Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov
During a meeting of the UN Security Council convened by Russia, the Kremlin has warned about “grave humanitarian consequences” that would come if Saudi Arabia goes ahead with a plan to attack Yemen’s western port city of Hudaydah.
The attendants in the UNSC meeting discussed the grave humanitarian situation in Yemen and efforts toward a peaceful conclusion of the two-year-long war imposed by the Saudi regime on the Yemeni people, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov told reporters after the closed-door meeting in New York, which had been requested by Moscow on Wednesday.
Russia’s state news agency TASS quoted the Russian official as saying the meeting had been held in an attempt “to urge the UN to step up its efforts to establish a real diplomatic process.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, Safronkov said all the 15 member states of the council supported a non-military approach to the resolution of the crisis. It is, the Kremlin believes, “necessary to search for a political settlement,” Safronkov added.
Hudaydah is currently under the control of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah fighters, who have been defending the impoverished country against the Saudi aggression since March 2015. The city, Yemen’s fourth largest and its biggest port, served as a thoroughfare for the transit of about 70 percent of Yemen’s food imports in the pre-war years.
When the Saudi regime started pounding the crisis-hit country, Hudaydah turned into a primary entry point for humanitarian aid and fuel meant for areas inside Yemen, including the capital, Sana’a. If the city falls under the control of Saudi forces and mercenary soldiers, the flow of humanitarian assistance toward those areas would be blocked.
On March 13, Moscow also warned about the critical situation of the port city in providing its people with much-needed humanitarian aid.
The “plans to storm Yemen’s biggest port of Hudaydah give rise to serious concerns,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, adding that the fall of the city would cut Sana’a from “food and humanitarian aid supplies.” She also said the humanitarian situation in Yemen was “catastrophic.”
On Wednesday, the World Food Programme (WFP) said 60 percent of Yemenis, some 17 million people, faced a “crisis” and were in urgent need of food as a direct result of the Saudi war.
The Saudi campaign has so far killed over 12,000 Yemenis. The aggression was meant to reinstate Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Yemen’s president who has resigned and is a staunch ally of Riyadh. The campaign also sought to undermine Houthis. However, due to resistance from the Yemeni nation, the regime in Riyadh has so far failed to achieve success and suffered considerable human loss in its military.
Blockaders cover the Front Gate at the Luftwaffe’s Buchel Air Base in Germany, which deploys and trains to use up to 20 U.S. B61 hydrogen bombs on Germany Tornado jet fighter
On March 26, nuclear disarmament activists in Germany will launch a 20-week-long series of nonviolent protests at the Luftwaffe’s Büchel Air Base, Germany, demanding the withdrawal of 20 U.S. nuclear weapons still deployed there. The actions will continue through August 9, the anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.
For the first time in the 20-year-long campaign to rid Büchel of the U.S. bombs, a delegation of U.S. peace activists will take part. During the campaign’s “international week” July 12 to 18, disarmament workers from Wisconsin, California, Washington, DC, Virginia, Minnesota, New Mexico and Maryland will join the coalition of 50 German peace and justice groups converging on the base. Activists from The Netherlands, France and Belgium also plan to join the international gathering.
The U.S. citizens are particularly shocked that the U.S. government is pursuing production of a totally new H-bomb intended to replace the 20 so-called “B61” gravity bombs now at Büchel, and the 160 others that are deployed in a total of five NATO countries.
Under a NATO scheme called “nuclear sharing,” Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, and The Netherlands still deploy the U.S. B61s, and these governments all claim the deployment does not violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Articles I and II of the treaty prohibit nuclear weapons from being transferred to, or accepted from, other countries.
“The world wants nuclear disarmament,” said US delegate Bonnie Urfer, a long-time peace activist and former staffer with the nuclear watchdog group Nukewatch, in Wisconsin. “To waste billions of dollars replacing the B61s when they should be eliminated is criminal — like sentencing innocent people to death — considering how many millions need immediate famine relief, emergency shelter, and safe drinking water,” Urfer said.
Although the B61’s planned replacement is actually a completely new bomb — the B61-12 — the Pentagon calls the program “modernization” — in order to skirt the NPT’s prohibitions. However, it’s being touted as the first ever “smart” nuclear bomb, made to be guided by satellites, making it completely unprecedented. New nuclear weapons are unlawful under the NPT, and even President Barak Obama’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review required that “upgrades” to the Pentagon’s current H-bombs must not have “new capabilities.” Overall cost of the new bomb, which is not yet in production, is estimated to be up to $12 billion.
