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NATO’s colonization of Ukraine under guise of partnership

By Scott Ritter | RT | June 13, 2020

NATO has extended yet another in a long line of “incentives” designed to tease Ukraine with the prospects of joining the transatlantic alliance, while stopping short of actual membership.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has designated Ukraine as an “Enhanced Opportunity Partner,” making it one of six nations (the others being Georgia, Sweden, Finland, Australia and Jordan) rewarded for their significant contributions to NATO operations and alliance objectives by having the opportunity for increased dialogue and cooperation with the alliance.

A main objective of this enhanced interaction is for NATO and Ukraine to develop operational capabilities and interoperability through military exercises which will enable Ukrainian military personnel to gain practical hands-on experience in operating with NATO partners.

Seen in this light, the “Enhanced Opportunity Partner” status is an extension of the “Partnership Interoperability Initiative” designed to maintain the military interoperability between NATO and Ukraine, developed after more than a decade of involvement by Ukraine in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Thus Kiev keeps open the door for the possibility of military cooperation in any future NATO operational commitment, ensuring that Ukrainian military forces would be able to fight side by side with NATO if called upon to do so.
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The designation of “Enhanced Opportunity Partner” is the latest example of NATO outreach to Ukraine, which fosters the possibility of full membership, something that the Ukrainian Parliament called its strategic foreign and security policy objective back in 2017. The current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has likewise expressed his desire to put engagement with NATO at the top of his policy priorities.

The dream of Ukraine becoming a member of NATO dates back three decades. Dialogue and cooperation between NATO and Ukraine began in October 1991, on the eve of the collapse of the Soviet Union, when a newly independent Ukraine joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC). NACC was envisioned as a forum for dialogue and cooperation between NATO and the non-Russian members of the former Warsaw Pact. Then came the “Partnership for Peace” program in 1994, giving Ukraine the opportunity to develop closer ties with the alliance.

In July 1997 Ukraine and NATO signed the “Charter on a Distinctive Partnership,” which established a NATO-Ukraine Commission intended to further political dialogue and cooperation “at all appropriate levels.” In November 2002 Ukraine signed an “Individual Partnership Plan” with NATO outlining a program of assistance and practical support designed to facilitate Ukraine’s membership in the alliance, and followed that up in 2005 with the so-called “Intensive Dialogue” related to Ukraine’s NATO aspirations.
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In 2008 NATO declared that Ukraine could become a full member when it was ready to join and could meet the criteria for membership, but refused Ukraine’s request to enter into a formal Membership Action Plan. The lack of popular support within Ukraine for NATO membership, combined with a change in government that saw Viktor Yanukovych take the helm as President, prompted Ukraine to back away from its previous plans to join NATO.

This all changed in 2014 when, in the aftermath of the Euromaidan unrest Yanakovych was driven out of office, eventually replaced by Petro Poroshenko, who found himself facing off against a militant minority in the Donbas and the Russian government in the Crimea. The outbreak of fighting in eastern Ukraine since 2014 prompted Poroshenko to renew Ukraine’s call to be brought in as a full-fledged NATO member, something the transatlantic alliance has to date failed to act on.

There is a saying that if something looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck. Given its lengthy history of political and military interaction with NATO, including a decade-long military deployment in Afghanistan, Ukraine has achieved a level of interoperability with NATO that exceeds that of some actual members. US and NATO military personnel are on the ground in Ukraine conducting training, while Ukrainian forces are deployed in support of several ongoing NATO military commitments, including Iraq and Kosovo. Ukraine looks like NATO, talks like NATO, acts like NATO – but it is not NATO. Nor will it ever be.
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The critical question to be asked is precisely what kind of relationship NATO envisions having with Ukraine. While the status of “enhanced opportunity partner” implies a way toward eventual NATO membership, the reality is that there is no discernable path that would bring Ukraine to this objective. The rampant political corruption in the country today is disqualifying under any circumstances, and the dispute with Hungary over Ukraine curbing minority rights represents a death knell in a consensus-driven organization like NATO.

But the real dealbreaker is the ongoing standoff between Kiev and Moscow over Crimea. There is virtually no scenario that has Russia leaving it voluntarily or by force. The prospects of enabling Ukraine to resolve the conflict by force of arms simply by invoking Article 5 of the UN Charter is not something NATO either seeks or desires.

Which leaves one wondering at NATO’s true objective in continuing to string Ukraine along. The answer lies in the composition of the six nations that have been granted “enhanced opportunity partner” status. Four of them – Ukraine, Georgia, Sweden and Finland – directly face off against Russia on a broad front stretching from the Arctic to the Black Sea. Jordan’s interests intersect with Moscow’s in Syria. Australia provides NATO with an opening for expanding its reach into the Pacific, an objective recently outlined by NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.

NATO aspires to be a political organization, but in reality it is nothing more than a military alliance with geopolitical ambition. Its effectiveness rests in its ability to project military power, and in order to do this effectively, the military organizations involved must possess a high level of interoperability across a wide spectrum of areas, including command and control, logistics and equipment.
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By extending the status of “enhanced opportunity partner” to Ukraine and the other five nations, NATO is expanding its military capabilities without taking on the risks associated with expanding its membership; Ukrainian troops can be sacrificed in some far-off land void of any real national security interest to the Ukrainian people, and yet NATO will never mobilize under Article 5 to come to Kiev’s aid on its own soil. In many ways, the relationship mirrors that of a colonial master to its subjects, demanding much while delivering little. At the end of the day, the status of “enhanced opportunity partner” is little more than that of a glorified minion who trades its own flesh and blood for the false promise of opportunity that will never materialize.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

June 13, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Scientific Journal Advocating Child-Free Life Sparks Fury in Low-Fertility Finland

Sputnik – 09.09.2019

The 13/2019 edition of the magazine Tieteen Kuvalehti, which addressed climate change and numerous ways of minimising the carbon footprint, has struck a chord in Finland.

