Category Archives: NATO

Pepe Escobar: A chessboard drenched in blood

Pepe Escobar writes for the Asia Times:

‘ [...] The Big Picture spells out the Empire of Chaos elites as extremely uneasy. Take Dr Zbigniew “The Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, who as a former foreign policy mentor has the ears of the increasingly dejected White House paperboy. Dr Zbig was on CNN this Sunday challenging Europe’s leaders to “stand up to Putin”. He wonders if “Europe wants to become a satellite” and worries about “a moment of decisive significance for the future of the system – of the world system”.

And it’s all Putin’s fault, of course: “We’re not starting the Cold War. He [Putin] has started it. But he has gotten himself into a horrendous jam. I strongly suspect that a lot of people in Russia, even not far away from him who are worried that Russia’s status in the world is dramatically being undermined, that Russia’s economically beginning to fail, that Russia’s threatened by the prospect of becoming a satellite to China, that Russia’s becoming self-isolated and discredited.”

Obviously Dr Zbig is blissfully unaware of the finer points of the Russia-China strategic partnership, as well as their concerted voice inside the BRICS, the G-20 and myriad other mechanisms. His trademark Russophobia in the end always gets the better of him. And to think that in his latest book, Strategic Vision (2012), Dr Zbig was in favor of an enlarged “West” annexing Turkey and Russia, with the Empire of Chaos posing as “promoter” and “guarantor” of broader unity in the West, and a “balancer” and “conciliator” between the major powers in the East. A quick look at the record since 2012 – Libya, Syria, Ukraine, encirclement of China – reveals the Empire of Chaos only as fomenter of, what else, chaos.

Now compare a fearful Dr Zbig with Immanuel Wallerstein – who was a huge influence in my 2007 warped geopolitical travel book Globalistan. In this piece (in Spanish) Wallerstein argues that the Empire of Chaos simply can’t accept its geopolitical decadence – and that’s why it has become so dangerous. Restoring its hegemony in the world-system has become the supreme obsession; and that’s where the whole “policy” that is an essential background to the MH17 tragedy reveals Ukraine as the definitive do or die battleground.

In Europe, everything hinges on Germany. Especially after the National Security Agency scandal and its ramifications, the key debate raging in Berlin is how to position itself geopolitically bypassing the US. And the answer, as pressed by large swathes of German big business, lies in a strategic partnership with Russia.’

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Pentagon still claiming Russian troops massing near Ukrainian border

Philip Ewing reports for Politico:

3453453‘[...] There are about 10,000 to 12,000 regular Russian combat troops inside their border with Ukraine, Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon briefing, an increase from a few weeks ago but a smaller force than the roughly 40,000 that were there earlier in the standoff.

Press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby also confirmed that defense officials have long observed movements of weapons and advisers from Russia to pro-Russian separatists inside Ukraine, although he said the Pentagon has not specifically seen a heavy, tracked surface-to-air missile launcher like the one believed to have shot down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.’

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MH17: Tony Blair calls for EU defence plan to stand up to Putin

Matthew Holehouse reports for The Telegraph:

‘The EU urgently needs a common defence policy in order to stand up to Russian aggression “on its doorstep”, Tony Blair said today. Europe is “powerless” without the help of the United States in the face of crises threatening the region because its militaries do not co-operate, Mr Blair said. In an apparent endorsement of David Cameron’s approach, he urged European leaders to match the wide-ranging sanctions imposed on Russian companies by the United States, saying the West needs to have a shared position.

…Mr Blair said: “There is such an urgent need today for Europe to have a strong foreign policy and indeed defence policy. If you look at any of the crises that are happening, whether it’s in Syria on the doorstep of Europe, Libya on the doorstep of Europe, Ukraine on the doorstep of Europe, we are completely dependent on the United States. I’m a great fan of the US and it’s important we remain strong allies of the US, but it’s important we develop the capability to be able to handle the problems on our own doorstep.”‘

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Legislating the Way to World War 3? The U.S. Senate’s “Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014″

Eric Draitser writes for New Eastern Outlook:

234234‘The US Congress is doing its part to escalate the tensions with Russia over Ukraine and a host of other issues. In so doing, the legislative and executive branches of the US Government work hand in glove to further the US-NATO agenda in Eastern Europe. The bill, propagandistically titled the “Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014,” (S.2277) was proposed by right wing Republican Senator Bob Corker, and has been cosponsored by a significant number of prominent Republicans in the Senate. While Democrats have yet to cosponsor the bill, they are almost without exception behind President Obama and his aggressive policy towards Russia and Ukraine. Indeed, this bill, though obviously partisan in its political character, represents the consensus within the US political establishment – a consensus that presumes US aggression in Eastern Europe to be defensive in the face of Putin’s “expansionism” and “imperial ambitions.”

