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Baltic countries seek relevance on the international scene

By Lucas Leiroz | March 20, 2020

In 2017, RAND Corporation published in its associated media Small Wars Journal an article by the researchers Marta Kepe and Jan Osburg, outlining a strategic defense plan for the Baltic countries in the event of a Russian invasion. The authors claim that Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia will manage their weaknesses to face the Russians, overcoming their population and military deficit through the participation of civilians in the conflicts, working with the armed forces to create a “total defense” plan that would make the invasion too costly and laborious for Russia. Subsequently, the RAND Corporation article was mentioned in a paper by the National Interest magazine, authored by Michael Peck, in which the author studies the Baltic defense strategy, speculating about “total defense” and its efficiency in a possible case of Russian invasion. The researcher, finally, takes a pessimistic conclusion, stating that, despite all efforts, nothing will change the fact that Russia is a large country and the Baltic States are small and weak.

In March last year, the renowned American magazine Foreign Policy published an article by Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of Georgia, claiming that Russia’s next “targets” would be European nations. In the text, Saakashvili considers the possibility of a Russian attack on the Baltic countries, saying that President Vladimir Putin sees them as real threats because they are “functional democracies on the Russian border”. After developing his reasoning, the author comes to the conclusion that this invasion will not occur, pointing other countries as future “targets” of Russia. However, even though Saakashvili does not believe in the possibility of a Russian invasion, rumors about a Russian plan to invade and annex the Baltic nations have generated unfounded tensions in the region.

The height of media alarmism regarding relations between Russia and the Baltic countries was, however, an article published by the American expert Hall Brands on Japan Times website, whose title is “How Russia could force a nuclear war in the Baltics”. Referring again to the studies of the RAND Corporation, the author considers the possibility of a nuclear escalation on the frictions between Moscow and NATO in the Baltics, concluding that the geographic condition of these states would hinder rapid action by the West in the event of Russian action, raising the risks of forced annexation.

Apparently, media agencies aligned with the liberal establishment are working together to spread the idea that there is a Russian interest in invading and annexing the Baltics. For these agencies, the interest is so great that it would even justify a nuclear action. However, when we investigate the reasons for such despair, we found no concrete argument to justify such speculations. The great Western think tanks, such as the RAND Corporation, are spreading this myth with the specific purpose of instilling fear and tension in the Baltic States, so that, in the face of “Russian terror”, they will increasingly align themselves with Washington and NATO.

The concrete data indicate exactly the opposite of the rumors spread by RAND analysts. In January last year, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas publicly expressed an interest in improving relations between his country and Russia, with a view to pacifying bilateral tensions and envisioning a future of peace and cooperation, despite divergent interests. Also, Latvia remains the only member country of the European Union that is totally dependent on Russian gas – a situation Lithuania has only recently withdrawn from. So why Moscow would be interested in invading and annexing such countries, when the threat they pose to the Russian political structure is absolutely nil? In a way, it is much more logical to think that for the Baltic countries it is more profitable and interesting to maintain good relations with Russia than to embark on unfounded conspiracies by Western experts who are extremely ideologically involved. However, there is a second hypothesis.

It is still likely that the Baltic States are simply acting in the interest of increasing their role on the international scene. Unable to form a solid political, military and economic force, even if united, capable of facing the great world powers, these States may be anchoring themselves in NATO’s military apparatus to seek the affirmation of their own interests in Europe and in the world. By this logic, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia would be voluntarily adopting the alarmist discourse of the West and reaffirming it in order to, increase the western military presence on its borders, try to increase its regional and global influence, moving from being small European States to becoming potencies in the global geopolitical game.

Indeed, the Baltic countries are making a big mistake in adopting either of these two stances. Unlike Moscow, for whom the interest in “invading” the Baltic is nil, Washington has clear interests in occupying the region, so as to face Russia. That is the main reason for the presence of NATO troops in the Baltic expected for the Defender Europe 2020 drills – now canceled by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Baltic States are adhering to the discourse of Western think tanks, however, under no perspective can this opposition to Russia be profitable for them. Following the interests of Washington, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have too much to lose.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

A Second Whistle Blown on the OPCW’s Doctored Report

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | December 3, 2019

Another whistleblower leak has exposed the fraudulent nature of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report on the alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma, close to Damascus, on April 7 last year.

The first leak came from the Fact-Finding Mission’s engineering sub-group. After investigating the two sites where industrial gas cylinders were found in Douma and taking into account the possibility that the cylinders had been dropped from the air it concluded that there was a “higher probability” that both cylinders were placed at both sites by hand. This finding was entirely suppressed in the final report.

The engineering sub-group prepared its draft report “for internal review” between February 1-27, 2018. By March 1 the OPCW final report had been approved, published and released, indicating that the engineers’ findings had not been properly evaluated, if evaluated at all. In its final report the OPCW, referring to the findings of independent experts in mechanical engineering, ballistics and metallurgy, claimed that the structural damage had been caused at one location by an “impacting object” (i.e. the cylinder) and that at the second location the cylinder had passed through the ceiling, fallen to the floor and somehow bounced back up on to the bed where it was found.

None of this was even suggested by the engineers. Instead, the OPCW issued a falsified report intended to keep alive the accusation that the cylinders had been dropped by the Syrian Air Force.

Now there is a second leak, this time an internal email sent by a member of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on June 22, 2018, to Robert Fairweather, the British career diplomat who was at the time Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, and copied to his deputy, Aamir Shouket. The writer claims to have been the only FFM member to have read the redacted report before its release. He says it misrepresents the facts: “Some crucial facts that have remained in the redacted version have morphed into something quite different from what was originally drafted.”

