Category Archives: NATO

Time to End the Bloody Ukraine Conflict: Interview Katrina Vanden Heuvel

Editor’s Note: Katrina Vanden Heuvel has been editor of The Nation since 1995, she also partly owns the magazine. Her latest article for the Washington Post is linked below the interview. She is also married to Professor Stephen Cohen, whose articles and interviews have been regularly posted here during the Ukraine crisis as it has unfolded.

US and Europe at odds over NATO expansion to Ukraine, Georgia

Christoph Hasselbach reports for DW:

‘NATO is only obliged to collectively defend its own member states against attack from outside. Many European politicians must currently be secretly relieved by the existence of the principle. If Ukraine were a member of NATO, the annexation of Crimea in March would have plunged the Western alliance into an immediate military confrontation with Russia.

Yet only a few years ago, there was serious discussion about inviting Ukraine and Georgia to join the alliance. At the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, the United States, under President George W. Bush, campaigned vehemently in favor. However, several European states – including Germany – had misgivings, because even then they were concerned about the possibility of serious tensions with Russia.

Today, Berlin is more convinced of this than ever.’

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George Osborne denies UK defence spending will fall below 2% of GDP

Patrick Wintour reports for The Guardian:

‘George Osborne has refused to commit to an increase in defence spending after the general election and challenged claims that next year it will fall below 2% of GDP, the guideline figure agreed at the Nato summit on Friday.

The independent thinktank Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) has claimed spending will fall to 1.8%, but on Sunday Osborne said he did not accept that assessment, saying: “I think we need to continue to meet the 2% commitment,” adding that as chancellor he will always put Britain’s security needs first. Osborne was speaking after promising he will do whatever it takes to defeat Islamic State (Isis).’

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Mikhail Gorbachev: West should stop dragging Ukraine into NATO

RT reports:

‘[Ex-Soviet President Mikhail] Gorbachev writes that in his view the Ukrainian conflict can only be settled through dialogue, both inside the country and at an international level. He points out that leading nations were largely to blame for the current dire situation, as from the very beginning they were testing Ukraine’s integrity. EU countries, and first of all Germany and France, have already understood this and are taking steps to de-escalate the crisis, which is a good thing, the ex-president says.

Gorbachev also emphasized that good relations with Russia must become a priority in Ukraine’s foreign policy and this should also be understood and accepted by Western nations. Leaders of these nations should stop dragging Ukraine into NATO because these attempts would result in nothing but strife between Ukraine and Russia.’

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German DM: No Need to Spend as Much on Military as NATO Wants

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘Whenever NATO gets together, as they did at last week’s summit, you can count on a push for military spending increases. NATO’s official targets is 2% of every member nation’s GDP in military spending, and almost no nation is spending that much.

And there’s no need, according to German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who instead of letting the NATO push go in one ear and out the other insisted publicly that there was no reason for her nation to so dramatically increase its military budget.’

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Hagel Vows Increased Military Aid to Georgia

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel today promised more US military aid to Georgia, during a visit to the Caucasus republic, insisting the aid was part of a response to Russia’s “long-term challenge” to the US.

Georgia has been keen to cash in on the ongoing eastern Ukrainian war, which the US is blaming Russia for, and trying to present it as somehow related to the brief 2008 Russo-Georgian War.’

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Fearmongering: Why Independence Could Put Scotland In Danger Of Russian Invasion

Editor’s Note: Of all the fearmongering coming from the ‘no’ campaign, this has to be my favourite piece. THE RUSSIAN’S ARE COMING! Desperate.

James Cook writes for Business Insider:

HMS Astute sailing to Faslane Naval Base in Scotland‘If Scotland votes “Yes” on independence, it will begin a long process of creating its own naval defence force, a process that could leave its coastline at risk. The Royal United Services Institute, a British military think tank, said last week that Scottish independence would trigger a national debate over the U.K.’s nuclear weapons if the submarines carrying the Trident missile system were relocated to the south coast of Britain, away from the fleet’s current base in Scotland. The relocation could add £3.5 billion to the cost of maintaining the U.K.’s armed forces.

