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NATO threatens Russia with invasion

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The heads of state and heads of government of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), held at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, on 8 and 9 July 2016. The two-day summit was attended by a wide array of world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US president Obama. In addition to Russia, the member countries are expected to discuss topics like anti-terrorism efforts in Iraq and the rest of the Muslim world, the mission in Afghanistan, and defense spending, but also Brexit and cooperation with the European Union.

The NATO summit opened with alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg and Polish President Andrzej Duda addressing the public in Warsaw on Friday. NATO members discussed a response to what they see as aggressive Russian actions in Eastern Europe, specifically in Ukraine. Poland and other eastern NATO members have demanded more NATO involvement close to Russian borders. Polish President Duda called for “deepening relations” with those countries and establishing “an enhanced presence in Eastern and Central Europe.” On Friday, Stoltenberg said NATO had stepped up its capabilities in response to the alleged Russian threat.

In his opening statement, Stoltenberg said NATO “does not seek confrontation.” “Russia is our biggest neighbor and the integral part of European security,” he said, adding that the alliance would continue dialogue with the Kremlin. “We don’t want a new Cold War,” Stoltenberg said. “The Cold War is history and should remain history”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has accused Russia of “unsettling” NATO allies with its actions in Ukraine. In her speech before Germany’s parliament, the chancellor called for both “deterrence and dialogue” with Moscow. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen backed deployment in Eastern Europe and said NATO should deal with Russia “consistently, calmly and soberly” and signal Moscow that it has nothing to fear. The Kremlin actions can be “completely unpredictable and aggressive,” but there is also a Russia that cooperates on the crisis in Iran and Libya, von der Leyen said.

The main focus was the formal ratification of plans to dispatch thousands more NATO troops to Poland and the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—all countries bordering Russia. In remarks made in the presence of Polish President Andrzej Duda, Stoltenberg praised NATO’s opening of military headquarters and missile bases across Eastern Europe as well as the tripling of the alliance’s rapid response force to 40,000 troops. “Our presence will be multinational and a clear message that an attack on one ally is an attack on the whole alliance,” he declared.

The highlights on the first day of the summit, July 8, include agreement to station four battalions of about 1,000 soldiers each in NATO’s east – Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -on a rotational basis, starting next year. Canada will lead the battalion for Latvia, Germany in Lithuania, the United Kingdom in Estonia and the United States in Poland. NATO members also agreed to beef up their cyber defenses.

On July 09, the second and final day of the NATO summit, NATO heads of state approved a major military escalation in Eastern Europe and continuing deployments to Afghanistan. These initiatives, together with expanded NATO military cooperation with former Soviet republics, including Georgia and Ukraine, are all aimed at encircling and preparing for war against Russia. Besides shoring up its presence among NATO’S eastern members to deter any possible Russian strike, “We have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force to 40,000 troops with a Spearhead Force at its core able to move within a matter of days.

The alliance approved the largest military buildup in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. President Petro Poroshenko met with leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy as part of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. Regarding Ukraine, while Western allies have stressed that NATO members will reaffirm their support in the struggle against Russia’s war, details are still short on specifics and rhetorical backing has outpaced financial support.

Ukraine

Ukraine has also been disappointed by the West’s commitment to Ukraine. Obama never visited Ukraine. Ukrainians had hopes at the beginning of the year that, looking at Obama’s scheduled appearance in Warsaw, he would take the opportunity after the summit to visit nearby Kyiv in the waning days of his presidency. Instead, Obama has chosen to go to Spain, the largest European country he hasn’t visited yet, and a key NATO ally. He will leave office as the first president since Ronald Reagan not to visit Ukraine while in office.

Stoltenberg talked about Ukraine’s status at another morning press briefing on July 8 during an experts’ forum. “They are focusing on the reforms and will wait with the application until they have moved further and modernize the defense sector, more than is the case today,” Stoltenberg said of Ukraine’s leaders. “We support them with political support and practical support. We will also step up that support at this summit. What is unchanged is every nation has the right to choose its own path. It applies to Georgia, Ukraine and all other nations. Whether Georgia or Ukraine or any other nation is going to be a member of NATO is up to that nation to decide and the 28 allies. That’s a fundamental principle that every nation has the right to decide its own path.”

Stoltenberg dismissed the premise of a question that the multinational troop buildup of NATO allies on Russia’s border shows that the alliance is the aggressor, not Russia. ” We have seen a more assertive Russia.. We are increasing our military presence in the Baltic countries and Poland, but there is no doubt that is something we do as a response to what Russia did in Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said. “No one talked about any military presence of the kind we now see in Poland and the Baltic countries before Ukraine, before the illegal annexation of Crimea. What we do is defensive, it is proportionate, and it’s fully in line with our international commitments.. We have seen a Russia which has been willing to use military force against sovereign nations in Europe with aggressive actions against Ukraine, the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Ben Rhodes, a US deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, talked about America’s commitment to Ukraine. “In particular on Ukraine, it’s an important opportunity to reaffirm our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, to stress the urgency of moving forward with the implementation of the Minsk agreements, and expressing our continued determination to maintain sanctions on Russia should they not follow through on those commitments,” Rhodes said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Kyiv on July 7, said Ukraine has a long way to go before it is NATO-ready. “And NATO will also welcome Ukraine’s progress on defense reforms, particularly on civilian oversight of the armed forces and its move towards NATO standards. In addition, we have contributed in kind to four of the six trust funds specifically the command and control, the cyber, the medical rehabilitation, and logistics,” Kerry said, Ukraine has a long way to go in order to modernize and reform its defense sector and increase its interoperability with NATO, which is part of the discussion that takes place in the context of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.” Poroshenko called for stronger pressure by the West against Russia, but did not specify what steps he was advocating. “Pressure on the aggressor must be intensified until the Kremlin fulfills its obligations under the Minsk agreements, reverses the illegal and illegitimate self-declared annexation of Crimea, and comes back under the rule of law,” Poroshenko wrote.

