Spoof Royal Navy recruitment posters, which claim sailors on board Britain’s nuclear submarines are effectively suicide bombers, have won the approval of Trident safety and security whistleblower William McNeilly.
The posters point out that if a Trident submarine actually launched its nuclear missiles it would very likely be destroyed in a counterattack.
This, they claim, makes nuclear submariners little more than suicide bombers, whose job is to kill millions of civilians.
The satirical posters have appeared at bus stops across London.
His work has the endorsement of Veterans for Peace UK.
Picking up on the campaign on Friday, Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid the Sun said the posters had sparked “fury.”
However, former Royal Navy weapons engineer William McNeilly, who was kicked out of the Navy after handing WikiLeaks a dossier of serious security and safety failures in 2015, told RT the campaign’s message is accurate.
“The Sun claims that the message in the posters is ‘fake,’” McNeilly told RT on Friday. “It is well known on board nuclear submarines that the Trident submarine on patrol will be the prime target in a nuclear war.”
The former submariner pointed out that once a submarine starts launching missiles it becomes immediately detectable. Those on board know “it is extremely unlikely that they would survive a major war against Russia. They are ready and prepared to be suicide bombers.”
Referring to the recent allegations of a government cover-up of a failed nuclear launch in 2016, McNeilly said: “Judging by the last missile test, it is not unlikely that the Trident submarines would nuke the United States by accident.”
Russian foreign ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
MOSCOW – Russia’s Foreign Ministry expects the Reuters news agency to clarify its complaints regarding the working conditions of its journalists in the country, the ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Friday.
“We have seen Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler’s message to staff, which concerns covering the new US president’s activities,” Zakharova noted. “Although we do not usually comment on editorial directives, we could not but take notice of one paragraph,” she went on to say. “The implication is that Reuters considers Russia to be one of the countries where the agency has to ‘encounter some combination of censorship, legal prosecution, visa denials, and even physical threats’ to its journalists.”
“We don’t divide journalists into good and bad, we don’t refuse to issue visas, we don’t deprive them of visas or accreditation only because we don’t like their style or find them to be biased,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman stressed. “I expect Reuters to clarify the matter.”
At the same time, she said that Russia’s Foreign Ministry would have not commented on this message if it had not been made public through the Reuters website and had not mentioned the agency’s work in Russia. The diplomat was confident that Reuters had deliberately posted the message “thus turning it into some kind of a manifesto.”
According to Zakharova, when the Russian Foreign Ministry contacted Reuters, the agency declined to comment. She also pointed out that the Reuters correspondents accredited in Russia took part in closed weekly briefings at the Foreign Ministry as well as in other media events, however, they had not voiced their concerns even once.
Photo Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
The governor of Okinawa has used a trip to Washington to reiterate his opposition to the heavy presence of US military bases on the island, urging all Japanese citizens to rethink security arrangements between Tokyo and Washington.
Outspoken Governor Takeshi Onaga arrived in the US earlier this week, holding a press conference to convey his discontent with the high number of US military bases in Okinawa, which hosts 74 percent of Japan’s total US military presence.
“I think all Japanese citizens should think about the Japan-US security arrangements. US military bases occupy 6 percent of the whole of Japan and 70 percent of those US military bases are in places where the population density is about the same as Tokyo. I don’t like it anymore…” he said in response to a question from RT’s Gayane Chichakyan at a press conference.
He went on to cite jet crashes related to the US bases, as well as sexual assaults which have been linked to US soldiers since World War II.
Onaga and citizens of Okinawa have long protested the heavy presence of US military bases and troops on the island, with mass demonstrations drawing thousands last year.
Of particular concern is the planned relocation of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station from Ginowan to the less-populated area of Henoko, in Nago.
Onaga is against the relocation, stating it would destroy the environment of the bay surrounding the new site.
In December, the governor was defeated in a lawsuit filed by the central government regarding the air station, with Japan’s Supreme Court finding that it was illegal for Onaga to revoke the approval granted by his predecessor, Hirokazu Nakaima, for land reclamation required to build replacement runways at the new base.
