The US Army has joined Estonian soldiers in NATO ‘Tornado’ drills just before the largest training in Estonia’s history, the Siil war games. A laser training system will be used for simulating actual battle.
“On Monday, nearly 2,000 soldiers of the First Infantry Brigade of Estonian Defense Forces, as well as divisions of US paratroopers, will begin five-day Tornado drills, which will demonstrate the level of their readiness for larger Siil [Hedgehog] military exercises,” the General Staff of the country’s Defense Forces said in a statement.
The Siil war games involving up to 13,000 soldiers will be held in early May.
The MILES (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System) system will be used during the Tornado exercise for training purposes, with different versions of MILES systems available to US and international militaries. The system uses lasers and blank cartridges to simulate actual battle. Soldiers carry small laser receivers, placed over their outfits, which detect when the soldier has been illuminated by a firearm’s laser. Each laser transmitter meanwhile mimics the effective range of the weapon on which it is used.
The presence of US soldiers in the Baltic region is a part of the military operation Atlantic Resolve, a demonstration of US commitment to NATO members across Eastern Europe through international training and security cooperation.
NATO has been building up its military presence along Russia’s western border in the wake of the conflict in southeastern Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly warned that NATO’s growing expansion towards Russian borders could only escalate tensions and destabilize regional security.
“The Alliance exerts pressure on the Russian Federation and the deployment of additional military capabilities along our borders is nothing but an attempt to assist military pressure on Russia,” Russia’s permanent representative to NATO, Alexander Grushko, said in February.
The Russian General Staff said on Thursday there was a sharp increase in the intensity of NATO troops training near the borders of Russia last year, with a clear anti-Russian orientation of these activities. According to Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov, NATO’s operational and combat training activities grew by 80 percent in 2014.
“During this period, NATO created a grouping of its member states’ forces in the Baltic States, consisting of over 10,000 troops, about 1,500 armored vehicles, 80 planes and helicopters and 50 warships,” Kartapolov stated, adding that strategic bombers from the US Air Force were used to perform strategic tasks during those exercises.
He also said the US plans to supply its Eastern European allies with JASSM-ER long-range aviation cruise missiles, which will enable NATO warplanes to hit targets 1,300 kilometers inside Russian territory.
The head of the Main Operation Directorate of the General Staff has warned that in the case of a military conflict, critical facilities on the territory of “almost the entire European part of Russia will be vulnerable to NATO’s air attack, with the flight time of the missiles reduced by half.”
When F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Goes Operational this Summer, it won’t Work any better than 40-Year-Old Thunderbolts
The money-suck known as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will go into service this summer with the Marine Corps with less ground attack capability than the 40-year-old plane it’s meant to replace, Pentagon officials say.
The F-35 has cost nearly $400 billion since the beginning of the program in 2001 and is estimated to cost $1 trillion over its lifetime. However, it won’t have night-vision capability, will be able to carry only two air-to-ground missiles and will be able to stay over a target area for 30 minutes maximum, Michael Gilmore, director of operational test and evaluation at the Defense Department, told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
“If F-35 aircraft are employed at night for combat, pilots will have no night vision capability available due to the restriction on using the current night vision camera,” Gilmore said in written testimony to the committee. In contrast, the 1970s-era A-10 Thunderbolt, known as the Warthog, can remain over a battlefield for up to 90 minutes and augment its four air-to-ground missiles with fire from a cannon in its nose.
“This [F-35 variant] reminds me of something before the A-10, not something after the A-10,” Rep. Martha McSally, (R-Arizona), a freshman lawmaker and former Warthog pilot, said according to Stars and Stripes.
As Congress decides whether to appropriate money to buy more F-35s from contractor Lockheed Martin, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report (pdf) this month that outlines problems with the program. “[E]ngine reliability is poor and has a long way to go to meet program goals. With nearly 2 years and 40 percent of developmental testing to go, more technical problems are likely,” the report said. It also outlined grounding of the F-35 fleet, the need for additional inspections and software failures.
