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Lavrov Says Alleged Russian Links to GPS Glitches During NATO Drills Fantasy

Sputnik – 12.02.2019

MOSCOW – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday called claims of Russia’s alleged involvement in GPS disruptions during last year’s NATO drills a fantasy, a day after Norway renewed similar allegations concerning signal interference near its border.

“I must say that a matter was not looked into because it is impossible to explore fantasies that are not confirmed by any facts. It’s all along the lines of ‘highly likely,'” Lavrov said at a press conference after meeting with Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini.

In turn, Soini said that Finland had requested information from Russia on what could be causing the GPS disruptions.

“The situation [with GPS failure] last fall caused concern in Finland. And this situation does not in any way contribute to increasing the level of stability in the region. Naturally, the safety of air traffic and security in the broad sense should not be compromised in any circumstances. We expect and believe that there will be no such events in the future. We discussed this issue and asked for information on what these obstacles may be related to,” Soini told reporters after the meeting.

On Monday, the Norwegian Intelligence Service said in its annual report that in repeated incidents since 2017, Russia had blocked GPS signals in Norwegian regions near the border with Russia, adding that these incidents coincided with military drills in Norway.

Between late October and early November, NATO’s Trident Juncture military drills, held in several northern European countries, including Norway and Finland, were overshadowed by several incidents in which pilots reported losing GPS signals.

On November 13, the Norwegian Defense Ministry issued a statement blaming Russia for the disruption of GPS navigation signals. Finland also alleged that Russia could be responsible for jamming the signal. Moscow has denied the allegations, and Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has noted the existing trend of accusing Russia of “various deadly sins,” saying that such accusations were, as a rule, unfounded.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Persecution & intimidation: Fate of Russians in US prisons casts shadow on American justice system

© (top left) Viktor Bout / Reuters / Damir Sagolj; (top right) A placard with an image of Konstantin Yaroshenko / Sputnik;
(bottom left) Maria Butina / Reuters / Alexandria Sheriff’s Office; (bottom right) Family photo of Roman Seleznyov / AFP
RT | December 29, 2018

As Washington continues detentions of Russians across the world the plight of those, who have already fallen into the clutches of the US authorities, raises suspicion about the true colors of the US justice system.

In mid-December, yet another Russian citizen was detained outside of Russia’s borders – this time in Finland – at the request of the United States, marking the latest episode in what the Russian Foreign Ministry decried as a “de-facto hunt” for the Russians on a global scale.

The news about the arrest of a Russian woman in Finland, who was placed in a “male” detention center and reportedly complained of poor conditions, came just days after a long-time Russian prisoner jailed in the US revealed that he was offered various favors, including a Green Card for his family in exchange for accusing the Russian government of corruption.

These developments shed light on how the US justice works, at least when it comes to Russians. RT looks at some of the high-profile cases, involving Russian citizens who have been detained or imprisoned in the US.

1. Viktor Bout

A businessman jailed in the US on accusations of being an international arms dealer, Viktor Bout, is one of the Russians who has spent the longest period of time in a US prison in recent history. He has been in custody for a decade now, after being arrested in 2008 in Thailand during a sting operation. He was convicted in the US in 2012 on a charge of conspiring to kill American citizens, by selling weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and was handed a 25-year sentence.

The businessman himself has denied accusations. As the scandal developed he’s been in the media spotlight. While talking to reporters he spoke about life in the US high-security prison claiming that a maximum-security prison he is in spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on every prisoner from the US budget. Nevertheless, the conditions in the facility leave much to be desired and “nobody ever investigated” why the cost is so high, he said.

Bout was also highly critical of the US justice system by calling it a “cheap farce” and saying that the only reason behind his incarceration was to “intimidate other Russians”. It was also him, who said that the US offered him a deal in exchange for “telling the US authorities about corruption in the Kremlin.”

Still, he remains full of optimism and says that yoga, learning foreign languages and anecdotes keep him in good shape both physically and mentally.

2. Konstantin Yaroshenko

Other Russian citizens faced a much more ghastly fate and Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot arrested in Liberia back in 2010, is one of them. Detained as a result of another US sting operation, Yaroshenko was accused of participating in a plan to smuggle drugs into the US and was handed down a 20-year sentence in 2011, which he has been serving ever since.

Yaroshenko has always insisted that he is completely innocent and that the whole process was part of a scheme by US agents to extract evidence against Bout. He also repeatedly complained about the conditions he was held in. He claimed he had been denied medical assistance despite health problems and was tortured by the prosecutors.

In May 2018, he told his wife by phone that his health problems could be due to deliberate poisoning. He also said he was put in a disciplinary cell for 30 days despite serious health issues. “He said he was tired of the torments and that 30 days in the disciplinary cell would kill him, he would not walk out of it alive,” she told reporters. His lawyer, meanwhile, assumed that it might have been punishment for talking to the Russian media.

Moscow has repeatedly urged Washington to pardon Yaroshenko but the US rejected any appeals.

3. Maria Butina

A pro-gun rights activist, Maria Butina, has become one of the latest Russian citizen jailed in the US in a high-profile case. Living in the US on a student visa, she was arrested in mid-July in the middle of the hunt for “Russian agents” and accused of secretly working for the Russian government as an unregistered lobbyist.

While being far from a dangerous criminal, Moscow said that Butina faced unnecessarily harsh treatment during her pre-trial detention. She was kept in solitary confinement for months, denied medical help and “subjected to a kind of torture,” as the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov put it.

While initially pleading not guilty, Butina, who faced up to 15 years in jail, then changed her mind and agreed to strike a deal with prosecutors. Lavrov then said that he had “reasons to believe” the conditions she was kept in were “intended to break her will and make her confess to something she likely didn’t do.”

4. The hunt for ‘Russian hackers’

In recent years, the US also started a real hunt for those it called the ‘Russian hackers.’ About half a dozen Russian programmers were arrested in various corners of the world upon similar US requests and were all accused of various cybercrimes.

Roman Seleznyov, the son of Russian MP Valery Seleznyov, was arrested as he was on holiday in the Maldives in 2014. He was accused of being involved in bank fraud, obtaining information from protected computerized cash registers and aggravated identity theft.

Seleznyov has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. The man was held in prison even before trial despite his lawyer arguing that his client did not represent any danger to society. “This case does not involve an act of terrorism. It does not involve an act of war,” the lawyer said at that time.

