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Archive for April, 2014

Atlantic Council: Call For NATO Forces To Be Deployed To Georgia

Civil Georgia
May 1, 2014

Alasania Calls for NATO ‘Defensive Assets’ in Georgia

Tbilisi Georgia’s Defense Minister, Irakli Alasania, said in Washington on April 30 that in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, NATO allies should deploy “defensive assets” in Georgia.

Air defense and anti-armor capabilities – “this is something we need to put in Georgia and Russians will understand that you are serious,” Alasania told the Washington-based think-tank Atlantic Council’s “Toward a Europe Whole and Free” conference on April 30.

He spoke at a panel discussion which also included NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, as well as defense ministers of the Czech Republic, Estonia and Montenegro.

Alasania said that in response to crisis in Ukraine, NATO should be considering Georgia’s accession to the Alliance, but that’s not the case and instead the focus is made on discussions on Membership Action Plan (MAP) and even that is not yet decided.

He stressed on importance of “Americans and Europeans working together.”

“It is also important for the United States to show leadership… to make sure that next steps that NATO will make, for example at the summit in September, will be adequate response to what’s happening in Ukraine,” the Georgian Defense Minister said.

“We are talking about the Membership Action Plan, but we don’t really know how these discussions will end up, while, honestly, in fact after [developments in] Ukraine we should be talking about accession talks of Georgia and other aspirants to NATO,” he said.

Alasania also said that Georgia is contributing to NATO-led forces in Afghanistan more troops than some members of the Alliance do and is going to also send troops to the EU military mission in the Central African Republic.

He said that Georgia is already pushing above its weight and NATO should be responsive to these efforts.

“When the aspirant countries are performing, when they are contributing to the common security… and when we have public support [within the country] to the Euro-Atlantic integration, we need validation from NATO, from EU that we are doing the right things,” Alasania said. “NATO summits and ministerial – these are exactly the places where you need to validate that we are on the right track and that we are also a role model for others in the region to follow.”

Alasania said that the Western response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine should have “strategic implications”.

“Sanctions that we are talking about – this is something that will come and go as soon as the crisis in one way or another ends. I bet in three to six months business will be as usual with Russia, so this is why we should do something that will have strategic importance – this is expansion of NATO,” he said.

He said that while providing enhanced security to its eastern allies, NATO should not forget about its partners, which are not members of the Alliance.

“Georgia should see more… exercises from the NATO countries [in order] to have a footprint in Georgia,” he said, adding that these joint exercises may have a regional context with involvement of troops from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey with a focus on protecting energy and pipeline infrastructure.

Alasania said that this is Russia, which “creates new reality on the ground” and then starts negotiating with the West.

“The West should now seize the opportunity and create the reality on the ground by accepting membership of aspirant countries, by putting purely defensive assets in aspirant countries and predominantly in Georgia,” he said.

He said that it will be part of his discussions with the U.S. officials during his ongoing visit to Washington. According to the Georgian Defense Ministry, Alasania plans a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary at the Pentagon.

“What is important now is to put some deterrent capabilities on the ground like air defense and anti-armor capabilities…,” Alasania said.

Asked if the NATO members should also provide defensive weaponry to the interim Ukrainian government, Alasania responded: “Definitely yes.”

He said that crisis in Ukraine “created opportunity to make sure that we understand why the NATO was created.”

NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said that a suggestion of deploying NATO forces in Georgia is “controversial.”

“We need to step up our support for defense reforms and military modernization of Russia’s neighbors, and not just of Ukraine, but also Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan,” Vershbow said.
He said that possibly NATO should also think about “upgrading” already existing practice of joint exercises with its partners, but “permanently stationed forces, as the minister [Alasania] suggested, may be more controversial, but I’ll take the suggestion back to Brussels.”

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NATO Holds “Parade Of Nations” Outside U.S. Headquarters

April 30, 2014 1 comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Transformation

April 28, 2014

Great Turnout at Norfolk NATO Festival!
Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Hendrick Dickson

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Thousands of people gathered in downtown Norfolk, Virginia, and Town Point Park for the 61st Parade of Nations and the 2014 Norfolk NATO Fest hosted by NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and the City of Norfolk April 26.

The Norfolk NATO Festival, the longest, continuously running festival in the Hampton Roads region, celebrates the international influence ACT brings to the region. NATO ACT is the only NATO headquarters in North America and the only permanent command located outside of Europe. It is home to more than 750 staff members from various NATO nations.

…The morning began with the parade which featured floats representing all 28 nations, local and visiting high school bands, U.S. and international military bands and various other attractions.

After the parade, the attention moved to Town Point Park where the visitors could meet NATO representatives and visit the NATO Village, 28 tents symbolising every NATO member nation. The festival also featured cultural performances, visual art displays, international merchandise and cuisine and other events highlighting the international tradition of NATO nations.

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“This is all about NATO being better understood by the great people of the United States of America,” said ACT Chief of Staff British Army Lieutenant General Phil Jones. “That’s why it is so thrilling to see us reaching out into the community. Not just the Norfolk community, but to all the other states, as far as Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and others just to allow people to get an understanding of NATO.”

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North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Transformation

April 26, 2014

NATO ACT Kicks Off Norfolk NATO Festival Weekend with Flag Raising Ceremony
Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Hendrick Dickson

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The patriotic sounds of the U.S. Fleet Forces band reverberated through the rafters at the Scope Arena as NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT) kicked off the 2014 Norfolk NATO Festival with a flag raising ceremony honouring all 28 NATO Nations in Norfolk, Virginia, April 25.

Norfolk NATO Festival Weekend annually recognises and celebrates the contributions ACT and its more than 750 staff members bring to the Hampton Roads area. ACT is not just the only NATO headquarters located in the United States, it is the only permanent headquarters located outside of Europe.

NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) French Air Force General Jean-Paul Paloméros hosted the flag raising ceremony, which guests included Headquarters SACT’s Military Member of the Year and NATO Festival Ambassador Canadian Army Sergeant James Bartley, the Mayor of Norfolk the Honourable Paul Fraim, Norfolk NATO Festival Chairman Mal Branch and Lieutenant Governor of Virginia the Honourable Ralph Northam.

“We see this ceremony, above all, as a magnificent symbol of our collective commitment to our shared values,” said General Paloméros. “This is a tribute to the brave men and women from all our allied nations who, as we speak, are serving in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, off the Horn of Africa and elsewhere around the globe…

This year’s festival events also pay homage to Vietnam veterans and their families. During his remarks, General Paloméros gave special praise to not just Vietnam veterans, but all who have sacrificed…

“Veterans are part of the Alliance military family,” said General Paloméros. “We owe to our veterans a great tribute for their contribution to defend our countries, protect our freedom and democracy and our common values, through these two World Wars in Europe and many other conflicts that have shaped our common history.”

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“Here in Norfolk, veterans and active duty military feel at home,” he added. “They feel the common endeavour and the great solidarity that are key for the future of our unique Alliance. It is our common responsibility that they will feel this unity reflected in the Norfolk NATO Festival, the tattoo, the parade, the ceremony and other associated events that we have enjoyed for many years.”

The Flag Raising Ceremony was followed by the Virginia International Tattoo at the Scope arena which featured an international cast of over 800 from military bands and drill teams, dancers and choirs. The Norfolk NATO Festival continues April 26, with the 61th Annual Parade of Nations in Downtown Norfolk and NATOFest 2013 at Town Pointe Park. Both events free and open to the public.

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NATO Outpost: Pentagon Plans More Troops, Helicopters In Baltics, Poland

Stars and Stripes
April 29, 2014

Baltic nations welcome US trainers as USAREUR mulls sending more
By Matt Millham

RUKLA TRAINING AREA, Lithuania: The commander of U.S. Army Europe said Tuesday that he wants to add helicopters and other combat tools to the mix to bolster training with the Baltics and Poland, where the U.S. has sent some 600 paratroops to train and reassure allies wary of a newly aggressive Russia.

A company of American soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team that arrived in Lithuania over the weekend began its first full day of training with Lithuanian ground forces Tuesday, conducting live-fire exercises on various light weapons systems at a former Soviet military base.

U.S. and Lithuanian forces have deployed together over the last two decades to conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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But the deployment of U.S. forces to Lithuania “shows that we can rely on our ally” to help in the Baltics as well, Maj. Gen. Almantas Leika, Lithuania’s land forces commander, said. “This is a very clear signal, and we read the signal very clearly.”

The three Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as Poland, have sought a greater presence of U.S. and NATO forces on their territory since Russia’s annexing of the Crimea Peninsula from Ukraine. All four countries border Russia

Estonia’s defense minister, Sven Mikser, was in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Estonia is being considered as a host for aircraft for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, and a company of U.S. troops from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team arrived in Estonia on Monday for bilateral exercises. During the meeting, Hagel expressed an interest in beefing up two annual multinational exercises that will take place in the Baltics in June — BALTOPS and Saber Strike — by potentially adding additional U.S. aircraft or ships that are already in Europe, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters. The exercises were long-scheduled, and no final decisions have been made about adding additional assets to the exercises, Kirby said.

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Lithuania’s active military numbers just 4,000 active land forces — roughly the size of an American brigade combat team. The country has another 4,000 soldiers in reserve.

Leika described NATO, which the Baltic states joined in 2004, as the “most powerful defense alliance in the world today.”

Lithuania’s membership in the alliance is “a two-way street,” he said. “We cannot be free riders. We need to contribute with something. And our contribution was and is in all of the NATO operations.”

In a briefing Tuesday at the Lithuanian training area, Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., commander of U.S. Army Europe, told Leika that he wants to include more USAREUR assets in the training, including aircraft from the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade and possibly vehicles from other units.

Whatever the U.S. sends, Lithuanian Capt. Gediminas Alisauskas said, he and his men are eager to take advantage of the opportunity to train with the Americans.

Russia’s actions in Ukraine, he said, “demands from us more training, more cooperation, more understanding and more readiness to be much stronger, ready and prepared.”

The crisis has focused his men, he said, to train hard “with no shortcuts.”

Stars and Stripes reporter Jon Harper contributed to this report.

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Pentagon Chief Steps Up Orders To Eastern European NATO Satraps

U.S. Department of Defense
April 29, 2014

Hagel Steps Up Consultations With Eastern European Allies
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has stepped up his consultations with Eastern European NATO allies in light of Russia’s activities along its border with Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

Hagel met at the Pentagon today with Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser, and this afternoon he will meet with Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky.

The Estonian leader “thanked the secretary for the United States response for events in Ukraine, to include strengthening the NATO Baltic Air Policing rotation and sending soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Estonia for bilateral training and exercises,” Kirby said during a news conference.

Hagel told Mikser that the United States will look for other ways to maintain a U.S. presence in the region. The two men spoke about two upcoming exercises – BaltOps and Exercise Saber Strike – as possible vehicles to demonstrate the alliance commitment to the region. Both exercises will have about a dozen NATO nations participating, Kirby said.

The United States has sent jets to Poland, and to the Baltic Air Policing effort. It has also sent company sized units to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to exercise with those nations in what defense officials have called a direct response to Russia’s intervention in neighboring Ukraine. Hagel is committed the defense of NATO allies and has also directed U.S. European Command Commander Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove to consult with allies to update defense plans as the security situation in Europe evolves.

“What we’re looking at trying to do is ways in which we can make these preset exercises more robust, using additional assets that are already in Europe, perhaps more aircraft, maybe more ships,” Kirby said. “No decisions have been made yet, but the secretary expressed to the Estonian minister this morning that he’s interested in ways we can make those two exercises more robust than they already are. And they’re already pretty good-sized NATO exercises.”

Kirby said the U.S. military will provide a robust rotational presence in the region through the end of 2014 but no final decisions have been made on what that’s going to look like.

Kirby shed more light on Hagel’s phone call with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu yesterday. The 45-minute conversation was described as substantive and the Russian leader said twice that Russian forces would not cross the border into Ukraine.

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Video: U.S. Rapid Reaction Combat Troops Arrive In Baltics

April 30, 2014 1 comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations

April 30, 2014

DSACEUR DISCUSSES STRENGTHENED READINESS MEASURES IN TALLINN

Tallinn, ESTONIA: Increased readiness measures were a major topic in discussions between Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR) General Sir Adrian Bradshaw and senior Estonian military officials during meetings in Tallinn on Wednesday, 30 April 2014. NATO is implementing a number of measures on land, sea, and air, in light of elevated tensions over the situation in Ukraine.

As a part of these measures, NATO has deployed standing maritime forces to the Baltic Sea and to the Eastern Mediterranean.

An Estonian Mine Countermeasures Ship, the ENS Admiral Cowan, recently joined one of NATO’s Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Groups. The ships are in the Baltic Sea as a part of NATO’s increased presence in the region.

“Estonia is playing a key role as part of NATO’s collective response capability during times of increased tension by providing the ENS Admiral Cowan to our Standing Maritime Group which is currently in the Baltic Sea,” said General Bradshaw.

DSACEUR Sir Adrian Bradshaw meets with senior Estonian military officials during meetings in Tallinn
– Photo courtesy of Estonian Ministry of Defence

The Alliance is also increasing its presence in the air over Eastern Europe, and will augment its air defences on the ground, and conduct additional exercises in the territories of Eastern Allies.

During the next rotation of the Baltic Air Policing Mission starting 1 May 2014, the number of aircraft stationed in the Baltic member states of the Alliance will increase to twelve fighters from the usual four.

“Amari Air Base in Estonia will play a key role in NATO’s expanded air policing efforts,” said General Bradshaw. “Danish F-16 fighter aircraft stationed in Estonia, will send a clear message that NATO is prepared to meet and deter any threat to the Alliance,” he said.

