NATO is reportedly working towards the creation of an expeditionary force composed of 10,000 troops from seven different member states as a result of escalating tensions with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.
According to the Financial Times,the force’s creation will be spearheaded by Britain and involve contributions from Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, and the Netherlands. Canada is also interested in joining the group, but it’s not known what its final decision will be.
Although no formal announcement has been made, British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to declare its formation at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales on September 4th.
Many specifics have yet to be worked out or announced, but planners are reportedly implementing ways to increase the number of soldiers involved even more if necessary. Air and naval units will be integrated into the group, as well as ground troops led by British commanders.
As noted by the Times, the creation of the force comes as a response to Russia’s involvement in the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, with the ultimate goal being to “create a fully functioning, division-sized force for rapid deployment and regular, frequent exercises.” NATO has accused Russia of deploying more than 1,000 troops into Ukraine to bolster separatists in the eastern part of the country.
Russia, however, insists that it does not have troops operating inside of Ukraine and has dismissed NATO’s assertions.
Despite the fact that NATO has opted not to act militarily in Ukraine – unnamed sources told Foreign Policy on Friday that there are no plans to confront Russia with anything more than stronger sanctions – Jonathan Eyal of the London-based Royal United Services Institute said the group needs to demonstrate that its eastern European members are just as integral to the alliance as other states.
“We need to end the idea of different zones of security in Europe,” he told the Financial Times. “We need to be talking about prepositioning, regular rotation of troops and making it very clear that we do not accept that the eastern Europeans are in some different category of membership of NATO.”
The revelation also arrives just a few days after NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed interest in forming “a more visible presence” in Eastern Europe in the form of facilities capable of rapidly receiving “response forces” needed to counter Russia.
For his part, Russia’s envoy to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, said any attempt to push stretch further into the region would impact Moscow’s own security planning.
As world leaders prepare to attend the NATO Summit in Newport next week, campaigners are mobilising for a week of protest and debate to challenge this ‘interventionist, expansionist, military club.’
A mass demonstration against NATO will take place in Newport tomorrow (Saturday 30 August), while a Counter-Summit will be held on Sunday 31 August at Cardiff County Hall, and on Monday 1 September in Newport.
CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:
‘Far from promoting security, NATO is a destabilising global force. Its war of aggression in Afghanistan has killed tens of thousands and left that country fragmented: the ripples of which are being felt across the region.
‘Through its insatiable expansion into eastern Europe, capitalising on the vacuum left following the collapse of the USSR, NATO has contributed to heightening tensions around Russia and Ukraine, and risks provoking a new Cold War.
‘As a nuclear alliance which has repeatedly rejected a “No First Use” policy – as well as adopting an offensive posture for “out of area” operations, NATO has shown itself for what it is: an interventionist, expansionist, military club which favours threats over diplomacy.
‘We don’t want US/NATO nukes on European soil. We don’t want its wars of aggression. And we’re here to challenge this aggressive alliance which makes all of us less safe. Tens of millions around the world want peace, justice and an end to NATO.’
Sat 30 Aug: Demonstration and rally in Newport
Sun 31 Aug: Counter-Summit in Cardiff
Mon 1 Sep: Counter-Summit in Newport
Wed 3 Sep – Fri 5 Sep: Various actions and protests
For full details of events see: www.cnduk.org/natosummit
Ukraine’s Cabinet has asked the country’s parliament to consider dropping the country’s non-aligned status and seek membership of NATO.
Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk’s government submitted to the parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, a draft bill that would cancel Ukraine’s non-aligned status and revive the country’s quest to join NATO – a path ditched by ousted President Viktor Yanukovich in 2010.
The move followed a decision by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council. It also coincided with an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels to discuss the ongoing crisis in east Ukraine.
If passed, the law would ban Ukraine from joining any political unions which would prevent it from eventually achieving “its key and sole goal” – membership in the European Union, Yatsenyuk said, the government’s press service said in a statement.
Following the adoption of the law, Ukraine will be forbidden from being a member of the Eurasian Customs Union and Eurasian Economic Community, and any other unions “which are in essence nothing but Russia’s Soviet Union,” Yatsenyuk stated.
The premier asked President Petro Poroshenko to classify the draft bill as urgent and called on the parliament to immediately consider it.
Defense Minister Arsen Avakov praised the decision as a “very correct one.”
“If the parliament approves it, the path to NATO will be open,” Avakov said on his Facebook page. “Only madmen would counter such a decision in the current situation.”
NATO said it would respect Kiev’s possible decision to seek membership of the military alliance.
“This is a fundamental principle that each and every nation has an inherent right to decide itself, on its security policies and its alliance affiliations,” the bloc’s chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told the media at an extraordinary meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
He indicated that the military alliance would be open to discussing Ukraine’s application if it meets the conditions for membership.
“I am not going to interfere with political discussions in Ukraine, but let me remind you of NATO’s decision taken at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 according to which Ukraine will become a member of NATO, provided of course that Ukraine so wishes and provided that Ukraine fulfils the necessary criteria,” he said.
However, the issue was not discussed at Friday’s gathering in Brussels, Rasmussen added.
The latest Washington lie, this one coming from NATO, is that Russia has invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops and self-propelled artillery.
How do we know that this is a lie? Is it because we have heard nothing but lies about Russia from NATO, from US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, from assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland, from Obama and his entire regime of pathological liars, and from the British, German, and French governments along with the BBC and the entirety of the Western media?
This, of course, is a good reason for knowing that the latest Western propaganda is a lie. Those who are pathological liars don’t suddenly start telling the truth.
But there are even better reasons for understanding that Russia has not invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops.
One reason is that Putin has invested heavily in diplomacy backed by non-provocative behavior. He would not risk his bet on diplomacy by sending in troops too few in numbers to have a decisive effect on the outcome.