But Okinawans could soon see their hopes answered, if President Donald Trump follows through with a campaign statement in which he said that he wants foreign nations to pay for US presence and protection in those countries.
Instead of seeing Trump’s statement as a threat, Okinawa policy adviser Moritake Tomikawa said a withdrawal of US troops would suit Okinawans just fine.
“Mr. Trump says if Japan doesn’t pay more than he’s going to withdraw the troops from Japan. As far as Okinawa people are concerned, that’s fine…” he said.
It is unclear, however, where Trump stands on the specific Okinawa issue. The new defense secretary, James Mattis, is currently in Japan, though his views on the issue also remain unclear.
Japan spends an estimated $1.5 billion a year on the US bases, while Washington dished out around $5.5 billion in 2016, according to the Pentagon.
A senior Israeli official played down Friday remarks from the White House that building new or expanding existing settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories “may not be helpful” in securing peace.
In an apparent break from President Donald Trump’s previously full-throated support of settlements building, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Thursday that the new administration hadn’t yet taken an official position on settlements.
Responding Friday, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said Spicer’s comments didn’t amount to “a U-turn”.
“The statement is very clear and essentially means: wait for the meeting with (Israeli) Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, who is arriving in Washington in less than two weeks to meet President Trump, and then we’ll determine our policy,” Danon told Israeli public radio.
The Zionist entity has now approved more than 6,000 settler units since Trump took office having signaled a softer stance on settlement construction than predecessor Barack Obama.
“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful,” Spicer said on Thursday.
Trump is scheduled to welcome Netanyahu to the White House on February 15.
Donald Trump needs détente with Russia for precisely the opposite motives to those who oppose him: for the latter, tension with Russia wholly underpins the need for a U.S.-led, global defense posture that can draw on a storied, centuries-old (in the European case), legacy of hostility towards Russia.
The continuance of this global “threat” meme, in its turn, pulls Europe and other pro-Western states into a tighter hug with the U.S. And, last but not least, a globalist defense strategy is an integral component to globalism itself (together with globalist financial institutions, and global economic governance).
At the heart of Trump’s critique of the post-war élites, precisely is the negative impact of globalization on U.S. production, trade and fiscal imbalances, and on the labor market. Trump cites the fact that U.S. industrial capitalism has drastically shifted the locus of its investments, innovations and profits overseas – as the prime example of globalization’s negative effects. To reverse the paradigm, he needs to undo America’s “defense globalization,” which effectively has been the umbrella under which the stealth forces of U.S. financialized globalism, and so-called, “free trade” policies, hide. Détente with Russia therefore, in, and of, itself, would help to dismantle the overarching “globalization paradigm.” This would give the U.S. President a better possibility of instituting a new, more self-sufficient, self-supporting American economy — which is to say, to facilitate the repopulation of the languishing American “Rust Belt“ – with some new, real, economic enterprise.
Détente not only would go a long way to wind back America’s over-extended and often obsolete defense commitments, and to make some of those now-committed “defense” resources newly available for reinvesting in America’s productive capacity needs. But crucially, taking a hammer to the globalized defense paradigm would break down what, until now, has been seen as a homogenized, single, American-led cosmos – into a collection of distinct planets orbiting in a vast space.
This would allow America to cut bilateral trading deals with other states (planets), freed from the need to maintain aloft a global defense “cosmos” primordially dedicated to keeping its “enemy” out, weak and in its own attenuated orbit (with no moons of its own).
President Trump seems to view (even a U.S.-led) global defense “cosmos” as an impediment to his planned transformation of America’s economy: As James Petras has pointed out:
“President Trump emphasizes market negotiations with overseas partners and adversaries. He has repeatedly criticized the mass media and politicians’ mindless promotion of free markets and aggressive militarism as undermining the nation’s capacity to negotiate profitable deals … Trump points to [previous] trade agreements, which have led to huge deficits, and concludes that US negotiators have been failures. He argues that previous US presidents have signed multi-lateral agreements, [primarily] to secure military alliances and bases, [but done so] at the expense of negotiating job-creating economic pacts … He wants to tear up, or renegotiate unfavourable economic treaties while reducing US overseas military commitments; and demands NATO allies [should] shoulder more of their own defence budgets.”
