mediators – known as the Contact Group – the Yugoslav government, and the delegation of Kosovo Albanians ended in a deadlock. Belgrade refused to allow foreign military presence on its territory while Albanians accepted the proposal.
Back then, Slobodan Milosevic’s forces were engaged in armed conflict with an Albanian rebel group, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which sought the province’s separation from Yugoslavia. Former US President Bill Clinton’s special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, had earlier described the KLA as “without any questions, a terrorist group.” (The KLA was later repeatedly accused of being involved in the organ trafficking of Serbs in the late 1990s.)
However, despite not announcing the link officially, NATO entered the conflict on the side of the KLA, accusing Serbian security forces of atrocities and “ethnic cleansing” against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. The main objective of the campaign was to make Milosevic’s forces pull out of the province. The fact that there was violence on both sides of the confrontation was ignored both by allied governments and Western media – which stirred up public anger by focusing only on Serbs’ atrocities and being far less vocal regarding abuses by Albanians.
“All efforts to achieve a negotiated political solution to the Kosovo crisis having failed, no alternative is open but to take military action,” Solana said on March 23, 1999. “We must halt the violence and bring an end to the humanitarian catastrophe now unfolding in Kosovo.”
Racak massacre controversy
An incident involving the “mass killing” of Albanians in central Kosovo’s village of Racak – a KLA stronghold – became a major excuse and justification for NATO’s decision to start its operation. Serbs were blamed for the deaths of dozens of Albanian “civilians” on January 15, 1999. However, it was alleged that the accusations could have been false and the bodies actually belonged to KLA insurgents whose clothes had been changed.
A central role in labeling the events in Racak “a massacre” belonged to William Walker, who headed the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission. He visited the site shortly after the incident and made his judgment.
“[Walker] arrived there having no powers to make conclusions regarding what had happened,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazenta paper in November last year.
Yugoslav authorities accused Walker of going beyond his mission and proclaimed him persona non grata, while Western leaders were infuriated over the Racak incident.
“And some time later the bombing started,” Lavrov recalled, adding that the situation in Racak became the “trigger point.”Moscow insisted that an investigation should be carried out. The EU commissioned a group of Finnish forensic experts to prepare a report on the incident. Later, the European Union handed it over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Lavrov said. The full version of the document has never been made public, said the minister, who was Moscow’s permanent representative to the UN between 1994 and 2004.
“But parts of the report leaked and were quoted in the media saying that [the victims] were not civilians and that all the bodies found in Racak were in disguise and that bullet holes on clothes and bodies did not match. There was also no one who was killed at short range,” Lavrov said. “Even though I’ve repeatedly raised this issue, the report itself still has not been shown.”
NATO halted its air campaign with the signing of the Military Technical Agreement in Kumanovo on June 9, 1999, with the Yugoslav government agreeing to withdraw its forces from Kosovo. On June 10, 1999, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1244 to establish the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
In August 2013, Amnesty International accused the UNMIK of failing to properly investigate the abductions and murders of Kosovo Serbs in the aftermath of the 1998-1999 war.
“Years have passed and the fate of the majority of the missing on both sides of the conflict is still unresolved, with their families still waiting for justice,” the organization said.
Moscow’s former envoy to NATO (1997-2002), Viktor Zavarzin, believes the military alliance’s aggression was “a crime against humanity” and a “violation of international laws and norms.” The event that unfolded 15 years ago laid ground to a new era of the development of international relations – the era of “chaosization of international law and its arbitrary manipulation,” Zavarzin, an MP for the United Russia party said at the State Duma plenary session on Friday.
From Our Doctors (1926)
Translated by Joseph Collins
“Reviewing the past, said Frémond, “we are justified in believing that future generations will laugh at tuberculosis and at cancer.”
To this Daruel, still wallowing in his pessimism, replied:
“You, idealist, forget one thing, and that is if we discover a remedy for tuberculosis and cancer man will not be a bit happier or a bit better off. The object of your science is not primarily the welfare of man. Perhaps science is not the word that I should use, for in reality there are two sciences which I may call enemy sisters. One seeks to improve the conditions of life and it makes discovery after discovery, one more astonishing than the other. The second, jealous of the progress of the first, strives to annihilate its work; the good science invents a serum which, used, makes us immune to disease, or devises a new method of transportation which draws the whole world together, and immediately the bad science opposes to it an explosive, a poison, or treacherously starts the new engine on a road where it is bound to encounter collision and cause destruction. Recall for a moment the part that aviation played during the recent war. Why, in the next war airplanes will, by means of torpedoes powerful enough to blast a whole section of Paris or of Berlin, throw tubes filled with the microbes which will poison a whole population – and these are the very microbes that we are naive enough to try to kill today. The truth of the matter is that in the race between these two sciences the destructive or sinister one invariably beats the constructive and beneficent one. Such is the malignity which is the bane of our species. What good does it do to seek, to struggle? Humanity, ill with the disease over which vaccine has no power, refuses its own salvation. In the end salutary science will be definitely crushed and sinister science will kill man because its last creation, its supreme masterpiece, will be a diabolical machine capable of pulverizing our planet.”