Historic German Resolution to Evict US H-bombs
The March 26 start date of “Twenty Weeks for Twenty Bombs” is doubly significant for Germans and others eager to see the bombs retired. First, on March 26, 2010, massive public support pushed Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, to vote overwhelmingly — across all parties — to have the government remove the U.S. weapons from German territory.
Second, beginning March 27 in New York, the United Nations General Assembly will launch formal negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The UNGA will convene two sessions — March 27 to 31, and June 15 to July 7 — to produce a legally binding “convention” banning any possession or use of the bomb, in accordance with Article 6 of the NPT. (Similar treaty bans already forbid poison and gas weapons, land mines, cluster bombs, and biological weapons.) Individual governments can later ratify or reject the treaty. Several nuclear-armed states including the US government worked unsuccessfully to derail the negotiations; and Germany’s current government under Angela Merkel has said it will boycott the negotiations in spite of broad public support for nuclear disarmament.
“We want Germany to be nuclear weapons free,” said Marion Küpker, a disarmament campaigner and organizer with DFG-VK, an affiliate of War Resisters International and Germany’s oldest peace organization, this year celebrating its 125th anniversary. “The government must abide by the 2010 resolution, throw out the B61s, and not replace them with new ones,” Küpker said.
A huge majority in Germany supports both the UN treaty ban and the removal of US nuclear weapons. A staggering 93 percent want nuclear weapons banned, according to a poll commissioned by the German chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War published in March last year. Some 85 percent agreed that the US weapons should be withdrawn from the country, and 88 percent said they oppose US plans to replace current bombs with the new B61-12.
U.S. and NATO officials claim that “deterrence” makes the B61 important in Europe. But as Xanthe Hall reports for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, “Nuclear deterrence is the archetypal security dilemma. You have to keep threatening to use nuclear weapons to make it work. And the more you threaten, the more likely it is that they will be used.”
For more information and to sign a “Declaration of Solidarity.”
Additional information about the B61 and NATO’s “nuclear sharing” at CounterPunch:
“Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Brings Calls for Denuclearization,” July 28, 2016.
“Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Made in the USA,” May 27, 2015.
“US Defies Conference on Nuclear Weapons Effects & Abolition,” Dec. 15, 2014.
John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.
“The senator from Kentucky,” said John McCain, speaking of his colleague Rand Paul, “is working for Vladimir Putin … and I do not say that lightly.”
What did Sen. Paul do to deserve being called a hireling of Vladimir Putin?
He declined to support McCain’s call for a unanimous Senate vote to bring Montenegro into NATO as the 29th member of a Cold War alliance President Trump has called “obsolete.”
Bordered by Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania, tiny Montenegro has a population roughly that of D.C., and sits on the western coast of the most volatile peninsula in Europe.
What strategic benefit would accrue from having Montenegro as an ally that would justify the risk of our having to go to war should some neighbor breach Montenegro’s borders?
Historically, the Balkans have been an incubator of war. In the 19th century, Otto van Bismarck predicted that when the Great War came, it would come out of “some damn fool thing in the Balkans.” And so it did when the Austrian archduke was assassinated in Sarajevo June 28, 1914 by Serbian ethnonationalist Gavrilo Princip.
Aflame with ethnic, civil and sectarian war in the 1990s, the western Balkans are again in political turmoil. Milo Djukanovic, the longtime Montenegrin prime minister who resigned on election day in October, claims that he was targeted for assassination by Russia to prevent Montenegro’s accession to NATO.
Russia denies it. But on the Senate floor, McCain raged at Rand Paul: “You are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin … trying to dismember this small country which has already been the subject of an attempted coup.”
But if Montenegro, awash in corruption and crime, is on the verge of an uprising or coup, why would the U.S. issue a war guarantee that could vault us into a confrontation with Russia — without a full Senate debate?
The vote that needs explaining here is not Rand Paul’s.
It is the votes of those senators who are handing out U.S.-NATO war guarantees to countries most Americans could not find on a map.
Is no one besides Sen. Paul asking the relevant questions here?
What vital U.S. interest is imperiled in who comes to power in Podgorica, Montenegro? Why cannot Europe handle this problem in its own back yard?