Another reason is that if Putin decides he has no alternative to sending the Russian military to protect the Russian residents in eastern and southern Ukraine, Putin will send in enough troops to do the job quickly as he did in Georgia when the American- and Israeli-trained Georgian army invaded South Ossetia and was destroyed in a few hours by the Russian response. If you hear that 100,000 Russian troops accompanied by air cover have invaded Ukraine, it would be a more believable claim.
A third reason is that the Russian military does not need to send troops into Ukraine in order to stop the bombing and artillery shelling of the Russian populations by Washington’s puppet government in Kiev. The Russian air force can easily and quickly destroy the Ukrainian air force and artillery and, thereby, stop the Ukrainian attack on the secessionist provinces.
It was only two weeks ago that a fabricated report spread by the Guardian and the BBC that a Russian armored convoy entered Ukraine and was destroyed by the Ukrainian military. And two weeks prior to that, we had the hoax of the satellite images allegedly released by the US State Department that the corrupt US ambassador in Kiev spread around the world on social media allegedly showing that Russian forces were firing into Ukraine. One or two weeks from now we will have another lie, and another a week or two after that, and so on.
The cumulative effect of lie piled upon lie for most people is to build the view that the Russians are up to no good. Once this view is established, Western governments can take more serious moves against Russia.
The alleged entry of 1,000 Russian soldiers into Ukraine has been declared by NATO Brigadier General Niko Tak to be a “significant escalation in Russia’s military interference in Ukraine.” The champion liar Samantha Power told the US Security Council that “Russia has to stop lying.” The UK ambassador to the UN said that Russia was guilty of “a clear violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory.” UK prime minister Cameron warned Russia of “further consequences.” German chancellor Merkel announced that there would be more sanctions. A German Security Council advisor declared that “war with Russia is an option.” Polish foreign minister Sikorski called it Russian aggression that required international action. French president Hollande declared Russia’s behavior to be “intolerable.” Ukraine’s security council imposed mandatory conscription.
This suicidal drive toward war with Russia by Europe’s leaders is based entirely on a transparent lie that 1,000 Russian troops crossed into Ukraine.
Of course, the Western media followed in lock-step. The BBC, CNN, and Die Welt are among the most reckless and irresponsible.
The mountain of lies piled up by Western governments and media has obscured the true story. The US government orchestrated the overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine and imposed a US puppet in Kiev. Washington’s puppet government began issuing threats and committing violent acts against the Russian populations in the former Russian territories that Soviet leaders attached to Ukraine. The Russian people in eastern and southern Ukraine resisted the threat brought to them by Washington’s puppet government in Kiev.
Washington continually accuses the Russian government of supporting the people in the territories that have voted their separation from Ukraine. There would be no war, Washington alleges, except for Russian support. But, of course, Washington could easily stop the violence by ordering its puppet government in Kiev to stop the bombing and shelling of the former Russian provinces. If Russia can tell the “separatists” not to fight, Washington can tell Kiev not to fight.
The only possible conclusion from the facts is that Washington is determined to involve Europe in a war with Russia or at least in an armed standoff in order to break up Europe’s political and economic relations with Russia.
Europe’s leaders are going along with this because European countries, except for Charles de Gaulle’s France, have not had independent foreign policies since the end of World War II. They follow Washington’s lead and are well paid for doing so.
The inability of Europe to produce independent leadership dooms Russian President Putin’s diplomacy to failure. If European capitals cannot make decisions independently of Washington, there is no scope for Putin’s diplomacy.
Notice that the very day after Putin met with Washington’s Ukrainian vassal in an effort to resolve the situation, the new lie of Russian invasion was issued in order to ensure that no good can come of the meeting in which Putin invested his time and energy.
Washington’s only interest is in hegemony. Washington has no interest in resolving the situation that Washington itself created in order to bring discomfort and confusion to Russia. With the caveat that the situation could be resolved by Ukrainian economic collapse, otherwise the longer Putin waits to resolve the situation by force, the more difficult the task will be.
A leader of pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine says he has agreed to allow the government forces trapped in the conflict zone to escape through a “humanitarian corridor.”
Alexander Zakharchenko, a leader of pro-Moscow forces, told Rossiya 24 TV channel on Friday that he had agreed to offer a “humanitarian corridor” for the encircled Ukrainian troops to leave the battlefield in the restive eastern parts.
However, Zakharchenko added that Kiev’s forces should abandon their armored vehicles and ammunition before leaving.
His comments come after a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin calling on the pro-Moscow protesters to allow Ukrainian soldiers to flee the coastal town of Novoazovsk captured by pro-Russians on Wednesday.
“I call on the rebel forces to open a humanitarian corridor for the Ukrainian troops who are surrounded, so as to avoid unnecessary casualties and to give them the opportunity to withdraw from the zone of operations,” Putin said on Thursday.
The collapse of Novoazovsk is seen as a major victory for pro-Moscow fighters in eastern Ukraine. The key resort town on the Azov Sea lies along the road linking Russia to Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol and onto Crimea, which rejoined Russia in a popular referendum in March.
After weeks of military operations that have seen government forces push deep into the last bastions of pro-Russians, the tide appears to be turning once again in the four-month conflict.
Kiev has called on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for help.
Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence pro-Russians in mid-April.
The turmoil in eastern Ukraine has so far taken the lives of more than 2,000 people, according to the UN.
On Saturday, the entire humanitarian convoy of 227 trucks crossed back into Russia without incident after having successfully delivered its contents to the Luhansk distribution center. The unwavering round trip project from Russia surmounted considerable bureaucratic delays and political obstacles including wild assertions that the convoy’s true purpose was to ‘smuggle weapons’ to the east Ukraine rebels.
Amidst a multitude of frenzied claims from the Kiev government and its western allies that the convoy was intent on fomenting violence and escalating the conflict as it constituted an ‘illegal incursion” and ‘violated the sovereignty of Ukraine,” the trucks peacefully avoided any confrontation with Ukraine military forces by taking advantage of back roads.
