Category Archives: NATO

Former NATO General Harald Kujat: I have doubts over evidence of Russian invasion in Ukraine

Editor’s Note: Harald Kujat is a retired general officer of the German Air Force. He served as Chief of Staff of the German armed forces from 2000-2002 and as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 2002-2005. This clip is taken from one of the most popular political talk shows in Germany. Below is a brief summary of what Kujat said.

  • That there’s a lot of speculation but so far proof of Russia’s involvement with regular military forces has not come to his attention
  • He cites the example of when the Ukrainian President announced that 23 armed Russian vehicles had been destroyed on Ukrainian territory, but no photos of any surviving or killed Russian soldiers were ever produced
  • That we have been shown five satellite photos as proof that Russian Forces are operating in Ukraine (three of them were marked as being ‘on Russian territory’ and two of them were marked as ‘on Ukraine territory’): the three Russian photos were marked with exact locations, whereas the two Ukrainian photos contained no location
  • Not only do we have to be careful of what the Russian’s say, but we also have to be careful about what the Ukrainian government and the West says (US and NATO)

NATO Says Russian Troops, Tanks Near Ukraine

Editor’s Note: The Russian’s are clearly involved in supporting the Eastern Ukraine rebellion, but take everything NATO says with a large dose of salt. They have been hyping up an imminent Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine and even Eastern Europe for much of this year and we still haven’t seen one. That’s not to say that the Russian’s wouldn’t, but NATO also have a military budget to justify.

What Happened to the Humanitarians Who Wanted to Save Libyans With Bombs and Drones?

Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain write for The Intercept:

‘Just three years after NATO’s military intervention in Libya ended and was widely heralded by its proponents as a resounding success, that country is in complete collapse. So widespread is violence and anarchy there that “hardly any Libyan can live a normal life,” Brown University’s Stephen Kinzer wrote in The Boston Globe last week. Last month, the Libyan Parliament, with no functioning army to protect it from well-armed militias, was forced to flee Tripoli and take refuge in a Greek car ferry. The New York Times reported in September that “the government of Libya said . . . that it had lost control of its ministries to a coalition of militias that had taken over the capital, Tripoli, in another milestone in the disintegration of the state.”

Sectarian strife and economic woes destroyed efforts by the U.S. and U.K. to train Libyan soldiers, causing those two nations last week to all but abandon further programs: “not a single soldier had been trained by the U.S. because the Libyan government failed to provide promised cash.” AP reports this morning that an entire city, Darna, has now pledged its allegiance to ISIS, “becoming the first city outside of Iraq and Syria to join the ‘caliphate’ announced by the extremist group.” A report issued by Amnesty International two weeks ago documented that “lawless militias and armed groups on all sides of the conflict in western Libya are carrying out rampant human rights abuses, including war crimes.” In sum, it is almost impossible to overstate the horrors daily faced by Libyans and the misery that has engulfed the country.

All of that prompts an obvious question: where did all of the humanitarians go who insisted they were driven by a deep and noble concern for the welfare of the Libyan people when they agitated for NATO intervention?’

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Noam Chomsky on the US, Russia, NATO and the possibility of a new Cold War

Afghanistan: None Dare Call It A Defeat

Eric Margolis writes:

‘The last British soldiers were airlifted out of Afghanistan last week, marking the sorry end of Britain’s fourth failed invasion of Afghanistan. With them went the last detachment of US Marines in Helmand.

Well has Afghanistan earned its title, “Graveyard of Empires.”

To be more precise, this honor belongs to Afghanistan’s Pashtun (or Pathan) mountain tribes, who bend their knees for no man and take pride in war.

In my book, “War at the Top of the World,” I called Pashtun “the bravest men on earth.” Later, I would add the fierce Chechen to that illustrious fraternity.

The old imperialists are gone, but the occupation of Afghanistan continues. The new regime in Kabul just installed by Washington to replace uncooperative former ally Hamid Karzai, rushed to sign an “agreement” allowing the United States to keep some 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan for years. This garrison will be exempt from all Afghan laws.

However, there’s much more to this arrangement. The US combat troops, tactfully labeled “trainers” or “counter-terrorist forces,” are too few in number to dominate all Afghanistan. Their task is to defend Kabul’s sock puppet government from its own people and to defend the all-important US Bagram airbase.’

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NATO: Spike in Russian Military Flights Around Europe, No Actual Violation of Airspace

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘[...] Bomber flights near NATO territory are not anything new, and happen from time to time. The amount of hype they receive is generally dependent on whether or not NATO is of a mind to make Russia out to be a threat at the time it takes place.