Has President Trump given McCain, who wanted President Bush to intervene in a Russia-Georgia war — over South Ossetia! — carte blanche to hand out war guarantees to unstable Balkan states?
Did Trump approve the expansion of NATO into all the successor states born of the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia?
Or is McCain hijacking U.S. foreign policy on NATO and Russia?
President Trump should tell the Senate: No more admissions to NATO, no more U.S. war guarantees, unless I have recommended or approved them. Foreign policy is made in the White House, not on the Senate floor.
Indeed, what happened to the foreign policy America voted for — rapprochement with Russia, an end to U.S. wars in the Middle East, and having rich allies share more of the cost of their own defense?
It is U.S., not NATO defense spending that is rising by more than $50 billion this year. And today we learn the Pentagon has drawn up plans for the insertion of 1,000 more U.S. troops into Syria. While the ISIS caliphate seems doomed, this six-year Syrian war is far from over.
An al-Qaida subsidiary, the Nusra Front, has become the most formidable rebel fighting group. Syria’s army, with the backing of Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Shiite militias from across the Middle East, has carved out most of the territory it needs.
The Turkish army is now in Syria, beside its rebel allies. Their main enemy: Syria’s Kurds, who are America’s allies.
From our longest war, Afghanistan, comes word from U.S. Gen. John Nicholson that we and our Afghan allies are in a “stalemate” with the Taliban, and he will need a “few thousand” more U.S. troops — to augment the 8,500 President Obama left behind when he left office.
Some 5,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq, helping to liberate Mosul from ISIS. In Kabul, Baghdad and Damascus, terrorist bombings are a weekly, if not a daily, occurrence.
Then there is the U.S. troop buildup in Poland and the Baltic, the U.S. deployment of a missile defense to South Korea after multiple missile tests in the North, and Russia and China talking of upgrading their nuclear arsenals to counter U.S. missile defenses in Poland, Romania and South Korea.
In and around the waters of the Persian Gulf, United States warships are harassed by Iranian patrol boats, as Tehran test-fires anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to send the Americans a message: Attack us and it will not be a cakewalk war.
With the death of Communism, the end of the Cold War, and the collapse of the Bushite New World Order, America needs a new grand strategy, built upon the solid foundation of America First.
Copyright 2017 Creators.com.
Dozens of worshipers have reportedly been killed in an airstrike on a mosque in Syria’s Aleppo province. While the Pentagon only admitted to striking terrorists several miles away in Idlib, some reports suggest US missile debris were recovered from the mosque’s rubble.
Details of the strike on the Al-Jinah mosque are scarce, but over 50 people might have been killed in the incident, according to various reports. Images from the scene shared on social media show the wide-scale destruction.
None of the forces present in the area have taken responsibility for the strike yet. Both Russian and Syrian planes in addition to American-led air power are conducting operations against terrorist units in the area.
Some rushed to blame Moscow or Damascus for the carnage, after activists of the so-called White Helmets rescue organization and no less the notorious UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights shared first images from the scene.
“We did not target a mosque, but the building that we did target — which was where the meeting took place — is about 50 feet (15 meters) from a mosque that is still standing,” said Colonel John J. Thomas, spokesman for US Central Command according to AFP.
Journalist Samuel Oakford, who was previously UN correspondent at Vice News, said that the US central Command confirmed it had carried out a strike in relative close proximity to the mosque.
“US official says that they were targeting an ‘Al Qaeda meeting place” that was across from the mosque in Aleppo. ‘We took the strike’”, he tweeted. Earlier, the reporter claimed the US Central Command told him the Americans conducted a strike on a target just several miles away, in the bordering Idlib province, and was looking into the Aleppo suburb mosque strike.
CENTCOM spokesperson, Maj. Josh Jacques, told the London-based Airwars monitoring group that the target was “assessed to be a meeting place for al Qaeda, and we took the strike.”
“It happened to be across the street from where there is a mosque,” said Jacques, specifying that the mosque was not the target and that it wasn’t hit directly.
“To be clear: this was a unilateral US strike, not part of anti-ISIS Coalition activities,” Oakford emphasized in another tweet.
Meanwhile Sakir Khader, who identifies himself as a journalist with a focus on Syria, Turkey, and the wider Middle East, posted a picture of the missile debris, which he claims to have come from the rubble of the destroyed mosque.
