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U.S. is pushing for a new provocation against Serbia over the Kosovo issue

By Paul Antonopoulos | July 29, 2020

Belgrade and Pristina have resumed dialogue in Brussels, but the recent delivery of American-made armored vehicles to Kosovo could make the talks difficult and signifies Washington is once again attempting to destabilize the Balkans. Serbia and Kosovo returned to the negotiating table on July 16 after a long hiatus; however the hopes of Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy, to allow a constructive dialogue could now be in jeopardy. Washington’s delivery of Humvee armored vehicles to Pristina is a clear message to Belgrade that the U.S. will continue recognizing Kosovo’s independence. Washington purposefully sent the armored vehicles knowing it will create tensions in negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina.

The U.S. is putting pressure on Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to recognize Kosovo’s independence. However, this is in detriment to international law and UN Security Council resolution 1244, which is still valid and specifies that Kosovo is a Serbian province despite Washington’s recognition of its illegal independence. Although the delivery of Humvee armored vehicles makes little impact on the military capabilities of Kosovo, it is a symbolic gesture by the Americans to show they still have significant influence over Kosovo. Hashim Thaçi, the President of Kosovo and alleged war criminal, has always said that Washington should be an important player in negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo.

Kosovo is recognized as an independent state by the majority of Western countries, with the exception of five EU members who still refuse to recognize its independence: Spain, Romania, Greece, Cyprus and Slovakia. Russia and China, permanent members of the UN Security Council, have not recognized this either and are de facto preventing Kosovo from joining the United Nations.

There is clear proof that tensions are still high between Belgrade and Pristine, especially after Vučić attacked with virulence Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti, after the last round of negotiations:

“Is it nice to sit at the other end of the table facing Hoti and listen to his gibberish, saying that they are the only victims and that we are the only bad guys? No.”

The fact that Kosovo recently received a new shipment of armored vehicles from the U.S. will not help normalize relations between the two parties, but this is not surprising considering the Albanians are key to Washington’s policy in controlling the Balkans. Therefore, Belgrade likely recognizes that it cannot trust Washington to bring a resolution to the Kosovo issue, especially since Serbia maintains strong relations with Moscow that it is not willing to sacrifice.

The special relationship between Belgrade and Moscow is viewed negatively by both Brussels and NATO. They would rather bring Serbia under its influence. This is further complicated by the fact that Beijing has an ever-increasing strong presence in Serbia and is investing a lot in the country. Beijing always supports the preservation of Serbia’s territorial integrity, especially regarding Kosovo, which could mean that the Balkan country might be a future flash point between the growing rivalry between China and the U.S.

In 2012, Belgrade highlighted that officials during the presidency of Bill Clinton, who were in charge at the time of the brutal NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999, returned to Kosovo to invest – particularly General Wesley Clark and former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. Today Kosovo is a hub for drug trafficking, human trafficking and organ harvesting, something that Brussels and Washington are happy to turn a blind eye to.

Albanians are trying to unite in a Greater Albania that would serve the interests of U.S. foreign policy. The arming of Kosovo could be a consequence of this vision, especially since American arms deliveries to Kosovo contradict international law and could trigger a new armed conflict. This may be the hidden goal of the U.S. It is possible that Germany is also pushing in this direction, especially since Berlin was a key player in the dismemberment of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The recognition of Kosovo’s independence opens the door to further destabilization, violence and potentially even a new Balkan war. With the U.S. delivering Humvee’s to Kosovo, it has signified that it has no interest in finding a lasting resolution between the rebel province and Serbia.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

July 29, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

US plans to invade Venezuela through Colombia

By Lucas Leiroz | July 10, 2020

Colombia is under a pro-Washington government. The country’s current president, Iván Duque Márquez, has been noted for a series of policies of alignment with the United States, continuing the legacy of his predecessor, former president Juan Manuel Santos, who has made Colombia a NATO “global partner”, allowing the country to participate in joint military operations of the Western military alliance. In general, the long scenario of crises and tensions in Colombia, marked by drug trafficking and the conflict between criminal factions and rebel parties, has driven its governments towards a policy of alignment with Washington in exchange for security, which has increased in recent years.

However, not all Colombian politicians approve these measures. Recently, the leftist senator Iván Cepeda asked Colombian Congressional President Lidio García to convene a session to investigate and legally control the government in its collaboration with the constant arrival of American soldiers in the country. According to Cepeda, the presence of these military personnel is hostile to Colombia, deeply affecting the maintenance of national sovereignty.

Cepeda claims that the government should consult the National Congress before allowing the American military to arrive. A recent decision by the Supreme Court of Cundinamarca proved Cepeda right. According to the judges of the Court, the unilateral decision to allow the entry of foreign troops violates the Colombian National Constitution, and the Executive Branch must previously submit the matter to the Congress. For this reason, the Court asked the government to send information about the joint operations in progress, with the aim of clarifying the reason for the arrival of American troops. The deadline for sending the report was July 6 and was not met by the government – which claims it will appeal the decision. Due to the non-compliance, Cepeda filed a request for the establishment of a special congressional session.

The exact number of US military personnel in the country is uncertain, which further raises suspicions about the case. Some sources say there are more than 800 Americans, while others say they are between 50 and 60 military personnel. No official note was given by the government to explain the reasons and the exact number of soldiers. On the other hand, the American Embassy in Colombia, under pressure, commented on the case, giving an unsatisfactory answer. According to American diplomats, military personnel are arriving in Colombia to carry out joint operations to combat drug trafficking. Apparently, these operations would aim to carry out a siege against Venezuela and Nicolás Maduro, who, according to Donald Trump, has links with drug trafficking in the region. It is important to remember that Trump’s accusations against Maduro were never substantiated nor has any evidence been provided of such links between the Venezuelan president and drug trafficking.

