U.S. instructors are in Ukraine to learn how to fight Russia

From Fort Russ

(Photo: Manu Brabo/AFP via Getty)
Kristina Rus: 
What advantage can the 10 times bigger defense budget buy for the US army over Russia? 
“We have great signals intelligence, and we can listen all day long, but we can’t shut them down one-tenth to the degree they can us

Joaquin Flores:  

We saw this article and thought our readers would find it interesting.  While reinforcing the western narrative of intimate Russian involvement, it also talks about a technology gap that the US seems to be suffering in the area of jamming. This may or may not be true: during the Cold War the US often would inflate Russian military prowess in order to justify its own increased expenditures.  These resulted in windfall profits for the military industrial complex.  At the same time, the claim in itself seems possibly true.  The US has not had to focus on developing these technologies, as it had specifically targeted countries that were technologically deficient.  Now that the US is against a more formidable opponent, whether directly or through proxies, it seems to make sense that its own short-comings would be pronounced more now than at any point in the recent past.

Electronic Warfare: What US Army Can Learn From Ukraine

WASHINGTON — The US military has for weeks been training Ukrainian forces in US tactics, but the commander of US Army Europe says Ukrainian forces, who are fighting Russian-backed separatists, have much to teach their US trainers.

Ukrainian forces have grappled with formidable Russian electronic warfare capabilities that analysts say would prove withering even to the US ground forces. The US Army has also jammed insurgent communications from the air and ground on a limited basis, and it is developing a powerful arsenal of jamming systems, but these are not expected until 2023.

“Our soldiers are doing the training with the Ukrainians and we’ve learned a lot from the Ukrainians,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges. “A third of the [Ukrainian] soldiers have served in the … combat zone, and no Americans have been under Russian artillery or rocket fire, or significant Russian electronic warfare, jamming or collecting — and these Ukrainians have. It’s interesting to hear what they have learned.”

Hodges acknowledged that US troops are learning from Ukrainians about Russia’s jamming capability, its ranges, types and the ways it has been employed. He has previously described the quality and sophistication of Russian electronic warfare as “eye-watering.”

Russia maintains an ability to destroy command-and-control networks by jamming radio communications, radars and GPS signals, according to Laurie Buckhout, former chief of the US Army’s electronic warfare division, now CEO of the Corvus Group. In contrast with the US, Russia has large units dedicated to electronic warfare, known as EW, which it dedicates to ground electronic attack, jamming communications, radar and command-and-control nets.

Though Ukrainian troops lack the materiel to protect themselves from this form of attack, the Ukrainian military’s institutional knowledge as a former Soviet republic will help it understand how Russia fights, and its troops will have trained to operate while being jammed, Buckhout said. That’s something US ground forces can learn.

“Our biggest problem is we have not fought in a comms-degraded environment for decades, so we don’t know how to do it,” Buckhout said. “We lack not only tactics, techniques and procedures but the training to fight in a comms-degraded environment.”

It’s not hard to see why EW is an attractive option for Russia while the eyes of the world are on it. Not only is it highly effective, but as a non-kinetic form of attack, it is harder to trace and less likely to be viewed as overt aggression, and as such, less likely to incite the ire of the international community, Buckhout said.

In a fight, Russia’s forces can hinder a target’s ability to respond to, say, an artillery attack, allowing them to fire on an enemy with impunity. Ukrainian forces would be unable to coordinate a defense against incoming rockets and missiles, or release counter battery fire.

“If your radars don’t see incoming fire, you can’t coordinate counterfire,” Buckhout said.

The US, Buckhout said, lacks a significant electronic attack capability.

“We have great signals intelligence, and we can listen all day long, but we can’t shut them down one-tenth to the degree they can us,” she said. “We are very unprotected from their attacks on our network.”

Multifunctional EW

Col. Jeffrey Church, the Army’s electronic warfare division chief, acknowledged that since the Cold War, adversaries have continued to modernize their EW capabilities, while the Army began reinvesting its capabilities for Iraq and Afghanistan. Church called the fielding of Army electronic warfare equipment the “No. 1 priority” of his job.

“The  Army must have electronic warfare capabilities that could be used to dominate key terrain on the electromagnetic spectrum against any adversary,” Church said.

A developing Army program, Multifunctional Electronic Warfare (MFEW), is intended to provide an offensive electronic attack capability, able to jam cell phone, satellite and GPS signals, said Lt. Col. Gregory Griffin, chief of the Electronic Warfare Division’s programs and requirements branch. However, the focus had been until recent years on “defensive electronic attack,” namely counter-radio-controlled-IED devices that create bubbles of protective jamming around vehicles and people, and signals collection for intelligence purposes.

The Army has demonstrated some ability to counter enemy communications, not under formal acquisitions programs but as quick-reaction capabilities. In Afghanistan, the Army used a handful of C-12 aircraft equipped with Communications, Electronic Attack, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (CEASAR) jamming pods to jam insurgent push-to-talk radios, and two fixed-site systems — Ground Auto Targeting Observation/Reactive (GATOR) jammer and Duke V2 EA — to jam radios and repeater towers.

On an ad hoc basis, troops in Afghanistan used GATOR — conceived to protect forward operating bases — to suppress repeater towers while on patrol or training Afghan forces, providing themselves the freedom to maneuver while denying communications to potential enemies, Griffin said.

“It was unlimited capability, limited by the number of systems,” Griffin said. “Honestly, we just did not have enough to support the demand that was in the Army.”

The Army’s electronic warfare cadre, which totals 813 officers, warrant officers and noncommissioned officers,  has wielded more theory than hardware, except when deployed. In garrison, it was common for these troops to be assigned other jobs, leading to the joke that EW stands for “extra worker” — though this is changing as the Army ramps up its electronic warfare materiel strategy, Griffin said.

MFEW, due to reach initial operating capability in 2023 and full operating capability in 2027, is intended to offer a suite of powerful, sophisticated sensors and jammers for in the air, on ground vehicles and in fixed locations. The Army is due to consider a capability design document for the “air large” capability, akin to Caesar, potentially for a C-12 or a MQ-8 Fire Scout drone. Last year it tested the Networked Electronic Warfare Remotely Operated (NERO), a jamming pod attached to the Gray Eagle drone.

The Defense Department in March set up a panel to address its electronic warfare shortfalls, which, Griffin said, has generated discussion about accelerating the timeline for MFEW.

‘Future of War Is in the Ukraine’

Forces with US Army Europe have for the last 10 weeks been training three battalions of Ukraine Ministry of the Interior troops, known as Ukraine’s national guard. The second cycle of that training was paused so that troops could participate in a combined multinational exercise, underway through early August, and it will resume and conclude with the third battalion in August.

The Ukrainian military — which is in the midst of a reform and modernization effort even as it wars with Russia — has shown interest in creating a noncommissioned officer corps modeled after that of the US, Hodges said. Ukrainian military officials charged with reform efforts visited Washington in recent weeks and, in a press conference, acknowledged the challenges of corruption and shoddy soldier equipment, which they sought to correct.

But Konstiantyn Liesnik, an adviser to the Defense Ministry’s reform office and head of its working group for logistics and procurement, noted the US military’s experience in recent years has concerned insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, not a powerful, organized and well-equipped adversary like Russia.

The future of war is in the Ukraine, and I think in this case our experience is very important to US personnel how war should be in this century and next century,” Liesnik said.

Beyond electronic warfare, Russian anti-aircraft rockets have prevented Ukrainian forces from using their airplanes, and it has had to consider personal armor that can protect against artillery.

Ukrainian forces interacting with US soldiers have spoken frankly about their difficulties, something Hodges said he saw firsthand when the chief of the Ukrainian Army, at an event attended by senior leaders from other countries, discussed with a group of officers  his force’s battlefield experiences and shortcomings.