Given the very urgent need to provide immediate medical relief and other life necessities to Ukraine citizens, what has been especially noteworthy during the ten day period in which the Russian convoy was stalled at the border is the extent to which the Kiev government and its EU/US/NATO partners would go to impede a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies. [...]
Perhaps the most egregious, the most obviously inexcusable misrepresentation of the facts, however, came from a conveniently-timed front page New York Times article entitled “Russians Open Fire in Ukraine NATO Reports.” whose job it is to be factually accurate and objectively represent all points of view.
With an irresponsible pen more committed to reiterating the Obama Administration’s public relations campaign than journalism, the New York Times again failed in its role as guardian of the truth allowing inaccurate exaggerations and entirely false anecdotes to masquerade as news.
While relying on the usual unnamed, unspecified vague “intelligence reports from several alliance members,” the Times categorically stated that “Russia … escalated tensions with Ukraine…, sending more than 200 trucks from a long-stalled aid convoy and, NATO said, conducting military operations on Ukrainian territory.”
Curiously, the Times article is a somewhat odd, overlapping mixture of reference to the humanitarian convoy interwoven in a story about an alleged Russian military incursion as if the existence of the convoy somehow confirms that a military intrusion has occurred while strangely suggesting that “200 trucks” had something to do with ‘conducting military operations’.
According to the Times “NATO officials said that the Russian military had moved artillery units inside Ukrainian territory in recent days and was using them to fire at Ukrainian forces” and yet the Times reporters did not cite any of NATO’s proof that such artillery movement had occurred or how NATO could confirm that the artillery was firing at Ukrainian forces. In other words, NATO could say that the Moon is made of blue cheese and the Times would run the news in their Food section.
The basis for the assertions were a series of quotes from their favorite prattler NATO Secretary General Rasmussen who insisted (despite a total lack of verification) that “There has been “a major escalation in Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine since mid-August, including the use of Russian forces” and “Russian artillery support — both cross-border and from within Ukraine — being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces.” Again, the amazingly-incurious Times reporters dutifully wrote whatever they were told with no independent confirmation or analysis.
So as the Times not only included unsubstantiated, circumstantial quotes as fact but Mr. Rasmussen’s acknowledgment that he “did not say how many Russian artillery pieces had moved into Ukraine or where they were located, but one [unidentified] Western official said the number of Russian-operated artillery units was “substantial.”
Until finally, buried at the end of the lengthy article “There were no signs of Russian military vehicles or any other indications of an armed escort by Russian troops.”
A long list of prominent individuals has signed, a number of organizations will be promoting next week, and you can be one of the first to sign right now, a petition titled “Call For Independent Inquiry of the Airplane Crash in Ukraine and its Catastrophic Aftermath.”
The petition is directed to “All the heads of states of NATO countries, and of Russia and the Ukraine, to Ban-ki Moon and the heads of states of countries on the UN Security Council.” And it will be delivered to each of them.
The petition reads:
“Set up an impartial international fact finding inquiry and a public report on the events in Ukraine to reveal the truth of what occurred.
“Why is this important?
“It’s important because there is so much misinformation and disinformation in the media that we are careening towards a new cold war with Russia over this.”
That’s not hyperbole. It’s the language of U.S. and Russian politicians and media.
Of course, there are undisputed facts that could change people’s understanding. Many Americans are unaware of NATO’s expansion or of what actions Russia views as aggressive and threatening. But when a particular incident appears to be set up as a proximate cause for war it is well worth our time to insist on an exposure of the facts. Doing so is not to concede that any outcome of the inquiry would justify a war. Rather it is to prevent the imposition of an unproven explanation that makes war more likely.
What if the Gulf of Tonkin had been investigated 50 years ago this month? What if the independent inquiry that Spain wanted into the USS Maine had been allowed? What if Congress hadn’t swallowed the one about the babies taken from incubators or that hilarious bit about the vast stockpiles of WMDs? Or, on the other hand, what if everyone had listened to John Kerry unskeptically on Syria last year?
When a Malaysian airplane went down in Ukraine, Kerry immediately blamed Vladimir Putin, but has yet to produce any evidence to back up the accusation. Meanwhile, we learn that the U.S. government is looking into the possibility that what happened was actually an attempt to assassinate Putin. Those two versions, the one initially announced with no apparent basis and the one reportedly now being investigated in secret, could hardly be more different. That the second one is under consideration makes it appear very likely that any serious proof of the former claim has not been found.
Here’s a longer version of the petition:
“At this very moment in history, when so many people and nations around the world are acknowledging the 100th Anniversary of our planet’s hapless stumble into World War I, great powers and their allies are ironically once again provoking new dangers where governments appear to be sleepwalking towards a restoration of old Cold War battles. A barrage of conflicting information is broadcast in the various national and nationalistic media with alternative versions of reality that provoke and stoke new enmities and rivalries across national borders.
“With the U.S. and Russia in possession of over 15,000 of the world’s 16,400 nuclear weapons, humanity can ill-afford to stand by and permit these conflicting views of history and opposing assessments of the facts on the ground to lead to a 21st Century military confrontation between the great powers and their allies. While sadly acknowledging the trauma suffered by the countries of Eastern Europe from years of Soviet occupation, and understanding their desire for the protection of the NATO military alliance, we the signers of this global call to action also note that the Russian people lost 20 million people during WWII to the Nazi onslaught and are understandably wary of NATO expansion to their borders in a hostile environment. Russia has lost the protection of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the US abandoned in 2001, and warily observes missile bases metastasizing ever closer to its borders in new NATO member states, while the US rejects repeated Russian efforts for negotiations on a treaty to ban weapons in space, or Russia’s prior application for membership in NATO.