Seleznyov was eventually sentenced to 27 and 14 years in two separate cases. Both sentences will run concurrently.

A similar fate befell programmer Pyotr Levashov, accused by US prosecutors of being the mastermind behind a large bot net. He was extradited to the US from Spain in February 2018 and initially pleaded not guilty to all 8 counts against him.

He also said his life would be in danger if Spanish authorities complied with the US extradition request, and afraid that he might face torture in the US “in order to extract Russian secrets.” Just seven months later, he pleaded guilty. His trial is scheduled for September 2019. Until then, he will still stay in prison.

Another Russian programmer, Stanislav Lisov, was extradited to the US from Spain in January 2018 and has been held in the Metropolitan correction center in New York.

The FBI claims that Lisov was the creator and administrator of NeverQuest, a banking trojan that has defrauded thousands of people, and cost the US some $5 million. Lisov denied all accusations and said that he just provided tech support for websites. He also said he was long kept in the dark about the real charges and was asked if he “broke into the Pentagon” or the FBI or the CIA.

His wife told RT before his extradition that she and her husband were “ninety-percent certain that the case is politically motivated.” In October, his lawyer told the Russian Izvestia daily that Lisov, 32, could get a “de-facto life sentence” even though the maximum sentence in his case could not exceed 25 years.

These are just some examples. As many as 54 Russians were held in US prisons in 2017, according to the data provided by the US Federal Bureau of prisons to RT. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has, in turn, condemned the US for “acting on the sly” and simply “abducting” the Russian citizens during their travels abroad.

Although almost all the cases against the Russians in the US do look like simple criminal proceedings, the circumstances surrounding these cases still leave many questions about whether they were solely about the pursuit of justice.

December 29, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia Accused of Disrupting NATO Drills: Just Another Unfounded Allegation

By Andrei AKULOV | Strategic Culture Foundation | 16.11.2018

Finnish Prime Minister (PM) Juha Sipila has accused Russia of interfering with the Global Positioning System (GPS) in Finland’s Lapland region during the Trident Juncture-2018 NATO exercise. NATO fighter jets and surveillance aircraft landed and took off from the airport in Rovaniemi during that training event. In his weekly interview with the national public broadcasting company YLE Radio Suomi, the PM said the electronic interference was “almost certainly deliberate.” He thinks it is quite likely that Russia was behind the episode, which jeopardized civil aviation in addition to other concerns. An experienced pilot himself, Sipila said that the incident would be treated as a breach of Finnish airspace. Finland has launched an investigation into the matter. Foreign Minister Timo Soini has promised to provide a report to parliament about the alleged Russian jamming.

Norwegian authorities joined in to point a finger at Russia. “The jamming in the period between October 16th and November 7th came from Russian forces on Kola,” said Birgitte Frisch, Special Advisor in the Ministry of Defense. Danish aircraft were not affected but Danish Defense Minister Claus Hjord Frederiksen declared that Russia’s denials of involvement were not convincing. According to him, the GPS jamming incidents were another sign of Russia’s “aggressive” behavior toward neighboring countries. Nothing has been proven, but a Finnish investigation was launched after the accusations had already been made public.

No formal protests have been submitted. All the charges have been denied by Russia. It’s worth noting that neither the US Defense Department nor NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg were willing to comment. Is it conceivable that Russia’s alleged activities affected only the aircraft belonging to these two nations, especially since the American military was playing the biggest role in that exercise? Suppose Russia wanted to test its EW systems. How could the jamming exclude US aircraft and ships? All in all, over 30 countries took part in the training event, but only two of them complained. Were the others not subjected to jamming? If the jamming was so powerful, why were there no accidents? Can Finnish and Norwegian officials explain that? The fact that these very simple questions remain unanswered demonstrates how easy it is to hurl accusations without substantiating one’s claims.

Norway insists the interference came from the Kola Peninsula. The Russians’ best “tactical” electronic warfare (EW) systems, such as the Krasukha-4 or the aircraft-based Khibiny, cannot jam satellites. The state-of-the-art Porubschik EW system is carried by the Ilyushin Il-22PP aircraft. If it had been used, it would have been easy for NATO intelligence to have detected it.

It had to be a “strategic” system. Russia has at least two of them. One is the Samarkand, which has not been deployed as yet. The only system that could have jammed the NATO forces during the exercise would have been the Murmansk-BN. But it is positioned in Kaliningrad, not the Kola Peninsula. Besides, it’s really hard to explain why Russia would have done such a thing. Moscow does not stand to gain anything by jamming NATO GPS communications. The interference could have been caused by solar activity, which can be much more powerful than any conceivable EW system. That happens from time to time. But neither the Finnish nor the Norwegian authorities were willing to consider that possibility. And GPS positioning is normally less accurate in the polar regions anyway.

In 2016, Russia put forward a set of proposals to enhance security in Europe in general and in the Baltic Sea in particular, especially during military exercises. NATO refused to discuss them.

Thank God the Royal Norwegian Navy does not blame Russia for sinking its frigate Helge Ingstad, which hit a tanker during the drills. Many of the foreign servicemen who came to Norway to take part in Trident Juncture behaved badly and drank too much. Underdressed Slovenian soldiers nearly froze to death in Norway. Should Russia be blamed for that too? It has become a trend — Russia is blamed for whatever goes wrong, without any evidence to support such accusations. Those who put the blame on Russia for the glitches affecting the NATO military during these drills that were staged for the purpose of scaring Moscow to death need to do the right thing and provide some answers to these questions.

November 16, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

NATO Calls GPS Jamming ‘Dangerous, Disruptive’, Joins Norway in Accusing Russia

Sputnik – November 15, 2018

NATO has decided to throw its weight behind Helsinki’s and Oslo’s claims of GPS disruption during the recent alliance drill in Norway. Meanwhile, unsubstantiated allegations of Russian involvement are gaining momentum in the Nordic countries.

Unfounded accusations by Norway and Finland that Russia was responsible for the recent GPS malfunction experienced during the Trident Juncture drill, the largest in decades, have now been perpetuated by NATO headquarters.

“Norway has determined that Russia was responsible for jamming GPS signals in the Kola Peninsula during exercise Trident Juncture,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said. “In view of the civilian usage of GPS, jamming of this sort is dangerous, disruptive and irresponsible.”

