Category: Russia
NATO’s Huge New Multinational Battalion in Romania a Provocation – Analyst
| October 11, 2017 | 8:38 pm | Analysis, Russia | No comments
US Navy flag bearers, backdropped by the radar building of a missile defense base, walk in Deveselu, during an opening ceremony attended by U.S., NATO and Romanian officials at a base, originally established by the Soviet Union, in Deveselu, Southern Romania, Thursday, May 12, 2016.

NATO’s Huge New Multinational Battalion in Romania a Provocation – Analyst

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Leaders of NATO have announced the development of a thousands-strong multinational battalion stationed in Romania to bolster the bloc’s strength in the region. The move is part of the ongoing military buildup between NATO and the Russian bloc in Eastern Europe.

On Monday, NATO leaders announced that a multinational force of NATO troops will be formed in Romania to act as “defense and discouragement” against Russian aggression, as Romanian President Klaus Iohannis put it.

“We are not a threat for Russia. But we need dialogue from a strong position of defense and discouragement,” Iohannis said. “Our purpose is peace, not war.”

​Brian Becker and Walter Smolarek of Sputnik Radio’s Loud & Clear spoke to Mark Sleboda, a Russia-based international relations and security analyst and frequent critic of US and NATO policy. They asked Sleboda what he thought about the forming of the multinational force in the Warsaw Pact-affiliate-turned-NATO-member.

“It not only involves NATO-Romanian relations,” Sleboda said, “but we’re talking about the NATO footprint in the Black Sea — what they’re referring to as their TFP [Tailored Forward Presence]. An instrumental part of that is the introduction of this new multinational force. The details of it are as yet sketchy. There’s been talk about it for much of the last year and they’ve announced its implementation now so it will include at least 4,000 troops.”

“It has been said that a large portion of them will be Romanian, with Poland, Italy and Bulgaria and others. This will complement 900 US military troops that are already stationed in Romania. It also concerns the US establishment of its missile defense shield, the Aegis Ashore system in Romania and likewise in Poland.”

“It [also] marks an increased NATO naval presence in the Black Sea since around 2014,” Sleboda added. “There have been almost continuous US missile cruisers in the Black Sea and they have announced it in cooperation with those multinational force brigade. There will be increased naval presence beyond the Black Sea. We’ve seen a number of significant NATO military exercises and naval military exercises in the Black Sea and that is only going to increase as a result of this.”

“It’s got Moscow more than a little concerned, because first we saw these four permanent/rotating brigades, which was violating the NATO Russia Founding Act.” That act was inked between NATO and Russia in 1997; in it, both parties claimed that they were not adversaries but rather partners in building “a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area.”

NATO “gets around this,” according to Sleboda, by saying “the 4,000 troops are rotating in and out. [This] is the second NATO military increase in the region just within the last year,” said Sleboda, referring to the battalion deployed to Poland in April. “That’s going to be of big importance. There was initially announced to be a small troop presence, a tripwire if you will. Now we see another, more tactically significant 4,000 troops [than the ones stationed in Poland].”

Smolarek asked if he thought the presence of another NATO battalion in a country so close to Russia might lead the powers into conflict. Sloboda waved aside the idea of direct engagement, but he said that it would “put pressure on the situation. A number of frozen conflicts are occurring in countries on Russia’s borders that have significant ethnic Russian [populations], and [NATO is attempting] to move into these countries, to absorb them into NATO and the EU, as a bastion against Russia.”

“We get the arguments that Russia is conducting troops against NATO’s own borders. That’s because you move your borders right up to the Russian border. Russia is only conducting military exercises within its own borders,” Sloboda noted.

Moscow did take a recent exercise outside its borders when 100,000 Russian troops participated in large-scale military exercises in Belarus in September.

Absurd Russian Ads Hype as US Corporations Buy Democracy
| October 10, 2017 | 8:40 pm | political struggle, Russia | No comments
People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with a Google logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014.

Absurd Russian Ads Hype as US Corporations Buy Democracy

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Google is the latest US internet company to claim it found “Russia-linked” advertisements on its network – allegedly posted to influence the US presidential election last year.

Twitter and Facebook have already made similar claims and all three are now facing more scrutiny in the coming weeks before Congressional committees.

What is truly astounding about this hysteria over alleged Russian interference in US democracy is that American citizens are being distracted from what is, by far, the much more alarming issue of how their government and Congress is bought by US Big Business.

Bloomberg reported this week that: “Google identifies Russian election interference network”. It said the internet giant found political ads worth $4,700 which it believes are “tied to the Russian government”. These ads, it is claimed, carried political articles which were meant to influence which way American citizens would vote in the presidential contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump last November.Google has reportedly said that another $53,000 worth of ads are “under review” for suspicion of being “linked” to the Russian government. This follows claims made by Facebook that it had earlier identified $100,000 spent on ads by Russian sources, while Twitter said it had located $274,000 worth of such ads.

The Russian government has repeatedly rejected accusations that it tried to meddle in the US election. Moscow rightly highlights the dearth of any evidence and total lack of due legal process. The American allegations have also whipped up a toxic climate to curb the legitimate media activities of Russian news channels.

It is understood that Russia’s state-owned news channel RT promoted some of its content through social media like Facebook and Twitter. But as RT editor Margarita Simonyan pointed out such promotion is entirely normal for all news media companies. She estimated that US-based outlets probably spent much more than RT promoting their content through the Russian section of Twitter.