It goes without saying that such a distorted world-view is par for the course in Washington, where upside-down logic is the predominant way of thinking about the world. However, the proposed legislation is less a response to perceived aggression from Moscow, and more of an attempt to capitalize on the crisis in Ukraine, using it as a convenient pretext for the expansion of NATO, continued militarization of Eastern Europe, promotion of corporate oil and gas interests, and much more. Essentially, the bill provides a blueprint for US intentions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe for the coming years. Moreover, it reflects the greatest concern of all for Washington and its NATO allies: the loss of hegemony in the post-Soviet space. Seen in this way, S.2277 is not truly about punitive measures to punish Russia for its “aggression,” but rather is about pre-emptively attacking Russia politically and economically, while building up to a possible military confrontation. Needless to say, such dangerous and destabilizing actions are a reflection of the moral bankruptcy, not to mention utter insanity, of the US political establishment and the ruling class it serves.’

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How the Clintons Set the U.S. on the Dangerous Path of Confronting Russia

John V Walsh writes for Unz Review:

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‘The most damning indictment yet of the Clintons on the world stage comes in the book Superpower Illusions by former Ambassador to the USSR, Jack Matlock. The book came out way back in 2009, but it is worth examining again as we confront the possibility of a return to Clintonism. And Matlock is a man who knows whereof he speaks.

[...] Being a diplomat, Mattlock speaks diplomatically of the colossal, damaging shift in U.S.-Russia relations under the Clintons who reversed the approach of Reagan and Bush I. He gets to the point right away in the preface to Superpower Illusions:

“The Clinton administration’s decision to expand NATO to the East rather than draw Russia into a cooperative arrangement to ensure European security undermined the prospects of democracy in Russia, made it more difficult to keep peace in the Balkans and slowed the process of nuclear disarmament started by Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev.”’

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Wall Street Buys NATO Microwave Towers in Traders’ Speed-of-Light Quest

Jesse Westbrook and Sam Mamudi reports for Bloomberg:

‘An 800-foot microwave tower in a Belgian cow pasture transmitted messages for the U.S. armed forces in 1983 when suicide bombers killed hundreds of military personnel at Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Now it’s being used by high-frequency traders.

Jump Trading LLC, a Chicago-based company founded by former pit traders, bought the tower last year through a U.K. affiliate called Toren Navo Aansluiting Ltd., according to documents filed in the U.K. and Belgium. The English translation of the name: “NATO connection tower.”

Trade orders that were once executed using shouts and hand signals now travel across continents with a swiftness that can approach the speed of light. Fiber-optic cable used to be the choice of electronic trading firms such as Jump that are locked in a contest to be the fastest. Now they’re adopting microwave technology, which can convey data in nearly half the time, to squeeze profit from fleeting and often tiny price discrepancies in assets traded around the world.’

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Putin to West: Stop turning world into “global barracks”, dictating rules to others

NATO chief to move forces from U.S. to Europe to respond to Russia in Ukraine

James Rosen writes for McClatchy:

‘NATO’s top military commander said Monday that American troops from the United States will be dispatched to Europe starting in October to help respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, supreme allied commander of the Western military alliance, said the U.S.-based troops will buttress American forces that have already been moved in recent months from Germany, Italy and elsewhere in Europe for stepped-up ground and air patrols in the three Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, plus Poland and Romania.

“It’s a very momentous time in Europe, probably the most since the end of the Cold War, especially because of the recent changes wrought by Russia,” Breedlove told reporters at the Pentagon. Breedlove said Moscow has supplied pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine with tanks, armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft artillery and other heavy weapons.’

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Britain to deploy 10,000 officers at NATO summit

Press TV reports:

Nato summit logo‘Britain is planning to deploy 10,000 police officers to shut out anti-war protests during NATO’s summit in the Welsh city of Newport, documents reveal. The Police Federation briefing documents released on Friday showed that there will be one officer for every protester at the Celtic Manor Hotel, which will host the NATO summit on September 4 and 5.

“To ensure the safety and secure passage of the event a mutual aid authority has been agreed to secure the deployment of nearly 10,000 officers,” it said. This would be one of Britain’s biggest police operations since the 2012 Olympics and the biggest in Welsh history.