With no violation of NATO airspace, there is no reason to believe any of this is anything out of the ordinary, and is a continuation of NATO trying to portray Russia as starting a new Cold War for the sake of pushing military spending increases alliance-wide.’

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The Descent of Libya: From Africa’s Richest State Under Gaddafi to Failed State After NATO Intervention

Garikai Chengu writes for CounterPunch:

‘This week marks the three-year anniversary of the Western-backed assassination of Libya’s former president, Muammar Gaddafi, and the fall of one of Africa’s greatest nations.

In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy on the continent. Less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands.

After NATO’s intervention in 2011, Libya is now a failed state and its economy is in shambles. As the government’s control slips through their fingers and into to the militia fighters’ hands, oil production has all but stopped.

The militias variously local, tribal, regional, Islamist or criminal, that have plagued Libya since NATO’s intervention, have recently lined up into two warring factions. Libya now has two governments, both with their own Prime Minister, parliament and army.’

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AP reporter asks Admiral Kirby: Has NATO expanded to Russia, or Russia moved towards NATO?

Editor’s Note: The U.S./NATO never see their actions as aggressive or confrontational. Actions are always taken in the name of “defence” because they’re the “good guys”. Either they’re so wrapped up in their own moral crusade to “bring democracy to the world” (which is quite clearly bullshit when you look at history), or they wilfully refuse to see how the other side might perceive their actions because it’s to their advantage not to. 

Stephen Cohen: Everything in Ukraine Hinges on the Parliamentary Elections This Month

From The Nation:

Petro Poroshenko‘Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, has now formed his own political party, but whether or not he will control a majority of Parliament is now in doubt. As Stephen Cohen explained on The John Batchelor Show, “For Poroshenko everything, everything—the war, the political future of Ukraine, his own future, and the billions of dollars that the West is promising Ukraine to build and restructure—hinges to some degree on these parliamentary elections and whether he can build in Kiev a workable majority. He certainly doesn’t have it now.”’

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW…

After 13 Years, President Obama, ‘Time to End Our Endless War in Afghanistan’

Sarah Lazare writes for Common Dreams:

(Photo: Win Without War)‘As the U.S. expands its air bombardment of Iraq and Syria, Tuesday marks another milestone for a nation at war: the 13th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, the longest officially recognized war in U.S. history.

“One of the dangers around the ongoing war in Afghanistan is that people have wanted it to end for years, so it’s as though we wished it away some time ago,” Peter Lems, Program Officer at the American Friends Service Committee, told Common Dreams. “Yet it hasn’t gone away. I think the real challenge is to acknowledge the true cost of this war.”

[...] The anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion comes just a week after the U.S. and Afghanistan signed the Bilateral Security Agreement, which paves the way for at least another decade of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. The provisions of the pact include: ongoing U.S. training, funding, and arming of the Afghan military; an extension of immunity to U.S. service members under Afghan law, and a green-light to keep thousands of U.S. troops beyond what President Obama calls the “end of the U.S. combat mission” at the conclusion of 2014. Furthermore, NATO’s status of forces agreement, also signed last month, grants similar privileges to thousands of foreign troops now slated to remain in Afghanistan past the end of this year.’

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Can China and Russia Squeeze Washington out of Eurasia?

Pepe Escobar writes for TomDispatch:

Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping‘A specter haunts the fast-aging “New American Century”: the possibility of a future Beijing-Moscow-Berlin strategic trade and commercial alliance. Let’s call it the BMB.

Its likelihood is being seriously discussed at the highest levels in Beijing and Moscow, and viewed with interest in Berlin, New Delhi and Tehran. But don’t mention it inside Washington’s Beltway or at NATO headquarters in Brussels. There, the star of the show today and tomorrow is the new Osama bin Laden: Caliph Ibrahim, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive, self-appointed beheading prophet of a new mini-state and movement that has provided an acronym feast—ISIS/ISIL/IS—for hysterics in Washington and elsewhere.

No matter how often Washington remixes its “Global War on Terror,” however, the tectonic plates of Eurasian geopolitics continue to shift, and they’re not going to stop just because American elites refuse to accept that their historically brief “unipolar moment” is on the wane. For them, the closing of the era of “full-spectrum dominance,” as the Pentagon likes to call it, is inconceivable. After all, the necessity for the indispensable nation to control all space—military, economic, cultural, cyber and outer—is little short of a religious doctrine. Exceptionalist missionaries don’t do equality. At best, they do “coalitions of the willing” like the one crammed with “over 40 countries” assembled to fight ISIS/ISIL/IS and either applauding (and plotting) from the sidelines or sending the odd plane or two toward Iraq or Syria.