Poland will also provide four MiG-29 aircraft and the United Kingdom will contribute four Typhoons, which will be stationed in Šiauliai, Lithuania.

“Estonia is a strong Ally and your continuing commitment to the Alliance, and especially our mission in Afghanistan has been exemplary,” he said.

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations

April 30, 2014

VIDEO: THE LAST OF U.S. PARATROOPERS ARRIVE IN ESTONIA

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Spain: NATO Warships Drill For “Invasion Of Allied Country”

Stars and Stripes
April 29, 2014

NATO exercise scenario: Naval response to invasion of allied country

NAPLES, Italy: A NATO exercise beginning this week in Spain will imagine a naval response to the invasion of an allied country.

Dubbed Trident Jaguar, the command post exercise involves staff officers and commanders at the headquarters level and will certify the maritime component of the NATO Response Force, the alliance’s fast-reaction force.

A pair of NATO tasks forces — Naval Striking Force NATO out of Naples and NATO Rapid Deployable Corps-Spain — will come together for the exercise, which runs May 2-16 near Menorca in Spain’s Balearic islands. The Navy command ship USS Mount Whitney, based in Naples, will participate in the exercise.

A NATO official, speaking on background because he was unauthorized to talk about the exercise, said the event is part of regular certifications for the NATO Response Force and had been planned long before events in Ukraine, where Russia’s annexing of the Crimea peninsula and agitation in the east has caused particular worries to NATO members in eastern Europe and the Baltics.

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Junta Puts Ukrainian Armed Forces On Combat Alert For War With Russia

Interfax-Ukraine
April 30, 2014

Turchynov: Ukrainian armed forces put on full alert due to threat of Russia’s starting war

The Ukrainian armed forces have been put on combat alert due to the threat of Russia’s starting hostilities against Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada Chairman, Acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov said.

“I am once again addressing the real danger of the start of a continental war against Ukraine by the Russian Federation. Our armed forces have been put on full combat alert,” Turchynov said at a meeting with the heads of regional administrations in Kyiv on Wednesday.

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Interfax
April 30, 2014

Ukrainian armed forces put on alert – acting President Turchynov

KYIV: The Ukrainian armed forces have been put on combat alert, Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Chairman and interim President Oleksandr Turchynov said.

“I am once again addressing the real danger of the start of a continental war against Ukraine by the Russian Federation. Our armed forces have been put on full combat alert,” Turchynov said at a conference with the heads of regional administrations in Kyiv on Wednesday.

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A. D. Hope: Inscription for a War

April 30, 2014 1 comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

A. D. Hope
Inscription for a War

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Stranger, go tell the Spartans we died here obedient to their commands.
— Inscription at Thermopylae

Linger not, stranger. Shed no tear.
Go back to those who sent us here.

We are the young they drafted out
To wars their folly brought about.

Go tell those old men, safe in bed,
We took their orders and are dead.

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“The planet’s strongest alliance”: Kerry says, “We have to make it absolutely clear to the Kremlin that NATO territory is inviolable. We will defend every single piece of it.”

April 29, 2014 6 comments

From speech delivered to the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. on April 29, 2014:

“Whatever path Russia chooses, the United States and our allies will stand together in our defense of Ukraine.

“And most important, together we have to make it absolutely clear to the Kremlin that NATO territory is inviolable. We will defend every single piece of it.”

“We find ourselves in a defining moment for our trans-Atlantic alliance; Our strength will come from our unity. This moment is about more than just ourselves – the fact is that our entire model for global leadership is at stake.”

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Remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry at the Atlantic Council’s Toward a Europe Whole and Free Conference
Location: The Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C.
Time: 1:42 p.m. EDT, Date: Tuesday, April 29, 2014

(Applause.)

SECRETARY JOHN KERRY: So after that, I thought I’d just stand up and say, I accept the nomination. (Laughter.)

Fred, thank you very, very much. Very, very generous comments. Thank you all for the privilege of sharing some thoughts with you at this both timely and very, very important gathering. It’s my privilege to be able to be here. And I’m particularly happy to be here with so many of my colleagues, both our foreign ministers and defense ministers who are here. We had a chance to chat briefly out there. We have been meeting regularly along the trail, and I have come to admire and respect each of them for the clarity of their vision and for the way in which they have been really prescient on many of these issues.

I love the new digs and thank all those who are responsible for that. And also, Fred, thanks also for your leadership and for the tremendous work that is being done at the Atlantic Council lately, the success of this particular conference, but also the work — the groundwork you’ve been laying and the focus that you have had on the criticality of the NATO relationship, European relationship, which, as we know, thinking back to comments of the near past about old Europe and new Europe and other things that have been floating out there over these last years, this discussion is even more timely and relevant.

This year marks a number of different milestones that are really worth remembering, obviously beginning with the fact that it is 65 years since Secretary of State Dean Acheson and his European counterparts came together to sign the North Atlantic Treaty. And it’s been 25 years, amazingly, since the fall of the Berlin Wall. And that wall, as we all know too well, symbolically and literally divided East and West and Europe.

It’s been 15 years and 10 years and five years since then that NATO has welcomed new partners into the post-Cold War era. And as we have expanded as an organization — as NATO has expanded as an organization, I think it’s safe to say we have also expanded democracy, prosperity and stability in Europe. And we have opened new opportunities in order to be able to advance security even further. And we have spurred economic growth around the globe.

Year after year, importantly, NATO’s newest members have proven their mettle in ways that we hoped for but necessarily weren’t able to predict with certainty.

And so today I can tell you that I’ve seen it firsthand. Governor Huntsman and others have had occasion to travel. And we know what has been achieved in Afghanistan, where our allies in Central and Eastern Europe have served alongside us and others with distinction on occasion, not just making a sacrifice but asking their young soldiers to join in making the ultimate sacrifice. And that perhaps more than anything else can define an alliance.

In addition, over the decades-long history, I think NATO without any question has done more to promote security, more to promote prosperity and more to promote freedom than any other alliance in human history. But today it serves us well to remember the words of President Eisenhower, who said about NATO when he was talking to our NATO allies, he said, we can take satisfaction from the past, but no complacency in the present.

As we come together then to reflect on 65 years of partnership, perseverance, protection, we also have to take a look, a hard, cold, sober look at the clear threats that regrettably still exist, not because of some inherent, continuous push over these last years but, frankly, because of a fairly, it appears, uniquely personally driven set of choices that are being made.

And after two decades of focusing primarily on our expeditionary missions, the crisis in Ukraine now calls us back to the role that this alliance was originally created to perform, and that is to defend alliance territory and advance transatlantic security.

The events in Ukraine are a wake-up call. Our European allies have spent more than 20 years with us working to integrate Russia into the Euro-Atlantic community. It is not as if we really haven’t bent over backwards to try to set a new course in the post-Cold War era. And so we pursued serious bilateral engagement. We invited the Russians to join organizations like the WTO, the NATO-Russia Council.

But what Russia’s actions in Ukraine tell us is that today Putin’s Russia is playing by a different set of rules, and through its occupation of Crimea and its subsequent destabilization of eastern Ukraine, Russia seeks to change the security landscape of Eastern and Central Europe.

So we find ourselves in a defining moment for our transatlantic alliance — and nobody should mistake that — and we are prepared to do what we need to do, and to go the distance to uphold that alliance.

Our strength will come from our unity. And the strength of our alliance always has come from our unity, over the course of the 65 years. So together we have to push back against those who want to try to change sovereign borders by force.

Together we have to support those who simply want to try to live as we do or as others do. I remember being in Kiev, and a man came up to me near the Maidan and said to me, you know, I just came back from Australia, and I had to come back here, and I have to be part of this, and I have to work so that people could live the way I saw people living in Australia.

In today’s era of, you know, mobile devices and smartphones, everybody is in touch with everybody all of the time. And that sense of aspiration and hope and possibility is something that fills the imaginations of young people all around the planet.

So together we have to support those folks who want to live free, making their choices about their own future. Together we have to continue our strong support for Ukraine, and we can do that through economic assistance, and we can do it through support for free and fair elections, for constitutional reform, for anti-corruption and for demobilization efforts.

And most important, together we have to make it absolutely clear to the Kremlin that NATO territory is inviolable. We will defend every single piece of it. Article 5 of the NATO Treaty must mean something, and our allies on the front lines need and deserve no less.

Now obviously there have to be consequences for those who want to put to test what has been the norm of international relations and the goal, if you will, of international behavior ever since World War II.

Two weeks ago I traveled to Geneva with my counterparts from Russia, from the EU and from Ukraine. We agreed on a number of steps that needed to be taken in order to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine.

I will tell you we had a very candid conversation. And Foreign Minister Lavrov agreed with all of us that we needed to be reciprocal in the steps that we need to take. Both sides needed to do things in order to move forward. Well, I will tell you that I was, that afternoon, directly in touch with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and gave him the full download on those things that were legitimate expectations out of that, and he went to work immediately — immediately.

And so it was that from day one, Ukraine undertook to implement both the spirit and the — and the substance of what was laid out in Geneva. He immediately agreed to help to vacate buildings, and he set out to do so, and they did vacate some buildings. They immediately began to remove barricades from the Maidan. Even now, in the last 24 hours or so, they’ve vacated an entire building in the Maidan, because that was a specific complaint of Russia.

They proposed a specific amnesty bill in the legislature in order to follow through on the amnesty for protesters so that they could leave buildings with sense of security about the justice system. They withheld their legitimate right to use their power of the state to remove people from buildings, instead stood back and canceled their CT operation over the course of the Easter weekend.

They actually took a trip, the prime minister himself, out to the region to indicate a willingness to listen to people in order to shape the constitutional reform, and in every respect began to open up the dialogues, which even today they are pursuing throughout the region in order to discuss constitutional reform.

That’s what Ukraine did, starting on day one.

Meanwhile, I have to say to you, not one single step has been taken by Russia in any public way that seriously attempts to live by the spirit or the law of what was signed in that agreement. They have not announced publicly to their people that they need to come out of the buildings. They haven’t engaged with the OSCE in order to negotiate people out of the buildings. Every time you have a conversation, it’s pointing the finger at what the Ukrainians haven’t done, without even tallying up what they have done or acknowledging their own zero in the column with respect to what they have undertaken.

In fact, it’s fair to say they have escalated the crisis even further. There is strong evidence that I laid out several days ago of the degree to which Russian engagement exists directly in the east and has been building up over some period of time.

Yet what do we hear, regrettably? What we hear are the outrageous claims from certain people that the CIA somehow invented the Internet in order to control the world; or that the forces occupying the buildings, armed to the teeth, all wearing brand-new military uniforms with the same lack of insignia, with the same faces, in some cases, of people who are identified as being in Crimea and in Georgia — they somehow want to assert to people that these people, moving in disciplined military formation to take over buildings and then bring the local separatists in to occupy the building while they move on to another building, in an orderly, absolutely discernible, trackable fashion — they assert that these people are merely local activists seeking to exercise their legitimate rights.

As we have made clear, those kinds of claims are absurd. They defy any common sense. They defy the facts. And worse, they’re an indicator of the disingenuous dissembling, the policy of complete fiction that is being pursued in an effort to pursue their own goals and their own ends.

The Russians claim the government in Kiev is illegitimate. But it’s a government that came to power with the vast supermajority of the Rada voting for it, including President Yanukovych’s own part, who deserted him because he deserted his country. And if your fear is illegitimacy, then you would step out of the way and encourage an election which is set for about three and a half weeks from now, on the 25th of May, and you would encourage that election to take place in order to provide the legitimacy.

But instead, they’re doing everything in their power to undermine free and fair elections. They claim eastern Ukraine is too violent for monitors from the OSCE to be there, but when it comes to the armed pro-Russian separatists, the ones that are actually perpetrating the violence, they do absolutely nothing to prevent them from taking those prisoners and hostages they’ve taken, or to free them. And they allow them to be paraded in front of the press. And we see no evidence — no evidence at all — that Russia has actually pressured any of these groups in order to release any of these people or change course.

Now, I — you know, I say this was a certain element of sorrow because of all of the effort and energy that has been expended to try to create a structure by which we would behave, all of us, differently, representing the best hopes and aspirations of all people on the face of this planet.

That’s what all of our predecessors worked so hard to achieve: setting up a structure of rule of law, of international law and multilateral mechanisms by which we try to resolve these kinds of differences.

So as a result, for all of these reasons, yesterday the United States announced again, President Obama announced additional sanctions on more Russian individuals and entities. And we’ve also restricted export licenses for high-tech items that could be used to bolster Russia’s military capabilities.

Now, these steps and other steps that we and our partners have taken over the past few months are already forcing Russia to pay a steep price for its efforts to create this instability. And I mean that. You just have to look at the ratings on the bonds, you look at the capital outflow, you look at the GDP numbers that are trending downwards — this is having an impact. And as long as Russia decides to continue to fan the flames rather than help to put them out, we stand ready with our partners to do what is necessary, not to necessarily punish them but even to find a way forward that restores this process we’ve worked so hard to honor through the years.

The Russians have a clear choice: leave Ukraine in peace and work with us together to create a strong Ukraine, a Ukraine that is not a pawn pulled and tugged at between East and West, but a Ukraine that could be a bridge to both, and with the ability to have an open trading mechanism on all degrees, 360 around Ukraine.

And whatever path they choose, I can guarantee this: The United States and our allies will stand together in support of Ukraine.

This crisis is a wake-up call for us to accelerate the other work that we’ve been doing to promote a stronger, more prosperous trans- Atlantic community.