Several issues about this “Russian meddling” trope are patently dodgy, yet are bizarrely overlooked.The first is that, as with other claims of Russian interference in the US election, no evidence is ever presented. Facebook, Twitter and Google are making vague claims of “accounts believed to be tied to the Russian government”. And the US news media simply repeat these nebulous claims without further question.

A second anomaly is that Congressional committees that have been investigating allegations of Russian interference have also not presented any evidence – after nearly nine months of intensive probing.

Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner, who are heading up a select intelligence committee, made a “big presentation” last week in Washington on their findings. The “findings” turned out to be an embarrassing anti-climax. The Congressmen admitted they found no evidence of “Russia collusion” in the election and baldly asserted that Moscow’s “influence campaign continues” which they will continue to investigate – no doubt at a huge cost to American taxpayers.

So, Russia is being accused of interfering in the presidential elections on the basis of the allegation alone, and yet American politicians are also contradicting themselves by saying that the alleged interference did not alter the vote outcome.

But here is the biggest absurdity. The sums of money claimed to have been used by Russia to destabilize US democracy are ridiculously minuscule.

For argument sake, let’s go along with the claims that somehow “Russian agents” took out ads on social media to influence the US election. Between Facebook, Twitter, and Google the expenditure amounts to about $300,000.That figure is a pittance compared with the avalanche of money that US corporations doled out to bankroll the election campaigns of the two candidates.

According to Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton’s election bid was leveraged with $1.2 billion from “Super-PACs” (Political Action Campaigns). Trump received less corporate money, raising a total of $647 million – or about half of what Clinton’s coffers received.

Now put those figures into perspective. The alleged Russian influence ads costing around $300,000 represent some 0.01 percent of what US corporations actually spent ($1.8 billion total) in promoting either Clinton or Trump for the White House. In other words, the much speculated – and highly dubious – financial outlay that Russian sources allocated to allegedly upset the American democratic process is negligible compared with the actual money spent by major American companies to determine the 2016 election outcome.

While American media and politicians are endeavoring to get citizens all worked up about “Kremlin meddling” the glaring fact is that their democratic process is subject to enormous US corporate influence. And not just the 2016 election. Every presidential cycle.

Note too that this is only taking into consideration the corporate lobbying in the presidential contest. Every year, it is calculated that US companies spend about $3 billion lobbying federal government and Congress.

That is, every year, year after year, Big Business in America spends 10,000-fold on influencing lawmakers and government policy compared with the alleged ad campaign that Russia supposedly engaged in.Another source of major influence on American politicians are the lobby groups funded separately by the Israeli and Saudi government interests. Each year, these foreign states spend an estimated $5-7 million on lobbying members of the US Congress and the federal government. This is real money with real impact on US democracy as opposed to alleged Russian interference.

Getting back to “lobbying” by US companies – some might call it bribery – among the biggest donors are the military manufacturing firms. According to American publication, The Hill, included in the top 50 corporate lobbies plying Congress with campaign funds are Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman.

Another major lobby – although not in the top 50 – is the National Rifle Association (NRA) which promotes gun ownership for private citizens by donating to Congress members.

Three recent events show how corporate money effectively buys American government policy.

President Trump is pushing for an overhaul of tax policy which will result in the biggest ever tax benefit to corporate America.

Secondly, with regard to the US military budget, the Congress is due to pass a record increase amounting to $700 billion annually. This largesse to Pentagon-connected manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Boeing is no doubt fueled by Trump using reckless bellicose rhetoric towards North Korea, threatening war instead of a diplomatic solution.Thirdly, in the aftermath of the latest mass shooting in Las Vegas – the worst ever in modern US history – in which 58 people were mowed down by a 64-year-old male shooter armed with an arsenal of assault rifles in his hotel room, both the White House and Congress are adamant that “now is not the time to talk about gun control laws”. Congressional Republicans, in particular, are big recipients of NRA funding. Trump’s election campaign also reportedly received $30 million from the NRA.

In the gargantuan scale of corporate funding and influence on US democracy, it is patently absurd for US media and politicians to chase after Russia for alleged meddling.

There again, maybe not so absurd, if such a travesty serves to distract American citizens from the much more pressing issue of how their democracy is bought and sold by elite American interests.

Americans pushed into pro-war frenzy by elite-controlled MSM & NATO – Max Blumenthal

https://www.rt.com/usa/406059-msm-nato-americans-war-support/

Americans pushed into pro-war frenzy by elite-controlled MSM & NATO – Max Blumenthal

Americans pushed into pro-war frenzy by elite-controlled MSM & NATO – Max Blumenthal
Years of Russia hysteria and North Korea fearmongering led by the US mainstream media and NATO propaganda have built support for war among Americans, making them ready to “fight and die” in overseas lands, author and journalist Max Blumenthal told RT.

READ MORE: Red Scare redux? US imposes World War II-era ‘foreign agents’ designation on Russia media

A recent study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has pointed at a shift in the collective thinking and feeling of Americans, when it comes how they view global conflict.

The study was conducted over the last two years leading up to the elections in 2016 and found that Americans seem to have found a new appetite for war.

Blumenthal, who co-hosts the “Moderate Rebels” podcast focused on US interventions and is the Senior Editor of AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, spoke to RT America’s Manila Chan about these developments.

RT:What do you make of this Chicago Council study?