“For these reasons, we the peoples, as members of Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, and global citizens, committed to peace and nuclear disarmament, demand that an independent international inquiry be commissioned to review events in Ukraine leading up to the Malaysian jet crash and of the procedures being used to review the catastrophic aftermath. The inquiry should factually determine the cause of the accident and hold responsible parties accountable to the families of the victims and the citizens of the world who fervently desire peace and a peaceful settlement of any existing conflicts. It should include a fair and balanced presentation of what led to the deterioration of U.S. –Russian relations and the new hostile and polarized posture that the U.S. and Russia with their allies find themselves in today.
“The UN Security Council, with US and Russian agreement, has already passed Resolution 2166 addressing the Malaysian jet crash, demanding accountability, full access to the site and a halt to military activity which has been painfully disregarded at various times since the incident. One of the provisions of SC Res 2166 notes that the Council “[s]upports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.” Further, the 1909 revised Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes adopted at the 1899 Hague International Peace Conference has been used successfully to resolve issues between states so that war was avoided in the past. Both Russia and Ukraine are parties to the Convention.
“Regardless of the forum where the evidence is gathered and fairly evaluated, we the undersigned urge that the facts be known as to how we got to this unfortunate state of affairs on our planet today and what might be the solutions. We urge Russia and Ukraine as well as their allies and partners to engage in diplomacy and negotiations, not war and hostile alienating actions. The world can little afford the trillions of dollars in military spending and trillions and trillions of brain cells wasted on war when our very Earth is under stress and needs the critical attention of our best minds and thinking and the abundance of resources mindlessly diverted to war to be made available for the challenge confronting us to create a livable future for life on earth.”
Here are initial signatories (organizations for identification only): (Add your name.)
There have been at least two countries in Europe in recent history that undertook ‘anti-terrorist’ military operations against ‘separatists’, but got two very different reactions from the Western elite.
The government of European country A launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. We see pictures on Western television of people’s homes being shelled and lots of people fleeing. The US and UK and other NATO powers fiercely condemn the actions of the government of country A and accuse it of carrying out ‘genocide’ and ’ethnic cleansing’ and say that there is an urgent ‘humanitarian crisis.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists tell us that ‘something must be done.’ And something is done: NATO launches a ‘humanitarian’ military intervention to stop the government of country A. Country A is bombed for 78 days and nights. The country’s leader (who is labeled ‘The New Hitler’) is indicted for war crimes – and is later arrested and sent in an RAF plane to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague, where he dies, un-convicted, in his prison cell.
The government of European country B launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. Western television doesn’t show pictures or at least not many) of people’s homes being shelled and people fleeing, although other television stations do. But here the US, UK and other NATO powers do not condemn the government, or accuse it of committing ‘genocide’ or ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists do not tell us that ‘something must be done’ to stop the government of country B killing people. On the contrary, the same powers who supported action against country A, support the military offensive of the government in country B. The leader of country B is not indicted for war crimes, nor is he labeled ‘The New Hitler’ despite the support the government has got from far-right, extreme nationalist groups, but in fact, receives generous amounts of aid.
Anyone defending the policies of the government in country A, or in any way challenging the dominant narrative in the West is labeled a “genocide denier” or an “apologist for mass murder.” But no such opprobrium awaits those defending the military offensive of the government in country B. It’s those who oppose its policies who are smeared.
What makes the double standards even worse, is that by any objective assessment, the behavior of the government in country B, has been far worse than that of country A and that more human suffering has been caused by their aggressive actions.
In case you haven’t guessed it yet – country A is Yugoslavia, country B is Ukraine.
Yugoslavia, a different case
In 1998/9 Yugoslavian authorities were faced with a campaign of violence against Yugoslav state officials by the pro-separatist and Western-backed Kosovan Liberation Army (KLA). The Yugoslav government responded by trying to defeat the KLA militarily, but their claims to be fighting against ’terrorism’ were haughtily dismissed by Western leaders. As the British Defence Secretary George Robertson and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook acknowledged in the period from 1998 to January 1999, the KLA had been responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the Yugoslav authorities had been.
In the lead-up to the NATO action and during it, lurid claims were made about the numbers of people who had been killed or ‘disappeared’ by the Yugoslav forces. “Hysterical NATO and KLA estimates of the missing and presumably slaughtered Kosovan Albanians at times ran upwards of one hundred thousand, reaching 500, 000 in one State Department release. German officials leaked ‘intelligence’ about an alleged Serb plan called Operation Horseshoe to depopulate the province of its ethnic Albanians, and to resettle it with Serbs, which turned out to be an intelligence fabrication,” Edward Herman and David Peterson noted in their book The Politics of Genocide.
“We must act to save thousands of innocent men, women and children from humanitarian catastrophe – from death, barbarism and ethnic cleansing from a brutal dictatorship,” a solemn-faced Prime Minister Tony Blair told the British Parliament – just four years before an equally sombre Tony Blair told the British Parliament that we must act over the ‘threat’ posed by Saddam Hussein’s WMDs.
Taking their cue from Tony Blair and Co., the media played their part in hyping up what was going on in Kosovo. Herman and Peterson found that newspapers used the word ‘genocide’ to describe Yugoslav actions in Kosovo 323 times compared to just 13 times for the invasion/occupation of Iraq despite the death toll in the latter surpassing that of Kosovo by 250 times.
In the same way we were expected to forget about the claims from Western politicians and their media marionettes about Iraq possessing WMDs in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, we are now expected to forget about the outlandish claims made about Kosovo in 1999.
But as the award winning investigative journalist and broadcaster John Pilger wrote in his article Reminders of Kosovo in 2004, “Lies as great as those told by Bush and Blair were deployed by Clinton and Blair in grooming of public opinion for an illegal, unprovoked attack on a European country.”
The overall death toll of the Kosovo conflict is thought to be between 3,000 and 4,000, but that figure includes Yugoslav army casualties, and Serbs and Roma and Kosovan Albanians killed by the KLA. In 2013, the International Committee of the Red Cross listed the names of 1,754 people from all communities in Kosovo who were reported missing by their families.