Air Force brass have long coveted more F-35s, to the point of releasing misleading statistics on the A-10 and telling lower-level officers that talking about the Warthog to members of Congress is “treason.”
How those new planes will be paid for is another question. The program will cost taxpayers from $12 billion to $15 billion a year through 2030. Yet the GAO report points out “It is unlikely that the program will be able to receive and sustain such a high and unprecedented level of funding over this extended period, especially with other significant fiscal demands weighing on the nation.”
Despite the late date and billions flushed into the program, some are calling for the Pentagon to bail out of the F-35. “However, we are past that decision point,” Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-California) said. “We just need to make this program work.”
To Learn More:
First Version of F-35s Will Not Outdo A-10 in Battlefield Capabilities (by Travis J. Tritten, Stars and Stripes )
GAO Confirms Increased F-35 Production Is a Terrible Idea (by Mandy Smithberger, Project on Government Oversight)
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Assessment Needed to Address Affordability Challenges (pdf) (Government Accountability Office)
A Reminder: U.S. Pays One Quarter of Israel’s Defense Budget (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov )
Air Force Doctored Statistics about Friendly Fire and Civilian Deaths to Get Rid of A-10 Attack Jet (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov )
Air Force General Says Talking to Congress about A-10 Attack Jet is Treason (by Steve Straehley, AllGov )
Trillion-Dollar F-35 Jet Fighter Has 13 Flaws (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov )
The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine has exceeded 1.2 million, the United Nations says as the crisis in the country’s eastern parts enters its second year.
Back in February, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that five million Ukrainians, including some 1.7 million children, have been affected by the ongoing crisis in the country’s eastern provinces.
The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April last year to crush pro-Russia protests there.
The UN said recently that at least 6,116 people have been killed and 15,474 wounded since the beginning of the tumult in Ukraine last April.
Warning that the actual number of casualties could be significantly higher, the UN further expressed concerns that the repeated violation of a shaky ceasefire aimed at ending the conflict would further worsen the human rights situation in the country’ restive parts.
Ukraine’s warring sides reached the truce deal, dubbed Minsk II, at a summit attended by the leaders of Russia, France, and Germany in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk in February. Since then, both parties have, on numerous occasions, accused each other of breaking the ceasefire.
Last week two prominent Ukrainian opposition figures were gunned down in broad daylight. They join as many as ten others who have been killed or committed suicide under suspicious circumstances just this year. These individuals have one important thing in common: they were either part of or friendly with the Yanukovych government, which a US-backed coup overthrew last year. They include members of the Ukrainian parliament and former chief editors of major opposition newspapers.
While some journalists here in the US have started to notice the strange series of opposition killings in Ukraine, the US government has yet to say a word.
Compare this to the US reaction when a single opposition figure was killed in Russia earlier this year. Boris Nemtsov was a member of a minor political party that was not even represented in the Russian parliament. Nevertheless the US government immediately demanded that Russia conduct a thorough investigation of his murder, suggesting the killers had a political motive.
As news of the Russian killing broke, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA) did not wait for evidence to blame the killing on Russian president Vladimir Putin. On the very day of Nemtsov’s murder, Royce told the US media that, “this shocking murder is the latest assault on those who dare to oppose the Putin regime.”
Neither Royce, nor Secretary of State John Kerry, nor President Obama, nor any US government figure has said a word about the series of apparently political murders in Ukraine.
On the contrary, instead of questioning the state of democracy in what looks like a lawless Ukraine, the Administration is sending in the US military to help train Ukrainian troops!
Last week, just as the two political murders were taking place, the US 173rd Airborne Brigade landed in Ukraine to begin training Ukrainian national guard forces – and to leave behind some useful military equipment. Though the civil unrest continues in Ukraine, the US military is assisting one side in the conflict – even as the US slaps sanctions on Russia over accusations it is helping out the other side!