Max Blumenthal: The Washington Post in a commentary framed these numbers as kind of the failure of Donald Trump’s America First policy. And I think Trump has done a pretty horrible job selling his policy. There was a non-interventionist component that he campaigned on, which proved pretty popular, particularly in places like the Rust Belt.

However, I really think that if you look at these numbers, you should look at the internals, and look at when the poll was taken, and when the numbers started to shift. They started to shift when the election campaign began. They reflect a concerted campaign by the mainstream media and by the national security state, which has unprecedented access and control over mainstream media – particularly CNN and MSNBC – to bring the American public’s views in line with the elites’ [views] of our interventionist bipartisan foreign policy consensus in Washington. Two years of non-stop red-baiting, Russia hysteria, and fearmongering over North Korea have done the trick, particularly among Democrats.

READ MORE: Senate found ‘zero’ evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, time to do ‘other things’ – White House

RT:Speaking of the mainstream media, why do liberals tend to support interventionist policies at higher rates than even Republicans? It’s unusual, isn’t it?

MB: Yes, it is unusual. We should just talk about some of the numbers first. From 2015 to this summer we saw a 20 percent surge in the number of Americans who would support sending troops to defend South Korea. We also see, for the first time in history, a majority of Americans willing to send US troops to fight and die for Latvia against Russia, and that is a reflection of their support for NATO.
Liberals disproportionately support these militaristic policies, which seem to suggest support for a hot war with Russia, and even hot war with China. It would be disastrous if they took place. So why didn’t that take place? Because of the partisan war against Trump, who has been portrayed as an enemy of NATO – even though he is now as supportive of NATO as ever; as someone who is a Manchurian candidate of Russia, who is controlled by Putin’s nine-dimensional chess and has colluded with Russia. So, Democrats tend to see Russia in a negative light, and they support interventionist policies.

But if you also look at CNN and MSNBC versus Fox News, which is the de-facto channel of the Republican Party and Trump, you see non-stop contributors from the national security state – like James Clapper, Michael Hayden, the former CIA director – pushing these kinds of militaristic policies. So, these are the channels that Democrats watch. Their media, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, has really stepped up the fearmongering and militarism.

So, you see a total reversal from the Bush period, the Bush era – when Democrats were staunchly against the Iraq war, because it was Bush’s war. And now you see the people that are against guns that are against mass shooting – favoring pointing guns and committing mass shootings abroad.

RT:How do you view the posture of the American people on defending eastern European countries like Lithuania and Latvia, who are members of NATO?

MB: In 2014, Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State, wife of the neo-conservative Robert Kagan, said that Americans were ready to fight and die for Latvia. That wasn’t true at the time. Now it is. These attitudes have been manufactured.

They’ve been partly manufactured by NATO propaganda. We heard at lot – especially on CNN from figures like Jake Tapper, “Deep State Jake,” who almost every show is pushing regime change in one of the non-compliant states. We heard a lot about the Zapad [West] military exercises, thinking Romania, where Russia was said to have amassed 100,000 troops on NATO borders – even “Democracy Now!” reported that.

It turns out that Jens Stoltenberg, the head of NATO, was pushing this lie – that there will be 100,000 troops. I think less than 10,000 troops in the end appeared for these military exercises. This was supposed to terrify the states. It was absolute blaster and pro-war propaganda. We’ve seen that reflected in these attitudes.

A Chapter in a Declining Empire

A Chapter in a Declining Empire

 – from Greg Godels is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

Everyone not yet anesthetized by the anti-Russia hysteria, should read Robert Parry’s The Rise of the New McCarthyism. The estimable Parry argues for similarities between today’s overheated political antics and those of an earlier time. He likens the relentless Russia-baiting of 2017 with the red-baiting of the post-war period often identified with Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy.