Recently, Colombian mercenaries invaded Venezuela by sea in American vessels. Venezuelan security forces neutralized the attack, but since then it has become clear that Colombia is willing to collaborate with the US to overthrow the government of Nicolás Maduro. Apparently, therefore, American troops arriving in the country are preparing for a next step in this old American project to occupy Venezuela.

The justification that the Venezuelan government has links with drug trafficking becomes even more curious when the American ally is precisely Colombia, a state that historically has structural links with organized crime and the illegal drug trade in South America, being considered by experts in the whole world as a true narco-state. Likewise, the United States is not innocent of scandals involving international trafficking. The CIA has repeatedly been accused of collaborating with criminal networks worldwide. The American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 guaranteed to the US the complete control of opium production in the region. In Mexico, in exchange for information and resources, American intelligence has collaborated several times with the activities of the so-called Guadalajara Cartel. Still, for years, American intelligence collaborated with Panamanian general Manuel Noriega, who has been publicly involved in drug trafficking since the 1960s, in exchange for military support against guerrillas in Nicaragua.

In fact, we can see that drug trafficking is a flawed and inconsistent justification for an invasion against Venezuela. Colombia and the United States have much more credible and notorious evidence of drug trafficking and are precisely the countries articulating this operation. We can imagine the real reasons behind this: unable to maintain its global hegemony, Washington desperately tries to guarantee its power in Latin America, and, for that, it tries to overthrow Maduro; Colombia provides support to the US in exchange for a mask for its own criminal activities, carried out in collusion by the government and criminal networks of drug trafficking groups – such activities will be falsely attributed to Maduro.

Anyway, what seems clear now is that the US plans to invade Venezuela through Colombia.

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

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

Key U.S. Ally Indicted for Organ Trade Murder Scheme

By Nicolas J.S. Davies | Dissident Voice | July 6, 2020

When President Clinton dropped 23,000 bombs on what was left of Yugoslavia in 1999 and NATO invaded and occupied the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, U.S. officials presented the war to the American public as a “humanitarian intervention” to protect Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanian population from genocide at the hands of Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. That narrative has been unraveling piece by piece ever since.

In 2008 an international prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, accused U.S.-backed Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of Kosovo of using the U.S. bombing campaign as cover to murder hundreds of people to sell their internal organs on the international transplant market. Del Ponte’s charges seemed almost too ghoulish to be true. But on June 24th, Thaci, now President of Kosovo, and nine other former leaders of the CIA-backed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA,) were finally indicted for these 20-year-old crimes by a special war crimes court at The Hague.

From 1996 on, the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies covertly worked with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to instigate and fuel violence and chaos in Kosovo. The CIA spurned mainstream Kosovar nationalist leaders in favor of gangsters and heroin smugglers like Thaci and his cronies, recruiting them as terrorists and death squads to assassinate Yugoslav police and anyone who opposed them, ethnic Serbs and Albanians alike.

As it has done in country after country since the 1950s, the CIA unleashed a dirty civil war that Western politicians and media dutifully blamed on Yugoslav authorities. But by early 1998, even U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard called the KLA a “terrorist group” and the UN Security Council condemned “acts of terrorism” by the KLA and “all external support for terrorist activity in Kosovo, including finance, arms and training.” Once the war was over and Kosovo was successfully occupied by U.S. and NATO forces, CIA sources openly touted the agency’s role in manufacturing the civil war to set the stage for NATO intervention.

By September 1998, the UN reported that 230,000 civilians had fled the civil war, mostly across the border to Albania, and the UN Security Council passed resolution 1199, calling for a ceasefire, an international monitoring mission, the return of refugees and a political resolution. A new U.S. envoy, Richard Holbrooke, convinced Yugoslav President Milosevic to agree to a unilateral ceasefire and the introduction of a 2,000 member “verification” mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). But the U.S. and NATO immediately started drawing up plans for a bombing campaign to “enforce” the UN resolution and Yugoslavia’s unilateral ceasefire.

Holbrooke persuaded the chair of the OSCE, Polish foreign minister Bronislaw Geremek, to appoint William Walker, the former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador during its civil war, to lead the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). The U.S. quickly hired 150 Dyncorp mercenaries to form the nucleus of Walker’s team, whose 1,380 members used GPS equipment to map Yugoslav military and civilian infrastructure for the planned NATO bombing campaign. Walker’s deputy, Gabriel Keller, France’s former Ambassador to Yugoslavia, accused Walker of sabotaging the KVM, and CIA sources later admitted that the KVM was a “CIA front” to coordinate with the KLA and spy on Yugoslavia.

The climactic incident of CIA-provoked violence that set the political stage for the NATO bombing and invasion was a firefight at a village called Racak, which the KLA had fortified as a base from which to ambush police patrols and dispatch death squads to kill local “collaborators.” In January 1999, Yugoslav police attacked the KLA base in Racak, leaving 43 men, a woman and a teenage boy dead.

After the firefight, Yugoslav police withdrew from the village, and the KLA reoccupied it and staged the scene to make the firefight look like a massacre of civilians. When William Walker and a KVM team visited Racak the next day, they accepted the KLA’s massacre story and broadcast it to the world, and it became a standard part of the narrative to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia and military occupation of Kosovo.