The email says the final version statement that the team “has sufficent evidence to determine that chlorine or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical was likely released from the cylinders is highly misleading and not supported by the facts.” The writer states that the only evidence is that some samples collected at locations 2 and 4 (where the gas cylinders were found) had been in contact with one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom.

“Such chemicals,” he continues, “could include molecular chlorine, phosgene, cyanogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen chloride or sodium hypochlorite (the major element in household chlorine-based bleach.”  Purposely singling out chlorine as one of the possibilities was disingenuous and demonstrated “partiality” that negatively affected the final report’s credibility.

The writer says the final report’s reference to “high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives detected in environmental samples” overstates the draft report’s findings. “In most cases” these derivatives were present only in part per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace qualitiea.” In such microscopic quantities, detected inside apartment buildings, it would seem, although the writer only hints at the likelihood, that the chlorine trace elements could have come from household bleach stored in the kitchen or bathroom.

The writer notes that the original draft discussed in detail the inconsistency between the victims’ symptoms after the alleged attack as reported by witnesses and seen on video recordings.  This section of the draft, including the epidemiology, was removed from the final version in its entirety. As it was inextricably linked to the chemical agent as identified, the impact on the final report was “seriously negative.” The writer says the draft report was “modified” at the behest of the office of Director-General, a post held at the time by a Turkish diplomat, Ahmet Uzumcu.

The OPCW has made no attempt to deny the substance of these claims. After the engineers’ report made its way to Wikileaks its priority was to hunt down the leaker. Following the leaking of the recent email, the Director-General, Fernando Arias, simply defended the final report as it stood.

These two exposures are triply devastating for the OPCW.  Its Douma report is completely discredited but all its findings on the use of chemical weapons in Syria must now be regarded as suspect even by those who did not regard them as suspect in the first place. The same shadow hangs over all UN agencies that have relied on the OPCW for evidence, especially the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, an arm of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights).

This body is closely linked to the OPCW and while both mostly hide the sources of their information it is evident that where chemical weapons allegations have been made, the commission of inquiry has drawn on the OPCW.

As of January 2018, the commission reported on 34 “documented incidents” of chemical weapons use by various parties in Syria. It held the Syrian government responsible for 23 of them and, remarkably, did not hold the armed groups responsible even for one, despite the weight of evidence showing their preparation and use of such weapons over a long period of time.

The commission has made repeated accusations of chlorine barrel bombs being dropped by government forces. On the worst of the alleged chemical weapons attacks, on August 21, 2013, in the eastern Ghouta district just outside Damascus, it refers to sarin being used in a “well-planned indiscriminate attack targetting residential areas [and] causing mass casualties. The perpetrators likely had access to the Syrian military chemical weapons stockpile and expertise and equipment to manipulate large amounts of chemical weapons.”

This is such a travesty of the best evidence that no report by this body can be regarded as impartial, objective and neutral.   No chemical weapons or nerve agents were moved from Syrian stocks, according to the findings of renowned journalist Seymour Hersh. The best evidence, including a report by Hersh (‘The Red Line and the Rat Line,’ London Review of Books, April 17, 2014), suggests a staged attack by terrorist groups, including Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Sham, who at the time were being routed in a government offensive. The military would have had no reason to use chemical weapons: furthermore, the ‘attack’ was launched just as UN chemical weapons inspectors were arriving in the Syrian capital and it is not even remotely credible that the Syrian government would have authorized a chemical weapons attack at such a time.

Even the CIA warned Barack Obama that the Syrian government may not have been/probably was not responsible for the attack and that he was being lured into launching an air attack in Syria now that his self-declared ‘red line’ had been crossed. At the last moment, Obama backed off.

It remains possible that the victims of this ‘attack’ were killed for propaganda purposes. Certainly, no cruelty involving the takfiri groups, the most brutal people on the face of the planet, can be ruled out. Having used the occasion to blame the Syrian government, the media quickly moved on. The identities of the dead, many of them children, who they were, where they might have been buried – if in fact they had been killed and not just used as props – were immediately tossed into the memory hole. Eastern Ghouta remains one of the darkest unexplained episodes in the war on Syria.

The UN’s Syria commission of inquiry’s modus operandi is much the same as the OPCW’s. Witnesses are not identified; there is no indication of how their claims were substantiated; the countries outside Syria where many have been interviewed are not identified, although Turkey is clearly one; and where samples have had to be tested, the chain of custody is not transparent.

It is worth stepping back a little bit to consider early responses to the OPCW report on Douma. The Syrian government raised a number of questions, all of them fobbed off by the OPCW.  Russia entered the picture by arranging a press conference for alleged victims of the ‘attack’ at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague.  They included an 11-year-old boy, Hassan Diab, who said he did not know why he was suddenly hosed down in the hospital clinic, as shown in the White Helmets propaganda video.

All the witnesses dismissed claims of a chemical weapons attack. Seventeen countries (Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the US) then put out a joint statement (April 26, 2018) expressing their full support for the OPCW report and dismissing the “so-called” information session at the Hague as a Russian propaganda exercise. Their statement claimed the authenticity of the information in the OPCW report was “unassailable.”

Russia followed up with a series of questions directed at the OPCW’s technical secretariat. It noted that the OPCW report did not mention that samples taken from Douma were “split” in the OPCW’s central laboratory in the Netherlands and not in the Syrian Arab republic. Fractions of samples were handed to Syria only after six months of insistent pressure (OPCW response: its terms of reference provided for Syria to be provided with samples “to the extent possible” but do not specify when or where samples should be ‘split’).