But that is not quite right. Labelling the post-war delirium, characterizing the anti-Communist frenzy of the period as “McCarthyism” places far too much weight on that sole figure. True, Joe McCarthy exploited the climate, pushing the absurdity of the times to even more absurd levels. Yet we overlook the causes of the poisoned atmosphere just as surely as we would if we labelled this moment we live in as “Maddowism,” after the woman committed to exploiting the mania for ratings, after Rachel Maddow’s prodding anti-Russian sentiment to ever greater heights.
Political fever, like that of 1919 in the US, 1920-22 in Italy, the 1930s throughout Europe, 1946 and 2003 in the US, and again today in the US, is usually driven by crises– threats or perceived threats to the system. It reflects weaknesses or vulnerabilities resulting from economic distress or international conflict. Whether the threat is real or perceived, identifiable or mythical, ruling classes use a crescendo of fear and alarm to foster an atmosphere of conformity and compliance.
During and after World War I, the Bolshevik revolution frightened the US ruling class into its first “Red scare,” an orgy of war-induced patriotism and media-crazed fear of mythical Red barbarity, an orgy resulting in mass arrests and deportations.
Similarly, the victory of the Soviet Union, the expansion of socialism, the intensifying struggles for national liberation, and a domestic left third-party challenge to two-party hegemony spurred the ruling class to spark a second Red scare. A critical mass of consensus was quickly achieved, persisting throughout the Cold War. Thus, it is misleading to say, as Parry does, that “…the 1950s version was driven by Republicans and the Right with much of the Left on the receiving end, maligned by the likes of Sen. Joe McCarthy as ‘un-American’ and as Communism’s ‘fellow travelers.’”
In fact, except for the “fellow travelers,” most of the non-Communist left and most liberals gleefully joined the red-baiting hunting party for “subversives.” Those who didn’t enthusiastically join the mob did little or nothing to diminish the campaign. Certainly, when the purges began to target the moderate anti-Communists, liberal voices did pathetically stir.
Consequently, those familiar with the history of Cold War US repression are not surprised by liberal complicity in the anti-Russia madness today. It should be no surprise that the liberals and the petty-bourgeois left betray the truth, make common cause with the forces of hate, distrust, and prejudice. In times of crisis, that’s what they too often do.
Outside of a few notable voices, liberal/left intellectuals are buying the anti-Russia frenzy. Despite the fact that US security services have an unbroken record of lies and manipulations, they are today manufactured to be the saviors of US “democracy.” The entertainment industry has cast “deep throat” Mark Felt– a crazed, disgruntled FBI official, bitter because he didn’t inherit the directorship from J. Edgar Hoover– as the hero of the Watergate debacle. Industry moguls stretch credulity to portray him as the courageous forerunner of the sleazy James Comey.
How quickly the liberals have forgotten the shame of 2003, when a ruling class-induced frenzy of lies and distortions prompted an unprovoked US invasion of a sovereign country. Have the scoundrels fabricating “evidence” against Iraq left or have they been removed from the State Department, the CIA, the FBI, etc.? Or are they still there, now busy spinning lies against Russia?
Liberals and the weasel-left should heed Parry’s warning: “Arguably, if fascism or totalitarianism comes to the United States, it is more likely to arrive in the guise of “protecting democracy” from Russia or another foreign adversary than from a reality-TV clown like Donald Trump.” Apart from flirting with war, the new consensus against Putin and Russia further erodes the remaining vestiges of democratic life in the US. Fear has brought us an Orwellian destruction of privacy and freedom, along with a murderous foreign policy and, now, a shamefully uncritical conformity.
War by Other Means
If “The New McCarthyism” is an inaccurate description of our times, what would be more suitable? Perhaps “The New Cold War” would be more appropriate since US aggression is both global and endless. The US is conducting war or war-like actions in Africa, the Middle East, South America, the Caribbean, and in Asia. Any and every country that fails to accept US global leadership becomes a target for US aggression.
This constitutes a desperate attempt on the part of US elites to maintain their place at the top of the hierarchy of imperialism, their ultimate mastery over all global affairs.
After the arrogant declaration of victory in the Cold War and the presumption of global governance, matters begin to fall apart for the champions of US global dominance. Former clients like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein began to defy US hegemony. States like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador choose paths independent of the US template for the global economy. Other states like Yugoslavia, Cuba, and DPRKorea refused to acknowledge that socialist economic relations were outlawed in the post-Soviet era. Still other states like Iran, post-Yeltsin Russia, Libya, and Syria reject US interference in their and their neighbors’ affairs. And, of course, the world’s largest economy (PPP)– PRChina– does not accept a subordinate role in global affairs.
In short, the US role as self-appointed world policeman has been answered with far-from-servile acceptance by the world’s people.
The US response to resistance has been violence. Uncountable deaths and injuries from invasion, occupation, and remotely-mounted attacks have been visited upon combatants and civilians alike. The stability of numerous countries has been disrupted, usually under the cynical banner of human rights. Over the last two decades or so, US imperialism has restructured its aggression, relying more and more on surrogates, drones, and economic aggression, but with the same deadly results.
Obama’s cabal of liberal interventionists has refined and expanded the tactic of imposing international sanctions, a particularly brutal, but seemingly high-minded form of aggression.
We should not deceive ourselves. International sanctions may masquerade as a mechanism of civil enforcement, but they are, in fact, acts of war– war by other means. The current world balance of forces allows the US to cajole, intimidate or manipulate UN member states to endorse strangling the economies of US adversaries under the guise of UN sanctions. The UN virtually rubber stamps the US initiatives to cut the lifelines of countries, organizations, even corporations that dare to ignore US dictates. Similarly, the EU and NATO act as sanction lapdogs.. The consequences of sanctions can be just as destructive, as death-dealing, as overt military aggression. Shamefully, even Russia and PRC– the victims of sanctions– have collaborated on these sanctions in recent years, an opportunistic approach meant to ingratiate themselves with US leaders.
At the same time, no UN economic sanctions have been imposed upon the serial human rights violator, the apartheid state of Israel– merely calls, resolutions, and condemnations.
In a toxic atmosphere of incredulous “sonic” attacks charged to Cuban authorities, provocative claims of Russian government meddling in everything from the electric grid to Facebook, allegations of Venezuelan drug trafficking, suspicions of Chinese espionage, and the many other marks of induced paranoia, the fight for truth is the only escape, the only response to the ugly throes of a diseased, embattled empire. Most assuredly, the empire is in decline, though most of its citizens are unaware, sheltered by a thick curtain of deceit.
Greg Godels (Zoltan Zigedy)
zzsblogml@gmail.com
Lithuania’s Yesterday Fears – And Today’s Corruption
| October 3, 2017 | 7:39 pm | Lithuania, Russia | No comments
Lithuania

Lithuania’s Yesterday Fears – And Today’s Corruption

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It is hard to impress people in the Baltics with Russophobia since fear of the “big south-eastern neighbor” has been the backbone of the foreign policy of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – for the last 25 years. But over the last few days, Lithuania’s have politicians managed to stand out even in this very competitive market.