After listing more conventional ways of reducing one’s carbon footprint, such as abstaining from consuming meat and minimising air and car travel, Tieteen Kuvalehti concluded that the right (and the single best) thing for a climate-aware person to do is to abstain from having children.

The idea that having babies is bad for the environment, complemented by an exed-out image of a baby on the cover, was ill-received in Finland, where the birth rate is currently at a historic low: according to the United Nations report World Population Prospects 2019, the number of children under age five in 2015 was 300 million, compared with 501 million in 1950.

A Centre Party MP called for the magazine to be “hidden” in shops, libraries and kiosks.

“I believe conveying the message that a baby is a source of emissions is going too far. It gives children and youth the impression that they are a burden, and I find this horrible”, Aittakumpu told national broadcaster Yle.

Christian Democrat MP Päivi Räsänen was also outraged by on the cover.

“The message of the cover image is offensive to babies and families with babies … Children that are well cared for and educated will come up with the solutions to future problems, not be the cause of them. I support a counterattack to propaganda of this nature that says ‘All babies are welcome!’”, Päivi Räsänen said, as quoted by Yle. […]

​Meanwhile, the number of births in Finland fell for the eighth consecutive year in 2018, as the total fertility rate hit a historic low of 1.41 children per women, Statistics Finland indicated. The last time Finland experienced baby blues of comparable proportions was during the great famine that happened about 150 years ago.

However, this is not the first time scientific papers suggest abstaining from having children for the sake of the planet. A 2017 study from Lund University in Sweden, suggested having fewer children, living car-free, avoiding air travel and eating a plant-based diet, claiming that these measures are more efficient in reducing emissions than commonly promoted strategies like comprehensive recycling or relying on energy-efficient household lightbulbs.

Helsinki University world politics professor Teivo Teivainen stressed that the decision to have fewer children includes many ethical considerations. While underscoring Finland’s responsibility, he stressed that the birthrate of the small nation has almost no significance on the global scale.

Tieteen Kuvalehti is the Finnish version of the Danish periodical Illustreret Videnskab, published by the Swedish media house Bonnier Group, which is run by the Bonnier family and operates in more than a dozen countries. It circulation is about 550,000 copies.

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 3 Comments

Washington’s Nord Stream 2 Sanctions May Have Boomerang Effect on US Interests – German Media Reports

By Svetlana Ekimenko – Sputnik – 27.08.2019

The US Congress has moved forward with legislation to impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project in defiance of criticism from Washington’s allies in Europe, as the joint venture brings together Russia’s Gazprom, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie, and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell.

Possible US sanctions against companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline could potentially harm US oil and gas projects in the Gulf of Mexico, writes the German business newspaper Handelsblatt.

“From the point of view of Germany, the name of the US proposed sanctions bill, ‘Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act’, is in itself an insolence”, writes the author.

The US is pushing to impose sanctions against Nord Stream 2 despite likely consequences that such restrictions may have.

Thus, European companies involved in laying the pipeline and targeted by Washington’s sanctions play a key role in the global energy market.

For a long time, these companies worked in the Gulf of Mexico as subcontractors of the American corporations Chevron and Exxon Mobil, recalls Handelsblatt.

Therefore, if they are included in the sanctions lists, projects in the Gulf of Mexico will be disrupted, since it is impossible to quickly replace such highly specialised firms.

Overall, the US economy views the proposed sanctions against Nord Stream 2 critically, the author points out. Such restrictions would also be likely to harm US gas exporters, prompting European buyers to reduce LNG imports from the United States and increase supplies from other countries.

Proposed US Sanctions on Nord Stream 2

The Nord Stream 2 project has long drawn opposition from a number of countries, with the United States, which is trying to sell more of its own liquefied natural gas to overseas allies, insisting that the project will make Europe dependent on Moscow – claims that Russia has repeatedly rebuffed.

Moscow has insisted that the pipeline project is strictly commercial, ultimately seeking to boost Europe’s energy security.

Nevertheless, in early August, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill on sanctions against companies providing vessels for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.

The document prohibits entry into the US for anyone involved in the “sale, lease, provision or assistance in providing” ships for laying Russian offshore pipelines at a depth of 30 metres or more, as well as the freezing of their assets in US jurisdiction.

Companies from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Finland, and Sweden may fall under the sanctions.

The project is being implemented by Nord Stream 2 AG, with Gazprom investing half of the funds, and the remainder being contributed by European partners: Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie, and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell.

Germany has been strongly behind Nord Stream 2, emphasizing the commercial focus of the project.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she supported the BDI’s (Federation of German Industries) stance that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for delivering Russian natural gas to Europe is necessary given the German initiative to stop using nuclear and coal energy.

Austria, which is interested in reliable supplies of fuel, and Norway, whose government owns 30 percent of the shares of Kvaerner, one of the gas pipeline construction contractors, also spoke in favor of the project.

Nord Stream 2 Project

The 745-mile-long (1,200 km) Nord Stream 2 twin pipeline is set to run from Russia to Germany through the territorial waters or exclusive economic zones of Denmark, Finland, Germany, Russia, and Sweden to deliver Russian gas to European consumers.

The completed project will double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline network, allowing a total of up to 110 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas to be transported to Western Europe via pipelines at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

According to a statement made by project operator Nord Stream 2 AG on 26 August, the pipeline is 75 percent complete.

August 27, 2019 Posted by | Economics, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.


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.


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