The CSTO members build a defensive system – from information and politic to logistics and equipment

The CSTO members build a defensive system – from information and politic to logistics and equipment

http://redstar.ru/eshelony-kollektivnoj-oborony/

Alexander ALEXANDROV for the Red star newspaper

Translation by Scott Humor

 

The upcoming joint operational-strategic exercises of the Joined forces of the Collective Security Treaty organization called “Combat brotherhood – 2019” are intended to demonstrate the unity of the states parties in matters of collective security. During the maneuvers that will unfold on territories of four member states, political and diplomatic tools, combat potential, as well as mechanisms of information and other non-military impact for prevention and settlement of military conflicts in the zone of responsibility of the organization will be tested.

This, in particular, was discussed at a press conference held in Moscow by acting Secretary General of the organization Valery Semerikov via the satellite connection with locations in Minsk, Yerevan, Nur Sultan and Bishkek. However, the administrative head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization began the conference discussing threats of predominantly collective nature.

According to the CSTO Secretary General, the situation in Afghanistan, primarily on the Tajik – Afghan border, and its impact on the region of Central Asia is the focus of attention of the organization’s member states. “Tensions remain in the Caucus region due to an unresolved Karabakh conflict, tensions are also rising due to NATO’s military development on the territory of Georgia,” Valery Semerikov continued.

He also expressed collective concerns about NATO’s regular exercises in Eastern Europe, at the borders with Belarus and Russia. The Alliance’s obvious unwillingness to work with the colleagues from the CSTO, and instead – NATO insistence to cooperate with each of the member states separately, only confirms the conclusions of the Russia’s Security Council about a possible preparation by NATO to stage so-called color revolutions. This was confirmed by attempts of cyber attacks on the national infrastructure of the organization.

To respond to these threats, as the acting Secretary General made it clear, is a responsibility of the Crisis Response Center, whose tasks include information and analytical support of competent structures to combat the “hidden threats” “The CSTO crisis response center is engaged in monitoring military and political situation in the zones of responsibility of the states, identifying the prerequisites for crisis situations and analyzing the appropriate response,” Valery Semerikov explained.

The focus of the organization’s member states is on the situation in Afghanistan, primarily on the Tajik-Afghan border, and its impact on the Central Asian region.

The center was involved in a recent business game, in which a set of political and diplomatic response measures of the organization’s members were worked out in response to the crisis situation in some fictional state. In development, it gave a start to preparation for the operational and strategic exercises of the CSTO Joined forces named the “Combat brotherhood – 2019”.

“In 2019, we will hold six exercises on the territory of four countries: Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, – Valery Semerikov said, answering journalists’ questions. – The total number of forces involved, according to our calculations, will be about 12 thousand”.

During these operational and strategic exercises of the CSTO Joined forces “Combat brotherhood – 2019,” as reported, an entire complex of measures of prevention or deterrent, as well as resolution of military conflict with the subsequent restoration of peace will be worked out in a logical sequence. National contingents of troops will work out different tasks as parts of separate episodes of one untied work-frame of a single military-political situation with a single strategic plan.

For example, the training of anti-drug units of the CSTO “Thunder-2019” in August will take place in Kyrgyzstan. The actions of the intelligence units within the framework of the “Search-2019” will continue with “Interaction-2019” drill of the Joined Rapid Response forces. It is also envisaged that maneuvers of the “Unbreakable Brotherhood” of peacekeeping forces will be held in conjunction with the exercise “Rubezh-2019” of the border guards on the territory of Tajikistan.

All actions of the coalition groups in the East European and Central Asian regions of collective security will be accompanied by deployment of troops within the framework of the exercise of the collective aviation forces “Air Bridge – 2019” and for the first time with a single material and technical support in a course of joint actions of the MTO logistics troops units “Echelon-2019”.

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Expensive and Humiliating. Poland Bought Gas in the USA (Ruslan Ostashko)

June 30, 2019

TRANSCRIPT:

An extra billion cubic meters of absolutely unnecessary, and highly costing gas, the president of the US has managed to sell it to Polish nationalists. The full beauty of this “Ukrainian victory” can be understood only if you remember the history of the issue.

Andrzej Duda’s visit to Washington was marked not only by loud statements that (showed the depth of the historical illiteracy of the Polish President. http://thesaker.is/the-poles-are-braver-than-the-russians-the-president-of-poland/)

Another highlight of the visit was another deal imposed on Duda in the energy sector.

“Our countries have signed an additional contract for the supply of two billion cubic meters of gas,” the head of the White House said on June 12, noting that the total amount of the contract is about eight billion dollars. The website of the Polish gas operator PGNiG clarifies that the volume of LNG supplied to the country from the US terminal Plaquemines will be increasing starting with 2023 from 1.35 to 3.38 billion cubic meters (after regasification).”

https://ria.ru/20190617/1555578771.html

It has been almost 2 years since one of the best Russian analysts, my friend and colleague Ivan Danilov wrote a material titled “Trump is a vacuum cleaners salesman.” Let me remind you what Ivan wrote in July 2017.

“It would seem that selling liquefied American gas to Poland, which is much more expensive than gas supplied by Gazprom, is a difficult task. More precisely, it is possible to force politicians to make such a decision, but how to make even ordinary voters understand the overpayment, which, according to various estimates, will be from 50% to 150% compared to the price of Russian gas? The American President took one of the most effective trumps from the deck of marked cards of experienced merchants, offering the Poles a bonus in the form of “independence from Russian supplies.” In fact, the American leader said that not just gas is supplied to Poland, but the right American gas “with a taste of independence from Russia”, and, of course, it is implied that such gas should be very expensive, and its consumption is a sign of national success, prestige and belonging to an elite Western club.”

https://ria.ru/20170707/1498046623.html

The devil hides in two things. First, taking into account the LNG purchases in the US and the connection to the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline, Warsaw, starting from 2022, intends to purchase more than 14 and a half billion cubic meters of gas per year. Obviously, it doesn’t need that much. And, secondly, this American gas purchased by the Poles “with a taste of independence from Russia” can not be cheaper than 6-7 dollars per million British thermal units, BTU.