Previously, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed in a more evasive way that electronic warfare was on the rise, stressing that the alliance “takes all these issues very seriously.” Nevertheless, he specifically refused to pinpoint any particular nation responsible for the disturbance.

The Norwegian short-haul carrier Widerøe admitted to cockpit crews experiencing unusually weak GPS signals (or none at all), but declined to speculate on the reason for their disappearance.

Following claims by the Norwegian Defence Ministry that it had traced the source of jamming in Norway and Finnish Lapland “to a Russian military base on the Kola Peninsula,” Matti Vanhanen, former Finnish prime minister and current chair of the parliament’s foreign committee said that while Norwegian authorities are unlikely to present any proof, there still was “every reason to trust them”, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported.

Foreign Minister Timo Soini and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto called for a thorough investigation of the incident, while Prime Minister Juha Sipila highlighting Russia, which “has the means to do it,” as the likely culprit. The Finnish Defence Ministry is yet to provide its commentary.

Neither Norway nor Finland recorded any incidents related to alleged GPS jamming. Russia has denied any involvement in the location signal disturbances.

“We know nothing about Russia’s possible involvement in those GPS failures,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Moscow will respond to possible questions related to the alleged jamming of the GPS signals by Russia during the recent NATO exercises in Scandinavia after Helsinki and Oslo use diplomatic channels, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the police in Norway’s northernmost county of Finnmark are now issuing warnings that ‘Russian’ GPS jamming can threaten security and emergency preparedness in Norway. They noted that disturbances of GPS signals in Finnmark have occurred at least three times since last September, and can also interfere with police response to emergency situations. Furthermore, GPS coordinates are often used to determine locations when police are out on the job.

The alleged disturbance occurred amid NATO’s Trident Juncture, two-week military drills involving 50,000 soldiers from 31 countries.

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Finnish Deaf Demand State Apology, Compensation for Decades of Sterilization

Sputnik – October 22, 2018

For decades, the Finnish state has run a eugenics-like program that pressured an unknown number of deaf women to undergo sterilization before marriage and forced pregnant women to get abortions, a topic that largely remains taboo even today.

Members of the Finnish sign language society have argued that the state should take responsibility and acknowledge the abuses and encroachments on private life committed over the course of decades.

“(Forced) sterilization is a violent act and a serious human rights violation that has been tacitly accepted,” Maija Koivisto, a teacher at the Deaf Folk High School, told the daily newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet, in her call for a reconciliation process.

According to the Marriage Act of 1929, the deaf were not allowed to marry each other without special permission from the president. This law remained in force until 1969. According to Koivisto, many deaf women were slapped with an ultimatum: get sterilized or forget about marriage.

However, it’s now being acknowledged that some doctors continued to recommend sterilization to patients for several more decades. “Until now, I have assumed that the sterilizations continued until the 1950s and 1960s. But I have heard of a case in the 1990s when a doctor suggested sterilization for his deaf patient,” Koivisto told Hufvudstadsbladet.

According to Koivisto, the church may have had a role in forcible sterilizations, something that has not been talked about so much. In Deaf magazine, two women testified that church staff had exerted pressure on them to get sterilized.

At present, no exact data is available on exactly how many deaf women were sterilized in Finland, a mistake Koivisto intends to rectify. The Sterilization Act of 1935 led to devastating consequences for at least 7,530 Finnish women.

Koivisto suggested that many circumvented the marriage laws by becoming pregnant, thus forcing priests to wed them. Nevertheless, some had to agree to sterilization after that. Others chose to ‘live in sin’; cohabiting and giving birth to children out of wedlock was considered unacceptable at that time.

Koivisto ventured that the topic of sterilization has long been a taboo due to society’s attitude involving shame. Additionally, sterilized women were often seen as “whores” as they could have sex without having to worry about getting pregnant.

Koivisto noted a general tendency to disregard the needs of the deaf in the past. In Finland, sign language was forbidden in schools during the epoch of “oralism” between 1880 and 1970, when deaf children were encouraged to read lips and articulate. According to Koivisto, this matter may be gender-related, as most politicians and all priests at that time were men.

According to Koivisto, the Finnish state should give the deaf victims financial compensation for the abuse.

“I think the state should promise that we can participate in all decisions that concern us and will work to improve the status of the sign language. The state should also grant funds for investigations within the deaf community, for instance for therapeutic purposes,” she added.

Previously, Finland officially apologized for the mistreatment of children at orphanages and boarding schools. Last autumn, it was decided to form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to gather information about the forced “Finnization” and discrimination that the Sami people have suffered. The Commission received over $1.7 million from the state budget.

Neighboring Sweden sterilized almost 63,000 people between 1935 and 1975, but later apologized and compensated the victims in 1997.

This year, the Japanese victims of a state-run sterilization program that targeted tens of thousands of people to prevent the birth of “inferior descendants,” demanded an apology from the state.

READ MORE:

Sweden to Make Peace With Forced Sterilization Victims Through Indemnities

October 22, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 5 Comments

Assessing US Marines Deployment to Norway: No Big Deal or Serious Threat to Russia?

By Arkady SAVITSKY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 17.08.2018

Norway has abandoned its traditional policy of “no foreign forces on our national soil.” On Aug. 15, the Norwegian defense ministry reported that the US will more than double (from 330 to more than 700) the number of Marines stationed in that country, in line with plans first outlined in June. The deployments to Norway are expected to last at least five years, compared with the former posting that ran for six months after the initial contingent arrived in 2017 and was then extended last June. A new military base at Setermoen will accommodate the US personnel this fall. The United States has expressed interest in building infrastructure to host up to four US fighter jets at a base 65 kilometers south of Oslo, as part of the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI).

The reinforcement comes ahead of a large-scale exercise dubbed Trident Juncture 18 — the biggest NATO maneuver in decades, involving 40,000 soldiers, 130 aircraft, and 70 vessels from more than 30 nations. That training event will be held from October to November in central and eastern Norway, the North Atlantic, and the Baltic Sea. Iceland, Sweden, and Finland will also take part.

According to the Norwegian government, the sole purpose of the American military presence is for training, there is no escalation involved in this whatsoever, and Russia has nothing to worry about. Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide previously told reporters that this decision did not constitute the establishment of a permanent US base in Norway and was not targeted at Russia.