In short, Trump does not particularly want defense solidarity, or even European alliances, come to that. Simply said, such groupings serve (in his view) to inhibit America’s ability to negotiate, on a case-by-case, individual state-to-state, basis – and thus, by using leverage specific to each nation, achieve better terms of trade for America. He would prefer to deal with Europe piecemeal – and not as composite NATO or E.U. “cosmos,” but as the individual recipient (or not) of U.S. defense protection: a negotiating card, which he believes has been inadequately levered by previous administrations.
Remove the “Russian threat” from the game, and then America’s ability to offer – or withdraw – American defense shield becomes a hugely potent “card” which can be used to lever improved trade deals for the U.S., or the repatriation of jobs. In short, Trump’s foreign policy essentially is about trade policy and negotiation advantage, in support of his domestic agenda.
Seen against this background, Russian fears that Trump’s détente initiative cannot be trusted because his true underlying aim is to drive a wedge into the China-Russia-Iran strategic alliance may be misplaced. Trump wants détente with Russia, but that does not necessarily mean that he wants “war” with China. It is not plausible that Trump should want war with China. He wants trade; he believes in trade, but only on “equal” terms – and in any case, China simply doesn’t carry a legacy of China-phobia in any way comparable to the weight and longevity of the Western investment in Russo-phobia. There is no constituency for war with China.
This does not however mean that Russians have nothing to fear, and that Fyodor Lukyanov’s concerns about American wedge-driving, should be dismissed. They should not. But rather the fears, perhaps, should be contextualized differently.
As Paul Craig Roberts, the former Assistant Secretary to the U.S. Treasury, puts it:
“President Trump says he wants the US to have better relations with Russia and to halt military operations against Muslim countries. But he is being undermined by the Pentagon. The commander of US forces in Europe, General Ben Hodges, has lined up tanks on Poland’s border with Russia and fired salvos that the general says are a message to Russia, not a training exercise [see here] … How is Trump going to normalize relations with Russia when the commander of US forces in Europe is threatening Russia with words and deeds?”
And now we have General Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, and well known as an Iranophobe, saying, “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice”:
Statement by the National Security Advisor
“Recent Iranian actions, including a provocative ballistic missile launch and an attack against a Saudi naval vessel conducted by Iran-supported Houthi militants, underscore what should have been clear to the international community all along about Iran’s destabilizing behavior across the Middle East.
“The recent ballistic missile launch is also in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.
“These are just the latest of a series of incidents in the past six months in which Houthi forces that Iran has trained and armed have struck Emirati and Saudi vessels, and threatened U.S. and allied vessels transiting the Red Sea. In these and other similar activities, Iran continues to threaten U.S. friends and allies in the region. Iran continues to threaten U.S. friends and allies in the region…
“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.”
Add to that statement the upsurge of violence in eastern Ukraine, most probably intentionally provoked by Kiev, and a botched U.S. military operation in Yemen that killed a Navy Seal, 8-year-old Nawar al-Awlaki and “numerous” civilians, and one might conclude that the combination of events are just too much of a coincidence.
Paul Craig Roberts further suggests that “the military/security complex is using its puppets-on-a-string in the House and Senate to generate renewed conflict with Iran, and to continue threats against China” to put a spoke in Trump’s wheel:
“Trump cannot simultaneously make peace with Russia and make war on Iran and China. The Russian government is not stupid. It will not sell out China and Iran for a deal with the West. Iran is a buffer against jihadism spilling into Muslim populations in the Russian Federation. China is Russia’s most important military and economic strategic ally against a renewal of US hostility toward Russia by Trump’s successor, assuming Trump succeeds in reducing US/Russian tensions. The neoconservatives with their agenda of US world hegemony and their alliance with the military-security complex, will outlast the Trump administration” [… and Russia knows this].