(BTU is an Anglo-Saxon unit of energy, just over a kilojoule. https://www.convertworld.com/ru/energiya/britanskiye-termicheskiye-yedinitsy.html)

So, Russian gas is already at the level of $5 per million of British thermal units. That is, the Poles intend to pay more to the extent of $1 to $2 per million BTU. While the Americans themselves are trying to buy cheaper energy.

The question comes: are people ruling in Warsaw so stupid that they do not understand that they have signed up to buy very expensive gas in quantities that their own country doesn’t need at all?

Turns out Poland plans to resell expensive American gas to other Eastern Europeans. They plan to act as an intermediary and not only to pay for their purchases of expensive energy with other people’s money, but also to get a profit.

“Previously, it was called the concept of ‘three Seas’ or ‘inter-Seas’, and a few years ago put forward the ‘Initiative of the three seas’ (Baltic — Adriatic — Black Sea, BABS). The impetus was the coming to power in the US Donald Trump, who promised ‘to save’ Europe from Russian gas with the help of American LNG. Donald Trump said that this project will provide BABS participants with ‘prosperity and security.’ And then he offered the Europeans to build terminals for American LNG — in the Lithuanian Klaipeda, Polish Swinoujscie and on the Croatian island of Krk in the Adriatic sea. It was assumed that from these terminals the network of gas pipelines would extend to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia and Lithuania, forming a barrier to gas from Russia to the Western Europe.”

https://ria.ru/20190617/1555578771.html

That is, three members of the EU – Poland, Lithuania and Croatia – imagined themselves the most intelligent, deciding to lick Uncle Sam’s shoes, and at the same time to cash in at the expense of their neighbors. For anyone with a head on their shoulders, the outcome was predictable from the start. But, as shown by the behavior of American satellites, they could not wait to take place of the “heroes” of a known saying: “a Ukrainian is stupider than a crow, but more cunning than the devil.”

As a result, the stupid crows all took a part in the operation BABS – Lithuania got into debt by renting a LNG terminal in Klaipeda, which it will never pay off. Poland is rowing expensive and unnecessary American gas, despite the fact that it does not even have money for, say, the modernization of its entirely coal-fired power plants for another type of fuel. And Croats decided to be the coolest of them all.

“In January 2019, Croatian Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić, announced that a construction of a re-gasification complex on the island of Krk ‘will be carried out regardless of the lack of interest from natural gas buyers.’ In early February, the final investment decision was made on the project.”

https://ria.ru/20190617/1555578771.html

That is, the example of Lithuanians taught them nothing. They are so stupid that they will build a LNG terminal at a loss.

Why didn’t the BABS project take off? Because Russia has built the Turkish stream. And why Putin was able to agree with Erdogan on the construction of this gas pipeline to supply energy to the Southern and South-Eastern Europe? Because the American “geniuses of geopolitics” tried to overthrow and kill Erdogan by organizing a coup, and Moscow saved him.

Now Russian Prime Minister Medvedev offers Slovaks the natural gas bypassing “Tse-Europe” (Russian social media nickname for Ukraine from the Ukrainian nationalists’ saying ‘Ukraine is the Europe’ which is not true neither geographically, nor historically, demographically or culturally. – S.H.). As for Poland and Croatia, none of the sane buyers thinks about buying natural gas from the US.

Once again, the post-Soviet nationalists will pay in full for the “decommunization” they started and rise in Russophobia. As they are already paying in other energy issues.

I send my warm regards to all who hoped for the collapse of Gazprom, the rupture into shreds of Russian economy and the realization of other collective wet dreams of post-Soviet westophiles.

A thrifty pays twice the price, an idiot – three times, and a Russophobe always overpays.

The Other Ukraine

Source

by arras for The Saker blogThe Other Ukraine

Ukraine is a country in the Eastern Europe, which doesn’t require introduction to most readers as it was and still is filling pages of the newspapers and screens of a TVs. Courtesy of ongoing geopolitical conflict between the United States and the Russian Federation there. Some say, this is a conflict between East and West and thus suggesting that it is not just a place of competition between the world great powers, but between cultures and civilizations.

This conflict isn’t new to Ukraine. Ukraine is one of those places, where history never falls asleep it merely takes short naps. After the last nap, which we call the Cold War, history is back in Ukraine, writing new pages full of dramatic lines.

However, Ukraine has a sister. It was on the front pages of the newspapers as well not long time ago and it is also rich with dramatic history. The fate and history of both, including the most recent history, bears remarkable similarity and many parallels. Parallels that I intend to show you.

The name of the “other” Ukraine is Krajina and a reader might remember it as a place in the Balkans, which was one of the frontlines of the civil war in Yugoslavia. Krajina is a part of Croatia, but historically it was inhabited by the Serbs. The name of Ukraine in the native Slavic languages is “Ukrajina” and thus the difference in the name is just a prefix “U”. That’s not by a coincidence. Ukrajina and Krajina are the virtually same word, just pronounced slightly different in different Slavic languages. In English, it means “edge”, “margin”, “frontier” or “borderland” and that’s exactly what Ukraine and Krajina were. They were one of those places where realms, cultures, civilizations and empires converged and clashed. Seems they still are, and because of that, Ukraine and Krajina were not just ordinary frontiers, they were military frontiers. Romans used to call such places as “limes” and in the Western Medieval Europe, they were called as “march” or “mark” – ruled by “marquis” and of the same etymological origin as the word “margin”.

Ukraine was a borderland between Russia, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Crimean Khanate which itself was a remnant of the mighty Mongol Empire and at that time, it was a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. Today Poland and Lithuania might seem like small countries compared to Russia while Crimean Khanate doesn’t even exist, but back in medieval and early modern era these were powerful realms vying for control over the whole region of the Eastern Europe. Krajina together with the similar region called Vojvodina on the other hand was a borderland between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. These places, were such powerful states, even religions and civilizations met weren’t the most peaceful ones and not very well suited for long prosperous life. They were in the state of almost perpetual conflict and war, because even if realms were in formal peace, irregular forces and local chieftains and feudal lords carried raids across the border seeking plunder or revenge, often with the silent consent of their sovereigns. Today we call it a hybrid war and plausible deniability. For that reason, such military frontiers had special status and were organized according to the military rather than civilian principles. Their purpose was to serve as a buffer zone, which was supposed to shield deeper inland territories from enemy attacks and raids and as a staging place for own attacks and raids against the enemy. Traditionally military settlers who had special status populated such territories. These settlers were typically freemen, as opposed to serfs in more secure territories and were exempt of taxes. Instead, they were obliged to carry military service on the border. Being half soldiers, half farmers, these men weren’t the best trained, equipped and disciplined comparing to the regular troops, but they were always available on the spot and required little or no pay as they supported themselves from their land which they supplemented with plunder from lands of the enemy.