“We should not judge the glorious future of humanity by its lamentable past,” said Claude Manceaux.
To which Frémond added:
“Unfortunately, the future may confirm your deplorable prophecy. However, nothing seems less probable. One may legitimately anticipate the contrary, I think, for man may progress morally. If we consider the length of time, the countless centuries, that man still has to live it may be that we are justified in assuming that he has not yet passed the awkward age, that he is only a wild beast now compared to what he may become. Possibly he has within him the potentialities of moral perfection, and if he has we may legitimately hope that he may purge himself of the toxin that is poisoning him now. You herald the imperfections of human nature and prophesy the doom of civilization, but I believe and I wish to believe in a world purged of cancer and war!”
“You visionary,” Daruel protested, “you speak of the solidarity of the people, of Christian love, of universal peace! How can you when contention between people has never been so bitter; when bankers and profiteers, leaders of governments and directors of armies, foment incredible disasters as they never did before?”
“Even though wars, revolutions, famine, epidemics continue to occur in the world, that does not justify us to despair. Those who survive them will return to work, will tread again the path of progress, will carry on the work of redemption. I will put my faith implicitly in man and I respect him for that touch of the sublime which radiates from him.”
At this point Claude Manceaux took up the conversation again:
“I do not know what posterity will accomplish, nor whether it shall be for good of for evil. I do not claim to be able to unveil the future nor am I ambitious to do so. What makes man sympathetic and, if I may say so, sacred to me is his pathetic condition and his ability to feel for others. He suffers and he is touched with pity. This suffices me that I may love him. Daruel, my boy, let us love man and let us pardon him all, because man was born to weep.”
Sofia News Agency
March 21, 2014
USA To Hold Military Exercises in Poland
The US is preparing military exercises in Poland, said US ambassador to Poland, Stephen Mull.
According to Mull, they would include Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltics.
Polish radio station Radio Zet, quoted by Reuters, said Mull told them that the exercise will take place in the Lask base in central Poland.
Meanwhile, a defense ministry official said France is offering to send warplanes to help provide air patrols over the Baltic states and Poland.
The ministry official said France was “available — if NATO requests it — to contribute to air policing patrols” in the former Soviet republics and Poland, now members of the Atlantic alliance. The comments came as French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visiting Estonia, Lithuania and Poland on Friday.
The United States and Britain have already provided such support.
A French contribution could include warplanes, AWACs surveillance aircraft and radar. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Le Drian also said that France will terminate its military cooperation with Russia, including military exercises. France might also reconsider the contracts for military equipment. – In 2011 France and Russia signed an agreement for the sale of two warships for over EUR 3 B. Le Drian said the matter will not be considered until October.
Earlier on Friday Germany said it terminates all contracts for providing military equipment and weapons to Russia.
Voice of Russia
March 23, 2014
Turkish PM Erdogan confirms Turkish armed forces shot down Syrian jet
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday his country’s armed forces had shot down a Syrian jet after it violated Turkish airspace, confirming media reports.
“A Syrian plane violated our airspace. Our F-16s took off and hit this plane. Why? because if you violate my airspace, our slap after this will be hard,” he told a rally of his supporters in northwest Turkey ahead of March 30 local elections.
Turkey’s TV channel cites officials saying Turkish Armed Forces downed Syrian jet that invaded its air space
A Turkish TV channel, NTV, has cited Turkey’s officials who claim that their country’s Armed Forces have shot down a Syrian plane after it allegedly violated Turkish air space.
The jet was downed in the northern border region with Turkey where rebels have been battling President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, activists and regional media said.
It wasn’t immediately clear who struck the plane down, although the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based NGO, quoted local residents as saying earlier the plane had been brought down by shooting from the Turkish side of the border.
Al-Manar, the television station of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, also said two rockets were fired from Turkish territory.
Nonetheless, Reuters said that Turkish media initially quoted officials as denying Turkey had shot it down and [was] blaming it on Syrian rebels.
Voice of Russia, Reuters