The leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, called for a “de-escalation” of tensions between NATO and Russia, adding in a BBC interview on Thursday: “I want to see a de-militarisation of the border between them.” Along with the U.S., the UK has been rapidly building up its military presence in the Baltic region, including states which border Russia, and is now about to send another 800 troops to Estonia, 500 of which will be permanently based.
In response, Russia has moved its own troops within its country near those borders, causing serious military tensions to rise among multiple nuclear-armed powers. Throughout 2016, the Russian and U.S. militaries have engaged in increasingly provocative and aggressive maneuvers against one another. This week, the U.S. began deploying 4,000 troops to Poland, “the biggest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the cold war.”
It was in this context that Corbyn said it is “unfortunate that troops have gone up to the border on both sides,” adding that “he wanted to see better relations between Russia, NATO and the EU.” The Labour leader explained that while Russia has engaged in serious human rights abuses both domestically and in Syria, there must be a “better relationships between both sides . . . there cannot be a return to a Cold War mentality.”
The response to Corbyn’s call for better relations and de-escalation of tensions with Moscow was swift and predictable.
As President Barack Obama vows that the United States will take “action” in response to the allegations that Russia interfered with the November election, the U.S. army has started to bring tanks back to a Cold War site in the Netherlands as a show of its “commitment to deterrence in Europe.”
The U.S. and Dutch military reopened the Eygelshoven site on Thursday. It will contain “strategically prepositioned critical war stock” including M1 Abrams Tanks and M109 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzers.
“Three years ago, the last American tank left Europe; we all wanted Russia to be our partner,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, head of U.S. Army Europe. “My country is bringing tanks back,” and “[w]e are signaling our commitment and demonstrating the ability to prepare,” he said.
“That is what Eygelshoven represents. This is the manifestation of 28 nations committed to the security of each other,” he said.
Added Dutch Gen. Tom Middendorp, chief defense staff of the Royal Netherlands Army: “We want to make sure we are sending a clear signal to Russia that we will not accept any violation of NATO’s territorial integrity.”
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg agreed on Friday on the Western alliance’s “enduring importance”, NATO said, striving to reassure Europe that Washington will remain committed to its security.
Trump questioned during his election campaign whether the United States should protect allies seen as spending too little on their defense, raising fears that he could withdraw funding for NATO at a time of heightened tensions with Russia.
“The president-elect and the secretary general both underlined NATO’s enduring importance and discussed how NATO is adapting to the new security environment, including to counter the threat of terrorism,” NATO said in a statement after a phone conversation between Trump and Stoltenberg.
There was no immediate comment from Trump’s side.
The election of President-elect Donald Trump in the United States has sent a shockwave through NATO, and fearful of losing US support for their latest costly attempt to return to a Cold War-era has set the alliance’s leadership on a new campaign of hyping the need for an anti-Russia campaign, with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg publishing a new article playing up the idea of NATO needing to be ready to mobilize against Russia in Eastern Europe, above and beyond the 300,000 troops already there.
Stoltenberg also addressed a news conference during which he pointedly warned against Trump’s talk of making US military force in Europe conditional on European funding, insisting that all NATO members have to provide “absolute and unconditional” security support for one another.
Stoltenberg insisted that the only time Article 5 had been invoked by NATO was to support the United States after 9/11, which led to an alliance-wide invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. While true, alliance members have constantly raised the specter of doing so to suck the US into major wars, including Turkey raising the possibility of doing so against Syria.
During the campaign, Trump expressed major doubts about the relevance of NATO in a post-Cold War world, comments which fueled considerable anger from officials deeply invested in the recent military buildups in Eastern Europe in recent years, and a major backlash which saw the rest of NATO crossing their fingers for a Clinton victory that ultimately did not come.
In a new interview with Britain’s Sky News, former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen brought out the old narrative of America as the “world’s policeman,” but with a lot more upbeat of an attitude about it than one would generally see.
Rasmussen criticized President Obama for not being hawkish enough, saying his successor needs to be much more interventionist, and declaring “we need America as the world’s policeman,” adding that the US needs to “restore international law and order” through wars.
Rasmussen, who was always a relative hawk in the post but seems to have taken it to an entirely new level, set out a series of things the US needs to fix militarily, including Iraq, Syria, Libya, Russia, China, and North Korea. This of course closely mirrors recent Pentagon talk of wars in the decades to come.