But there are larger concerns over the future of Scotland’s naval defenses. While Scottish independence would indeed spark a debate on Britain’s nuclear future, as well as kickstarting a costly process to relocate the submarine fleet, some experts caution that Scottish independence could leave it vulnerable to naval threats.

Put simply, the Russians sail their submarines into Scottish waters on a regular basis. Russian vessels approach Scottish waters about once or twice a year, close enough to require the Royal Navy to perform counter-maneuvers.

And Russia has a recent history of military adventurism, in the Ukraine. Although there is absolutely no reason for Russia to invade Scotland, the departure of Trident from Northern waters could — in theory — let the Russians do whatever they like up there.’

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NATO Plans ‘Joint Military Exercises’ in War-Torn Ukraine

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Previously planned annual NATO military exercises inside Ukraine were understandably delayed by a massive civil war breaking out in eastern Ukraine. NATO, apparently seeing it as a chance to stick it to Russia, is now saying they plan to hold the exercises later this month, even though the war is still going on [Ed: a ceasefire has now been enacted, whether it holds is another matter entirely].

Fortunately, the 10-day exercises will be taking place in western Ukraine, far from the actual warzone, and close to the border with Poland. 1,300 NATO troops, including 200 US combat troops,will be taking part.’

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Former US Ambassador to Moscow: To Resolve Ukraine Crisis, Address Internal Divisions & Russian Fears of NATO

‘Ukraine has retracted an earlier claim to have reached a ceasefire with Russia. The office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko initially said he agreed with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on steps toward a ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. But the Kremlin then denied a ceasefire agreement, saying it is in no position to make a deal because it is not a party to the fighting. Ukraine has accused Russia of direct involvement in the violence amidst a recent escalation. The confusion comes as President Obama visits the former Soviet republic of Estonia ahead of a major NATO summit in Wales. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest outlined NATO’s plans to expand its presence in eastern Europe. Ukraine and NATO have accused Russia of sending armored columns of troops into Ukraine, but Russia has denied its troops are involved in fighting on the ground. We are joined by Jack Matlock, U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.’ (Democracy Now!)

Ukraine Ceasefire Takes Hold, but an Expanding NATO Raises Threat of Nuclear War: Interview with Stephen Cohen

‘The Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels are reportedly set to sign a ceasefire today aimed at ending over six months of fighting that has killed at least 2,600 people and displaced over a million. The deal is expected this morning in the Belarusian capital of Minsk as President Obama and European leaders meet in Wales for a major NATO summit. The ceasefire comes at a time when the Ukrainian military has suffered a number of defeats at the hands of the Russian-backed rebels. In the hours leading up to the reported ceasefire, pro-Russian rebels launched another offensive to take the port city of Mariupol, which stands about halfway between Russia and the Crimea region. The Ukrainian government and NATO have accused Russia of sending forces into Ukraine, a claim Moscow denies. The new developments in Ukraine come as NATO has announced plans to create a new rapid reaction force in response to the Ukraine crisis. We are joined by Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University, and the author of numerous books on Russia and the Soviet Union.’ (Democracy Now!)

U.S. and Allies Form Coalition Against ISIS

Helene Cooper reports for The New York Times:

‘The Obama administration said Friday that it had formed a coalition of countries to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, unveiling a military and political campaign that officials said could eventually serve as a model for fighting extremist groups around the world.

In a hastily organized meeting on the outskirts of the NATO summit meeting, diplomats and military officials from the United States, Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark huddled on what they called a two-pronged strategy: working to bolster allies fighting on the ground in Iraq and Syria, while the United States, alone so far, bombs Sunni militants from the air, so long as they are in Iraq.’