No Free Hand
U.S. Presidents – even one such as Trump (who has given very few hostages to fortune during his campaign) – do not have a completely free hand in their choice of key cabinet members: sometimes circumstances demand that a key domestic interest is represented.
The endorsement of General James Mattis from the defense and security Establishment, for example, suggests that he has been wished upon President Trump in order to attend to U.S. security interests. Trump will understand that.
The question rather is whether Trump – in his choice of certain senior posts (i.e. that of General Flynn) – inadvertently, has laid himself open himself to manipulation by his Deep State enemies who are determined to torpedo détente with Russia.
Professor Walter Russell Mead in a recent Foreign Affairs article underlines just how deeply contrarian is Trump’s foreign policy. It runs directly counter to the two principal schools of U.S. policy thinking since WW2 (the Hamiltonians and the Wilsonians), who “both focused on achieving a stable international system with the United States as “the gyroscope of world order.” It is, as Walter Russell Mead describes it, a cultural legacy that is deeply embedded in the American psyche. It is doubtful whether Generals Mattis and Flynn, or others in the team, fully appreciate or endorse the full scope of Trump’s intended revolution. True belief, perhaps, is confined to a small circle around the President, led by Steve Bannon.
In any event, whether by external design or “inadvertent” happenstance, President Trump has two key members of his team, Flynn and Mattis, who are explicit belligerents towards Iran (see here on Mattis on Iran. It is however, less extreme, than the explicit manicheanism of Flynn).
Paul Craig Roberts says that “Trump cannot simultaneously make peace with Russia and make war on Iran and China.” That is true. But neither can Trump pursue his war on Islamic radicalism – the principal plank of his foreign policy platform – and in parallel, pursue a Flynn-esque antagonism towards Iran.
Trump will not co-opt Russia as an “aerial bombing” partner in such a regional war, while America is simultaneously attacking the only “boots-on-the-ground” security architecture that now exists in the Middle East capable of confronting Takfiri jihadism: the Syrian, Iranian, Hashad al-Shaabi and Hezbullah armed forces. There is none other.
It seems that President Trump’s weekend phone call to President Putin has quieted some of Russia’s concerns about the direction of America’s foreign policy, according to Gilbert Doctorow, but Rex Tillerson (now that he has been confirmed as Secretary of State) will need to have a serious discussion with Trump and his inner circle, and colleagues Mattis and Flynn, if Trump does not want his discreet dismantling of globalization disrupted by Russo-phobes – or his own Irano-phobes.
This assumes, of course, that Tillerson is not himself at least partly culturally embedded in the zeitgeist of America as the “gyroscope of the world order,” identified by Walter Russell Mead.
The problem for visionaries of any new order is that inevitably they start with such a tiny base of followers who really “get it.” President Putin likely does “get it,” but can he too dare build from such a narrow base? Can Putin convince colleagues? Most Russians still recall the very bad experience of the Yeltsin détente with America. Can Trump and Tillerson pull this together?
Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum.
US Republican Senator Bob Corker (left) and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin in the US Senate (file photo)
A number of US senators have backed additional sanctions against Iran over the country’s missile program, arguing that Tehran “must feel sufficient pressure.”
Twenty-two senators, including Bob Corker (Republican from Tennessee) and Ben Cardin (senior Democrat from Maryland) pronounced their support in a letter they sent to US President Donald Trump on Thursday. Corker is the chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
“Full enforcement of existing sanctions and the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program are necessary,” the senators wrote.
They added that “we look forward to supporting your Administration’s efforts to hold Iran accountable.”
The Reuters news agency reported on Thursday that the Trump administration is expected to announce new sanctions against Iran on Friday to ratchet up pressure on the Islamic Republic.
This is while the US president said on Thursday that “nothing is off the table” in terms of a response to Iran’s latest ballistic missile test.
Hours earlier, Trump said the White House has formally put Tehran on notice over its recent ballistic missile test.
“Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” Trump tweeted, echoing his national security adviser’s comments a day earlier.
‘Iran Non-Nuclear Sanctions Act of 2017’
Also on Thursday, a group of Republicans in the US House of Representatives introduced a bill for new sanctions on Iran as the Trump administration is mulling anti-Iran measures.
The measure, called the Iran Non-Nuclear Sanctions Act of 2017, seeks sanctions against Tehran for “supporting terrorism, abusing human rights, and testing ballistic missiles.”
It was presented by New York Representative Lee Zeldin, Illinois Representative Peter Roskam, New Jersey Representative Leonard Lance and Colorado Representative Doug Lamborn.
The proposed legislation comes after US House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would support imposing additional sanctions on Iran over its recent missile test.
“I would be in favor of additional sanctions on Iran,” Ryan told reporters on Thursday at a weekly press conference.
“We need to have a tough-on-Iran policy … We should stop appeasing Iran,” he said.
Washington has said Sunday’s ballistic missile test was in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.
Tehran insists its missile tests do not breach any UN resolution because they are solely for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.
Arms control experts have also said that Iran’s missile tests are not banned under the nuclear agreement and the Security Council resolution, because Iran’s missiles are not meant to deliver nuclear warheads.
Resolution 2231 calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
The US government has blacklisted 13 individuals and a dozen businesses under the Iran sanctions authority, a day after President Donald Trump’s administration threatened a response over Tehran’s ballistic missile tests.
The Treasury Department posted a listing on Friday, naming the individuals and the companies added to the sanctions list. Eight of the individuals are listed as Iranian citizens, three appear to be Chinese, and two Arab.
Most of the businesses listed in the announcement are based in Iran, though one of the entities is located in the United Arab Emirates, two are in China, and three are in Lebanon.
“Today’s action is part of Treasury’s ongoing efforts to counter Iranian malign activity abroad,” said John E. Smith, acting director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
“Iran’s continued support for terrorism and development of its ballistic missile program poses a threat to the region, to our partners worldwide, and to the United States,” Smith said. “We will continue to actively apply all available tools, including financial sanctions, to address this behavior.”
Meanwhile, the guided missile destroyer USS Cole arrived in the waters off the coast of Yemen on Friday, where it will conduct patrols to “protect waterways” from the Houthi rebels, unnamed US officials told reporters.
“Iran is unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people,” Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said ahead of the announcement. “We will never use our weapons against anyone, except in self-defense,” he added later.
When Gen. Michael Flynn marched into the White House Briefing Room to declare that “we are officially putting Iran on notice,” he drew a red line for President Trump. In tweeting the threat, Trump agreed.
His credibility is now on the line.
And what triggered this virtual ultimatum?
Iran-backed Houthi rebels, said Flynn, attacked a Saudi warship and Tehran tested a missile, undermining “security, prosperity, and stability throughout the Middle East,” placing “American lives at risk.”
But how so?
The Saudis have been bombing the Houthi rebels and ravaging their country, Yemen, for two years. Are the Saudis entitled to immunity from retaliation in wars that they start?
Where is the evidence Iran had a role in the Red Sea attack on the Saudi ship? And why would President Trump make this war his war?
As for the Iranian missile test, a 2015 U.N. resolution “called upon” Iran not to test nuclear-capable missiles. It did not forbid Iran from testing conventional missiles, which Tehran insists this was.
Is the United States making new demands on Iran not written into the nuclear treaty or international law — to provoke a confrontation?
Did Flynn coordinate with our allies about this warning of possible military action against Iran? Is NATO obligated to join any action we might take?
Or are we going to carry out any retaliation alone, as our NATO allies observe, while the Israelis, Gulf Arabs, Saudis and the Beltway War Party, which wishes to be rid of Trump, cheer him on?
Bibi Netanyahu hailed Flynn’s statement, calling Iran’s missile test a flagrant violation of the U.N. resolution and declaring, “Iranian aggression must not go unanswered.” By whom, besides us?
The Saudi king spoke with Trump Sunday. Did he persuade the president to get America more engaged against Iran?