The timing of his calls for extreme US bellicosity are centered on trying to influence the upcoming US election in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who has campaigned heavily on picking fights in Syria and against Russia. Rasmussen underscored this fact by declaring Donald Trump, who openly said the US cannot be the world’s police, as “very dangerous for the world.”
Trump’s ‘Extreme Vetting’ Test for Immigrants, His Position on NATO and Russia and his Campaign Head’s $13m Scandal in Ukraine
Amy Goodman speaks to Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist with Rolling Stone magazine, Phyllis Bennis, author of Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror and Linda Sarsour, director of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change. They join Amy Goodman to talk about a number of issues including Donald Trump’s vow to institute “extreme vetting” of visa applicants, his position on NATO and Russia, and his campaign head’s $13 million scandal in Ukraine. (Democracy Now!)
On July 20, Donald Trump shocked the Western politico-military establishment when he told The New York Times that the United States would protect Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the three formerly Soviet Baltic countries that joined NATO in 2004, from a Russian attack only if they have “fulfilled their obligations to us.” In one fell stroke, Trump proposed to jettison the alliance’s foundational Article 5, which guarantees collective defense, in favor of some impromptu financial calculus. Then, during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention two days later, he declared NATO “obsolete” for failing to “properly cover terror,” adding that “many member countries [are] not paying their fair share [into the alliance]. As usual, the United States has been picking up the cost.”
Trump’s various offenses aside, on his latter point, there can be no doubt: of NATO’s 28 member states, only five spend the recommended 2 percent or more of their GDP per year on defense; Estonia is the sole Baltic country to meet the 2-percent benchmark.* The United States, meanwhile, covers 72.2 percent of NATO’s budget. Though even President Barack Obama has complained about NATO’s European “free riders”—given that the EU’s GDP may exceed that of the United States, the critique seems reasonable—Trump, by suggesting that a future U.S. president may, amid a hypothetical crisis of unprecedented magnitude, evaluate treaty obligations by consulting the alliance’s balance sheet alone is unprecedented. Add to that Trump’s apparent personal affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusations from Democrats (even if they turn out to be groundless) that his business interests might predispose him to act in Russia’s interests, and his invitation (possibly proffered sarcastically) that Russia intervene in the U.S. presidential campaign by ferreting out Hillary Clinton’s illegally deleted emails, and you end up with a media maelstrom of his own making.
Yet the very questions Trump has raised about relations between Washington and Moscow—whether a de facto new Cold War is inevitable, and whether there’s any way out of this potentially catastrophic standoff—are worth asking. The ensuing debate would demand serious consideration by policymakers, a willingness to see matters from the Russian perspective, and, given the stakes, the involvement of the American public. After all, during the Cold War, public sentiment about the Soviet Union, and, by extension, the likelihood of nuclear war, influenced national politics in ways scarcely imaginable these days. Present circumstances require a similar reexamination now.
[…] The newly leaked emails reveal a clandestine network of Western agitators around the NATO military chief, whose presence fueled the conflict in Ukraine. Many allies found in Breedlove’s alarmist public statements about alleged large Russian troop movements cause for concern early on. Earlier this year, the general was assuring the world that US European Command was “deterring Russia now and preparing to fight and win if necessary.”
The emails document for the first time the questionable sources from whom Breedlove was getting his information. He had exaggerated Russian activities in eastern Ukraine with the overt goal of delivering weapons to Kiev.
The general and his likeminded colleagues perceived US President Barack Obama, the commander-in-chief of all American forces, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel as obstacles. Obama and Merkel were being “politically naive & counter-productive” in their calls for de-escalation, according to Phillip Karber, a central figure in Breedlove’s network who was feeding information from Ukraine to the general.
[…] Breedlove sought counsel from some very prominent people, his emails show. Among them were Wesley Clark, Breedlove’s predecessor at NATO, Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs at the State Department, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Kiev.
One name that kept popping up was Phillip Karber, an adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University in Washington DC and president of the Potomac Foundation, a conservative think tank founded by the former defense contractor BDM. By its own account, the foundation has helped eastern European countries prepare their accession into NATO. Now the Ukrainian parliament and the government in Kiev were asking Karber for help.
- Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy
- Hacked Former NATO General Defends Plotting to Push Obama to Escalate Tensions With Russia
- Meet The Forces That Are Pushing Obama Towards A New Cold War
- Breedlove’s Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine
Sharmini Peries speaks to economist Michael Hudson who says Donald Trump’s divergence from the conventional Republican platform is generating indignant punditry from neocons and neoliberals alike. (The Real News)
- Trump’s NATO remarks ‘put him on the same page with Mr.Putin’
- Donald Trump angers NATO allies and GOP foreign policy establishment
- Does Trump Have a Subversive Partnership With Putin’s Propaganda Machine?
- U.S. Media Blames Putin Conspiracy for Homegrown Trump Phenomenon
- Paul Krugmann: Donald Trump, the Siberian Candidate
- Anne Applebaum: How a Trump presidency could destabilize Europe
- Lindsey Graham Slams Trump’s NATO Policy: Putin Is ‘A Very Happy Man’
- Garry Kasparov: Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin’s enabler
- Pravda: Will Trump become Russia’s best friend?
[…] According to Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, underground vaults at Incirlik hold about fifty B-61 hydrogen bombs—more than twenty-five per cent of the nuclear weapons in the NATO stockpile. The nuclear yield of the B-61 can be adjusted to suit a particular mission. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima had an explosive force equivalent to about fifteen kilotons of TNT. In comparison, the “dial-a-yield” of the B-61 bombs at Incirlik can be adjusted from 0.3 kilotons to as many as a hundred and seventy kilotons.
Incirlik was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the wake of the Second World War; when Turkey joined NATO, in 1952, it became a crucial American base during the Cold War. With a flight time of about an hour to the Soviet Union, the base hosted American fighters, bombers, tankers, and U-2 spy planes. And, like many NATO bases, it stored American nuclear weapons. NATO strategy was dependent on nuclear weapons as a counterbalance to the perceived superiority of Soviet conventional forces. The threat of a nuclear attack, it was assumed, would deter Soviet tanks from rolling into NATO territory. And granting NATO countries access to nuclear weapons would strengthen the alliance, providing tangible evidence that the United States would risk a nuclear war for NATO’s defense.
All efforts to make this weekend’s Warsaw summit about the Brexit appear to have failed, and the US has shifted NATO’s focus back to increasing military buildups in Eastern Europe, all the while harping on about Russian “aggression” and the threat of a Russian invasion of the Baltic states.
NATO-Russia relations seem worse than at any time since the Cold War, with many fearing that the continued NATO escalation on the Russian frontier portends another protracted, and costly period of massive tensions with the Russians.
Russian officials, for their part, dismissed the buildup as part of NATO’s “anti-Russia hysteria,” saying the NATO leadership was “absolutely short-sighted” for continuing the moves. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov mocked NATO claims of Russian “aggression,” noting that “we aren’t the ones getting closer to NATO’s borders.”
- Echoes of Cold War as Nato leaders pledge to boost strength
- Kremlin Says NATO Talk of Russian Threat Absurd, Short-Sighted
- NATO Unity, Tested by Russia, Shows Some Cracks
- NATO Agrees to Send Thousands More Troops to Eastern Europe
- NATO Takes Control of US Missile Shield in Europe
- Obama urges NATO to stand firm against Russia despite Brexit
- Britain Not Retreating From NATO After Brexit, Says Dunne
- Wary of Russia, Sweden and Finland Sit at NATO Top Table
- NATO Officials See Greek Deal With Russia as Threat to Unity
- NATO Commander: No Threat of Russia Invading Baltics
Britain’s vote to quit the European Union was a rude jolt to the encrusted world order. Now that the EU has been shocked into reality, NATO should be next. When NATO leaders convene for a summit in Warsaw on Friday, they will insist that their alliance is still vital because Russian aggression threatens Europe. The opposite is true. NATO has become America’s instrument in escalating our dangerous conflict with Russia. We need less NATO, not more.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in 1949 as a way for American troops to protect a war-shattered Europe from Stalin’s Soviet Union. Today Europe is quite capable of shaping and paying for its own security, but NATO’s structure remains unchanged. The United States still pays nearly three-quarters of its budget. That no longer makes sense. The United States should remain politically close to European countries but stop telling them how to defend themselves. Left to their own devices, they might pull back from the snarling confrontation with Russia into which NATO is leading them.
Russia threatens none of America’s vital interests. On the contrary, it shares our eagerness to fight global terror, control nuclear threats, and confront other urgent challenges to global security. Depending on one’s perspective, Russia may be seen as a destabilizing force in Europe or as simply defending its border regions. Either way, it is a challenge for Europeans, not for us. Yet the American generals who run NATO, desperate for a new mission, have fastened onto Russia as an enemy. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter preposterously places Russia first on his list of threats to the United States. Anti-Russia passion has seized Washington.