Russia also referred to the collection of 129 samples and their transfer to OPCW-designated laboratories. 31 were selected for the first round of analysis and an additional batch of 13 sent later. Of the 129 samples 39 were obtained from individuals living outside territory controlled by the Syrian army. Of 44 samples analyzed 33 were environmental and 11 biomedical: of the 44, 11 (four environmental and seven biomedical) were obtained from alleged witnesses.

As remarked by the Russian Federation, the OPCW report does not explain the circumstances in which these samples were obtained. Neither is there any information on the individuals from whom they were taken; neither is there any evidence demonstrating compliance with the chain of custody (OPCW response: there was respect for the chain of custody, without this being explained; the “standard methodology” in collecting samples was applied, without details being given.  It stressed the need for privacy and the protection of witness identities).

Russia observed that the samples were analyzed in two unnamed OPCW laboratories and on the evidence of techniques and results, it raised the question of whether the same laboratories had been used to investigate earlier ‘incidents’ involving the alleged use of chlorine. Of the 13 laboratories that had technical agreements with the OPCW, why were samples analyzed at only two, apparently the same two as used before?  Russia also observed that of the 33 environmental samples tested for chlorinated products, there was a match (bornyl chloride) in only one case.

Samples taken from location 4, where a gas cylinder was allegedly dropped from the air, showed the presence of the explosive trinitrotoluene, leading to the conclusion that the hole in the roof was made by an explosion and not by a cylinder falling through it (OPCW response: the Fact-Finding Mission did not select the labs and information about them is confidential. As there had been intense warfare for weeks around location four, the presence of explosive material in a broad range of samples was to be expected but this did not – in the OPCW view –  lead to the conclusion that an explosion caused the hole in the roof).

Russia pointed out that the FFM interviewed 39 people but did not interview the actual witnesses of the ‘incident’ inside the Douma hospital who appeared and were easily identifiable in the staged videos (OPCW response: the secretariat neither confirms nor denies whether it interviewed any of the witnesses presented by Russia at the OPCW headquarters “as any statement to that effect would be contrary to the witness protection principles applied by the secretariat”).

Russia also pointed out the contradictions in the report on the number of alleged dead. In one paragraph the FFM says it could not establish a precise figure for casualties which “some sources” said ranged between 70 and 500. Yet elsewhere “witnesses” give the number of dead as 43 (OPCW response: the specific figure of 43 was based on the evidence of “witnesses” who claimed to have seen bodies at different locations).

Russia also pointed out that no victims were found at locations 2 and 4, where the ventilation was good because of the holes in the roof/ceiling. Referring to location 2, it asked how could chlorine released in a small hole from a cylinder in a well-ventilated room on the fourth floor have had such a strong effect on people living on the first or second floors? (OPCW response: the FFM did not establish a correlation between the number of dead and the quantity of the toxic chemical. In order to establish such a correlation, factors unknown to the FFM – condition of the building, air circulation and so on – would have had to be taken into account.  It does not explain why this was not attempted and how it could reach its conclusions without taking these “unknown factors” into account).

Finally, Russia raised the question of the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. It referred to the lack of specific calculations in the OPCW report. The ‘experts’ who did the simulation did not indicate the drop height. The charts and diagrams indicated a drop height of 45-180 meters. However, Syrian Air Force helicopters do not fly at altitudes of less than 2000 meters when cruising over towns because they would come under small arms fire “at least” and would inevitably be shot down.

Furthermore, if the cylinders had been dropped from 2000 meters,  both the roof and the cylinders would have been more seriously damaged (OPCW response: there were no statements or assumptions in the FFM report on the use of helicopters or the use of other aircraft “or the height of the flight. The FFM did not base its modeling on the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. “In accordance with its mandate,” the FFM did not comment on the possible altitude of aircraft.  The OPCW did not explain why these crucial factors were not taken into account).

In its conclusion, Russia said there was a “high probability” that the cylinders were placed manually at locations 2 and 4 and that the factual material in the OPCW report did not allow it to draw the conclusion that a toxic chemical had been used as a weapon. These conclusions have now been confirmed in the release of information deliberately suppressed by the OPCW secretariat.

As the leaked material proves, its report was doctored: by suppressing, ignoring or distorting the findings of its own investigators to make it appear that the Syrian government was responsible for the Douma ‘attack’ the OPCW can be justly accused of giving aid and comfort to terrorists and their White Helmet auxiliaries whom – the evidence overwhelmingly shows – set this staged ‘attack ’up.

Critical evidence ignored by the OPCW included the videoed discovery of an underground facility set up by Jaysh al Islam for the production of chemical weapons.   All the OPCW said was that the FFM inspectors paid on-site visits to the warehouse and “facility” suspected of producing chemical weapons and found no evidence of their manufacture.  There is no reference to the makeshift facility found underground and shown in several minutes of video evidence.

Since the release of the report, the three senior figures in the OPCW secretariat have moved/been moved on. The Director-General at the time, Hasan Uzumlu, a Turkish career diplomat, stepped out of the office in July 2018: Sir Robert Fairweather, a British career diplomat and Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, was appointed the UK’s special representative to Sudan and South Sudan on March 11, 2019: his deputy, Aamir Shouket,  left the OPCW in August 2018, to return to Pakistan as Director-General of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe division. The governments which signed the statement that the evidence in the OPCW report was “unassailable” remain in place.

Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East.  His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Facebook Shuts Down Private Page of Head of Sputnik Latvia

Sputnik – 14.02.2019

RIGA – Facebook has deleted a private account of Sputnik Latvia editor-in-chief Valentins Rozencovs after it broadcast a pro-Riga mayor rally.

“Facebook has recently opened a 150-member Riga office and is still hiring. It monitors what people in the Baltics post on the social network website. A staffer or someone who aspires to be one must have informed them about the broadcast from my account, causing it to be shut”, he said.

