Deutsche Dienste: Keine Belege für Desinformationskampagne Putins

Tiroler Tageszeitung

6-2-2017

München (APA/AFP) – Deutsche Geheimdienste haben Berichten zufolge in umfangreichen Ermittlungen keine eindeutigen Beweise für eine russische Desinformations-Kampagne gegen die Bundesregierung gefunden. Trotz dieses Ergebnisses sähen der Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) und das Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) keinen Grund zur Entwarnung, berichteten „Süddeutsche Zeitung“, WDR und NDR am Montag.

Die Medien stützten sich auf das Ergebnis einer fast einjährigen Ermittlung. „Wir haben keine Smoking Gun gefunden“, hieß es den Medien zufolge in Regierungskreisen über den Versuch, einen schlagenden Beweis für politische Einmischung Russlands zu finden. Solch einen Beleg hätte die Regierung gerne präsentiert, um Russland vor Aktionen dieser Art zu warnen.

Ursprünglich hätten die Geheimdienste geplant, die als geheime Verschlusssache eingestufte Untersuchung zumindest teilweise zu veröffentlichen, berichteten die Medien. Doch angesichts fehlender Beweise werde eine Veröffentlichung nicht für sinnvoll gehalten. Dies hätte das ohnehin angespannte Verhältnis zu Russland nur noch weiter belastet.

Das Kanzleramt habe allerdings angeordnet, den Sachverhalt weiter zu untersuchen. Denn der Bericht der Sonderauswertung „Sputnik“ des Verfassungsschutzes und des Arbeitskreises „Psychologische Operationen“ des BND sei aus Sicht der Regierung auch kein Freispruch, heißt es in den Medien.

Der Geheimdienstbericht dokumentiert demnach einen seit 2014 „konfrontativeren Kurs“ Russlands gegenüber Deutschland und nennt die Berichterstattung russischer Medien und deren deutschen Ableger „feindselig“

http://www.tt.com/home/12590023-91/deutsche-dienste-keine-belege-f%C3%BCr-desinformationskampagne-putins.csp

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German Secret Service: No evidence of Russian disinformation campaign. Chancellery: Keep looking

“The secret service calls the reporting of Russian media and their German offshoot ‘hostile.'”
This is reminiscent of President Richard Nixon’s (and other U.S. officials) view of the media. Shining a light on government policies and officials is unacceptable to them. Any factual reporting is ‘hostile’. Whistleblowers are ‘hostile’. Constitutions, laws, and public welfare are thrown out the window when they are inconvenient.
February 7, 2016 –
Fort Russ News –
– Tiroler Tageszeitung, translated by Tom Winter –
German Intel services: no evidence for a Putin disinformation campaign

German intelligence agencies, in extensive investigations, have reportedly failed to come up with clear evidence for a Russian disinformation campaign against the federal government.

Despite this result, the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND) and the Federal Office for Constitutional Protection (BfV) do not see any reason for an all-clear, reported Süddeutsche Zeitung, WDR and NDR on Monday.

The media relied on the results of almost a year’s investigation. “We have not found any smoking gun,” according to the media in government circles, about the attempt to find striking evidence of Russia’s political interference. Such a document would have been presented by the government to warn Russia about this type of action.

Originally the secret services had planned to at least partially publish the investigation, which was categorized as a secret classified, the media reported. However, in the face of missing evidence, publication is not considered useful. This would have put a further strain on the already tense relationship with Russia.

However, the chancellor’s office ordered the facts to be further investigated: the report of the special analysis of “Sputnik” by BfV and the BND working group “psychological operations” is, from the government’s point of view, not an acquittal the media report.

Yet the secret service report documents a “more confrontational course” between Russia and Germany since 2014 and calls the reporting of Russian media and their German offshoot “hostile.”…

Merkel entmachtet BND: USA kontrollieren Spionage in Deutschland

Editor: This article was referenced in http://www.globalresearch.ca/germanys-foreign-intelligence-service-bnd-to-become-branch-of-americas-cia/5529669

Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten | 7. Juni 2016  |

Das neue BND-Gesetz ist fertig. Es wird den deutschen Geheimdienst weiter beschneiden. Schon heute sind die deutschen Dienste jenen der USA hoffnungslos unterlegen. Der BND verliert mit seiner Beschränkung vor allem die Möglichkeit, deutsche Unternehmen gegen US-Wirtschaftsspionage zu schützen.

Die große Koalition hat sich auf eine Reform des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND) verständigt. Dies bestätigten Koaltionskreise am Dienstag unter Bezugnahme auf eine Einigung bereits am Freitag als Ergebnis einer Runde im Kanzleramt. An dem finalen Gespräch nahmen den Angaben zufolge neben Kanzleramtschef Peter Altmaier, Innenminister Thomas de Maiziere und Justizminister Heiko Maas auch Geheimdienstkoordinator Klaus-Dieter Fritsche sowie mehrere Fachpolitiker der Unions- und SPD-Fraktion teil. Dem BND soll nun untersagt werden, Staaten der Europäischen Union und ihre Bürger sowie EU-Institutionen auszuspionieren. Ausnahmen solle es bei Terrorismusverdacht geben.

Zentraler Punkt aus Sicht der Transatlantiker: Auch Wirtschaftsspionage soll dem Dienst ausdrücklich verboten werden. Bei Maßnahmen zur strategischen Fernmeldeaufklärung im Ausland mit Hilfe bestimmter Suchbegriffe sollten künftig der BND-Präsident, das Kanzleramt sowie ein unabhängiges Richtergremium zustimmen, hieß es weiter. Auch sollen im Gesetz genaue Bedingungen formuliert werden, unter denen solche Kommunikationsüberwachungen möglich sind.

Damit ist der BND im Hinblick auf die Spionage-Abwehr faktisch entmannt und völlig an die politische Kandare genommen, und zwar die der Kanzlerin. Europäische Geheimdienst-Experten bestätigen den Deutschen Wirtschafts Nachrichten, dass der BND durch das neue Gesetz seine wichtigsten Aktionsmöglichkeiten verliert. Schon bisher sei der BND nicht mehr in der Lage, die von den Amerikanern geführte technische Infrastruktur zu nutzen und die Ergebnisse auszuwerten.

In der Praxis bedeutet dies: Die US-Dienste können weiter ungehört in Deutschland jedes Unternehmen und jedes Individuum abhören. Der BND muss den Amerikanern zwar technische und logistische Unterstützung anbieten, ist jedoch fachlich nicht mehr in der Lage, die Daten selbst auszuwerten. Die direkte Anbindung an das Kanzleramt schließt die parlamentarische Kontrolle aus, wenn es darum geht, welche Daten an die Amerikaner weitergegeben werden und welche nicht. Die US-Dienste betrieben massive Wirtschaftsspionage in Deutschland und begründen dies mit dem Nato-Gesetz und dem immer noch geltenden Bündnisfall nach dem 11. September 2001.

Die Kontrolle durch das Kanzleramt ist für Beobachter aus Geheimdiensten eine Schlüssel-Entscheidung. Ein europäischer Experte sagte den Deutschen Wirtschafts Nachrichten: „Faktisch wurde die gängige (illegale oder grenzwertige) Praxis in ein Gesetz gegossen. Eine Dominanz der US-Dienste kann ich hier nicht herauslesen. Ich würde sogar in die andere Richtung argumentieren. Der BND erhält einen Abhörfreibrief, ebenso wie der Verfassungsschutz. Beiden haben nunmehr das Potential, ein Staat im Staat zu sein. Faktisch ist es aber vor allem die Aufwertung der Kanzleramtes und damit der Kanzlerin in außenpolitischen Fragen.“

Genau darin sehen andere Beobachter die Stärkung der US-Dienste, weil Merkel konsequent mit den USA als wichtigstem transatlantischen Partner zusammenarbeitet. Der Experte sieht allerdings auch einen möglichen, unfreiwilligen Vorteil für Deutschland: „Der nächste Kanzler muss nicht unbedingt ein bedingungsloser Transatlantiker sein: Was immer er ist: Er hat einen veritablen Nachrichtendienst an seiner Seite.“

Der Experte geht sogar einen Schritt weiter und sieht in den Gesetzen eine mögliche, vorsichtige Ablösung von der US-Vorherrschaft bei den Diensten: „Die Abhängigkeit von den US-Diensten ist aktuell enorm. Beide Gesetze haben jedoch eines gemeinsam, und das scheint auch einer längerfristigen deutschen Strategie zu folgen. Man riskiert derzeit keinen abrupten Abbruch der Kooperation mit den Amerikanern. Das wäre für Deutschland in dieser Gefährdungslage töricht und gefährlich. Was diese Gesetze ausmacht, ist der Einbau von Sollbruchstellen für bisherige Kooperationen und Kooperationspartner. Diese Sollbruchstellen sind ab Inkrafttreten politisch definiert. Das unterscheidet diese Ansätze von früheren. Das heißt, das es keinen Automatismus für die Fortführung solcher Abhängigkeiten mehr gibt. Es bedeutet aber auch die Entmachtung der BND-Bürokratie. Es ist somit zu erwarten, dass der BND schon sehr bald auch eine technische Aufrüstung erfahren könnte, um dann diese Sollbruchstellen im Bedarfsfalle auszulösen.“