NATO took command of a U.S.-built missile shield in Europe on Friday after France won assurances that the multi-billion-dollar system would not be under Washington’s direct control.
The missile shield, billed as a defense against any strike by a “rogue state” against European cities, is one of the most sensitive aspects of U.S. military support for Europe. Russia says the system is in fact intended by Washington to blunt its nuclear arsenal, which the U.S. denies.
“Today we have decided to declare initial operational capability of the NATO ballistic missile defense system,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference.
“This means that the U.S. ships based in Spain, the radar in Turkey and the interceptor site in Romania are now able to work together under NATO command and control,” he said, adding that the umbrella was “entirely defensive” and “represents no threat to Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent”.
Russia is incensed at the show of force by the United States, its Cold War rival in ex-communist-ruled eastern Europe.
It’s hard to know where to begin when commenting on all this, given the atmosphere of Cold War hysteria. There is, first of all, the question of proportionality: are US and NATO moves on the eastern flank in keeping with the magnitude of the threat posed by Russia? Russian intervention in Crimea and eastern Ukraine is certainly provocative and repugnant, but cannot unequivocally be deemed a direct threat to NATO. Other Russian moves in the region, such as incursions by Russian ships and planes into the airspace and coastal waters of NATO members, are more worrisome, but appear to be more political messaging than a prelude to invasion. Basically, it’s very hard to imagine a scenario in which Russia would initiate an armed attack on NATO.
Then there is the matter of self-fulfilling prophecies. By announcing the return of great-power competition and preparing for a war with Russia, the United States and NATO are setting in motion forces that could, in the end, achieve precisely that outcome. This is not to say that Moscow is guiltless regarding the troubled environment along the eastern front, but surely Vladimir Putin has reason to claim that the NATO initiatives pose a substantially heightened threat to Russian security and so justify a corresponding Russian buildup. Any such moves will, of course, invite yet additional NATO deployments, followed by complementary Russian moves, and so on—until we’re right back in a Cold War–like situation.
Finally, there is the risk of accident, miscalculation, and escalation. This arises with particular severity in the case of US/NATO exercises on the edge of Russian territory, especially Kaliningrad. In all such actions, there is a constant danger that one side or the other will overreact to a perceived threat and take steps leading to combat and, conceivably, all-out war. When two Russian fighters flew within 30 feet of a US destroyer sailing in the Baltic Sea this past April, Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN that under US rules of engagement, the planes could have been shot down. Imagine where that could have led. Fortunately, the captain of the destroyer chose to exercise restraint and a serious incident was averted. But as more US and NATO forces are deployed on the edge of Russian territory and both sides engage in provocative military maneuvers, dangerous encounters of this sort are sure to increase in frequency, and the risk of their ending badly will only grow.
A major NATO summit is set to begin later this week in Warsaw, and while the plan was to spend the whole time harping on about “Russian aggression” and making more plans to add more ground troops to the Baltic states.
Then Brexit happened, and as with everyone else, that’s all a lot of summit goers want to talk about these days. Britain’s referendum was on leaving the EU, and not NATO, but that doesn’t mean a lot of officials aren’t predicting the move weakening the alliance, at least so far as joint NATO-EU operations go.
But with constant predictions from US officials of an imminent Russian invasion of Eastern Europe never panning out, the Obama Administration and other hawks on the Russia issue are looking to shift the focus of the summit back.
- In shadow of Brexit, NATO considers Russian deterrence
- Merkel offers hand to Russia ahead of NATO summit
- Merkel Says Russia Has ‘Deeply Shaken’ NATO’s Eastern Members
- Merkel Defends NATO Plans for Greater Troop Presence Near Russian Border
- Russian Foreign Ministry promises response to NATO’s armament buildup
- Ahead Of NATO Summit, Kerry Says U.S. Will Remain Firm On Russia Sanctions
- NATO and Russia Need To Take Steps To Prevent Accidental War
- Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy
- NATO Commander: No Threat of Russia Invading Baltics
Former NATO commander Philip Breedlove defended himself on Saturday after The Intercept reported on leaked emails that showed him plotting to push President Obama to escalate tensions with Russia. “I think what you see is a commander doing what commanders ought to do,” Breedlove told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Amanpour asked about emails—originally published by “hacktivist” website dcleaks.com—showing Breedlove seeking help from former Secretary of State Colin Powell on ways to get Obama to be more aggressive in defending the Ukraine against Russian invasion.