The airing of last Saturday’s massive rally in support of embattled Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs was watched and reposted by thousands of people. The leader of the popular leftist Harmony party survived a no-confidence vote this Monday, called by right-wing opposition over graft claims.

Rozencovs’ account on Facebook was first purged in January when the California-based social networking giant removed over 500 pages and accounts linked to Russia, citing perceived attempts to manipulate people in the Baltics and elsewhere.

Sputnik global editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said the fact that Rozencovs’ private page was targeted again after broadcasting a rally in support of Usakovs was no coincidence. The mayor of the Latvian capital is routinely described in Western media as being pro-Kremlin.

Last July, Valentins Rozencovs said that he had been detained in Riga by the security police upon his arrival from Moscow and released almost 12 hours later. He noted that security services questioned him about his work as Sputnik Latvia’s senior editor and the outlet’s work in the country.

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

The Tale of “Count” Soros and the Young Latvian State he Destroyed

By Martin Berger – New Eastern Outlook – 20.01.2019

All across the globe alternative media sites would typically describe George Soros as the mastermind of aglobalistmovement, who would undermine any society it can profit from through subversion, manipulation and trickery.

As it’s been revealed by the Telegraph, George Soros, the billionaire known as the man who “broke the Bank of England”, is backing a campaign to overturn Brexit, while remaining one of the three senior figures linked to the Remain-supporting campaign group Best for Britain. Reportedly, he handed over some 500 thousand dollars to this movement in a bid to lead a second referendum to keep Britain in the EU.

In turn, Donald Trump would describe this so-called philanthropist in his Twitter posts as a donor to anti-Trump protesters, while the president’s family and closest advisers are said to go much further. To illustrate this claim it’s enough to mention that his son – Donald Trump Jr. would re-tweet a claim by the comedian Roseanne Barr that George Soros is a Nazi.

It’s been noted that on Fox News, in Republican fund-raising appeals and in research by conservative advocacy groups, the name of George Soros is invoked as an all-purpose symbol of liberalism run amok.

It’s curious that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused George Soros of supporting anti-government protests in central Istanbul of 2013 and other countries around the world. The protests swelled from a demonstration to the biggest political challenge that then-Prime Minister Erdogan had faced against his rule.

Further still, the New York times would state that:

The closing advertisement for Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign featured Mr. Soros — as well as Janet L. Yellen, the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve at the time, and Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, both of whom are Jewish — as examples of “global special interests” who enriched themselves on the backs of working Americans.

One can often hear geopolitical analysts describing Soros as «one of the top disclosed donors to American political campaigns in the modern campaign finance era», but the sad truth is that he donated many millions more to political nonprofit groups operating all across the globe that are not liable to disclose their true donors in most states.

Igors Meija, the chairman of the board of directors of Latvia’s construction company Constructus LV, in one of his recent speeches has quite colorfully described the true nature of the “selfless donations” that George Soros is know of making, ruining Latvia and its economy through those. In particular, the CEO revealed that Soros would often brag that he spent 90 million dollars on “supporting democracy” in Latvia. Yet if one is to take a closer look at the profits Soros and the powerful members of his closed club like the Rothschilds reaped from these investments, one can safely state that they’ve made a lot of money by donating them. Among the most noticeable assets that Soros and other oligarchs own is the Lativian external debt that has recently reached 11 billion dollars due to machinations that Soros pulled off in cooperation with the bribed Latvian officials. This amounts to 6,515 thousands dollars that each Latvian resident has to pay, or 12,509 dollars taken from each economically active person. Even to service this debt Latvian tax payers have to give away 1,1 million dollars a day of their hard-earned cash! Just three months of debt servicing amounts to the 90 million dollars Soros spent on “promoting democracy“ in Latvia! One can admit that Soros and the likes of him know how to get more than impressive ROI rates.

If nothing changes in the foreseeable future and the dire demographic situation in Latvia won’t improve, each economically active resident of Latvia will have to pay 23,882 dollars to the kind philanthropists that ruined their country. Igors Meija complains that on top of this all, Soros managed to “liberalize” local financial sector by eliminating all Latvian competitors from it, handing over the money of the ruined Latvian banks, such as Latvijas Krājbanka, Trasta komercbanka, ABLV, to overseas debt holders. .

Igors Meija is convinced that this “philanthropist” his “club” will stop carnivorous practices, especially once they’ve realized that the obedient Latvian bureaucracy will do anything they demand it to do in a bid to stay in power and profit from the local population. The CEO is convinced that Latvia is reminiscent of America in post-Columbian era. Once the “pale-faced do-gooders” landed on the Latvian shores and offered glass mirrors and beads to the local population in exchange for diamonds and gold, Latvians have had a hard time to make their both ends meet.

Similar cases of debt enslavement by Soros and the likes of him can be found in various countries all across the world, where Soros carries on its “philanthropic activities”.

However, Western financial and political elites have been receiving significant dividends from defending George Soros in a multitude of MSM platforms that they own, deliberately hiding the true nature of this soulless plutocrat. Of course, among such media outlets one can find the Guardian, the New York Times and the Financial Times on top on a number of other publications, that have already lost all credibility with the Western public due to the extensive amount of shill work they do for the Western financial elites.

January 20, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Pro-Russia party wins Latvia elections

Press TV – October 7, 2018

Latvia’s pro-Russia Harmony Party has won the country’s general elections, and will have to negotiate with other parties to form a coalition government.

Harmony won the Saturday parliamentary elections with 19.91 percent of the votes, followed by KPV LV and New Conservative Party, with 14.06 percent with 13.6 percent, respectively.

Turnout in the elections was 54.59 percent, according to the election website.