As the ceasefire continues to hold, though shakily, what kind of message does it send to the US-backed government in Kiev to have US troops arrive with training and equipment and an authorization to gift Kiev with some $350 million in weapons? Might they not take this as a green light to begin new hostilities against the breakaway regions in the east?
The Obama administration is so inconsistent in its foreign policy. In some places, particularly Cuba and Iran, the administration is pursuing a policy that looks to diplomacy and compromise to help improve decades of bad relations. In these two cases the administration realizes that the path of confrontation has led nowhere. When the president announced his desire to see the end of Cuba sanctions, he stated very correctly that, “…we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new.”
So while Obama is correctly talking about sanctions relief for Iran and Cuba, he is adding more sanctions on Russia, backing Saudi Arabia’s brutal attack on Yemen, and pushing ever harder for regime change in Syria. Does he really believe the rest of the world does not see these double standards? A wise consistency of non-interventionism in all foreign affairs would be the correct course for this and future US administrations. Let us hope they will eventually follow Obama’s observation that, “it’s time to try something new.”
The fragile truce in eastern Ukraine has on several occasions been violated by an “unidentified third party,” the OSCE mission stated in its daily report, citing officers of the joint coordination center who were trying to organize a ceasefire.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) has witnessed three attempts by the Joint Centre for Control & Coordination (JCCC) to organize a ceasefire between Ukrainian troops and the self-proclaimed republics’ forces, according to the new report dated April 16. But within minutes after the arranged time, ceasefires were broken by a “third party,” Ukrainian and Russian officers tasked with mediating the truce told OSCE representatives.
“According to both Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces officers at the observation point, an unidentified ‘third party’ was provoking the two sides,” the mission’s report says.
“The SMM witnessed… [that] sporadic firing of mortars and machine guns started within a few minutes of the arranged [ceasefire] start time,” the report says.
The SMM does not mention where the fire was coming from, nor does it name possible perpetrators of the alleged provocations.
Eventually, Kiev forces and the militias did manage to secure a short ceasefire window from 13:07 to 15:37 local time as sporadic fighting around Donetsk continued throughout the day. Overall the OSCE mission registered 18 separate cases of ceasefire violations on the day.
Permanent representative of the self-proclaimed DPR, Dennis Pushilin, believes that the “third party” blamed for the provocations might be nationalist units, often privately funded, and not necessarily under the control of Kiev. Despite the earlier understanding that paramilitary forces in Ukraine will join the central command structure, a few rogue cells could still exist.
“These battalions only half obey the central government. All provocations occur where Azov and Right Sector battalions are concentrated. Namely Shirokino area, Donetsk airport and Avdeyevka. This pushes the situation to a new conflict,” Pushilin said.
“They want a new war and new blood. They aim to involve the Ukrainian armed forces in the conflict, although the Ukrainian army to a greater degree follow orders,” Pushilin said.
Meanwhile the SMM also witnessed several violations of heavy artillery presence in areas that are supposed to be demilitarized following the Minsk II agreement. Using surveillance drones, the monitors observed violations in areas controlled by both sides of the conflict, including 21 Ukrainian tanks and six artillery pieces. Four howitzers towed by trucks and two tanks were seen on the territory under DPR’s control.
Over 6,000 people have died in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has lasted for over a year, according to conservative UN estimates. A peace roadmap, brokered by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in February, dubbed the Minsk-2 agreement, stipulates heavy weapons should be pulled back from the frontline and that a security zone should separate the warring sides as they engage in a political dialogue to bring about a constitutional reform.
The militarist Anglo CIA director John Brennan has said that the ‘war on terror,’ a mythical Zionist ideology adopted by pro-Zionist Western statesmen, may go on forever.
“CIA Director John Brennan said Americans should expect the war on terror to continue as long as evil people have access to lethal technologies and mass communication,” reported the Defense One website. He made the ludicrous comments during a Q&A session at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.
The irony of the CIA chief’s remarks is astounding, considering that the USA is the biggest state perpetrator and sponsor of terrorism in the world, having caused the deaths of millions since the end of World War II in various wars and proxy campaigns instigated by Washington.