Moscow issued a warning about the consequences such a move will entail. Are Russia’s concerns justified? After all, 700 soldiers are not a big deal for such a large country. They’ll finish their training, pick up some skiing skills, and leave. Is there really anything to worry about? Perhaps a more in-depth examination can provide an answer to this question.

The US Marines Corps is a service designed mainly for offensive operations. They are training to fight Russia under certain weather conditions. Once it has begun, such training becomes a routine part of the operational cycle. Whether you call it rotational or permanent, they’ll be there for years, ready to attack. It’s not just a few hundred servicemen, it’s an expeditionary force. They are in Norway to make sure that everything is in place to ensure a rapid reinforcement in order to launch offensive operations that include air support right upon arrival.

The cooperation between the US and Norway includes the exchange of intelligence, the purchase of weapons — including 52 F-35 aircraft and five Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) — the use of Norwegian air bases, and the storage of military equipment in line with the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway (MCPP-N), which has been in effect since 2005. Actually, that project is a revival of a Cold War program that was launched in 1981 to preposition military equipment. Norway pays half of the program costs. Since 2014, it has been adjusted to meet the needs of the US Marine Corps. Their stockpiles have enough gear, vehicles, and ammunition to equip a force of more than 4,600 troops. According to the plans, there should be enough equipment and ammunition stored up to sustain a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) during combat. A MAB can consist of 8,000 to 16,000 Marines, or even more.

And it’s not just Norway. In May, US Marines from the 4th Tank Battalion withdrew tanks and weapons from storage caves in Norway to bring them to Finland during the Arrow 18 training exercise. That equipment was used in their maneuvers alongside the Finnish army. The US Marines in Norway could also be transported to Sweden. Such a scenario played out during the Swedish Aurora 17 exercise. As one can see, the Marines’ deployment in Norway is essential for providing US forces access from northern Scandinavia to the Baltic theater of operations.

Norway is part of an intelligence and missile-defense effort. The high-powered radar Globus 3 in Vardo is an example. The radar in Svalbard (above the Arctic Circle) is installed in violation of a 1925 treaty, which states that Svalbard has a demilitarized status. It can be used for missile-defense purposes. The US Poseidon MPA from Andøya monitor Russian submarine movements. In June, the US, UK, and Norway agreed to create a trilateral coalition on the basis of those planes that will conduct joint operations in the North Atlantic near Russia’s Northern Fleet naval bases.

The F-35 Lightnings purchased from the US are to be based in Ørland in southern Norway. They are nuclear-capable planes. The training provided by the American military to the Norwegian pilots is a violation of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) , which prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapons from nuclear-weapon states to other states. According to the treaty, non-nuclear-weapon states are not to receive nuclear weapons. Russia will never be sure the Norwegian F-35s aren’t carrying nuclear weapons.

The setting is important. The transformation of Norway into the tip of the knife for an attack on Russia is taking place amidst the speedy militarization of other Scandinavian countries, the Baltic states, and Poland. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, NATO has tripled its military presence on Russia’s western borders over the past five years, forcing Moscow to take retaliatory steps. The Norwegian government’s decision to extend and expand the Marines’ presence is part of NATO’s vigorous war preparations, making Norway a state on the front lines and the prime target for the Russian military.

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

15 European leaders call for new arms deal with Russia

RT | November 26, 2016

Fifteen European countries, headed by Germany, have issued a statement pushing for the reopening of “a new structured dialogue” with Russia aimed at preventing a possible arms race in Europe, according to the German foreign minister.

The countries, all belonging to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have expressed their deep concern over the current situation in Europe and support the relaunch of a conventional arms treaty with Russia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Die Welt newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

“Europe’s security is in danger. As difficult as ties to Russia may currently be, we need more dialogue, not less,” Steinmeier said.

The ongoing conflict in the Eastern Ukraine and the fact that Crimea joined Russia in 2014, a move most often dubbed as “annexation” by western officials, have put the question of war in Europe back on the table, Steinmeier continued. Fragile trust between Russia and European countries has suffered a significant setback and a “new armament spiral” is hanging over the continent, the foreign minister warned.

The statement contains strong anti-Russian rhetoric, blaming Moscow for violating arms deals as far back as 1990.

“The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which led to the destruction of tens of thousands of heavy weapon systems in Europe in the years following 1990, is no longer being implemented by the Russian Federation,” the statement said.

Russia put its participation in the treaty on hold in 2007 and then fully walked out of it last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the suspension of the treaty following a US decision to locate missile defense facilitates in the neighbouring Czech Republic and Poland. On top of that, President Putin noted that some of the NATO members did not join or ratify the treaty and there was no point in Russia abiding by the agreement.

Later Putin signed a decree suspending the treaty due to “extraordinary circumstances … which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures,” having notified NATO and its members of the decision.

Since then NATO has taken no steps to upgrade the treaty, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in September, 2016, adding that Moscow is ready for dialogue on the subject. However, it is not planning to be the one to initiate it.

The statement names a number of other documents that need to be overviewed, including the OSCE’s Vienna document, stipulating the exchange of information on military movements, and the Open Skies treaty, enabling the monitoring of other countries’ ground forces. The documents are either neglected or in need of modernization.

The countries that spoke in favor of Steinmeier’s initiative include France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Portugal.

The group of the European foreign ministers is planning to meet again on the sidelines of a OSCE meeting in Hamburg on December, 8-9.

November 26, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nominally Populist Sweden Democrats Help Ratify NATO Deal

Sputnik – May 27, 2016

After Sweden Democrats reneged on earlier pledges to make a last-ditch effort to stall the decision, the Swedish parliament effortlessly railroaded through an agreement which essentially allows NATO to deploy forces in Sweden and brings the non-aligned Nordic country yet another step closer to the alliance.

The Swedish parliament ratified the so-called Host Nation Support Agreement (HNSA) after a proposal by the Left Party to put off the decision by one year, initially backed by Sweden Democrats, was voted down by 291 votes to 21.

The right-wing populist Sweden Democrats made an about-face ahead of the vote, abandoning plans team up with the Left Party, which argued that the hotly-debated deal posed a significant risk to the rights and freedoms stipulated in Sweden‘s constitution.

Despite earlier pledges by party leader Jimmie Åkesson to join efforts with the Left to stop the agreement he claimed posed “a threat to Sweden’s neutrality,” the Sweden Democrats had second thoughts in the eleventh hour and voted unanimously in favor of the controversial deal with NATO.