The number of people killed by Yugoslav military at the time NATO launched its ‘humanitarian’ bombing campaign, which itself killed between 400-600 people, is thought to be around 500, a tragic death toll but hardly “genocide.”
“Like Iraq’s fabled weapons of mass destruction, the figures used by the US and British governments and echoed by journalists were inventions- along with Serbian ‘rape camps’ and Clinton and Blair’s claims that NATO never deliberately bombed civilians,” says Pilger.
No matter what happens in Ukraine…
In Ukraine by contrast, the number of people killed by government forces and those supporting them has been deliberately played down, despite UN figures highlighting the terrible human cost of the Ukrainian government’s ‘anti-terrorist’ operation.
Last week, the UN’s Human Rights Office said that the death toll in the conflict in eastern Ukraine had doubled in the previous fortnight. Saying that they were “very conservative estimates,” the UN stated that 2,086 people (from all sides) had been killed and 5,000 injured. Regarding refugees, the UN says that around 1,000 people have been leaving the combat zone every day and that over 100,000 people have fled the region. Yet despite these very high figures, there have been no calls from leading Western politicians for ‘urgent action’ to stop the Ukrainian government’s military offensive. Articles from faux-left ‘humanitarian interventionists’ saying that ‘something must be done’ to end what is a clearly a genuine humanitarian crisis, have been noticeable by their absence.
There is, it seems, no “responsibility to protect” civilians being killed by government forces in the east of Ukraine, as there was in Kosovo, even though the situation in Ukraine, from a humanitarian angle, is worse than that in Kosovo in March 1999.
To add insult to injury, efforts have been made to prevent a Russian humanitarian aid convoy from entering Ukraine.
The convoy we are told is ‘controversial’ and could be part of a sinister plot by Russia to invade. This from the same people who supported a NATO bombing campaign on a sovereign state for “humanitarian” reasons fifteen years ago!
For these Western ‘humanitarians’ who cheer on the actions of the Ukrainian government, the citizens of eastern Ukraine are “non-people”: not only are they unworthy of our support or compassion, or indeed aid convoys, they are also blamed for their own predicament.
There are, of course, other conflicts which also highlight Western double standards towards ‘humanitarian intervention’. Israeli forces have killed over 2,000 Palestinians in their latest ruthless ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in Gaza, which is far more people than Yugoslav forces had killed in Kosovo by the time of the 1999 NATO ‘intervention’. But there are no calls at this time for a NATO bombing campaign against Israel.
In fact, neocons and faux-left Zionists who have defended and supported Israel’s “anti-terrorist” Operation Protective Edge, and Operation Cast Lead before it, were among the most enthusiastic supporters of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Israel it seems is allowed to kill large numbers of people, including women and children, in its “anti-terrorist” campaigns, but Yugoslavia had no such “right” to fight an “anti-terrorist” campaign on its own soil.
In 2011, NATO went to war against Libya to prevent a “hypothetical” massacre in Benghazi, and to stop Gaddafi ‘killing his own people’; in 2014 Ukrainian government forces are killing their own people in large numbers, and there have been actual massacres like the appalling Odessa arson attack carried out by pro-government ‘radicals’, but the West hasn’t launched bombing raids on Kiev in response.
The very different approaches from the Western elite to ‘anti-terrorist’ operations in Kosovo and Ukraine (and indeed elsewhere) shows us that what matters most is not the numbers killed, or the amount of human suffering involved, but whether or not the government in question helps or hinders Western economic and military hegemonic aspirations.
In the eyes of the rapacious Western elites, the great ‘crime’ of the Yugoslav government in 1999 was that it was still operating, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an unreconstructed socialist economy, with very high levels of social ownership – as I highlighted here.
Yugoslavia under Milosevic was a country which maintained its financial and military independence. It had no wishes to join the EU or NATO, or surrender its sovereignty to anyone. For that refusal to play by the rules of the globalists and to show deference to the powerful Western financial elites, the country (and its leader) had to be destroyed. In the words of George Kenney, former Yugoslavia desk officer at the US State Department: “In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization.”
By contrast, the government of Ukraine, has been put in power by the West precisely in order to further its economic and military hegemonic aspirations. Poroshenko, unlike the much- demonized Milosevic, is an oligarch acting in the interests of Wall Street, the big banks and the Western military-industrial complex. He’s there to tie up Ukraine to IMF austerity programs, to hand over his country to Western capital and to lock Ukraine into ‘Euro-Atlantic’ structures- in other words to transform it into an EU/IMF/NATO colony- right on Russia’s doorstep.
This explains why an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign waged by the Yugoslav government against ‘separatists’ in 1999 is ‘rewarded’ with fierce condemnation, a 78-day bombing campaign, and the indictment of its leader for war crimes, while a government waging an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign against ‘separatists’ in Ukraine in 2014, is given carte blanche to carry on killing. In the end, it’s not about how many innocent people you kill, or how reprehensible your actions are, but about whose interests you serve.
In a telephone conversation with his U.S. colleague Chuck Hagel, Shoigu also called for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine
MOSCOW – Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday voiced serious concern over increased U.S. and NATO military activities near the Russian border.
In a telephone conversation with his U.S. colleague Chuck Hagel, Shoigu also called for an immediate ceasefire and safe corridors to deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate civilians from the combat area in eastern Ukraine.
He gave a detailed assessment of Ukrainian troops’ actions in the combat area. Shoigu said it was unacceptable to use combat aviation, heavy weapons, including rockets, artillery and missiles, against civilians and the region’s civilian infrastructure.
Shoigu described the situation in the area as “a humanitarian catastrophe”.
He also told Hagel about the efforts being taken to deliver humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine and problems with the movement of the humanitarian convoy.
The Russian Defence Ministry described the conversation as “business-like and constructive” and said Shoigu and Hagel had agreed to continue contacts.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has denied Kiev’s report that it “destroyed the Russian military column” which allegedly crossed into Ukraine, saying that no such column ever existed.