So to start, we cannot continue to allow allied defense budgets to shrink. Clearly, not all allies are going to meet the NATO benchmark of 2 percent of GDP overnight or even next year. But it’s time for allies who are below that level to make credible commitments to increase their spending on defense over the next five years. And if we’re going to move the trend line in a positive direction, this has to be an alliancewide effort.

Two, if we want a Europe that is both whole and free, then we have to do more together, immediately, with a sense of urgency, to ensure that European nations are not dependent on Russia for the majority of their energy. In this age of new energy markets, in this age of concern about global climate change and carbon overload, we ought to be able to rush to the ability to make Europe less dependent. And if we do that, that will be one of the greatest single strategic differences that could be made here. We can deliver greater energy independence and help to diversify energy sources that are available to the European markets, and we can expand the energy infrastructure across Europe, and we could build up energy storage capacity throughout the continent.

Third, we have to invest in the underpinnings of our economic partnership. We are, together, Europe and the United States, two of the largest markets in the world.

And the fact is that we can seriously strengthen our economic ties and accelerate growth and job creation and serve as a buffer to any negative impacts of some of the steps we need to take if we move on both sides of the Atlantic rapidly to complete the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. That agreement will do more to change the way we do business and some of our strategic considerations than any other single economic step that we can take, with the sole exception of the energy independence.

So my friends, I’d just close by saying to all of you that this moment — without reaching for any hyperbole because the moment is serious enough that it doesn’t require that — this moment is about more than just ourselves. The fact is that our entire model of global leadership is at stake.

And if we stand together, if we draw strength from the example of the past and refuse to be complacent in the present, then I am confident that NATO, the planet’s strongest alliance, can meet the challenges, can absolutely take advantage of the opportunities that are presented by crisis, and that we can move closer to a Europe that is whole and prosperous, at peace and free and strong.

That’s our goal and we look forward to working with our fellow ministers and with each of these countries to achieve it. Thank you for letting me be with you. (Applause.) Thank you very much.

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U.S.-NATO Strategic Airlift Base In Hungary Used For Deployments To Poland, Estonia, Latvia And Lithuania

United States European Command
April 29, 2014

Heavy Airlift Wing supports expanded land force training activities in the Baltic region
Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlfit Wing (HAW) Public Affairs

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The Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlift Wing has been executing several airlift missions with its Boeing C-17 Globemaster III long range cargo jets to support the expanded land force training activities of the SAC nations’ armed forces in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

The airlift missions, requested by the United States, a member nation of the multinational Strategic Airlift Capability program, have consisted of transport of United States Army cargo from Aviano Air Base, Italy to several locations in Latvia and SAC member nations Poland, Lithuania and Estonia for joint unscheduled exercises with the nations’ armed forces. The requests were converted to a series of executable airlift missions on a notice of a few days.

According to Colonel Frank Rombouts, the Commander of the Heavy Airlift Wing, the support provided to the exercise activities with the C-17s of the multinational airlift program on a short notice was a clear demonstration of its ability to serve the airlift needs of its member nations in all situations.

“SAC program receives its mission requests from its 10 NATO and 2 NATO Partnership for Peace member nations who use the capability of the C-17s they own and operate together to support national defense and UN, EU and NATO commitments. This time the missions were requested by a SAC nation willing to show support to other program member nations and allies in the NATO context and we were there to answer the call. “

About the Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlift Wing

The Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) based in Pápa Air Base, Hungary is the operational arm of the multinational Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC). The HAW operates three C-17 Globemaster III long-range military cargo jets providing strategic airlift capability to meet the mission requirements of the 12 SAC partner nations .The HAW became operational in 2009 and its aircraft fleet has achieved over 13.000 flying hours. The unit reached Full Operational Capability (FOC) in 2012.

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NATO Increases Warplanes In Baltic, Poland, Romania

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
April 29, 2014

Allies enhance NATO air-policing duties in Baltics States, Poland, Romania

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Fighter jets from Poland, the United Kingdom and Denmark take over NATO air policing duties over the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Thursday (1 May 2014) as part of enhanced collective defence measures agreed to by Allies earlier this month.

French fighter aircraft arrived in Poland on Monday (28 April 2014) to conduct training activities and air policing duties and Canadian jets left Canada on Tuesday (29 April) for deployment to Romania for similar duties there.

A ceremony is planned on Wednesday ( 30 April 2014) at the Siauliai airbase in Lithuania when the United States will hand over responsibility for the mission to Poland, the United Kingdom and Denmark. The three countries will officially take over the task on Thursday (1 May 2014). The United States led the mission from 1 January to 30 April 2014. Poland will lead the mission and provide four MiG-29 aircraft. They will be backed up by four British Typhoon jets. The Polish and British aircraft will operate out of Siauliai airbase in Lithuania.

Four Danish F-16 jets will start patrols from Amari airbase in neighboring Estonia. The three Allies will conduct air policing duties for a four month period.

In addition, four French Rafale jets will operate out of the Malbork airbase in Poland. The six Canadian CF-18 fighter aircraft will be based in Romania as part of the NATO efforts to reassure Allies in Central and Eastern Europe.

For the past ten years, NATO member states have taken turns sending fighter aircraft to police the airspace of the Baltic States as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania do not have fighter jets of their own. NATO’s air-policing mission protects the safety and integrity of Alliance airspace on a 24/7 basis and Allies take up the patrols for a four-month rotation. Allies have traditionally deployed four fighter jets for their rotation, however, NATO increased its presence with additional jets after the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine.

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North Atlantic Treaty Organization
April 28, 2014

NATO military senior officer reaffirms solidarity to Latvia

Lieutenant General Mark Schissler, Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, is in Latvia for a three-day visit to reaffirm NATO’s solidarity and commitment to collective defence.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has reinforced solidarity among the Allies and shown that their commitment…in the Euro-Atlantic area is stronger than ever. “Latvia made a free and sovereign choice ten years ago…Our job is to preserve this stability and do all necessary to defend our Allies,” Lieutenant General Mark Schissler, Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee stressed at a joint press conference today with Lieutenant General Raimonds Graube, Latvia’s Chief of Defence.

On 16 April 2014, the North Atlantic Council agreed on further military measures to reinforce collective defence and demonstrate the strength of allied solidarity. Speaking from Riga, the Deputy Chairman said that those measures include tripling NATO’s Air Policing posture in the Baltic region with current allied contributions from the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Poland and further offers from Germany and Canada. Enhancing maritime situational awareness by deploying allied warships to the Baltic Sea from Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and Estonia, as well as daily AWACS surveillance missions over Poland and Romania. In addition, Lieutenant General Schissler stated that soldiers from individual Allied countries will train and exercise together in the region, in order to enhance readiness and show their commitment.

“These measures are defensive and entirely in line with our Alliance commitments. They send a clear message that NATO will protect every Ally and defend against any threat to our fundamental security,” said the Deputy Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee. “In the long term, we will have to review our military posture and readiness in the light of the new strategic security situation. It is too early to draw detailed conclusions, but we will have to discuss this as we prepare for the NATO Summit in Wales this September,” he added.

Since 2003, Latvia has supported the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and actively contributed to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces. It has also participated in many NATO exercises and hosted Steadfast Jazz 2013, which successfully trained around 6,000 personnel from 28 NATO member nations as well as three-partner nations (Sweden, Finland and Ukraine) in a combined multinational setting. “Your contribution to the NATO Response Force is much appreciated, particularly in the maritime domain…There is no doubt that your commitment to this Alliance is solid,” emphasized Lieutenant General Schissler.

During his trip, which will conclude on Wednesday 30 April 2014, the Deputy Chairman will hold talks with Mr. Raimonds Vējonis, Latvia’s Minister of Defence, and visit Lielvārde Air Force Base.

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Civil War In Ukraine Could Start After Presidential Election

Russian Information Agency Novosti
April 29, 2014

OPINION: Civil War in Ukraine Could Start After Presidential Election

MOSCOW: Civil war in Ukraine could break out as soon as next month, the deputy director of research programs at Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy said Tuesday.

“A civil war might kick off on May 26-27, as it is obvious that federalization supporters will not go anywhere and, apparently, will not be satisfied by some superficial amendments to the Ukrainian constitution, which will not introduce any essential changes, changes to the basis of domestic relations in Ukraine,” Dmitry Suslov said during a round table meeting at RIA Novosti.

Ukraine faced a regime change in February when the country’s parliament, backed by far-right movements, voted to strip President Viktor Yanukovych of his powers, amended the constitution and slated early presidential elections for May 25.

Moscow says that the legitimacy of the upcoming election will depend on a number of conditions, including transparency, fairness and taking the interests of the regions into account.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that the vote would turn destructive for the entire country if Kiev refused to respect the demands of the southeastern regions.

“The US and Kiev are totally fine with the vague status quo in Ukraine’s east,” Suslov said adding that the main aim of the United States and the Kiev authorities is to conduct elections at any cost to officially authorize the results of the coup d’état.

“The fact that the election will not take place in some Ukrainian region will hardly disturb either the Kiev authorities or the United States,” the expert said.

He also stressed that neither the United States nor the Ukrainian interim government comply with the principles outlined in the Geneva communique on April 17.

The rallies of pro-federalization activists began last month in eastern Ukraine, with protesters in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv calling for a referendum on the status of their respective regions within the country. To quell the protests the Ukrainian interim government announced a special anti-terrorist operation targeting the cities of Kramatorsk and Slaviansk in the Donetsk region.

The move was strongly condemned by Moscow that called the decision to use force an extremely dangerous development of the events.

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Missiles, Warplanes, Troops: Poland To Be NATO Regional Bulwark

April 29, 2014 1 comment

Xinhua News Agency
April 29, 2014

Poland to be regional leader in NATO: defense minister

WARSAW: Poland will play the role of a regional defence cooperation leader in NATO, the country’s Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told journalists on Monday.

According to Siemoniak, the point is to have a stable NATO and U.S. infrastructure in Poland, such as an anti-missile system in Redzikowo or joint Polish-U.S. Aviation Detachment bases in Lask.

According to Siemoniak, the next NATO summit, to be held in Newport, south Wales in early September, was planned to answer what the alliance would look like once the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan ended.

The minister added that the answer found was that NATO would have to be capable of countering a threat in Europe.

This must be a strong defence alliance prepared for fending off an attack on its members, the minister said.

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Prensa Latina
April 28, 2014

Poland Demands A Stable Structure of NATO in its Territory

Varsovia: Against understandings agreed with Russia by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Polish Defense Minister, Tomasz Siemionek, demanded today a stable structure of that bloc in this country.

Siemionek estimated that the Atlantic alliance should install an anti-missile system in the northern town of Redzikowo or create an airbase in the central town of Lask, where several U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcons have been stationed for some days.

The Polish Defense Minister expressed in an article published in the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza that a permanent presence of NATO in that territory was necessary, something that Moscow considers affects its national security and its deterrence capacity.

During a Russia-NATO summit, held in 2010 in Lisbon, the 28 members of that military block publicly spoke for close cooperation with Moscow, while in the narrow circle of the alliance containment plans against Russia were outlined.

This included reinforcing the presence of combat aircraft in the former Soviet republics with shores on the Baltic Sea and missile systems and alliance troops in Poland and the Czech Republic, highlights the local press.

The Polish government now justifies its requests to NATO with the position assumed by Moscow to support a referrendum on the independence of Crimea and its return to the bosom of the Russian Federation, to which it belonged until 1954.

Local analysts consider that the Ucranian crisis is used as a pretext for Western powers to justify the existence of NATO, whose role in the global fight against terrorism was increasingly harder to justify.

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Maxim Gorky: Selections on war

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Strategic Military Ties: Pentagon Updates 1951 Pact With Philippines

April 28, 2014 1 comment

U.S. Department of Defense
April 28, 2014

U.S.-Philippine Pact Expands Defense Cooperation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON: U.S. and Philippine leaders praised the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement the two nations signed yesterday, saying it updates and builds on the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.

The agreement “facilitates the enhanced rotational presence of U.S. forces, expands opportunities for training and supports the long-term modernization of the Philippine military,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters today.

The United States is “particularly focused” on strengthening Philippine maritime security, enhancing maritime domain awareness and improving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities, the colonel said.

The agreement was announced during President Barack Obama’s visit to the Phillippines. President Benigno Aquino III touted the benefits of the pact during a news conference in Manila yesterday.

“The Philippines is a vital partner on issues such as maritime security and freedom of navigation,” Obama said. “The goal for this agreement is to build Philippine capacity, to engage in training, to engage in coordination — not simply to deal with issues of maritime security, but also to enhance our capabilities so that if there’s a natural disaster that takes place, we’re able to potentially respond more quickly, [and] if there are additional threats that may arise, that we are able to work in a cooperative fashion.”

The agreement will allow the United States to pre-position relief supplies in the Philippines, Warren said, but “does not provide for permanent U.S. bases, and we have no intent to open permanent bases in the Philippines.”

Aquino called the U.S.-Philippine security agreement a continuation of a strategic partnership. “Our deepening relations are attuned to the realities and needs that have emerged in the 21st century, which affect not only our two countries, but also the entire community of nations,” he said.

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement “takes security cooperation to a higher level of engagement, reaffirms our countries’ commitment to mutual defense and security and promotes regional peace and stability,” Aquino said.

Details of the agreement remain to be worked out. Officials could not say how the rotational U.S. presence in the Philippine archipelago will work, nor could they say where these rotations will take place.

The agreement does provide for the possibility of the United States building some infrastructure to support the rotations, officials said.