Remarkably, the party has been against closer NATO ties from the very beginning and officially stays true to its ideals.

Bizarrely, several Sweden Democrats party members claimed on Twitter and Facebook that they actually voted against the agreement, and that the parliament had published erroneous information on its website, news outlet Fria Tider reported.

The Left Party’s leader, Jonas Sjöstedt, condemned their usual antagonists’ U-turn.

“I am not at all surprised. The Sweden Democrats have been very wobbly on issues to do with freedom from alliances for some time now,” he said as quoted by the tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet.

Originally signed in September 2014, the HNSA allows the alliance to deploy helicopters, aircraft, ships and personnel across Swedish territory, but only at Sweden’s request. Since the agreement involved changes to Swedish regulation regarding privileges and immunities afforded NATO staff, a parliamentary ratification was necessary.

Additionally, public opinion in traditionally neutral Sweden, which boasts several centuries of non-alignment, has markedly shifted towards NATO in recent years. A survey by pollster Sifo, released in September 2015, marked the first time the majority of Swedes actually were in favor of NATO.

The HNSA may be seen as a major victory for Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, who, despite formally denouncing perspectives of joining NATO, prepared a long series of agreements that would steadily increase Sweden’s involvement with the alliance.

Yesterday, the Swedish government entrusted the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency MSB with negotiating a cooperation agreement with NATO’s Center for Strategic Communications in Riga, Latvia, in order to address the “information war” on Russia’s part, Swedish television network SVT reported. Hultqvist repeatedly urged Sweden to join the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (STRATCOM), which is charged with targeting propaganda in traditional and social media.

Despite the soothing rhetoric that such measures “would not affect non-alignment,” today Sweden has emerged as a full-fledged NATO member in all but name.

Sweden’s deliberate creeping towards NATO may set an example for its fellow neutral neighbor Finland, which has also come under immense pressure recently with respect to NATO membership.

In late April, the Finnish Foreign Ministry published an “independent” report exploring the consequences of NATO membership for Helsinki. The report’s primary conclusion was that the Nordic duo should stay together: either in both joining the alliance or declining the generous offer.

May 27, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

New nuclear: Finland’s cautionary tale for the UK

By Sophie Yeo | Carbon Brief | October 20, 2015

Finland has a 15-year-old problem called Olkiluoto 3. This nuclear plant was once the bright star of Finland’s energy future and Europe’s nuclear renaissance.

It was seen as a key component in Finland’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and end reliance on foreign imports of electricity, even during its long, dark Arctic winters. It is supposed to provide Finland with a low-carbon source of electricity for at least 60 years.

A 2006 article in the Telegraph spoke of the rebirth of Finnish love for nuclear power, describing the Olkiluoto site in phrases that could have been lifted from a pastoral poem: a “Baltic island of foraging swans”, “pine-scented” air and “unusually large salmon.”

But this source of hope has turned sour. Olkiluoto 3 — almost unpronounceable to non-Finns — is now nine years behind schedule and three times over budget.

It has been subject to lawsuits, technology failure, construction errors and miscommunication. A rift between the companies behind the plant has been described as “one of the biggest conflicts in the history of the construction sector”.

At best, it has been a turbulent lift-off to the lauded rebirth of nuclear power in western Europe. For the UK, which hopes to be a part of this renaissance, the story of Olkiluoto 3 offers a cautionary tale.

Background

The story of Olkiluoto 3 began in 2000, when Finnish utilities company TVO first applied to build a new nuclear power unit, in an attempt to wean the country off foreign imports of electricity and supply a new source of low-carbon energy.

In 2002, Finland’s parliament granted its permission, voting 107-92 in favour of the new unit. And in December 2003, Finland became the first country in Western Europe to order a new nuclear reactor in 15 years.

This was welcome news to nuclear supporters. Nuclear power stagnated in the 1990s, with accidents in Three Mile Island and Chernobyl in the ’70s and ’80s creating jitters about the risks of the industry, while the economic costs of building plants created nervousness among investors in newly liberalised energy markets. Olkiluoto 3 was seen as the sign that European nuclear was set for a revival.

With its new-and-improved Generation III+ technology, Olkiluoto 3 was meant to be safer and more efficient, as well as cheaper and faster to build than its predecessors — an ageing European fleet of Generation II plants built in the 1970s and 80s.

The 2014 World Nuclear Industry Status report points out that the former enthusiasm surrounding Generation III reactors has “dissolved”. Some proponents of nuclear power have argued that even these supposedly new-and-improved plants ought to be put aside for an even more modern round of Generation IV plants — technology that is still being developed, with China currently planning the world’s first in the province of Jiangxi.

It was decided that Olkiluoto Island in western Finland would host the new plant, where the Gulf of Bothnia could cool the steam used to turn the turbines and generate electricity. It would sit alongside two of Finland’s four existing nuclear plants (intuitively called Olkiluoto 1 and 2).

Olkiluoto 3 would use a new type of technology called a European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), which France has also since adopted for a new nuclear plant. China is building two EPRs, as well.

The plan was that Olkiluoto 3 should have a capacity of 1,600 megawatts. It would cost €3bn and come online in 2009.

Animation illustrating the operating principles of nuclear power plant units. Source: TVO.

Construction problems

It is now 2015, and Finland still does not have its new nuclear plant.

The companies behind the project are at loggerheads. TVO is seeking compensation from Areva in court, the company responsible for supplying the reactor and turbine, and Areva is pursuing a counterclaim.

Herkko Plit, the deputy director of Finland’s energy department, tells Carbon Brief:

“I don’t think there’s anybody who can say they are pleased with the project.”

Construction started in August 2005. The problems started early, with the incorrect laying of the concrete base slab — a structure that is supposed to be able to withstand the weight of the entire power plant collapsing on it.

This was accompanied by errors in the manufacture of the steel liner — the part of the unit that is responsible for preventing the release of radioactive materials into the environment, and is supposed to be able to withstand forces such as an aeroplane crash.

In 2006, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) conducted an investigation into the construction of the plant, following concerns about its safety culture.

The resulting report gives a variety of reasons for the problems encountered. Top of that hefty list comes problems with subcontractors responsible for carrying out much of the manufacturing work.

Many of the organisations chosen to work on the different parts of the plant did not have any experience in nuclear, and little understanding of the safety requirements.

One of the people interviewed for that report said that, “as safety culture is a concept usually associated with plants that are in operation, it has been difficult for them to understand what it could mean at the construction stage”.