These military settlers were often recruited from refugees. In the case of Ukraine, these were the peasants fleeing wars between Russia and Mongol Golden Horde in the east on the one hand and on the other advancing feudalization of Russia itself, which saw farmers being forced in to serfdom in the increasing numbers. Refugees were fleeing to the areas away from the main conflict and out of the reach of the central authorities. Here they begun to organize in to small communities and as soon as the situation in the central parts of Russia was consolidated and Russia has emerged victorious from the wars with Golden Horde and its successor khanates, these communities came in to attention of the Russian authorities who begun to utilize them as military settlers, giving them lands and tax exemption in return for the military service. Thus famous Cossacks were born. The word Kazak, which is Russian for Cossack, is of Turkic, not Slavic origin, and it is assumed to be originally describing nomadic mercenaries hired by the Russian princes to fight in their wars. Later it was used to describe men for hire, both in civilian and military roles and that is likely how it was originally applied to the people we now know as Cossacks.

It should be noted however that modern Ukraine is not identical to historical Ukraine. Historical Ukraine was much smaller compared to modern Ukraine and it never was official name of some administrative region with definitive borders. Not until the creation of the modern Ukraine at the end of the First World War. This term was vaguely applied to the lands that were bordering Russia, Poland-Lithuania and Crimean Khanate, border that kept changing with the fortunes in wars. Moreover, Russia did not had just one Ukraine, there were several ukraines and “little” ukraines (ukrajinka) all along Russia’s sensitive borders. There were ukraines in the west, on the territory of contemporary Belarus, there were ukraines in the south near Caucasus Mountains and there were ukrainas in the Eastern Siberia. Only in the north where Russia shared a border with polar bears, Russia did not have ukraine. However, as Russia kept growing in power, securing its borders or expanding them further, most of the other historical ukraines disappeared and the one that was left longest became The Ukraine. Consequently, Cossacks did not exist only in Ukraine, there were and in some cases still are other Cossacks. Cossacks on the rivers Volga and Don, Siberian Cossacks and Terek Cossacks in the Caucasus to name the most notable ones. Russians were not the only ones who recognized usefulness of Cossacks either, Poles and Tatars were actively using them as well. Cossacks themselves were keen on exploiting conflicts between those powers to extract political and economic advantages for themselves.

Delineatio Generalis Camporum Desertorum vulgo Ukraina cum adjacentibus Provinciis-General Draving of the Deserted Fields, vulgarly known as Ukraine together with its neighbouring Provinces by French cartographer Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan (1600-1673), note that North is down and South is up): source: Wikipedia

Military settlers in Krajina on the other hand were recruited mostly from Serbs, Vlachs (Romanians) and Croats fleeing Ottoman Turks who conquered Constantinople, capital of the East Roman Empire (also known as Byzantium) and defeated the kingdom of Serbia and the fragments of Bulgarian empire in the Balkans and were aggressively pushing north towards the Central Europe engaging with Hungarians and Austrians. That’s how Krajina got its Serbian population. Just like in Russia, historical Krajina does not necessarily copy the borders of what is considered Krajina in Croatia today. And just like in Russia, there are other krajinas elsewhere in Balkans. Bosanska Krajina near Banja Luka, Timocka Krajina between Serbia and Bulgaria, to name a few. In 1881, with the danger of Ottoman incursions all but disappearing, Austrian Emperors dissolved Krajina as an administrative region and incorporated it in to the kingdom of Croatia.

Map of the Krajina (in red) cca 1800:source: Wikipedia

While Cossacks are widely known as famous horsemen, a few people know that Krajina, and neighboring regions of Balkans are where the other most famous light cavalry of Europe comes from. Not less famous Hussars. Hussars were originally irregular cavalry from Balkans. Hungarian kings and Austrian emperors who employed them in their armies introduced them to the Western Europe, where they were quickly copied and adopted by the other armies for their effectiveness. With the advent of firearms, European knights in their shining expensive armors, riding heavy warhorses were gradually withdrawn from the battlefields as European armies begun to appreciate less heavily armed cavalry in their place, which substituted speed and agility for direct protection and ambushes and flanking for charges in to the enemy front lines. And that’s where experience of combating Turks and Tatars of Asia who always preferred lighter cavalry came in handy. Through centuries of constant fighting, Cossacks and Hussars adapted themselves to the fighting methods of their opponents and adopted many elements of their equipment and tactics. Not everybody though served in the cavalry and contrary to popular belief, most Cossacks served as infantrymen. Horse, especially saddle horse back in those days was something that only the wealthiest Cossacks could afford.

Hungarian hussar in the 16th century. Woodcut by Jost Amman:source: Wikipedia

When Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires collapsed in the flames of the Balkan Wars and the First World War, which had aroused from the conflict over the Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia joined Yugoslavia, a new state that supposed to unite all the Slavic people of the Balkans. Krajina ceased to be a province on the edge and it seemed that history there would slow down. Nevertheless, history just took a nap. On April 1941, German army invaded Yugoslavia under Adolf Hitler’s orders and Yugoslavia quickly fell apart. In Croatia, with the support of the Germans, puppet state with the pro-German fascist political party of Ustashe in power was established. Ethnic cleansing campaign and persecution of Serbs and other minorities followed, and lasted until the defeat of Nazi Germany in the WWII. The exact number of Serbs who perished in those repressions is unknown, estimates vary between 300,000 and 500,000. About 50,000 alone died in one of the concentration camps in Jasenovac.