Earlier on Friday Russia’s Security Service (FSB) also denied the reports. Border guards have been deployed to provide security near the frontier, but they operate only on the Russian side, the FSB said.
The mobile military teams “operate strictly within the territory of the Russian Federation,” a spokesperson for the FSB Border Guard Service in Rostov region told RT on Friday.
Russia has stepped up security measures on its border with Ukraine as local residents are under constant threat because of “regular cross-border shelling” and an increased number of “mass border crossings” by the Ukrainian military, he explained. For that reason, FSB mobile border guards’ teams have been created.
“When residents report about cross-border shooting and fighting in the frontier zone, these teams are immediately deployed to such areas to provide the safety of the Russian state border and Russian citizens, and also to prevent armed people from crossing into the territory of the Russian Federation,” Sinitsyn said.
Earlier, several foreign news agencies caused quite a stir, reporting that a convoy of Russian military vehicles had crossed into Ukraine overnight.
The reports triggered criticism from NATO and some European states.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen referred to the alleged incident as to “a Russian incursion” that they “saw.”
“Last night we saw a Russian incursion, a crossing of the Ukrainian border,” he said Friday, adding that “it is a clear demonstration of continued Russian involvement in the destabilization of eastern Ukraine.”
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he was “very alarmed by the reports.”
“Of course the humanitarian convoy itself is a separate issue, but if there any Russian military personnel or vehicles in eastern Ukraine they need to be withdrawn immediately or the consequences could be very serious,” he told reporters in Brussels, where European Union foreign ministers had gathered for an emergency meeting to discuss crises in Ukraine and Iraq.
In an article published by The Guardian, reporter Shaun Walker said he “saw a column of 23 armored personnel carriers, supported by fuel trucks and other logistics vehicles with official Russian military plates, traveling [toward] the border near the Russian town of Donetsk.” Late on Thursday the convoy “crossed into Ukrainian territory,” he said. However, no photographic or video evidence of the incident was presented either in his article or in his Twitter feed. The photograph published with the text was taken on Russian territory.
The Telegraph also reported that “at least 23” Russian vehicles had crossed into Ukraine. The report is accompanied by a video also filmed on Russian territory.
On 4th August, the world marked 100 years since World War I, a conflict that resulted in 16 million deaths and was in many ways a prerequisite for World War II.
A century later, a new conflict is brewing, this time between Russia and Western countries, with Ukraine being the hotspot of military activity. Ever since a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest broke out in Kiev on 21 November 2013, Western leaders have blamed Russia for the escalation of conflict, imposing economic sanctions on the country. However one of the primary reasons for the intensification and continuation of this crisis is a complete lack of an attempt to understand Russia’s position. Instead of looking to communicate and engage with Russia to find a mutually beneficial solution, Western policy seems to be based on threatening Russia to do as the West tells them, or else bear the brunt of further sanctions. There has been a complete disregard towards Russia’s side of the story.
Russia is understandably aggravated about the events that took place in Ukraine, and for being blamed for the crisis. From their point of view, it is the West (primarily America) that is responsible for the situation Ukraine finds itself in. Russia is convinced that it was a Western organised coup that toppled former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich and led to the pro-Western Petro Poroshenko being chosen as the new leader. The Kremlin is certain that the US is pulling the strings in Kiev right now. It has good reasons to believe this.
Firstly, there are the billions of dollars and euros that the West has been providing to Ukraine for the past decade to promote Western ideology. This has been done through funding “pro-European” organisations and individuals. European Commission’s “Financial Transparency” website indicates that €496 million has been given to these groups between 2004 and 2013. During the Euromaidan protests in Kiev, scores of American and EU politicians visited Ukraine for “talks” with the opposition and openly encouraged protesters to keep going until they achieve their aims. Since the coup, the US administration has been open about providing financial and military aid to the new government in Kiev. To comprehend how Russia must have felt about these developments, one simply has to ask themselves how would the West react if Russia were to provide €496 million to the Euro-sceptic parties in Europe and have Russian politicians openly visit the EU during the recent European elections and call on the public to vote against the establishment. How would the EU and American leaders react if after the European elections, Russia provided financial support to parties like UKIP in the UK and Front National in France? The West would have been enraged if these events took place, yet they expect Russia to not react when the West did it in Ukraine. Add in the fact that the US has been carrying out regime changes all over the world ever since it became a hegemon in 1945, coupled with suggestions that the primary objective of the US is to overthrow Putin’s government, it becomes clear why the Kremlin feels indignant and unfairly treated, and is unlikely to alter its stance because of Western sanctions. For the Kremlin, this is a matter of Russia’s survival as an independent state, free from Western influence.
If a diplomatic solution is to be found, then three parties – Russia, Ukraine and the EU – need to have a discussion on how to come up with a solution that is favourable to all sides. The United States should not partake in these discussions, as this is a matter for the European continent.
For now, rather than talking to the Kremlin, the West’s policy is based primarily on the hope that Mr. Putin will eventually change course or that elite and public support for him will fracture. This policy is not in Europe’s interests. Already the EU has been feeling the negative effects of fractured relations with Russia. Germany reported a hefty drop in industrial orders. Meanwhile, Italy reported that it had fallen back into recession after two quarters of falling output. In London, the FTSE 100 index was down by more than 90 points – a drop of 1.4%. Shares were down by more than 1% in Paris and Frankfurt, and by more than 2% in Milan. Now that Russia has also imposed sanctions on Western agricultural produce, Europe’s fragile economy will be shaken even more.
Rather than continuing on the path that spirals towards complete breakdown of cooperation, the EU should be working towards re-establishing real channels of communication with Mr. Putin. From the Kremlin’s point of view, Russia wants to see a cease-fire in Ukraine and Kiev honouring its commitments to transfer power to regional governments in the east. Long-term, a conversation about the future of Ukraine should be held between Russia and the West. A neutral Ukraine that cooperates with both the EU and Russia would be favourable. From Europe’s point of view, these proposals would not undermine their position and aims (unless their real objectives are an anti-Russia Ukraine and NATO presence on the Ukrainian territory). Kiev’s government would still be run by a pro-Western President and Ukraine would remain intact, with more autonomy for the eastern regions.