While such issues had not compromised the safety of the plant, the report concluded that they were responsible for some of the first delays to the plant.

The nervous system”

Later came problems with the instrumentation and control system, which is for monitoring and control. The International Atomic Energy Agency describes it as “the nervous system” of the plant.

This was finally approved in 2014, after four years of “exchanges” with TVO, as Areva put it. In August 2015, these cabinets were finally delivered to the site. Pasi Tuohimaa, TVO’s head of communications, tells Carbon Brief :

“Now we can see the trail towards the end. This autumn, we will have all this automation installed, and next year we apply to have it opened, and then we start testing it and loading the fuel.”

The good news precipitated a rare moment of harmony in the bitter feud between Areva and TVO. The rivals held their first joint press conference to mark the occasion. “It’s such a big milestone for both of us,” TVO’s Tuohimaa adds.

Who will suffer?

TVO signed a contract with Areva for the plant — a one-off payment of €3.2bn, covering the EPR and other costs. Such contracts are rare in nuclear power plants, due to the construction risks associated with the technology.

At the time, it was seen as an expression of confidence in the industry. For Areva, the opportunity to build an EPR in Finland offered a chance to show that nuclear could survive and become competitive in the liberalised Scandinavian energy market — a boost for the company, which has not managed to sell a reactor since 2007.

The turnkey contract meant spiralling costs of the Olkiluoto 3 plant have fallen at Areva’s door. This has been the subject of a bitter dispute between TVO and Areva.

Areva maintains that TVO’s “inappropriate behaviour” has been responsible for the delays, and that the utility company should, therefore, be liable for the multi-billion euro cost overruns. Meanwhile, TVO says Areva is responsible for failing to build the plant according to schedule. It has called the delays “hard to accept.”

The compensation claims, as well as the costs of the plant itself, keep spiralling upwards. In August 2015, TVO raised its claim against Areva to €2.6bn from its previous €2.3bn, and €1.8bn before that. In October 2014, Areva raised its own claim against TVO to €3.5bn from €2.6bn. The case is being dealt with in the International Chamber of Commerce‘s arbitration court.

Nonetheless, Areva has been forced to accept losses. The company, which hasn’t turned a profit since 2010, recorded net losses of €4.8bn in 2014, largely due to Olkiluoto. It has agreed to sell a majority stake in its nuclear reactor business to EDF.

If the lawsuit turns against TVO, it could be Finland’s industry that feels the pain. The utilities company is owned by shareholders that buy the right to use the electricity produced by the power station.

Its majority shareholder, for instance, is Pohjolan Voima Oy — a Finnish energy company that provides power to its shareholders, including two pulp and paper manufacturers, which pay for the production cost of the electricity.

Such industries could buckle under the inflated costs of electricity, which could end up more expensive than the electricity bought from the joint Nordic “pool”, says Stephen Thomas, professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich. He tells Carbon Brief :

“It’s a big problem, because if you put up the price for householders, they will squeal and complain, but they’ll probably pay. If you’re an aluminium smelter and 60% of your costs is buying electricity, if that electricity is 50% too expensive, you’re out of business.”

Future of Finnish nuclear

Despite the trials and tribulations of Olkiluoto 3, Finland does not seem to have been swerved from its nuclear path.

Another nuclear power plant is planned for the north of Finland. Hanhikivi 1 will be the first nuclear power plant from another power consortium Fennovoima, and is due to come online in 2024.

The project is already facing controversy. Its reliance on Russian investment at a time when other countries have sought to isolate Moscow due to its invasion of Ukraine has raised eyebrows, while a Croatian investor was rejected by the government in Helsinki following suspicions that it was also being controlled from within Russia.

Construction work has also begun on a megaproject to store nuclear waste. Onkalo, which translates as “cavity”, is an underground tunnel built 520m into the Finnish bedrock. A project of Posiva, a company jointly owned by TVO and Fortum, it is located at the site of Olkiluoto.

Onkalo is designed to protect nuclear waste for 100,000 years. The timespan, almost impossible to conceptualise, caught the imagination of Danish director Michael Madsen, who made a documentary about the project, and the difficulty of communicating danger millennia down the line.

The possibility of a fourth reactor at the Olkiluoto site proved to be one too many, however. For now, TVO has given up on plans on Olkiluoto 4.

Plit, from Finland’s energy department, remains cheerful in the face of 15 years of difficulties and delays. He tells Carbon Brief:

“One has to remember that Olkiluoto 3 was the first western unit to be constructed in the nuclear sector for 20 years. Unfortunately, this know-how that used to exist in the 80s was no longer there, and you had to create everything from scratch, more or less. That has taken time.”

Prof Thomas at University of Greenwich is not so sure that the loss of knowledge since the last burst of nuclear construction can be entirely blamed. He points out that none of the four EPRs under construction have gone to plan so far, so to say that Olkiluoto is suffering only because of its novelty is oversimplistic. He tells Carbon Brief:

“Areva was so confident that they gave a fixed price, so they weren’t expecting first-of-a-kind problems.”

A cautionary tale

Some are already seeing Finland’s troubled relationship with new nuclear as a cautionary tale for the current UK government, which hopes to oversee its own nuclear renaissance.

The energy company EDF plans to build two new reactors at Hinkley Point. These will be the same design as Olkiluoto 3 — Areva’s EPR. The project will cost £24.5bn, and has already been subject to numerous delays.

The government has shown itself to be a devoted fan of the project, most recently offering a £2bn guarantee to smooth along the path to construction.

Despite this, it has been difficult to secure investors, who continue to be spooked by the ghosts of Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto, admitted the chief executive of EDF recently. Jean-Bernard Levy told French Financial daily Les Echos that, for those who have witnessed the spiralling costs and delays to date, it is “difficult to commit”.

The UK government hopes to confirm Chinese funding during a state visit by President Xi Jinping this week, which would prove instrumental in making the project happen.

EDF has insisted that it has learnt from the past, but Prof Thomas at the University of Greenwich is not so sure. The EPR is a “lousy design” that has not only tripped up the Finns, but also the French and Chinese. He tells Carbon Brief:

“If you look at the problems of Olkiluoto and Flamanville, they have been basic site work quality issues… It’s not as if there was a simple fault you could identify and make sure you didn’t do the same again. It’s not like they made a mess with this particular operation and this caused all the problems. There have been hundreds of different issues.