The pro-European Union (EU), pro-NATO liberal For Development/For! Party came fourth with 12.04 percent.

The rightwing National Alliance gained 11.03 percent. The Greens and Farmers Union — which currently holds the posts of both president and prime minister — won 9.96 percent.

The New Unity took 6.67 percent as the last party crossing the five-percent threshold needed to enter parliament.

The current parliament will keep working until November while parties discuss a new coalition.

No Harmony — until now

Latvia’s political parties had until now always tried to form coalition governments without Harmony in the blend.

The party will now hold 24 seats in the 100-seat parliament. KPV LV and the New Conservatives will jointly hold 31 seats.

The top three parties can muster the 55 seats needed to form a coalition government.

“No coalition combination is possible without Harmony,” the party’s chairman Nils Ushakovs told local media.

October 7, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

NATO Is the Model Entangling Alliance

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | July 13, 2018

Suppose I had an unlimited power of attorney to sign your name as a co-signer on any loan I made with the bank. Every time I went to the bank and borrowed money, I could legally obligate you to pay my loan if I defaulted.

How would you like that? My hunch is that you wouldn’t be too excited about that arrangement.

That is precisely the authority that NATO has over the American people, only the obligation is much worse than a financial one. The obligation involves killing and dying. That is, NATO has the authority to obligate young Americans, both men and women, to kill and die for whatever overseas regime that NATO decides to admit as a member of the organization.

How does NATO work? If another nation attacks any member of NATO, the United States is automatically bound to come to its defense.

That is not the type of system on which the United States was founded when the U.S. Constitution called the federal government into existence. The founding principle was that it would be up to Congress to decide whether the country would, in fact, go to war against another nation. There would be nothing automatic about it. If Congress declared war, then it would be the president’s responsibility to wage war. But if Congress failed to declare war, the government could not legally go to war.

Unfortunately, the Constitution did not limit war to the defense of the United States. That means that if Congress decided to declare war against, say, Uruguay, simply because they didn’t like that country’s ruler, there was nothing in the Constitution that would preclude such a war.

However, as a practical matter, a founding principle was that the United States did not involve itself in wars in faraway countries. That foreign policy of “non-interventionism” was encapsulated in John Quincy Adams’s Fourth of July address in 1821, where he observed that America does not go abroad in “search of monsters to destroy.”

U.S. membership in NATO nullifies those founding principles. NATO now decides when the United States goes to war and, equally important, decides which countries the American people are obligated to defend. No congressional declaration of war is required. If, say, Russia were to invade Latvia, the American people, thanks to NATO’s decision to admit Latvia as a member, would be automatically bound to go to war against Russia.

NATO is a blank, signed check which the American people have handed to NATO bureaucrats, a check by which they have obligated the lives of American youth and America’s money in the defense of some faraway nation that NATO has decided to admit as a member.

Of course, it’s easy for people to say, “Jacob, this doesn’t really involve my children, my siblings, or me. We have a professional army.”

But let’s not forget something: Mandatory draft registration. The Pentagon requires every man to register for the draft when he reaches the age of 18. That’s not just some esoteric exercise. It is a very real, practical device that enables the Pentagon to seize millions of young men, if necessary, to wage a NATO war (or any other war that the Pentagon deems is important to get involved in).

Moreover, even though young American women are not forced to register for the draft, there is no doubt that they are as subject to being drafted to go fight, kill, and die in the defense of Latvia, Montenegro, Turkey, and every other member of NATO as young American men are.

Isn’t it amazing that Americans would object to granting someone a power of attorney to obligate them on loans but have no reservations about giving the president, the Pentagon, and NATO bureaucrats the unfettered power to seize their children, spouses, brothers and sisters, and even themselves and the authority to force them to kill and die in the defense of faraway nations, some of which, by the way, are quite autocratic and dictatorial?

Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. George Washington, the father of our country and the first U.S. president, declared “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world.” Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and America’s third president, echoed Washington’s sentiments: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.”

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Sputnik Latvia’s editor-in-chief detained by police in Riga for almost 12hrs

RT | July 5, 2018

Sputnik Latvia Editor-in-Chief Valentins Rozencovs has been held and interrogated about his work by Latvian police for almost 12 hours. The agency said its journalists face “routine” pressure from officials in Baltic countries.

Rozencovs, who is a Latvian citizen, was detained “for conversation” shortly after he landed in the Latvian capital on Wednesday evening. His spent all night answering the officers’ questions. Authorities did not file any formal documents as detention for fewer than 12 hours is not considered a formal arrest in Latvia, Rozencovs said.

“I was detained in Riga for a conversation, as they [the police] called it, upon my arrival from Moscow. They did not file any reports,” the editor-in-chief said after his release on Thursday, as cited by Sputnik. “The security police were interested in my work as senior editor of Sputnik Latvia and the work of the outlet itself in Latvia.”

The press service of the agency stressed, in the wake of the incident, that Russian media are under pressure due to its growing popularity over mainstream media.

“Unfortunately, pressure on our journalists has become routine in the Baltic countries,” the statement read. “Democratic European states are concerned about the growing popularity of Sputnik websites in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, representing a point of view which is different from what they consider the only right one.”

In April, the Latvian National Council opposed the use of Sputnik’s material by state-funded media on electronic media. The watchdog, which can strip a news outlet of its license, said that spending taxpayers’ money “to strengthen Sputnik and popularize its brand is not in the interests of Latvian society.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the policies against Russian media, saying that they would only harm the Russian-speaking population in Latvia. Around 500,000 Russian nationals live in the country, which amounts to around a quarter of the population.

The detention of the journalist is a part of an information war, Latvia MEP and co-chairman of the Latvian Russian Union (LRU) Miroslav Mitrofanov believes.

“There is a cold war between the West and Russia. Information confrontation is part of it,” he told RIA Novosti. The politician added that Latvian authorities are showing their “irritation” with the news outlet’s activity, as the ruling parties can save their position “only if there is no source of alternative information in Latvian.”

Read more:

‘President was clear about RT’: Journalist barred from Elysee Palace despite having credentials

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

NATO’s scaremongering about ‘Russia threat’ to Baltic States ‘is all about money’

RT | March 2, 2017

The US security establishment is trying to justify its existence, says Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Peace Institute, commenting on a new report which lists how NATO can help the Baltic States counter Russian ‘hybrid warfare.’

The American global policy think-tank, the RAND Corporation, published a report that claims NATO should do more to counter the potential Russian threat and strengthen the Baltic countries’ forces. The US government-funded body issued a report titled “Hybrid Warfare in the Baltics: Threats and Potential Responses.”

The document raises concern over “Russian use of “hybrid warfare” best understood as covert or deniable activities, supported by conventional or nuclear forces, to influence the domestic politics of target countries.”

The author of the report, Andrew Radin claims “these tactics are of particular concern in the Baltic countries of Estonia and Latvia, which have significant Russian-speaking minorities.” He warns that there is concern Russia will seek to use these minorities to gain influence in the region, “use covert action to seize territory, use subversion to justify a conventional attack, or otherwise use deniable or covert means to gain influence in the Baltics and undermine the EU and NATO.”

RT discussed the report with McAdams and asked him why potential “Russian aggression” is in the spotlight again. Is there a real threat?

In his view, what we are seeing is just another example of the national security establishment in the US “having to justify its existence.”

“The report itself outlines many things that NATO has to do to help the Baltics. The Baltics are absolutely irrelevant to the security of NATO. Their only relevance is geographic. They are close to Russia. Therefore, NATO can hold exercises on Russia’s border to provoke Russia. As far as the Baltics, look at Latvia, for example, if it is so concerned about Russian warfare or hybrid warfare, why do they spend 0.9 percent of their GDP on defense? They are clearly not worried. It really is just a ploy to get more free things from NATO. And for NATO to keep itself alive after it should have been shut down,” McAdams said.

In his opinion, “hybrid warfare” – the report refers to – is a term used when there’s no evidence that Russia has done anything wrong.

It was hybrid warfare when Russia “invaded Ukraine.” And that is just because we didn’t see any Russian military in Ukraine. It was hybrid warfare with “the little green men” in Crimea. Well, those little green men in Crimea were already there legally as part of the leased base in Sevastopol. All of these things are made up, it’s part of NATO’s ongoing aggression toward Russia, provocation of Russia and it is desperate to keep itself alive, to keep its budgets rising,” the analyst said. “And sadly, unfortunately, we are seeing that the US president who was rightly critical of NATO, calling it outdated, said in his recent speech to Congress that he loves NATO and thinks it’s great. So, unfortunately, it looks like it is going to be propped up for a while longer. And yes, it is about money,” he added.

March 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Germany to help Baltic states establish Russian-language media

Press TV – February 28, 2017

Germany plans to help Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania establish Russian-language media outlets to counter the “disinformation” allegedly being spread by Russian channels broadcasting in the region.

The plan was announced by German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer, RT reported on Tuesday.

The announcement came ahead of German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s trip to the Baltic states and Sweden, which is due to take place this week.

“During his trip, Mr. Gabriel will also employ what we already started last year in the Baltic states, which is — as we say in new German — handling Russian ‘fake news’ together with appropriate partners,” Schaefer said on Monday.

He added that the main goal of the initiative was to launch Russian-language radio and TV channels, which will be “attractive to Russian speakers living in the three Baltic states” in order to produce news “in a different way” from the Russian media.

The United States, too, recently announced plans to launch a Russian-language television news channel. The US has long accused Russian media of propagating “fake news.” Such allegations have also been leveled by European governments, which are concerned about alleged Russian attempts to influence their elections in much the same way as the US has said Moscow influenced its recent presidential vote.

Western ties with Russia have plummeted significantly in recent years, particularly following Crimea’s separation from Ukraine and reunification with the Russian Federation after a referendum not authorized by Kiev.

Military build-ups close to the Russian borders, including in the Baltic countries, have also been a major source of tension.

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latvia detains, deports chief producer of Russian news agency

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RT | October 21, 2016

Latvian border guards have detained Ella Taranova, a chief producer for Russia’s Rossiya Segodnya international information agency, who arrived for the Baltic Forum in Riga. According to RIA Novosti, she was deported late Friday.

It appears Taranova had been blacklisted by the country’s authorities in August 2014 but was never informed about it.

Taranova, who has a valid Schengen visa, arrived in the country by plane on Friday morning, alongside other Russian journalists, and “had no problems when passing border control,” she said.

However, several hours after she checked in to a hotel, she was summoned to the registration desk where two Latvian border guards told her she was on a blacklist and must leave the country, TASS reports.

“It seems from 5 August 2014, I have been on a security services list of undesirable people,” Taranova told RIA Novosti. “I knew nothing about this, only that I had been invited to a conference of the Baltic Forum.”

“I was asked several times with suspicion whether I knew I was on the list, before being told that in theory, I should know,” she added. “It was explained to me that the people on this list pose a threat and security risk to the Republic of Latvia. This is disgusting. I was not and am not involved in any political activity.”

The director of the Baltic Forum, Aleksandr Vasilyev, said Taranova is at a border guards station in Jurmala and will be put on a plane to Moscow later on Friday. He added that a Russian Embassy member of staff and a forum representative are with her.