During the alliance’s last summit, held in Wales in 2014, the leaders agreed a “Readiness Action Plan” to strengthen the defence of its most vulnerable members against Russia. But NATO remains constrained by an earlier agreement signed with Russia in 1997. Under this “founding act”, the alliance promised not to permanently deploy any combat troops in any member country east of Germany, provided the “security environment” did not change.

Russian adventurism

Russian President Puitn displayed new brand of Russian assertive politics. In 2014, Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine, annexing the territory of a European country for the first time since 1945. Afterwards, Russia invaded eastern Ukraine, starting a war that has claimed 9,000 lives and driven 1.7 million people from their homes. NATO’s eastern members, particularly those who border Russia, want assurances that they will never share the same fate. In one set of war games last March, 33,000 Russian troops practiced how to launch nearly simultaneous attacks on Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. The latter two countries were also the target of simulated nuclear strikes by the Russian air force in 2013, almost every week, Russia dispatches jet fighters and bombers to probe the airspace of NATO’s eastern members.

NATO members say Russia might invade the Baltic States sooner or later. And countries like Estonia, along with NATO are other Baltic members, now feel most exposed to Russian ambitions. The NATO idea is to have one infantry battalion each in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The idea is that they would serve as a “tripwire” for any Russian invasion, demonstrating to the Kremlin that it would have to fight NATO troops and start a war with the entire alliance – including America – if it ever attacked a member state. In this way, the summit in Warsaw aimed to preserve the peace by deterring Russia.

Nonetheless, Russia’s war against Ukraine – in its third year – and its illegal military invasion and annexation of the Crimean peninsula – are driving the political-military alliance’s priorities.

In a recent interview, former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said that Ukraine should abandon its dreams about joining NATO as he predicted more instability for Europe ahead.

The leaders of the 28 NATO allies and their partners at Warsaw summit agreed on sending four multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, on a rotational basis. NATO’s plan to enhance presence in Europe aims to reassure allies on its eastern flank rather than unleash a new cold war. The conflict in Ukraine, the migration crisis and terrorism are among the most dangerous threats to the Western world.

Although the SCO under Moscow’s leadership is not considered a serious threat, NATO views the formidable Russo-China military tie ups a dangerous phenomenon.

Tensions

The real cause of tensions around the world and reason for Israel’s aggressive attacks on Palestinians has been the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), established in 1949 to threaten Soviet Union and stop its eastward expansionism. NATO claims responsibility to ensure the security of its member states in both the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea.

NATO protects all member countries. Under Article V of this agreement, an “armed attack against one” NATO member “shall be considered an attack against them all”. On the evening of 12 September 2001, less than 24 hours after the 9/11 attacks, and for the first time in NATO’s history, the allies invoked the principle of Article 5 without in fact knowing the nation that attacked USA. But the Neocons readily invented an Islamizing Afghanistan as being the culprit requiring terror attacks by NATO.

Tensions between Russia and the West have skyrocketed in the past two years, with both sides holding large military maneuvers. Moscow and the alliance traded blame for the escalation.

During the two-day summit in Warsaw, NATO members will decide on placing four battalions in Poland and the Baltic countries neighboring Russia as part of the largest military buildup on the alliance’s eastern flank in decades.

Russia is becoming increasingly assertive in the Black Sea. Three current NATO member states (Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria) and one NATO aspirant with close ties to the alliance (Georgia) share the Black Sea with Russia. All these countries have expressed serious concern about Moscow’s growing assertiveness in the Black Sea region.

In response to NATO expansion and its containment policy, Russia often cites a 1997 agreement in which NATO pledged not to create permanent bases in former Eastern bloc states. US officials, however, claim that the troops would be rotated rather than stationed permanently. Stoltenberg said NATO would “project stability,” including in countries that have been confronted by Russia. “We will also affirm our commitment to our partners in the east, to Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, to help them resist outside pressures, and advance reform,” Stoltenberg said.

The NATO concerns are still greater because Russia has conducted a series of military exercises, supposedly designed to rehearse the invasion of neighbouring countries. Some of these drills have involved anything from 40,000 to 80,000 troops. Russia repeatedly said it has no empire ambitions and it won’t revive the Soviet Union.

While Ukraine’s status as victim of Russian aggression is driving NATO priorities, Ukraine remains far from any membership in NATO as it hasn’t even applied to join the alliance.

Existential challenge to NATO as permanent terror body

A serious mistake was made by the USA and those NATO member states – primarily France and the United Kingdom – by their joint invasion of Afghanistan on false pretext only to destroy Islamic regime in Kabul, invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011 without a corresponding readiness to engage in post-conflict stabilization. The consequences of this flawed fascist approach have emerged in the form of severe political fanaticism and factionalization, the rise of the Islamic State group and a migrant crisis that has brought thousands to the shores of Europe.