Autopsies by an international team of medical examiners found traces of gunpowder on the hands of nearly all the bodies, showing that they had fired weapons. They were nearly all killed by multiple gunshots as in a firefight, not by precise shots as in a summary execution, and only one victim was shot at close range. But the full autopsy results were only published much later, and the Finnish chief medical examiner accused Walker of pressuring her to alter them.

Two experienced French journalists and an AP camera crew at the scene challenged the KLA and Walker’s version of what happened in Racak. Christophe Chatelet’s article in Le Monde was headlined, “Were the dead in Racak really massacred in cold blood?” and veteran Yugoslavia correspondent Renaud Girard concluded his story in Le Figaro with another critical question, “Did the KLA seek to transform a military defeat into a political victory?”

NATO immediately threatened to bomb Yugoslavia, and France agreed to host high-level talks. But instead of inviting Kosovo’s mainstream nationalist leaders to the talks in Rambouillet, Secretary Albright flew in a delegation led by KLA commander Hashim Thaci, until then known to Yugoslav authorities only as a gangster and a terrorist.

Albright presented both sides with a draft agreement in two parts, civilian and military. The civilian part granted Kosovo unprecedented autonomy from Yugoslavia, and the Yugoslav delegation accepted that. But the military agreement would have forced Yugoslavia to accept a NATO military occupation, not just of Kosovo but with no geographical limits, in effect placing all of Yugoslavia under NATO occupation.

When Milosevich refused Albright’s terms for unconditional surrender, the U.S. and NATO claimed he had rejected peace, and war was the only answer, the “last resort“.  They did not return to the UN Security Council to try to legitimize their plan, knowing full well that Russia, China and other countries would reject it. When UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Albright the British government was “having trouble with our lawyers” over NATO’s plan for an illegal war of aggression against Yugoslavia, she told him to “get new lawyers“.

In March 1999, the KVM teams were withdrawn and the bombing began. Pascal Neuffer, a Swiss KVM observer reported, “The situation on the ground on the eve of the bombing did not justify a military intervention. We could certainly have continued our work. And the explanations given in the press, saying the mission was compromised by Serb threats, did not correspond to what I saw. Let’s say rather that we were evacuated because NATO had decided to bomb.”

NATO killed thousands of civilians in Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia, as  it bombed 19 hospitals, 20 health centers, 69 schools, 25,000 homes, power stations, a national TV station, the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and other diplomatic missions. After it invaded Kosovo, the U.S. military set up the 955-acre Camp Bondsteel, one of its largest bases in Europe, on its newest occupied territory. Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, Alvaro Gil-Robles, visited Camp Bondsteel in 2002 and called it “a smaller version of Guantanamo,” exposing it as a secret CIA black site for illegal, unaccountable detention and torture.

But for the people of Kosovo, the ordeal was not over when the bombing stopped. Far more people had fled the bombing than the so-called “ethnic cleansing” the CIA had provoked to set the stage for it. A reported 900,000 refugees, nearly half the population, returned to a shattered, occupied province, now ruled by gangsters and foreign overlords.

Serbs and other minorities became second-class citizens, clinging precariously to homes and communities where many of their families had lived for centuries. More than 200,000 Serbs, Roma and other minorities fled, as the NATO occupation and KLA rule replaced the CIA’s manufactured illusion of ethnic cleansing with the real thing. Camp Bondsteel was the province’s largest employer, and U.S. military contractors also sent Kosovars to work in occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2019, Kosovo’s per capita GDP was only $4,458, less than any country in Europe except Moldova and war-torn, post-coup Ukraine.

In 2007, a German military intelligence report described Kosovo as a “Mafia society” based on the “capture of the state” by criminals. The report named Hashim Thaci, then the leader of the Democratic Party, as an example of “the closest ties between leading political decision makers and the dominant criminal class.” In 2000, 80% of the heroin trade in Europe was controlled by Kosovar gangs, and the presence of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops fueled an explosion of prostitution and sex trafficking, also controlled by Kosovo’s new criminal ruling class.

In 2008, Thaci was elected Prime Minister, and Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. (The final dissolution of Yugoslavia in 2006 had left Serbia and Montenegro as separate countries.) The U.S. and 14 allies immediately recognized Kosovo’s independence, and ninety-seven countries, about half the countries in the world, have now done so. But neither Serbia nor the UN have recognized it, leaving Kosovo in long-term diplomatic limbo.

When the court in the Hague unveiled the charges against Thaci on June 24th, he was on his way to Washington for a White House meeting with Trump and President Vucic of Serbia to try to resolve Kosovo’s diplomatic impasse. But when the charges were announced, Thaci’s plane made a U-turn over the Atlantic, he returned to Kosovo and the meeting was canceled.

The accusation of murder and organ trafficking against Thaci was first made in 2008 by Carla Del Ponte, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTFY), in a book she wrote after stepping down from that position. Del Ponte later explained that the ICTFY was prevented from charging Thaci and his co-defendants by the non-cooperation of NATO and the UN Mission in Kosovo. In an interview for the 2014 documentary, The Weight of Chains 2, she explained, “NATO and the KLA, as allies in the war, couldn’t act against each other.”

Human Rights Watch and the BBC followed up on Del Ponte’s allegations, and found evidence that Thaci and his cronies murdered up to 400 mostly Sebian prisoners during the NATO bombing in 1999. Survivors described prison camps in Albania where prisoners were tortured and killed, a yellow house where people’s organs were removed and an unmarked mass grave nearby.

Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty interviewed witnesses, gathered evidence and published a report, which the Council of Europe endorsed in January 2011, but the Kosovo parliament did not approve the plan for a special court in the Hague until 2015. The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and independent prosecutor’s office finally began work in 2017. Now the judges have six months to review the prosecutor’s charges and decide whether the trial should proceed.

A central part of the Western narrative on Yugoslavia was the demonization of President Milosevich of Yugoslavia, who resisted his country’s Western-backed dismemberment throughout the 1990s. Western leaders smeared Milosevich as a “New Hitler” and the “Butcher of the Balkans,” but he was still arguing his innocence when he died in a cell at The Hague in 2006.

Ten years later, at the trial of the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, the judges accepted the prosecution’s evidence that Milosevich strongly opposed Karadzic’s plan to carve out a Serb Republic in Bosnia. They convicted Karadzic of being fully responsible for the resulting civil war, in effect posthumously exonerating Milosevich of responsibility for the actions of the Bosnian Serbs, the most serious of the charges against him.

But the U.S.’s endless campaign to paint all its enemies as “violent dictators” and “New Hitlers” rolls on like a demonization machine on autopilot, against Putin, Xi, Maduro, Khamenei, the late Fidel Castro and any foreign leader who stands up to the imperial dictates of the U.S. government. These smear campaigns serve as pretexts for brutal sanctions and catastrophic wars against our international neighbors, but also as political weapons to attack and diminish any U.S. politician who stands up for peace, diplomacy and disarmament.

As the web of lies spun by Clinton and Albright has unraveled, and the truth behind their lies has spilled out piece by bloody piece, the war on Yugoslavia has emerged as a case study in how U.S. leaders mislead us into war. In many ways, Kosovo established the template that U.S. leaders have used to plunge our country and the world into endless war ever since. What U.S. leaders took away from their “success” in Kosovo was that legality, humanity and truth are no match for CIA-manufactured chaos and lies, and they doubled down on that strategy to plunge the U.S. and the world into endless war.

As it did in Kosovo, the CIA is still running wild, fabricating pretexts for new wars and unlimited military spending, based on sourceless accusations, covert operations and flawed, politicized intelligence. We have allowed American politicians to pat themselves on the back for being tough on “dictators” and “thugs,” letting them settle for the cheap shot instead of tackling the much harder job of reining in the real instigators of war and chaos: the U.S. military and the CIA.

But if the people of Kosovo can hold the CIA-backed gangsters who murdered their people, sold their body parts and hijacked their country accountable for their crimes, is it too much to hope that Americans can do the same and hold our leaders accountable for their far more widespread and systematic war crimes?

Iran recently indicted Donald Trump for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, and asked Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant for him. Trump is probably not losing sleep over that, but the indictment of such a key U.S. ally as Thaci is a sign that the U.S. ”accountability-free zone” of impunity for war crimes is finally starting to shrink, at least in the protection it provides to U.S. allies. Should Netanyahu, Bin Salman and Tony Blair be starting to look over their shoulders?

Nicolas J.S.Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

The Empire Bombed Serbia to Seize Kosovo in 1999

Tales of the American Empire | July 2, 2020

The American Empire faced downsizing in the 1990s after the Warsaw Pact disbanded and Soviets troops withdrew home. American politicians demanded a reduction in military spending and the closure of most military bases in Europe. The solution was to start a war in Europe. Serbia (which was called Yugoslavia before 2006) openly resisted demands to open its economy to western banks and corporations and refused to join the European Union. As a result, Serbia was demonized and targeted for destruction. An ongoing rebellion by some Albanian immigrants in Serbia’s province of Kosovo was chosen as a NATO cause. The American CIA began shipping arms to the Islamic Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and transported hundreds of al Qaeda mercenaries to Kosovo to attack Serbs. This was politically awkward since the KLA was on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist groups. Serbian soldiers were dispatched to their southernmost province to repel these Islamic invaders. This increased the level of violence and Serbia was blamed.

____________________________

“Let Slobbo speak for himself”; (no evidence of serious Serb atrocities); John Laughland; The Spectator ; 2003; http://www.antiwar.com/spectator/spec…

“We Bombed the Wrong Side” in Kosovo; Major General Lewis MacKenzie; The National Post (Canada), Apr. 6, 2004; http://www.ece.ubc.ca/~leonardo/pub/m…

“Destruction of Yugoslavia was an operation planned by the CIA”; Klagemauer TV: Feb. 28, 2016; https://www.kla.tv/7811

“NATO’s Bombing of Yugoslavia Was Textbook State Terrorism”; Marko Marjanovic; Ant-Empire; March 24, 2019; https://www.anti-empire.com/natos-bom…

“Why Does Camp Bondsteel Still Exist”; Carlton Meyer; G2mil; 2011; https://www.g2mil.com/bondsteel.htm

“Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci, indicted on war crimes charges ahead of planned White House meeting”‘; Michael Birnbaum; Washington Post ; June 24, 2020; https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/…

“Kosovo Indictment Proves Bill Clinton’s Serbian War Atrocities”; Jim Bovard; Libertarian Institute; June 25, 2020; https://libertarianinstitute.org/arti…

July 3, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Too little, too late: Kosovo President Thaçi’s indictment for war crimes 20 years ago isn’t justice for Serbia, it’s a travesty

By John Laughland | RT | June 26, 2020

Of the many criticisms I’ve made over the years of international tribunals, the most painful is surely the human cost of the terrible slowness with which they operate.