While the location and authenticity of the photo are yet to be independently investigated, the picture shows latin inscription on a metal plate alleged to be a piece of the missile.
Neither the Russian nor the US militaries, as well as Damascus, have yet to officially comment on the incident.
Press TV – March 17, 2017
At least 44 people have been killed and dozens of others wounded after a Saudi airstrike hit a refugee boat off Yemen’s western coast.
Yemen’s al-Masirah television reported on Thursday that the boat which came under attack was carrying Somali refugees near Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
According to the report, there are a number of women and children among the victims.
Reuters quoted a local official in Hudaydah as saying that the boat had come under attack by an Apache helicopter.
The refugees were on their way from Yemen to Sudan, the unnamed official said.
Earlier in the day, Saudi fighter jets bombed a food transport truck in the western province of al-Hudaydah, killing all the passengers, al-Masirah reported, without giving the number of those killed.
The remains of a truck hit by a Saudi strike in Hudaydah Province, Yemen, March 16, 2017.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a deadly military campaign against Yemen since March 2015. The kingdom has also imposed an aerial and naval blockade on its southern neighbor.
Britain and the US have provided huge amounts of arms and military training to the Saudi forces.
According to the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, the Saudi military campaign has claimed the lives of 10,000 Yemenis and left 40,000 others wounded.
McGoldrick told reporters in Sana’a earlier this year that the figure was based on casualty counts given by health facilities and that the actual number might be higher.
However, local Yemeni sources have put the death toll from the Saudi war at over 12,000, including many women and children.
WASHINGTON – US foreign assistance to nations other than Israel is not yet determined in the fiscal year 2018 Department of State budget, acting spokesperson Mark Toner said in a briefing on Thursday.
Israel secured $3.1 billion in foreign funding in President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget that was made public on Thursday.
“Our assistance to Israel is a cutout on the budget, and that’s guaranteed,” Toner told reporters. “With respect to other assistance levels — foreign military assistance levels, those are still being evaluated and decisions are going to be made going forward.”
Toner pointed out the State Department was still at the beginning of the budget process and would consider US treaty obligations when determining assistance.
Last September former President Barack Obama’s administration signed a 10-year, $38 billion memorandum of understanding that represents the single largest bilateral military pledge of defense aid in US history.
The agreement included $33 billion in foreign military financing and $5 billion for missile defense from fiscal year 2019-2028.
As US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travels across Japan, China and South Korea, amid the impeachment of South Korean president Park Geun-hye and a recent missile launch by North Korea, Radio Sputnik’s Brian Becker invited columnist and author Patrick Lawrence to discuss what’s at the heart of the new diplomat’s trip.
The impeachment of South Korean president Park Geun-hye has plunged South Korea into a time of uncertainty. Between America’s undecided foreign policy and the massive unpopularity of its THAAD system deployment in South Korea, Park’s successor may take an unexpected stance. This seems likely, given that the most probable candidate to win the elections is Moon Jae-in, a supporter of the Sunshine Policy, the idea of close cooperation with North Korea without military intervention.
According to Lawrence, the visit to South Korea is the key leg of Tillerson’s trip, as Park’s impeachment has jeopardized US plans to deploy the THAAD anti-missile system in the country. The move, to counter the North Korean nuclear threat, is facing fierce opposition among South Koreans. President Park has been playing along with the United States on this issue.
Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, however, is obliged by law to call new elections in 60 days. Described by Lawrence as a “creature of Park Geun-hye,” Hwang’s tenure may create a short window of opportunity for the US to deploy the controversial system. But, as he is associated with the impeached president, Hwang’s chances of winning the election are extremely low. South Korea’s celebrated democracy, then, may very well backfire on the US.
Aside from the THAAD issue, Washington must decide on its approach to North Korea.
“There is no standing still on North Korean question,” Lawrence says. “Either we open the new negotiations with them, or we become more aggressive militarily.”
In fact, military confrontation is not the only way the United States might approach North Korea. While the DPRK is consistently portrayed as aggressive, irrational and totalitarian, it was not until Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama’s presidency that that the US ceased negotiations with DPRK in 2009: both Presidents Clinton and Bush engaged in negotiations with Pyongyang, while South Korea implemented the Sunshine Policy which opened opportunities for cooperation between the two countries.