But Brennan’s assertion that the ‘war on terror’ may last forever is true so long as Washington can fabricate new “bad guys” and boogeymen every few years. The WOT is nothing more than a heinous racket and theatrical PR stunt that was designed to provide the war industry with an excuse to make constant war on elusive, manufactured, and oftentimes entirely fictional enemies.
‘Terrorism’ is a concept, so warring against it has no foreseeable conclusion, especially when the premise is just a giant lie to hoodwink the masses.
Copyright 2015 Non-Aligned Media
Despite voicing its support for the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, the US is actually working to undermine the Minsk peace deal, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, commenting on the deployment of American military instructors to Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry is “gravely concerned” by the fact that military instructors from the US, UK and Canada will be training the troops from Ukraine’s National Guard, stressed the ministry’s spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich.
“This begs the question: Do they – in Washington, London and Ottawa – understand whom are we talking about? As they are the same Ukrainian ultra-nationalists from volunteer battalions, who wore Nazi emblems and blurred themselves with the blood of women, children and the elderly during reprisal raids in Donbass [south-eastern Ukraine],” he said.
“What will these foreign military experts teach them – how to continue killing those, who speak Russian?” the spokesman wondered.
Moscow views the information that the National Guard training program will include exercises with Western-style weaponry and hardware as a possible “first step towards the supply of modern US arms to Ukraine, which the ‘party of war’ in Kiev is so eager to get its hands on,” he said.
Supporting any revanchist ambitions of warmongers in the Ukrainian government “may lead to the resumption of bloodshed” in the south-east of the country, Lukashevich warned.
The ministry believes that the US actions are in violation of the peace deal, which was signed by Kiev and the representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk during talks in Minsk on February 12, he said.
Lukashevich stated that the Minsk deal provides “the withdrawal of all foreign forces, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under the supervision of the OSCE. Instead, a US Airborne Brigade has landed near Lvov and intends to settle there for long.”
“The Obama administration, which verbally advocates the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, is, in fact, contributing to the disruption of the Minsk agreements,” he stressed.
According to Moscow, Washington is trying to divert the international community’s attention from its military deployment in the Ukraine “by a ‘smokescreen’ of claims of an alleged presence of Russian troops in Donbass,” which hasn’t been backed by any proof.
“It’s obvious, that the US troops on Ukrainian soil won’t bring it peace,” Lukashevich concluded.
On Friday, paratroopers of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vincenza, Italy, have arrived in western Ukraine to provide training for Ukrainian troops. Some 290 US troops are to take part in long-term joint drills with combat units of the National Guard, Arsen Avakov, Ukrainian Interior Minister, wrote on Facebook.
The US paratroopers’ training mission will last for 24 weeks and involve some 900 Ukrainian servicemen, Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, and US Vice-President, Joe Biden, agreed earlier in spring.
Kiev and rebels signed a ceasefire deal in February, which involved the pullout of heavy weapons and a profound political dialogue and constitutional reform, which would address the grievances of the dissenting regions and reintegrate them into Ukraine.
The deal has more or less held so far, with the level of violence in eastern Ukraine dropping significantly, OSCE monitors on the ground have been reporting.
The Ukrainian conflict began in April 2014 after Kiev sent troops to Donetsk and Lugansk Region as people there refused to recognize the new coup-imposed authorities in the capital. A year of fighting in south-eastern Ukraine has resulted in over 6,000 deaths, including score of civilians, according to conservative UN estimates.
Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem
Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah has blasted the ongoing Saudi military aggression against Yemen, comparing the move to the Israeli atrocities in the besieged Gaza Strip.
“What Saudi Arabia is committing [in Yemen] is identical to what Israel commits in Gaza,” Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem said in a Thursday interview with France 24.
Israel has blockaded the Gaza Strip for over seven years, causing a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave. The Israeli regime has also launched three wars on Gaza, the latest of which came in summer 2014, when nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed and over 11,100 others injured. The 50-day war ended with an Egyptian-brokered truce.