I’ve often quoted the case of the commander-in-chief of the Rwandan gendarmerie during the genocide of 1994, Augustin Ndindiliyimana, who was arrested in 2000 but acquitted of all charges in 2014. That meant an innocent man spent 14 years of his life in prison – time that he’ll never get back.

Unfortunately, there are many examples of trials at international tribunals that drag on for so long that they violate the right to the ‘prompt’ appearance before a judge and to a trial ‘within a reasonable time’ outlined as basic rights in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966.

A sad illustration of this general truth came on June 24, when it was announced that an obscure international court had indicted the serving president of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, for murder and war crimes committed in 1998–1999, when he was commander-in-chief of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

As someone who strongly and vocally opposed the NATO attack on Yugoslavia in 1999, which was justified in the name of ‘human rights,’ and as one of the last Western journalists to have met and interviewed the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, in his cell in The Hague, before writing a book about his trial after he died in custody, it could be expected that I would welcome this announcement.

During and after the bombing of Yugoslavia, I drew attention to NATO’s war propaganda, which wildly exaggerated and misrepresented atrocities committed by Serb forces against Albanians in Kosovo. I also drew attention to atrocities committed by the KLA, which NATO propaganda never mentioned. In December 1999, for instance, I wrote that the KLA was “a brutal drugs-running terrorist force which is even now carrying out ethnic cleansing by attacking and killing Serbs, Gypsies, Jews, Muslims and ‘disloyal’ Albanians.”

Mine was a nearly lone voice crying in the wilderness. In June 1999, Kosovo was occupied by NATO forces, after Yugoslavia was bombed into submission, and the KLA commanders, whom the USA and other Western countries had armed to fight the Serbs, became the new political leaders of the province.

Thaci had been wooed by State Department officials such as James Rubin, the then spokesman, who, after June 1999, swaggered around Pristina with him, wearing the same gangster uniform of black leather jacket, T-shirt and sunglasses. He later wowed Washington – a famous picture shows the dashing and tall Thaci kissing the then Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. He was also photographed fraternizing with the British commander of NATO forces, General Sir Mike Jackson, the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, and the American supreme commander of NATO, Wesley Clark.

Less than ten years later, when, in 2008, again with Western support, Kosovo proclaimed its independence from Serbia – an independence recognized by all but five EU states and, of course, by the USA – Hashim Thaci became prime minister and then president. He has been in power since then.

It was not until 2011 that a report by the Council of Europe detailed some of the more gruesome allegations against Thaci and his gang. The worst was that Serbs had been murdered for their vital organs, which were harvested from the corpses to be sold.

This report led to the creation of a small special tribunal in The Hague, which has now issued the indictment against Thaci. Unfortunately, the indictment is not yet public, so we have to guess what crimes are in it, but the court’s press statement speaks of “nearly 100 murders.”

The immediate effect of this announcement has been that Hashim Thaci has withdrawn from a meeting at the White House, where he was due to discuss a land swap with the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vucic. The Trump administration had been very keen to broker a deal between the two countries, and this has now suffered a major setback. It is a textbook case of how, far from promoting peace, the obsessive search for ‘justice’ can often be an obstacle to it.

Personally, I believe Thaci is guilty, and that Serbia has been the victim of a terrible injustice. But a prosecution now, even if successful, will not undo the catastrophic physical, economic and political damage done by NATO’s crazed bombing of that small country back in 1999, any more than the acquittal of Ndindiliyimana gave him back the lost years of his life.

Indeed, to ‘rectify’ that injustice now, 20 years after the events, is not justice but instead – to quote the title of my book on the Milosevic trial – a travesty.  It would be like glossing over the original injustice and pretending it had been absolved. Serbia has lost 20 years, like an innocent man sent to prison.

Justice is the award to each person of his due. It requires the power of the state to be administered: criminals must be punished by force. International justice is the same: it can exist only if force is used to apply it.

But as Prince Metternich’s secretary at the 1814 Congress of Vienna, Friedrich von Gentz, wrote, “It is impossible to accept that a state can voluntarily submit to a sentence by a superior court. Just as within a state violence often has to be applied to execute law, so in conflicts between peoples it would be necessary to implement judicial decisions by punitive measures. But a punitive measure against a state is nothing other than war.”

So, just as NATO sought to punish Serbia by force, thereby, in fact, committing a gross injustice, so Thaci’s conviction could occur only if the court wielded police or military power in Kosovo. Thaci and his supporters will resist any attempt to arrest him, so the issue, like all such ultimate political questions, can only be settled by violence.

The violence might perhaps be justified if the cause is just. But violence is the opposite of peace. ‘International justice’ is a chimera that excites people’s passions, encourages them to commit violence or wage war, and that should be abandoned.

John Laughland, who has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oxford and who has taught at universities in Paris and Rome, is a historian and specialist in international affairs.

June 26, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

NATO 2030: How to Make a Bad Idea Worse

By Matthew Ehret | Strategic Culture Foundation | June 23, 2020

Just when you thought the leaders of NATO could not push the limits of insanity any further, something like NATO 2030 is announced.

After helping blow up the Middle East and North Africa, dividing the Balkans into zones of war and tension, turning Ukraine upside down using armadas of neo Nazis, and encircling Russia with a ballistic missile shield, the leaders of this Cold War relic have decided that the best way to deal with instability of the world is… more NATO.