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Rasmussen: Ball in Ukraine’s court over NATO after election

Adrian Croft reports for Reuters:

‘NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday that Ukraine’s political leaders expect a new parliament to abandon the country’s non-aligned status after an election next month in a possible prelude to an application to join NATO. Ukraine said on Friday it would seek the protection of NATO membership after what Kiev and its Western allies say is the open participation of the Russian military in the war in Ukraine’s eastern provinces.

Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, who was toppled in a revolution this year, had pursued non-aligned status since he took power 2010 – a route taken by many developing countries not wishing to be linked with NATO or any major power bloc. If Ukraine scrapped its non-alliance status after the Oct. 26 vote, NATO would discuss with Kiev “how to move forward”, Rasmussen said, but he said it was too early to say how long it might take for Ukraine to join the U.S.-led alliance.’

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Boys & Their Toys: NATO military flights surprise over Cardiff and Newport

Gavin Thomas reports for BBC News:

Osprey MV-22 aircraft ‘A series of training flights by military helicopters and other aircraft ahead of the NATO summit startled residents in Newport and Cardiff on Monday. The elite US Marine Corps HMX-1 squadron, which provides air support to US Presidents, thundered over the cities, along with RAF Military helicopters and police air support.

Perhaps the most dramatic sight were the Osprey MV-22 aircraft, which can land and take off like a helicopter but then tilt their rotors to become conventional planes. The Ospreys, which visited both the Celtic Manor summit venue and Cardiff city centre, were accompanied by Sikorsky VH-60N helicopters, a VIP version of the US Blackhawk.’

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NATO to create high-readiness force to counter Russian threat

Ewen MacAskill reports for The Guardian:

Nato is to create a 4,000-strong “spearhead” high-readiness force that can be deployed rapidly in eastern Europe and the Baltic states to help protect member nations against potential Russian aggression, according to Nato officials. Leaders from the 28 Nato countries are expected to approve the plan at the alliance’s summit in Wales when the Ukraine crisis tops the agenda on Friday.

The Nato secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the force, drawn on rotational basis from Nato allies, could be in action at “very, very short notice”. Rasmussen described it as a mixture of regular troops and special forces that could “travel light but strike hard”. It would be supported by air and naval forces as needed.’

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John J. Mearsheimer: Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault

John J. Mearsheimer provides a realist perspective of the situation in Ukraine in the latest issue of the Council on Foreign Relations’ bi-monthly magazine, Foreign Affairs:

‘According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.

But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine — beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 — were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president — which he rightly labeled a “coup” — was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.

Putin’s pushback should have come as no surprise. After all, the West had been moving into Russia’s backyard and threatening its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly. Elites in the United States and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics. They tend to believe that the logic of realism holds little relevance in the twenty-first century and that Europe can be kept whole and free on the basis of such liberal principles as the rule of law, economic interdependence, and democracy.

But this grand scheme went awry in Ukraine. The crisis there shows that realpolitik remains relevant — and states that ignore it do so at their own peril. U.S. and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russia’s border. Now that the consequences have been laid bare, it would be an even greater mistake to continue this misbegotten policy.’

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VIPS: Germany’s Merkel Needs To Ask Tough Questions at NATO Summit

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) recently published a memorandum for the attention of Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, on the subject of Ukraine ahead of the NATO Summit this week:

‘We the undersigned are longtime veterans of U.S. intelligence. We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the NATO summit on September 4-5.

You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the “intelligence” seems to be of the same dubious, politically “fixed” kind used 12 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now. Twelve years ago, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, mindful of the flimsiness of the evidence on Iraqi WMD, refused to join in the attack on Iraq. In our view, you should be appropriately suspicions of charges made by the US State Department and NATO officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine.’

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£50 million spent on a massive fence to protect politicians ahead of NATO Summit

Michael Krieger writes for Liberty Blitzkrieg:

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 11.35.16 AM‘Most of us woke up this morning to news that the UK had raised its terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe.” Considering the competence and trustworthiness of the nation’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, there must be some specific threat they’re concerned about to justify instilling fear in a population of 65 million. Nope.