With the National Socialist Germany and their allies defeated, Yugoslavia was reinstated under the leadership of the Communist party and a war hero Josip Bros Tito. Whereas survived Nazi collaborators found a shelter under the wings of the US and British secret services in the West Germany, Canada, USA and Australia. Unlike Nazi scientists, they did not possess any great knowledge or technical skills, but experience of political repression and anti-guerrilla warfare were of the value for the CIA in the upcoming Cold War. The end justifies the means. Interestingly enough, Ustashe from Balkans found themselves thriving at the same centers and under generous tutelage of the same secret services of the same governments as Nazi collaborators from Ukraine – the infamous UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) and its political leaders like Stephan Bandera. In some instances, political and cultural institutions of the Ustashe and UPA were located on the same streets, sometimes even inside the same buildings of Western cities like Munich. Just like Ustashe, the WWII records of UPA are full of the ethnic cleansings, mass murders and war crimes against civilian population that did not fit UPA’s racial and ethnic standards. Now they were to be sustained like bacteria of a biological weapon on a Petri dish in CIA laboratories, waiting for their time.

Ironically, their time did not come during the Cold War, even when there were some failed attempts to utilize them. Their time came with the end of the Cold War and fall of the Communist rule in the Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The easiest way to destroy multinational country is to start ethnic conflicts between the peoples of a country itself and let them destroy it themselves. Under Tito, who himself was from mixed Croat-Slovenian family, stability was maintained between the various ethnic groups dwelling in Yugoslavia, but that balance was fragile and rested to a large extend on the authority of Tito himself. With his death, the institutions of the state and the way Yugoslavia was constructed came for a test.

Yugoslavia was constructed as a federation in such a way, as to prevent any one of the constituent nations from dominating the state. Serbs were always the most numerous and therefore strongest nationality in Yugoslavia and other nationalities, particularly Croats and Slovenians feared that Serbs would dominate the state. Not without a good reason either as interwar Yugoslavia indeed ended up being dominated by the Serbs and their elite. To prevent that, in post war Yugoslavia, Serbia was divided in to four parts: republics of Serbia and Montenegro and autonomous regions of Kosovo and Vojvodina. Later three had significant non-Serbian ethnic minorities. That accomplished the goal of creating a balance between the powers of national republics inside Yugoslavia, but it inevitably created feeling of injustice among the Serbs. It was only Serbia which was divided and weakened in such a way, neither Croatia, nor Bosnia or Macedonia were divided even if they too had regions with ethnic minorities present. Serbs in Krajina were an example and Bosnia was heterogeneous to such extent, that it was sometimes nicknamed as Little Yugoslavia.

After period of unsuccessful Communist experimenting with creating single Yugoslav supranational identity, which would replace individual nationalities, Tito and his Communists went the other way and in the new constitution of 1974 tried to placate nationalist sentiments by bestowing more power on to the republics and strengthening autonomy of the regions. In Voivodina, Montenegro and Kosovo that led to an increasing cultural, economic and political pressure against Serbs who became convinced that system inside Yugoslavia works at their expense and they are loosing. In Kosovo where Albanian population was steadily increasing due to immigration from Albania and higher birth rates, issue was especially sensitive because Serbs consider Kosovo to be historical cradle of their civilization.

But any attempts to change the situation by the Serbs, inevitably led to the reaction in the other republics creating endless spiral of increasing suspicion and tensions between the republics. With the economy and central institutions weakened by the gradual decline in the power of the Communists and change of the political and economic situation in the whole of Eastern Europe, it required only a gentle push from the outside to spark ethnic conflict. That’s were Ustashe and other similar groups been held in the reserve during the Cold War in the West were finally put to a good use. Under disguise of democracy and freedom of speech, they were re-imported back in to their countries of origin along with the literature and propaganda created around their ideologies in the Cold War exile thanks to the generous US and German sponsorship. Money from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries played similar role in the Muslim communities of Yugoslavia.

Eventually it brought yields. Spinning in spasms, in 1990 Yugoslavia has arrived at the cliff when constitutional crisis completely paralyzed federal institutions, including Communist party itself. Republics were fighting each other. The only significant federal institution left willing to defend Yugoslavia was its army. However, army required an order from politicians to start acting, and there was no one to issue it. Yugoslavia was going to dissolve. The only question was how and when.

Anybody remotely familiar with Yugoslavia, knew, that if it would be done in unilateral uncontrolled manner, it would lead to a war. Only in Slovenia, the administrative borders were identical to the ethnic borders. The rest of Yugoslavia had ethnic minorities living all over the place. This was also well known in Washington and Berlin. Despite, or may be because of it, Washington and Berlin chose exactly this option even against the warnings from other European capitals. Berlin was the first to recognize independent Slovenian and Croatian states and hence British diplomats unofficially named the war that begun immediately in Croatia as “Gensher’s war“, after German foreign minister at that time Hans-Dietrich Gensher.

Single picture that explains civil war in Yugoslavia:source: Wikipedia

When Croatian government declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Serbs of Krajina in response declared their own independence from Croatia. All peoples have equal rights for independence. Right? Wrong. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” to paraphrase George Orwell and his famous book. Everybody likes to be independent himself, but not when others want to be independence at his expense. Croats are no different and independence of Republic of Serbian Krajina, which is how Serbs named their new country, was met with more than a strong disapproval in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. A conflict flared almost immediately and it set off bloody civil war that engulfed other parts of Yugoslavia, eventually ending its existence.