“That’s what’s most striking at the experience of Olkiluoto — just how many different things have gone wrong.”

October 25, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Nuclear Power | , , , | Leave a comment

Austrian Institute Clarifies True Costs of the EU’s Anti-Russian Sanctions

Sputnik – 03.07.2015

The Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) published a monograph clarifying the projected short and long-term costs of anti-Russian sanctions to the EU 28 plus Switzerland. A summary of the report published Friday has confirmed that Europe as a whole expects €92.34 billion in long-term losses, along with over 2.2 million lost jobs.

While the report attempts to downplay somewhat the losses attributed to sanctions, noting that politicized export restrictions must be considered together with the ongoing Russian recession and other factors, the figures speak for themselves.

The report projects an “observed decline in exports and tourism expenditures of €34 billion value added in the short run, with employment effects on up to 0.9 million people.” Switching to a longer-term perspective, the report estimates “the economic effects increas[ing] to up to 2.2 million jobs (around 1 percent of total employment) and €92 billion (0.8 percent of total value added), respectively.”

Commenting on the geographical disbursement of the economic and jobs losses, WIFO’s report shows that “geographical closeness highly correlates with the relative size of the effects at the national level, with the Baltic countries, Finland and the Eastern European countries being hit above the EU average of 0.3 percent of GDP in the short and 0.8 percent in the long run.” The report also notes that Germany, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of all EU 27 exports to Russia, has been hit the hardest in absolute terms, and is projected to lose €23.38 billion in losses in the long term. Italy is second, with €10.93 billion in projected losses. France rounds out the top three with €7.92 billion in losses.

The study’s figures also show that Estonia is the single most heavily affected country in both the short and the long term, with the country suffering a €800 million (4.91 percent) and €2.1 billion (13.24 percent) decline, respectively. Estonia is followed by Lithuania (-6.37 percent long term), Cyprus (-3.25 percent), Latvia (-1.87 percent), and the Czech Republic (-1.53 percent).

In employment terms, Estonia, Lithuania and Cyprus are also the hardest hit in percentage terms, and are projected to suffer 16.3 percent, 10.84 percent and 4.21 percent losses, respectively. In absolute terms, Germany (losing 395,000 jobs) Poland (300,000), and Italy (200,000) have been the hardest hit; Spain, Lithuania and Estonia are projected to lose between 100,000 and 190,000 jobs.

As for the economic sectors most heavily impacted, the WIFO study found that agriculture and food products, metal products, machine-building, vehicles, and manufacturing-related services are hardest hit in the short term, with construction, business services, and wholesale and retail trade services also projected to suffer disproportionately in the long-term.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik about the report, WIFO economist Oliver Fritz noted that while EU politicians still hope that the sanctions will have some effect on Russian policy, pressure is building on them to change their policy, since the economic consequences are rapidly beginning to add up.

While the economist noted that he does not see the sanctions being lifted in the short term, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel successfully keeping other EU nations in line, Fritz noted that as losses mount, EU politicians may eventually decide to consider rethinking their decisions.

Last month, WIFO conducted research for Europe’s ‘Leading European Newspaper Alliance’, estimating up to €100 billion in losses if anti-Russian sanctions remain in place.

Since March 2014, the United States, European Union, and other Western countries have placed sanctions on Russia’s banking, defense and energy sectors over Moscow’s alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis. In August, Moscow imposed a year-long food embargo on the countries that had sanctioned it. Last month, the EU’s foreign ministers agreed to extend sanctions against Russia until January 31, 2016.

July 4, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Phantom Russian Sub Hunts Gave Birth To NATO’s Viking Bloc

By Andrew KORYBKO | Oriental Review | May 5, 2015

The largely unobservant public had previously been under the impression that the Baltic Sea was a zone of peace and stability, thinking that all the region’s states lived in harmony with one another. This may have been the case prior to 1991, but immediately afterwards, NATO’s expansion into the Baltic basin seriously upset the balance of power, as the incorporation of Poland and the former Soviet Baltic States in 1999 and 2004 attests. Through this manner, NATO was able to surround Kaliningrad and directly push up against part of Russia’s western border.

The military tension remained just below the surface (literally), until Shadow NATO states Sweden and Finland started initiating highly publicized ‘Russian sub’ scares, designed with the sole intent of scaring their publics into formal NATO membership and opening up an additional front in the New Cold War. Taking it further, this is all part of NATO’s new policy of regional blocs, as Brussels hopes to see the formation of a ‘Viking Bloc’ that would apply pressure against Russia in the Arctic. The most dangerous development, however, is with Finland, which is capitalizing off of the sea scare to call up nearly one million reservists (1/5 of the total population) in the event of a “crisis situation”, thereby presenting a dangerous test run in conflict escalation that might be applied all over Europe in the future.

Regional Hysteria

To put everything into focus, it’s best to begin by documenting the latest hysteria stemming from supposed ‘Russian sub’ sightings. Sweden started the trend when it claimed to be hunting a believed-to-be Russian sub back in October, and when nothing came out of the stunt except for a scared public and a couple million dollars spent, Stockholm continued to insist that it had evidence that a foreign sub did trespass through its waters, but curiously kept the details to itself. Be that as it may, it didn’t stop legislators from increasing the defense budget by a whopping $1.18 billion for the period 2016-2020, earmarking an additional $945 million for the future purchase of two subs, and announcing plans to reopen a military base on the Baltic island of Gottland. The ultimate irony is that there was never a ‘Russian sub’ to begin with, and that it was eventually revealed that the whole scandal started over a simple workboat, thus making it seem like Sweden exaggerated the situation simply to push through more defense funding and militarize its society against Russia.

Sweden with small map2Being the regional leader that it is, it appears as though Sweden’s spectacle of the phantom Russian sub rubbed off on Finland, which soon after its latest elections began detonating underwater charges against its own suspected ‘Russian sub’. Finnish political analyst Jon Hellevig assessed that this was simply Helsinki’s application of Stockholm’s decades-long tactic of using phantom Russian subs to increase the population’s acceptance of future NATO membership. While Finland isn’t a de-jure member of the alliance, both it and Scandinavian military hegemon Sweden signed a NATO host nation agreement last fall to intensify their relations with the bloc, essentially making them Shadow NATO members in an even deeper capacity than Ukraine has become (the latter of which has been the bone of contention sparking the New Cold War in the first place).