“I have been very impressed with the earnestness of the Ukrainian military to fix their shortcomings and improve their capabilities,” Hodges said. “It was one of the most professional things I have ever seen of any army, and they were very candid: We were not prepared to do this, and here’s how we adapted.”

Ukrainian troops have not only had to adapt to Russian electronic warfare, but its artillery and unmanned aerial systems. The Ukrainian Army official, Hodges said, also detailed how unprepared Ukrainian troops have been for the number of casualties and their treatment.

The US provided Ukraine with lightweight counter-mortar radars in November 2014, which Hodges said its troops have “used in ways we have not used it ourselves, and made it more effective than we thought was possible.” These troops, he said, would be savvy enough to operate a more advanced radar with a wider range — which the Pentagon is reportedly in talks to send.

An official at the US State Department said the administration believes there is no military resolution to this crisis, but Ukraine has the right to defend itself. To that end, it announced a $75 million Defense Department aid package in March that includes 30 armored Humvees, 200 other Humvees, radios and unarmed surveillance drones, night-vision devices and medical supplies.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based in Vicenza, Italy, had been training Ukrainian troops in western Ukraine, in battlefield medicine, casualty evacuation, and tactical tasks such as anti-roadside bomb techniques and basic battlefield movement.

Saber Guardian, a command post exercise which rotates between Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria, this year was linked to Rapid Trident, an annual field training exercise held in Ukraine, according to the US Army. The combined exercise, which includes roughly 1,800 soldiers from 18 different nations, is meant to focus on defensive operations to ensure a safe and secure environment within the operating environment.

This year’s scenario consists of a host nation that comes under attack. The nation is able to defend itself at great cost. A multinational force is sent to assist the host nation and the challenge is to bring together and train a multinational brigade, which would then be sent to assist the host nation in its defense.



NATO-Kritik im Establishment

English translation at http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/03/23/4815

NachDenkSeiten, 18. März 2015

Das Bundeskanzleramt wirft dem Oberbefehlshaber der NATO in Europa, Philip M. Breedlove, “gefährliche Propaganda” vor. Zur Frage, was von dieser Kritik, die ausgerechnet von der Regierung eines Landes geübt wird, die derlei Propagandatechniken selbst immer wieder angewandt hat, zu halten ist, sprach Jens Wernicke mit dem renommierten Friedensforscher und NATO-Kenner Daniele Ganser.

Herr Ganser, das Bundeskanzleramt wirft dem Oberbefehlshaber der NATO in Europa, Philip M. Breedlove, “gefährliche Propaganda” vor. Breedlove stelle beispielsweise die militärischen Aktivitäten Russlands in der Ostukraine völlig überzogen dar. Was vollzieht sich hier? Wird hier nun ausgerechnet die NATO von ausgerechnet der deutschen Regierung der Kriegspropaganda überführt?

Das Bundeskanzleramt hat recht mit dieser Kritik. Denn meiner Meinung nach passiert derzeit etwas sehr Gefährliches: US-Generäle wie Breedlove versuchen, einen Krieg vom Zaun zu brechen, in welchem sich Deutsche und Russen gegenseitig töten, damit beide Länder geschwächt werden. Das ist ein zynischer, ja diabolischer Plan. Aber US-Strategen wie Georg Friedman, Direktor des Think Tanks Stratfor, schlagen genau dies vor. Denn vereint seien Deutschland und Russland die einzigen Mächte, welche die USA bedrohen könnten, so Friedman in einem Vortrag im Februar 2015 in Chicago.

“Unser Hauptinteresse besteht darin, sicherzustellen, dass dieser Fall nicht eintritt“, so Friedman. Man müsse daher beide Länder in einen endlosen Krieg verwickeln, so dass sie ausbluten. Nicht alle Menschen in den USA vertreten diese Haltung, aber radikale Kriegstreiber wie Friedman schon. „Die USA können als Imperium nicht andauernd in Eurasien intervenieren”, erklärte er. Daher müsse man die verschiedenen Länder Eurasiens gegeneinander aufbringen und verhindern, dass sie sich in Brüderlichkeit verbinden. “Ich empfehle eine Technik, die von Präsident Ronald Reagan eingesetzt gegen Iran und Irak wurde: Er unterstützte beide Kriegsparteien!“ so Friedman. Der Krieg zwischen Irak und Iran von 1980 bis 1988 forderte übrigens mindestens 400.000 Tote, aus Sicht der Friedensforschung ist es also erschreckend, was Friedman da empfiehlt. „Dann haben die Iraner und Iraker gegeneinander und nicht gegen uns gekämpft“, erklärte Friedman in seinem Vortrag. „Das war zynisch und amoralisch. Aber es funktionierte. Denn die USA sind nicht in der Lage, ganz Eurasien zu besetzen. In dem Moment, indem wir einen Stiefel auf europäischen Boden setzen, sind wir aufgrund der demografischen Unterschiede zahlenmäßig total unterlegen.”

Meiner Meinung nach versuchen nun radikale US-Generäle wie Breedlove genau diese Strategie umzusetzen, damit sich in Zukunft deutsche und russische Soldaten gegenseitig in der Ukraine erschießen und ganz Osteuropa destabilisiert und geschwächt wird. Das aber wäre eine Katastrophe. Darum muss die Friedensbewegung ein Gegenprogramm anbieten, nämlich Neutralität für die Ukraine. Kein NATO-Beitritt also – und Freundschaft zwischen Deutschland und Russland.

Wie geht denn die NATO vor, um den Konflikt zu schüren?

NATO-General Breedlove ist immer wieder dadurch aufgefallen, dass er übertriebene oder unwahre Behauptungen verbreitet hat. Dadurch schürt die NATO den Krieg. Das ist sehr gefährlich, weil die Situation ja angespannt ist, wie wir alle wissen. Am 12. November 2014 erklärte Breedlove zum Beispiel, dass nun russische Truppen und Panzer in die Ukraine einmarschiert seien! Doch das stimmte nicht, und das ist keine Kleinigkeit. Wörtlich sagte der NATO-General: “Wir haben gesehen, dass russische Truppen, russische Panzer, Artillerie und Luftabwehrsysteme in die Ukraine einmarschiert sind.” Das wurde von der BBC und anderen Massenmedien weltweit verbreitet, aber es war eine Lüge.

Und auch US-General Ben Hodges, Kommandeur der US-Streitkräfte in Europa, treibt den Krieg an, indem er die ukrainische Armee unterstützt. Im Januar 2015 besuchte Hodges ein Militärspital in Kiew und überreichte verwundeten ukrainischen Soldaten Tapferkeits-Abzeichen der US-Armee. Das ist völlig ungewöhnlich. Stellen sie sich vor, ein chinesischer General käme in ein Militärspital nach Berlin und würde in Afghanistan verwundeten deutschen Soldaten das Tapferkeits-Abzeichen der chinesischen Armee überreichen! Das erhöht doch die Spannungen.

US-General Hodges zeigt aber symbolisch: Die USA sind jetzt aktiv Kriegspartei in der Ukraine, sie stehen hinter der ukrainischen Armee, die die von Russland unterstützen Separatisten in der Ostukraine bekämpft. Weil Deutschland Mitglied der NATO ist besteht die Gefahr, dass deutsche Soldaten durch die USA in diesen Krieg mit hineingezogen werden, ähnlich wie schon in Afghanistan nach 2001. Wenn das passieren sollte, dann haben wir genau den Zustand, den Friedman fordert: Deutsche und Russen erschießen sich in der Ukraine gegenseitig. Natürlich hoffe ich nicht, dass das passieren wird. Die Friedensbewegung muss vor dieser Gefahr aber warnen, um sie abzuwenden.

Ist derlei denn „üblich“, ich meine: dass die NATO lügt, übertreibt oder betrügt?