When declaring independence, the most important thing isn’t who has the right for independence and who does not, the most important thing is who supports it. And here Serbs of Krajina were placed at a disadvantage because they were supported only by small Serbia, which itself was having plenty of problems inside, while Croats were supported by several world’s most powerful countries – USA, Germany and the entire NATO alliance. Serbs held for several years, but at the end fight was just too uneven. It ended when Croatian forces supported by the USA and Germany overrun Serbian lines manned mostly by local militiamen on August 1995 and proceeded to ethnically cleanse Krajina of its Serbian inhabitants for good. Up to 1500 of them lost their lives, 2/3 of that number were civilians and up to 200,000 had to flee to Serbia and Bosnia. It was one of the two places in former Yugoslavia, where an entire historical region was ethnically cleansed of its population during the civil war. The other region being ethnically cleansed of Serbs was Kosovo, also with the support of the USA and it’s allies. The irony that is still carefully hidden from the public by the politicians and journalists in Washington, London and Berlin who worked tirelessly to convince people in their countries that those are Serbs who perpetrate crime of ethnic cleansing and had to be stopped by noble and smart bombs, enriched with uranium. Everyone else were portrayed as victims. It was a deliberate lie. Even supposed plan of ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo by the Serbs, named “Operation Horseshoe” which served as a pretext for bombing of Serbia itself by the NATO forces, was after the war exposed as entirely fabricated by the German secret service BND with the help of Bulgarian government. To be sure, there were plenty of cases of local ethnic cleansing, perpetrated by all sides of the civil war, Serbian one including, but not on the scale of the entire historical regions like Krajina or Kosovo. Nevertheless, ethnic cleansing wasn’t the real reason for the intervention, the real reason was that USA, Germany and EU wanted Yugoslavia to be gone and Serbs in Krajina and Kosovo stood in their way. Yugoslavia was too large to be incorporated in to the EU and NATO, one has to join the EU and NATO as weak as possible and under the conditions favoring those who are in charge of the EU and NATO. Conditions that demand political, economic and cultural subordination and transfer of the control over national resources and markets to the global corporations. Corporations of the global Empire. Therefore, Serbs of Krajina and Kosovo had to go. All of them. Yugoslavia had to be broken in to small pieces and pieces then digested by the Empire one by one until the whole Balkans had “proper” democracy, endorsed “proper” values and values were “protected” by the US military base or two. Divide et impera, Romans used to say.

The conflict in Ukraine is driven by exactly the same motives and reasons and using the same old methods and the same propaganda tricks. Timed bombs in the form of the arbitrary changes of the administrative borders made by the ruling Communist elite blew up during break up of the USSR too, as well as their policies of creating new Soviet people. Former Nazi collaborationist were also used to instigate ethnic hatred. Place Soviet Union instead of the Yugoslavia, Russians instead of Serbs, Ukraine instead of Croatia, Donbas and Crimea instead of Krajina and Kosovo and the story is almost identical. Ukraine and Krajina share similar history once again. Almost. With the exception that the Soviet Union was much larger than Yugoslavia, Russia is much larger than Serbia, and Russia has powerful allies in the world of its own. A victim turned out to be too big and vital and the Empire appears to suffer major digestive problems as a result. Will Ukraine end up sharing the fate of its sister after all?

Or will Ukraine turn out to be one mouthful too many? One thing is certain, history did not stop. History has no end. Prophets of the Empire has been proven wrong.

arras‘s mini-bio: HIC SVNT LEONES

Balkan Report: The Macedonian Powder Keg Set To Go Off

Source

by Stephen Karganovic for The Saker Blog

The way things are shaping up down south (viewed from Belgrade) the tiny, helpless, beleaguered new Balkan state of Macedonia could be the trigger for a wider regional conflict. It is well to remember the adage of veteran politician Franklin Delano Roosevelt, especially in the present context: If it turned out a certain way, it is probably because that is the way it was planned.

If the stage is indeed being set for a new Balkan conflagration, many signs suggest that Macedonia has been assigned a key role in the process leading up to it. Slightly under two years ago, Guaido’s Balkan precursor, Zoran Zaev, was promoted by non-Macedonian interests to unconstitutionally replace the less compliant but democratically elected long-time stooge Nikola Gruevski as prime minister. Procedural niceties were brutally cast aside when Macedonia’s Western masters concluded that Gruevski was getting too many independent policy ideas and that letting him remain in office was therefore risky. In a ruthless, Kiev 2014-style coup, coordinated from the embassies of all the usual suspects, Gruevski was unceremoniously ousted. (By a remarkable coincidence, ambassador Jeffrey Pyatt, of Kiev fame, is now accredited to the neighboring Greek government and undoubtedly supervises these affairs from his Athens command post.) Usurper Zaev was promptly installed, though lacking the required parliamentary majority and in disregard of president Djordje Ivanov’s strong initial refusal to officially appoint him. But that did not matter in Armenia, why should it now in Macedonia?

The masters’ game plan was soon revealed. One objective was to make sure that the Russian pipeline’s passage through strategically located Macedonia would be permanently blocked with the cooperation of a reliable lackey. The other items on the agenda consisted of (1) rearranging the internal political balance of power to overtly favor the aggressive and Western-supported Albanian minority, laying the foundations for Macedonia’s violent Yugoslav-style, ethnically driven breakup at some point, and (2) getting Macedonia into NATO and shoring up NATO’s southern front by “settling” the name dispute with Greece, also to be accomplished to Macedonia’s disadvantage.

Zaev’s first order of business was to implement the so-called “Tirana platform,” an agreement he reached with Macedonia’s Albanian minority while still a private citizen. (He is obviously lucky that Macedonia does not have anything like the Logan Act.) Significantly, the agreement involving the de facto federalization of the tiny country and the granting of extensive privileges to a foreign-backed minority within it, was negotiated by Zaev in the Albanian capital of Tirana. No one seems to be quite sure how many ethnic Albanians there exactly are in Macedonia, any more than it is known for certain how many of them reside in neighboring Kosovo. They are alleged to constitute a respectable 25 to 30 % of Macedonia’s population. But questioning that allegation or subjecting it to empirical verification is actively discouraged. As a result, the western, most densely Albanian- populated portion of Macedonia contiguous with Albania itself has now been turned into a state-within-a-state where native Macedonians enjoy a status similar to that of Indians in the US. The Albanian language has been made official alongside Macedonian and one may assume that smart and farsighted people in Skopje, who get their cues from the embassies that are running the country, are now busy taking Albanian lessons.

Zaev’s second major “achievement” was to negotiate an end to the Macedonian name dispute with his Greek colleague, equally contemptuous of popular sentiment, the perfidious phony socialist Alexis Tsipras. Since Macedonia’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, Greece has strongly objected to the country’s name, asserting that “Macedonia” is a Greek copy-righted geographical and historical concept, that Alexander the Great was Greek not Skopje-Macedonian, and all the rest of it, typical Balkan stuff that most readers would probably find utterly boring. The name dispute, however, got hundreds of thousands of people quite excited and demonstrating vociferously on both sides of the border.

It was important therefore to settle, or to at least paper over this issue to make NATO’s southern flank reasonably united in anticipation of the impending big war in the East. The analogy with the geopolitical situation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941, when its politicians were cajoled into signing off on the Axis pact, and Macedonia’s today, with its accession to NATO, is striking. And yes, Macedonia was “rewarded” for changing its name not just by being generously accepted into NATO, but also with the privilege of being targeted by Russian missiles should hostilities break out in the future.

NATO flag already adorns government offices of “North Macedonia”

Should anyone be wondering why until just a few days ago Macedonia was known by the clumsy and ridiculous acronym FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) it was because of Greece’s refusal to countenance any other label. The need to form a united front against Russia’s “malign influence” in the Balkans now clearly superseds such puerile nonsense. Orders were issued to both puppets from on high to kiss and make up, which they dutifully did, of course.

Incidentally, Macedonia’s new official name of North Macedonia, which Wikipedia has already hastened to duly acknowledge, is rather underwhelming from the standpoint of idiomatic English. “Northern” would have sounded better, a detail that was not lost on the linguistically savvier Turkish partners when they were setting up their own satellite entity, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, on the part of the island that they occupy.

So, the stage now seems to be set to plunge North Macedonia in a conflict its people clearly do not want, and to demolish it either by igniting ethnic warfare or making it disappear in a nuclear conflagration, whatever happens to suit global decisionmakers the best. I consulted my trusted Macedonian (I will not insult him by adding “North” to his sufficiently humiliated country’s cherished name) friend and local contact, journalist Milenko Nedelkovski, for his assessment of his country’s current situation.

First things first, I asked him about the current status of his widely watched, influential, notoriously patriotic, and therefore obviously politically misaligned television talk show and whether he was getting any heat from the new “democratic and Western-values” oriented authorities.

His response could not have been more dispiriting:

“Both the present-day authorities and the opposition which until two years ago ruled the country are under the command of the US Embassy in Skopje and ambassador Jess Baily. This is our 14th season. Three years ago, the American embassy ordered my show to be taken off the air by all television broadcasters. It was cancelled twice by TV Channel 5 and three times by Channel Alpha. Both broadcasters have a nation-wide frequency. We are being harassed by absolutely everyone. That is why I am posting my program on Facebook and YouTube. There, for the moment, we are not facing any restrictions and the viewing audience now exceeds anything we ever had in the traditional media.”

Considering that in the period preceding the degrading Zaev – Tsipras name change agreement mass demonstrations opposing it were being held throughout Macedonia, I asked Milenko why people seem suddenly to have given up in the face of the quisling fait accompli.

“The people have not suddenly gone quiet. Repression is such that the ordinary citizen is afraid. He is now articulating his anger through the social media and by boycotting presidential elections. At the moment in Macedonia, civil disobedience is the principal tool of resistance. And if by ‘going quiet’ is meant that the people are no longer out in the streets, that is because the opposition VMRO party is also collaborating with the American-Brussels occupiers, so they are not calling on the people to protest.”

Given the dismal conditions Milenko described, I asked him what the chances are for kicking the rascals out in the next elections.

His answer was: “Non-existent. In April we are due to have presidential elections the honesty of which is very dubious. Ballot boxes will be stuffed, there will be coercion… But under no circumstances will there be anything resembling an honest vote. And the result, of course, will be endorsed by the ‘international community’ as a great victory for democracy.”

My Macedonian informant’s answer to the question of what future he sees for Macedonia if the appeasement of the Albanian factor continues was most unsettling. These are his dark visions:

“Not just the future of Macedonia as a unified country, but the future of all of former Yugoslavia will be uncertain. The Albanians will press relentlessly their Greater Albania project. In practice that means the disintegration of Macedonia as we know it, but also the reduction of Serbia to the territory of the Belgrade district (пашалук) during the period of Ottoman rule. Kosovo and the southern areas of Serbia will be detached, and other parts of the country, around Novi Pazar for instance, might also be snatched away from Serbia. Bosnia will not remain in its present shape and within the present borders. Montenegro will also be required to sacrifice territories to the Greater Albania project. Some littoral and even inland areas will no longer form part of Milo Djukanovic’s little kingdom. The redrawing of borders in the Balkans at the expense of the Orthodox nations, including some Greek lands to which the Albanians aspire, is certain to occur. The only hope for us Orthodox is a large-scale international conflict, which might be sparked off by something that happens in Venezuela, the Kerch Strait, Eastern Ukraine, Syria, Kaliningrad, or North Korea, the consequences of which would be so grave as to cause the US to lose interest in interfering in other nations’ affairs. Things will get better for us when they stop supporting unconditionally the Albanian factor in the Balkans and the Albanian mafia world-wide.”

It could, of course, be said that Milenko’s remedy is worse than the disease. But this compelling cri de coeur, by a well informed and intelligent observer from the heart of the Balkan darkness that proud NATO (and who knows, perhaps soon even EU) candidate “North Macedonia” has been turned into, certainly ought not to be ignored.

A Trap in the Name of Peace – a Mechanism For the Transformation of the Nontransformable

February 09, 2019

By Rostislav Ishchenko

A Trap in the Name of Peace – a Mechanism For the Transformation of the Nontransformable
Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
cross posted with https://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko-a-trap-in-the-name-of-peace-a-mechanism-for-the-transformation-of-the-nontransformable/ 
source: https://ukraina.ru/opinion/20190208/1022621728.html

On February 8th 1994, 25 years ago, Ukraine joined the “Partnership for Peace” (PFP) NATO program.

It happened practically immediately after the establishment of the program in January, 1994. It is characteristic that also then, in 1994, a similar plan of interaction between the EU and the post-socialist space was put forward by the French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur of that time. This was the first project that received the informal name “Balladur plan”. In 2007 he also voiced the idea of unification into one structure of the US and the EU, which also received the name “Balladur plan” in daily use. But unlike the project of 1994, nobody ever tried to realise the idea of 2007.