Now NATO has been facing an existential challenge as it has indeed become redundant with the Warsaw Treaty led by Russia was abolished following the end of Cold War. But USA, in order to maintain global military superiority, does not want to dismantle the Western military club saying it is necessary to fight the future threats like terrorism. And in order to prove the argument USA created terrorism by employing Muslims who fought against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and coolly called it “Islamic fundamentalist terrorism’ and directed the media to blast the terror news prominently .

Individual NATO member states such as Turkey, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands have directly taken part in airstrikes against the Islamic State group while others have contributed ammunition and equipment. But given the threat to Europe posed by the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, NATO needs to be more involved. At the Warsaw summit, the alliance must express a willingness to augment its role in the fight to roll back and end the terror war launched by Bush Jr.

The alliance currently has 12,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. NATO collectively must commit additional resources to bolster its Resolute Support mission and support Afghan forces. For the USA, their intention to maintain current troop levels in Afghanistan until the end of the yea means retaining 9,800 troops instead of reducing their numbers to 5,500 as planned.

Multinational conflicts in Syria and Iraq led by USA and Russia have generated a refugee crisis of historic proportions that continues to threaten Europe’s security and its cohesion. NATO must play a larger role to address these conflicts and bring peace back to the region. .

Turkey is worried that NATO’s migrant mission in the Aegean is distracting the alliance from these rising threats. Just as Russian military aircraft have harassed and conducted dangerous overflights of U.S. vessels in the Baltics Sea, they have done the same in the Black Sea. Yet the latter does not receive the same attention as the former.

The NATO terror outcomes and destabilization of Arab world, Afghanistan and Pakistan form the western democratic contribution to the world.

War propaganda

In order to allocate more resources for military, the western powers spread Russian threat and war propaganda.

According to western reports, through an act of invasion of Baltic, Russian president Putin is likely to bid to make Russia a great power again. Former deputy commander of Nato General Sir Richard Shirreff in his new book predicts that the West would be at war with Russia within the year. The Kremlin will invade the Baltic States through Latvia and threaten to go nuclear if NATO attempts a military response.

Poland and the Baltic countries call for a strong response to pre-empt another annexation like that of Crimea. The Germans and French would call for negotiations with Moscow. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in direct opposition to the Polish president, insisted that the Russia-NATO Founding Act remained valid.

The NATO battalions are touted as a “spearhead” rapid reaction force on the border with Russia that will tackle a range of possible threats. The force will be used to buy the alliance some time to mount a serious counteroffensive but will not stop any type of intervention in the short term. The deployment was unlikely change the balance of power in the region. It will, however, enhance the capability of Allies to maintain, and if required, implement their collective self-defense commitments

The arguments advanced by Stoltenberg for a confrontation with Russia are political lies—above all, the claim that Russia’s support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine proves it is an aggressive power dedicated to military conquest in Europe. He explained yesterday, “We are increasing our military presence in the Baltic countries and Poland, but there is no doubt that it is something we do as a response to what Russia did in Ukraine.”

Terror budget

The Cold War was the period when military spending in many countries grew almost without control. As a result, in some countries military budgets reached a stunning two percent of GDP. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 it became clear that the threat from the Soviet Union overinflated, but it was used to justify increased military spending in the West. Lobbying groups have again brought up the Russian threat to politicians and the European public.

NATO and USA had all previously made it clear that the 28-nation bloc did not seek a confrontation with Russia or a new cold war, but all their actions point to the contrary

In February, NATO defense minister approved the deployment of NATO troops to Eastern Europe. Total military spending of the NATO members since 1990 has reached €20.2 trillion. At the same time, Russia has spent only €1.3 trillion on defense since 1990. NATO’s demand to increase military spending sounds absurd. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, NATO allies have raised only 5 million Euros in trust fund money for Ukraine, in contrast to Afghanistan, for example, to which NATO trust funds have committed $1.3 billion Euros.

NATO needs more and more money as it seeks to send battalions to every country if finds a “threat”, but now Poland and the Baltics. In fact every country that does not support USA in its global terror war is treated in Washington as a threat. The force should be composed of at least 2,000 troops, ideally closer to 4,000. Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States have already agreed to lead three battalions, and the Visegrad Four – Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary – have in a separate initiative committed a total of 600 troops to the Baltics.

Why NATO wants its members to increase military spending? The only reason for this requirement is that the United States wants an arms race against Russia and China. Europe should not be involved in this process because Europe is not interested in supporting Washington’s ambitions to deter China.

The summit argued the European countries should not increase military spending and instead invest in the EU’s defense capabilities, confusing everybody, to oppose the new NATO norm of two percent and adopt a two-percent norm for the EU, including one percent of GDP for defense and one percent for global social and environmental challenges

Does NATO aim at a world war?

One thing is quite certain: USA does not want to end its misguided terror wars even the destabilization of many Muslim nations and loot of their vital resources, including oil, as they coerce the nations to buy their terror goods directly and through their agent for the third world Israel.

The danger that such a conflict could erupt at any time, whether by design or inadvertently, emerged very directly in last month’s massive NATO military exercise, Operation Anaconda, involving 30,000 NATO forces in Poland. Moscow responded by mobilizing a comparable number of troops in western regions of Russia, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that Moscow reserved the right to take whatever measures were necessary to defend itself.