Over the last few days, Lithuania’s have politicians managed to stand out even in this very competitive market. It’s no wonder the Russian diplomats had to walk out of the hall during the speech to the UN’s General Assembly by Lithuania’s president Dalia Gribauskaite. In her speech, she accused Russia of abusing its veto power at the UN and “invading” Georgia and Ukraine.

For Russians, it was nothing new since they remembered her previous statements describing Russia as a “terrorist state” and Ms. Gribauskaite’s decision to deliver some of Lithuania’s Soviet-made weapons to the Ukrainian leadership when it was bombing and shelling its own protesting city of Donetsk in 2014. But still, it was symbolic that the detractors of Russia chose the heads of Ukraine and Lithuania to deliver their “criticism” of Russia in New York. This “criticism” is especially impressive against the background of paranoia and ensuing corruption which is now engulfing both Lithuania and Ukraine and which will be touched upon in this article.The President’s Short Memory

The Lithuanian president’s subordinates are doing their best not to lag far behind the “red Dalia,” as Ms. Gribauskaite is referred to by her compatriots for her communist past. She does not like to reminisce about it, but the most anti-Russian president in NATO, Dalia Gribauskaite, happens to be a former instructor at the CPSU’s Higher Party School in the 1980s. She also calls herself  Dr. Gribauskaite, because she is a holder of a scientific degree in political economy from the now defunct Academy of Social Sciences – a Soviet “think tank” of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Now a staunch anti-communist, Ms. Gribauskaite is at pains explaining why she preferred to outlive the communist regime at its top, rather than surviving at the lower depths of anti-communist resistance.So, just like his president, Lithuania’s defense minister Raimundas Karoblis did not just happily survive the Soviet Union and the much-feared Russian military exercise Zapad-2017 which ended on September 24, 2017. Just like his ex-Soviet and now anti-Soviet president, Mr. Karoblis continued to make alarmist statements even after those dangerous periods of his life.

Post-Factum Fears of the Minister

After the Zapad’s mock battles in Belarus ended, Minister Karoblis continued to beat the drums, even though, contrary to the expectations of the NATO countries’ media, less than 13,000 Russian and Belarusian troops during their training did not attack Poland, Finland, or even the Baltic states for that matter. Several days after Zapad-2017 ended, Mr. Karoblis revealed to the world how close the universe was to a disaster. Not only did “one hundred thousand” Russian troops participate in the exercise (we had already heard this lie before the drills from president Gribauskaite’s speech at the UN), but the whole drill was a preparation for an attack against the defenseless (albeit expanding) West.

“The most important detail about this exercise was Russia’s simulated attack against all the Baltic states,” Karbolis said at a conference in the end of September.  He also added that Russian troops imitated the use of conventional weapons in a conflict with technologically developed countries, and that means “they [Russians] were preparing for a war with NATO countries.”

Who Threatens Whom?

This indeed would have been most unfortunate, if Russia’s exercises were not a response to some much more hostile attitude from those “technologically developed countries.” The data from NATO’s own information resources indicates that in the last year alone NATO and its allies conducted about 80 military exercises near Russia’s border, with 120,000 troops participating and the government officials of those countries calling Russia “a hostile nation.” But these facts are obviously not considered by Mr. Karbolis to be worthy of even a mention.

Interestingly, Mr. Karbolis made exactly the same statement against Zapad-2017 almost 5 months ago, in May 2017. The only change was the tense of his statement (from future to past – not “Russia will simulate,” but “Russia simulated” an attack) and the number of the presumed victims of Russia’s actions. In May he mentioned not only the Baltic states but also Poland, which “evidently” could also be targeted by Russian “aggression.”Now, after the end of the exercise, Poland is intact, no “aggression by mistake,” which Mr. Karbolis had anticipated, ever happened. But he does not apologize, he makes the same statements as before. In these unchangeable opinions, Mr. Karbolis is supported by none other than the commander of US troops in Europe, general Ben Hodges. By saying that Russia was “equal” to NATO militarily, this American general, perhaps unwittingly, leads us to believe in NATO’s ineffective use of public money.

The pro-European Union EU-Observer Internet resource quotes a representative of Stockholm International Institute for Peace Research (Sipri) Siemon Wezeman as saying that “Russia’s defense spending in 2016 was only 27 percent of the combined total of European NATO members.”

Misuse of Public Money

So, if we believe general Hodges, NATO’s European member-states simply squander the money which their nations allocated for their defense. Otherwise, how can Russia keep its military capability on the par with NATO for an amount of money which is at least four times smaller? (In this equation, we have to ascribe “neutrality” to Americans and discount the military potential of the United States, which now keeps not only dozens of bases in Germany and former Yugoslavia but also a whole tank brigade of 3,500 men in Poland.)

Don’t forget that the deployment of four of NATO’s battalions (4,000 men at least) on the territory of the former Soviet Union (the Baltic states) goes against the spirit of the Founding Act on NATO-Russia relations (signed in 1997) and the European Security Charter, signed in Paris by Western leaders in 1990 and viewed by the then Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev as a guarantee against NATO’s expansion to the east. However, Mr. Hodges and Mr. Karbolis keep talking about Russia’s military equality or even superiority, even though, according to Sipri, in 2016-2017 Central Europe’s defense expenses increased on average by 2.4 percent, with Lithuania and Poland being the front-runners among NATO members in this increase of defense-spending.So, how can the Lithuanian officials be so ineffective in their government-financed defense projects? Probably, the answer is to be found in corruption?