In 1994, within the framework of the “Balladur plan” numerous events (round tables) were held, and in their course a number of Eastern European countries was defined, which in the future, during the waves of expansion in 2004 and 2007, became a part of the EU. 10 years were spent for their preliminary adaptation to European structures. However, even now, 10-15 years after their accession, it is difficult to call these countries fully-fledged members of the EU. The stability of their budgets and financial systems directly depends not only on the financial aid of the EU as such, but also on the preservation of its volumes. Without permanent annual multi-billion injections from the EU, these states as economic systems are unviable.

The “Partnership for Peace” program was some kind of NATO analog of the “Balladur plan”. Removing the concerns of those post-socialist states that will never become NATO members, as well as the preparation for NATO membership of those who it was decided to accept, were its main tasks. At the same time, like in the case with accession to the EU, the achievement of the criteria that grants the right to become a NATO member was decided randomly, and the opinion of Washington played a decisive role in it.

Thus, for example, Romania – which was considerably inferior to Ukraine until 2014 in terms of economic and in military-political weight, in terms of the question of the development of democracy, and even in terms of the amount of corruption – nevertheless became a NATO member in 2004 and an EU member in 2007. In 2009 Albania – in the boondocks of Europe – was accepted into NATO (now it one of the first in the queue for EU membership). Washington tried only once, in 2008, at the Bucharest NATO summit, to push forward the Membership Plan of Action for Ukraine and Georgia (which would make them official candidates for membership in NATO), but this American initiative was blocked by France and Germany, who didn’t want to spoil relations with Russia. But the question of the reception of Kiev in the EU was in general never on the agenda.

At the same time, it must be kept in mind that the Ukrainian authorities did everything that depended on them to achieve at least the status of a candidate for NATO membership. In 2002 the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan – the highest form of cooperation within the framework of the “Partnership for Peace” (PFP) – was adopted. In April 2004 the Verkhovna Rada adopted the law on free access to the territory of Ukraine for NATO forces, and in June 2004 president Kuchma approved the military doctrine that determined the entry of Ukraine in NATO as the ultimate goal.

This, by the way, will be useful to grasp for those who consider that the danger of NATO bases appearing in Ukraine arose only in 2014 and only because Russia didn’t send tanks to fight against Banderists. By the way, the introduction at the initiative of Poroshenko of the amendments to the Constitution canceling the non-bloc status of Ukraine and determining NATO accession as the ultimate goal is also secondary. 15 years prior Kuchma, quietly, without excess noise and without paying attention to the Constitution, solved the same problem with his decree (which approved the military doctrine). In general, by the middle of 2004, half a year before Maidan, and seven months prior to Yushchenko coming to power, Ukraine was quite ready for NATO accession. Since then Kiev has been in the starting blocks during all this time, but it isn’t invited anywhere.

PFP for NATO played the same role that the “Balladur plan”, and then the “Eastern Partnership”, played for the EU. In fact, they were complementary programs. In 1994 the West still hadn’t made a final decision on what to do with the post-socialist space. Meanwhile, the former countries of socialist camp and the former federal republics were actively rushing into western structures, thinking that joining them would give them the opportunity to solve both their social-economic and military-political problems.

Originally the PFP program was supposed to bring down the heat of Eastern European emotions, busying the countries that were rushing into NATO with mastering a certain mechanism that allowed to “prepare” them over decades for “compliance to criteria” of membership. The criteria are extremely indistinct. PFP members are required to observe the UN charter and international law, to refuse to threaten with the use of force, to meet democratic standards of the West, to carry out military reforms, and to provide civil control over the armed forces. In general, “for everything good and against everything bad”. At the same time, the worthiest one – i.e., the US – had to decide who is most worthy for membership.

Another important point was that within the framework of PFP a country cooperated with NATO on an individual basis. Thus, the West prevented the creation of lobbyist groups, such as the Visegrád Four, which already existed back then (and which was originally considered by the countries that created it as a mechanism for joint accession to the EU and NATO).

In general, thanks to PFP the West received time to decide on a strategy concerning the countries of the former socialist camp. At the same time, their wishes weren’t rejected straight off. Moreover, a mechanism was created, and with its help it was possible to accept any country into NATO at any time and to reject any country under a specious excuse. This same thing also concerns the mechanisms that were created in order to regulate the process of the EU’s expansion.

Within the framework of PFP obligations were taken only by partner countries, while NATO agreed only to the emergency carrying out of consultations if a partner country feels that its territorial integrity is under threat. It is necessary to say that these consultations haven’t helped anybody to date; they created the mechanism of NATO (and de facto the US) interference in any inter-state conflict whereby at least one partner country is involved.

Today’s attempts to actualise the topic of accession to NATO undertaken by Kiev (in particular, the introduction of the corresponding amendments to the Constitution), which have a pronounced propaganda character and have no practical value, are indeed caused by the understanding of that fact that within the framework of PFP Ukraine is perhaps indeed a partner of NATO, but NATO isn’t a partner of Ukraine. Kiev can’t speak with Brussels as equals, it also can’t leave the PFP program, since it would be regarded as the largest foreign policy failure of the current authorities. At the same time, within the framework of PFP Ukraine can only follow the instructions of NATO (in reality, the US) while receiving nothing in exchange.

In general, PFP, which was originally presented as a mechanism for the adaptation of potential candidates to NATO requirements, quickly turned into a trap that keeps those countries that the bloc doesn’t intend to bring into its structure in the orbit of NATO in the quality of “junior partners”.

Talk of Western intervention in the Black Sea is pure fantasy

January 19, 2019

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with The Asia Times by special agreement with the author)Talk of Western intervention in the Black Sea is pure fantasy

Crimea is essential to Russia strategically and economically, but speculation over Ankara helping to boost the US presence in the Black Sea is far-fetched given Turkey’s energy deals with Moscow.

A power struggle over the Black Sea between Russia and the US plus NATO has the potential to develop as a seminal plot of the 21st century New Great Game – alongside the current jostling for re-positioning in the Eastern Mediterranean.