Lawrence reminded listeners that during the Korean War, the US Air Force destroyed every structure higher than one story in the country.
“The main complaint of the US pilots during the war was that there was nothing left to bomb,” Lawrence says.
Bombings also eliminated 20% of North Korean population, and this, according to Lawrence, is the real reason behind North Korea’s determination to ensure its safety through nuclear weapons and its reluctance to negotiate.
“This has been erased [from history textbooks],” Lawrence says. “That’s how we maintain the fiction of wild North Korean irrationality.”
Lawrence pointed out that, in theory, there could be a deal between Washington and Pyongyang: the US ceases the military drills in the region and North Korea in return halts its nuclear program. But North Korea has a lengthy record of having the United States violate their own agreements: Lawrence recalls that each time an agreement on nuclear weapons was signed with North Korea, the United States started picking on Pyongyang’s missile program, which was never covered in the agreement. Lawrence compares it to the nuclear deal with Iran, since Washington also criticized Tehran for a missile program which has to be perceived separately from the nuclear deal itself.
Should it nevertheless resort to negotiations, the United States will have to face a very strong resistance from within, since the military industrial complex is the force that is critically interested in keeping tensions in the region high; keeping significant numbers of US armed forces in the region is necessary to project US power in Asia, but this can only be justified if there is a clear and present danger: “demonic” North Korea and its nuclear weapons.
“We are heavily dependent on the conflict in this country. We are absolutely dependent on maintaining the high degree of tension on the Korean Peninsula,” Lawrence says.
There is even a possibility that US generals will denounce President Trump’s direct order to withdraw from the region. This happened in 1977, right after then-President Jimmy Carter announced the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea. A very similar thing, according to Lawrence, happened after President Trump announced his intention to de-escalate, or “normalize” US relations with Russia.
“Nobody should be under any illusion as to the limited extent to which the civilian government in Washington is in actual control of the Pentagon,” Lawrence says.
US fighter jets drop bombs on Cambodia circa 1973 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/cc)
Cambodians are responding with outrage to the U.S. government’s demand that the country repay a nearly 50-year-old loan to Cambodia’s brutal Lon Nol government, which came to power through a U.S.-backed coup and spent much of its foreign funds purchasing arms to kill its own citizens, according to Cambodia’s current prime minister Hun Sen.
While the U.S. was backing the Lon Nol government, it was also strafing the Cambodian countryside with bombs—a carpet-bombing campaign that would eventually see over 500,000 tons of explosives dropped on the small Asian country, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and leaving a legacy of unexploded ordnance.
“[The U.S.] dropped bombs on our heads and then they ask us to repay. When we do not repay, they tell the IMF [International Monetary Fund] not to lend us money,” Hun Sen said at an Asia-Pacific regional conference earlier this month.
“At the same time the U.S. was giving weapons to Lon Nol, it was bombing the Cambodian countryside into oblivion and creating millions of refugees fleeing into Phnom Penh and destroying all political fabric and civil life in the country,” former Australian ambassador to Cambodia Tony Kevin told Australia’s ABC.
“And all of this was simply to stop the supplies coming down to South Vietnam, as it was then, from the north,” Kevin added. “So the United States created a desert in Cambodia in those years, and Americans know this.”
Hun Sen has argued that the U.S. has no right to demand repayment of its “blood-stained” funds.
“Cambodia does not owe even a brass farthing to the U.S. for help in destroying its people, its wild animals, its rice fields, and forest cover,” wrote former Reuters correspondent James Pringle for The Cambodia Daily.
In fact, during his tenure as prime minister Hun Sen has asked the U.S. to drop the “dirty debt” several times, but American leaders have refused.
“[The] U.S. would not drop it. It would have been so easy to forgive the repayment, it would have been easy to refinance it for education like they did in Vietnam,” the reporter Elizabeth Becker, who covered the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s, told Al Jazeera.
“The U.S. intervention in Cambodia was easily the most controversial that we had in that era,” Becker said. “[The U.S.] dragged Cambodia into the Vietnam War for hopes that by expanding it they could win, the complications now are that even 50 years later, the Khmer Rouge legacy is horrible.”
“The U.S. owes Cambodia much more in war debts that can be repaid in cash,” Becker argued to The Cambodia Daily.