Peace activists, who have pledged to descend on the summit venue to express their outrage at NATO’s warmongering policies, criticized the British government’s decision, saying it is spending millions to protect NATO leaders from peaceful protesters.’

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NATO will not offer Georgia membership step, avoiding Russia clash

Adrian Croft reports for Reuters:

NATO will stop short of approving a formal step to membership for Georgia at its summit in September, officials said on Wednesday, dodging a possible confrontation with Moscow over the alliance’s expansion to Russia’s neighbours.

NATO members agreed in principle to draw up a “substantive package” of cooperation with Georgia that would help it move closer to NATO, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters at a meeting of alliance foreign ministers. But that falls short of an invitation to join NATO’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) – a formal step towards membership – that Georgia, which fought a brief war with Russia in 2008, had hoped for.

Putting Georgia on a path to NATO membership would have angered Russia, which is deeply hostile to the Western military alliance advancing into former Soviet republics, and some allies feared it could provoke Russian retaliation. Welcoming Georgia into the alliance would mean NATO could be obliged to go to its defence in the event of another war with Russia. And with NATO-Russia tensions running high after Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, any invitation to Georgia to join the MAP has become even more of a political hot potato.’

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NATO boss claims Russia has secretly infiltrated green groups fighting fracking

Jonathan Brown reports for The Independent:

The outgoing Secretary General of Nato has sparked ridicule from environmentalists after claiming that Russia is secretly orchestrating green groups opposed to fracking. Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told journalists that Moscow was coordinating opposition to the controversial technology in order to promote dependence on Russian oil and gas.

“I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas. “That is my interpretation,” he told a briefing at the Chatham House foreign affairs think tank in London. However Mr Ramussen, who is due to leave the alliance’s top military post later this year after serving a five-year term, did not specify how the Russians were working with environmentalists of whether they were doing so with the knowledge of activists.’

READ MORE @ THE INDEPENDENT…

Western Media Spews Propaganda: Interview with John Pilger

“Over here in the West we don’t believe we’re biased at all – in fact, we believe we’re the essence of objectivity and impartiality, but of course when it comes to great power politics, that simply is not true.” ~ John Pilger

The New Cold War? Interview with Stephen Cohen

Washington’s Iron Curtain in Ukraine: Tightening the U.S. Grip on Western Europe

Diana Johnstone writes for CounterPunch:

‘NATO leaders are currently acting out a deliberate charade in Europe, designed to reconstruct an Iron Curtain between Russia and the West. With astonishing unanimity, NATO leaders feign surprise at events they planned months in advance. Events that they deliberately triggered are being misrepresented as sudden, astonishing, unjustified “Russian aggression”. The United States and the European Union undertook an aggressive provocation in Ukraine that they knew would force Russia to react defensively, one way or another.

They could not be sure exactly how Russian president Vladimir Putin would react when he saw that the United States was manipulating political conflict in Ukraine to install a pro-Western government intent on joining NATO.  This was not a mere matter of a “sphere of influence” in Russia’s “near abroad”, but a matter of life and death to the Russian Navy, as well as a grave national security threat on Russia’s border.

A trap was thereby set for Putin. He was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t.  He could underreact, and betray Russia’s basic national interests, allowing NATO to advance its hostile forces to an ideal attack position. Or he could overreact, by sending Russian forces to invade Ukraine.  The West was ready for this, prepared to scream that Putin was “the new Hitler”, poised to overrun poor, helpless Europe, which could only be saved (again) by the generous Americans.’

READ MORE @ COUNTERPUNCH…

Dutch auditor calls for more transparency on NATO spending

Anthony Deutsch reports for Reuters:

‘Top Dutch auditors, backed by the government, have called on NATO to be more transparent about its finances, asserting that hundreds of millions of euros in annual spending at the military alliance cannot be properly accounted for. The Netherlands Court of Audit, an independent organization which reviews government spending, said on a website launched Tuesday that NATO’s financial management “is not in order” and it wanted a wider debate about its spending.

…”NATO gives hardly any account to the public of its non-military expenses,” the Court of Audit said in a statement. “There is therefore no clear answer to the question: is NATO delivering value for the taxpayers’ money?” The NATO budget for military, civilian and investment projects was 2.4 billion euros ($3.27 billion) in 2013, according to accounts posted on the NATO website, the audit board said. But it was “not possible, however, to retrieve further detailed information from publicly available sources about the amount member countries spent on various NATO entities and missions and for what purpose,” it said. The NATO spokeswoman said the organization’s budget is continuously audited by the independent International Board of Auditors for NATO.’