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NATO’s New Deputy Military Chief Visits Poland

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations

April 28, 2014

DSACEUR VISITS WARSAW FOR FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT: THANKS POLAND FOR CONTRIBUTION TO AIR POLICING

Warsaw, POLAND: General Sir Adrian Bradshaw conducted his first official visit as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR) by visiting the Polish capital, Warsaw on Monday, 28 April 2014. He met with senior Polish military officials including Lt. Gen. Mieczyslaw Gocul, the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, and discussed NATO’s reassurance measures in light of the evolving situation in Ukraine.

NATO is implementing a number of measures on land, sea, and air, in order to reassure our Allies and to strengthen collective readiness.

The Alliance is tripling its air activity by increasing the Baltic Air Policing Mission to twelve aircraft from the normal allocation of four. Poland is providing 4 MiG-29 aircraft to the next Baltic Air Policing rotation that starts on 1 May 2014. The United Kingdom and Denmark will also contribute fighters to the mission. Around 100 Polish aircrew will support the four-month deployment to Šiauliai, Lithuania. The mission marks the fifth time that Poland has supported Baltic Air Policing since the mission began.

“Poland’s contribution to the Baltic Air Policing Mission sends a strong message of Alliance solidarity during this time of increased tension,” said General Bradshaw. “NATO is concerned by the current instability in Ukraine, which is why we are increasing our level of readiness,” he said.

Other measures to increase air readiness include the deployment of four French fighter aircraft to Poland which will conduct readiness and interoperability training. Last month, NATO began daily surveillance flights over Poland and Romania using its AWACS, in order to keep a close eye on Eastern European airspace. Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Groups 1 and 2 are also being deployed to the Baltic Sea and Eastern Mediterranean respectively as an additional reassurance measure.

During the visit, General Bradshaw highlighted NATO’s clear interest in the security and stability of its Eastern Allies and reinforced NATO’s unwavering commitment to collective security.

“Poland is a strong and reliable Ally,” said General Bradshaw. “You have taken great strides to modernize and increase the effectiveness of your military forces, and your contributions in Afghanistan have been significant. You have been a staunch supporter of Alliance exercises, as you clearly demonstrated by hosting Exercise STEADFAST JAZZ last year,” he said.

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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U.S. Boosts Warplanes, Airborne Troops In Poland, Baltics

April 28, 2014 1 comment

U.S. Air Forces in Europe
U.S. Air Forces Africa

April 28, 2014

Ramstein Hercs transport Army Airborne to Poland, Baltics
By Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

140423-F-ND912-048

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy: Approximately 150 U.S. Army Soldiers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Airborne, out of Vicenza, Italy, load onto a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules from Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 23, 2014, for Poland.

The Soldiers will conduct joint NATO training, a first in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in Poland and the Baltic region scheduled for the next few months.

Additional companies from the 173rd will move in the coming days to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia for similar exercises.

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U.S. Air Forces in Europe
U.S. Air Forces Africa

April 25, 2014

Eagles soar over Baltic skies

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Maj. Barak Amundson, 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilot, flies over Lithuania during a training mission with the Lithuanian air force April 23, 2014.

The 48th Air Expeditionary Group has been conducting the Baltic Air Policing mission here since January and will be handing over the mission to the Polish air force at the beginning of May.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dana J. Butler/Released)

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Wildred Owen: Selections on war

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12th Anniversary: U.S. Trains Georgian Troops For War

Ministry of Defence of Georgia
April 22, 2014

Jubilee of National Training Center “Krtsanisi”

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[The] National Training Center “Krtsanisi” marks its 17th anniversary. The solemn ceremony was held at the drill ground of the training center. Deputy Chief of General Staff of GAF Colonels Vladimer Chachibaia and Roman Jokhadze congratulated the personnel of “Krtanisi” on its jubilee.

National Training Center “Krtsanisi” was established on the base of “Iaghluja” under the order of Defence Minister on April 22, 1997. Since 2002 the U.S. instructors train the units by the GTEP on the area of the Center. Till nowadays they’ve already trained 5 Georgian battalions.

For the development of servicemen professional skills National Training Center organizes various trainings and basic training courses for recruiters.

Since 2009, National Training Center has begun ISAF mission pre-deployment trainings for Georgian battalions.

National Training Centre “Krtsanisi” has also established “Simulation Centre” where soldiers can hold virtual exercises in manning the armies and managing the operations. Besides, Training Centre can also offer the participants exercises with “Miles” simulation devices.

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Draft Restored, Stormtroopers Armed: Ukraine Junta Prepares For War

Interfax-Ukraine
April 26, 2014

Military conscription could be returned in Ukraine – Defense Minister

The Armed Forces of Ukraine could return military conscription, acting Defense Minister Mykhailo Koval has stated.

“The army will be professional – this is the future of the Armed Forces. But now the Armed Forces are not ready for this. Therefore we might have to return 21-23-years-old men for a while, and they will serve the state,” he told reporters in Kyiv on Saturday.

According to Koval, the reckless policy of transition to contract service showed its negative sides, in particular, in Crimea.

“If there were conscripts there [in military units], then the situation might be different,” the minister said.

In addition, the minister said the Armed Forces of Ukraine have not created a good base for training and life-support of contract soldiers.

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Interfax-Ukraine
April 26, 2014

Yarosh urges Ukrainian authorities to immediately start mass armament of Ukrainians – appeal to Turchynov

The Ukrainian presidential candidate, leader of the Right Sector organization Dmytro Yarosh has called on Acting President of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada Chairman Oleksandr Turchynov to start the mass providing of weapons to Ukrainians facing the threat of a war with Russia.

“Given statements and ultimatums from the Kremlin official speakers, observing their failure to fulfill the Geneva agreements, a few days might remain to Russia’s large-scale military invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities should immediately begin the massive armament of our citizens, particularly volunteer patriotic formations, which more than 10,000 Ukrainians have joined only in Dnipropetrovsk region,” reads an open letter of Yarosh to Turchynov, posted on his page on Facebook.

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Ukraine, Crimea, Transdniester: Romania Deploys Military To Borders

April 27, 2014 1 comment

Voice of Russia
April 27, 2014

Romanian military units moving towards Ukrainian border

According to information available, in Romania military units are moving towards the eastern borders – a military echelon loaded with anti-aircraft guns, trucks and ground -to- air missile systems has moved via Bucharest towards the Black Sea port of Constanta. The military units are needed for conducting joint military exercises with the participation of the US servicemen and four American F-16 fighter jets, according to the Romanian Defense Ministry officials told newsmen.

“The maneuvers will be held in compliance with the plan on strategic partnership existing between Romania and the US,” Romanian Minister of National Defense Mircea Dusa announced.

Earlier Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Estonia asked NATO to strengthen its military presence in their countries because of the Ukrainian crisis. As soon as it broke out, the AWACS planes started their daily flights over the southern part of Romania, taking off from the NATO air base Gellenkirchen in Germany in order to conduct radar intelligence operations which covered the southern part of Ukraine, Moldova and Crimea.

At the same time, Romanian President Trian Basescu satisfied Washington’s request to increase the number of marines on the NATO air base in Germany from 1,000 to 1,600. In addition, the Romanian authorities asked official Washington to deploy a squadron of US fighter jets on their territory for the period until 2017.

The plans of an increase in the US military presence in Romania are being criticized by both politicians and the public in the country. An adviser to Romanian Prime Minister Ionel Blanculescu voiced his fears, saying that the US had turned Romania into a “good target” in case of military escalation in the region.

On the other hand, a number of Romanian political analysts believe that in view of the events in Ukraine, Bucharest must be well prepared for bringing its troops into the territories of the Odessa and Chernovtsy regions. “Intervention to the north of the Bukovina region, to the south of Bessarabia and Transnistria is becoming inevitable and even necessary, especially in case Ukraine is unable to maintain public order on the territories where the Romanian population lives,” an analyst of the popular Romanian newspaper “Adevarul”, Dinu Zare, wrote in his article, TASS reports.

Romania starts to relocate anti-aircraft artillery and rockets

A train loaded with anti-aircraft guns, trucks and surface-to-air missiles was spotted in Bucharest, the Ukrainian National News (UNN) agency reports.

The echelon was reportedly bound for Constanza ahead of joint military exercises due to be held by Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and the United States in the south of Macedonia.

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Franz Werfel: Advent of air war and apocalyptic visions

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Franz Werfel: Selections on war

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Franz Werfel
From The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933)
Translated by Geoffrey Dunlop

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A Turkish air squadron was on its way across Istanbul, dropping swirling clouds of proclamations. Though he could not tell why, it grew clear to Johannes Lepsius that these planes above him should be named “Original Sin and Its Pride.” He wandered about within this perception as he might have in a huge building – in the Ministry of the Interior. Curtains fluttered out from before the doorways; they waved, like flames, and he thought of a passage in the Apocalypse, which he had meant to use in his next sermon: “And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle…and they had breast-plates, as it were breast-plates of iron, and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle…And they had tails, like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails, and their power was to hurt men five months.”

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This time Enver Pasha had listened with not merely his usual attention, but intense eagerness. And now Herr Lepsius saw and heard a thing he had never experienced in his life. It was no sneering cruelty, no cynicism, that transfigured the boyish look on this war-lord’s face. No. What Herr Lepsius perceived was the arctic mask of the human being who “has overcome all sentimentality” – the mask of a human mind which has got beyond guilt and all its qualms, the strange, almost innocent naïveté of utter godlessness…

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Interview: U.S. Waging Economic Warfare Against Russia

Press TV
April 26, 2014

US ‘waging economic warfare’ against Russia: Peace activist

Audio

The United States is “waging economic warfare” against Russia over the situation in Ukraine, with a real possibility for the two countries to enter a direct military confrontation, a peace activist in Chicago says.

“The prospects for a direct US-Russian military confrontation in Eastern Europe around the Ukrainian crisis are, I’m afraid to state, a very real possibility,” said Rick Rozoff, a member of Stop NATO International.

“And as such, this would represent the potential for the most direct confrontation between the world’s two major military superpowers at least since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962,” Rozoff told Press TV on Saturday.

“The US is deploying military hardware and troops to several countries in Eastern Europe that either border Russian territory or are across the Black Sea from it,” he noted, which is “clearly a provocation.”

About 150 American troops arrived in Lithuania on Saturday as part of a contingent sent to the region amid escalating crisis over Ukraine. Another company of soldiers landed in Poland on Wednesday, some 150 troops arrived in Latvia on Friday and a further 150 are due in Estonia on Monday.

The US has called for more military exercises in the Baltic countries but did not say it had any plans to deploy a permanent contingent to the region.

In addition, the US and other members of G7 plan to impose further sanctions on Russia as early as Monday.

Tensions between the West and Moscow heightened after Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and became part of Russia following a referendum on March 16, in which almost 97 percent of the participants voted for rejoining the Russian Federation.

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Fifth Anniversary Eastern Partnership Meeting Held In Prague

Xinhua News Agency
April 26, 2014

Prague hosts 5th anniversary meeting of Eastern Partnership

Eastern Partnership: The West’s Final Assault On the Former Soviet Union

PRAGUE: The Czech city of Prague has played host to the 5th anniversary conference of the Eastern Partnership on April 24-25.

The two-day gathering between the European Union (EU) and six partner countries in Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus region came amid the Ukraine crisis, which was at the forefront of most discussions.

The European Partnership was established on May 7 of 2009 in Prague to promote dialogue and strengthen relations between the EU and its neighbors. In addition to the 28 member-states of the EU, the partnership includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

The Ukrainian crisis has largely overshadowed the event, bringing into question both the strength of European resolve to further deepen ties with its neighbors and the willingness of the partner countries to risk Russian ire.

Belarus was not in attendance.

Issues regarding territorial integrity face many of the countries in the region, not only the Ukraine, and particularly in both Georgia and Moldova.

Out of the partner countries, Georgia is the farthest along in terms of its journey towards the EU, and is strongly showing its desire for both EU and NATO accession.

Both Moldova and Georgia will sign Association Agreements with the EU this year, which is a vital step on the way to EU membership.

The ultimate goal of the Eastern Partnership is to assist in building and maintaining democracy and human rights in the partner countries. EU accession is not the priority, though some states may wish to obtain it in the future.

EU Commissioner Stefan Fule stressed on multiple occasions that the EU only wishes to facilitate the wishes of the partner states, and their journey towards the EU is as a result of their own sovereign decisions and the wishes of the people.

Armenia is a willing participant of the Eastern Partnership, even though it is to join the Eurasian Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Beyond the crises, the Eastern Partnership noted great progress in visa facilitation, allowing the partner countries’ citizens to easily enter the European Union.

All participants came together to issue a unanimous recommendation to withdraw all troops from the territory of the Ukraine in the interest of de-escalating the conflict.

It was recommended that the Ukraine further decentralize to appease the pro-Russian regions in the east of the country.

It was emphasized that the elections to be held in Ukraine next month must be allowed to be free and fair, with no foreign intervention, and that international monitors must be able to fully supervise them.

The main focus of the conference seemed to be finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The Czech Republic has offered to act as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine, if both states will agree to mediation.

Czech President Milos Zeman said the meeting had led to very fruitful discussions, and the priority was now bringing words to deeds.

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Lilika Nakos: Do you think the war will ever end?

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Lilika Nakos: Selections on war

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Lilika Nakos
From The Children’s Inferno (1946)
Translated by Allan Ross Macdougall

“Aren’t you sleeping either?” asked Spyros.

“No, it’s too warm and it stinks here. I’m looking at the sky.”

“It’s pretty, eh? I’d like to have a boat and sail about the sky.”

“Why a boat when you can get a plane?”

“I don’t want those! They disgust me since they’re used to kill people. I’d like to have a boat to sail about the sky and find my Old Man.”