Ja, leider hat die NATO immer wieder Lüge und Gewalt kombiniert. In meinem Buch „NATO-Geheimarmeen in Europa. Inszenierter Terror und verdeckte Kriegsführung“ zeige ich auf, wie die NATO im Kalten Krieg in allen Ländern Westeuropas mit Unterstützung des US-Geheimdienstes CIA und des britischen Geheimdienstes MI6 Geheimarmeen aufgebaut hatte, ohne dass die Bevölkerung oder das Parlament etwas davon wusste.

Vor allem US-Generäle sind gefährlich, denn sie haben in den letzten 70 Jahren fast ohne Unterbrechung Krieg geführt in vielen verschiedenen Ländern und sind es als Vertreter eines Imperiums nicht nur gewohnt zu töten, sondern auch zu täuschen. General Lyman Lemnitzer beispielsweise, der von 1963 bis 1969 als SACEUR der NATO diente, also ein Vorgänger des jetzigen SACEUR Breedlove, hat in den 1960er Jahren empfohlen, die USA könnten einen Krieg gegen Kuba inszenieren, indem man ein amerikanisches Schiff auf dem US-Militärstützpunkt Guantanamo selber in die Luft sprengt sowie Terroranschläge in Washington durchführt und beide Verbrechen dann Fidel Castro in die Schuhe schiebt, um das amerikanische Volk auf einen Krieg gegen Kuba einzustimmen. Diese sogenannte Operation Northwoods wurde zum Glück von Präsident John F. Kennedy gestoppt, sie zeigt aber, wie gefährlich hohe Offiziere im Pentagon sind.

Treiben denn nur die USA diese Kriege an oder sind auch andere NATO-Länder involviert?

Die NATO zählt heute 28 Mitglieder und leider sind auch andere NATO-Länder an der Kriegspropaganda beteiligt. Zum Beispiel die Briten. Vor dem Angriff auf den Irak im März 2003 erklärte der britische Premierminister Tony Blair: „Der Irak besitzt chemische und biologische Waffen. (…) Seine Raketen sind binnen 45 Minuten einsatzbereit.“ Das war eine Lüge. Der Angriff der NATO-Länder USA und Großbritannien auf den Irak wurde dann aber dennoch und zwar ohne UNO-Mandat und illegal geführt.

Und auch als die NATO am 24. März 1999 damit begann, Serbien zu bombardieren war dies ein illegaler Angriffskrieg, weil die NATO erneut kein Mandat des UNO-Sicherheitsrates hatte. Damals war es Deutschland unter Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder, Verteidigungsminister Rudolf Scharping und Außenminister Joschka Fischer, das zusammen mit den USA aktiv an diesem Angriffskrieg teilgenommen hat. Im Vorfeld des Krieges wurden Lügen erzählt, um die Menschen in den Krieg zu treiben. Schröder hat 2014 eingeräumt, dass die NATO damals gegen das Völkerrecht verstoßen hat. „Als es um die Frage ging, wie entwickelt sich das in der Republik Yugoslavien, Kosovokrieg, da haben wir unsere Flugzeuge, unsere Tornados, nach Serbien geschickt und wir haben zusammen mit der NATO einen souveränen Staat gebombt, ohne, dass es einen Sicherheitsratsbeschluss gegeben hätte“, so Schröder selbstkritisch.

Wie kommt es, dass bei alldem üblicherweise niemand wiederspricht und nachher in all unseren Medien immer dieselben NATO-Argumente und -Statements zu lesen sind?

Die Massenmedien in Deutschland führen die Menschen leider direkt in die Konfrontation mit Russland hinein, genauso, wie es sich radikale US-Amerikaner wie Stratfor-Direktor Friedman wünschen. Das heißt, es wird täglich der Hass gegenüber Russland geschürt. Nur ganz selten gibt es eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit der NATO oder den strategischen Interessen des Imperiums USA, also den Kräften, welche den Krieg in der Ukraine antreiben.

Viele Journalisten getrauen sich auch gar nicht, die USA als Imperium zu bezeichnen, fürchten um ihre Stelle oder anderes. Aber es ist ganz offensichtlich, dass die USA das Imperium der Gegenwart sind, also das mächtigste Land, und natürlich verfolgen Imperien immer ihre Machtinteressen. Dies wird aber von den Massenmedien zu wenig offen dargelegt. Viele sitzen täglich vor dem Fernseher und kennen weder die Bezeichnung „Imperium USA“ noch die strategischen Interessen dieses Imperiums in Eurasien. Daher sind kritische Menschen vollkommen zurecht von den bekannten Fernsehkanälen und Zeitungen enttäuscht und versuchen, sich mehr über das Internet und alternative Medien zu informieren.

Und meinen Sie, die entsprechende Kritik unserer Regierung ist Indiz dafür, dass diese nun endlich der globalen Gewaltspirale den Kampf ansagt, sich also eine Entwicklung weg von Propaganda gegen und hin zu Respekt und Dialog mit Russland abzuzeichnen beginnt? Und: Ist sie selbst, unsere Regierung, denn wirklich glaubwürdiger als die NATO, welche sie nun so wortgewaltig kritisiert?

Ich bin ja in der Schweiz, wir sind nicht Mitglied der NATO. Ich habe also eine Außensicht auf die Politik von Deutschland und Kanzlerin Merkel. Ich sehe, dass sich in Deutschland viele Menschen Sorgen machen wegen des Krieges in der Ukraine, weil er so nahe ist. Und die meisten Deutschen, mit denen ich in Kontakt bin, wollen auf keinen Fall, dass sich deutsche und russische Soldaten in Zukunft in der Ukraine gegenseitig erschießen. Aber ich bin mir nicht sicher, was die deutsche Regierung will. Sie fährt einen Zickzackkurs. An einem Tag heizt sie als NATO-Mitglied zusammen mit den USA den Krieg in der Ukraine an, indem sie die Spannungen gegenüber Russland erhöht. Und an einem anderen Tag versucht sie, die Freundschaft oder zumindest den Respekt gegenüber Russland zu wahren etwa indem sie NATO-Kriegstreiber wie Breedlove öffentlich kritisiert. Welche Linie sich da in Zukunft durchsetzen wird, ist offen.

Und wie bewerten Sie den Abgang des Scharfmachers Anders Fogh Rasmussen als NATO-Generalsekretär? Wird Jens Stoltenberg womöglich eher friedfertigerer Nachfolger sein? Oder anders: Wieviel Einfluss hat der so genannte Generalsekretär eigentlich auf die konkrete NATO-Politik?

Wenn sie die Geschichte der NATO studieren, erkennen sie leicht, dass der Generalsekretär immer ein Europäer ist, also derzeit mit Stoltenberg ein Norweger oder zuvor mit Rasmussen ein Däne. Aber das sollte die Europäer nicht darüber hinwegtäuschen, dass die USA das Sagen haben in der NATO. Der wichtigste Posten ist nämlich nicht jener des Generalsekretärs, sondern der des Supreme Allied Commander Europe, denn hier liegt das militärische Kommando, und das ist immer ein amerikanischer General, derzeit also Breedlove.

Hat Stoltenberg die Kriegstreiberei von Breedlove öffentlich kritisiert oder ihn gestoppt? Nein, denn das kann er gar nicht. Die Aufgabe von Stoltenberg als Generalsekretär besteht vor allem darin, der NATO ein europäisches Gesicht zu geben. Das wirkt in Europa viel besser als wenn immer ein US-Diplomat auftritt.

Ich glaube also nicht, dass Stoltenberg die NATO in eine friedensbringende Organisation verwandeln will oder kann. Und zwar auch deswegen, weil der Leistungsausweis der NATO der letzten beiden Dekaden veranschaulicht, dass NATO-Kriege und die Technik des Regime Change über all diese Jahre hinweg allerorten zerstörte Länder mit traumatisierten Menschen zurückgelassen haben, in Libyen, in Irak und in Afghanistan. Ich hoffe nicht, dass nun auch noch die Ukraine auf diese traurige Liste kommt.

Ich bedanke mich für das Gespräch.

Weiterschauen und -lesen:

George Friedman: “Europe: Destined for Conflict?”

Daniele Ganser: Die Nato dehnt sich aus und nicht Russland


Daniele Ganser (Dr. phil.) ist Schweizer Historiker, spezialisiert auf Zeitgeschichte seit 1945 und Internationale Politik. Seine Forschungsschwerpunkte sind Friedensforschung, Geostrategie, verdeckte Kriegsführung, Ressourcenkämpfe und Wirtschaftspolitik. Er unterrichtet an der Universität St. Gallen (HSG) zur Geschichte und Zukunft von Energiesystemen und an der Universität Basel im Nachdiplomstudium Konfliktanalysen zum globalen Kampf ums Erdöl. Er leitet das Swiss Institute for Peace and Energy Research (SIPER) in Basel.


Germany accuses NATO of “dangerous propaganda”. America’s strategic objective is to prevent a German-Russian alliance

From Russia Insider, March 23, 2015
Jens Wernicke and Dr. Daniele Ganser

This article originally appeared at NachDenkSeiten. Translated for RI by Mihajlo Doknic

The German Chancellery has accused NATO chief Philip M. Breedlove of “dangerous propaganda”. The question: what to think about this critique coming from a government that uses this kind of propaganda technique itself. Jens Wernicke, media scientist and author of several books, talked with the renowned Swiss peace researcher and NATO expert Dr. Daniele Ganser.

Mr. Ganser, the German Chancellery accuses NATO chief Philip M. Breedlove, of “dangerous propaganda”. Breedlove exaggerates Russia’s military involvement in East Ukraine, for example. What is going on here? Is the German government just accusing NATO of war propaganda?

The German Chancellery is right with its critique. In my opinion, something dangerous is happening right now: US generals like Breedlove are trying to provoke a war, where Germans and Russians would kill each other in order to weaken both countries. This is a cynical, actually a diabolical plan. But this is exactly what US strategist like Georg Friedman, director of the Stratfor think tank, are suggesting. United, Germany and Russia are the only power that could threaten the US, Friedman said in a speech in February 2015 in Chicago.

“Our primordial interest [preventing a German-Russian alliance] is to ensure that will never happen,” said Friedman.

“The US, as an empire, cannot intervene in Eurasia all the time,” he explained. Therefore they must turn countries against each other, so they don’t build close alliances. “I suggest something President Ronald Reagan used against Iraq and Iran: He supported both war parties!” Freidman stated. The war between Iraq and Iran between 1980 and 1988 claimed at least 400.000 dead, so from the point of peace science it is frightening what Friedman suggests. “So the Iranians and Iraqis fought against each other and not against us,” explained Freidman in his speech. “That was cynical and amoral. But it worked.”

The USA cannot occupy Eurasia. The same moment we put our boots on European soil, we will be outnumbered due to demographics. In my opinion the radical US generals like Breedlove are trying to implement this strategy, where in future German and Russian Soldiers kill each other in Ukraine, thus destabilizing and weakening the whole of East Europe. That would be a catastrophe. Therefore a peace movement needs to encourage an alternative solution, like the neutrality of Ukraine. No NATO membership and friendship between Germany and Russia.

How is NATO trying to fuel this conflict?

NATO General Breedlove often sticks out by spreading exaggerated and untrue claims. This is how NATO is fueling the war. This is dangerous, because the situation is very tense, as we know. On the 12th of November 2014 Breedlove claimed that Russian toops and tanks have marched into Ukraine! But that wasn’t true and it wasn’t just a little thing. Literally the NATO general said: “We have seen that Russian troops, Russian tanks, Russian artillery and air defense systems have moved into Ukraine.” BBC and other mass media spread that worldwide but it was a lie.

And US General Ben Hodges, commander of the US troops in Europe, also pushes for war by supporting the Ukrainian army. In January 2015 he visited a military hospital in Kiev and handed over a medal for bravery of the US Army to a wounded Ukrainian soldier! That, of course, increases tension.

However, the US General Hodges shows symbolically: The US is an “active party of war” in the Ukraine. It stands by the Ukrainian army that is fighting the Russian supported separatists in East Ukraine. Because Germany is a NATO member, there is a danger that German soldiers are dragged into this war by the US. Similar to Afghanistan after 2001. If that happens, then we have exactly the situation Friedman is asking for: Germans and Russians shooting at each other in the Ukraine. Of course I hope that this won’t happen. However, a peace movement needs to raise this and warn of such dangers in order to avoid them.

Is this a very common thing, I mean, that NATO lies, exaggerates or deceives?

Yes, regrettably NATO has, on a regular basis, combined lies and war. In my book NATO’s secret armies in Europe. Staged terror and clandestine warfare I show how, during the Cold War, NATO had built in Western countries, supported by CIA and the British secret service MI6, secret armies, of which existence the governments and population didn’t know anything.

Especially the US generals are dangerous, because they have been continuously fighting wars in different countries during the last 70 years. As representatives of an empire they are not only used to kill but also to deceive. General Lyman Lemnitzer, for example, who served as SACEUR of NATO (Supreme Allied Commander Europe) between 1963 and 1969, so one of Breedlove’s predecessors, suggested in the 60s that the US should stage a war against Cuba by destroying an American ship at the military base in Guantanamo and by staging terror attacks in Washington, and then for both crimes accuse Fidel Castro in order to get the American public behind the war. John F. Kennedy, however, stopped the operation [Northwoods]. But it shows, how dangerous the officers in the Pentagon are.

Is only the US pushing for wars or are other countries also involved?

NATO has 28 members and unfortunately other NATO countries are involved in war propaganda as well. For example, the Brits! In March 2003, before they attacked Iraq, Tony Blair, the then prime minister, said: “Iraq is in possession of chemical and biological weapons. Its rockets are ready for use within 45 minutes.” That was a lie! The attack on Iraq by USA and Great Britain started, nevertheless, without an UN mandate. So it was illegal!

It was also an illegal aggression when NATO, on the 24th of March 1999, started bombing Serbia. Because NATO didn’t have a mandate of the UN Security Council. Back then it was Germany under the Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the Defense Minister Rudolph Scharping and the Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, that actively took part in the aggression [War on Yugoslavia], together with the US. In the run-up to the aggression lies were spread to get the people behind this war. Later, in 2014, Schröder admitted that NATO violated International Law. “When the question came up how to deal with developments in Yugoslavia and Kosovo respectively, we sent our planes, our Tornados [German warplanes] to Serbia together with NATO and bombed a sovereign state without a Security Council Resolution,” admitted Schröder self-critically.

How come that in those cases nobody raises its voice and we only read the same NATO statements with their arguments?

The mass media in Germany are pushing people into a direct confrontation with Russia, in a way the radicals in the US, like Stratfor director Friedman, are asking for. It means, they fuel animosity towards Russia. And very rarely there is a critical discussion about NATO or about the strategic interests of the US, those powers that are fueling the war in Ukraine.

Many journalists don’t even call the US an empire fearing for their jobs and other things. But it is apparent that the US is an empire of our times, the most powerful nation that, of course, is pursuing its national interests. This fact is rarely raised by the mass media. So many people watching TV don’t even know the term ‚US Empire’ or the strategic interests of this empire in Eurasia. Therefore, critical people disappointed by the TV and Newspapers are trying to inform themselves through alternative media on the Internet.

So, do you think the critique by our [German] government is a sign that they finally try to break the global spiral of violence and distance itself from propaganda in favour of respectful dialogue with Russia? And, is our government more credible than NATO itself?

I am from Switzerland, whicht is not part of NATO. So I do look at the German policy and Chancellor Merkel from the outside. And I see that many people are concerned with the situation [war] in Ukraine, because of its proximity. And most of the Germans that I know, they don’t want a future, where German soldiers and Russian soldiers shoot at each other! But I am not sure what the German government wants. They move in a zigzag course. One day, as a NATO member, they fuel, together with the US, the war in the Ukraine by increasing tensions with Russia. And sometimes they try to keep the friendship or at least the respect with Russia by publically criticizing NATO war-hawk Breedlove. So which line will be predominant in future its hard to tell.

What is your assessment of the departure of the hawk Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO General Secretary? Will Jens Stoltenberg establish himself as a peaceful successor? To put it differently: How much influence has a Secretary General actually on NATO policies?

If you study the history of NATO it is easy to notice that the post of Secretary General is always staffed with an European, now Stoltenberg, a Norwegian, and before that, Rasmussen, a Dane. But the Europeans should not be mistaken as to who is calling the shots in NATO, it is the US! Secretary General is not the most important post. It is actually the one of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, because here lies the military command. An American, now Breedlove, always holds this position.

Has Stoltenberg publically criticized Breedlove or tried to stop him? No, he is not able to. His job as Secretary General is primarily to give NATO an European face. This is better received in Europe, than having a US diplomat appear all the time.

So I don’t believe that Stoltenberg is able or willing to transform NATO into a peaceful organization. Also because of the track record of NATO in the past two decades: NATO wars and the technique of, Regime Change’ have left countries in ruins and traumatized people, in Libya, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. So I hope that Ukraine won’t be put on this list too!

Thank you for the interview.



Atlantic Resolve — continuous NATO war games on Russia’s western, southern borders

Washington and NATO control the narrative. Here, Lt. Gen. Hodges meets with “defense writers”, and tells them the spin.

Was he able to talk about diplomacy with a straight face?

From Rick Rozoff

U.S. Department of Defense
March 19, 2015
Army Commander in Europe Details Assurance Efforts
By Jim Garamone


WASHINGTON: Thirteen months after Russia began its occupation of Crimea, the United States and its European allies must remain steadfast against the threat such actions pose, the commander of U.S. Army Europe said here this week.

Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges told the Defense Writers Group at a March 17 breakfast that the Russian action of illegally annexing Crimea from Ukraine and its continuing threat to the eastern part of Ukraine is a game-changer on the continent.

Atlantic Resolve Enables Cooperation

…Hodges told reporters to think of Atlantic Resolve as a continuous series of exercises, with American troops operating with troops in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, demonstrating America’s commitment to the defense of these NATO allies. Later this month, Atlantic Resolve exercises will expand to include Bulgaria and, later in the year, Romania, he said.

An airborne battalion from Vicenza, Italy, will jump into Romania and link up with a Stryker squadron coming by rail from Vilseck, Germany, Hodges said. “That will begin the introduction of [Operation Atlantic Resolve] into the south,” he added.

U.S. Army Europe also is working with countries in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, including Georgia and Ukraine. Beginning next month, troopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade will train Ukrainian Interior Ministry troops, and in May, U.S. paratroopers and tankers will exercise in Georgia, Hodges said.

Using Diplomatic, Economic Pressures

Reporters pressed Hodges on whether the United States should provide weapons to Ukraine. He said he can see both sides of the argument, but that the focus should not be on the weapons decision. “The focus should be on what is the desired end state, and can we get there using diplomatic and economic pressures and support,” he said.


U.S. paratroopers to train Ukrainian troops despite Minsk prohibition

“Beginning of the training absolutely does not signify an assessment that [the Minsk agreement] has failed,” Hodges said.

This is not about the agreement already having failed. This is the United States torpedoing the Minsk 2 agreement. The US is making it fail.

What part of  this plain English provision in the Minsk 2 agreement don’t Lt Gen Ben Hodges, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the Pentagon understand?

Pullout of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, and also mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under OSCE supervision.

Have they even read the Minsk 2 agreement? Or is it just that they feel above any law and simply don’t care?

Stars and Stripes
March 19, 2015
US training of Ukraine forces to go forward
By Jon Harper

WASHINGTON: The U.S. military is moving forward with plans to deploy U.S. paratroopers to war-torn Ukraine to train local forces, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The training will likely begin in late April, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters.

The mission, which was scheduled to occur this month, was delayed due to concerns that the training effort would undermine the Minsk II cease fire agreement between Kiev’s forces and Russia-backed insurgents, according to Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe.

That deal was brokered in February, but fighting has continued in eastern Ukraine.

Approximately 290 U.S. soldiers from the Army’s Pullout of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, and also mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under OSCE supervision. “Sky Soldiers” Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, will deploy to western Ukraine to train three battalions of the Ukrainian national guard, Warren said.

When asked why the training was moving forward, Warren said, “As the situation in Ukraine continued to develop and evolve … we put this training event under some review” and “the decision [was] made that conducting this exercise is a good idea.”

At a breakfast with defense reporters in Washington on Tuesday, Hodges said he anticipated that the training would go forward next month, but he had not received any orders to that effect.

Hodges said that U.S. troops will try to improve the Ukrainian national guard’s ability to conduct route security, protect critical infrastructure, provide emergency medical care, survive artillery and rocket fire, and operate in an electronic warfare environment.

Beginning of the training absolutely does not signify an assessment that [the Minsk agreement] has failed,” Hodges said.


Ukraine : Les Etats-Unis veulent la guerre… sur le sol européen

English translation:

Agora Vox, vendredi 6 mars

On ne devrait plus se bercer d’illusions sur les intentions des dirigeants américains : ils veulent la guerre. Une guerre qui doit se dérouler sur le Vieux Continent et qui doit entraîner le plus d’Européens possible dans une confrontation militaire avec la Russie. Les Ukrainiens, sauf un grand sursaut des masses populaires, devraient se résigner à voir leur pays servir durablement de champ de bataille à ce conflit des grandes puissances dont les enjeux leur échappent, depuis qu’ils ont perdu le contrôle des manifestations « Place Maïdan », un soir de février 2014.

De l’EuroMaïdan à l’escalade militaire

En tout cas, les derniers développements aux Etats-Unis ne sont guère rassurants. Un an après les manifestations de l’EuroMaïdan, odieusement dévoyées par « des atlantistes  », les États-Unis ont officialisé la décision d’envoyer en Ukraine quelques 600 parachutistes appartenant à la 173ème brigade aéroportée. L’annonce a été faite lundi dernier par le colonel Michael Foster, commandant de la brigade, et confirmée par Ben Hodges, haut commandant des forces américaines en Europe. Les premières unités combattantes de la brigade devraient se poser en Ukraine d’ici le 8 mars. Officiellement, pas pour combattre, mais pour former les troupes ukrainiennes (en débâcle dans le Donbass) au maniement des armes américaines en voie d’expédition[1].

Au sujet, justement, de l’expédition des armes américaines à Kiev, on sait qu’elle entraînerait réciproquement l’accroissement des moyens militaires des républiques autonomes de l’Est (Donetsk et Lougansk) par Moscou. Parce que, pour la Russie, il est hors de question que les forces des pays de l’OTAN se déploient jusque sur les frontières russo-ukrainiennes, et ils n’ont pas tort. Les Russes n’ont jamais digéré d’avoir été bernés par les Occidentaux en marge de la réunification allemande[2]. C’est pour essayer de contrer ce risque d’escalade militaire que la France et l’Allemagne ont décidé, début février dernier, d’entrer directement en contact avec Vladimir Poutine, sans consulter Washington. Il s’agissait de rassurer le chef du Kremlin sur le fait que Français et Allemands s’opposeront à l’envoi en Ukraine des armes américaines[3]. Le président russe s’est montré ouvert aux propositions franco-allemandes, et accepté les Accords de Minsk II[4] du 11 février 2015. Le hic avec Minsk II est qu’il y avait deux grands absents : les Britanniques et les Américains. N’étant pas liés par ces accords, ils vont continuer d’attiser le conflit.

Il faut vous entretuer pour l’Amérique

Dix jours seulement après la signature des Accords de Minsk, David Cameron annonçait l’envoi de soldats britanniques en Ukraine. Une semaine plus tard, John Sawers, l’ancien patron du MI16, (sorte de CIA britannique) affirmait que « la guerre contre la Russie ne fait que commencer »[5]. Avec l’envoi des unités de combat en Ukraine par les USA, les Britanniques sont ainsi rejoints par leurs cousins américains qui tiennent à ce que la situation continue de se dégrader et qu’elle finisse par dégénérer. Bien évidemment, les armées américaines et britanniques ne vont pas s’engager en première ligne contre l’armée russe. Ce déploiement atlantiste vise plutôt à entretenir durablement un climat de haine entre populations, un environnement de violence permanente et de désolation.

Une des stratégies utilisées par les fauteurs de troubles états-uniens contre les pays qu’ils ciblent consiste à frapper directement les populations soit par des violences aveugles, soit pas des embargos, soit pas des humiliations en mettant systématiquement ces drames collectifs sur le dos de l’« ennemi » qu’ils se sont choisi. Il ne faudrait pas s’étonner si les populations russes/russophones des pays frontaliers deviennent la cible des tueries aveugles et des famines provoquées volontairement, ce qui les amènera à demander de plus en plus l’aide de Moscou. Une aide que Poutine ne pourra pas durablement leur refuser, au risque de se mettre à dos les Russes de l’intérieur[6]. Sauf qu’en intervenant davantage en Ukraine ou, le moment venu, dans les pays baltes, le président russe deviendrait un « agresseur ». Exactement l’image que les médias occidentaux et les dirigeants d’outre-Atlantique s’emploient à lui coller à la peau. Dès lors, des forces européennes, plus ou moins officiellement, chemineraient vers les « pays agressés » par la Russie. Le début d’un engrenage meurtrier au cœur de l’Europe.

Face à ces agissements américains, on est tenté de dire : ils sont fous ces Américains ! Pas du tout. En réalité, les Etats-Unis, une puissance à bout de souffle, misent sur le conflit ukrainien pour entraîner le plus d’Européens possible dans une confrontation militaire avec la Russie[7]. Le pari est que, sauf usage d’armes stratégiques (scénario suicidaire), le sol américain devrait être préservé des ravages de cette guerre qui commence. Lorsque tout cela sera fini, Européens et Russes, quel que soit le camp qui l’aura emporté sur l’autre, seront ruinés économiquement, voire exsangues. Comme à l’issue de la Première et de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, il ne restera qu’une puissance d’ultime recours : les Etats-Unis d’Amérique.

Des milliards de dollars de contrats de reconstruction, une remise sous tutelle des nations européennes et la préservation, par l’Amérique, de son statut de « superpuissance planétaire ».

[2] Le 9 février 1990, James Baker, secrétaire d’Etat américain (de George Bush), avait assuré à Mikhaïl Gorbatchev que l’alliance occidentale n’étendrait “pas d’un pouce” son influence vers l’Est si Moscou acceptait que l’Allemagne réunifiée entre dans l’Otan. Le lendemain, 10 février, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, le ministre allemand des Affaires étrangères, refit cette promesse à Edouard Chevardnadze, son homologue russe : « l’Otan ne s’étendra pas à l’Est ». Mais depuis, la Pologne, la République Tchèque, la Hongrie, la Bulgarie, la Roumanie, la Slovaquie, la Lituanie, la Lettonie et l’Estonie ont adhéré à l’Otan. Avec les évènements de l’EuroMaïdan, l’enjeu était, entre autres, de faire également entrer l’Ukraine dans l’Otan. Cf. http://www.courrierinternational.co…

[3] C’est en tout cas ce qu’assure le journaliste italien Giulietto Chiesa : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w6…

[4] Parce qu’il y a eu Minsk I, Protocole signé le 11 septembre 2014, et qui ne fut pas respecté.

[7] Provoquer un conflit brutal entre Européens et Russes permet aux Américains de se prémunir contre une éventuelle alliance stratégique entre Européens et Russes, alliance qui entraînerait de fait la fin de l’hégémonie américaine. Dans Le Grand échiquier de Zbigniew Brzezinski (1997), où il est question, entre autres, de « briser la Russie » en trois entités (une Russie européenne, une république de Sibérie et une république extrême-orientale), il est également question de cultiver la docilité des « sujets protégés » et d’empêcher les rivaux potentiels de former des alliances offensives. Un rapprochement stratégique entre la Russie et les nations européennes (sujets protégés) est ainsi un scénario que les tenants de l’hégémonie états-unienne n’admettraient en aucune manière.


The US wants war — on European soil

Posted on Fort Russ

Analysis by Boniface Musavuli
Translated from French by Tom Winter

One should nurse no illusions about the intentions of the American leadership: they want war. A war that will take place on the old continent and that should involve as many Europeans as possible in confrontation with Russia. The Ukrainians, short of some mass uprising, must resign themselves to seeing their country serve as the long term battlefield for this conflict of the great powers, since their stakes got out of hand when they lost control of the demonstrations at Maidan Square one night in February 2014.

In any case, the latest developments in the United States are hardly reassuring. One year after the demonstrations of the Maidan, hatefully guided by the Atlanticists, the US has officially announced the decision to send 600 parachutists of the 173rd Airborne Brigade to Ukraine. The announcement was made last Monday by Colonel Michael Foster, brigade commander, and confirmed by Ben Hodges, supreme commander of US forces in Europe.

The first combat units are expected to arrive from here in Ukraine March 8. Officially, not for combat, but to train Ukrainian troops, fresh from their debacle in the Donbass, in the use of the American weaponry now being shipped.[1] As far as that goes, shipping American arms to Kiev, one realizes that it will encompass a reciprocal enlargement of military materiel for the autonomous republics of the east, (Donetsk and Lugansk) by Moscow, because, for Russia, it is out of the question for NATO troops to be deployed on the russo-ukrainian borders, and rightly so.

The Russians have never digested getting misled by the West on the sidelines of German reunification.[2] It was to sideline the risk of military escalation that France and Germany decided, beginning of February, to get into direct contact with Vladimir Putin without consulting Washington. It was a matter of reassuring the chief of the Kremlin that France and Germany will oppose the shipping of American weapons to Ukraine.[3] The Russian president showed himself to be open to the Franco-german proposals, and accepted the accords of Minsk II.[4]

The main glitch with Minsk II is the pair of absentees: the Brits and the Americans. Not being bound by the accords, they are going to keep on fueling the conflict.

You must kill each other for America

Just 10 days after the Minsk II accords were signed, David Cameron announced the deployment of British soldiers to Ukraine. One week later, John Sawers, former boss of MI16 (British CIA) confirmed “The war against Russia is only beginning.”[5]

With the deployment of combat units to Ukraine by the US, the Brits are joined by their American cousins who maintain that the situation continues to worsen and degenerate. Obviously, the American and British forces are not going to engage in frontline combat against the Russian Army. Rather this Atlanticist deployment has in view establishing a climate of hatred between populations, a permanent environment of desolation and violence.