Qassem said the Saudi war “is about attacking infrastructure and shelling civilians.”
Referring to a recent UN Security Council resolution adopted against Yemen’s Houthi movement, the Hezbollah official said, “The Security Council decision in Yemen is unjust, because it looks at one part of the problem, and not at the whole [picture].”
“The Security Council should have stopped the Saudi aggression against Yemen and treated the issues related to the civilians and the wounded and the destruction of infrastructure,” he said.
Qassem also called for a political solution to the crisis in Yemen.
“It (the UN) was supposed to set the steps for a dialogue to reach a political solution. This, the Security Council has not done,” the Hezbollah official said.
During an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, Qassem slammed Saudi Arabia’s indiscriminate bombardment of Yemen as genocide.
Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen started on March 26 – without a UN mandate – in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. It has drawn widespread condemnation from international rights groups.
Civilians and Yemeni infrastructure have been the target of the Saudi aggression against Yemen.
According to Yemeni sources, around 2,600 people have been killed in the Saudi military campaign over the past three weeks.
The humanitarian situation in Yemen is rapidly deteriorating. Many international aid organizations have sought clearances to dispatch medical and other humanitarian supplies by air and sea to civilians in need.
Caracas – According to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Venezuela reduced its military budget by 34 percent in 2014, leading the the region in arms spending cuts.
Venezuela is followed by Uruguay, which decreased its military spending by 11 percent over the past year.
In contrast, United States political allies Paraguay and Mexico led the region in upping military spending, raising their military budgets by 13 and 11 percent, respectively.
Brazil, which is the largest arms spender in Latin America and the tenth largest in the world, cut its military budget by 1.7 percent due to economic difficulties.
The Americas remains the region with the highest military spending, a fact undoubtedly attributable to the presence of the United States, which, despite a modest budget cut of 6.5 percent, retains its spot as the world’s top arms spender.
With an annual military budget of $610 billion, the US accounts for one-third of global spending, amounting to more than triple the budget of the second highest spender, China.
Nonetheless, this enormous disparity in spending has not prevented the US from branding Venezuela a menace to its neighbors, on numerous occasions.
In 2009, then US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton accused Venezuela of fomenting an “arms race” with its purchase of Russian weapons. That same year, Venezuela led the region in cutting military spending, slashing its arms budget by one-quarter.
Last month, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order labeling Venezuela a “national security threat”, a move which has been vociferously condemned by a host of countries and multilateral blocs across the globe.
The commander of US-NATO forces, the vigorously vocal General Breedlove, stated on April 7 that the military alliance’s planners “have been working tirelessly to enhance NATO’s Response Force and implement the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, and today our progress is manifested in the rapid deployments we see happening in locations across the Alliance.”
Breedlove is the man who declared on March 5 that Russia had sent combat troops and massive quantities of military equipment into Ukraine. He said that President Putin had “upped the ante” in eastern Ukraine by deploying “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery.” His military opinion was that “What is clear is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day.”
He spoke absolute drivel, because the ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and separatists in the east of the country was working, albeit shakily, and things were quietening down. The last thing that was needed was provocation. Silence and, or at the most, calm, reasoned comments were essential if both sides were to be encouraged to cool it.
But this man, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, the man who has the trust of the American president, the prime nuclear button-shover, told a deliberate lie intended to increase tension.
The manufactured tension built up and on April 7 Breedlove’s HQ announced that the militaries of “11 Allied nations, Germany, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, Lithuania, Croatia, Portugal, and Slovenia tested their Headquarters’ response to alert procedures,” while “in the afternoon of 7 April, the 11th Air Mobile Brigade in The Netherlands and the 4th Rapid Reaction Brigade in the Czech Republic were given orders to rapidly prepare to deploy their troops and equipment” in a maneuver called “Noble Jump” which conjured up an image of a missile-wielding April bunny leaping into the fray against a coyly unnamed enemy who could be no other than Russia. (Although perhaps Russia need not be too troubled about some of NATO’s war preparations. My sources told me that the practice mobilization of the Dutch brigade was a shambles.)