“Was that your grandfather?”

“No, but I loved him better than a grandfather. Oh, how I’d love to cast anchor at a star for a while, until the war ends. What do you think? Do you think it’ll ever end?”

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Estonia: U.S. Inaugurates New NATO Air Base In Russia’s Neighbor

Stars and Stripes
April 25, 2014

USAF team checks Estonia air base for NATO mission
By Slobodan Lekic

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A U.S. Air Force team has conducted a technical inspection of a military airfield in Estonia, which will likely be used as a new basing alternative for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.

Airmen from the 48th Air Expeditionary Group RAF Lakenheath recently visited Amari Air Base in Estonia to certify the base’s aircraft arresting system, seen as a critical step toward validating the airfield as a new NATO forward operating base, a news release on Friday said.

NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission was set up a decade ago to patrol the skies over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which don’t have fighter aircraft of their own. NATO countries take turns sending contingents of about four warplanes to respond to any airspace violations. Currently, the mission consists of four USAF F-15s, which were beefed up by an additional six fighters after the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine.

Polish air force MiG-29s are scheduled to take over from the F-15s next month. Because of the continuing crisis, they will be backed up by British Typhoons and Danish F-16s.

Since 2004, the NATO mission has operated from the Lithuanian air base at Siauliai. But more recently, Estonia has offered the Amari as a second base for the air policing element.

NATO has said it will rotate more ships, planes and troops to Eastern Europe to reassure allies, but it shied away from new permanent bases in the east. The media in Scandinavia have speculated that the Danish F-16s could be based at the temporary base in Estonia.

The U.S. Army is currently deploying about 600 troops from the Vicenza-based 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team to Poland and Baltic nations for training with allied forces. A company-size unit of about 150 servicemembers is going to each of the four nations.

Officials in those countries hailed the U.S. decision to increase its military presence in order to reassure regional allies in the wake of Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

“The US presence provides, on one side, a visible reassurance, and on the other, an opportunity to intensify training and deepen interoperability,” said a statement by Poland’s Defense Ministry. “Thus, we see that as a vehicle for development of more structural, long term approach to bilateral defense cooperation and, more broadly, to a consolidation of [the] Alliance’s position in the region.”

Stars and Stripes reporter Matt Millham contributed to this report

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NATO’s Incremental But Inexorable Absorption of Ukraine

April 25, 2014 3 comments

Stop NATO
Apirl 25, 2014

NATO’s Incremental But Inexorable Absorption of Ukraine
Rick Rozoff

A version of this feature will appear in the forthcoming volume Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks Global War, edited by Stephen Lendman and to be issued by Clarity Press.
As more information becomes available it will be posted at Stephen Lendman’s website.

With almost 1,500 miles of land and sea connecting the two nations, the border with Ukraine is the longest along the western frontier of Russia, with that of Finland next in length.

Until the end of the Cold War only one member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization directly adjoined Russia: Norway, and that for only 135 miles, land and sea. (Though Turkey bordered other Soviet republics.)

The decade of NATO expansion beginning in 1999 brought four new members of the U.S.-dominated military bloc directly up to Russia territory: Estonia and Latvia to northwestern Russia proper and Poland and Lithuania to the non-contiguous Kaliningrad Oblast.

The acquisition of Ukraine as a full NATO member or even as it now is, a partner lending its territory, troops and general military assets to the alliance, would, with the likely prospect of Finland being enlisted in tow, cover the entire western flank of Russia from the Arctic Ocean and Barents Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south with NATO air bases, naval docking facilities, firing ranges and training grounds, airfields, radar installations, storage compounds, cyber warfare centers, interceptor missile batteries, armored vehicles, troops and tactical nuclear weapons.

Ukraine is and for decades has been seen as the decisive linchpin in plans by the U.S. and its NATO allies to effect a military cordon sanitaire severing Russia from Europe.

In 1995, just four years after the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Ukraine became the first member of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States to join NATO’s mechanism for the eventual absorption of all of Europe and the rest of former Soviet space not already in the bloc, the Partnership for Peace. The twelve Eastern European nations that joined NATO in 1999, 2004 and 2009 are all graduates of that program. (Waiting in the wings are 22 more members of the transitional program for military integration and full NATO membership; all fourteen European countries not already members, except for Russia, the three former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus and the five in Central Asia.)

Two years later the military alliance established the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership, out of which was created the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which is active to this day; in fact more so than ever before since the violent coup d’état in Ukraine in February of this year.

In December of 2008, four months after the Georgian government of Mikheil Saakashvili invaded South Ossetia and thereby triggered a five-day war with Russia, Ukraine and Georgia were both made the recipients of the first-ever Annual National Programs crafted by NATO. Earlier in the year, at the alliance summit in Bucharest, Romania, it was announced that, although the last stage before full NATO accession – the Membership Action Plan – would not immediately be granted to the two former Soviet republics, NATO was nevertheless committed to their eventual membership. One of the Ukrainian public officials pushing for a Membership Action Plan was then-chairman of the nation’s parliament, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, now the U.S.-selected (indeed, the U.S.-imposed) prime minister and effective head of the ruling junta.

In fact, the parliamentary opposition blocked the functioning of the Verkhovna Rada from January to March of 2008 – ahead of the NATO summit in early April of that year – in protest against the nation being dragged into the bloc. The main effort domestically to expedite the incorporation of Ukraine into NATO emanated from the duarchy emerging from the 2004-2005 “Orange Revolution,” President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Indeed, Washington and its European allies supported and directed the second so-called color revolution (after that in Georgia the preceding year) with just that intended effect in mind.

Ahead of the Bucharest summit President George W. Bush, fellow Republican and at the time candidate for his party’s presidential nomination (which he later secured) John McCain, and Democratic rivals for their party’s nomination, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, all fulsomely endorsed full NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia.

A year ahead of the “Orange Revolution,” Yushchenko’s predecessor, Leonid Kuchma, had attempted to appease the U.S. and NATO by providing 1,650 troops for the NATO-supported Multi-National Force – Iraq. A nominal contingent of Ukrainian troops has also been assigned to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, part of an over 50-nation integrated command. But as not only Kuchma has learned, total subservience, abject submission alone are accepted by NATO “partners” in Washington and Brussels.

Georgia would later supply 2,000 (the third largest deployment after those of the U.S. and Britain at the time), which were airlifted home by American aircraft during the August 2008 war with Russia. The “orange” regime of Viktor Yushchenko was accused of surreptitiously shipping weapons and allowing if not organizing the deployment of military and extremist nationalist paramilitary forces to Georgia during the fighting.

Immediately after the South Caucasus war ended, Yushchenko flew into the Georgian capital to join a rally with (and for) President Saakashvili and immediately upon returning to Kiev signed a decree demanding Russia notify his government of – in essence seek its authorization for – naval and air deployments from the Black Sea Fleet base in Sebastopol. He reserved the right to prevent Russian vessels from departing and returning to the complex; that is, a de facto selective blockade.

Starting no later than 2006, at first covertly and then quite flagrantly, directors and other officials of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency visited Ukraine to discuss the stationing of interceptor missile components in the country, part of an initiative that has subsequently been embraced by all 28 members of NATO under the Barack Obama administration’s European Phased Adaptive Approach land- and sea-based missile shield being deployed along Russia’s western (and later southern) border.

Annual U.S.-led NATO Partnership for Peace military exercises code-named Sea Breeze have been held in Ukraine every year since 1996 – in the Crimea, near the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet – except in 2006 when they were cancelled because of local protests.

Led by U.S. European Command, yearly Rapid Trident military exercises are also held in Ukraine with U.S., NATO and Partnership for Peace forces. In the words of U.S. Army Europe’s account of last year’s iteration, Rapid Trident “helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support…designed to enhance joint combined interoperability with allied and partner nations” as well as “support[ing] Ukraine’s Annual National Program to achieve interoperability with NATO and commitments made in the annual NATO-Ukraine work plan.”

In the same month as NATO initiated its Annual National Program with Ukraine, December of 2008, Washington launched the United States-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership, the founding document of which asserts and identifies among other objectives:

“Deepening Ukraine’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions is a mutual priority. We plan to undertake a program of enhanced security cooperation intended to increase Ukrainian capabilities and to strengthen Ukraine’s candidacy for NATO membership.

“Guided by the April 3, 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration of the NATO North Atlantic Council and the April 4, 2008 Joint Statement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which affirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO.

“Recognizing the persistence of threats to global peace and stability, the United States and Ukraine intend to expand the scope of their ongoing programs of cooperation and assistance on defense and security issues to defeat these threats and to promote peace and stability. A defense and security cooperation partnership between the United States and Ukraine is of benefit to both nations and the region.

“Working within the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, our goal is to gain agreement on a structured plan to increase interoperability and coordination of capabilities between NATO and Ukraine, including via enhanced training and equipment for Ukrainian armed forces.”

In 2010 Ukraine became the first NATO partner state to provide a warship for the alliance’s Operation Active Endeavor, a permanent naval surveillance and interdiction campaign throughout the entire Mediterranean Sea inaugurated in 2001 with the activation of NATO’s Article 5 mutual military assistance provision.

In 2013 Ukraine complemented the above contribution by becoming the first NATO partner to assign a warship to the bloc’s Operation Ocean Shield, a now five-year-old (and also intended to be indefinite) maritime mission off the Horn of Africa in the Arabian Sea and further into the Indian Ocean.

Before the onset of civil unrest in the country last November, NATO was already touting Ukraine as one of four partners to join the global NATO Response Force. (The other three being Georgia, Finland and Sweden.)

Now with a U.S.-NATO proxy regime in place in Kiev, the prospects for Ukraine being turned into a veritable gargantuan forward base for the Pentagon’s and NATO’s inexorable, now generation-long, drive to the east, overrun with Western military advisers and intelligence agents and hosting warplanes, warships, armor, troops and missiles, are being entertained by Western leaders with a degree of ambitiousness and recklessness surpassing anything hitherto contemplated.

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USAID and “Democracy Promotion” in Ukraine

Stop NATO
April 25, 2014

USAID and “Democracy Promotion” in Ukraine
Rick Rozoff

If U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland recently reiterated that Washington has spent $5 billion on “democracy promotion” in Ukraine over the past 20 years, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) openly acknowledges that “Over the last 20 years USAID has provided $1.8 billion in critical development assistance in support of the Ukrainian people.”

That seems an artificially low figure as USAID accounts for almost all non-military foreign aid, although the State Department directly and through respective embassies as well as the U.S. Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy and its main affiliates, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, work hand-in-glove with USAID in most instances in “democracy promotion.” (Chicago-based scholar Kim Scipes estimates that the National Endowment for Democracy spent $2,830,959 in Ukraine in 2013.)

The White House and State Department also, if you will, outsource some of the latter work to assorted non-governmental organizations and think tanks like Freedom House, the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institution. the Hudson Institute, etc. After the 2004-2005 “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, then-U.S. Congressman Ron Paul demanded a congressional investigation into funding for it. Nothinh more was heard about such an investigation; presumably Paul was the only one of 535 congressmen and senators who took objection to the “revolution” and the means used to effect it.

It is to assume that USAID is a “force multiplier” for other American governmental and so-called NGO (more often than not receiving government funding) advocacy groups; as well as from the European Union and individual member states thereof.

According to the USAID/Ukraine web site, “USAID/Ukraine implements a focused development assistance program to support: more participatory, transparent, and accountable governance…” That is, something the U.S. does not practice at home but will foster abroad when, and only when, it can contribute to overthrowing governments the U.S. wants overthrown.

Its website also says:

USAID is working to help Ukraine continue on a path of democratic development. Working with the Ukrainian and Crimean parliaments, USAID supports improvements to the legislative process and increased public engagement and accountability. USAID programs strengthen the rule of law through improved judicial accountability and independence, and established networks of advocacy organizations and legal clinics that increase access to justice in the areas of healthcare, employment and property rights.

Its funded programs span a wide range of initiatives, but include:

Fair, Accountable, Independent and Responsible (FAIR) Justice Program

Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment Program (LEP)

Media Development

Ukraine Electoral Law Reform Program

Strengthening Civil Society in Ukraine Project

Regarding the last, USAID says:

“USAID’s civil society program in Ukraine helps foster civic activism, boosts reforms, and builds sustainable NGOs. The Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms (UNITER) project strengthens the capacity of leading Ukrainian NGOs and community leaders to better represent citizens’ interests and drive Ukraine’s reform agenda through more effective advocacy, monitoring and activism. The project assists NGOs to increase citizen participation in policy-making, establish legal frameworks that govern civil society and improve the institutional and financial viability of NGOs across the country.”

Again, this is exactly the sort of “grassroots” democracy that is non-existent and fought by the government at every turn in the U.S. itself.

USAID also says:

“USAID programs promote political processes that lead to more representative and accountable governance. These include training for political party activists and locally elected officials to improve communication with civic groups and citizens, and the development of NGO-led advocacy campaigns on electoral and political process issues…”

And:

Domestic Oversight of Political Processes in Ukraine Program

“The goal of this activity is to improve Ukraine’s electoral process and its corresponding legislation to better reflect the will of the Ukrainian people. The activity will achieve this goal by improving the integrity of Ukrainian elections through domestic monitoring, supporting development and implementation of relevant legislation that is inclusive, transparent and conforms to European standards, and increasing the organizational and technical capacity of the Civic Network OPORA.”

OPORA a variation of Pora, the “youth group” created for the “Orange Revolution” in 2004, modeled after and organized by Otpor (now CANVASS) in Serbia and Kmara in Georgia (the 2003 “Rose Revolution”).