READ MORE @ REUTERS…

The First Strike Game: Are You Ready for Nuclear War?

Paul Craig Roberts writes for CounterPunch:

‘Pay close attention to Steven Starr’s guest column, “The Lethality of Nuclear Weapons.”    Washington thinks nuclear war can be won and is planning for a first strike on Russia, and perhaps China, in order to prevent any challenge to Washington’s world hegemony.

The plan is far advanced, and the implementation of the plan is underway. As I have reported previously, US strategic doctrine was changed and the role of nuclear missiles was elevated from a retaliatory role to an offensive first strike role.  US anti-ballistic missile (ABM) bases have been established in Poland on Russia’s frontier, and other bases are planned.  When completed Russia will be ringed with US missile bases.

Anti-ballistic missiles, known as “star wars,” are weapons designed to intercept and destroy ICBMs.  In Washington’s war doctrine, the US hits Russia with a first strike, and whatever retaliatory force Russia might have remaining is prevented from reaching the US by the shield of ABMs.’

READ MORE @ COUNTERPUNCH…

Interview with Dr Jan Oberg on the culture of Western militarism

‘Swedish and Finnish leaders have reinvigorated a push for their traditionally non-aligned countries to join NATO, in the face of what they say is a Russian threat. But does Russia really pose a threat to European security, or has it become a convenient scapegoat for growing militarism in Europe? How can Russia and the western world end the conflict in Ukraine, and rebuild peace by peace? Oksana is joined by the founder of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, Dr Jan Oberg, to examine these issues.’ (RT)

Bilderberger Carl Bildt and “his bulging contacts book” helps Sweden punch above its weight

Richard Milne writes for the Financial Times:

‘Not many European countries punch above their weight in foreign affairs like Sweden does. Much of this is down to Carl Bildt, foreign minister for the past eight years in this country of 10m people, and his bulging contacts book.

That is likely to end soon as polls ahead of Sweden’s parliamentary elections in September show the centre-left opposition way ahead of the governing coalition. But Mr Bildt, a former conservative prime minister in the 1990s, is showing no signs of slowing down.’

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Marching on Moscow

Conn Hallinan writes for Foreign Policy In Focus:

‘British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery had three laws of war:

One, never march on Moscow;
Two, never get in a land war in Asia;
Three, never march on Moscow.

So why are the United States, the European Union (EU), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) all on the road to the Russian capital? And exactly what are they hoping to achieve? As in all battlefields on the Eastern Front, complexities abound.

For beginners, the multiple armies marching eastward are not exactly on the same page. This sort of “divided command” (to use the military term) generally ends in debacle. Add to that the fact that many of the weapons are of such dubious quality that they might end up backfiring. And to top it all off, as in all great crises there’s a cost — in this case the sticker price may give even fire breathers pause. That’s not to say that these aggressors are amateurs — to the contrary, professional armies are involved. NATO has deployed troops, aircraft, and naval forces in the region, and the Russians have parked 40,000 troops on Ukraine’s eastern border.

So far, bloodshed has been minimal. With the exception of the horrendous deaths of over 40 demonstrators in Odessa and dozens of separatist fighters killed in clashes over Donetsk’s airport, the crisis has been a remarkably calm affair. The Russians took over Crimea virtually without a shot, and while a worrisome increase of violent incidents has occurred in the south and east, they hardly measure up to the French and German invasions in 1812 and 1941, respectively. But that doesn’t mean things couldn’t turn dangerous. Which is why it’s important to know the agendas of the players involved.’

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Obama’s Solution for Europe? More Guns and US Fracked Gas

Lauren McCauley writes for Common Dreams:

‘While visiting Poland on Tuesday, President Barack Obama promoted a classically American solution for the tension that Ukrainian upheaval has brought to Europe’s eastern border: more guns and more gas.

During a joint press conference with Polish President Bronisław Komorowski, Obama announced a $1 billion initiative to bolster U.S. troops in central and eastern Europe in an attempt to stem further Russian “provocations,” despite recent moves by Russian President Vladimir Putin tp withdraw Russian troops from its border with Ukraine.