The Baltic Forum is an annual conference held since 1998. It is due to be held on Saturday in Jurmala. Participants will discuss the nature of the Russia-EU relationship and will include diplomats, experts and politicians from EU countries, Russia, Ukraine, China and the US. Taranova has a long-term partnership with the Forum and had attended several times prior to 2014.

RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, expressed her dismay.

“It is an outrage,” she wrote on Twitter.

The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the incident, saying the incident contradicts Latvia’s international obligations regarding freedom of speech.

“This regrettable event completely fit into the fabric of the anti-Russian actions aimed at suppressing dissent and restricting freedom of expression, of the Latvian alternative media,” an official statement read. “The existence of blacklists, the criterion for inclusion in it, which is being a professional journalist, is unacceptable in a democratic state, and contrary to all international commitments to ensure freedom of speech.”

Meanwhile the Russian State Duma is going to demand an official explanation for Latvia’s actions from the EU, the Council of Europe and the OSCE, Sergey Zheleznyak, a member of the Russian Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters. This is just the latest in a series of attempts to “put pressure on the Russian media, which has become the ‘new normal’ of European policy,” he said, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

Latvian MP Janis Urbanovics, who belongs to the center-left Harmony party, has warned that expelling Taranova is not good for Latvia’s image. “I don’t know why it happened that a person with a Schengen visa could arrive in any other country of the European Union, but turned out to be unwelcome in Latvia,” Urbanovics said, RIA Novosti reported.

October 21, 2016 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Putin’s “Threats” to the Baltics: a Myth to Promote NATO Unity

By GARY LEUPP | Defend Democracy Press | July 13, 2016

In his book 2017: War with Russia published a few months ago, former deputy commander of NATO Sir Alexander Richard Shirreff predicts that to prevent NATO expansion Russia will annex eastern Ukraine and invade the Baltic state of Latvia in May 2017. Most dismiss the book as sensationalist fantasy, but it draws attention to the fact that NATO is in fact aggressively expanding, and holding large-scale war games in Romania, Lithuania, and Poland, and Russia is truly concerned.

Why Latvia? Shirreff is not alone in trying to depict Latvia and the other Baltic states (Estonia and Lithuania) as immanently threatened by Russia. The stoking of Baltic fears of such are a principle justification for NATO expansion.

The argument begins with the assertion that Vladimir Putin (conflated with Russia itself, as though he were an absolute leader, a second Stalin) wants to revive the Soviet Union. His occasional comment that the collapse of the USSR was a “catastrophe” is repeatedly cited, totally out of context, as proof of this expansionist impulse. It continues with the observation that there has been tension between Russia and the Baltic states since their independence in 1991. And while Russia has never threatened the Baltic states with invasion or re-incorporation, the fear mongers like to conjure up Sir Richard’s World War III scenario.

So it’s not difficult to understand why NATO, in its largest war games since the end of the Cold War, would choose Poland, which borders both Russia (the Kaliningrad enclave) and Lithuania, as their setting. Dubbed Anaconda-2016, the ten-day exercise involves 31,000 troops from 24 countries including non-NATO members Kosovo, Macedonia and Finland. Germany, whose foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has actually criticized the exercise as “saber-rattling and warmongering,” has sent 400 military engineers but no combat troops.

This follows the June announcement that NATO would deploy four multinational battalions (about 4000 troops) in the Baltic states and Poland to “bolster their defenses against Russia.” The idea is that Russian actions in Georgia in 2008 and in Ukraine since 2014 show that Russia poses a grave threat to European security.

It doesn’t actually. Its military budget is one-twelfth of NATO’s. It has no motive. Russia has responded to the unrelenting expansion of NATO to encompass it with stern words and defensive military measures but calm and ongoing appeals for cooperation with nations it (despite everything) continues to refer to as “our partners.”

But since the Baltics have become the focus of (supposed) NATO-Russian contestation, let’s look at what the problem is all about.

The three states were part of the Russian Empire under the tsars from the 18th century up to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. While most of the component parts of that empire soon became Soviet Socialist Republics (such as Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan etc.), others, including Poland, Finland and the Baltic states gained their independence at that time.

But in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, there remained large ethnic Russian, and Russian-speaking minorities, as there are today. In 1940 the Soviet army invaded these countries and incorporated them into the USSR. This was part of a strategy to avoid German invasion through the signing of the “Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact” that also meant the temporary division of Poland. (We can criticize this, as I surely do, but that’s the history.) A year later the Nazis invaded the Baltic republics and the Soviet Union as a whole. But the Soviets won the war, and the Baltics remained Soviet up to 1991.

The Baltic states, never truly happy campers in the Soviet Union, initiated the breakup of the country when, from June 1987, protests in Latvia and Estonia led to demands for secession, which the USSR recognized in September 1991. These demands for independence were generally supported by ethnic Russians in the republics. They no doubt expected that they would retain their longstanding linguistic rights.

(This issue of language rights is a huge problem in the former Soviet republics, including especially Ukraine. But it is little understood nor appreciated by U.S.opinion-makers, especially U.S. State Department officials and their media echo chamber.)

Today the Baltic republics have a population of a little over six million, including about one million ethnic Russians. The Russian figure has declined by about one-third since 1991. It is currently lowest in Lithuania (6 to 14%), and 24-30% in the other states.

The restoration of independence produced a wave of nationalist sentiment that included an attack on existing rights of ethnic Russians, distinguished from the others less by looks than by language. As recently as May 2016 a survey co-conducted by the Estonian and Latvian governments found that 89% of ethnic Latvians and 84% of ethnic Estonians are unhappy with this presence and want the Russians to “move back to Russia,” although many are from families who have lived in these countries for centuries.