From the OPORA website:

The Civil Network ‘OPORA’ is a non-governmental, non-political and financially independent nationwide network of public activists. We have teamed up to enhance public participation in the political process by developing and implementing models of citizens’ influence on the activities of state and local government in Ukraine.

We work to develop civil society in Ukraine as the foundation of a sovereign, independent, democratic, social and legal state.

Strategic objectives of the Civil network ‘OPORA’:

Ensure the openness and transparency of state and local government in Ukraine

Support and develop the social groups and environments at local communities, their association in the nationwide network of cooperation and communication.

Develop and implement the innovative training system of community activists.

Priority areas of CN OPORA:

Educational policy – development and testing of integrated public observation mechanisms for independent external testing (EIT) and admission to higher education during all phases of the process.

Municipal policy – development and implementation of the effective institutionalized model for condominiums’ organization in Ukraine.

Election process – providing a comprehensive long-term monitoring and analysis of the electoral process and program activities of political parties in Ukraine, observations during the elections.

Forms and methods of our work:

Monitoring and public control (watch-dog activity)
Research and policy analysis
Civic education
Law education and human rights of citizens
Social media lobbying
Civic journalism
Direct actions
Legislation development
Protection of rights and public interests…”

The following is from USAID Country Development Strategy 2012-2016 for Ukraine:

“Ukraine is the largest country wholly in Europe and shares a 1000‐mile border with the southwestern part of Russia. This geographic location between Russia and the European Union, (and the home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet) gives Ukraine particular strategic importance.”

“Viktor Yanukovych was elected in a February 2010 Presidential election judged free and fair by the international community.”

“Fostering Ukraine’s integration into Europe remains a major diplomacy goal of the USG. As Ukraine progresses along a path toward Europe, opportunities will arise to leverage EU commitments to advance democratic, economic, and social reforms critical to meeting USAID development objectives.”

USAID provides the largest amount of donor support to the Verkhovna Rada, and coordinates closely with other donors involved in strengthening the Parliament of Ukraine, including the Westminster Foundation and the European Commission’s Ukraine‐Legal Policy Advice Centre.”

USAID is also the largest donor in providing support to political parties and election observation, whereas private foundations engage parties on a limited basis, pairing Ukrainian parties with ideologically like‐minded political parties in counties for small‐scale training assistance. USAID collaborates with the Canadian International Agency for Development (CIDA), the German Embassy, the British Embassy, the Council of Europe, the European Commission, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to support political processes, political party development, and elections in Ukraine. USAID’s programming focuses on improving parties’ responsiveness to citizen needs. USAID operation in Europe (OSCE) to support political processes, political party development, and elections in Ukraine. USAID’s programming focuses on improving parties’ responsiveness to citizen needs. USAID ration in Europe (OSCE) to support political processes, political party development, and elections in Ukraine. USAID’s programming focuses on improving parties’ responsiveness to citizen needs. USAID also provides significant support – along with CIDA, the German Embassy, and OSCE Office for Democratic Initiatives and Human Rights (ODIHR) – to long‐term and short‐term election monitoring to ensure that fair, transparent and inclusive elections take place.”

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Ukrainian Military, Right Sector Thugs Besiege, Prepare To Attack Transdniester

Itar-Tass
April 25, 2014

Ukraine Right Sector activists build checkpoint on Transdniestria-Odessa road

As eyewitnesses say, Ukrainian police stay away from Right Sector’s self-defense units, and don’t approach the checked vehicles

TIRASPOL: Gunmen from the Ukrainian Right Sector nationalist movement have put up a checkpoint on the road connecting Transdniestria with Odessa, checking vehicles, the vice speaker of Moldova’s breakaway republic, Sergei Cheban, said in an interview published by local media on Friday.

“As eyewitnesses say, Ukrainian police stay away from Right Sector’s self-defense units, and don’t approach the checked vehicles. At other border checkpoints in the north of the republic, the situation is different – Ukrainian military are making barricades of sandbags, in two lines,” Cheban said.

The foreign minister of Transdniestria, Nina Shtanski, has recently voiced concern about Ukrainian military concentrating on the border with the self-proclaimed republic. She said Ukrainian border guards had stopped letting in men with Russian passports. The flow of passengers in that direction had slackened by one third amid tensions, the minister said. She said there had never been threats from Transdniestria against Ukraine and expressed hope that Tiraspol and Kiev would shortly restore their traditionally friendly relations.

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Estonia: U.S. Air Expeditionary Group Certifies NATO Forward Operating Base

U.S. Air Forces in Europe
U.S. Air Forces Africa

April 25, 2014

48th AEG takes critical step to validate NATO FOB
By Airman 1st Class Dana J. Butler
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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SIAULIAI AIR BASE, Lithuania: Airmen from the 48th Air Expeditionary Group recently took a trip to Amari Air Base, Estonia, to engage and certify the aircraft arresting system, taking a critical step toward validating the new NATO Forward Operating Base.

Barrier maintenance Airmen from the 435th Construction and Training Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, deployed to the 48th Air Expeditionary Group at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, travelled to Estonia for the third time to certify the aircraft arresting systems and work alongside fellow Estonian air force counterparts.

“I’ve worked with the Estonians before when we went up there in February and March in order to get the barrier systems up to U.S. standards, so we exchanged technical orders and brought them up to our standards,” said Staff Sgt. Josh Nicholson, 48th AEG aircraft arresting systems craftsman. “We worked very well together, they are very knowledgeable.”

Two F-15C Eagles, originally from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, U.K., helped conduct the certification.

Fighters staged at each end of the runway took turns engaging the barrier by taxiing at about 130 miles per hour with their tail hook lowered so as to hook onto the cable, which gradually slowed the aircraft to a safe, complete stop, much like what occurs on an aircraft carrier.

Once the aircraft was no longer moving, emergency crews, already standing by, rushed in to tend to the pilot and shut down the plane’s engines before setting up for the next engagement.

According to Nicholson, the Air Force requires barrier engagement tests every 12 months if not engaged by a plane in a one-year time span.

“The initial certification of the aircraft arresting system involves taking an active aircraft and approaching the cable at a designated speed based on the weight of the aircraft; it engages the cable, which will stop the aircraft in around 1,000 feet,” said Nicholson.

According to 2nd Lt. Bryan Butler, 48th AEG maintenance officer in charge, these newly certified cables greatly enhance the interoperability between allied partners.

“Making sure these cables are certified gives us another airfield to operate out of for joint exercises and other potential NATO operations,” said Butler.

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U.S. Airborne Troops In Latvia, Poland For Unscheduled Drills

U.S. Army Europe
April 25, 2014

173rd conducts unscheduled training with Latvian Army
By Jesse Granger, USAREUR

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WIESBADEN, Germany: Approximately 150 Soldiers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) in Vicenza, Italy, arrived in Latvia yesterday, to conduct small unit and leader training with members of the Latvian Army.

This exercise is the second in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in the region that are scheduled to take place for the next few months and beyond. This action comes at the request of the host nations in the region and further demonstrates U.S. commitment to NATO.

The training, not previously scheduled, takes place as the United States continues to demonstrate solidarity with its NATO allies by increased land force presence in Poland and the Baltic States, an enhanced exercise schedule, and increased security cooperation measures with allies in the region.

Some of the other land forces exercises planned across Europe include:

• Exercise Rochambeau, scheduled to take place in France in May
• Exercise Combined Resolve II, scheduled to take place in Germany in May
• Exercise Saber Strike, scheduled to take place in Lithuania and Latvia in June
• Exercise Immediate Response, scheduled to take place in Slovenia in August
• Exercise Saber Junction 14, scheduled to take place in Germany in August
• Exercise Cooperative Resolve, scheduled to take place in Turkey in September

For more information, visit the U.S. Army Europe website http://www.eur.army.mil and navigate to the Exercises page http://www.eur.army.mil/exercises/.

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U.S. Army Europe
April 23, 2014

173rd paratroopers arrive in Poland
By Jesse M. Granger, U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

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WIESBADEN, Germany: Today a company-sized contingent of U.S. paratroopers from U.S. Army Europe’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) from Vicenza, Italy, arrived in Poland to begin exercises with Polish troops.

This new exercise is the first in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in Poland and the Baltic region that are in addition to previously scheduled multinational land force military exercises such as Combined Resolve II, Saber Strike, Rapid Trident, and Saber Guardian. Exercises like this will take place for the next few months and beyond, and are aimed at assuring regional allies of the U.S.’s unwavering commitment to NATO.

In the coming days additional companies will move into Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for similar exercises.

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NATO Interoperability, Missile System: U.S. Rotates Warships In Black Sea

April 25, 2014 1 comment

Navy NewsStand
April 24, 2014

USS Donald Cook Departs Black Sea
From U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

BLACK SEA: The forward deployed guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) departed the Black Sea, April 24.

Donald Cook’s presence was an example of the U.S. Navy’s commitment to enhancing interoperability at sea, serving as a cornerstone of NATO’s military strength, while demonstrating the U.S. and allied forces’ capability to provide the right presence, in the right place, at the right time.

While in the Black Sea, Donald Cook reassured our allies of the United States’ commitment to the region, conducting a port visit and exercises at sea with the Romanian navy and the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50).

“We were able to conduct a variety of exercises with not only our Romanian partners, but also with USS Taylor, who will be operating in the area,” said Cmdr. Scott Jones, commanding officer of Donald Cook. “These exercises were invaluable to us, as well as our Romanian partners.”

Donald Cook arrived in Constanta, Romania, April 14. The crew was honored to welcome aboard Romanian President Traian Bsescu, who toured the ship, including the Navigation Bridge, Combat Information Center and Engineering Control spaces.

During the visit, Jones stated that operating in the Black Sea had been an incredible opportunity to strengthen ties and improve interoperability with Romania.

“We feel that this is an important time to demonstrate our resolve and shared commitment with NATO; we also believe that this is the time to maintain the right presence where it matters to promote peace and stability,” said Jones.

The day before her scheduled departure from the Black Sea, Donald Cook conducted a surface exercise with Taylor and the Romanian navy ships ROS Regina Maria (F 222) and ROS Marasesti (F 111). The exercise consisted of a simulated attack by small, fast attack craft, requiring exercise participants to work in close communication with each other to repel the simulated attack.

“We were fortunate to have the opportunity to embark Romanian navy personnel to carefully plan and coordinate with during our operations in the Black Sea,” said Jones. “Their presence strengthened our personal and professional ties. We look forward to our continued partnership.”

The Romanian sailors embarked Donald Cook, and conducted a visit, board, search and seizure exercise aboard the ship. The sailors simulated boarding a ship and controlling it, while also ensuring the safety of its crew and any passengers.

The U.S. Navy, on a normal and routine basis, operates ships in the Black Sea consistent with the Montreux Convention and International Law.

Donald Cook is deployed in a multi-mission role in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to contribute to regional maritime security, conduct bilateral and multilateral training missions, and to support NATO operations and deployments throughout the region.

Donald Cook, the first of four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to be forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is serving on a scheduled patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations as part of the President’s Phased Adaptive Approach to European ballistic missile defense.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts a full range of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation missions in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other partners in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.

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Ecuador Expels U.S. Embassy Military Group

April 25, 2014 2 comments

Russian Information Agency Novosti
April 25, 2014

Ecuador Expels US Embassy Military Group

MOSCOW: Twenty US Defense Department employees serving in the US embassy in Ecuador have been ordered to leave the country by the end of the month, the Associated Press reported Friday.

“All the activities we have carried out have had the explicit approval of our Ecuadorean counterparts,” embassy spokesman Jeffrey Weinshenker was quoted as saying.

According to Weinshenker, the US Defense Department had cooperated with Ecuador for four decades, but on April 7 the embassy received a letter ordering it to suspend military operations in the country.

Weinshenker added that last year Ecuador received $7 million from Washington to fund security needs, such as personnel training and combatting terrorism and drug and human trafficking.

Tensions between Washington and Quito rose after Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa expelled three US diplomats, including the ambassador himself, in 2011. In 2012, Correa also provided asylum to whistleblower and founder of WiliLeaks Julian Assange, who disclosed thousands of US secret diplomatic cables.

Last November, the Ecuadorian government accused the US Agency for International Development of supporting the opposition and asked it to end military operations in the country. Correa later said that the US has 50 military officers in Ecuador and he was planning on ordering them to leave the country.

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Louis Aragon: Caravans of Peace

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Louis Aragon: Selections on war

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Louis Aragon
Caravans of Peace (1949)
Translated by Jack Lindsay

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All the highways over France
Stream towards Paris loud with men
And lettered banners sway and dance
Where Peace buds out again again

And I recall another crowd
Like blood that hurries from the heart
The whole land in departure cowed
Rumbling in misfortune’s cart

Off the endless caravans set
Our country left us at a blow
Flight opened every sluice and let
The waters of the people go

Now in another way we mark
Death’s polka is awhile deferred
Spring tries its luck today O hark
How loud the harmonicas are heard

Along the miles and miles of laughter
Youth enters in the game at last
Songs lead on and men run after
Blue coaches blow your horns full-blast

Despite your flocking haste beware
Of children gathering as they please
The ditch-flowers yellow everywhere
The little sprigs of greening trees

People are foolish and skies soften
No matter why it happens daily
And down the road the cyclists often
Hold one another’s shoulders gaily

And I recall not long ago
Nails were hammered in the sky
Clangour of war we crouched below
Planes nosedived at us from on high

How hard to think such matters back
When look we’re passing in our ride
Great doves of white on depthless black
Across our homes on every side

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The Nuclear Guarantee: U.S. Leads NATO Buildup To Russia’s West

April 24, 2014 1 comment

Stars and Stripes
April 24, 2014

US forces take lead in NATO’s response to Ukraine crisis
By Nancy Montgomery

Map of U.S. military deployments in Eastern Europe

VICENZA, Italy: The U.S. is so far providing more resources to shoring up eastern European allies…than other NATO members, again testing the alliance that has struggled throughout the war in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, a company from the Vicenza-based 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team arrived at an air base in northwestern Poland, part of a commitment the U.S. announced Tuesday to send about 600 troops to Poland and the Baltics for training exercises.