One of the strategies used by US incendiarists against the countries they target consists in directly striking the populations, whether by random violence, whether by embargo, or humiliations in systematically putting collective tragedies on the back of “the enemy” that they have chosen. It should surprise no one if the Russian or Russophone population of border countries become the target of indiscriminate killings, deliberately caused famines, that will lead them to demand help from Moscow all the more, help that Putin will not for long be able to refuse them at the risk of turning his back on his own Russians.[6] Except that in assisting further in Ukraine, or if it comes to that, in the Baltics, the Russian President would become an “aggressor”— exactly the image the western media and the leaders from across the Atlantic are trying to pin on him. So some European forces, more or less officially, would lead down the road to “countries threatened’’ by Russia — the beginning of a murderous grind at the heart of Europe.

Faced with these American activities, one is tempted to exclaim “These Americans are insane!” Not at all. In reality, the US, a power running out of breath, counts on the Ukrainian conflict to engage as many Europeans as possible in a military confrontation with Russia. [7] The betting is that (apart from the use of strategic weapons, a scenario of suicide) the American soil will be spared the ravages of the resultant war. When all is said and done, Europeans and Russians, no matter which camp prevails, will be economically drained and ruined. Just like the outcome of the First and Second World War, there will abide only one power of last resort, the United States of America.

Several billions of dollars in contracts for reconstruction, the remission of European states into a protectorate, and the preservation, by America, of her status as the planetary superpower.

Boniface Musavuli

[1] http://www.politis.fr/Escalade-les-…

[2] February 9, 1990, James Baker, George Bush’s Secretary of State, assured Mikhail Gorbachev that the western alliance would not extend its influence one inch eastwards is Moscow would accept the entrance of a reunified Germany into NATO. The very net day, February 10, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, German foreign affaires minister, made the same promise to Edward Chevardnadze his Russian counterpart: NATO will not expand to the East. But since, Poland,the Çech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have joined NATO. With the outcomes of the Euro-Maidan, the object was, among others, to get Ukraine into NATO Cf. http://www.courrierinternational.co…
[3] This is, at any rate, what the Italian journalist Giulietto Chiesa assures us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w6…
[4] Because there was Minsk I, a protocol signed September 11, which was not respected.
[7] Provoking a brutal conflict between Europe and Russia permits the Americans to put off an eventual alliance between the Europeans and the Russians, an alliance that would end the American hegemony. In The Grand Chessboard, Zbigniew Brzezinski (1997), it is the question of “breaking Russia” into three units (European Russia, a Republic of Siberia, and Republic of the Far East), it is also a question of cultivating the docility of the protected subjects, and preventing potential rivals from forming offensive alliances. A strategic rapprochement between Russia and the European nations, (protected subjects) is thus a scenario that the US holders of hegemony would never allow.



Breedlove’s bellicosity: Berlin alarmed by aggressive NATO stance on Ukraine — Spiegel

Spiegel, March 8, 2015
By Matthias Gebauer, Christiane Hoffmann, Marc Hujer, Gordon Repinski, Matthias Schepp, Christoph Schult, Holger Stark and Klaus Wiegrefe


Top NATO commander General Philip Breedlove has raised hackles in Germany with his public statements about the Ukraine crisis.

US President Obama supports Chancellor Merkel’s efforts at finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. But hawks in Washington seem determined to torpedo Berlin’s approach. And NATO’s top commander in Europe hasn’t been helping either.

It was quiet in eastern Ukraine last Wednesday. Indeed, it was another quiet day in an extended stretch of relative calm. The battles between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists had largely stopped and heavy weaponry was being withdrawn. The Minsk cease-fire wasn’t holding perfectly, but it was holding.

On that same day, General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, stepped before the press in Washington. Putin, the 59-year-old said, had once again “upped the ante” in eastern Ukraine — with “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery” having been sent to the Donbass. “What is clear,” Breedlove said, “is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day.”

German leaders in Berlin were stunned. They didn’t understand what Breedlove was talking about. And it wasn’t the first time. Once again, the German government, supported by intelligence gathered by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, did not share the view of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

The pattern has become a familiar one. For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove’s numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America’s NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.

The German government is alarmed. Are the Americans trying to thwart European efforts at mediation led by Chancellor Angela Merkel? Sources in the Chancellery have referred to Breedlove’s comments as “dangerous propaganda.” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even found it necessary recently to bring up Breedlove’s comments with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

The ‘Super Hawk’

But Breedlove hasn’t been the only source of friction. Europeans have also begun to see others as hindrances in their search for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. First and foremost among them is Victoria Nuland, head of European affairs at the US State Department. She and others would like to see Washington deliver arms to Ukraine and are supported by Congressional Republicans as well as many powerful Democrats.

Indeed, US President Barack Obama seems almost isolated. He has thrown his support behind Merkel’s diplomatic efforts for the time being, but he has also done little to quiet those who would seek to increase tensions with Russia and deliver weapons to Ukraine. Sources in Washington say that Breedlove’s bellicose comments are first cleared with the White House and the Pentagon. The general, they say, has the role of the “super hawk,” whose role is that of increasing the pressure on America’s more reserved trans-Atlantic partners.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama after a Feb. 9 meeting in Washington: Increasing pressure on America’s more reserved trans-Atlantic partners.

A mixture of political argumentation and military propaganda is necessary. But for months now, many in the Chancellery simply shake their heads each time NATO, under Breedlove’s leadership, goes public with striking announcements about Russian troop or tank movements. To be sure, neither Berlin’s Russia experts nor BND intelligence analysts doubt that Moscow is supporting the pro-Russian separatists. The BND even has proof of such support.

But it is the tone of Breedlove’s announcements that makes Berlin uneasy. False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO — and by extension, the entire West — in danger of losing its credibility.

There are plenty of examples. Just over three weeks ago, during the cease-fire talks in Minsk, the Ukrainian military warned that the Russians — even as the diplomatic marathon was ongoing — had moved 50 tanks and dozens of rockets across the border into Luhansk. Just one day earlier, US Lieutenant General Ben Hodges had announced “direct Russian military intervention.”

Senior officials in Berlin immediately asked the BND for an assessment, but the intelligence agency’s satellite images showed just a few armored vehicles. Even those American intelligence officials who supply the BND with daily situation reports were much more reserved about the incident than Hodges was in his public statements. One intelligence agent says it “remains a riddle until today” how the general reached his conclusions.

Much More Cautious

“The German intelligence services generally appraise the threat level much more cautiously than the Americans do,” an international military expert in Kiev confirmed.

At the beginning of the crisis, General Breedlove announced that the Russians had assembled 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and warned that an invasion could take place at any moment. The situation, he said, was “incredibly concerning.” But intelligence officials from NATO member states had already excluded the possibility of a Russian invasion. They believed that neither the composition nor the equipment of the troops was consistent with an imminent invasion.

The experts contradicted Breedlove’s view in almost every respect. There weren’t 40,000 soldiers on the border, they believed, rather there were much less than 30,000 and perhaps even fewer than 20,000. Furthermore, most of the military equipment had not been brought to the border for a possible invasion, but had already been there prior to the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, there was no evidence of logistical preparation for an invasion, such as a field headquarters.

Breedlove, though, repeatedly made inexact, contradictory or even flat-out inaccurate statements. On Nov. 18, 2014, he told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that there were “regular Russian army units in eastern Ukraine.” One day later, he told the website of the German newsmagazine Stern that they weren’t fighting units, but “mostly trainers and advisors.”

He initially said there were “between 250 and 300” of them, and then “between 300 and 500.” For a time, NATO was even saying there were 1,000 of them.

The fact that NATO has no intelligence agency of its own plays into Breedlove’s hands. The alliance relies on intelligence gathered by agents from the US, Britain, Germany and other member states. As such, SACEUR has a wide range of information to choose from.

Influencing Breedlove

On Nov. 12, during a visit to Sofia, Bulgaria, Breedlove reported that “we have seen columns of Russian equipment — primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops — entering into Ukraine.” It was, he noted, “the same thing that OSCE is reporting.” But the OSCE had only observed military convoys within eastern Ukraine. OSCE observers had said nothing about troops marching in from Russia.