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker is among those delighted with the White House warning:
“No longer will Iran be given a pass for its repeated ballistic missile violations, continued support of terrorism, human rights abuses and other hostile activities that threaten international peace and security.”
The problem with making a threat public — Iran is “on notice” — is that it makes it almost impossible for Iran, or Trump, to back away.
Tehran seems almost obliged to defy it, especially the demand that it cease testing conventional missiles for its own defense.
This U.S. threat will surely strengthen those Iranians opposed to the nuclear deal and who wish to see its architects, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, thrown out in this year’s elections.
If Rex Tillerson is not to become a wartime secretary of state like Colin Powell or Dean Rusk, he is going to have to speak to the Iranians, not with defiant declarations, but in a diplomatic dialogue.
Tillerson, of course, is on record as saying the Chinese should be blocked from visiting the half-dozen fortified islets they have built on rocks and reefs in the South China Sea.
A prediction: The Chinese will not be departing from their islands, and the Iranians will defy the U.S. threat against testing their missiles.
Wednesday’s White House statement makes a collision with Iran almost unavoidable, and a war with Iran quite possible.
Why did Trump and Flynn feel the need to do this now?
There is an awful lot already on the foreign policy plate of the new president after only two weeks, as pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine are firing artillery again, and North Korea’s nuclear missile threat, which, unlike Iran’s, is real, has yet to be addressed.
High among the reasons that many supported Trump was his understanding that George W. Bush blundered horribly in launching an unprovoked and unnecessary war on Iraq.
Along with the 15-year war in Afghanistan and our wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen, our 21st-century U.S. Mideast wars have cost us trillions of dollars and thousands of dead. And they have produced a harvest of hatred of America that was exploited by al-Qaida and ISIS to recruit jihadists to murder and massacre Westerners.
Osama’s bin Laden’s greatest achievement was not to bring down the twin towers and kill 3,000 Americans, but to goad America into plunging headlong into the Middle East, a reckless and ruinous adventure that ended her post-Cold War global primacy.
Unlike the other candidates, Trump seemed to recognize this.
It was thought he would disengage us from these wars, not rattle a saber at an Iran that is three times the size of Iraq and has as its primary weapons supplier and partner Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
When Barack Obama drew his red line against Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war, and Assad appeared to cross it, Obama discovered that his countrymen wanted no part of the war that his military action might bring on.
President Obama backed down — in humiliation.
Neither the Ayatollah Khamenei nor Trump appears to be in a mood to back away, especially now that the president has made the threat public.
Copyright 2017 Creators.com.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May will use the upcoming EU summit in Malta to demand Europe strengthen its commitment to NATO and spend more on defence.
May is expected to conduct a series of one-on-one meetings with EU leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, in order to secure “new, positive and constructive” relationships with the Union.
The prime minister, however, is not expected to attend the part of the talks in which Brexit will be discussed. Instead, she is using the summit as an opportunity to press the EU’s NATO members to fulfil their defence expenditure requirements.
According to a 2016 NATO report, only five of its 28 members actually reached the required defence spending limit of two percent. The list of those failing to spend enough includes Germany, France, and Spain.
Britain’s push for Europe to open its wallet comes after a meeting between Theresa May and US President Donald Trump last Friday.
At a joint press conference, May agreed with Trump that NATO spending should be “fairly shared” among its members.
Trump has in the past criticised NATO as being “obsolete” and “costing too much money.”
The president has also suggested that the US may not come to the assistance of NATO members who do not satisfy the two percent requirement.
May, however insisted she had received a “100 percent” commitment to NATO from the Trump administration. She also promised to “encourage fellow European leaders” to comply with their obligations.
It remains unclear how Britain will convince EU leaders to increase defence spending, as relations with Brussels have been significantly affected by Brexit. One possible way might be to emphasise the threat to European security that is supposedly posed by Russia.
Earlier this week, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon urged other NATO states to fulfil defence spending targets in order to effectively counter alleged Russian attempts to destabilise the continent.