Although the new threat level rates the risk of an attack on the UK to “highly likely,” Home Secretary Theresa May stated that “there was no evidence to suggest one was imminent.” Well then.

It makes you wonder if the the change in threat level is being used in part to justify the extraordinary $80 million [£50 million] sum spent on building a fortress around the Newport and Cardiff city centers in Wales, which many are describing as “similar to the Berlin Wall,” or a “zoo,” in an unprecedented display of protection for many of the world’s most corrupt politicians.’

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Gorbachev: Internal Ukrainian conflict can’t be turned into inter-state one

Interfax reports:

‘Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev believes Russia has not intervened in the events in southeastern Ukraine and is right in doing so. “If our country intervenes, there could be a fire that the whole world would be unable to put out. And it’s right that the politicians are holding to their position,” Gorbachev said on Rossiyskaya Sluzhba Novostei (Russian News Service) on Saturday.

“Our proposal was to open passages and let people get out of all those entrapments. But no, someone is sitting in warm offices and intellectualizing. And at the same time – look what is happening to the people, to children and women. Maternity homes and schools are being shelled, hospitals are being destroyed. Two thousand people have been killed even according to official reports, and how many have been injured?” Gorbachev said.

He insisted that everything possible should be done to de-escalate the conflict. “Everything should be done so that the people stop killing each other. After all, this is one people. If states get involved, the scope grows, and everyone meddles there, we might see a horrible slaughter in Europe. But this can’t be allowed,” he said.’

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Pepe Escobar: From Minsk to Wales, Germany is the key

Pepe Escobar writes for RT:

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (L), Russia's President Vladimir Putin (top centre R) and Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (3rd R from Putin) meet with high-ranking officials and presidents from Kazakhstan and the European Union in Minsk, August 26, 2014.(Reuters / Alexei Druzhinin)‘The road to the Minsk summit this past Tuesday began to be paved when German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked to ARD public TV after her brief visit to Kiev on Saturday. Merkel emphasized, “A solution must be found to the Ukraine crisis that does not hurt Russia.” She added that “There must be dialogue. There can only be a political solution. There won’t be a military solution to this conflict.”

Merkel talked about “decentralization” of Ukraine, a definitive deal on gas prices, Ukraine-Russia trade, and even hinted Ukraine is free to join the Russia-promoted Eurasian Union (the EU would never make a “huge conflict” out of it). Exit sanctions; enter sound proposals. She could not have been more explicit; “We [Germany] want to have good trade relations with Russia as well. We want reasonable relations with Russia. We are depending on one another and there are so many other conflicts in the world where we should work together, so I hope we can make progress”.

The short translation for all this is there won’t be a Nulandistan (after neo-con Victoria ‘F**k the EU’Nuland), remote-controlled by Washington, and fully financed by the EU. In the real world, what Germany says, the EU follows. Geopolitically, this also means a huge setback for Washington’s obsessive containment and encirclement of Russia, proceeding in parallel to the ‘pivot to Asia’ (containment and encirclement of China).’

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CSIS: NATO Allies Anticipate Strong Russian Response to Action Plan

RIA Novosti reports:

A Polish soldier stands near US and Poland's national flags and a NATO flag in Swidwin, northern west Poland, April 23, 2014‘A week before the September 4-5 NATO summit in Wales, a number of allies started to fear that the readiness action plan to increase the alliance’s military presence along Russia’s border would be provocative, a Center for Strategic and International Studies representative told RIA Novosti.

“The allies have already fully anticipated a very strong Russian reaction,” Director of the Europe Program at CSIS Heather Conley said Wednesday during an event on the upcoming NATO summit.

“I’m sure this is what has caused some hesitancy in our allies to put forward a more robust presence, because they are very fearful about provoking Russia,” she added.

France, Italy, Spain, Romania, Germany, Poland, and Hungary have all expressed reluctance to back NATO’s new readiness strategy.’