“I think POTUS sees us as a threat that must be minimized,” he wrote in a 2014 email, “ie do not get me into a war????”
Just as the financial markets are gauging the impact of the UK leaving the European Union—and scrutinising the “fundamentals”—so those of us working in international security are doing the same. Is the world a more dangerous place today than it was a week ago? Is Europe at greater risk? What future for the North Atlantic Alliance of which the UK is a founding member?
As Secretary General of NATO, I find those questions reassuringly straightforward to answer. Not because I don’t take them very seriously but because I know that we are well-equipped to respond.
There is no denying that the world has become more dangerous in recent years. Moscow’s actions in Ukraine have shaken the European security order. Turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has unleashed a host of challenges, not least the largest refugee and migrant crisis since the Second World War. We face security challenges of a magnitude and complexity much greater than only a few years ago. Add to that the uncertainty surrounding “Brexit”—the consequences of which are unclear—and it is easy to be concerned about the future.
Mosscow solidified its hold on Crimea in April, outlawing the Tatar legislature that had opposed Russia’s annexation of the region since 2014. Together with Russian military provocations against NATO forces in and around the Baltic, this move seems to validate the observations of Western analysts who argue that under Vladimir Putin, an increasingly aggressive Russia is determined to dominate its neighbors and menace Europe.
Leaders in Moscow, however, tell a different story. For them, Russia is the aggrieved party. They claim the United States has failed to uphold a promise that NATO would not expand into Eastern Europe, a deal made during the 1990 negotiations between the West and the Soviet Union over German unification. In this view, Russia is being forced to forestall NATO’s eastward march as a matter of self-defense.
The West has vigorously protested that no such deal was ever struck. However, hundreds of memos, meeting minutes and transcripts from U.S. archives indicate otherwise. Although what the documents reveal isn’t enough to make Putin a saint, it suggests that the diagnosis of Russian predation isn’t entirely fair. Europe’s stability may depend just as much on the West’s willingness to reassure Russia about NATO’s limits as on deterring Moscow’s adventurism.
Afshin Rattansi recently spoke to Britain’s former ambassador to Russia, Sir Tony Brenton, about the new Cold War. (Going Underground)
Following a meeting with his Finnish counterpart, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a statement warning Finland against joining NATO, warning that such a move would mean the end of Russia keeping its troops 1,500 km from their mutual border.
Putin cautioned that in joining Finland would overnight put NATO at the borders of the Russian Federation, adding that “NATO would gladly fight with Russia until the last Finnish soldier,” but that neither Finland nor Russia would benefit from such a thing.
A Finnish government report from back in April was also cautious about the idea of joining NATO, warning it would lead to a “crisis” with Russia, potentially a really economically harmful one for the Finns, who trade heavily with Russia.
Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, until recently the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe, plotted in private to overcome President Barack Obama’s reluctance to escalate military tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine in 2014, according to apparently hacked emails from Breedlove’s Gmail account that were posted on a new website called DC Leaks.
Obama defied political pressure from hawks in Congress and the military to provide lethal assistance to the Ukrainian government, fearing that doing so would increase the bloodshed and provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with the justification for deeper incursions into the country.
Breedlove, during briefings to Congress, notably contradicted the Obama administration regarding the situation in Ukraine, leading to news stories about conflict between the general and Obama.
But the leaked emails provide an even more dramatic picture of the intense back-channel lobbying for the Obama administration to begin a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine.
French DM Jean-Yves Le Drian made a last minute appeal to Britain to remain in the EU right before last night’s vote, in which Britain ultimately decided to leave the union, Le Drian’s argument was primarily a military one, arguing Britain would be “weaker” without the EU, and the EU would be weaker without Britain.
Other French officials are also expressing concerns about that, now that the vote is in, noting that Britain and French represented the biggest military forces in the EU, and saying they believe post-Brexit Britain might start looking to cut military spending at any rate.
Britain and France also have extremely close military ties, to the point where during discussions on austerity measures, the two had discussed the possibility of “sharing” an aircraft carrier as a way to cut down on expenses.
A former NATO Secretary-General and Danish prime minister has been named an adviser to Ukraine’s president.
A statement on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s website did not specify on what issues Fogh Rasmussen might concentrate.