Given such a relationship, it may not even be needed for either state to formally join NATO at this point, since the alliance can already reap the resultant military advantages of their territory in any possible anti-Russian crisis scenario. However, putting the provocative issue up for a referendum vote or making a unilateral government decision in this regard might be a forthcoming tactic towards creating the aforementioned crisis needed to ‘justify’ the indefinite hosting of NATO troops in those countries. It’s quite clear that Sweden is already de-facto participating in NATO, since they just partook in the group’s “Dynamic Mongoose” anti-submarine drills off the Norwegian coast. This would have obviously raised eyebrows among its domestic citizenry had it not been for the earlier ‘Russian sub’ scare that created the social pretext for its acceptance, showing how such false crises can be manipulated by the media for predetermined military gain.

The Viking Bloc

Everything going on in Scandinavia right now, from the phantom ‘Russian sub’ scares to the de-facto NATO-ization of the region’s last formal holdouts, is designed to create the northern component of NATO’s regional bloc strategy. In sum, the alliance is reverting to history and using Polish interwar leader Josef Pilsudski’s Intermarum concept to establish a Baltic-to-Black-Sea coalition of anti-Russian states to which it can more efficiently outsource its military prerogatives, all per the Lead From Behind strategy. The ‘Viking Bloc’ which consists of the Greater Scandinavian states of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland (centered on Sweden, possibly incorporating Estonia and Latvia as well) is envisioned to complement the emerging Commonwealth Bloc of Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine (centered on Poland), and the forthcoming Black Sea Bloc of Romania, Bulgaria, and Moldova (centered on Romania, possibly even expanded to Georgia).

Focusing more specifically on the characteristics of the Viking Bloc, its members have a maritime identity, so it’s predicted that they’ll focus their activity on the Baltic Sea, North Sea, and Arctic Ocean, accordingly making them all one large naval base. Sweden’s demographic and economic strength makes it the obvious leader amongst the identified members and the control node of its activity, while wealthy Norway can provide the natural resources needed to keep it running. Denmark controls the entrance to and from the Baltic Sea, and together with its colony country of Greenland, Iceland, and Norway, the three can patrol the North Sea and Arctic Ocean in hunting ‘Russian subs’. It’s also not a coincidence that all of these states are members of the Arctic Council, meaning that this dialogue configuration has essentially become one of confrontation between North America & the Viking Bloc on one side and Russia on the other. The odd member out of this naval configuration is Finland (also a member of the Arctic Council), which has recklessly adapted a land-based anti-Russian policy that’s bound to ratchet up tension with its neighbor. One should also note that the Viking Bloc’s members signed a multilateral defense cooperation agreement in April that basically institutionalized the organization as an official regional bloc.

The Finnish Amphibian

The most dangerous sub-bloc strategy being adopted by NATO is its Finnish affiliate’s advance preparation of 900,000 reservists in the event of a “crisis situation”, which obviously could only refer to a military conflict with Russia. The Finnish government is trying to account for all of its former reservists aged 20-60 in order to inform them of what their “crisis situation” role would be, as well as to collect updated information about them. This dramatic movement of anti-Russian initiatives from sea onto land represents an amphibious strategy that’s likely only in its initial test-run phase. NATO wants to gauge Russia’s reaction and monitor its response in order to fine-tune this template for eventually export throughout the bloc as a whole.

The Finnish Amphibian is a very simple strategy. All that the practicing states or regional blocs have to do is report on a phantom ‘Russian sub’ sighting, preferably with as much media paranoia as possible but providing no proof whatsoever, and then use the subsequent buzz to justify the potential mobilization of a massive land-based reservist force. This leads to the militarization of society within the targeted state and initiates a siege mentality that makes its citizens feel as though they’re constantly under some type of Russian attack. None of the accusations have to be proven, let alone even seen by the citizens themselves, so long as the media and supportive political figures repeat the chorus of conflict enough to make it believable. An added touch would be to implement Sweden’s strategy of publicly accusing 1/3 of all Russian diplomats there as being spies, which when coupled with the existing paranoia about phantom ‘Russian subs’, sends the populace’s paranoia into overdrive and all but assures that they’ll support whichever military or surveillance solutions their government or NATO suggests.

Concluding Thoughts

NATO’s northernmost regional fighting group, the Viking Bloc, owes its speedy creation to the utilization of phantom ‘Russian sub’ scare tactics to galvanize support for this new initiative. Greater Scandinavia is rapidly being transformed into one giant NATO naval base that’s meant to confront Russia on the neighboring high seas. As destabilizing as that is, it moves into the realm of flashpoint danger with the fact that Finland is preparing to mobilize 1/5 of its population against Russia, thus presenting an amphibious land-based component to the majority sea-focused strategy. Even worse, the template of using false sea-based scares to ‘justify’ massive land-based mobilizations could likely be applied elsewhere in Europe, thereby serving as an ideal model of militarization all throughout NATO. It’s this hybrid of media-military strategic collaboration that may eventually prove to be more destabilizing than the unveiling of the Viking Bloc itself.

May 6, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anti-NATO parties grab top spots in Finland general election

RT | April 19, 2015

The Prime Minister of Finland has acknowledged the victory of the opposition Centre Party in Sunday’s general election. With most of the votes counted, Centre has 21 percent support, which translates to a potential 44 seats in the country’s parliament.

“It appears the Centre has won. Congratulations,” PM Alexander Stubb, a staunch EU backer, said, according to Finnish broadcaster Yle.

However, with only 44 seats, Centre will have to form a ruling coalition. “This result will enable several possible coalition combinations”, party leader Juha Sipila told reporters.

The Centre has several potential allies to choose from. These include the nationalist Finns Party, which is currently second with 17.6 percent of the vote. Like the Centre, the Finns are against NATO membership for Finland, with the Finns also striving for more independence from the EU.

They are closely followed by the National Coalition Party (NCP), with 18.1 percent. The NCP is the only party in the top four which advocates both NATO membership and closer ties with the EU.

The Social Democratic Party, at fourth place with 16.7 percent, is another potential member for the ruling coalition. Like Centre and the Finns, it is against NATO – as many as 91 percent of its members saying they are oppose it.

Other runners include the Greens, the Left party the pro-minority Swedish People’s Party and the Christian Democrats, none of which got more than eight percent of the vote.

April 19, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment