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NATO’s provocative maneuver in Baltic

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By using its military bases across the globe, set up following Sept-11, USA is getting the NATO effectively contain Russian territories militarily from all possible sides. The enemies of NATO have been communism, Islam and Russia and it has been dealing with each of them simultaneously by employing all available sources, including communists, Muslims, Russians and Jews, others. That is the grand strategy of US super power for dealing with entire humanity.

Yes, the western military corpus NATO with enormous terror resources and military potentials cannot be quiet for too long and it moves about according its regular plans, provoking or even directly threatening Russia as a routine behavior, after all, NATO had come into existence soon after the Second World War to corner and contain Russia all over the world, trying to curtail its enormous influence world over.

Ever since the Cold War officially ended, USA and its NATO team have been very consciously undertaking steps that hurt the mighty Kremlin but Russia could not do anything that would make the western leaders and their media lords declare it a ‘dictatorship’.

Even though the end of Cold War formally ended military rivalry between USA and Russia leading to the dismantling of the Warsaw Treaty of Eastern military forces under Moscow command opposed to Western alliance NATO under USA, NATO is still targeting Russia and its allies since Warsaw Treaty has ceased to exist. Moscow’s predicament is bad because it cannot revive the Warsaw Pact as most the members of it are now on the side of NATO.

Chess game

As usual, the former ideological adversaries and Cold War rivals, USA and Russia are engaged in a cold chess game, making moves that confuse the world and terrorize the humanity. Many countries also play their own games by taking sides with either of the top nations.

USA has been also busy in using the former allies of Russia in East Europe and Eurasian, Baltic region, Caucasus and Caspian Sea Basin, Central Asia and elsewhere against its global interests. But there is nothing that the Kremlin can do to bring those nations back into its fold. It can only feel proud of its glorious imperial past even as the NATO keeps threatening by targeting its borders, now with the Baltic nations.

The Baltic countries (also known as Baltic States) is northeastern region of Europe containing the countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia on the eastern shores of Baltic Sea. Baltic countries have its name for being bounded on the west and north by the Baltic Sea. Baltic countries usually are referred to the territories east of Baltic Sea which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I.

The republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which became constituent republics of the former Soviet Union in 1940, regained their independence in 1991. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are now parliamentary democracies and oppose Russian domination in the region and hence support the US led NATO.

Baltic region though has clearly moved away from Russian control and has become a part of Western military and political block, the NATO thinks Russia is keenly waiting for a chance and can use the region in future.

The Baltic governments are actively encouraging the deployments and calling for still more NATO military hardware over and above the vast stocks of tanks, artillery and heavy weapons pre-positioned throughout Eastern Europe by NATO since 2014. Backed by the Western alliance, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are placing their societies on a war footing. They are putting their armed forces on high alert and awaiting the call for mobilization against Russia.

US led NATO has already brought most of Russia’s former allies in Europe and Asia under its control by skillfully playing the terrorism card. As a result, Washington has more military bases across the world than Russia or any other power.

Unequals

Although it lost the super power status it used to enjoy along with USA as an equal nation, Russia still has all the necessary embodiments, including strategic weapons and nuked missiles , to give a strong opposition to USA and NATO.

Now Russia is facing the NATO almost single handedly giving the Washington all hopes of superiority in real War Theater. China and the partners in economic block Moscow leads cannot be taken for granted. India, for instance, is already hanging from the US wings in the hope of obtaining a UN veto inclusive package to retain neighboring Jammu Kashmir by brutality.

Though Israel, feeling the pinch of White House, is trying jump into the Russian bandwagon by coordinating intelligence on Syria and USA in search of New Middle East to control the confused Arab leaders and, mainly, to retain all illegal settlements inside Palestine as its own property and its ‘birth rights” to kill Palestinians, their children in order to promote expansionist ideology in Arab world. Perhaps, Israeli shift towards Russia has been facilitated by the Neocons seeking to make Israel a super power to outsmart USA, Russia and China.

With Russia also helping USA advance its military interests in Mideast, interestingly, USA considers the NATO and Israel the perfect tool to advance its global interests. Therefore, the NATO is interested in recreating the Cold War atmosphere world over so that it could sell terror goods to the ‘needy’ powers with plenty of resources, like India.

NATO plan

The USA-dominated imperialist alliance has relentlessly stoked confrontation with Moscow and laid the foundations for a continental-scale war aimed at breaking up and conquering the Russian Federation. In Eastern Europe, under the guise of “rotational deployments,” NATO has established a permanent military force. Put forth for public consumption as a response to Russian “meddling” in Ukraine and alleged provocations by Russia’s military along the frontiers of NATO’s eastern member states, the real purpose of NATO’s spearhead force is to prepare for a ground invasion across Russia’s western border even while keeping Russia busy with some other complicated issues.

The continued massing of Western troops along Russia’s border makes good on US President Barack Obama’s September 2014 promise that the US and NATO powers would provide “eternal” military assistance to the Baltic states. In effect, Obama committed the most powerful military alliance in the world to waging all-out war against Russia should one of the tiny Baltic states claim to be under attack from Moscow.

The charge of “Russian aggression” against Europe is among the central lies employed by present-day imperialism. Seizing on the secession of Crimea from post-coup Ukraine and the enclave’s integration into the Russian Federation, the NATO establishment has sought to justify its war preparations as a defensive precaution in the face of a Putin government supposedly primed to invade Central Europe.

The Western military alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed NATO is sending 4,000 additional troops to Eastern Europe in the name of reassuring Poland and the Baltic states and “We will agree to deploy by rotation four robust multi-national battalions in the Baltic States and Poland”. The announcement of new troop deployments comes in the midst of Operation Anaconda 2016, involving more than 30,000 NATO forces in the biggest war drill held in Poland since the end of the Second World War. Some 12,500 of the 30,000 soldiers are American.

The USA, Germany and Britain will each contribute 1,000 soldiers, with Canada will confirm its own contingent of 1,000. The deployments are among the most provocative actions taken by the NATO high command in the course of its anti-Russian buildup, now well into its second year. With ever greater recklessness, the US and European ruling elites are sowing the seeds of war across the width and breadth of the Eurasian landmass which is under the Kremlin supervision.

According to media reports, NATO officials are looking for Canada to deploy about 1,000 combat soldiers to a base in Latvia on a permanent basis. These Canadian soldiers would be part of a joint German, British and US Baltic deployment totaling 4,000 troops. NATO has apparently singled out Canada to provide troops for a new deterrent force in Eastern Europe.

Since April 2014, Canada has been sporadically deploying small contingents of combat troops to Eastern Europe for brief training exercises. These rotating missions were part of Canada’s contribution to NATO’s Operation Reassurance, which was triggered by Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and the severe unrest in Eastern Ukraine.

The integration of former Soviet republic Georgia into NATO is slated to be a core issue at next month’s NATO summit in Warsaw. Russia and the pro-Western government of Georgia fought a brief war in 2008, and Moscow has vociferously opposed the country’s joining the US-dominated military alliance. The integration of Georgia would greatly facilitate the projection of USA and NATO power against Russia’s southern flank in the Caucasus and Caspian Sea Basin.

The NATO buildup in Eastern Europe is producing levels of militarist frenzy not seen in Europe since the 1930s. Last week’s announcement of intensified US military operations in Afghanistan is bound up with preparations to use that country as well to strike against Russia’s “soft underbelly” in Central Asia, in particular against Russian interests in Kazakhstan.

Justification

The more hawkish experts breathlessly refer to the Baltic States — Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia — as NATO’s eastern “flank” (rather than using the words border or boundary), implying that a war with Russia is already underway.

US, European imperialism is committed to defend the Baltics because it supplies them with a pretext and a staging area for covert and military operations along Russia’s flanks. In Washington and some European capitals, powerful elements within the imperialist circles are actively conspiring to engineer further provocations and destabilization operations against Russia.

Citing unnamed NATO sources, British media accused Russia of “circumventing the Vienna accord and building up troop numbers in sensitive locations on Europe’s doorstep.” Announcing plans to boost military expenditures by $3 billion annually, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg declared: “This will send a clear signal that NATO stands ready to defend any ally.”

US decision to retain the NATO to face “future threats” though the Soviet threat was over, is justified with the “invention” of terrorism. Now the NATO seems convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin had begun his quest for world domination, and NATO needed to rush terror forces in state uniforms to the ramparts of Fortress Europe. The NATO combat contingents have since long dutifully conducted training operations in Poland and the Baltic, obviously targeting Russia.