What has been going on in the name of terror war is NATO’s permanent war. NATO plans for military action in countries ranging from Libya to Georgia and Ukraine, Afghanistan and the regions bordering China are to be the subject of extensive discussion in Warsaw.

The way Obama escalated terror war in Mideast only shows the USA has no intention of ending the fake terror wars only to kill Muslims. The full list of targets identified in NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s opening remarks spans much of the globe. He served notice that NATO would step up military action in Iraq and Syria and expand its deployments in the Mediterranean and across NATO’s entire “neighborhood.”

The purpose of these political lies is to present the imperialist powers’ war drive as a defensive effort to preserve “peace and stability,” even as it threatens to unleash a war of unimaginable dimensions.

The aggressor in Ukraine was not the Kremlin oligarchy, however, but Washington and Berlin, which ousted an elected pro-Russian government in Ukraine by orchestrating violent, right-wing nationalist protests in Kiev. Washington had spent $5 billion to promote the Ukrainian opposition.

NATO Gen Shirreff points towards the short war between Russia and Georgia in 2008, the annexation of the Crimea two years ago and the separatist strife in eastern Ukraine as part of a grand plan of Russian expansion. Far from laying the basis for a peaceful and democratic capitalist development, Moscow was the opening act of a protracted crisis of the entire nation-state system in Europe and internationally.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the NATO does not intend to refuse to cooperate with Russia. “We are unanimous in the position that continuous security in Europe is only possible with Russia, and not in opposition to it. The central place for dialogue with Russia remains the NATO-Russia Council,” Merkel told the Bundestag. Gen Shirreff asked USA to position personnel and weapons in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe. NATO is, in fact, in the process of doing just that to the chagrin of the Kremlin which holds this breaches the pledge made by the Alliance to Boris Yeltsin’s government in 1997 that it will not have permanent troop presence in any of the former Warsaw Pact states.

NATO defense shield

NATO has put in place NATO defense shield in Eastern Europe, targeting Russian territory. The idea is to attack Russia and not let Russia retaliate back to USA or Europe. However, Russia has put in place advanced technology to deter western missiles and destroy them before they reach Russian territory.

NATO defense shield now in Romania is meant to check any possible Russian missiles. Defense shield gives the NATO member states the power to intercept any missiles fired from Russia once war broke out. But now Russia has said they are going to retaliate and eliminate the threat and that means they will actually destroy the shield in Romania which then the west will use as a pretext to go war with Russia. In the run-up to the summit, the Polish president called for the formal scrapping of the Founding Act.

The Warsaw summit’s plans amount to the final repudiation, more or less explicitly, of the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act, in which NATO pledged that it would not exploit the dissolution of the Soviet Union to rearm in Europe and pursue an aggressive strategy against Russia. The act stated that NATO would undergo a “historic transformation,” “radically” reducing its military forces and ensuring that NATO and Russia “not consider each other as adversaries.”

NATO and EU, mediated by the USA, cooperate against Russia. In 2014, NATO suspended practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia amid strained relations over the Ukrainian crisis, as the Alliance accused Moscow of involvement in the conflict. Political dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council, however, was not halted. Russian reaction caused serious economic weakening in Europe. The Greeks, Italians and Spanish make clear that their economies had already suffered enough from the sanctions on Russia after the annexation of Crimea.

NATO has been building up its military presence in Eastern Europe, using Moscow’s alleged interference in Ukraine as a pretext for the move. Moscow has repeatedly denied the claims and warned NATO that the military buildup on Russia’s borders is provocative and threatens the existing strategic balance of power.

Over the last quarter century, the Eastern European countries and the former Soviet republics were thrown open to capitalist exploitation and imperialist intrigue, joining NATO or the European Union. Particularly after the 2014 Kiev putsch, with the emergence of a pro-Western Ukrainian regime, Russia has found itself surrounded by hostile states allied to NATO and thrown back militarily to the positions it held 75 years ago following the Nazi invasion of the USSR. In this crisis, the policies of all of the capitalist factions are deeply reactionary. The Kremlin oligarchy’s attempt to use the military to pressure the imperialist powers for an accommodation only heightens the war danger.

A further factor driving the aggressive policies of the imperialist powers is the increasingly bitter and intractable crisis within NATO itself, exacerbated by the June 23 British vote to leave the EU. Washington and several Eastern European states, including Poland, have called for an even more aggressive policy towards Russia.

Germany, followed by France and Italy, on the other hand, are proposing a more independent foreign policy, i.e., independent of Washington, involving a rapid expulsion of Britain from the EU and a ratcheting down of the confrontation with Russia.

Stoltenberg’s rationalization for mass military deployments to Eastern Europe by all of the major NATO powers is extraordinarily reckless and sinister. The best way to secure the NATO alliance, according to Stoltenberg, is to permanently threaten Russia with nuclear war by ensuring that any local conflict involving Russia in Eastern Europe immediately escalates to all-out conflict between Russia and the entire NATO alliance.

Russian military jets have carried out more sorties in a day in Syria than the US-led coalition has done in a month. The Russian navy has launched ballistic missiles from the Caspian Sea 900 miles way. Russian advances in military technology is routine and does not mean that Kremlin is about to launch an attack, although it may add to the argument for increased defence spending.

Unlike American presidents with hidden agendas, President Putin is not a bad person the media make out him to be and he has actually been constantly warning NATO ever since they started talking about installing the missile defence shield in Eastern Europe that all they are doing is undermining the security of their nations. NATO especially the US just kept saying it’s not targeted at Russia but they are there to only target Iran. Anyone with a bit of common sense knows that is load of crap meant to fool Moscow.