Refusal to even consider discussing these proposals with Russia would confirm Kremlin’s fears that the West is not interested in a diplomatic solution, and simply wants to undermine and weaken Russia. Such a confirmation would result in a point of no return – a humanitarian disaster in Ukraine and unfixable relations between Russia and the West.
As the world remembers the tragic consequences of WW1 a century ago, understanding how to avoid similar conflicts in the future is imperative. A diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis is still alive but is slowly fizzling out as the weeks go by. Discussions need to take place urgently. A failure to do so will result in no other option but to use military means to solve the conflict. This would not be beneficial to anyone.
Alexander Clackson is the founder of Global Political Insight, a London-based think tank and a political media organisation.
There was once a man who wished to administer a powder to a Bear. He mixed the powder with the greatest care making sure that not only the ingredients but the proportions were absolutely correct. He rolled it up in a large paper spill, and was about to blow it down the Bear’s throat —
But the Bear blew first.
On July 18 an RC-135 US Air Force reconnaissance aircraft based at the Royal Air Force station at Mildenhall in England conducted an intelligence mission against Russia in the area of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea. Russian radar began to track the US plane and other electronic interception systems were activated. A Russian aircraft was sent up to try to obtain details of the RC-135’s capabilities.
CNN reported a US official as saying “the spy plane crew felt so concerned about the radar tracking that it wanted to get out of the area as quickly as possible” and the pilot requested overflight of Swedish territory. This was refused by the local air traffic controller — but the US pilot paid no attention to the order to refrain from entering Swedish airspace and flew over the Swedish island of Gotland, which has an airbase at Visby on the west coast and a large radar station at Furillen on the other side.
This was hardly one of the most dramatic confrontations between the US and Russia. The US carries out such missions every day, being as provocative as possible, trailing its coat and trying to gather what it can about Russia’s ability to defend itself against the ever-expanding US-initiated military threat along its borders. The difference, this time, was that a US military aircraft defied instructions by an air traffic controller of a neutral country and flew over that country’s sovereign territory. There were only a few minutes of arrogant insolence, but that’s not the point.
The point is this : had a Russian military aircraft illegally overflown Swedish territory there would have been colossal reaction in the west. There would have been hysterical headlines in the press and breathless TV interviews with the usual pontificating puppets in order to place Russia in as nasty a light as possible, exactly as happened after the Malaysia Airlines disaster. “Confidential briefings” would have been given to reporters by their manipulators in various intelligence agencies and there would have been ritzy technical displays on television to show how shameful the Russian violation of Sweden’s sovereignty had been. The propaganda patsies of the western press would have displayed the customary photographs of an unsmiling President Putin and the editorials would have been hypocritically fatuous.
Kerry, Obama and Cameron and maybe some others would have gone bananas and yelped with gleeful make-believe fury about how dreadful the Russians are, and how their terrible violation of international law showed that NATO must be expanded even more in order to . . . . Well, in order to do what, exactly? Deter Russia? But deter Russia from what? Does anyone seriously imagine — even the war-drum crazies in Washington and London — that Russia is going to invade the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania? Or Poland? Or anywhere, in fact?
What on earth would Russia want to invade these places for? They are all economically important to Russia — and Russia is important to them. They are thriving nations and their imports and exports are vital for the region’s economic growth. It would be insane of Russia to take military action against them — for it would gain absolutely nothing from such a crazy venture. But this didn’t stop the defense committee of the British parliament (all of whose members are currently on holiday, so perhaps there isn’t really a major crisis) recording last week that “the Baltic States are particularly vulnerable to military attack due to their position, their size and the lack of strategic depth. They also have limited military capabilities and both [witnesses] noted that without adequate reinforcements, their territories could well be overrun within a couple of days. Major General (Retd) Neretnieks thought that this may present problems for NATO.” Then there came a wonderful moment of whimsical unreality when “Major General (Retd) Neretnieks [of Sweden, who is a ‘Commander of the Latvian Order of Three Stars’] suggested that, should Russia decide to use Swedish territory, for instance the island of Gotland [the place that was illegally overflown by the US spy plane], then it could effectively limit NATO’s capability to launch an operation in support of the Baltic States.” What on earth had he been smoking?
The Committee went further into airy-fairy Wonderland and noted that “Witnesses emphasized that NATO was poorly prepared for a Russian attack on the Baltic, and that poor state of preparation might itself increase the likelihood of a Russian attack. When questioned about the likelihood of a Russian attack against a Baltic country, the recently retired Deputy Supreme Allied Commander NATO, General Sir Richard Shirreff replied that ‘If NATO is not bold, strategic and ambitious, the chances are high’.”
Now please stop laughing. This is serious. Well, OK — the notion that Russia is going to imprint one tank track inside any of these countries or go anywhere near Gotland is preposterous and hilarious — but it’s the wider implications of this absurd drivel that are important. Confrontation has been declared, and Britain is determined that NATO is going to be “bold and strategic and ambitious.” Oh wow. Tremble, you Russian hordes.
You may consider that Russia should simply ignore this hogwash, but it is serious when the British prime minister fans the flames of confrontation by likening the current situation in Europe with that which applied immediately before the First and Second World Wars. In a fit of amazing fantasy he announced that “This year we are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First World War, and that war in part was about the right of a small country, Belgium, not to be trampled on by its neighbours. We had to learn that lesson all over again in the Second World War, when the same thing happened to Poland and Czechoslovakia and other countries. In a way, this is what we see today in Europe.”