Fogh Rasmussen described the security situation in eastern Ukraine “alarming” on his Facebook page. Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine for two years and more than 9,300 people have been killed.
Ukraine, which wants to join the 28-nation European Union, also “must implement much needed reforms,” including “enhanced fight against corruption.”
The 63-year-old Dane was NATO chief 2009-2014 after his eight years as Danish head of government.
- Russia derides Ukraine’s hiring of ex-Nato chief
- Poroshenko appoints former NATO chief Rasmussen ‘non-staff adviser’
- Goldman Hires Ex-NATO Chief to Guard $1.5 Billion Danish Stake
- ‘Putin’s Russia has been my biggest regret,’ says Nato’s outgoing Secretary General
- Putin could attack Baltic states warns former Nato chief
As part of a warning by a group of former military officers that the European Union undermines the UK’s military effectiveness, former General Sir Michael Rose expressed concern at the EU’s plan to set up its own army.
But in a speech on May 9 outlining why the UK would be more secure if it remained in the EU, the prime minister, David Cameron, said suggestions of an EU army were “fanciful” and that the UK would veto any suggestion of it.
As Cameron pointed out, there is a significant gap between the rhetoric and reality of the establishment of a fully functional European army.
As defence falls within the intergovernmental sphere of EU law, any single member state can veto its creation ensuring that the prospect of the UK getting dragged into an EU army against its will is zero. In fact, one could argue that the UK remaining inside the EU would do more to prevent an EU army than a Brexit would.
- Is there a secret plan to create an EU army?
- Britain will never be part of an EU army, government insists
- Plans for EU army ‘kept secret’ until after Brexit vote
- Plans for closer EU military cooperation held until after vote
- New threats are forcing NATO and the EU to work together
- Germany pushes for a European army
- Toward a European Defense Union
- We need a European army, says Jean-Claude Juncker
Nato is procuring powerful new Global Hawk drones and may seek to deploy them near the Libyan coast, Euobserver has learned.
“Perhaps if the EU moves more closely to the Libyan shores, as we see what happens in New York with the new Libyan government, we can perhaps have some kind of division of labour with Nato providing situational awareness,” said an official, who asked not to be named, with knowledge of Nato’s plans at a security conference in Brussels on Thursday (26 May).
Nato would still have to seek permission from the Libyan authorities.
He said a team from Nato will be visiting Libya in the next few days to discuss a mandate that includes on-the-ground “capacity defence building”.
“These I stress are just ideas, we haven’t yet come to any particular agreement,” he said.
NATO foreign ministers were on Thursday finalising the alliance’s biggest military build-up since the end of the Cold War to counter what they see as a more aggressive and unpredictable Russia.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the two-day meeting would address “all the important issues” to prepare for a “landmark” summit in Poland in July.
There, NATO leaders will formally endorse the revamp which puts more troops into eastern European member states as part of a “deter and dialogue” strategy, meant to reassure allies they will not be left in the lurch in any repeat of the Ukraine crisis.
“We will discuss how NATO can do more to project stability… and at the same time address how NATO can continue to adapt to a more assertive Russia to find the right balance between defence and dialogue,” Stoltenberg told reporters.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, attending the Brussels talks, said NATO was building a “robust” defensive posture on its eastern flank and urged member states to meet pledges to increase defence spending.
- NATO, Russia and the lost art of diplomacy
- U.S. and NATO should End New Cold War with Russia
- West and Russia on course for war, says ex-Nato deputy commander
- ‘Inverting Reality’: Why Pentagon Wants Russian Military to Be 10 Feet Tall
- NATO Plans More Anti-Russia Moves After Finalizing Latest Build-Up
- Russia raps NATO for deciding on meetings with Moscow unilaterally
- G7 not about to welcome back Russia, German official says
- US Infuriates Russia by Sending Tanks Within Miles of Border
- Montenegro Receives NATO Invite, Rousing Russian Concerns
- Refugees, Russia and ISIS on NATO agenda in Brussels
- Sweden and Finland upgrade Nato relations
- Putin Being Pushed to Abandon Conciliatory Approach to West and Prepare for War
- Russia to counter NATO expansion with new radar station in Crimea
- NATO rapid unit not fit for eastern Europe deployment, say generals
- Russia, Belarus to Develop Joint Response to NATO Missile Shield
- Putin: Russia will consider tackling NATO missile defense threat
- US activates Romanian missile defense site, angering Russia
- Polish Officials: NATO Must Send Clear Message to Russia
- Erdogan calls for greater NATO presence in Black Sea
- NATO–Russia relations
Over Russia’s angry objections, NATO agreed Thursday to expand for only the seventh time in its history, inviting the Balkan nation of Montenegro to become its 29th member.