In a June 8th online event co-sponsored by the Atlantic Council, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the launch of a planning project to reform NATO called NATO 2030. Stoltenberg told his audience that in order to deal with Russia and China’s strategic partnership which is transforming the global balance of power, “we must resist the temptation of national solutions and we must live up to our values: freedom, democracy and the rule of law. To do this, we must stay strong militarily, be more united politically and take a broader approach globally.”

In the mind of Stoltenberg, this means expanding NATO’s membership into the Pacific with a high priority on the absorption of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea into NATO’s dysfunctional family. It also means extending NATO’s jurisdiction beyond a military alliance to include a wider political and environmental dimension (the war on climate change is apparently just as serious as the war on terrorism and should thus be incorporated into NATO’s operating system).

Analyzing China’s intentions through the most Hobbesian dark age lens on the market, Stoltenberg stated “they are investing heavily in modern military capabilities, including missiles that can reach all NATO allied countries. They are coming closer to us in cyberspace. We see them in the Arctic, in Africa… and they are working more and more together with Russia.”

In spite of NATO’s Cold War thinking, Russia and China have continuously presented olive branches to the west over the years- offering to cooperate on such matters as counter-terrorism, space exploration, asteroid defense, and global infrastructure projects in the Arctic and broader Belt and Road Initiative. In all instances, these offers have been met with a nearly unanimous cold shoulder by the western military industrial complex ruling NATO and the Atlantic alliance.

The Engine of War Heats Up

As Stoltenberg spoke these words, the 49th Baltic Operations running from June 1-16th were underway as the largest NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea featuring “30 ships and submarines, and 30 aircraft, conducting air defence, anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction and mine countermeasure operations.” In response Moscow reinforced its armored forces facing Europe.

Meanwhile in China’s backyard, three aircraft carriers all arrived in the Pacific (the USS Theodore Roosevelt, USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz) with a senate Armed Services Committee approval of $6 billion in funds for the Pacific Defense Initiative which Defense News stated will “send a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is deeply committed to defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific”. The committee also approved a U.S. Airforce operating location in the Indo-Pacific for F-35A jets in order to “prioritize the protection of the air bases that might be under attack from current or emerging cruise missiles and advanced hypersonic missiles, specifically from China.”

Another inflammatory precursor for confrontation came from a House Republican Study Committee report co-authored by Secretary of State Pompeo calling for sanctioning China’s leadership, listing Russia as a state sponsor of terror and authorizing the use of military force against anyone on a Foreign Terrorist Organization list. When one holds in mind that large sections of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard happen to be on this list, it is not hard to see how quickly nations doing business with Iran can be considered “state sponsors of terror”, justifying a use of military force from America.

With this level of explicit antagonism and duplicity, it is no wonder that China’s foreign ministry announced on June 10th that it would not participate in joint three-way arms talks between the USA and Russia. If America demonstrated a coherent intention to shift its foreign policy doctrine towards a genuine pro-cooperation perspective, then it is undoubtably the case that China would enthusiastically embrace such proposals. But until then, China is obviously unwilling to lose any part of its already small nuclear deterrent of 300 warheads (compared to Russia and the USA, who each own 6000).

The Resistance to the Warhawks

I have said it many times before, but there is currently not one but two opposing American military doctrines at war with each other and no assessment of American foreign policy is complete without a sensitivity to that fact.

On the one hand, there is the sociopathic doctrine which I outlined summarily above, but on the other hand, there exists a genuine intention to stop the “forever wars”, pull out of the Middle East, disengage with NATO and realign with a multipolar system of sovereign nation states.

This more positive America expressed itself in Trump’s June 7th counter-attack on former Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis who had fueled the American Maidan now unfolding by stating his belief that solutions can happen without the President. Trump had fired Mattis earlier over the Cold Warrior’s commitment to endless military enmeshment in Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq. In this Oval Office interview, the President called out the Military industrial complex which Mattis represents saying “The military-industrial complex is unbelievably powerful… You have no idea. Some legit, and some non-legit.”

Another aspect of Trump’s resistance to the neo-cons running the Pentagon and CIA is reflected in the June 11 joint U.S.-Iraq statement after the Strategic Dialogues summit of American and Iraqi delegates which committed to a continued reduction of troops in Iraq stating:

“Over the coming months, the U.S. would continue reducing forces from Iraq and discuss with the government of Iraq the status of remaining forces as both countries turn their focus towards developing a bilateral security relationship based on strong mutual interests”.

This statement coincides with Trump’s May 2020 call to accelerate U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan which has seen a fall from 12000 troops in February to under 9,000 as of this writing.

Most enraging to the NATO-philes of London, Brussels and Washington was Trump’s surprising call to pull 9,500 American troops out of Germany hours before Stoltenberg gave his loony NATO 2030 speech with Johann Wadephul (Deputy head of the CDU) saying “these plans demonstrate once again that the Trump administration neglects a central element of leadership: the involvement of alliance partners in the decision-making process”. In his next breath, Wadephul made his anti-Eurasian delusion transparent saying “Europe gains from the Alliance being unified. Only Russia and China gain from strife.”

Just a few months earlier, the President showed his disdain for the NATO bureaucracy by unilaterally pulling 3,000 American military personnel out of the Trident Juncture exercise held annually every March.

In Defense of President Trump

In spite of all of his problems, Trump’s resistance to the dark age/neocon faction which has been running a virtually independent military-industrial-intelligence complex since FDR’s death in 1945 demonstrates a high degree of courage unseen in American presidents for many decades.