Twenty-five years after the much heralded victory of capitalism and the USA in the Cold War, USA and world imperialism have shown mankind the true “benefits” of capitalism: ever increasing social inequality and poverty, the promotion of national chauvinism and racism, the drive to dictatorship, and the looming danger of a nuclear Third World War. But America could not the entire world.

Observations

The July 8-9 NATO summit in Warsaw marks an extraordinary escalation of the ongoing wars in Mideast into a global war drive of the capitalist-imperialist powers—above all, the economic, political and military campaign against Russia launched two years ago. The USA and Germany backed putsch toppled a pro-Russian government in Ukraine, leading to the current conflict there.

The Sept-11 hoax perpetrated essentially by anti-Islamic forces in USA let the NATO forces invade and destabilize an Islamizing Afghanistan and gave rise to terrorization of international politics.

NATO faces unprecedented challenges from both east and south. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused the alliance to refocus on its original raison d’etre of territorial defense. But unconventional threats from nonstate actors and humanitarian crises fueled by ongoing conflict in the Middle East and North Africa are pushing NATO to become alert and upgrade military equipment. .

The summit’s main military objective is to threaten Russia with invasion by massively expanding NATO forces’ presence along Russia’s borders. More broadly, it seeks to formalize NATO’s transformation into an alliance intervening aggressively around the world, beginning with war preparations against Moscow.

The summit finalized the exact contributions from member states amid what NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has described as a challenging regional security situation.

What these conflicts have revealed is an existential crisis of the entire system of international alliances and all of the institutions of European capitalism.

The air defenses installed by the Russia in Syria and eastern Ukraine would make it extremely hazardous for the West to carry out strikes against the Assad regime or Ukrainian separatists. Any open and prolonged Russian conflict with an Eastern European country might lead to the destruction of the NATO alliance itself.

Why should Russian he President risk all the gains with a risky hot war with an invasion of the Baltic States which, unlike Ukraine and Georgia, are members of NATO and can invoke NATO assistance?

Russia has said it would destroy the missile shield in Romania but if it really does then that would give a pretext cum justification to go for war with Russia.

NATO is also interested in holding another NATO-Russia Council after the Warsaw summit on July 8-9, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed the next Russia-NATO Council would be held in Brussels on July 13 and would be focused on the Ukrainian crisis and the situation in Afghanistan.

The escalating crises of NATO and the EU are a warning and a challenge to the international public. The unfolding crisis in Europe threatens humanity with a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Its prevention depends on the people developing a politically conscious international movement against NATO terror war and for the overthrow of capitalism and establishment of humane socialism.

USA and Russia will not have direct war of any kind – now or any time in the near future. Apparently, all five plus one veto members have informally agreed to avert and avoid any war among them because that would lead to a world war, officially.

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Romania Militarizing the Black Sea Region

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Romania’s policy in the Black Sea region is aimed at creating strategic prerequisites for Bucharest to achieve long-term regional leadership.

Russia is the only Black Sea country, which does not fit into the geopolitical landscape being built by Bucharest. It is a country with which Romania, as a member of the EU and NATO, is not bound by allied treaties. Therefore, Romania views Russia as an obstacle to its plans, and its policy is aimed at getting this hurdle out of the way.

Strengthening European security is part of the general context of containing Russia will dominate the agenda of Romania’s chairmanship of the European Council from January 2019.

Worried by the current imbalance between the northeast (Baltic region: Poland, Baltic states) and the southeast (Black Sea region: Romania) flanks of NATO, Romania will seek to offset this by beefing up NATO’s military presence at both ends of the arc of instability now being created.

Russia’s presence on the Black Sea is seen by Bucharest as a sign Moscow’s growing influence in the eastern Mediterranean region, which, simultaneously, is reducing the West’s sway over the region. Bucharest sees that as a long-term problem as a drop in the West’s influence in the Mediterranean will significantly undermine Romania’s own position in the Black Sea region.

Even though Russia’s military doctrine does not pose any deliberate threat to Romania, this still does not deter Bucharest from making anti-Russian moves. Amid the US’ and EU’s current tensions with Turkey, Bucharest has a theoretical chance to fill the emerging void in NATO’s military architecture in the Eastern Mediterranean. Bucharest is ready (and willing!) to assume some of the geopolitical functions previously assigned to Ankara to act as a regional vanguard in the confrontation with Russia on the Black Sea and increase its strategic significance for the United States and NATO.

The Black Sea region, which links Eurasia with North Africa and the Middle East, serves as a gateway to the Mediterranean, which in turn, is a corridor to the Atlantic and the ocean. Romanian politicians of the past viewed the Black Sea as a road to the Caspian via the Caucasus isthmus with access to Central Asia.

The Black Sea is Romania’s only waterway to the outside world that allows it to widen the boundaries of Romanian influence.

Romania’s geopolitical doctrine considers the Black Sea as a constituent element of Romanian national identity along with the Danube and  Dniester rivers, and of Romanians as a Black Sea nation. The political tradition of Romania views the Dniester as a natural cultural, political and geographical borderline that separates Europe from Russia-Eurasia, Romanians from Slavs and the Romanian geopolitical area from Russia. The Danube is considered as a vital artery and cradle of the Romanian people, connecting it with the Black Sea and Europe.