As a second company of some 150 U.S. paratroops left Italy Thursday it was clear that the U.S. has committed far more resources to bolstering NATO members in eastern Europe that border Russia than their closer allies in Western Europe.

The paratroop company that flew out on Thursday headed to Latvia, the unit’s executive officer Maj. James Downing said, adding that by Monday two more companies will be on the ground in Lithuania and Estonia.

In addition to the troops, which are to train with Polish, Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian soldiers, the U.S. has also sent a dozen F-16 fighter jets and their crews, roughly 300 people, to Poland; six additional F-15 fighters with about 60 servicemembers and two KC-135 refueling tankers to Lithuania; and the frigate USS Taylor to the Black Sea.

“The U.S. is the only country which is answering the problem,” said Witold Waszczykowski, a Polish diplomat and parliamentarian who previously served as the country’s foreign minister.

He said the 600 U.S. paratroops sent from Vicenza to Poland and the Baltics was the result of bilateral decisions between the U.S. and those countries.

“It was not a NATO decision,” he said. “I would expect NATO would soon explain its position. We hope they join with the U.S.”

NATO is currently deploying a flotilla in the Baltic Sea consisting of the Norwegian flagship, the HNoMS Valkyrien, and four minehunters from the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Estonia. Its AWACS reconnaissance planes have been flying regular surveillance flights along Ukraine’s borders to monitor the crisis in that country.

Meanwhile, several member nations have offered additional aircraft to boost NATO’s Baltic air policing mission, in which warplanes from alliance nations take turns patrolling the skies over the three Baltic states that have no fighters of their own.

Polish air force MiG-29s are due to take over from the Americans in June. Plans call for them to be joined by Danish F-16s. This rotation will be followed by Portuguese F-16s in September. Germany and Britain also have proposed sending Eurofighter Typhoon air superiority jets to reinforce the patrols, as has France with its Dassault Rafales.

That the U.S. sent assets into the region ahead of other NATO countries wasn’t surprising, said Nick Witney, a former head of the European Defense Agency.

“America always takes the lead in NATO, that’s the nature of the beast. The whole psychology of the alliance is to look to the Americans in any crisis like this, and then to fall in behind Washington.”

NATO’s European members still depend on the U.S. security guarantees, even though Russia is militarily weaker than the Europeans, he said.

“The conventional threat that Russia poses to Europe nowadays isn’t particularly alarming,”said Witney, now a senior fellow at the European Council of Foreign Relations.

But Russia remains a nuclear threat. “That’s America’s final guarantee, the nuclear guarantee,” he said.

NATO, formed after World War II to contain the Soviet Union and guarantee the security of Western Europe, began expanding into eastern Europe a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, dissolution of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact alliance and the break-up of the USSR. It is supposed to be the primary responder to increased tensions with Russia.

The deployment of military assets along the edges of the alliance as a deterrent to Russia has been hailed by NATO as a demonstration of alliance solidarity.

The offers by the U.S. and others to enhance readiness in eastern European nations ”reflects Alliance solidarity and our core task to protect and defend our Allies,” said NATO Deputy Spokesperson Carmen Romero in an email. “We are taking legitimate steps to deal with the instability created by Russia’s reckless actions.”

Troops with the 173rd training in eastern Europe are aware of that role, said Maj. Mike Weisman, a 173rd spokesman.

”We know we’re here to bolster our NATO allies,” Weisman said, “but for the paratroopers, they’re just really excited about doing airborne ops and live-fire exercises with the 6th Polish Airborne Brigade.”

Weisman said he expected the company in Poland – Company C, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment — would be training for about a month with the Polish brigade before another unit rotated in.

The Pentagon announced the 173rd deployment Tuesday, a few days after the unit’s soldiers got the word, according to Weisman.

“This came together very fast,” he said. “What we’re going to do is something that would usually take months to plan. But we are the Army’s contingency force. That’s kind of what we do.”

…Russian President Vladimir Putin has asserted the right to intervene in Ukraine to protect the rights of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers. His defense minister on Thursday announced new military exercises along the Ukrainian border — just hours after Ukrainian troops killed at least two pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

“It’s an extremely dangerous situation,” Waszczykowski agreed.

“NATO is supposed to react to this. If we don’t react, this is encouragement to other countries — Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela. We’ll go back to the law of the jungle.”

Waszczykowski said that Russia should be isolated, disinvited from all cultural, sporting and educational events and exchanges.

“Russian society supports the imperial designs of Putin,” he said, pointing to Putin’s 80 percent approval rating.

“They’re enjoying this. They think they’re coming back to the glorious time of the Soviet Union.”

Stars and Stripes reporters Slobodan Lekic and Kent Harris contributed to this report.

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Romania: NATO Commander Discusses Article 5 War Plans

Allied Joint Force Command Naples
April 24, 2014

JFC NAPLES COMMANDER MEETS ROMANIAN DEFENCE OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS THE UKRAINE CRISIS
Story by JFC Naples Public Affairs Office

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Bucharest, ROMANIA: The defence of NATO’s eastern border and the developing crisis in the Ukraine topped the agenda as the Commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Admiral Bruce W. Clingan, met with The Honourable Mircea Dusa, Romania’s Minister of National Defence and Lieutenant General Stefan Danila, the Romanian Chief of Defence.

The get-together, which was held earlier this week on the 22nd and 23rd of April, was held in Bucharest.

During the visit, Admiral Clingan toured the Air Operations Command in Balotesti, and discussed in detail NATO’s current measures to address the growing security concerns of Allies.

In explaining the purpose of his visit, Admiral Clingan said, “Protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Alliance’s member states is a commitment the NATO Command Structure takes seriously. The Alliance recently approved Assurance Measures designed to strengthen our readiness to collectively meet that commitment, but close collaboration between Allies and NATO’s Command Structure headquarters is required to implement those measures in a relevant timeframe. Exchanging ideas with the Romanian Chief of Defence, Service Chiefs, and key members of the General Staff regarding the measures directly related to the security of Romania, in light of the Ukrainian crisis, was extremely useful.”

JFC Naples’ mission is to prepare for, plan and conduct military operations in order to preserve the peace, security and territorial integrity of Alliance member states and freedom of the seas and economic lifelines throughout the Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s area of responsibility and beyond.

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Interview: General Breedlove Channels Strangelove

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NATO Blackmailing All CSTO Members: Secretary General

Russian Information Agency Novosti
April 24, 2014

CSTO to Suspend Dialogue With NATO Due to Ukrainian Crisis

MOSCOW: The Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has suspended contacts with NATO because of the situation in Ukraine, CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha said Thursday.

“For now we will not be making any efforts to establish contact with NATO, due to their stance during the Ukrainian crisis,” Bordyuzha said at a press conference hosted by RIA Novosti.

He explained that NATO is currently “blackmailing” Russia and its allies. “Today, NATO is blackmailing all of the CSTO member states … showing that they are extremely dissatisfied with Russia’s actions in recent months.”

Last week, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance intends to deploy additional military personnel to enhance combat readiness and perform military drills, as well as revise its defense plans in connection with the Ukrainian crisis. The Atlantic alliance also decided to strengthen air patrols in Eastern Europe and send ships to the Baltic Sea and the eastern Mediterranean.

Russian authorities are closely watching the actions of NATO in the context of the situation in Ukraine. Russia’s envoy to NATO, Alexander Grushko, has warned about taking “necessary measures” to prevent Russian security from being undermined by the new NATO steps.

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Russian Information Agency Novosti
April 24, 2014

MOSCOW: No facts have been found to support allegations that Russian troops are operating in eastern Ukraine, hit by pro-federalization rallies since last month, the head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization said Thursday.

The coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities backed by Western countries have claimed that Russia has sent troops to aid federalists in Ukraine’s east. Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier dismissed the allegations as nonsense.

“The presence of Russian servicemen on the territory of Ukraine in the eastern region has not been confirmed by anyone and anything, not a single fact,” Nikolai Bordyuzha said.

According to Bordyuzha, there is a “strong concentration of Ukrainian troop formations” in the region.
The chief of the Russian-led post-Soviet security bloc denied reports of a planned Russian military offensive in eastern Ukraine.

“I have not heard from any of the country’s leaders that Russia is ready to invade Ukraine. Russia has no such plans,” Bordyuzha said.

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Wednesday that international inspections had provided no evidence that Russia is carrying out “threatening military activity” on its border with Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier said Russia is not conducting any unusual or unplanned military activities near its border with Ukraine.

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Thomas Hardy: Channel Firing

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Thomas Hardy: All-Earth-gladdening Law of Peace, war’s apology wholly stultified

Thomas Hardy: As war-waste classed

Thomas Hardy: The Man He Killed

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Thomas Hardy
Channel Firing (1914)

hardy

That night your great guns, unawares,
Shook all our coffins as we lay,
And broke the chancel window-squares,
We thought it was the Judgment-day

And sat upright. While drearisome
Arose the howl of wakened hounds:
The mouse let fall the altar-crumb,
The worms drew back into the mounds,

The glebe cow drooled. Till God called, “No;
It’s gunnery practice out at sea
Just as before you went below;
The world is as it used to be:

“All nations striving strong to make
Red war yet redder. Mad as hatters
They do no more for Christés sake
Than you who are helpless in such matters.

“That this is not the judgment-hour
For some of them’s a blessed thing,
For if it were they’d have to scour
Hell’s floor for so much threatening….

“Ha, ha. It will be warmer when
I blow the trumpet (if indeed
I ever do; for you are men,
And rest eternal sorely need).”

So down we lay again. “I wonder,
Will the world ever saner be,”
Said one, “than when He sent us under
In our indifferent century!”

And many a skeleton shook his head.
“Instead of preaching forty year,”
My neighbour Parson Thirdly said,
“I wish I had stuck to pipes and beer.”

Again the guns disturbed the hour,
Roaring their readiness to avenge,
As far inland as Stourton Tower,
And Camelot, and starlit Stonehenge.

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Persian Gulf: NATO Deepens Naval Cooperation With Oman

April 23, 2014 1 comment

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Maritime Command

April 23, 2014

NATO DEEPENS COOPERATION ON COUNTER-PIRACY WITH OMAN
Story by HQ MARCOM Public Affairs Office

Muscat, OMAN: Last week, ITS MIMBELLI, currently deployed in NATO’s counter-piracy Operation OCEAN SHIELD, conducted a port visit to Muscat, the Sultanate of Oman’s capital city. The aim of the visit was to pursue NATO’s ongoing cooperation with regional states to combat piracy at sea.

ITS MIMBELLI’s Commanding Officer, Captain Davide Berna, made several official calls to regional authorities during the port visit, including one with the Deputy Governor of Muscat, H.E. Said Ibrahim Saud Al Busaidi.

A Royal Omani Navy’s delegation was also invited for a visit on board ITS MIMBELLI to share views and lessons-learned on counter-piracy operations in the area.

These meetings were valuable opportunities to deepen cooperation and interoperability between NATO and the Omani Government, Royal Omani Navy and Coast Guard. These talks complemented the activities carried out the previous week between OCEAN SHIELD’s flagship ESPS CRISTOBAL COLON and the Royal Omani Navy corvette AL SHAMIKH.

“Cooperation ashore with regional Nations is as important as cooperation at sea to ensure safety of navigation in this part of the world,” said Capt. Berna. “The level of support provided by the Government of Oman makes a significant difference for the success of this mission.”

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Drive East: NATO, CSTO Now In Direct Confrontation

Xinhua News Agency
April 24, 2014

CSTO chief says Russia, NATO confront directly

MOSCOW: Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have arrived at the state of direct confrontation, head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) said Wednesday.

“In fact, due to some NATO countries’ actions, we are heading to, and we have reached the level of direct confrontation,” Nikolai Bordyuzha told reporters following a meeting of CSTO Security Councils’ officials in the Chechen capital of Grozny.

Among those actions the Russian chief mentioned anti-Moscow sanctions, presence of NATO warships in the Black Sea and attempts of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists to sneak into Russia for subversive activity.

Bordyuzha called these actions a “psychological attack” which provokes further rise of tension.

He noted that the CSTO has not been involved into events in Ukraine and does not want other international blocs to do so.

In March, Bordyuzha criticized NATO’s “self-propaganda” through the Ukraine crisis, saying that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen promoted himself through Ukrainian domestic political problems.

Fresh unrest erupted in Ukraine’s east early April, when pro- Moscow activists seized government buildings in several cities, demanding a referendum on autonomy and closer ties with Russia. Ukraine accused Russia of supporting the unrest, a move denied by Moscow.

Taking into account changing situation in the world, the CSTO might reconsider its objectives, both on the regional and global level, Bordyuzha said.

On Tuesday, the official said the CSTO did not take the recent NATO military build-up as an immediate threat, focusing on the more immediate threats instead, like extremism in the bloc’s countries and the volatile situation in Afghanistan.