Some Very Non-Russian Corruption

For decades, the Lithuanian authorities have called their corruption a natural byproduct of Lithuania’s membership in the Soviet Union and subsequent ties to Russia in 1940-1991. But how come corruption is evident even in those projects of the Lithuanian government which are aimed at getting rid of “Russian influence” in all spheres of the Baltic nation’s life?

Here is a good example. Lithuania was the first of the Baltic nations to declare itself no longer dependent on gas deliveries from the Russian energy giant Gazprom. Back in 2014, president Dalia Gribauskaite welcomed, with much fanfare, the huge vessel named Independence in the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda. The vessel was described by the New York Times as “a floating factory for converting liquefied natural gas into the burnable variety.” The NYT praised it as “an example of how to break Russia’s grip on energy,” saying that Independence “represents a direct challenge to the Russian way of doing business.”

A challenge it was indeed since now the Lithuanian investigative journalists are denouncing the project with the South Korean-owned Independence as a huge corruption scheme done via offshore bank accounts abroad. So, if the New York Times considers this project “a challenge to the Russian way of doing business,” then the Russian way is indeed clean.

“This vessel converting the Norwegian liquefied natural gas was supposed to serve the energy needs of not just Lithuania, but also of Latvia and Estonia,” explained Aurimas Drizius, the chief editor of Laisvas Laikrastis, a Lithuanian media outlet specializing in anti-corruption investigations in an interview to Vesti-24. “So, why do the Latvians and Estonians refuse to buy gas from it? Because it is twice as expensive as the Russian gas. But it was not supposed to be so! Someone just got Lithuania involved in this project, got the millions needed for the lease of the ship and later made off with the money. The whole affair was done by payments via offshore bank accounts somewhere on Bermuda islands.”

Despite the fact that Lithuanian businesses continue to prefer buying Russian gas, and the Latvian/Estonian businesses categorically refuted the “Independence” project as financially non-viable, the “Klaipeda variant” continues to be touted in the mainstream Western mass media as a way out of “energy dependence on Russia.”

In August 2017, Dalia Gribauskaite welcomed the first shipment of liquefied natural gas from the United States to that same Klaipeda port. This time, the Financial Times praised the development as a successful foray of the US gas “into a region Gazprom has long considered its own backyard.”Again, there is a talk about a “revolutionary liberation” from Russian gas, even though this revolution was supposed to happen back in 2014, when the Norwegian liquefied gas arrived in Klaipeda, for the first and last time.

With another warm welcome from Miss President, there is no reason to believe that Ms. Gribauskaite won’t crack on the US shale gas the same joke she did on the Norwegian gas and on the Soviet Communist Party’s academy. That joke is cooing her goodbye at the moment when the partner faces the first problems with the project she herself had ardently supported – some years before.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

How UK, France, Poland Unleashed Hitler and Paved the Way for WWII

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How UK, France, Poland Unleashed Hitler and Paved the Way for WWII

Neville Chamberlain holding the paper containing the resolution to commit to peaceful methods signed by both Hitler and himself on his return from Munich. He is showing the piece of paper to a crowd at Heston Aerodrome on 30 September 1938

How UK, France, Poland Unleashed Hitler and Paved the Way for WWII

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The Munich pact of September 29, 1938, paved the way for Nazi Germany’s dominance in Europe and its march eastward, Canadian professor Michael Jabara Carley told Sputnik. Present day efforts to re-write the history of WWII in the West is an attempt to justify grave mistakes committed by European states and pin all the blame on Russia.

The Munich Agreement signed 79 years ago by Nazi Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy wrecked efforts to create an anti-Nazi coalition and opened the door to Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Europe and the nightmare of the Second World War, Michael Jabara Carley, a professor of history at the Université de Montréal and the author of “Silent Conflict: A Hidden History of Early Soviet-Western Relations,” told Sputnik.

“Munich was indeed a betrayal,” Carley underscored. “The loss of the Czechoslovak position in central Europe was thus an important step in Hitler’s plan for German domination of Europe.”

The Munich Pact as the Beginning of the Nazi Crusade

The Munich Agreement permitted Nazi Germany’s annexation of the so-called “Sudetenland” — the regions of northern and western Czechoslovakia inhabited by ethnic Germans, which subsequently led to the occupation of the whole country in March 1939. Naturally, the Czechoslovak government was not invited to the conference.

“Czechoslovakia was a functioning ‘liberal’ democratic state on Germany’s southern frontier. It possessed a well-motivated, well-trained army of approximately 40 divisions. It had a formal alliance with France dating to the 1920s and a mutual assistance pact with the USSR, conditional however on French military intervention on behalf of Czechoslovakia before Soviet commitments were engaged,” the Canadian professor pointed out.

“Hitler had to eliminate the 40 Czechoslovak divisions before his armed forces could take further action to the east and west,” Carley highlighted.However, the British government led by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain took efforts to remove this obstacle in Nazi Germany’s way, believing “that ‘Herr Hitler’ was a rational interlocutor with whom one could deal and come to agreement,” the academic noted, adding that “Chamberlain’s calculations were quickly disproved by events.”

The Canadian academic emphasized, “Western elites were not of one mind about the dangers of Nazi Germany to European security.” While Chamberlain and his followers deluded themselves into believing that “Herr Hitler” was “a reasonable man,” the political opposition in Britain and France viewed the “fuhrer” as menace to European peace and security.