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NATO Summit to Focus on Escalations Against Russia

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘The upcoming NATO summit in Estonia is expected to focus heavily on new military buildups for the alliance, with a buildup in Eastern Europe expected to be finalized, including commitments for new bases in Poland and the Baltic States.

The deployments underscore rising tensions between NATO and Russia, with many in the alliance having designs on a new Cold War, and seeing such deployments as a way to further that narrative.’

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A third of Germans fear NATO-Russia war over Ukraine, poll finds

Reuters reported earlier this month:

‘One in three Germans thinks a war could break out between Russia and NATO over the conflict in Ukraine, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday, a finding that helps explain the country’s cautious approach to the crisis.

Germans, whose country was devastated in World War Two and split into East and West during the Cold War, have applauded Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to prevent an escalation of Russia-NATO tensions.

Germany long resisted U.S. calls for tougher sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea, and shifted position only after the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was downed over Ukraine.’

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Willy Wimmer, former German Defence Minister and former vice president of the OCSE Assembly, interviewed recently on RT:

Britain facing ‘greatest terrorist threat’ in history, threat level raised to ‘severe’ (right before NATO summit)

The Telegraph reports:

‘Britain faces the “greatest and deepest” terror threat in the country’s history, David Cameron warned as he pledged emergency measures to tackle extremists.

The UK threat level was raised to “severe” — its second highest — meaning that a terrorist attack is “highly likely” in light of the growing danger from British jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria… The raised alert will lead to an increase in the number of armed police on the streets, especially around landmark sites and airports.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, insisted that the move was not a result of any specific plot, but in light of the increasing dangers posed by British fanatics and other foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria. The change also comes less than a week before a NATO summit in south Wales, which will be the biggest gathering of heads of state in the UK.’

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Back to the Cold War

Serge Halimi, president of Le Monde diplomatique, writes for CounterPunch:

‘In 1980 Ronald Reagan expressed his idea of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union in one short sentence: “We win, they lose.” Twelve years later, his immediate successor at the White House, George H W Bush, was satisfied that the task had been accomplished: “A world once divided into two armed camps now recognises one, sole and pre-eminent power, the United States of America.” The cold war was officially at an end.

That period too is now over. Its death knell sounded on the day Russia had had enough of “losing” and realised that its ritual humiliation would never come to an end, with one neighbouring country after another being persuaded — or bribed — into joining an economic and military alliance against it. Obama, speaking in Brussels in March, stressed that “Today, NATO planes patrol the skies over the Baltics and we’ve reinforced our presence in Poland. And we’re prepared to do more”. Vladimir Putin, addressing the Russian parliament, observed that this was part of the “infamous policy of containment” that the western powers had pursued against Russia since the 18th century.’

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Reports of Russian troops in Ukraine, but how credible is the evidence?

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Embedded image permalink‘If it’s Ukraine and there’s a press conference going on these days, you can pretty much count on there being a spurious claim of a Russian invasion, which NATO and Western media will quickly parrot, but which none of them has any real proof for. Today’s “Russian invasion,” one of several in the past week alone, involves over 1,000 Russian ground troops, at least two columns of tanks, and as is so often the case, not a single credible photograph.

NATO piled on, as they are wont to do, and tweeted out an extremely blurry satellite photo which they claimed showed some sort of Russian vehicles on a road that could conceivably be in Eastern Ukraine. Media outlets reporting the invasion as absolute fact didn’t let their lack of photographic evidence get in the way, and rather recycled stock photos of Ukrainian military vehicles for the sake of making the article look like there’s a lot of vehicles involved. Russia was quick to deny the invasion, sparking a lot of cable news speculation of Russian deception, though the startling array of Ukrainian claims of “vanishing” tank columns and massive numbers of killed Russians that are never substantiated suggest that anything coming out of Kiev has to be taken with a grain of salt.’