The United States has recently deployed hundreds of troops to Syria in an apparent bid to assist the looming operation aimed at liberating Raqqa, but Washington will not be able to maintain a permanent military presence in the war-torn country, defense analyst Omar Maaribuni told RIA Novosti.
“Speaking about prospects, I don’t think that Turkey or the United States will be able to maintain their dominance [in northern Syria]. This is due to many factors. The main reason is the resistance which could emerge if American and Turkish forces refuse to withdraw from the region after the war is over,” he said.
In Maaribuni’s opinion, the other reason has to do with Washington’s plans to create a Kurdish canton spanning from the city of Afrin to the Mediterranean. The analyst said that it is impossible to carry out such a project in Syria due to demography and ethnic distribution, which prevent the Kurds from creating a “stable and self-contained” autonomous region on the border with Turkey.
“I think that America’s military presence near Manbij and other cities is temporary. The United States will have to withdraw sooner or later since there are no grounds for them to be there,” the analyst said. “Washington is trying to claim some of the achievement [in the fight against terrorism] as its own at the moment and improve its standing following a series of setbacks that the US has suffered.”
The Obama administration pledged to refrain from sending American boots on the ground in Syria, but later reversed its decision once it became apparent that the US-led coalition was struggling to destroy Daesh. The US has deployed hundreds of special operations troops to the war-torn country to ostensibly train and assist its local allies in their counterterrorism campaigns.
Maaribuni further commented on multilateral efforts aimed at liberating Raqqa, the so-called capital of Daesh’s caliphate. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are the primary force engaged in the operation aimed at pushing the militants out of the city, but the analyst suggested that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) could also make a move towards the brutal group’s key stronghold.
“If the SAA moves towards the city of al-Thawrah after the military operation in Maskanah is over, Damascus-led forces will be able to secure three of its air bases, namely Kuweires, Kashish and al-Thawrah. They will need them for air cover largely provided by attack helicopters. These tactics have been used in the eastern Aleppo province and around Palmyra,” he explained.
Maaribuni suggested that the SAA “could find itself on the verge of the battle for Raqqa” if it has enough aerial support and uses artillery wisely.
Russia strives for the demilitarization of Central Europe, stipulated in the agreement between the country and NATO, and Europe is able to ensure regional security if it follows its own obligations under the alliance, French National Front (FN) party leader and presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen said in an interview Monday.
“[Russia’s President Vladimir Putin] wants to turn Central Europe not so much into the Russian influence zone, as the neutral zone,” Le Pen told Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita.
She noted that the agreement, which had been concluded with Russia and which stipulated that the territories would not be militarized, was violated.
“Putin just wants these territories to be demilitarized again,” Le Pen stressed.
Commenting on the strengthening of the NATO’s eastern flank, Le Pen added that, as the European member states have complied with the demilitarization obligation for dozens of years, there was no reason which would prevent them from respecting it in the future.
At the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, the alliance agreed to deploy its international troops in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland. Additionally, it was agreed that out military exercises would be carried out in the Black Sea area in 2017. The actions are aimed at deterring the alleged aggression from Russia. Moscow has repeatedly criticized the increased presence of NATO’s troops and military facilities near the Russian border.
In 1997, the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between Russia and NATO, which aimed at strengthening mutual trust and building a stable, peaceful and undivided Europe, was concluded in Moscow.
Pyongyang will not stop efforts to improve its preemptive nuclear strike capability if the United States and its allies continue conducting military exercises near the North Korean border, North Korea’s Ambassador to the United Nations Kim In Ryong told reporters on Monday.
The ambassador explained North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches were a “routine” matter.
“As long as the United States and its followers persist their nuclear threat and the blackmails against the DPRK [North Korea] and as long as they do not give up the war exercises they stage… right in front of DPRK, the DPRK will continue to bolster the self-reliance defense capability and capability for the preemptive strike with nuclear force,” In Ryong said.
“[The launches are a] self-defensive right of a sovereign state” to keep on high alert whenever there are military exercises close to its borders, he added.
In Ryong also said the UN Security Council resolutions on sanctions against North Korea are “devoid of legal ground”.
The ambassador noted that North Korea had sent a request to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to organize an international forum of legal experts on sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the UN Security Council, but did not receive an adequate answer.
Earlier on Monday, US Forces Korea said the United States is deploying a permanent squadron of MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones to an air base in South Korea amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests.