Archive for March, 2015

LATVIA SAYS RUSSIA’S MILITARY RHETORIC IS ‘ALARMING’

March 31, 2015

Reuters on March 28, 2015, reported that a war of words between Russia and the West could degenerate into something worse, with “devastating” consequences, Latvia’s foreign minister said. Excerpts below:

Latvia and its neighbors Estonia and Lithuania were all part of the Soviet Union until 1991 and are now members of the European Union. They are wary about Russia and have watched with alarm as ties have frayed over the Ukraine crisis.

[There is] increased Russian military activity and exercises, including in the Baltic, only adding to Western concerns.

“I do hope that we all understand that any provocations, any deterioration of the situation, may lead to consequences that would be devastating to everyone, including, of course, to Russia,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics told Reuters.

He said a peace plan thrashed out in Minsk last month appeared to be holding, but warned that a “worst case scenario”, the full resumption of hostilities, could not be ruled out.

“But in that case, we should understand that … there will be grave economic consequences for those who instigate that,” he said, referring to European Union sanctions already imposed on Russia.

“I hope that the Russian leadership in Moscow fully understands that, and is not going to get into irresponsible adventures.”

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RUSSIA THREATENS POLAND WITH HIDDEN ‘HYBRID WAR’, SENIOR POLISH GENERAL SAYS

March 30, 2015

Washington Times on March 25, 2015, reported that a senior Polish general is warning NATO members that Russia will wage “hybrid war” through propaganda and “information aggression” to achieve its geopolitical goals in the region. Excerpts below:

Gen. Stanisław Koziej, who heads the president’s National Security Bureau, said that while many members of NATO are cutting defense budgets, Russia is increasing its defense spending — and aggression — in ways that “must be stopped.”

“There is a negative image of Poland being created in Russian society,” Gen. Koziej told Newsweek. “An example of such pressure was the recent declaration of moving Iskander rockets to Kaliningrad region, that is to the Polish borders. A few days ago, a Russian document on annexation of Crimea stated that Poland backed up Maidan revolution by training Ukrainian fighters, which naturally is not true, but has built a certain image of Poland in Russian society.”

“In case of an open, regular aggression on our territory, I am positive that the defense would be made by NATO within article 5 of the Washington Treaty. We cannot be that certain in case of threats under the threshold of war — hidden aggression, diversion, which cannot be disregarded since Russian annexation of Crimea”, …Gen. Koziej said, Newsweek reported.

U.S. DROPS GRUESOME PAMPHLETS IN SYRIA

March 27, 2015

Washington Times on March 26, 2015, reported that the U.S. dropped gruesome pamphlets in Syria earlier this month that show Islamic State fighters putting recruits through a meat grinder, the Pentagon said. Excerpts below:

About 60,000 of the graphic leaflets were dropped March 16 over Ar-Raqqah, Syria, said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Under a sign that says “Daesh recruiting office,” the leaflet shows two Islamic State fighters with monster-like faces encouraging recruits to take a number to get in line to be put into a meat grinder, which also says Daesh, the local name for the terrorist group.

“The message of this leaflet is if you allow yourself to be recruited by Daesh, you will find yourself in a meat grinder,” Col. Warren said after showing reporters the image. “Not beneficial to your health.”

The leaflet, printed on a 4-by-8 inch piece of paper, was developed by the Military Information Support Office, Col. Warren said.

KIDNAPPINGS OF WEST BERLINERS AND WEST GERMANS BY THE STASI OF EAST GERMANY

March 26, 2015

The German publishing house Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in early 2015 published a detailed study on how East German State Security (Stasi) kidnapped around 400 people during the Cold War. (Susanne Muhle, Auftrag: Menschenraub (Mission: Abduction) Entführungen von Westberlinern und Bundesbürgern durch das Ministerium für Staatssicherheit der DDR (Kidnappings of West Berliners and West Germans by the Ministry of State Security (Stasi) of the GDR), 678 pages.

This study represents the first scientific study of the kidnappings of West Germans and West Berliners by the East German Stasi authorities. It also analyzes the methods and function of this practice.

To this very day it is little known that the East German Stasi authorities abducted some 400 people from West Berlin and West Germany in the 1950s and 1960s. Many returned home only after months, sometimes years, and some disappeared without a trace. The methods of the Stasi ranged from perfidious deceptions to street attacks. This study employs the extensive archival materials to illuminate this relatively unknown chapter in the relations between the two German states. It thus contributes to research on the history of Communist political violence and its perpetrators.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO DELIVERS WITHERING REBUKE OF OBAMA’S TREATMENT OF ISRAEL

March 22, 2015

National Review on March 20, 2015, reported that on the Senate floor on March 19, Florida senator and prospective Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio delivered a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration’s recent treatment of Israel. Excerpts below:

Beginning with a declaration of Israel’s virtues — “How much better would the world be if the Middle East looked more like Israel?” he asked — and noting its special purpose as a homeland for the Jewish people, Rubio launched into a withering condemnation of the Obama administration.

Rubio chronicled several years of the Obama administration’s distaste for Netanyahu and for Israel, and also recounted the several times that the Palestinian Authority has refused peace accords offered by Israel.

The Obama White House’s decision to air its grievances with Israel publicly earned Rubio’s harshest criticism: “Allies have differences, but when allies like Israel, when you have a difference with them and it is public, it emboldens their enemies to launch more rockets out of southern Lebanon and Gaza, to launch more terrorist attacks, to go to international forums and delegitimize Israel’s right to exist,” said Rubio, accusing the Obama administration of “a historic and tragic mistake.”

“This is outrageous, it is irresponsible, it is dangerous, and it betrays the commitment this nation has made to the right of a Jewish state to exist in peace,” he concluded. “If America doesn’t stand with Israel, who would we stand with? If Israel — a democracy, a strong American ally on the international stage — if they are not worthy of our unconditional support, then what ally of ours around the world can feel safe in their alliance with us?”

SYRIA AND SWEDEN – A DISTANT CONFLICT WITH SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES AT HOME

March 20, 2015

Stockholm Free World Forum on February 6, 2015, published an English version of a report on the consequences for Sweden of the Syrian civil war. The report is written by Karl Lallerstedt. Excerpts below from the online presentation:

The conflict in Syria is made possible by covert state support and a criminal “terror economy” which are sustaining the warring parties. Despite the fact that Damascus lies over 3,000 kilometers away from Stockholm, Syria’s civil war is closer than ever. A large number of Swedish citizens are fighting for terrorist organizations in Syria; some of these combatants are very likely to commit acts of terror upon their return. In 2014 alone, fleeing Syrians representing over half a percent of Sweden’s population applied for permanent residence.

Karl Lallerstedt in the report writes about the economic forces behind the Syrian civil war and the effect it has had on Sweden.

Karl Lallerstedt is co-founder of the Black MarketWatch (www.blackmarketwatch.org), Executive Director of illegal trade, economic and financial crime at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (www.globalinitiative.net), and a member of the OECD Working Group to identify illegal trade. He has previously worked on issues related to illegal trade in the private sector, and as a political and economic analyst.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: THE WORLD DOESN’T RECOGNIZE THE ANNEXATION OF UKRAINE

March 18, 2015

The Press Office of the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on March 17, 2015, reported that the president says that not a single country of the world has recognized the annexation of Crimea. Excerpts below:

Speaking of Crimea at the joint press availability with the Romanian President, Petro Poroshenko has reminded that a year ago, criminal so-called “referendum” had been held with which the Russian party had tried to legalize the annexation of Crimea. “They didn’t succeed – not a single country has recognized the results of this so-called “referendum”.

The President of Romania emphasized that his country had been supporting the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine since the very beginning of the Crimean annexation and the invasion of Donbas. “Borders can not be changed by force. The territorial integrity should be guaranteed,” Klaus Iohannis said and added that Romania would further comprehensively support its friendly neighbors and reliable partners, including Ukraine.

PUTIN SAYS HE WAS READY TO PUT NUCLEAR FORCES ON ALERT OVER CRIMEA

March 16, 2015

Fox News on March 16, 2015, reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that he was ready to put his country’s nuclear forces on alert to secure the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine last year. Excerpts below:

Putin made the comments in a pre-recorded documentary broadcast on Russian state television to mark the one-year anniversary of Moscow’s takeover of the Black Sea peninsula. The film featured an interview in which Putin admits “we were ready to do this” when asked about his willingness to ready Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

The documentary aired as rumors swirled around the Russian leader’s 10-day absence from public life. He is scheduled to meet with the president of Kyrgyzstan Monday.

Putin said his plans for a Crimean operation started after Yanukovych fled.

Russia initially denied that the unmarked forces who took control in Crimea were Russian, but Putin later admitted they were. In the Sunday documentary, he said he ordered the defense ministry to deploy military intelligence special forces, marines and paratroopers “under the cover of strengthening the protection of our military facilities.”

Putin also said Russian forces helped Yanukovych escape to Russia.

REPUBLICAN LETTER TO IRAN: A BAD OBAMA NUCLEAR DEAL WON’T LAST

March 11, 2015

Washington Times on March 9, 2015, published a comment by Fred Fleitz, who reported that frustrated with the determination of President Obama to strike a dangerously weak nuclear agreement with Iran without congressional approval, 47 Republican senators have signed an open letter to Iranian leaders warning them that any nuclear deal will be “nothing more than an executive agreement” and could be easily revoked by the next president in January 2017. Excerpts below:

The letter also says a final nuclear agreement will not be binding on the United States and could be modified by Congress at any time.

The letter was organized by Sen. Tom Cotton, Arizona Republican, and signed by top Senate leadership and potential presidential candidates Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Fred Fleitz is a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy

IS EUROPE DOOMED?

March 8, 2015

National Review on March 6, 2015, reviewed geopolitician George Friedman’s latest book, Flash Points – The Emerging Crisis in Europe. Excerpts below:

Friedman has a reputation as a geopolitical thinker, one who tries to work out the balance of forces in today’s world. Stratfor, the consultancy he founded some 20 years ago, puts out highly regarded and mostly speculative studies. He is the author of several books…

Opening chapters describe how Europe took its time to become the standard-bearer of civilization, only to throw everything away in the 31 deadly years between 1914 and 1945. In the turmoil, he and his family — originally Hungarian — escaped the Nazis and the Communists only by chance. In Friedman’s view, Germany is once more unsettling Europe. Of course Germans do not want to go to war, but because of national character and geography they are the strongest power among a lot of lesser nation-states unable to handle it.

Vladimir Putin discovered that “NATO’s military capacity is minimal,” as Friedman sums it up. The fighting in Ukraine is thus part of the process of drawing the line between Russia and Germany on the west of the continent, the line that Hitler and Stalin so disastrously failed to draw. Poland and the Baltic republics are likely to be tested next.

The European Union is another institution with minimal capacity. Its foundational promise of peace and prosperity was an attractive illusion. The breakup of Yugoslavia and the current financial crisis show that national sovereignty trumps any common European purpose. “Shambles” is the term Friedman uses.

The prophets of doom and downfall are unanimous. Walter Laqueur predicts that Europeans have a future as tourist guides, ski instructors, gondoliers, and the like. Christopher Caldwell outlines the coming Muslim take-over. George Friedman’s moral must be to get out of the continent while the going is good.