Fallon has accused Russia of “becoming a strategic competitor to the West” and mounting a sophisticated information and cyber campaign against various NATO members.
Moscow has categorically denied these allegations, describing them as “baseless” and a “witch hunt.”
When British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon was asked to deliver a speech on ‘Russian resurgence’, he seized the opportunity to accuse Moscow of “annexing” Crimea, shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, and “testing” NATO. Russia calls the claims baseless.
Fallon’s speech at St. Andrews University on Thursday began kindly enough, speaking about the UK’s “renewed interest in Russian scientific and artistic achievement.”
However, the talk quickly changed course, with Fallon changing the focus to Russia’s so-called “military resurgence.”
Referring to the reunification of Crimea and Russia following a referendum in 2014, Fallon claimed the situation actually amounted to Russia illegally annexing the territory.
“Russia did not allow Ukraine to decide its own destiny like any other sovereign country,” he said. “Instead, under the guise of ambiguous and deniable instruments it annexed Crimea.”
Fallon’s anti-Russia rhetoric didn’t stop there. He went on to cite an inquiry by the Dutch-led Joint-investigative Team (JIT) which claims the MH17 tragedy was caused by a “Russian-provided missile.” He said that despite the finding, Moscow continues to deny its role in the tragedy.
Fallon failed to mention, however, that there are numerous issues surrounding that report, including the fact that the Dutch apparently couldn’t read raw radar data provided by Russia, yet failed to ask Moscow for help to decode it.
The discrepancies surrounding the inquiry have led to Major General Aleksandr Tazekhulakhov, the former deputy head of the Russian Army Air Defense, to accuse the Netherlands of trying to keep Moscow out of the investigation, likely in “yet another attempt to put the blame on Russia for something…”
The next phase of Fallon’s speech transitioned from Ukraine to Syria, in which he accused Russia of targeting the Syrian opposition in Aleppo “with little regard for innocent lives,” claiming that 80 percent of its strikes targeted non-Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) targets.
However, Fallon seemed to conveniently forget that the US-led coalition in Syria – which includes the UK – just last month admitted to “unintentionally” killing at least 188 civilians in Syria and Iraq since 2014.
And while Fallon accused Russia of targeting civilians in Aleppo, he failed to mention a hospital set up by Russia in the city, despite the facility being hailed by the World Health Organization (WHO) last month.
“The WHO, same as the Syrian people – we’re very grateful to the Russians, the EMERCOM [Agency for Support and Coordination of Russian Participation in International Humanitarian Operations] gave a hospital to be used in the Jibreen [refugee] camp. The hospital provided by the Russian people has provided several hundred consultations and has been given by the Russian people to the Syrian people for the use by the central health authorities in Aleppo,” the WHO’s Elizabeth Hoff told RT.
Any typical bashing of Russia by the UK wouldn’t be complete without claims that Moscow is trying to “test” NATO, and Fallon didn’t disappoint.
“Russia is clearly testing NATO and the West,” Fallon said, accusing Moscow of “seeking to expand its sphere of influence, destabilize countries, and weaken the alliance.”
“It is undermining national security for many allies and the international rules-based system,” he continued.
Fallon was apparently in no mood to present a balanced argument during his speech, failing to mention NATO’s build-up of troops near Russia’s borders, or Moscow’s concern that NATO is compromising its national security.
The speech also included a healthy dose of the usual Western rhetoric, including allegations that Russia influenced the US presidential election by hacking into Democratic National Committee (DNC).
There was a touch of irony towards the end of Fallon’s speech, in which he said “we need to understand Russia better,” but then went on to accuse it of “reckless military activity” and “misinformation.”
“Russia could again become the partner the West always wished for…” he concluded.
However, based on Fallon’s speech, it seems Russia will only be a ‘partner’ to the UK and the West if it panders to their every wish.
Moscow responded to Fallon’s speech on Friday, calling his statements “baseless.”
“We express regret for this hostile stance of the minister. We are sure that such allegations are baseless,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, as quoted by Reuters.