“Under this effort, and with the support of Congress, the United States will pre-position more equipment in Europe,” said Obama speaking in Warsaw on the first day of a four-day trip to the region. “We will be expanding our exercises and training with allies to increase the readiness of our forces.”‘

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NATO agrees to ‘readiness action plan’ to counter Russia

From AFP:

‘NATO defence ministers agreed Tuesday series of steps to bolster protection in eastern Europe after the Ukraine crisis, but insisted they were acting within the limits of a key post-Cold War treaty with Moscow. NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said ministers had agreed to develop a “readiness action plan… to respond to the changed security environment” created by the escalating conflict in Ukraine.

This will include measures such as pre-positioning supplies and equipment in member states and stepping up work to improve military capabilities to help NATO speed up its reaction time to any threat. The plan will go to NATO leaders at their September summit in Britain for approval.’

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Bilderberg on Ukraine: Military chiefs, arms bosses and billionaire speculators

Charlie Skelton writes for The Guardian:

General Philip Breedlove‘Just before lunch on Friday, two cars left the Marriott hotel in Copenhagen in quick succession. First to leave was laden down with US military brass. It carried the supreme allied commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, and his aides.

Four stars on his hat and a grim look on his face. Clearly he’s annoyed to be missing the buffet. He can still smell those Danish meatballs. It’s killing him.

The general hadn’t travelled to Bilderberg alone. Discussing the situation in Ukraine with this many senior government ministers makes it official military business. He was well accompanied.’

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Did the U.S. War in Libya Boost Boko Haram in Nigeria?

From the Institute for Public Accuracy:

Baraka is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies who is based in Colombia. He has written extensively on Africa and just wrote the piece “From Benghazi to Boko Haram: Why I support the Benghazi Inquiry,” which states: “Seemingly out of nowhere, Boko Haram burst into the awareness of people around the world as a shadowy group of Islamists with the ability to carry out audacious attacks that paralyzed the army of the most populous country in Africa. People now want to know the group’s origins, where they came from, why they are kidnapping girls and how they became such a powerful threat. All important questions — but questions that cannot be answered by just looking at the internal politics of Nigeria, as important as those are, because Boko Haram is incomprehensible when decontextualized from the destabilization, death and destruction unleashed across Africa from the Sahel into West Africa as a result of one historic event — the vicious NATO obliteration of the state of Libya.’

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Noam Chomsky: US Leaders’ Panic Over Crimea Is About Fear of Losing Global Dominance

Noam Chomsky writes for Alternet:

‘The current Ukraine crisis is serious and threatening, so much so that some commentators even compare it to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. Columnist Thanassis Cambanis summarizes the core issue succinctly in The Boston Globe: “[President Vladimir V.] Putin’s annexation of the Crimea is a break in the order that America and its allies have come to rely on since the end of the Cold War—namely, one in which major powers only intervene militarily when they have an international consensus on their side, or failing that, when they’re not crossing a rival power’s red lines.”

This era’s most extreme international crime, the United States-United Kingdom invasion of Iraq, was therefore not a break in world order—because, after failing to gain international support, the aggressors didn’t cross Russian or Chinese red lines. In contrast, Putin’s takeover of the Crimea and his ambitions in Ukraine cross American red lines.

Therefore “Obama is focused on isolating Putin’s Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood and effectively making it a pariah state,” Peter Baker reports in The New York Times. American red lines, in short, are firmly placed at Russia’s borders. Therefore Russian ambitions “in its own neighborhood” violate world order and create crises.’

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Zbigniew Brzezinski: What Obama Should Tell Americans About Ukraine

Editor’s Note: Zbigniew Brzezinski served as National Security Advisor under Jimmy Carter from 1977-1981. He was one of the main reasons for Carter’s reversion back to the early Cold War way of thinking after the president’s early attempts to move away from the two decades of containment that led to the Vietnam and Nixon-eras. Brzezinski is also author of several books, by far the most interesting in relation to foreign policy is ‘The Grand Chessboard‘ published in 1997. It’s worth reading in full, especially the sections on Ukraine.

Zbigniew Brzezinski writes for Politico:

‘President Obama needs to articulate clearly to the American people, and very soon, that the Ukraine crisis is the most important challenge to the international system since the end of the Cold War.