Most importantly, this flawed President represents a type of America which is genuinely compatible with the pro-nation state paradigm now being led by Russia and China.

Trump’s recent attempt to reform the G7 into a G11 (incorporating Russia, India, South Korea and Australia) is a nice step in that direction but his exclusion of China has made it an unworkable idea.

To solve this problem, American University in Moscow President Edward Lozansky stated in his recent Washington Times column that adding China to the list making it a G12 would be a saving grace to the idea and one of the best flanking maneuvers possible during this moment of crisis. Lozansky’s concept is so important that I wish to end with a larger citation from his article:

“Both Russia and China got the message a long time ago that they need to stay together to withstand the efforts to destroy them in sequence… The G-7 indeed is an obsolete group and it definitely needs a fresh blood. Therefore, a G-12 meeting in New York in late September during the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly would be a perfect place and timing since Mr. Trump had already announced that he is willing to hold a G-5 summit with the leaders of Russia, China, Britain and France — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — to discuss nuclear security issues. China so far is reluctant to join these talks, arguing that its smaller nuclear force is defensive and poses no threat. However, for the discussion in the G-12 format Mr. Putin might be able to convince his pal Xi to accept Mr. Trump’s invitation. This would be a huge achievement for the world’s peace and at the same time allow Mr. Trump to score lots of political points not only from his electoral base but from undecided and even from his opponents who want to save their families from nuclear holocaust.”

Unless world citizens who genuinely wish to avoid the danger of a nuclear holocaust learn how to embrace the idea of a G-12, and let the NATO/Cold War paradigm rot in the obsolete trash bin of history where it rightfully belongs, then I think it is safe to say that the future will not be something to look forward to.

For the next installment, we will take a look at the British Imperial origins of NATO and the American deep state in order to help shed greater light on the nature of the “two Americas” which I noted above, have been at war with each other since 1776.

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

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

Twitter cracks down on ‘state-linked information ops’… but gets help from questionable ‘research partner’

RT | June 12, 2020

Twitter has removed thousands of accounts it claims were tied to Chinese and Russian information campaigns involved in “manipulation” efforts – but its decision to team up with the Stanford Internet Observatory raises a red flag.

In a blog post on Friday, Twitter said it was disclosing 32,242 accounts to its archive of “state-linked information operations,” including three distinct operations from China, Russia and Turkey.

“Every account and piece of content associated with these operations has been permanently removed from the service,” it said, claiming that its goal was to get rid of “bad faith actors.”

The social media giant said it discovered a “core network” of 23,750 accounts relating to China, with 150,000 “amplifier” accounts boosting their content. All were engaging in “manipulative and coordinated activities,” it said.

It also shut down 1,152 accounts associated with Current Policy, which it described as a website “engaging in state-backed political propaganda within Russia.” Twitter said the network of accounts was posting in a “coordinated manner for political ends.”

One of Twitter’s leading “research partners” in this effort is named as the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), which describes itself as studying “the abuse of the internet” with a particular focus on social media.

Indeed, one of SIO’s researchers, Renee DiResta, should be well aware of how to spot online manipulation campaigns, given that she previously worked for cybersecurity firm New Knowledge – an outfit that was busted by the New York Times for reportedly running a disinformation campaign targeting American voters in 2017.

The article then stated that the firm “orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation” with an army of fake Russian bots, which was designed to make voters believe that Republican candidate Roy Moore was backed by Moscow when he was running for the US senate. This could easily be described as the kind of “abuse of the internet” SIO claims it is against.

The stunt even got the firm’s CEO Jonathan Morgan kicked off Facebook for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” – an event described by the Times as a “stinging embarrassment” for the researcher given his reputation as a “leading voice” against disinformation campaigns online.

Adding further irony to Twitter’s choice of research partner is the fact that SIO Director Alex Stamos “serves on the advisory board to NATO’s Collective Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.”

NATO is no stranger to social media manipulation either, with its Public Diplomacy Division having reportedly been a funder of a British ‘Integrity Initiative’ psy-op exposed in the past, which had been posing as a disinformation-busting charity.

Twitter said this week it was trialling a “read before you retweet” pop-up message in order to promote “informed discussion,” but it looks as though the platform itself is missing (or ignoring) some crucial information about its own research partners.

June 12, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

NATO declares Ukraine ‘enhanced opportunities partner’

RT | June 12, 2020

NATO declared Kiev one of the major contributors to the Alliance cause outside of the military bloc itself, adding Ukraine to the list of “Enhanced Opportunities Partners” – nations that were granted access to the NATO Partnership Interoperability Initiative (PII). Launched in 2014, the program is aimed at “deepening connections built up between NATO and its partner forces.”

Under the PII, nations that “made significant contributions to NATO-led operations and missions” get access to political consultation with NATO members, interoperability programmes and exercises and information sharing. Ukraine made it to the list since it “provided troops to Allied operations, including in Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as to the NATO Response Force and NATO exercises,” NATO said in a statement.

Kiev becomes the sixth partner on the list that so far includes Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden.

June 12, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

‘NATO roulette’: Norwegian port to host nuclear-powered US subs despite local objections

RT | May 28, 2020

A municipal port in Norway is set to receive nuclear-powered submarines from NATO after the only naval base in the area was sold and decommissioned – but local politicians and environmental activists aren’t on board with the plan.

When the Olavsvern base in Tromso was sold to private investors in 2009, pressure mounted from NATO to find an alternative point of arrival for reactor-driven vessels, other than Haakonsvern in Bergen, which is currently the only approved port in the country.