In Latvia, the State Language Law (passed in 2000) requires that documents to local and national government, and to local and national state public enterprises, be submitted in Latvian only, as the sole national language. (Earlier they could be submitted in Russian, or even English or German.) Aside from being perceived by the minority as an attack on their own culture and identity, this requirement imposes hardships especially for older citizens who have never mastered the “national” language. A similar situation pertains in Estonia. Protests not only by Russia but by other countries have resulted in rulings against Latvia by the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee.

Moscow sees itself as the protector of ethnic Russians from Ukraine to the Baltics. This should not be so hard to understand. But that does not mean that Moscow—however annoyed it is by NATO expansion to its borders—has plans to invade its neighbors and spark a general conflagration. NATO in 2013 had 3,370,000 service members in 2013, to Russia’s 766,000 troops. NATO expenditures in 2015 were $892 billion on defense in 2015, compared to Russia’s $70 billion.

The idea that Russia poses a threat to any NATO nation is as plausible as the notion that Saddam Hussein threatened the world with weapons of mass destruction. Or that Libya’s Gadhafy was preparing a genocidal campaign against his own people. Or that Iran plans to use nukes to wipe Israel off the map. These are all examples of the Big Lie.

Wait, some will ask, what about Georgia? Didn’t Russia invade and divide that country? Yes, it did, in defense of South Ossetia, which had resisted inclusion in the Republic of Georgia formed in 1991, fearing its ultranationalist leadership. South Ossetia, inhabited by an Iranian people, had been included as an autonomous oblast in the Georgian Soviet Republic but as the Soviet Union dissolve sought unity with Russia. So did Abkhazia. These two “breakaway republics” had been involved in a “frozen conflict” with Georgia until real war broke out in August 2008, producing a Russian invasion of Georgia and Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia as well as Abkhazia as independent states.

One can see this as tit-for-tat for the U.S. dismemberment of Serbia in 1999 and subsequent recognition of Kosovo as an independent state in February 2008. This act in plain violation of international law, condemned by U.S. allies such as Greece, Romania and Spain, was explained by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a sui generis case. Well then, that 1999 NATO war on Serbia has led to more sui generis cases, hasn’t it?

And what about Ukraine? The limited moves Russia has taken there have been in direct response of the U.S.-led effort to incorporate Ukraine into NATO, most notably in backing the pro-NATO (and neo-fascist) forces who pulled off the coup of February 22, 2014. Any support Russia has offered to ethnic Russians in the Donbass opposed to the ultranationalist (and dysfunctional) new regime in Kiev hardly constitute an “invasion.”

It’s all about NATO. Unfortunately, the U.S. masses don’t even know what NATO is, or how it’s expanding. It is rarely mentioned in the mainstream press; its existence is never problematized, or discussed in U.S. political debates (except when Trump says the U.S.’s NATO allies are getting a “free ride”); the fact that its dissolution is not subject to questioning is all very depressing.

But wait, I must correct myself. Stephen Kinzer, a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, got an op-ed published in the Boston Globe a few days ago, entitled “Is NATO Necessary?” Without calling for its outright abolition, he declares, “We need less NATO, not more.”

But the next day the newspaper website included (as if by way of apology) an op-ed by Nicholas Burns, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in the George W. Bush administration and now professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. It’s entitled, “Why NATO is vital for American interests.”

Burns adduces four reasons for NATO’s continuing necessity.

“The first is Vladimir Putin’s aggression — his division of Georgia and Ukraine, his annexation of Crimea, his threats to the Baltic states, and his military’s harassment of US forces in international airspace and international waters.” (In other words, Russia’s restrained response to NATO’s provocations is reasons for NATO to continue, as a provocateur. And what “threats” of Putin can Burns cite? There have been none.)

“The second challenge is a dramatically weakening and potentially fractured European Union, now exacerbated by the possible departure of the United Kingdom.” (In other words, as the contradictions within European capitalism intensify, the U.S. must keep its camp together as—if nothing else—an anti-Russian alliance. What logic is this, other than fascist logic?)

“The third is the tsunami of violence spreading from the Levant and North Africa into Europe itself.” (In other words, when NATO actions result in so much pain in Libya and Afghanistan, and U.S.-led wars to so much chaos in Iraq and Syria that a million people flood into Europe, destabilizing European unity on the question of migration policy, the U.S. needs to be there somehow using the military alliance to hold it all together.)

“The fourth is uncertain and sometimes seemingly unconfident European and American leadership in the face of these combined challenges.”

(In other words, the U.S. needs to instill confidence by taking such actions as the invasion of Iraq that Burns supported as a State Department official, and the Libya slaughter he supported as a Boston Globe op-ed writer.)

Strength. Power. Confidence.

Burns and Gen. Jim Jones (former National Security Advisor for Pres. Obama) “believe NATO should station military forces “on a permanent basis in Poland, the Baltic states, the Black Sea region, and the Arctic,” and that the “US should extend lethal military assistance to Ukraine so that it can defend itself.” As though it has been attacked.

His final point is “that our most complex challenge may come from within the NATO countries themselves. Our strongest link is that we are all democracies. But, many of us, including the United States, are confronting a wave of isolationist sentiment and ugly extremism in our domestic political debates. NATO will need strong, unflinching American leadership to cope with these challenges.”

This conclusion is of course a reference to Donald Trump and his “extremism” in daring to—-among his many inchoate and clueless pronouncements—opine that the U.S. is protecting Europe for NATO, but spending too much money on it, and Germany should do more for Ukraine. It seems a statement in favor of that Iron Lady Hillary, who was so unflinching in her support of the Iraq War, and the Libya regime change, and who is hot to trot to bomb government buildings in Damascus.

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

July 14, 2016 Posted by | Book Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 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