Russian involvement in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea and now military strikes in Syria are used for strengthening their strategic position. But Putin’s annexation of the Crimea followed a bloodless occupation and a referendum wherein 96.77 per cent of the population chose to join Russia rather than remain a part of the internally collapsing Ukraine. Two years after Russia’s annexation, more than 80 per cent of Crimean poll respondents reported that they remain happy with their decision to secede from Ukraine.

In contrast, nine years after Kosovo’s declared independence and 17 years after the NATO intervention, residents are voting with their feet: Considered the poorest and most corrupt country in Europe, tens of thousands of Kosovars out of a population of less than two million have joined the mobs of migrants seeking a better life in Western Europe.

In truly hypocritical fashion, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, protecting imperialism and Zionism, denounced the Crimea referendum as a sham and burbled, “You can’t just redraw the map of Europe.” This would be the same Hilary Clinton whose presidential hubby Bill led 1999’s 78-day NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in order to create an independent Kosovo. That bloody intervention cost the lives of thousands of Serbian and Albanian citizens, and when Kosovo did proclaim unilateral independence in 2007, it was done without any referendum.

Furthermore, Putin’s ”land grab” in the Crimea was something of a strategic necessity given the February 2014 overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev and the subsequent civil unrest across Ukraine. The Crimea was historically Russian and even after Ukraine separated from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Black Sea Fleet continued to lease from Ukraine its navy base in Sevastopol. The current lease was not due to expire until 2040, but Putin could not risk a pro-Western regime in Kiev threatening his fleet’s expulsion. Hence the need for annexation!

In the subsequent interval, Putin has made no further claims on additional Ukrainian territory. He has not annexed the rebellious pro-Russian eastern provinces and Russian foreign policy remains committed to the breakaway, self-declared independent republics of Donetsk and Luhansk remaining within a Ukrainian federation — albeit with increased autonomy. Also, against all predictions by those longing for a good old Cold War-style showdown with the ‘Russkies’, the Minsk II ceasefire agreement continues to hold, with only occasional minor infractions by both sides.

For NATO to move 4,000 combat troops right up to Russia’s Baltic borders at this moment has to be seen as a deliberate provocation of Russia, just as things seem to be stabilizing. The question is: When Canada was asked to contribute to this force at the Russian door steps, why are the other European NATO members staying away in droves?

The Baltic Sea is a brackish inland sea, perhaps the largest body of brackish water in the world. As it is inland sea, the water flow between Baltic Sea and the North Sea is small, so the countries around the Baltic Sea are reducing the pollution and trying to make cleaner Baltic Sea.

Unfortunately, USA and NATO are eager to pollute the region by terror wars with Russia. Already the NATO’s wars in Afghanistan and Arab world have contributed to the fast changing and deadly polluted enviromental scenario.

NATO is harmful to humanity and atmosphere too!

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Defense

SIPRI Report: Transparency in military spending in sub-Saharan Africa higher than expected

MD Staff

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The level of transparency in military spending in sub-Saharan Africa is greater than previously thought, according to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Between 2012 and 2017, 45 of the 47 states surveyed published at least one official budget document in a timely manner online.

‘Contrary to common belief, countries in sub-Saharan Africa show a high degree of transparency in how they spend money on their military,’ says Dr Nan Tian, Researcher in the SIPRI Arms Transfers and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘Citizens everywhere should know where and how public money is spent. It is encouraging that national reporting in sub-Saharan Africa has improved.’

No transparency in Equatorial Guinea and Eritrea; fall in Botswana

While SIPRI’s study shows that there is generally a high degree of transparency in the military sector in sub-Saharan Africa, Equatorial Guinea and Eritrea have not published any official information on military spending since 2009 and 2003 respectively, and Botswana was one of very few states to show a deterioration in transparency. Recently in Botswana, official budgetary reports have become increasingly difficult to obtain, there is a lack of a national defence policy and almost no government information or dialogue exists on issues such as arms procurement.

‘While these issues are worrying, the main cause for concern is the decreased public engagement on military-related matters,’ says Dr Tian.

Botswana had the third highest percentage increase in military spending between 2014 and 2017. Military spending grew by 60 per cent (or $182 million) in that period as part of several military procurement programmes involving France and Switzerland.

‘This military spending increase has occurred despite the fact that Botswana is located in one of the least conflict-prone areas of Africa and is one of the few states in sub-Saharan Africa to have never been involved in an armed conflict,’ says Dr Tian.