NATO, which unlike some of its members won’t officially fight Jihadistan, remains a top-down outfit controlled by Washington. It’s never fully bothered to take in the European Union (EU) or considered allowing Russia to “feel” European. As for the Caliph, he’s just a minor diversion. A postmodern cynic might even contend that he was an emissary sent onto the global playing field by China and Russia to take the eye of the planet’s hyperpower off the ball.’

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NATO can put troops wherever it wants, says new secretary-general

Reuters reports:

‘New NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that the Western alliance could deploy its forces wherever it wants, apparently calling into question post-Cold War agreements that have been shaken by Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine.

[...] “Next year, at the ministerial meeting, we will take decisions regarding the so-called spearhead but, even before it is established, NATO has a strong army after all. We can deploy it wherever we want to,” Stoltenberg told the state broadcaster TVP Info.

“These capabilities already exist. We have them, and we can deploy them in individual regions. And this is only an add-on to what the alliance already has.”‘

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New NATO Chief Open to Russian Rapprochement

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘The new chief, former Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg, says he believes there is no reason that NATO should consider its own strength a contradiction to a positive relationship with Russia.

How accepting the NATO hawks will be to Stoltenberg, who in his youth was an anti-NATO protester, at a time when many of them, the US in particular, are looking to ratchet up their hostility toward Russia.’

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Does NATO’s Outgoing Head Have Kurdish Skeletons in His Closet?

teleSur reports:

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during a news conference in September, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)‘The secret story of how the outgoing head of the most powerful military alliance landed his job “has everything,” according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“It has the Kurds. It has the destruction of an entire TV station. Corrupt deals between intelligence agencies and the judiciary. The corruption of a Scandinavian country, Denmark. And the head of that country, the prime minister, doing a corrupt deal to get his job,” Assange told teleSUR English in an exclusive interview.

Continuing, Assange lamented the “whole thing, signed off, explicitly by Barack Obama.”

The story with “everything” is now a pending case before the European Court of Human Rights, but it begins two years ago, with the prosecution of a Kurdish language television station in Denmark.’

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Lavrov calls for another ‘reset’ of relations with Washington

EurActiv reports:

‘In television interviews, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was time to repeat the “reset”, a word Washington used to describe an attempt to mend ties early in Obama’s presidency.

But he also lashed out at NATO’s “Cold War mentality”, criticised Washington for excluding Russia’s ally Bashar al-Assad from its campaign against Islamic State fighters in Syria, and said Washington “can no longer act as the prosecutor, the judge, and the executioner in every part of the world”.

“We are absolutely interested in bringing the ties to normal but it was not us who destroyed them. Now they require what the American would probably call a ‘reset’,” Lavrov said, according to a transcript of one interview on his ministry’s website.’

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Pepe Escobar on Afghanistan’s new “power-sharing” charade

Pepe Escobar writes for RT:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (Reuters/Gary Cameron)‘[...] The charade in Kabul goes by the name of “power-sharing agreement.” You got an election problem? Call John Kerry. That’s right; this “agreement” was brokered by none other than the US Secretary of State, who shoved the embarrassing issue of a tainted democratic election under an Afghan carpet.

It came to the point that a UN representative, Jan Kubish, virtually ordered the Afghan electoral commission not to release vote numbers. And this is while the UN itself had been monitoring an audit and a recount of approximately 8 million votes. The predictable “senior US officials” spun that the vote result was “transparent.” But still, no numbers.

So now we have – essentially appointed by Washington – former Finance Minister and World Bank official Ashraf Ghani as President, and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah as “Chief Executive”, a new post. And this after Abdullah insistently claimed the vote results were no less than a monster fraud. US“Think Tank-land,” unfazed, has called it a “temporary fix.”

Now for the all-important breakdown: NATO top honcho Gen. Philip Breedlove said Saturday in Lithuania that both “power-sharers” swore on their lives they will “quickly” sign a security agreement with Washington. This agreement was brokered, once again, by Kerry and outgoing President Hamid Karzai in late 2013 – and approved by Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga. Karzai though had refused to sign.

Short translation: at least 10,000 American troops – mostly Special Forces – will remain deployed in Afghanistan in Enduring Freedom Forever mode. This is a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by any other name. So the occupation continues. Not only with US troops, but also with NATO starting a “training mission”in January 2015 called Resolute Support.

Watch out for major, certified blowback. It’s a no-brainer the Taliban will keep showing Resolute Support to kick NATO and the US’s collective behind. But that’s great. That’s exactly what the never-ending GWOT (Global War on Terror) is all about.’

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Interview with Stephen Cohen on the Ukraine Ceasefire and the New Cold War

Editor’s Note: 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.

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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