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NATO chief Rasmussen: Ukraine free to seek membership

Andrew Rettman and Valentina Pop report for EU Observer:

‘Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said Ukraine is free to pursue membership of the Western alliance despite Russian opposition. He told press in Brussels on Friday (29 August): “I’m not going to interfere in political discussions in Ukraine. But let me remind you of Nato’s decision at the Bucharest summit in 2008, according to which Ukraine ‘will become a member of Nato,’ provided of course, Ukraine so wishes and fulfills the necessary criteria”.

“We adhere to the principle that each and every country has the right to decide [its foreign and security policy] for itself without interference from the outside”. Rasmussen spoke after an emergency meeting of Nato ambassadors with Ukraine’s envoy to the Western bloc. He also spoke after Ukraine PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk earlier on Friday promised to pass a bill to scrap Ukraine’s non-aligned status. Yatsenyuk said the move is due to Russian “aggression” and would “resume” his country’s “course for Nato membership”. Rasmussen noted Ukrainian accession was not discussed at Friday’s meeting.’

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2011 NATO Bombing of Libya Led to Rise of Militias Now Fighting for Oil-Rich Land: Interview with Vijay Prashad

‘Libya is experiencing its most intense fighting since the 2011 NATO-backed campaign to remove Muammar Gaddafi. On Monday, the Libyan parliament that was replaced in an election in June reconvened and chose an Islamist-backed deputy as the new prime minister. This now leaves Libya with two rival leaders and assemblies, each backed by armed factions. Meanwhile the New York Times has revealed Egypt and the United Arab Emirates launched airstrikes twice in the last week against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli. Despite the strikes, the Islamist militants managed to solidify control of the capital of Tripoli by taking over the main airport. “[The U.S. and NATO] bombed the country and opened the door for the different militias to now compete against each other,” says Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College. “So the day Gaddafi was killed, from then onwards, the militias have basically been at each other’s throats.”’ (Democracy Now!)

Interview with Professor Stephen Cohen on the situation in Ukraine

Stephen Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and he is a contributing editor to The Nation. He is also the author of Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War. You can find more interviews and articles by Professor Cohen here.

NATO Considers Missle Defense Shield Directed Against Russia

Spiegel reports:

‘NATO officials are considering deploying a long-planned missile defense system — aimed at protecting Europe from attacks from the Middle East — against Russia as well, SPIEGEL has learned.

Calls for such an expansion to the system’s remit, which is backed by the United States, are growing in Poland as well as in NATO member states Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. In the run-up to next week’s NATO summit, the four countries called for the remaining members to agree on language at the summit that would pave the way for the plan. They feel threatened by Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

But the majority of NATO members, especially Germany, are opposed to the proposal, warning that it could result in an unnecessary provocation of Moscow. Representatives of these countries have warned that NATO has for years pledged to Russia that the missile defense system would not be directed at the country. Further debate on the issue has since been delayed until after the summit.’

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NATO Expansion Plan Raises Specter of Iron Curtain

Ivan Nechepurenko writes for The Moscow Times:

‘NATO will set up new bases in Eastern Europe in an attempt to deter President Vladimir Putin from meddling in the internal affairs of countries that used to be under Moscow’s control, the organization’s secretary-general told journalists in an interview published Wednesday. The move effectively returns the state of European security back to the Cold War era, when the collective defense ministry alliance that came into being in 1949 acted as a deterrent and main rival to the Warsaw Pact nations led by the Soviet Union.

“We have to face the reality that Russia does not consider NATO a partner. Russia is a nation that unfortunately for the first time since the Second World War has grabbed land by force. Obviously we have to adapt to that,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview with The Guardian and five other European newspapers. “The bottom line is you will in the future see a more visible NATO presence in the East,” he said ahead of a NATO summit in Cardiff next week.

The new bases would likely be located on Russia’s doorstep, experts said: in the Baltic states and Poland, which have been calling for a stronger NATO presence ever since the Ukraine crisis unfolded. The bases will be stationed on Russian borders “for as long as necessary,” The Guardian quoted Rasmussen as saying. According to analysts from across the political spectrum questioned by The Moscow Times, NATO’s decision will raise the stakes and invite a tough response from the Kremlin.’

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