Mr Cameron announced that he doesn’t want to start World War III, but he’s showing his reluctance in an intriguing manner. He declared that “six months into the Russia-Ukraine crisis we must agree on long-term measures to strengthen our ability to respond quickly to any threat, to reassure those allies who fear for their own country’s security and to deter any Russian aggression,” which is a fatuous statement from the man who has slashed Britain’s armed forces to shreds, but it still shows frightening absence of a sense of reality.
Cold War Two is upon us. It’s been a while in brewing up, and there has been considerable frustration in Washington and London that the world hasn’t realized and appreciated how enjoyable and productive the last one was. The War has been declared by the US and Britain (with a few others latching on) because they profess to believe that Russia has been interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine.
Let us be quite clear: the rebellion of February 2014 in Ukraine was encouraged by the United States whose Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, was photographed together with the US ambassador handing out sandwiches to rebels in Kiev’s Maidan Square in December 2013. (The goodies were taken to the square by her armed US security guards. Then when the time was right for the cameras she was given the bags and doled them out. It was a gruesome but well-orchestrated little pantomime.)
Now think of the hullabaloo, the ululating uproar, the hysterical furor in Washington and the western media if the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Ryabkov (for example) had gone to Zuccotti Park in New York City along with the Russian ambassador during the anti-Wall Street demonstrations and handed out sandwiches in a photo-op (Escorted, of course, by armed Russian security guards.) Everyone would have had a wonderful time castigating rotten Russia for its arrogance and impertinence. But Nuland’s malicious meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs — which wasn’t confined to sandwich handouts, of course ; it went much deeper — was considered perfectly acceptable.
Then after the Ukraine rebellion went the way the US intended it to go, there was the awkward matter of Crimea which had been part of Russia until, as noted by the BBC, “In 1954 Crimea was handed to Ukraine as a gift by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev who was himself half-Ukrainian.” The majority of Crimean citizens wanted to rejoin Russia rather than stay with crippled post-revolution Ukraine which would have victimized them because of their Russian heritage.
A majority vote is evidence of democracy, right? — Just as was approved by Washington and London when the Kiev rebellion was followed by a vote for a new president to replace the former — democratically elected — one who had been overthrown. That was a rebellion of the majority, which was fueled and stimulated and approved of by the west, and the subsequent election was greeted with similar enthusiasm. But for some reason a democratic vote in Crimea wasn’t welcomed. How very strange. It might possibly have something to do with the fact that there was an international agreement permitting the Russian fleet to be based in Crimea and the US and NATO were counting on Ukraine’s new US-backed president to tear it up. But the Bear blew first.
In March Crimea’s parliament voted to ask to join Russia. A referendum was held and the vast majority of voters were in favor. But you wouldn’t know this from western media or politicians, who continue to refer to Russia’s supposed “annexation” of Crimea. And unlike the revolution in Ukraine, there wasn’t a single violent death in Crimea when its citizens were deciding to leave Ukraine and join Russia. (In Kiev there were over seventy demonstrators killed by police.) The whole thing went peacefully and the overwhelming majority of Crimean people got what they wanted. This was extremely frustrating for the US and its British marionette, and efforts were intensified to rev up Cold War Two.
These efforts have been successful. What might be called Creative Confrontation on the part of the west has produced results of which Stalin and Khrushchev would have been justifiably proud. The whole jolly carnival of intimidation and menace has been revitalized — against Russia. The US and NATO have re-polarized Eastern Europe most effectively. They have created tension, distrust and economic uncertainty and are intent on provoking Russia into taking action to meet their cowboy capers.
The US and US-dominated NATO countries have sent troops, ships and aircraft to operate in and around countries on Russia’s border. There is a 1997 agreement with Russia — the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security — which specifies that NATO will not carry out any new “permanent stationing of substantial combat forces,” around Russia, but this has been rendered meaningless by these deployments. The words ‘permanent’ and ‘substantial’ can be used in any way NATO decides. The only sensible western leader, Germany’s Chancellor Merkel, has said that “there is no doubt the NATO-Russia Act should remain valid,” but the deployments and war games continue.
Objective judges would consider NATO’s actions to be pathetic pinpricks, merely silly irritants by a bunch of petulant poseurs rather than a tangible menace, and certainly not a deterrent of any sort — and it’s difficult to disagree with that. But it is not the way they are regarded in Moscow, which sees them as deliberate provocation intended to goad Russia into taking action. NATO is preparing noxious powders for the Bear.
Churchill declared in his famous speech in Missouri in 1946 that “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” But that curtain was lifted after the Soviet Union collapsed, after which Europe began to benefit from commerce with the new Russia. The problem for the US and Britain (which has more commitment to the US than to mainland Europe) was that Russia was benefiting, too, from the new era of trust and regional economic cooperation. It was growing in prosperity and power. Its influence in Eastern Europe had to be neutralized, its power curtailed and its claws clipped.
Ukraine was considered to be the ideal place through which to provoke further confrontation. Then the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 provided ammunition for the US to whip up the campaign against Russia by having its (admittedly off-the-planet) Secretary of State declare that, concerning the missile that shot down the aircraft, “there’s [an] enormous amount of evidence that points to the involvement of Russia in providing these systems, training the people on them.” But there isn’t any evidence. None whatever. And we’re waiting to see what the imagery from the US geostationary military satellites over Ukraine show about the shooting down of Flight MH17. That should be really interesting.
(Evidence exists, because images were recorded, make no mistake. There was round-the-clock surveillance of that border region in the hope of detecting and then publicizing some sort of transgression by Russia. These satellites can detect fish farts and beetle ballets. And it’s strange there hasn’t been a preliminary read-out of the flight recorders’ records, which, we should remember, are being examined in Britain.)
Meantime, however, there’s no need to provide evidence of wrongdoing in order to reactivate and galvanize the Cold War. It’s on again. But this time it just might turn out to be warmer than wanted by its originators. Creative Confrontation might prove to be majestically and even terminally counter-productive. Because the Bear might decide to blow first.
Brian Cloughley lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.