Substantial increase in transparency in the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the stand-out cases with substantial improvements in military sector transparency. There is evidence of improved oversight and accountability in budget reporting, such as implementing an official budget formulation process and publishing budget execution reports both quarterly and biannually. Although improvements are still needed in the areas of accessibility and disaggregation, military sector transparency has increased substantially.

‘The publication of accessible spending information is a major step towards greater transparency and accountability in the military sector,’ says Tian.

Reporting to the United Nations needs to improve

Unlike Europe and South America, there are currently no regional reporting mechanisms in place in sub-Saharan Africa for exchanging information on military expenditure between states. The UN Report on Military Expenditures is the only international reporting system to which states in sub-Saharan Africa have agreed to participate. In the period 2008–17, only five states in sub-Saharan Africa reported at least once, and no reports were submitted during the years 2015–17.

‘It is clear from SIPRI’s study that the lack of UN reporting is not due to a lack of information. Rather, the challenge is to encourage countries to submit data to the UN,’ says Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers and Military Expenditure Programme.

‘Government transparency at the international level is key to reinforcing trust and encouraging dialogue between countries,’ says Ambassador Jan Eliasson, Chair of the SIPRI Governing Board and former UN Deputy Secretary-General. ‘Therefore, UN member states need to work together on implementing and improving reporting,’ he says

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Defense

Sleepwalking Toward Nuclear War

Igor Ivanov

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Authors: Des Browne, Wolfgang Ischinger, Igor S. Ivanov, Sam Nunn

This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, one of the world’s most horrific conflicts.  One of the best accounts of how this tragedy began, by the historian Christopher Clark, details how a group of well-meaning European leaders—“The Sleepwalkers”—led their nations into a war with 40 million military and civilian casualties. Today, we face similar risks of mutual misunderstandings and unintended signals, compounded by the potential for the use of nuclear weapons—where millions could be killed in minutes rather than over four years of protracted trench warfare. Do we have the tools to prevent an incident turning into unimaginable catastrophe?

For those gripped with complacency, consider this scenario. It is 2019. Russia is conducting a large military exercise in its territory bordering NATO. A NATO observer aircraft accidentally approaches Russian airspace, and is shot down by a Russian surface to air missile. Alarmed, NATO begins to mobilize reinforcements. There is concern on both sides over recent nuclear deployments in the wake of the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Suddenly, both NATO and Russia issue ultimatums—each noting their respective nuclear capabilities and willingness to use them if vital interests are threatened. Europe is edging towards a conventional conflict, and the risk of escalation to nuclear use is very real.

Each of the strands in this hypothetical scenario is visible in the wind today, exacerbated by new threats—such as cyber risks to early warning and command and control systems, which can emerge at any point in a crisis and trigger misunderstandings and unintended signals that could accelerate nations toward war. This is all happening against a backdrop of unease and uncertainty in much of the Euro-Atlantic region resulting from the Ukraine crisis, Syria, migration, Brexit, new technologies, and new and untested leaders now emerging in many Euro-Atlantic states.

What can be done to stop this drift toward madness?

When leaders from across Europe meet in Paris on 11 November to mark the 100th anniversary of the conclusion of World War I, those with nuclear weapons—President Donald Trump, President Vladimir Putin, President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May—should reinforce the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.  This principle, articulated at the height of the Cold War by the presidents of the United States and Russia, was embraced then by all European countries. It would communicate that leaders today recognize their responsibility to work together to prevent nuclear catastrophe and provide a foundation for other practical steps to reduce the risk of nuclear use—including resolving the current problems with INF and extending the New START Treaty through 2026.

There remains the challenge of rebuilding trust between the United States, NATO and Russia so that it will again be possible to address major security challenges in the Euro-Atlantic region. This was done throughout the Cold War and must again be done today. This process could begin with a direction by leaders to their respective governments to renew a mutually beneficial dialogue on crisis management, especially in absence of trust.

Crisis management dialogue was an essential tool throughout the Cold War—used for managing the “day-to-day” of potentially dangerous military activities, not for sending political signals. Leaders should not deprive themselves of this essential tool today. Used properly, crisis management can be instrumental in avoiding a crisis ever reaching the point where military forces clash inadvertently or where the use of nuclear weapons needs to be signaled, let alone considered, by leaders with perhaps only minutes to make such a fateful choice.