“It was only in March 1939 after the disappearance of rump Czechoslovakia that Chamberlain’s position was weakened,” the academic said.

However, “for the Anglo-French elites, uncertain of their own force and masculinity, fascism was both intimidating and inspiring. For them, the danger of communist revolution was greater than any danger of Hitlerite Germany,” he added.

It was one of the reasons why the Soviet Union’s repeated attempts to create a defensive alliance against Nazi Germany had failed, according to the academic.

The USSR Made Every Effort to Form Anti-Nazi Coalition

Carley noted that the Soviet Union had pushed ahead with the plan to create an anti-Nazi coalition since December 1933.

“For nearly six years the Soviet government worked tirelessly to promote collective security in Europe,” the Canadian professor highlighted. “Soviet policy was in effect a proposal to recreate the anti-German Entente of World War I, including fascist Italy.”

However, Soviet offers of cooperation were spurned in France, Britain, Romania and Poland. The promising rapprochement between the USSR and the US after meetings between President Franklin Roosevelt and the commissar for foreign affairs, Maxim M. Litvinov, in the autumn of 1933 “was sabotaged by the Sovietophobe Department of State.”

Carley refuted the assumption that it was “the Stalinist purges” that “undermined Anglo-French confidence in Soviet proposals for collective security”: Moscow’s key attempts to create an anti-Nazi alliance preceded “the first Stalinist show trial in the late summer of 1936.”

Soviet diplomat Maxim Litvinov
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Soviet diplomat Maxim Litvinov

Poland as ‘Spoiler and Saboteur’ of Efforts to Create Anti-Hitler Alliance

The Canadian professor outlined the role of Poland in ruining efforts to form a defensive alliance against Hitlerite Germany.

“Poland never showed any genuine interest in Soviet proposals for collective security against Nazi Germany”… furthermore it was “the spoiler of ‘collective security’ in Europe during the 1930s,” Carley underscored.

“Time after time the Polish government, and most notably the Polish foreign minister, Józef Beck, intervened to block Soviet efforts to build an anti-Nazi alliance,” he highlighted.

On January 26, 1934, Warsaw signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, while “in 1938 Poland was Hitler’s accomplice in dismembering Czechoslovakia before becoming Hitler’s victim in 1939,” the professor pointed out referring to Poland’s occupation of Zaolzie in October 1938.

“The Polish elite always considered Russia to be the greater menace, no matter who governed it,” the Canadian academic remarked. “Beck was so complacent that he approved the Polish ambassador in Moscow’s annual leave as the European crisis was reaching its height in the summer of 1939.”

“Poland acted as the spoiler and saboteur right up until August 1939…. One can only conclude that the Polish government brought defeat and ruin upon itself… and far more importantly on the Polish people,” the professor suggested.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact: Last on the List

Despite Poland having been the first to conclude a non-aggression agreement with Nazi Germany, it used the most insulting language while addressing the conclusion of the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the professor noted.

The German-Soviet non-aggression treaty struck on August 23, 1939, has repeatedly come under heavy criticism from Western historians who denounced it as an example of “Soviet-Nazi” collusion. However, the Soviet Union was the last to ink such an agreement among other European states.The first on the list is Poland (1934), next came Great Britain, who concluded the Anglo-German Naval Pact in 1935 and inked the Munich Agreement with Berlin in 1938 together with Paris and Rome.

The German-Romanian deal for economic cooperation was signed on March 23, 1939. About two months later, in May, Denmark struck its non-aggression pact with Hitler. The same month Rome and Berlin inked their “Pact of Steel” while in June Nazi Germany signed non-aggression agreements with Estonia and Latvia.

However, the “chronology of the various non-aggression pacts is not the key issue,” according to the Canadian professor: The key issue is that “the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact was [in fact] the result of the failure of Anglo-Franco-Soviet negotiations for an alliance against Nazi Germany.”

When Stalin later observed the Anglo-French hesitance to go to Warsaw’s aid when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, “he could only have concluded that his putative ‘allies’ would have left the Soviet Union in similar straits,” Carley stressed.

History Rewritten

When Word War II was over the question arose as to whom to blame for the catastrophe. Incredible as it may seem, the Western powers pointed the finger of blame at the USSR, the very country that contributed the most to the victory over Nazi Germany and which lost 27 million people during the war.”When the United States and Britain resumed the Cold War after May 1945 (the Cold War having in fact begun in November 1917), the shameful conduct of the French and British governments and the despicable behavior of the Polish government during the 1930s had to be covered up or ‘justified,'” Carley said. “Likewise, the predominate role of the Red Army in destroying the Wehrmacht had to be erased from people’s memories.”

According to the historian present day western hostility toward the Russian Federation and its president are fed by this bogus American and European “history.” However, one should keep in mind that the outcome of WWII was defined not by the Normandy invasion in June 1944, but by the Soviet victory in the battle for Stalingrad in February 1943, the Canadian academic stressed.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Germany and Russia’s Bond of War & Peace
| September 28, 2017 | 7:50 pm | Germany, Russia | No comments
German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets Russian President Vladimir Putin as he arrives for the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017

Germany and Russia’s Bond of War & Peace

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No other countries on the Eurasian continent suffered so much from war than Germany and Russia. But perhaps out of this mutually painful experience of horror and loss, the two powerhouses can in partnership forge a new geopolitical direction.

A new direction that would turn simmering conflict and saber-rattling into plowshares in order to cultivate international peace and prosperity.