Therefore, Romania’s expansionism on the Black Sea is not a variable but a permanent aspect Bucharest’s foreign policy, along with two other constant vectors to Moldova and the Western Balkans. This three-tier construction constitutes the basis of the Romanian geopolitical consciousness, which, regrettably, is resulting in ill-advised foreign policy moves.

Guided, or rather misguided, by this erroneous policy, the Romanian elites have made all these three components of the Romanian national consciousness and cultural identity dependent on the ever-changing political situation in their relations with Russia.

It was exactly this policy that inevitably pushed bilateral relations on a downward path, since Russia is viewed in this context as something hostile and contrary to the  manifestations of Romanian identity in the world in a political-spatial and cultural-ideological dimension.

Romania spends 2 percent of its GDP on defense with the purchase of modern weapons accounting for a hefty 33 percent of the country’s military budget – more than in any other of NATO’s East European members. It looks like Romania’s chances of equaling Poland in terms of its strategic importance to NATO may soon increase given the country’s geographic closeness to Russia’s Crimea.

Bucharest and Warsaw have already signed an agreement on strategic partnership, and Poland’s “Three Seas” initiative and Bucharest’s “Great Romania” project geopolitically complement each other.

The idea underlying the coordinated action by Warsaw and Bucharest is to create an anti-Russian corridor extending from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, which is part of Poland’s plan to promote European cooperation along the North-South axis.

First published in our partner International Affairs

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US-China Tensions in South China Sea

Prof. Pankaj Jha

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Following the end September incident in South China Sea when a Type 052 destroyer of Chinese Navy cut ‘across the bow’ of US Navy destroyer USS Decatur  when the US vessel was passing near the Gaven Reef in Spratly islands, Trump administration has taken a serious note of this incident . It was a very close encounter which reminded of the U.S. Navy EP-3 surveillance plane disaster in 2001 when Chinese navy plane rammed into the US surveillance plane, and what followed was a diplomatic crisis. Just a week later after the two destroyers crossed each other paths, President Trump made a very curt remark on the earlier Obama administration and called it “impotent” for its lackluster approach in containing Chinese activities in South China Sea. President trump added that as Obama administration did not undertake necessary counter measures, Beijing is posing serious challenges to US ships which are operating in the contested waters of South China Sea. The impending confrontation was expected but the problem for Trump is the magnitude and timing of such confrontation would jeopardize its deft maneuvers in diplomacy. Trump has held first summit meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to manage the nuclear threat that the dictatorial regime poses to US, South Korea and Japan. Any escalation of maritime tensions would have a cascading effect on its peace initiatives with North Korea.

According to rough estimates South China Sea contains 17.7 billion tons of crude oil and more than 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Given these large estimated reserves and also very rich fishing grounds in the shallow waters of South China Sea, many nations around its periphery have claimed sovereignty over the more than 80 islands /islets islands. South China Sea is also a commercial shipping route which witnesses $4.5tn of maritime trade passing through its waters. China claims more than 80 per cent of the maritime m area of South Chain Sea citing the nine dash line drawn by Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalist government in 1949. South China Sea had a history of close encounters which were seen when Chinese navy killed 70 Vietnamese sailors in 1988 over occupation of Johnson South Reef, and thereafter when during confrontation with Philippines in 1995, it occupied Mischief reef. The features in South China Sea are islets and rocks which at times of low tide are barely 4-5 meters above the sea level and these get submerged during the high tide.

The island building process that China has undertaken has started threatening the safety and security of the sea lanes. In few of the islands under Chinese occupation in the South China sea, China has developed necessary infrastructure to support operations of the military aircraft and also missile defence batteries creating serious challenge to the US navy, and also challenging freedom of navigation for navies of other ASEAN countries as well as those of India, Japan and Australia. This assertive approach that China has adopted has resonated in the ASEAN multilateral meetings but a strong counter narrative, and criticism from the multilateral institution is missing. The ASEAN nations fearing Chinese riposte along with Chinese aggressive behaviour have tried to engage China so as to bring about a Code of Conduct in the disputed waters. China has imposed fishing ban in certain months each year in the third richest fishing grounds in the world, and also has intimidated the other claimant states fishing vessels in the past. Chinese navy had harassed Philippines Coast Guard and had snapped the undersea cables laid by a Vietnamese ship. In 2009 USS Impeccable also had to weather annoying tactics by Chinese fishing boats who have been acting as the third line of defence after Chinese navy and Coast guard. This aggressive behavior and demarcation of safe zones by the Chinese navy in and around the islands that China occupies, have threatened lives and livelihood of fishing communities of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines who make their living out of the fisheries that they catch in South China Sea.

In July2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) had given a verdict in favor of Philippines when the country took the issue of illegal Chinese occupation of features particularly islets and small islands in the EEZ of the Philippines to the international tribunal. It adjudicated that all those features which could not sustain human habitation have not right to seek an Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) of 200 nautical miles, and also declared that Chinese occupation and reclamation activities is illegal. The Philippines while awaiting an international support and US action given the fact that US and Philippines have a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) sought refuge with China to resolve the crisis. For a long time, China has been insisting on bilateral negotiations with other claimant states including Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Taiwan also occupies the largest island in South China Sea known as Itu Iba which is centrally located and it of immense strategic importance. The island building and the installation of military support and logistics structure has annoyed US and it has made very strong remarks with regard to Chinese construction activities. However, in terms of dissuading Chinese activities there has been a sublime response from US. As a result of US non–intervention, China has built nearly 2,000 acres of reclaimed land in and around its islands in South China Sea.

With South China sea heating up because of the recent incident, India will have to be cautious with regard to safeguarding its interest. The reported near confrontation between US and Chinese navy in the end of September 2018 is a matter of concern. India has also faced such intimidation tactics in the past when in July 2011 its naval ship AIRAWAT leaving the Vietnamese coast received radio message warning it of transgressing the Chinese territory in South China sea. Given this one off incident cannot be a parameter for the tension germinating in the disputed waters, India will have to be prepared for close encounters with the Chinese navy in future.

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Israeli-Iranian Nuclear Standoff: So Far Only Verbal

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A few days ago Israel and Iran traded accusations of harboring nuclear ambitions. Speaking at the 73rd session of UN General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about nuclear materials and equipment allegedly stored somewhere in Tehran.

The Iranian response did not take long coming with an enraged Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif blaming Israel for covert production of nuclear weapons.

According to Zarif, Israel is the only country in the region with a “secret” and “undeclared” nuclear arms program, which allegedly includes “a real nuclear arsenal.”

That the two countries have been engaged in a long-running cold war is no secret. Long before the 1979 Islamic revolution, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, pursued a clearly anti-Israeli line in his speeches and sermons.

“I consider Israel’s independence and its recognition as a catastrophe for Muslims undermining the activities of Islamic governments,” he said over and over again.

“The Zionist regime must be wiped off the face of the earth, and with the help of Divine power, the world will soon live without the United States and Israel,” he added.

Tehran’s anti-Israel rhetoric hasn’t changed much since Khomeini’s death.

Today, Iran is the only country that does not recognize Israel’s very right to exist.

In its 70-year history, the State of Israel has fought seven major wars with the Arabs and endless armed clashes with Palestinians and the pro-Iranian Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

Jerusalem’s relations with many Arab states have generally returned to normal and when it comes to the confrontation with Iran, some of them have even allied with the Jewish state. Meanwhile, Iran is now seen by Israel as a major threat.

Israel’s nuclear program was initiated by its founder, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. After the end of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, in which Israel was confronted by the Egyptian and Jordanian armies, Ben-Gurion realized that an atomic bomb was the only way for Israel to survive in the face of the Arab forces that outnumbered the Israelis many times over.

The history of the creation and possession of Israel’s nuclear weapons is interesting per se and reads like a detective story. What is really important, however, is Israel’s ability to obtain nuclear capability in a short time and virtually without conducting any nuclear tests [1]. These days, the expertise gained over decades and the high performance of modern supercomputers make it possible to create realistic mathematical models of nuclear and thermonuclear warheads, which, in turn, makes it possible to avoid detonating a nuclear charge at a test site.

All this being said, however, Israel strictly adhered to the policy of “positive disguise” refusing to recognize the existence of its nuclear arsenal, hiding direct evidence of its existence and making veiled hints about its existence as a warning to enemies. Former Israeli prime ministers have made such hints more than once. In July 1998, Shimon Peres publicly admitted (without elaborating) that Israel possessed nuclear weapons. Ehud Olmert also indirectly confirmed that the Jewish state had an atomic bomb.

“Iran wants to possess nuclear weapons, following the example of Israel,” Ehud Olmert said in a 2006 interview with SAT1.

Leading politicians, like former US President Jimmy Carter and ex-IAEA Director Mohammed ElBaradei, have mentioned the presence of nuclear weapons in Israel. In 2013, Britain’s Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists asserted that Israel had about 80 nuclear warheads and possessed enough fissile materials to produce between 115 and 190 nuclear warheads. However, the production of nuclear warheads in Israel was “frozen” in 2004.

However, this “freeze” can quickly “thaw out,” and the entire Israeli nuclear complex, consisting of several major nuclear infrastructure facilities, will get back to work.

These facilities include:

Sorek Scientific Nuclear Research Center was set up n the 1950s in Nagal Sorek settlement outside Tel Aviv. Israel’s first 5 MW light-water nuclear reactor, brought in from the US as part of President Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program, was installed there.

This low-power reactor could not produce weapons-grade plutonium, and was mainly used for training specialists and devising methods of handling radioactive materials, which later came in handy in more comprehensive  research. However, despite Israel’s persistent requests, the Americans refused to provide nuclear fuel and equipment that could be used in a nuclear weapons program, so in the late-1950s, France became the main source of materials and nuclear technologies for Israel. The Sorek Center is monitored by the IAEA.

Nuclear Research Center at Dimona. A natural uranium heavy-water reactor, built and later modernized by French specialists, has been operating there since 1964. The 28 MW reactor has a capacity 40-60 kg of weapons-grade plutonium. Until 2003, Israel had produced  about 650 kg of plutonium – enough to build over 100 nuclear charges. (It takes between 3 and 8 kilograms of plutonium to produce a single nuclear warhead, depending on technology used). The Dimon Center of the IAEA is monitored by the IAEA.

Yodefat is a settlement in Galilee, where Israeli specialists reportedly assemble and dismantle nuclear weapons at the Raphael’s enterprise, called “Division 20”.

Kfar Zakharia – a missile base in the Judean Hills where strategic nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles are stored in warehouses.