…If we are to deter the Russians from moving in, we have to convince them that their aggression will entail a prolonged and costly effort. But it will be such only if the Ukrainians resist. Thus, we should be making an effort to negotiate with Russia even as at the same time we should be more open to helping the Ukrainians defend themselves if they’re attacked. The Ukrainians will fight only if they think they will eventually get some help from the West, particularly in supplies of the kind of weaponry that will be necessary to wage a successful urban defense. They’re not going to beat the Russians out in the open field, where thousands of tanks move in. They can only beat them through prolonged urban resistance. Then the war’s economic costs would escalate dramatically for the Russians, and it would become futile politically. But to be able to defend a city, you have to have handheld anti-tank weaponry, handheld rockets and some organization.

At the same time we need also to explore the possibility of a negotiated solution with Russia regarding Ukraine. It still might be possible to design it along the lines of the relationship that Russia has with Finland, which is not a member of NATO but enjoys full participation in Europe as best it can, even as it enjoys also a normal relationship with Russia. Obama should convey clearly to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States is prepared to use its influence to ensure that a truly independent and territorially undivided Ukraine pursues policies toward Russia similar to those so effectively practiced by Finland: mutually respectful neighbors, wide-ranging economic relations both with Russia and the European Union, but no participation in any military alliance viewed by Moscow as directed at itself – while also expanding its European connectivity. The Finnish model may be the ideal example for Ukraine, the EU and Russia.’

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No Longer a Force for Good? Sweden’s Elite More Loyal to NATO, the US, and EU than with Its People

Jan Oberg writes for CounterPunch:

‘Over the last 25-30 years Sweden’s military, security and foreign policy elite has changed Sweden’s policy 180 degrees. These fundamental changes were initiated by the Social Democratic government under Goran Persson and foreign minister Anna Lindh and have been carried through virtually without public debate.

The rapproachment with interventionism, militarism and US/NATO in all fields has been planned, incremental, furtive and dishonest; in short, unworthy of a democracy. This elite is more loyal with Brussels and Washington than with the Swedes.

If your image of Sweden is that it is a progressive, innovative and peace-promoting country with a global mind-set and advocate of international law, it is – sad to say – outdated.’

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NATO Official: Russia now an adversary, no longer a partner

Robert Burns reports for the AP:

‘After two decades of trying to build a partnership with Russia, the NATO alliance now feels compelled to start treating Moscow as an adversary, the second-ranking official of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said Thursday. “Clearly the Russians have declared NATO as an adversary, so we have to begin to view Russia no longer as a partner but as more of an adversary than a partner,” said Alexander Vershbow, the deputy secretary-general of NATO.

In a question-and-answer session with a small group of reporters, Vershbow said Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its apparent manipulation of unrest in eastern Ukraine have fundamentally changed the NATO-Russia relationship. “In central Europe, clearly we have two different visions of what European security should be like,” Vershbow, a former U.S. diplomat and former Pentagon official, said. “We still would defend the sovereignty and freedom of choice of Russia’s neighbors, and Russia clearly is trying to re-impose hegemony and limit their sovereignty under the guise of a defense of the Russian world.”‘

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Seumas Milne: It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war

Seumas Milne writes for The Guardian:

Illustration by Matt Kenyon‘The reality is that, after two decades of eastward Nato expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west’s attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit and defence structure, via an explicitly anti-Moscow EU association agreement. Its rejection led to the Maidan protests and the installation of an anti-Russian administration – rejected by half the country – that went on to sign the EU and International Monetary Fund agreements regardless.

No Russian government could have acquiesced in such a threat from territory that was at the heart of both Russia and the Soviet Union. Putin’s absorption of Crimea and support for the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is clearly defensive, and the red line now drawn: the east of Ukraine, at least, is not going to be swallowed up by Nato or the EU.’

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Containment 2.0? Interview with Stephen Cohen and John Mearsheimer

Former Ukrainian PM, Yulia Tymoshenko, calls for NATO membership

Yuras Karmanau reports for the AP:

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said that Ukraine “must be a member of NATO” in order to protect itself from Russian aggression. Tymoshenko, who is running in the May 25 presidential election, told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday that while only a minority of Ukrainians supported NATO membership previously, Russia’s aggressive actions in the country’s east had forced a “fundamental change” in public thinking.

“With his war against us, Putin was able to change the mentality of Ukrainians and turn us in a different strategic direction,” she said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “In this case, NATO is the best choice for Ukraine.” The 53-year-old Tymoshenko and her blonde-braided halo rode to office on a wave of pro-democratic sentiment after the 2004 Orange Revolution. But her ratings in the election polls remain low, as Ukrainians remain skeptical about her political leadership and her occasional cooperative dealings with Putin in the past.

 

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