While the ground-based martial bunny-hops were going on there was an aerial provocation in progress, this time involving a US Combat Sent RC-135U spyplane which was on a mission against Russia and flew along its Baltic Sea coastline. To prevent identification its transponder had been switched off — just like those of the aircraft in the 9/11 hijackings and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 which disappeared mysteriously a year ago.
All aircraft have transponders which report their speed, height, heading and identification to air traffic controllers and other aircraft in order to avoid aerial confusion, so when Russian radar detected a large aircraft without such a signal but obviously using transmission devices to collect their radar and other electronic emissions, including civilian commercial communications, they sent up a fighter plane to have a look. Washington threw up its hands in mock horror and issued statements about how dangerous this was. Then the western media went into overdrive with a cavalier disregard for balanced reporting.
The Daily Mail of Britain is a garbage newspaper which maintains enormous readership because it specializes in glamorizing Britain’s sad, tacky and pathetic Celeb culture while concurrently condemning it, sometimes in the most portentous terms. The paper’s masses of online readers try to rationalize their attraction to vulgarity by glancing at items on international affairs and were told breathlessly that “In a maneuver with ominous echoes of the Cold War, a Russian fighter jet ‘aggressively’ intercepted an American plane over Poland, the Pentagon claims. Filing an official complaint to Russia, the State Department alleges a U.S. RC-135U reconnaissance aircraft was flying near the Baltic Sea in international airspace when a Russian SU-27 Flanker cut into its path.”
The average Daily Mail reader might not be able to question the absurdly conflicting phrases “near the Baltic Sea,” “over Poland,” and “in international airspace,” but that doesn’t matter. The message was being spread around by the US-NATO propaganda apparatus that the dreaded Russkies were menacing the Free World. The media lapped it up.
Little attention was paid in the West to the Russian announcement that “an Su-27 fighter on duty was scrambled, approached the unidentified aircraft, flew around it several times, identified it as an RC-135U reconnaissance aircraft belonging to the U.S. Air Force and read its side number, and reported it to the command. After having been intercepted by the Russian fighter, the U.S. Air Force aircraft changed its course and moved away from the Russian border.”
What the Russians didn’t say was that the aircraft’s “side number” was 4849 and that it had been photographed the previous day in Eastern England at the Royal Air Force base at Mildenhall which houses a USAF tanker squadron, about 200 US special forces soldiers with Osprey aircraft and operatives from such elements as 97 Intelligence Squadron.
No doubt the Russians know that last October it was noticed that US RC-135U spy plane number 4849 carries on its side some eye-catching decals. A photograph taken by Gary Chadwick at Mildenhall shows the “mission markings applied above the crew entry hatch, on the left hand side of the RC-135U Combat Sent 64-14849 ‘OF’ with the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron/55th Wing of the U.S. Air Force : five hammer and sickle symbols.”
These symbols may be stickers or stencils, but whatever they are they cost money and take time and effort to apply on the side of an airplane to which they add neither beauty or distinction. So why are they placed there?
It might be thought strange that a US military aircraft in 2015 should have Soviet-era hammer and sickle decals on its side in order to publicly indicate a military exploit involving achievement of an objective of some sort. And it is interesting that one of the images has been added recently, because when a photograph of 4849 was taken last year there were only four such symbols. What enterprising and gallant mission merited the fifth hammer and sickle? Another addition was a fourth depiction of an aircraft carrier, signifying, no doubt, a successful electronic spying mission involving one of these ships that was not of the United States Navy. What nationality could it have been?
The anti-Russian spy-antics of the US are fully in line with the war-talk of Breedlove and his NATO colleagues who are beavering away in their brand-new billion dollar combat palace in Brussels to justify existence and expansion of their war machine. Russia’s actions have been propagandized accordingly, and the US spy flights are intended to provoke Moscow into taking action which can be used to escalate tension yet further. It would all be childishly funny were it not for the fact that Breedlove and his people are playing with the future of Europe and indeed the world. They are leading us to the nuclear threshold, and must be reined in before they stumble into ultimate confrontation.
Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.
After what could essentially be called a 1,100 mile military parade through Eastern Europe, US paratroopers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade have arrived in Ukraine to commence Operation Fearless Guardian.
It comes as Ukrainian hacking group CyberBerkut released a long list of foreign military inspectors set to arrive in Ukraine in April.
The convoy, consisting of 50 paratroops and 25 vehicles, disembarked from Vicenza, Italy. After traveling through Austria, as well as NATO allies Germany and Poland, the military caravan arrived in Yavoriv, Ukraine on Friday.
“This assistance is part of our ongoing efforts to help sustain Ukraine’s defense and internal security operations,” Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez told the Hill when the operation was first announced.
Operation Fearless Guardian is the codename given to US efforts to train the Ukrainian National Guard. Spanning a six-month period, the exercises will begin later this month. While 300 US soldiers will take part, the convoy delivered equipment as well.
“This equipment will provide maintenance support as well as troop and general cargo transport to and from training areas,” Captain P.J. Hartman said in a press release from the US Army.
Ukrainian media has reported that the training will conclude with the US military trainers handing over ammunition, though US Army Europe spokesman Donald Wrenn told Newsweek, “[W]e at Army Europe are not aware of any ammunition being provided following the training.”
Long planned, the mission was originally meant to begin last month, but it was delayed after the signing of the second ceasefire agreement in Minsk.
The convoy arrives amid renewed violence in the country’s east. Monitors with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe reported evidence of fighting on Sunday, including tank rounds and machine gun fire. Ceasefire breaches last week left three independence supporters dead and five others injured.
Fearless Guardian is just the latest in a series of steps taken by Washington which contradicts its message of diplomacy over violence. The US has so far provided over $120 million in non-lethal military aid, including 230 Humvees and unarmed Raven drones.
“While we continue to believe that there is no military resolution to this crisis, Ukraine has the right to defend itself,” Lainez said last month.
On Tuesday, Canada also announced it would deploy 200 troops to Ukraine to assist in the training exercises, while the UK has already sent a number of military instructors.
During a TV interview last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned about an increase in Western military presence in Ukraine.
“Provocateurs in Kiev and those who support the ‘party of war’ might attempt to cook something up in the hopes of inflaming world public opinion, resulting in weapons flowing into Ukraine,” Lavrov said. “We must keep a close eye on this.”
Russia says the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is preparing the ground for the use of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear countries in contradiction to the Western military alliance’s obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“NATO, contrary to the obligations taken under the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, is still conducting preparations for the use of nuclear weapons by countries that are non-nuclear states,” Alexander Grushko, Russia’s envoy to NATO, said at the Fourth Moscow International Security Conference on Thursday.
The NPT, which was ratified in 1970, constitutes the cornerstone of global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to open up access to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Non-nuclear signatories to the treaty have agreed not to seek to develop or acquire nuclear arms.
The Russian official further accused the military bloc of seeking to revive the Cold War ideology.
Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister General Sergei Shoigu told the conference that NATO military exercises in the Arctic and Eastern Europe are against Russia.
The minister also warned that the participation of NATO’s non-nuclear states in the drills stimulate “the use of US tactical nuclear weapons” in violation of the NPT.
In February, NATO defense ministers agreed to increase from 13,000 soldiers to 30,000 the size of the alliance’s rapid reaction force. They also announced plans to set up six new command posts in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.
The Western military bloc has over the past year increased its presence and conducted several drills in Eastern Europe amid the crisis in Ukraine. Moscow, however, has repeatedly condemned NATO’s exercises and military buildup near Russia’s borders.
Moscow-West relations have been extremely tense in recent months. The West accuses Moscow of supporting pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine, an allegation strongly denied by the Kremlin.