Breedlove sees no reason to revise his approach. “I stand by all the public statements I have made during the Ukraine crisis,” he wrote to SPIEGEL in response to a request for a statement accompanied by a list of his controversial claims. He wrote that it was to be expected that assessments of NATO’s intelligence center, which receives information from all 33 alliance members in addition to partner states, doesn’t always match assessments made by individual nations. “It is normal that not everyone agrees with the assessments that I provide,” he wrote.

He says that NATO’s strategy is to “release clear, accurate and timely information regarding ongoing events.” He also wrote that: “As an alliance based on the fundamental values of freedom and democracy, our response to propaganda cannot be more propaganda. It can only be the truth.” (Read Breedlove’s full statement here.)

The German government, meanwhile, is doing what it can to influence Breedlove. Sources in Berlin say that conversations to this end have taken place in recent weeks. But there are many at NATO headquarters in Brussels who are likewise concerned about Breedlove’s statements. On Tuesday of last week, Breedlove’s public appearances were an official item on the agenda of the North Atlantic Council’s weekly lunch meeting. Several ambassadors present criticized Breedlove and expressed their incredulity at some of the commander’s statements.

The government in Berlin is concerned that Breedlove’s statements could harm the West’s credibility. The West can’t counter Russian propaganda with its own propaganda, “rather it must use arguments that are worthy of a constitutional state.” Berlin sources also say that it has become conspicuous that Breedlove’s controversial statements are often made just as a step forward has been made in the difficult negotiations aimed at a political resolution. Berlin sources say that Germany should be able to depend on its allies to support its efforts at peace.

Pressure on Obama

German foreign policy experts are united in their view of Breedlove as a hawk. “I would prefer that Breedlove’s comments on political questions be intelligent and reserved,” says Social Democrat parliamentarian Niels Annen, for example. “Instead, NATO in the past has always announced a new Russian offensive just as, from our point of view, the time had come for cautious optimism.” Annen, who has long specialized in foreign policy, has also been frequently dissatisfied with the information provided by NATO headquarters. “We parliamentarians were often confused by information regarding alleged troop movements that were inconsistent with the information we had,” he says.

The pressure on Obama from the Republicans, but also from his own political camp, is intense. Should the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine not hold, it will likely be difficult to continue refusing Kiev’s requests for shipments of so-called “defensive weapons.” And that would represent a dramatic escalation of the crisis. Moscow has already begun issuing threats in anticipation of such deliveries. “Any weapons deliveries to Kiev will escalate the tensions and would unhinge European security,” Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s national security council, told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda on Wednesday.

Although President Obama has decided for the time being to give European diplomacy a chance, hawks like Breedlove or Victoria Nuland are doing what they can to pave the way for weapons deliveries. “We can fight against the Europeans, fight against them rhetorically,” Nuland said during a private meeting of American officials on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference at the beginning of February.

In reporting on the meeting later, the German tabloid Bild reported that Nuland referred to the chancellor’s early February trip to Moscow for talks with Putin as “Merkel’s Moscow stuff.” No wonder, then, that people in Berlin have the impression that important power brokers in Washington are working against the Europeans. Berlin officials have noticed that, following the visit of American politicians or military leaders in Kiev, Ukrainian officials are much more bellicose and optimistic about the Ukrainian military’s ability to win the conflict on the battlefield. “We then have to laboriously bring the Ukrainians back onto the course of negotiations,” said one Berlin official.

Nuland Diplomacy

Nuland, who is seen as a possible secretary of state should the Republicans win back the White House in next year’s presidential election, is an important voice in US policy concerning Ukraine and Russia. She has never sought to hide her emotional bond to Russia, even saying “I love Russia.” Her grandparents immigrated to the US from Bessarabia, which belonged to the Russian empire at the time. Nuland speaks Russian fluently.

She is also very direct. She can be very keen and entertaining, but has been known to take on an undiplomatic tone — and has not always been wrong to do so. Mykola Asarov, who was prime minister under toppled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, recalls that Nuland basically blackmailed Yanukovych in order to prevent greater bloodshed in Kiev during the Maidan protests. “No violence against the protesters or you’ll fall,” Nuland told him according to Asarov. She also, he said, threatened tough economic and political sanctions against both Ukraine and the country’s leaders. According to Asarov, Nuland said that, were violence used against the protesters on Maidan Square, information about the money he and his cronies had taken out of the country would be made public.

Nuland has also been open — at least internally — about her contempt for European weakness and is famous for having said “Fuck the EU” during the initial days of the Ukraine crisis in February of 2014. Her husband, the neo-conservative Robert Kagan, is, after all, the originator of the idea that Americans are from Mars and Europeans, unwilling as they are to realize that true security depends on military power, are from Venus.

When it comes to the goal of delivering weapons to Ukraine, Nuland and Breedlove work hand-in-hand. On the first day of the Munich Security Conference, the two gathered the US delegation behind closed doors to discuss their strategy for breaking Europe’s resistance to arming Ukraine.

On the seventh floor of the Bayerischer Hof hotel in the heart of Munich, it was Nuland who began coaching. “While talking to the Europeans this weekend, you need to make the case that Russia is putting in more and more offensive stuff while we want to help the Ukrainians defend against these systems,” Nuland said. “It is defensive in nature although some of it has lethality.”

Training Troops?

Breedlove complemented that with the military details, saying that moderate weapons aid was inevitable — otherwise neither sanctions nor diplomatic pressure would have any effect. “If we can increase the cost for Russia on the battlefield, the other tools will become more effective,” he said. “That’s what we should do here.”

In Berlin, top politicians have always considered a common position vis-a-vis Russia as a necessary prerequisite for success in peace efforts. For the time being, that common front is still holding, but the dispute is a fundamental one — and hinges on the question of whether diplomacy can be successful without the threat of military action. Additionally, the trans-Atlantic partners also have differing goals. Whereas the aim of the Franco-German initiative is to stabilize the situation in Ukraine, it is Russia that concerns hawks within the US administration. They want to drive back Moscow’s influence in the region and destabilize Putin’s power. For them, the dream outcome would be regime change in Moscow.

A massive troop training range is located in Yavoriv in western Ukraine near the Polish border. During Soviet times, it served as the westernmost military district in the Soviet Union. Since 1998, though, it has been used for joint exercises by Ukrainian forces together with the United States and NATO. Yavoriv is also the site where US soldiers want to train members of the Ukrainian National Guard for their future battle against the separatists. According to the Pentagon’s plans, American officers would train the Ukrainians on how to use American artillery-locating radar devices. At least that’s what US Army in Europe commander Lt. Gen. Hodges announced in January.

The training was actually supposed to start at the beginning of March. Before it began, however, President Obama temporarily put it on hold in order to give the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk a chance. Still, the hawks remain confident that they will soon come a step closer to their goal. On Tuesday, Hodges said during an appearance in Berlin that he expects the training will still begin at some point this month.





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Top Army commander in Europe wants U.S. tanks In Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania

March 6, 2015
Putin wants to destroy NATO – General Hodges

IA receives last shipment of GoI-purchased tanks
U.S. Abrams tanks

KYIV: Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to destroy NATO.

This was announced by Commander of the U.S. army in Europe, Lieutenant-General Frederick “Ben” Hodges, the Yevropeiska Pravda online newspaper reported with reference to an article published by The Telegraph.

“I’m sure Putin wants to destroy our alliance, not by attacking it, but by splintering it,” he said.

Hodges also said that Russia may try to destabilize one of the NATO member states by using “rebels” as in eastern Ukraine, or other forms of “hybrid warfare.” He also proposed positioning some of U.S. tanks in the countries located along the eastern flank of NATO to make it a limiting factor for Putin. In particular, he said, these are Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, and Bulgaria.