By now it’s established the US and NATO are stepping up military pressure from Poland to Romania and Bulgaria all the way to Ukraine and east of the Black Sea, which seems, at least for the moment, relatively peaceful, just as Crimea’s return to Russia starts to be regarded, in realpolitik terms, as a fait accompli.

After a recent series of conversations with top analysts from Istanbul to Moscow, it’s possible to identify the main trends ahead.

Just as independent Turkish analysts like Professor Hasan Unal are alarmed at Ankara’s isolation in the Eastern Mediterranean energy sphere by an alliance of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, Washington’s military buildup in both Romania and Bulgaria is also identified as posing a threat to Turkey.

It’s under this perspective that Ankara’s obstinance in establishing a security “corridor” in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates river, and free from the YPG Kurds, should be examined. It’s a matter of policing at least one sensitive border.

Still, in the chessboard from Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, Turkey and Crimea, the specter of “foreign intervention” setting fire to the Intermarium – from the Baltics to the Black Sea – simply refuses to die.

Ukraine Russia map

‘Russian lake’?

By the end of the last glacial era, around 20,000 years ago, the Black Sea – separated from the Mediterranean by an isthmus – was just a shallow lake, much smaller in size than it is today.

The legendary journey of Jason and the Argonauts, before the Trojan war, followed the Argo ship to the farther shore of Pontus Euxinus (the ‘Black Sea’) to recover the Golden Fleece – the cure for all evils – from its location in Colchis (currently in Georgia).

In Ancient Greece, steeped in mythology, the Black Sea was routinely depicted as the boundary between the known world and terra incognita. But then it was “discovered” – like America many centuries later – to the point where it was configured as a “string of pearls” of Greek trading colonies linked to the Mediterranean.

The Black Sea is more than strategic, it’s crucial geopolitically. There has been a constant drive in modern Russian history to be active across maritime trade routes through the strategic straits – the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus and Kerch in Crimea – to warmer waters further south.

As I observed early last month in Sevastopol, Crimea is now a seriously built fortress – incorporating S-400 and Iskander-M missiles – capable of ensuring total Russian primacy all across the eastern Black Sea.

A visit to Crimea reveals how its genes are Russian, not Ukrainian. A case can be made that the very concept of Ukraine is relatively spurious, propelled by the Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of the 19th century and especially before World War I to weaken Russia. Ukraine was part of Russia for 400 years, far longer than California and New Mexico have been part of the US.

Now compare the reconquest of Crimea by Russia, without firing a shot and validated by a democratic referendum, to the US “conquests” of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Moreover, I saw Crimea being rebuilt and on the way to prosperity, complete with Tatars voting with their feet to return; compare it to Ukraine, which is an IMF basket case.

Crimea is essential to Russia not only from a geostrategic but also an economic point of view, as it solidifies the Black Sea as a virtual “Russian lake”.

It’s immaterial that Turkish strategists may vehemently disagree, as well as US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker who, trying to seduce Turkey, dreams about increasing the US presence in the Black Sea, “whether on a bilateral basis or under EU auspices.”

Under this context, the building of the Turk Stream pipeline should be read as Ankara’s sharp response to the rampant Russophobia in Brussels.

Ankara has, in tandem, consistently shown it won’t shelve the acquisition of Russian S-400 missile systems because of American pressure. This has nothing to do with pretentions of neo-Ottomanism; it’s about Turkey’s energy and security priorities. Ankara now seems more than ready to live with a powerful Russian presence across the Black Sea.

It all comes down to Montreux

Not by accident the comings and goings on NATO’s eastern flank was a key theme at last summer’s biennial Atlanticist summit. After all, Russia, in the wake of reincorporating Crimea, denied access over the eastern Black Sea.

NATO, though, is a large mixed bag of geopolitical agendas. So, in the end, there’s no cohesive strategy to deal with the Black Sea, apart from a vague, rhetorical “support for Ukraine” and also vague exhortations for Turkey to assume its responsibilities.

But because Ankara’s priorities are in fact the Eastern Mediterranean and the Turkish-Syrian border, east of the Euphrates river, there’s no realistic horizon for NATO to come up with permanent Black Sea patrols disguised as a “freedom of navigation” scheme – as much as Kiev may beg for it.

What does remain very much in place is the guarantee of freedom of navigation in the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits controlled by Turkey, as sanctioned by the 1936 Montreux Convention.

The key vector, once again, is that the Black Sea links Europe with the Caucasus and allows Russia trade access to southern warm waters. We always need to go back to Catherine the Great, who incorporated Crimea into the empire in the 18th century after half a millennium of Tatar and then Ottoman rule, and then ordered the construction of a huge naval base for the Black Sea fleet.

By now some facts on the ground are more than established.

Next year the Black Sea fleet will be upgraded with an array of anti-ship missiles; protected by S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems; and supported by a new “permanent deployment” of Sukhoi SU-27s and SU-30s.

Far-fetched scenarios of the Turkish navy fighting the Russian Black Sea fleet will continue to be peddled by misinformed think tanks, oblivious to the inevitability of the Russia-Turkey energy partnership. Without Turkey, NATO is a cripple in the Black Sea region.

Intriguing developments such as a Viking Silk Road across the Intermarium won’t alter the fact that Poland, the Baltics and Romania will continue to clamor for “more NATO” in their areas to fight “Russian aggression”.

And it will be up to a new government in Kiev after the upcoming March elections to realize that any provocation designed to drag NATO into a Kerch Strait entanglement is doomed to failure.

Ancient Greek sailors had a deep fear of the Black Sea’s howling winds. As it now stands, call it the calm before a (Black Sea) storm.

Anti-Iran Conference in Warsaw a ‘Failure’ of US Plots: Tehran

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani

January 12, 2019

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani stressed that a US move to hold a conference against Iran in Poland signifies failure of Washington’s plot against the Islamic Republic.

“When one who pushes for sanctions with maximum pressure ends up with (holding a) conference and congress, it means that they have failed in their bid (to undermine Iran),” Shamkhani told reporters on Saturday.

His comments came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Friday that the US plans to jointly host a global conference against Iran next month in Poland.

The meeting will take place in Warsaw on February 13-14.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has denounced the planned event as a “desperate anti-Iran circus.”

Source: Iranian media

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