In reviewing the run up to past wars, there is one common denominator: those involved in the decision making have looked back and wondered how it could have happened, and happened so quickly? In Paris next week, 100 years after the guns across Europe fell silent, leaders can begin taking important steps to ensure a new and devastating war will not happen today.

Des Browne, a former British defense secretary, is Vice Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and Chair of the European Leadership Network.

Wolfgang Ischinger, former German Ambassador to the United States, is Chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Professor for Security Policy and Diplomatic Practice at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

Igor S. Ivanov, former Russian Foreign Minister and Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation from 2004 to 2007, is President of the Russian International Affairs Council.

Sam Nunn, a former Democratic US senator, is Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

First published in our partner RIAC

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Defense

S-400: A Game Changer in South Asia

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India and Russia have signed a US$5b deal, under which India will receive S-400 air defence missile system – that is poised to be game changer in South Asian strategic environment.

The Russians have definitely made a breakthrough with sales of weapons to some NATO countries with uncertain futures in the bloc (e.g. Greece, Turkey) and strong US client countries such as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states such as the UAE. India’s procurement of five S-400 regiments that is expected to be completed in 2020 is something that is giving a new dynamics to the issue.

The main usage of S-400 long-range missile is against stand-off systems including flying command posts and aircraft such as the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). These aircraft, which are used by the US and its NATO allies with a squadron stationed in Japan at Kadena Air Force Base and in the UAE at al-Dhafra, are vulnerable to S-400 interceptors and lose their stand-off range protection.

The S-400 missile system is a state-of-the-art air defence and anti ballistic missile platform with a maximum range of 400km against aircraft while reportedly can engage ballistic missiles at 40km range. It is considered one of the best defense systems in existence. Russian-made Almaz-Antei S-400 Triumf air defense systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) are expected to be fully integrated with the Indian Air Force’s IACCS (integrated air command and control system). The IACCS is an automated command and control system for air defense, which integrates the service’s air and ground-based air sensors and weapons systems.

The S-400 Triumph missile defense system is a significant strategic upgrade in India’s military hardware and in its pursuit to become a global power. The development is particularly worrisome for Pakistan.  The system if deployed along Pakistan border will provide India an edge of 600kms radar coverage with option of shooting down incoming aircraft from 400kms from its territory.

However, India’s purchase of S-400s and its option to acquire upgraded US Patriot systems remains on the table as well. This extensive arms shopping spree by Indian side includes C-17 Globemaster and C-130J transport aircraft, P-8(I) maritime reconnaissance aircraft, M777 lightweight howitzers, Harpoon missiles, and Apache and Chinook helicopters. The US will likely accept India’s request for Sea Guardian drones, and American manufacturers including Lockheed Martin and Boeing are contenders for mega arms deals with India. This (S-400) will further destabilize strategic stability in South Asia, besides leading to a renewed arms race which is disadvantageous for the peace of entire region.

The Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law tries to push back against Russia’s malign activity around the world.

“We urge all of our allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that would trigger sanctions under CAATSA,” a State Department Spokesperson said

When asked about India’s plan to purchase multi-billion S-400 missile defense system from Russia.

“The Administration has indicated that a focus area for the implementation of CAATSA Section 231 is new or qualitative upgrades in capability – including the S-400 air and missile defense system,” the spokesperson said.

Islamabad has from decades faced various stringent sanctions and severe political pressure from Washington. This all is evident from opposition over transfer of any sophisticated arms including the F-16s falcons.

The silence over such issue by Washington seems to be a part of its ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy, considering China as the next global adversary. Washington is in a difficult position where it is seeking to bolster ties with India to counter China’s growing assertiveness while maintaining pressure on Russia. Whereas, China may not fret over the S-400 system deal provided to India but it will have implications for Pakistan’s Air Force and missile program both.

Finally, it cannot be underestimated that most of Indian defense system is Pakistan centric. As far conventional weapons are concerned, the balance has always been in India’s favor, because of India’s better and larger economy. Therefore, Pakistan is concerned about this deal keeping in mind that it disrupts the equation of conventional weapons that exist in this region.

The induction of S-400 might lower the nuclear threshold to a new level that is already precarious with the waivers and blessings by big powers to India. These moves have the capacity to lead the region in a spiraling arms race which can bring about an increase in instability through the escalation of an already dangerous arms buildup in the region.

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