Russia currently chairs the CSTO which comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

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Itar-Tass
April 22, 2014

Ukraine crisis consequence of distancing from CIS — CSTO head

Secretary General of the CSTO says “the wish by certain states to engineer a split among Slavic countries, separate Ukraine from CIS and neighbors, is among the reasons behind the crisis”

YEKATERINBURG: Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Nikolai Bordyuzha said the Ukrainian crisis is a consequence of long-term distancing from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and collective decision-making on security issues.

“Over the past two decades, Ukraine has been avoiding the opportunity to collectively make decisions on security issues. It never became a full-fledged CIS member, never signed the Charter, although it did participate in CIS activity,” Bordyuzha said. “The Ukrainian leadership has always had special position on this issue,” he added.

According to the CSTO official, “the wish by certain states to engineer a split among Slavic countries, separate Ukraine from CIS and neighbors with which it has shared its history, is among the reasons behind the crisis.”

“We now see the result of what has been happening in Ukraine for many years. It is very difficult to bring up a generation with Russophobic views. Much time and efforts were spent on it. Militant training camps operated there for years, as did instructors from various countries who worked with the political elites, creating the cells of what later became the Maidan,” Bordyuzha went on.

He said the CSTO saw information attacks on vital facilities of the Russian Federation and the attempts to plant there Right Sector representatives.

“We know, see and understand what is happening in Ukraine. Yet we try to make as few statements as possible about the situation, seeing the activity by NATO representatives. Talking about the need to punish Russia by sanctions and reiterating that ‘Russia will answer for everything’ they are provoking the development of events,” Bordyuzha stressed.

“Against this background, we should not behave in the same manner though we won’t leave the ongoing events in Ukraine without attention. At the same time, we won’t contribute to aggravation of the situation there,” Bordyuzha said.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization is a military and political union set by a number of Eurasian states on the basis of the Collective Security Treaty signed on May 15, 1992. In different periods, the organization comprised six to nine members. At present, its members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Serbia and Afghanistan have been observer states at CSTO since April 2013.

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Lithuania, Poland: U.S. Deploys Airborne Troops For Military Exercises

April 23, 2014 1 comment

Russian Information Agency Novosti
April 23, 2014

US Troops to Arrive for Exercises in Lithuania

VILNIUS: US troops will arrive this week in Lithuania for a series of training exercises, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said Wednesday.

“In the near future, an additional unit of US ground forces will be in Lithuania, this will happen this week. US and Lithuanian troops will participate in joint exercises to train to protect the territory of Lithuania if a real threat emerges,” the president told journalists.

Lithuania will host US troops from the Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade, Grybauskaite said without giving further details on the drills.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that Washington will send 600 soldiers to four countries in eastern Europe for exercises that will begin in Poland and later move to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Washington has called for more frequent military exercises in the Baltic countries, but said it had no plans to deploy a permanent contingent to the region.

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Voice of America
April 23, 2014

US Army Paratroopers Deploy to Poland, Baltics
Victor Beattie

WASHINGTON: U.S. Army paratroopers begin joint exercises with their Polish counterparts Wednesday in Poland with additional companies deployed in the three Baltic States in what a Pentagon spokesman called a “tangible expression” of the U.S. commitment to Europe. Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said the decision follows what he called Russia’s “aggression” in Ukraine and is a way to reassure U.S. allies and partners.

Kirby said a company of about 150 members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based in Italy, will be part of a “rotational” U.S. military presence in Eastern Europe in the wake of tensions over Ukraine.

“This exercise is the first in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in Poland and the Baltic region that are scheduled to take place in the next few months and beyond. Additional companies from the 173rd will move in the coming days to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for similar exercises,” said Kirby.

Initially, some 600 troops will take part in what Kirby called a “persistent rotational presence” that will last about one month. He added that fresh troops will then move in, and this presence could last a year or more.

The spokesman said the United States is in consultation with its NATO allies and the force could be expanded in size and scope of countries involved. He also stressed that the exercises were bilateral and run by the participating countries, not NATO.

“Since Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, we have constantly been looking at ways to reassure our allies and partners, and these exercises, two points, they’re bilateral; they’re between the United States and the country in question. It’s not a NATO exercise [BUT] and, number two; it’s in response to that need by Secretary Hagel reaching out and talking to [Supreme Allied Commander, Europe] General Breedlove, talking to [Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman] General Dempsey and looking for ways we can constantly reassure our allies and partners of our commitment to [NATO’s] Article 5 to the alliance, but also to them and their security,” said Kirby.

Kirby said that while these exercises were added because of tensions in Ukraine, the U.S. unit involved has worked with all four European countries in the past.

The Pentagon spokesman said the message of these exercises is an explicit one to the four countries involved, that the United States is serious about its obligations under Article 5 of NATO, even though they are not NATO exercises.

“If there is a message to Moscow, it is the same exact message that we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe,” said Kirby.

Kirby said Russia has done nothing to de-escalate the situation or make Ukraine and Europe any more stable. He said what would be helpful is if Russia would remove its forces from Ukraine’s borders and take concrete steps to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine.

The Latvian government welcomed the Pentagon announcement, calling it “a fast and practical response.” Lithuania’s president said the deployments will “strengthen our readiness for collective defense and add to ensuring the safety of our people.” Estonia’s defense minister said it will “significantly” increase his country’s security.

Kirby said the United States is encouraging its NATO partners to look for opportunities to take similar actions for each other.

He also said the United States is providing more than $14 million in non-lethal aid to Ukraine’s armed forces and state border guard.

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Maurice Druon: A contempt for all things military

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Maurice Druon: The dual prerogatives of minting coins and waging wars

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Maurice Druon
From The Strangled Queen (1955)
Translated by Humphrey Hare

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There are cities that defy the centuries; time does not change them. Empires succeed each other, civilisations leave their remains in them like geological strata, but they preserve their character through the ages, their peculiar ambience, the sound and rhythm which distinguish them from all other cities upon the earth. Naples is one of these cities, and it appears to the traveller today, as it was in the Middle Ages, and doubtless a thousand years before, half-African, half-Latin, with its terraced alleys, its street-cries, its smell of olive oil, charcoal, saffron and frying fish, its sun-coloured dust, the sound of bells ringing on the necks of horses and of mules.

The Greeks founded it, the Romans conquered it, the barbarians despoiled it, the Byzantines and the Normans each in turn took possession of it as masters. But they did no more than modify a little the architecture of its houses and add certain superstitions, a few legends, to the traditions of its streets.

The population is neither Greek, Roman nor Byzantine; the people are Neapolitan in perpetuity, a population distinct from all others in the world. Their gaiety is but a facade concealing the tragedy of poverty, their magniloquence an accent relieving the monotony of the daily round, their leisure a virtue in refusing to pretend to be busy when there is in fact nothing to do; its population is life-loving, meeting the setbacks of fate with guile, with a gift of speech and a contempt for all things military because peace never becomes boring.

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The statesman, from the pinnacle where he exercises his power, protected by the whole apparatus of police force and army, feeling as he does that his person is physically unattainable, condemns abstractions when he pronounces sentences of imprisonment or death. They are not men whom he tortures or annihilates; they are oppositions which he is reducing, symbols which he is erasing.

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NATO To Sign Deal With Finland To Receive Foreign Forces

Finnish Broadcasting Company
April 22, 2014

Finland to sign off on NATO assistance deal

1_4_2014+NATOn+harjoitus+Liettuassa

Finland has agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with NATO stating the nation’s readiness to receive assistance from foreign forces and to maintain military assets such as ships and aircraft. Defense Minister Carl Haglund says that the agreement is not a step towards NATO membership.

The deal would involve Finland agreeing to maintain military assets such as planes and ships.

“In this time of peace it mainly relates to armed forces involved in training exercises,” stated Minister Haglund. “In theory, in times of crisis we are better qualified for receiving assistance from other EU countries, the Nordic countries and NATO countries.”

Minister Haglund also stated that the deal was a matter of principle. He said that, in his opinion, it would be a positive move if the nation enhanced its ability to receive support during times of crisis.

Tuomioja: Deal not politically binding

However, Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said that the deal is not a binding political commitment, although he indicated that there is a danger that some may feel that it is. He implied that such assumptions could be an obstacle to the pact going forward.

Finland’s President and top security and defense ministers will meet to consider the contents of the MOU and a deal is expected to gain the rubber stamp in coming months.

The completion of the MOU was first reported by Central Finnish newspaper Sunnuntaisuomalainen.

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“Win Decisively”: Pentagon Deploys Ground Forces To Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania

April 22, 2014 3 comments

U.S. Army Europe
April 22, 2014

 

173rd deploys to provide additional training to European Allies and Partner militaries
By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

 

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WEISBADEN, Germany: Today Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby and U.S. European Command in Stuttgart Germany announced plans to deploy US Army Europe forces to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to conduct expanded land force training exercises, reinforcing our commitment to the security of our allies in the region.  This move to is intended as a continued demonstration of the United States’ commitment to NATO and our collective defense responsibilities.

According to the Office of the Secretary of Defense a company-sized contingent of U.S. paratroopers from USAREUR’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), based in Vicenza, Italy, will arrive in Poland April 23 to begin training exercises with the Polish Army. This is the first in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in Poland and the Baltic region, scheduled to take place over the next several months. Additional companies from the 173rd IBCT will arrive in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for similar exercises in the coming days. 

EUCOM is increasing its land force activities in the region…These events are in addition to previously scheduled multinational land force military exercises and are aimed at assuring our regional allies of the United States’ unwavering commitment to NATO. 

About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned to advance American strategic interests across Eurasia and has unparalleled capability to prevent conflict, shape the environment and, if necessary, win decisively. The relationships we build during more than 1000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships, and enhance global security.

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Stephen Lendman interviews Rick Rozoff on Ukraine

http://prn.fm/progressive-radio-news-hour-rick-rozoff-041814/

 

Progressive Radio News Hour
April 18, 2014

Stephen Lendman interviews Rick Rozoff

Audio 

 

 
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NATO Aims At Splitting, Destroying CSTO: Russian Defense Ministry

Interfax
April 22, 2014

Deputy Defense Minister: NATO tries to drive wedge between Russia, CSTO allies

MOSCOW: The North Atlantic Alliance pursues its policy even in member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov opined.

“Moral pressure is being exerted and attempts are being made to convince the public that “the Russians are bad” and they should choose an orientation towards European democracy. They are talking about some kind of military-technological assistance, advisors and a larger number of joint exercises. NATO pursues the sole task of driving a wedge between Russia and its allies, detaching us from one another,” Antonov said in an interview published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Tuesday.

The deputy defense minister added that the attempt to build an equal partnership and mutually advantageous cooperation with the alliance had failed.

The Ukrainian events proved that “NATO needed us only if we held a policy convenient for it,” he argued.

“We can see that the alliance continues to mount its military presence near our borders. They kept telling us about certain camps training soldiers and officers for missions in “hotbeds” and “semi-hotbeds”. Now it is not a secret that these military units of NATO will be permanent. Whatever they may be called – bases, contingents or formations – their meaning does not change. A military potential is emerging by the Russian borders,” he said.

Russia is interested in collaboration with NATO to the degree the alliance is interested in collaboration with Moscow, Antonov said.

“If anyone thinks that Russia will rush into a project as soon as NATO crooks a finger at us, this is a profound mistake to make,” the deputy minister underscored.

That is why Russia has decided to withdraw its military representative from Brussels, he said.

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Wilfred Owen: The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Wildred Owen: Selections on war

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Wilfred Owen

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The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and strops,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

The Kind Ghosts

She sleeps on soft, last breaths; but no ghost looms
Out of the stillness of her palace wall,
Her wall of boys on boys and dooms on dooms.

She dreams of golden gardens and sweet glooms,
Not marvelling why her roses never fall
Nor what red mouths were torn to make their blooms.

The shades keep down which well might roam her hall.
Quiet their blood lies in her crimson rooms
And she is not afraid of their footfall.

They move not from her tapestries, their pall,
Nor pace her terraces, their hecatombs,
Lest aught she be disturbed, or grieved at all.

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NATO Interoperability: U.S. Finishes Romanian Air War Drills

U.S. Air Forces in Europe
U.S. Air Forces Africa

April 19, 2014

US, Romanian exercise comes to a close
By Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

CAMPIA TURZII, Romania: The week-long bilateral training exercise between the U.S. and Romanian air forces concluded at the 71st Air Base, Campia Turzii, Romania, April 17, 2014.

The exercise, which began April 10, enhanced interoperability and readiness between the NATO partners through combined air operations between F-16 Fighting Falcons from Aviano Air Base, Italy, and MiG-21 Lancers from the 71st AB.

“Combined training with Romania demonstrates that we share a commitment to promote a peaceful and stable Europe,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Hellinger, 510th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations and project officer for the exercise. “This exercise increased the level of cooperation between our militaries.”

U.S. and Romanian Airmen joined together in a formation during a closing ceremony held at the base, which demonstrated the partnership built during the exercise.

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta was also in attendance.

“We welcome your friendship,” he said to the U.S. Air Force Airmen in attendance. “I came here today to praise this exercise and the importance of our partnership. Romania understands how impactful it is to us to be a partner of the U.S.”

At the ceremony, Ponta took the opportunity to discuss the benefits of the F-16, which he had the unique opportunity to co-pilot just moments before.

“I came to see the capability of the F-16 as a buyer of this unbelievable technology,” Ponta said. “The F-16 is impressive. I feel safe in the F-16 and will feel even safer come 2017.”

Romania recently signed a contract to acquire F-16s from Portugal within the next few years, a step forward in military capability.

The exercise marked the first time Team Aviano Airmen have partnered with the Romanian air force.

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Videos: NATO’s Top Military Chief Invokes Article 5 War Clause Over Russian “Military Invasion” Of Ukraine

April 21, 2014 1 comment
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