The decision is still subject to formal approval by the U.S. Senate and the alliance’s other national parliaments.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it was the “beginning of a new secure chapter” in the former Yugoslav republic’s history.
Montenegro’s prime minister, Milo Dukanovic, who attended the signing of an accession protocol at NATO headquarters in Brussels, said his country, bombed by NATO warplanes 16 years ago, would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the other members of the U.S-led alliance.
You can count on us at any time,” said Dukanovic.
Russia has accused NATO of trying to encircle it and friendly nations like Serbia, and vowed to do what’s necessary to defend its national security and interests.
- NATO Invites Montenegro to Join as 29th Member Nation
- Kremlin: NATO membership invitation to Montenegro risks fuelling tension
- Milo Ðukanović: Like it or not, Montenegro’s going West
- Montenegro: Nato’s newest and last member?
- Accession of Montenegro to NATO
- NATO Official Says Montenegro Membership Means Stability
- Montenegro Hires US Lobbyists to Push NATO Case
- Djukanovic Named ‘Criminal of the Year’ in Poll
Many in NATO are looking to its so-called Active Endeavour counter-terrorism mission in the Mediterranean, which was set up after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, to switch roles and link up with an EU naval mission.
Diplomats say Libya would have to make a formal request for NATO and the European Union to go after smugglers in Libyan territorial waters and NATO would possibly even a U.N. Security Council resolution, which Russia has said it is unlikely to grant because it believes NATO’s 2011 air campaign went too far.
The EU’s “Sophia” mission is operating in international waters near Libya, but it is too far out to destroy boats used by people smugglers, catch traffickers or head off migrants trying to reach Europe by sea from Libya.
Another area of support for NATO would be helping set up a Libyan Defence Ministry in the lawless country, and to work with the European Union to train police and border and coastguards.
Britain would like to see that training in Libya itself, whereas Germany is adamant its personnel will not be on the ground in the country and that training should be in Tunisia.
The new Libyan government, which arrived has yet to establish itself across the country, is also wary of being seen as a foreign puppet and is keen to show its independence.
- NATO chief: No plans for combat troops in Libya
- NATO Split on How to Expand Libya Involvement
- US military could deploy to Libya ‘any day’
- Libya: US Special Forces Take Fight to ISIS
- NATO agrees bigger Mediterranean mission to stop smugglers
- Pope Criticizes West for Trying to Export Own Brand of Democracy to Iraq, Libya
- UN Proposal Would Ask EU Ships to Enforce Libya Arms Embargo
- Libya: US Backs Arming of Government for ISIS Fight
- Italy Backs Out of UN’s Libya Mission, So Nepalese Troops Will Go Instead
- World Powers Approve Arms for Libya’s New Government
- UK to Deploy ‘Up to 50’ Soldiers to Battle the ISIS in Libya
- EU Mission ‘Failing’ to Disrupt People-Smuggling From Libya
- ISIS, Growing Stronger in Libya, Sets Its Sights on Fragile Neighbor Tunisia
- US Establishes Libyan Outposts With Eye Toward Offensive Against ISIS
- Western Libyan Forces Prepare Attack on ISIS Stronghold
- Regional Powers to Hold Libya Talks in Vienna, Italian Minister Says
Every Friday, just yards from a statue of Bill Clinton with arm aloft in a cheery wave, hundreds of young bearded men make a show of kneeling to pray on the sidewalk outside an improvised mosque in a former furniture store.
The mosque is one of scores built here with Saudi government money and blamed for spreading Wahhabism — the conservative ideology dominant in Saudi Arabia — in the 17 years since an American-led intervention wrested tiny Kosovo from Serbian oppression.
Since then — much of that time under the watch of American officials — Saudi money and influence have transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a font of Islamic extremism and a pipeline for jihadists.
Kosovo now finds itself, like the rest of Europe, fending off the threat of radical Islam. Over the last two years, the police have identified 314 Kosovars — including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children — who have gone abroad to join the Islamic State, the highest number per capita in Europe.
They were radicalized and recruited, Kosovo investigators say, by a corps of extremist clerics and secretive associations funded by Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab gulf states using an obscure, labyrinthine network of donations from charities, private individuals and government ministries.