Now it appears a “temporary solution” to the problem has been found at Grotsund in Tromso, where the country’s Armed Forces have been told to prepare for the arrival of US submarines, Klassekampen reported.

Military spokesman Brynjar Stordal told the newspaper that the forces had been given “political instructions” to prepare for the reception and that they are working in collaboration with the municipality. “We don’t meddle with the politics,” Stordal told the newspaper.

Local politician and chairman of the board of Tromso Harbor company Jarle Heitmann said having the submarines dock there is “not a good solution” and that people would “rather not see the port used for this purpose.”

Tromso has been strong-armed into accepting the nuclear subs, believes Frode Pleym, leader of Greenpeace Norway.

“Allowing nuclear-powered submarines in Norwegian ports and waters is playing Russian roulette with people and nature. Or more appropriately in this case, NATO roulette,” he told the NRK channel.

“This is about the fact that the government and parliament do not dare to say no to the US,” he added. Pleym stressed that Tromso has appealed for Norway to sign onto the UN nuclear ban and is against hosting both nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered vessels.

Moscow was also less than enthused by the decision to allow NATO submarines to stop at Grotsund when the plan was first announced last year, with Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saying that the move was “contrary to the historical traditions of neighborly relations and cooperation in the Arctic” and accusing Oslo of continuing to “escalate tension and increase the risk of military action.”

Unfortunately for locals who are against the plan, the Tromso municipality is bound by the Port Act, which means it has a duty to receive all types of war vessels.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

NATO rejects Russia’s offer to MUTUALLY freeze military drills amid Covid-19 pandemic

RT | May 26, 2020

NATO has ignored Moscow’s proposal to jointly put military exercises on hold while the world is dealing with the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. Russia said it can’t afford “unilateral concessions” to the Western bloc.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had addressed NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, proposing to mutually halt military drills as a “constructive and positive step” towards restraint amid the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, Russian business newspaper Kommersant reported. NATO promptly rejected this idea.

The US-led military bloc’s spokesperson, Oana Lungescu, told the paper that NATO’s exercises are purely defensive and proportionate, while the enhanced posturing near Russia’s western borders is a response to Moscow ramping up its military potential in the Baltic Sea region.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Rybakov called NATO’s response “disappointing.” The Western bloc has “withdrawn to their close-minded positions, which they have been traditionally holding, and are adhering to regardless to the pandemic or Russia’s [new] proposals,” he noted.

The raging pandemic forced many countries to drastically alter their war games schedule, reducing the scope of many planned drills or cancelling them.

Last week, Lavrov announced that the nation’s military is “scaling down their exercises, and does not plan any exercises near the NATO’s borders.”

NATO, meanwhile, has significantly scaled down – but not stopped – its US-led Defender-Europe 20 war games, which were designed to be the alliance’s biggest joint exercise on the European continent since World War II, originally involving more than 37,000 troops.

Moscow has long been saying that the foreign military buildup along its borders is a threat to its security and undermines stability in Europe. NATO, in turn, has been calling on Moscow to revise the Vienna Document 2011 – an agreement that outlines the confidence-building measures, transparency, and third-party monitoring of military drills. Russia insists that minor changes will not resolve the current tensions but rather “legitimize” them.

Ryabkov stressed that if the Western bloc wants to improve the security situation in Europe, it should not only issue demands but also offer something “interesting to Russia in terms of maintaining its own national security.”

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

‘Don’t complain, toe the line’: US envoy snaps at Germany for criticizing Open Skies Treaty pullout

RT | May 24, 2020

Berlin should pile pressure on Moscow instead of criticizing America’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, a US envoy told the German foreign minister, as the two NATO allies clashed over Washington’s move to ditch the accord.

The US announced its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty (OST) earlier this week, unnerving its NATO allies in Europe.

Among those calling for the preservation of the 2002 multilateral deal, which allows for surveillance flights over the territories of its signatories, was German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Germany’s top diplomat sounded the alarm that the looming US withdrawal would “significantly reduce” the scope of the treaty, adding that Berlin would “work intensively” with “like-minded partners” to talk the US out of leaving the treaty in the following six months.

The rhetoric from the European powerhouse did not sit well with the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, who has courted controversy in the past over his repeated attempts to lecture Berlin on a range of domestic issues, from its military spending to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

“Instead of complaining about the US reaction, Heiko Maas should have ramped up pressure on Russia in recent years so that it meets its obligations [under the Open Skies Treaty],” Grenell said in an interview with Rheinische Post on Saturday.

The ambassador reiterated Washington’s mantra that “Russia has not adhered to the Open Skies agreement for a long time,” lamenting that Germany still plans to abide by the OST despite the US concerns.

Germany is not the only country to have voiced its objections to the US move. In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of 10 EU countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands, called the pact “a crucial element of the confidence-building framework.”

Maas’ call was echoed by Brussels, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell pointing out that the treaty, which has allowed for more than 1,500 observation flights over various countries since 2002, “provides transparency and predictability.”

“Withdrawing from a treaty is not the solution to address difficulties in its implementation and compliance by another party,” Borrell said in a statement.

Russia has repeatedly denied the US accusations of not fulfilling its obligations under the OST, insisting that it has restricted flights over its territory only as a tit-for-tat response to similar moves by the US and its allies.

Despite being dissatisfied with the United States’ own compliance, Moscow expressed readiness to negotiate with Washington and to “do everything possible to keep the treaty intact.”

May 24, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment