Dagelijkse archieven: 1 april 2018


Russia performs legitimate missile drill in international waters – the West panics

Aangeleverd door: Spruitje

Quenelle

Russia performs legitimate missile drill in international waters – the West panics

sweden russia drill

“I’ve Never Seen Anything Like It” – Russia Declares ‘Unusual’ Missile Drill, Just Miles From Sweden by Sat, 03/31/2018 – 15:00 346 SHARES Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Rather than exercising caution after the nerve gas attack in the United Kingdom and a tidal wave of Russian diplomatic expulsions from Washington, Eurozone, and other countries, Moscow is upping the ante which has surprised the Eurozone and the West on Thursday. Besides the tit-for-tat expulsions of Russian and American diplomats, President Vladimir Putin has chosen to flex his war muscles next week with an unusual missile exercise in international waters, but close enough to Sweden and Latvia that it will shut down commercial airspace.

Comment: Considering Russia is one of the least likely culprits and has nothing to hide, why would they act like the guilty party? Skripal Likely Poisoned by British Intelligence in Effort to Smear and Silence Russian World View

The Russian cruiser Marshal Ustinov, assigned to the 43rd Missile Ship Division of the Russian Northern Fleet, has been deployed to the Baltic Sea for a live firing exercise in international waters near Sweden and Latvia on April 06 through 08, TASS reported, citing the Russian Navy’s press release.

According to Sweden’s Aftonbladetthe Swedish Civil Aviation Administration received a Russian telegram on Tuesday alerting officials that “rocket test firings in the southern part of the Baltic Sea” will take place in proximity to Karlskrona, Sweden. The test area is known as “Russia 1”, from April 4 at 6:00 to 6 April at 18:00.

Russian telegram on Tuesday alerting officials

“Russia has announced that they are planning some sort of launch next week. It is an area of international water but in Swedish airspace, “says Sofia Bergström, communications officer at the Civil Aviation Administration.

Comment: NATO performs drills on Russian borders all the time, and with increasing frequency, if anybody should be concerned with overtly aggressive behaviour, it’s Russia: NATO triples its military presence on Russia’s borders in past 5 years

During the missile exercise, the Swedish Civil Aviation Administration will refer to the D-area, as “Dangerous Area,” and all air traffic and civilian aircraft will be rerouted during the exercise.

“The rocket launches mean that air traffic will be led around this area and it will mean delays for civil aviation,” says Sara Eriksson, Press Manager at Transportstyrelsen.

Aftonbladet indicates that “Russia has not practiced this far west on the Baltic Sea in the past.”

Comment: Russia has every right to, unlike the West which violates every treaty and agreement on a whim.
Russian telegram on Tuesday alerting officials

“I have never before seen another nation carry out bouts in the Swedish FIR except during a coexercise with Sweden. Clearly outside the normal,” tweets Defense Commander Wiseman, Lieutenant Colonel Carl Bergqvist, on Twitter (Translated from Swedish by Microsoft via Bing).

Comment: Sweden is under the influence of the demented Western establishment and is highly unlikely to have cooperated in a coexcersize with Russia: Sweden goes mad, plans “total societal mobilization” against Russia

“This is very rare,” a source within the Swedish Armed Forces told Expressen.

A curator for various social media channels monitoring Russian military exercises tweeted: “Bloody hell. Russian navy just reserved missile firings area for 4-6 April up to 18000m in intl waters real close to Sweden. How provocative you can go?”

A political editor for BILD raised an interesting point, “Two days after Germany issued the final permit to realize NordStream2, the Russian Army flexes its muscles exactly above the planned course of the pipeline. Missile tests to take place from April 4 to April 6. A clear sign to Denmark and #Sweden.#PutinAtWar.”

Sweden’s public service radio broadcaster said, “Russian missiles will be tested in international waters unusually close to Sweden next week. Air traffic near Öland and Bornholm will have to be redirected.

“I’ve never seen anything like it” said flight traffic chief Jörgen Andersson to @MatsEriksson7.”

Relations between Washington and Moscow have plunged to lows not seen since the gloomy days of the Cold War – following the nerve gas attack in the United Kingdom. In response to the West’s anti-Russian campaign along with a barrage of Russian diplomat expulsions, President Vladimir Putin has ordered a new wave of war drills across the Russian Federation.

Western elites/media who have conditioned the American people with 24/7 anti-Russian propaganda could eventually get their wish of the Cold War 2.0 turning hot, as Moscow will be forced to deploy an even greater deterrence pushing the region toward a point of no return.

Comment: The article doesn’t state how far in advance these drills were organised because it may just be that they were planned in advance of the West’s recent black propaganda campaign. Even so, the drills themselves are also very close to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast so it does actually make sense that Russia would want to be sure it’s capabilities in the region.

map kalingrad oblast

The hype surrounding this even seems to be more Western paranoid projection – even if by performing the drill, Russia is knowingly staking its place in the area:

Also check out SOTT’s media:


Poland secures its largest arms deal in history as Eastern Europe preps for war

Aangeleverd door: Spruitje

Puppet Masters

Attention

Poland secures its largest arms deal in history as Eastern Europe preps for war

Patriot anti-missile system

© Unknown
Patriot anti-missile system

Poland is buying $4.75 billion worth of Raytheon toys, Russia says this is destabilizing and a threat!

The Pentagon and Poland Wednesday signed a $4.75 billion deal to sell the eastern European country the Patriot anti-missile system.

While Poland’s extreme right-wing government hailed the arms deal, the largest in the country’s history, it will undoubtedly further stoke tensions between the West and Moscow, which has viewed the deployment of such systems as part of a concerted effort by Washington and its allies to undermine Russia’s ability to defend itself against a nuclear attack.

“It is an extraordinary, historic moment; it is Poland’s introduction into a whole new world of state-of-the-art technology, modern weaponry, and defensive means,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said during the signing ceremony, which was held at an armaments factory before a column of Polish troops.

“It’s a lot of money, but we also know from our historical experience that security has no price,” said Duda, whose authoritarian regime will no doubt extract the money to pay for the missiles through redoubled attacks on the living standards of Polish workers.

The Polish arms deal has been inked in the midst of a coordinated international campaign led by London and Washington to indict Moscow for the poisoning of the ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4.

Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning, which the British authorities have claimed was carried out with a nerve agent “of a type” (Novichok) that had once been manufactured in the Soviet Union and that it was “highly likely” that the attack was the work of Russia.

Without presenting any evidence to substantiate these accusations-much less any conceivable motive for Moscow to carry out such an action on the eve of the presidential election in Russia-the British Conservative government of Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian diplomats.

London has refused Moscow’s requests to supply a sample of the alleged nerve agent used in the attack, as is required by international chemical weapons treaties. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday charging that the attitude of the May government shows that “UK authorities are not interested in finding out the motives and those responsible for the crime in Salisbury and suggests that the British intelligence services are involved in it.”

Washington joined this anti-Russian crusade, ordering the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomatic personnel and the closing of the Russian consulate in Seattle, while joining with London in pressuring other countries to follow suit. More than 20 other countries responded with expulsions. Most of these countries took only token actions, however, involving one or two Russian diplomats. Nine members of the EU took no action. The only expulsion of more than four diplomats in Europe came from the rabidly anti-Russian government of Ukraine, which ordered 13 Russian diplomats to leave the country.

Poland, which along with Germany, France and Canada was one of the countries expelling four Russians, has long served as a pillar of the military buildup by the US and NATO against Russia.

Since the coming to office of the Trump administration, Washington has openly promoted the forging of closer ties to Warsaw and other eastern European governments, reviving the so-called Intermarium project of the 1920s, in which the US sought an alliance with fascistic and right-wing regimes in the region directed against both the Soviet Union and the rise of Germany as a continental hegemon.

The turn toward Eastern Europe is in large part a response to mounting tensions between Washington and Germany, which is increasingly seeking its own great power interests, including through commercial and other ties with Russia. While Berlin joined with the UK, France and the US in signing a joint declaration blaming Russia for the Skripal poisoning, there exist sharp divisions within the German ruling establishment and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand coalition government over the issue.

“We must do everything possible to prevent a new Cold War with Russia,” Social Democrat Gernot Erler, the government coordinator for Russia, told the Passauer Neue Presse.

Other prominent Social Democrats went further. Former European Commissioner Guenter Verheugen questioned the objective basis for the sanctions. “The view that if in doubt, ‘Putin and the Russians are responsible for everything’, is one that poisons thought and must stop,” he told the Augsburger Allgemeine.

Such views reflect the concerns of major German corporate and financial interests, whose profits are tied up with the Russian market.

The German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, whose members include some 200 German companies, warned against “over-hasty conclusions” over the Skripal affair leading to a “spiral of escalation.”

Just one day after it expelled a handful of Russian diplomats, the German government on Tuesday announced final approval for the construction and operation of the Russia-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will pipe Russian natural gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea. The project has been bitterly opposed by both Washington and its Eastern European allies.

It is no doubt such tensions that the US defense secretary, Gen. James Mattis, had in mind when he told reporters at the Pentagon that Russia was “trying to break the unity of the Western alliance.” Mattis claimed that it was “pretty obvious” that Russia was responsible for the attack on Skripal and charged Moscow with having “chosen to be a strategic competitor, even to the point of reckless activity.”

The sharp divisions that have emerged among the NATO powers notwithstanding, there are continuous signs that active preparations are underway for war with Russia.

Senior US military officers speaking at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium on Monday issued warnings that the Pentagon must “dramatically increase the range of the service’s artillery and missile systems to counter a Russian threat that would leave ground forces without air support in the ‘first few weeks’ of a war in Europe,” the website military.com reported. The American military, the officers revealed, is working on a number of new weapons systems designed to counteract superior Russian air defense systems that would preclude the operation of fixed-wing aircraft.

“We’ve got to push the maximum range of all systems under development for close, deep and strategic, and we have got to outgun the enemy,” Gen. Robert Brown, commanding general of United States Army Pacific Command, told an audience of military officers and defense contractors.

Meanwhile, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, announced Wednesday that it has launched an initiative to create a “military Schengen zone,” allowing NATO military forces to freely cross European borders. The military project is being unveiled even as right-wing nationalist and anti-immigrant European politicians, including Germany’s new Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, are openly rejecting the original Schengen Agreement, in effect for over two decades, which allows border-control-free travel between the 26 European countries that signed on to it.

EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc told reporters that the aim was to ensure “quick and seamless mobility across the continent. This is a matter of collective security.”

In addition to removing border controls, she said that investments would be made to assure that key corridors would be capable of handling tanks and heavy military vehicles.

“We must be able to quickly deploy troops either within the EU or rapidly launch military operations abroad and to do so we need infrastructure that is fit for the purpose.”

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Alexander Fomin responded to the announcement by stating that the real goal was to “fast-track to the maximum extent … deployment towards Russia’s borders.”

He also told the Russian Defense Ministry’s official newspaper that the US and NATO were creating arsenals of weapons, ammunition and food supplies in various countries, including Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, to prepare for war with Russia.

Comment: Disturbing how the pace is picking up in readying the West for confrontation. Even more unsettling is how many countries have ‘bought’ into this paranoia – figuratively and literally (Skripal incident = arms sales). The build-up, as outlined, has become an epic crusade against a reluctant adversary and the weight of these collective actions involving most Western allies is reaching frightening proportions.

You want trade war? China to slap US with 15-25% import tariff increase

Aangeleverd door: Spruitje

Society’s Child

Arrow Up

You want trade war? China to slap US with 15-25% import tariff increase

shipping containers

Beijing is hiking up tariffs on more than 128 US imports, including fruit and pork, as part of a tit-for-tat response to US President Donald Trump’s $60 billion package of tariffs imposed against China.

The additional fares, which range from 15 to 25 percent, will take effect on Monday, the Chinese Finance Ministry said on their website. It added that the measure, aimed at “safeguarding China’s interests,” was in response to Washington’s package of tariffs targeting more than 100 types of Chinese goods, from clothing to electronics.

The statement said China has suspended duty concessions on imported goods originating from the US, and has imposed a duty rate of 15 percent on 120 items of imports, such as fruits and products. The tariff rate for eight items of imported goods, such as pork and food products, is now 25 percent.

China’s current tax-free and tax-exemption policy “remains unchanged,” the ministry noted, adding that the move comes in compliance with multilateral trading mechanisms and rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Announcing the package of tariffs on March 22, Donald Trump said it will help the US reduce trade imbalances with China and curb theft of American intellectual property. Earlier, his administration accused Beijing of making “state-led, market-distorting efforts to force, pressure, and steal US technologies and intellectual property.”

On March 23, Beijing signaled it was ready to go toe-to-toe with Washington’s campaign against China, proposing new levies on 128 American imports. The news shook global markets, with fears of an imminent trade war between the world’s largest economies looming. 

China’s Commerce Ministry also threatened to take legal action against the US through the WTO, and urged Washington to “pull back from the brink, make prudent decisions, and avoid dragging bilateral trade relations to a dangerous place.”

Fears of escalating tariffs made stock markets plunge, with a broad sell-off among investors at the time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2.93 percent (723.43 points), it was the lowest closing value since February 8. The S&P 500 Index sank 2.52 percent (68.24 points) at the close of trading, marking its lowest level since February 9. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei tumbled more than 3 percent, to its lowest level since October 12.

Commenting on the Trump administration’s tariffs, WHO Director-General Roberto Azevedo condemned the move, saying that disrupting bilateral trade would “jeopardize the global economy at a time when economic recovery, though fragile, has been increasingly evident around the world,” as cited by the Financial Times.

Comment: See also: How China can unite Eurasia and help avert the West’s psychopathic war against it

Towards ‘NATO-Exit’: Geopolitical shift in the structure of military coalitions – Turkey’s alliance with Russia, China and Iran

Aangeleverd door: Spruitje

Towards ‘NATO-Exit’: Geopolitical shift in the structure of military coalitions – Turkey’s alliance with Russia, China and Iran

NATO

Reminiscent of World War I, shifting alliances and the structure of military coalitions are crucial determinants of history.

Today’s military alliances, including “cross-cutting coalitions” between “Great Powers” are equally dangerous, markedly different and exceedingly more complex than those pertaining to World War I. (i.e the confrontation between “The Triple Entente” and “the Triple Alliance”).

Contemporary developments point to a historical shift in the structure of military alliances which could contribute to weakening US hegemony in the Middle East as well as creating conditions which could lead to a breakup of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

NATO constitutes a formidable military force composed of 29 member states, which is largely controlled by the Pentagon. It is a military coalition and an instrument of modern warfare. It constitutes a threat to global security and World peace.

Divisions within the Atlantic Alliance could take the form of one or more member states deciding to “Exit NATO”. Inevitably an NATO-Exit movement would weaken the unfolding consensus imposed by our governments which at the this juncture in our history consists in threatening to wage a pre-emptive war against the Russian Federation.

***

In this article, we will largely be addressing a concrete case of a NATO member state’s intent to exit the Atlantic Alliance NATO, namely Turkey’s “NATO-Exit” and its evolving rapprochement with Russia as well as with Iran and China.

Turkey is contemplating a “NATO-Exit”, the implications of which are far-reaching. Military alliances are being redefined.

In turn, Turkey in Northern Syria is fighting against America’s proxy Kurdish forces, i.e. one NATO member state is fighting another NATO member state.

Russia’s stance in relation to Turkey’s military actions in Northern Syria is ambiguous. Russia is an ally of Syria, whose country has been invaded by Turkey, an ally of Russia.

From a broader military standpoint, Turkey is actively cooperating with Russia, which has recently pledged to ensure Turkey’s security.“Moscow underscores that Turkey can calmly withdraw from NATO, and after doing so Ankara will have guarantees that it will not face any threat [from US-NATO] in terms of ensuring its own security,” (According to statement of Turkish Air Force Major-general Beyazit Karatas (ret))

Moreover, Ankara will be acquiring in 2020 Russia’s state of the art S-400 air defense system while de facto opting out from the integrated US-NATO-Israel air defense system. The S-400 deal is said to have caused “concern” “because Turkey is a member of NATO and the [S-400] system cannot be integrated into NATO’s military architecture”.

Russia’s S-400 Triumf

© TASS
Russia’s S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is the latest long-range antiaircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and surface targets. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 kilometers and at an altitude of up to 30 kilometers

What does this mean?

Has NATO’s “heavyweight” (in terms of its conventional forces) namely Turkey chosen to exit the Atlantic Alliance? Or is Turkey involved in an alliance of convenience with Russia while sustaining its links with NATO and the Pentagon?

The Atlantic Alliance is potentially in shatters. Will this lead to a NATO Exit movement with other NATO member states following suit?

Moscow’s intent in this regard, through diplomatic channels is to build upon bilateral relations with selected EU-NATO member states.The objective is to contribute to NATO “military deescalation” on Russia’s Western frontier.

Apart from Turkey, several EU countries including Germany, Italy, Greece (which has established defense ties with Russia) as well as Bulgaria could contemplate a NATO-Exit.

Dardanelles

Dardanelles

Turkey’s “Rapprochement” with Russia is strategic. While playing a key role in the Middle East, Turkey also controls naval access to the Black Sea through the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. (see image right)

In other words, Turkey’s withdrawal from NATO would have an immediate impact on NATO’s land and naval deployments in the Black Sea basin, which in turn would affect NATO military capabilities on Russia’s doorstep in Eastern Europe, The Baltic States and the Balkans.

Needless to say, the Moscow-Ankara alliance facilitates the movement of Russian and Chinese naval forces to and from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean via the Bosphorus.

Turkey’s realignment is not limited to Russia it also includes Iran as well as Pakistan, which is in the process of severing its military ties with the US, while extending its trade and investment relations with China. Pakistan as well as India are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement (SCO).

The broader structure of military as well trade/ investment alliances must also be addressed, including maritime routes and pipeline corridors.

US Influence and Hegemony in the Broader Middle East

These geopolitical shifts have served to weaken U.S. influence in the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia.

Turkey has an alliance of convenience with Iran. And Iran in turn is now supported by a powerful China-Russia block, which includes military cooperation, strategic pipelines as well extensive trade and investment agreements.

In turn, the unity of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States is now in jeopardy, with Qatar, Oman and Kuwait building an alliance with Iran (as well as Turkey), to the detriment of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Saudi Arabia’s economic blockade directed against Qatar has created a rift in geopolitical alliances which has served to weaken the US in the Persian Gulf.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is profoundly divided, with the UAE and Bahrain siding with Saudi Arabia against Qatar. In turn Qatar has the support of Oman and Kuwait. Needless to say, the GCC which until recently was America’s staunchest Middle East ally against Iran is in total disarray.

U.S. Central Command Military Base in Qatar

While Turkey is deploying troops in Qatar, it has also established the Tariq bin Ziyad military base in Qatar (in cooperation with the Qatari Ministry of Defense) under an agreement signed in 2014.

The Qatar based Al Udeid US military facility is the largest in the Middle East. Under USCentCom, it hosts the command structure of all US military operations in the entire Middle East-Central Asian region.

Al Udeid -which houses some 10,000 US military personnel-, has played a strategic role in the ongoing conduct of US air operations against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

There is however a fundamental contradiction: America’s largest military base in the Middle East which hosts USCentCom is at present located in a country which is firmly aligned with Iran (i.e. an enemy of America). Moreover, Qatar’s main partners in the oil and gas industry including pipelines are Iran and Turkey. In turn, both Russia and China are actively involved in the Qatari oil and gas industry.

In response to Qatar’s rapprochement with Iran, the Pentagon has already envisaged moving its Central Command headquarters at the Al Udeid Air Force base (image left) to the Prince Sultan Air Force base in central Saudi Arabia, 80 km south of Riyadh.

US army in Qatar

Force base in central Saudi Arabia, 80 km south of Riyadh.

The structure of military alliances pertaining to Qatar are in this regard strategic.

Why? Because Qatar is a Geopolitical Hot Spot, largely attributable to its extensive maritime reserves in natural gas which it shares with Iran.

Iran and Qatar cooperate actively in the extraction of maritime natural gas under a joint Qatar-Iran ownership structure. These maritime gas fields are strategic, they constitute the World’s largest maritime gas reserves located in the Persian Gulf. (For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky, Middle East and Asia Geopolitical Alliances, Global Research, September 17, 2017)

Map of Qatar

In March 2018, Washington demanded that Qatar’s Al Jazeera News agency register in the U.S. as a “Foreign Agent” intimating that Doha has an “alliance” with enemies of America, including Iran and Russia.

Is this not a prelude to “Qatar-Gate” under the helm of Trump’s newly instated “war cabinet” (with Pompeo taking over from Tillerson at the State Department)?

Screen shot Middle East Monitor, March 9, 2018

Screen shot Middle East Monitor, March 9, 2018

In November 2017, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani intimated during a visit to Washington that “Qatar does not rule out the possibility of a Saudi-led military operation against it”. While this option is unlikely, a “regime change” in Doha sponsored by the US and its Saudi ally is a distinct possibility.

The Incirlik Air Force Base in Southern Turkey

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is envisaging moving US Air Force facilities and personnel out of the Incirlik base in southern Turkey:

Earlier in March, Johnny Michael, the spokesperson for the US European Command (EUCOM), denied “speculative” reports that the US military reduced its operations at Incirlik base, adding that all military activities continued normally.

A day before Michael’s remarks, a Wall Street Journal report suggested that the US “sharply reduced” combat operations at the airbase and was considering permanent cutbacks there. (Al Jazeera, March 26, 2018)

Concluding Remarks: With NATO in shambles, America’s “war hawks” do not have a leg to stand on.

The alliance between Washington and Ankara is in crisis. NATO is in crisis. In turn, a Turkey NATO-Exit could potentially destabilize NATO.

We are at a dangerous crossroads. The US-NATO military agenda threatens the future of humanity.

How to reverse the tide of war? What concrete actions should be taken?

“NATO-Exit” could become a rallying call, a movement which could spread across the European landscape.

Both the European and North American anti-war movements should concretely focus their grassroots campaign on country-based “NATO-Exit” with a view to breaking the structure of military alliances required by Washington to sustain its global military agenda.

No easy task. This movement will not emanate from the governments. Most of the heads of State and heads of government of NATO member countries have been coopted.

Moreover, many of the West’s civil society organizations and NGOs (financed by corporate foundations) are tacitly supportive of US-NATO “humanitarian wars”.

What this means is that the anti-war movement has to be rebuilt.

About the author:

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal, Editor of Global Research. He has taught as visiting professor in Western Europe, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Latin America. He has served as economic adviser to governments of developing countries and has acted as a consultant for several international organizations. He is the author of eleven books including The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003), America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005), The Global Economic Crisis, The Great Depression of the Twenty-first Century (2009) (Editor), Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (2011), The Globalization of War, America’s Long War against Humanity (2015). He is a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages. In 2014, he was awarded the Gold Medal for Merit of the Republic of Serbia for his writings on NATO’s war of aggression against Yugoslavia. He can be reached at crgeditor@yahoo.com