Nazi Germany’s aggression towards the Soviet Union inflicted at least 27 million deaths during the 1941-45 war; Germany was likewise laid to ruins, with up to six million of its military personnel — some 90 percent of its total war losses — killed by the resurgent Soviet forces.

Death, disease, destitution and mass starvation scarred both nations. More than any other country, Russia and Germany know the full horror and suffering of war. Therefore, it is incumbent on both to do everything to ensure that such violence should never be repeated.

This week, Germany’s ambassador to Russia, Rudiger von Fritsch renewed the bond of friendship between the two nations. In a meeting with Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Russian Upper Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, the German envoy said: “There is no alternative to good relations between Russia and Germany.”

He added that Germany and Russia “share responsibility for the destiny of the Eurasian continent”.

A truer word could not be spoken.

However, there is a special onus on Germany to find its independence in foreign policy and to build a strategic partnership with Russia. Not only for the sake of Germany, but for the European Union and the wider Eurasian continent.

To be blunt, Germany has for too long allowed its natural relations with Russia to become warped under the sway of an overbearing transatlantic dominance by Washington.

Recall that when the US-led NATO alliance was formed in 1949, its first general secretary, Britain’s Lord Ismay, candidly described the purpose of the organization thus: “To keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

This mentality of divide-and-rule has served well an Anglo-American agenda of giving Washington an overweening presence and role in determining European affairs, in particular in the latter’s relations with Moscow.

But Europe has paid a heavy price for its transatlantic thrall to Washington.

As Germany’s recent elections have shown, the country has become bitterly divided over the issue of massive influx of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats were re-elected, but only after incurring big electoral losses to the anti-immigrant newcomer party, Alternative for Germany. Merkel is now tasked with cobbling together a coalition government in the aftermath.

Widespread popular rancor over large-scale immigration has also strained the cohesiveness of the European Union. The backlash against the EU from populist parties is felt in Britain, France, Holland to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The political stresses being felt both inside Germany and across Europe are arguably the direct result of the EU being a bystander to decades of American-led illegal wars in the Middle East. European powers stand accused of being complicit in these US wars which have destabilized whole nations and set off the phenomenal mass migration towards Europe.

If European powers had shown more independence and acted to avert US-led wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and elsewhere, it seems reasonable to posit that the anti-immigrant politics which are tearing at the social fabric within Germany and Europe would not have arisen. In other words, it was precisely Europe being in thrall to Washington’s policies that have created so much of the bloc’s current turmoil.

The same can be said about American agitation for NATO’s expansion and force buildup around Russia. The ensuing tensions between Russia and Europe have grown out of all proportion to the objective circumstances. Russia has repeatedly said that it has no intention to threaten the borders of any European state, yet this specter has been continually whipped up by the US-led transatlantic axis.

The most recent example of this was the Western media hysteria surrounding Russia’s Zapad 2017 military defense exercises in Belarus at the end of last month. NATO officials and pro-transatlantic politicians like Britain’s Michael Fallon were warning of an imminent Russian invasion of the Baltics. As it turned out, the Zapad exercises passed without any such incident, and were seen to be a defensive drill, exactly just as Russia had been consistently maintaining. But you see how the American-dominated Russophobia was irresponsibly stoking European alarm and tensions with Moscow.

If only German leaders could make the full transition to independence in foreign policy. And abandon the futile, unnecessary antagonism with Russia.

Former German defense minister Willy Wimmer can see through the nonsense. Why can’t others? In a media interview from three years ago, Wimmer rejected the Washington-led narrative that Russia instigated the Ukraine crisis. He has the balanced insight to see that it was the US and European allies who destabilized the country with an illegal coup against an elected government in Kiev in February 2014.

The American and European economic sanctions that have been imposed on Russia during the past three years over alleged Russian interference in Ukraine are baseless, as Wimmer points out. These sanctions have rebounded to damage Europe’s economy to a much greater extent than America’s because of the extensive bilateral links between Europe and Russia.

Now the Trump administration is moving to impose more sanctions that would be detrimental to Europe’s vast energy supplies from Russia. The obvious ulterior motive here is for the Americans to replace Russia as the energy exporter to Europe — at much higher financial costs to the European governments and citizens.

Germany has reacted angrily to those latest US sanctions, saying they constitute undue interference by Washington in European affairs. It’s about time that Berlin woke up to reality. The issue epitomizes the bigger geopolitical picture of how Washington meddles in European-Russian relations for its selfish interests.

American unilateralism is pushing the world towards more conflict. Whether it is to do with North Korea, Iran, China, or between Europe and Russia.

As the strongest power in the European Union, Germany has a special responsibility to promote diplomacy and peaceful resolutions. Berlin must forge the greater partnership with Moscow to create a vital counterbalance to reckless American unilateralism.

Germany and Russia’s shared experience of war and suffering is a powerful incentive for the two nations to lead the way forward for Europe and the world in the pursuit of peace. America’s relatively unscathed experience in suffering war is perhaps why its leaders are often gung-ho about starting wars.

For this to happen, Germany must find the political courage and independence to reject Washington’s inordinate influence. Chancellor Merkel is known to have little regard for Trump and his loose-cannon policies. Her fourth term in office is an auspicious time for Berlin to radically rethink the transatlantic dependence on Washington.

As the German envoy said earlier: “There is no alternative to good relations between Russia and Germany.”

Indeed, the future of peaceful relations in Eurasia and the world may depend on it.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.