Eylaban – a nuclear weapons site.

Israel’s Jericho missiles are made in Beer-Yaakov, and their tests are carried out mainly at the army base in Palmachim. A considerable number of Israel’s nuclear-capable aircraft are stationed at the nearby Tel Nof base. Israeli military commentator Joab Limor wrote about this in his article titled “Israeli Weapons of Mass Destruction” as early as in 2011, citing the British magazine Jane’s Intelligence Review.

Israel’s strategic nuclear forces are built around a classic nuclear triad, consisting of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, bomber-carried cruise missiles and cruise missiles on submarines. As a means of ground-based delivery, foreign experts consider the three-stage Jericho-3 missile (possibly 16 missiles), whose range is estimated at around 6,500 km with a payload of 350 kg payload (one nuclear warhead), and with a range of 4,800 km with a 1-ton nuclear warhead.

Two air squadrons of 18 F-15I Ra’am (Thunder) fighter-bombers each carrying a pair of Israeli-made Gabriel cruise missiles. This is the aerial component of the Israeli nuclear triad.

The naval component consists of five German-made Dolphin diesel electric submarines capable of carrying nuclear-tipped Gabriel cruise missiles.

In summation, it can be stated that Israel now has a wide range of non-strategic means of nuclear weapons delivery and an impressive nuclear arsenal by regional standards. The main emphasis is on the highly survivable maritime component of nuclear forces. This is deemed extremely important for Israel, which, being a small country, is very vulnerable to attacks weapons of mass destruction.

No so Iran, which has also been engaged in nuclear research since the 1950s. Over the years, the country has built up an impressive nuclear infrastructure.

However, no nuclear weapon has been created there, even though after the 1979 Islamic Revolution a secret directive on nuclear weapons development was adopted to ensure the survival of the Islamic regime, and a pertinent plan, dubbed “Ahmad” was drawn up with an eye to creating a nuclear warhead for a ballistic missile. By the way, it was the IAEA which, at the end of 2011, blew the whistle about the “Ahmad” project with a detailed twelve-page document titled “Possible military Dimensions to Iran’s Nuclear Program.”

According to the IAEA, the Amad project was abruptly scrapped at the end of 2003, as ordered by high-ranking officials in Tehran. Simultaneously, the personnel employed in various “Ahmad”-related jobs are believed to have initially remained at their workplaces in order to register and report on the results achieved by that moment. After that – from the end of 2003 to the start of 2004 – both the equipment and the workplaces of those engaged in the project were destroyed to leave as little evidence as possible that might point to the “delicate” nature of the work done there.

All this meaning that since 2004, Iran has not been engaged in any military nuclear activity. By amazing coincidence, Jerusalem froze its production of nuclear warheads in that very same year of 2004.

Israel insists that the military aspect of the Iranian nuclear program is still there. Even though the IAEA’s latest reports point to the contrary, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that Iran is developing nuclear weapons at two secret sites in Tehran. Speaking at the UN, Netanyahu also recalled that in April he had produced tons of documents, which, according to him, had been obtained by Israeli intelligence in Iran.

“Since we raided [their] atomic archive, [the Iranians] have been busy cleaning out the atomic warehouse. Just last month, they removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material. You know what they did with it? They had 15 kilograms of radioactive material, they had to get it out of the site, so they took it out and they spread it around Tehran in an effort to hide the evidence,” the Israeli prime minister told the UN General Assembly in September.

Benjamin Netanyahu also showed several photos from a map application pointing to an address in Tehran, where he claimed nuclear materials were stored.

“What Iran hides, Israel will find,” Netanyahu and added, referring, to what he described as “the tyrants of Tehran”: “Israel knows what you are doing and Israel knows where you are doing it.”

“Israel will never let a regime that calls for our destruction develop nuclear weapons – not now, not in 10 years, not ever… We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever and wherever we must act to defend our state and defend our people,” Netanyahu warned.

Israel has always been an ardent opponent of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for Iran, adopted by international mediators in 2015, arguing that this will not stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu still pointed to a positive consequence of the agreement

“By empowering Iran, it brought Israel and many Arab states closer together,” he said during his address to the UN General Assembly.

The recent mutual accusations of nuclear ambitions regularly leveled at each other by Tehran and Jerusalem are part of the war of words, elements of the Iran-Israeli Cold War, which has been going on for many years. The military-political tensions around Iran have been shooting up and the propaganda war between the two countries is heating up.

Undoubtedly, the Israeli politicians’ anti-Iranian nuclear rhetoric is aimed at the complete destruction of the 2015 nuclear deal.

The JCPOA is in a state of limbo now that the US has walked out of it and the other signatories are making every effort to salvage it in one way or another. If the deal collapses then Iran is sure to resume its military nuclear program which, in turn, will reflect very badly on the situation in the Middle East and around the world as no international organization, including the IAEA, will be able to control Tehran’s actions.

It looks like this is exactly what Jerusalem wants so that it can prove Tehran’s nuclear militancy and the correctness of its anti-Iranian policy.

[1] Nothing is definitely known about Israel’s nuclear tests. However, on September 22, 1979, a series of light bursts characteristic of a nuclear explosion of a 2–3 kiloton charge were recorded by the US satellite “Vela” 6911 near the Prince Edward Islands in the South Atlantic. It is widely believed that this was an Israeli nuclear test, possibly conducted jointly with South Africa.

First published in our partner International Affairs

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