Deutsche Unternehmen sind in den vergangenen Jahren immer wieder von den US-Diensten ausgespäht und massiv unter Druck gesetzt worden. Dies war, so ein Geheimdienstexperte zu den DWN, vor allem im Fall Siemens evident. Auch bei der VW-Affäre wird vermutet, dass die US-Dienste ihre Finger im Spiel haben.

Eine besondere Rolle dürfte auch die neue geopolitische Lage spielen: Die Nato hat Russland zum Feind erklärt. Im neuen Weißbuch des Bundeswehr wird Russland vom Partner zum Rivalen herabgestuft. Im Zuge neuer Spannung spielen Aufklärung und Desinformation eine wichtige Rolle. Im Zuge der Ukraine-Krise war es zu einem Streit zwischen Außenminister Steinmeier und der US-Aufklärung gekommen: Steinmeier hatte die Amerikaner öffentlich kritisiert, weil sie falsche Informationen über die Lage im Donbass lanciert hatten.

Die „Reform“ war nötig geworden, nachdem die deutsche Öffentlichkeit in den vergangenen Monaten mit einigen mehr oder weniger erheblichen Affären des BND vertraut gemacht wurde. Diese haben die Forderung laut werden lassen, den BND strengeren Kontrolle zu unterwerfen und Abhöraktionen auf eine neue gesetzliche Grundlage zu stellen.

Die Reform lag in den vergangenen Monaten auf Eis. Bei der Bekanntgabe der Ablösung von BND-Chef Gerhard Schindler im April hatte die Bundesregierung aber versichert, dass noch in diesem Jahr eine Novelle des BND-Gesetzes verabschiedetet werden solle. Nach Möglichkeit soll ein Entwurf nun noch vor der Sommerpause im Kabinett beraten werden. Das Vorhaben solle verknüpft werden mit der geplanten Reform des Parlamentarischen Kontrollgremiums des Bundestags, hieß es.

Der Auslandsgeheimdienst war in den vergangenen Jahren mehrfach in die Kritik geraten. Der Behörde wurde unter anderem ein zu großes Eigenleben vorgeworfen. So hatte der BND an seinem Horchposten in Bad Aibling Suchbegriffe des US-Nachrichtendienstes NSA verwendet, um europäische Verbündete auszuspionieren. Originellerweise hat es für die NSA nicht die geringsten Konsequenzen gegeben – die Überwachung der Deutschen durch die US-Dienste erfolgt bis zum heutigen Tag. US-Präsident Barack Obama hatte ausdrücklich lediglich angekündigt, das Handy von Angela Merkel nicht mehr überwachen lassen zu wollen. Eine Initiative zum Schutz der Bundesbürger durch die Regierung ist nicht ergriffen worden. Nach Einschätzung von Geheimdienstfachleuten ist die technische Überlegenheit der US-Dienste, etwa bei der Auswertung der Selektoren, bereits so groß, dass der BND zu einer wirksamen Spionage-Abwehr ohnehin nicht mehr in der Lage ist.

Um den BND in Misskredit zu bringen, wurde die Reputation des Dienstes nachhaltig beschädigt. Die US-Dienste sind zu diesem Zweck vor allem im Internet sehr aktiv. Der BND-Präsident Schindler war zuletzt zum Rücktritt gezwungen worden, nachdem sich der Dienst kritisch zu Saudi-Arabien geäußert hatte.

Innerhalb des BND gibt es einen erbitterten Kampf zwischen jenen, die den Dienst im deutschen Interesse führen wollen und den Transatlantikern, die im BDN vor allem einen untergeordneten Dienstleister für die US-Interessen sehen.

http://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/2016/06/07/merkel-entmachtet-bnd-usa-kontrollieren-spionage-in-Deutschland/

Germany’s Foreign Intelligence Service (BND) to become branch of America’s CIA?

Global Research, June 08, 2016
Flag_of_the_United_States_and_Germany

According to a news report in the June 7th German Economic News (Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, or DWN), headlined “Merkel entmachtet BND: USA kontrollieren Spionage in Deutschland” or “Merkel Ousts BND: US to Control German Espionage,” a new law will soon be passed in the German parliament and be approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel, which will make Germany’s version of the CIA, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), nothing more than a branch of the CIA, to such an extreme degree, that even U.S. corporate espionage against German companies will become part of that ‘German’ operation. The independent capacities of the BND will become emasculated, no longer operational, under the new law.

“In practice, this means that the US intelligence services [NSA] will be allowed to continue to listen in on every company and every individual in Germany.”

(That includes the Chancellor herself, whose phone-conversations were previously embarrassingly revealed to have been listened-in upon by the NSA. Now it’ll be legal.)

This could be part of the West’s buildup toward a global war. According to a report issued on June 6th in German Economic News, the German government is preparing to go to war against Russia, and has in draft-form a Bundeswehr report declaring Russia to be an enemy nation. DWN said there:

“The Russian secret services have apparently thoroughly studied the paper. In advance of the paper’s publication, a harsh note of protest has been sent to Berlin: The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, Alexei Puschkow, has posted this Twitter message: ‘The decision of the German government declaring Russia to be an enemy shows Merkel’s subservience to the Obama administration.’”

Back on February 17th, DWN had reported that German Chancellor Merkel “will develop a new military doctrine” declaring, “The ‘annexation’ of Crimea by Russia is the basis for military action against Moscow.” Apparently, that prior report will soon be fulfilled.

Taken all together, these news reports from DWN indicate a clear subordination of the German government to the U.S. government, in a period of preparation for a NATO war against Russia.

However, not mentioned at all in the DWN articles — nor anywhere else in Western ‘news’ media — is a crucial fact, a fact that the head of America’s ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor acknowledged only when addressing a Russian-speaking audience, because it reveals the fraudulence of the West’s alleged ‘justification’ for all of this economic and now also military action by the West against Russia: that (in English) the overthrow of Ukraine’s President in Russia’s neighboring nation of Ukraine during February 2014 was “the most blatant coup in history.” That coup, in turn, led to the separation from Ukraine of the two regions of Ukraine that had voted overwhelmingly for the President whom Obama had just overthrown.

Extensive video documentation exists demonstrating that the overthrow was a coup, and even demonstrating that the Obama Administration had selected Ukraine’s post-coup leader 22 days prior to his being formally appointed by the Ukrainian parliament. Furthermore, the only detailed scholarly study of the evidence that has been performed came to the same conclusion — that it was a U.S. coup. The last month before the coup was incredibly violent, with Obama’s hired fascists attacking the government’s securitly forces brutally: Here is some of the bloodshed from the prior month, on January 21st, then January 22nd, then January 25th.

Moreover, immediately after the overthrow, when the EU sent its own investigator into Kiev to report back on how the overthrow had taken place, he too reported that it had been a coup. Subsequently revealed was that the Obama Administration had started preparing the coup inside the U.S. Embassy in Kiev by no later than 1 March 2013 — almost a year prior to the coup. Also, the even earlier preparation for the coup, extending through decades, on the part of CIA-affiliated ‘nonprofit’ or NGO organizations (funded by Western aristocrats and their corporations), laying the groundwork for this coup, has been brilliantly documented at some online sites.

None of this information has been widely published — it’s virtually not at all published in the West.Though the potential audience for it might be vast (especially since Western publics pay much of the tab for this operation and yet receive none of the benefits from the resultant looting of Ukraine, which goes all to aristocrats in the U.S. and allied aristocracies), the market in the West for reporting it, is virtually nil, because the market is the West’s news media, and they’ve all (except for a few small ones like this) been taken over by the aristocracy, and serve the aristocracy — not the public (their audiences, whom they’re in business to deceive). The aristocracy’s companies advertise in, and thereby fund, most of those ‘news’ media, and the aristocracy’s governments fund the rest — and the public pays for that, too, not just by being manipulated to vote for the aristocracy’s politicians, but by being taxed to pay what the NGOs and their aristocrats don’t (so the public are buying the weapons etc.). It’s a vast money-funnel from the many, to the few.

Though the transfer of Crimea from Ukraine to Russia is treated by Western ‘news’ media as having been a‘conquest’ by Russia, and as being Russia’s ‘seizure’ of Crimea, and Russia’s ‘stealing’ Crimea, nothing of the sort is true (and Crimeans had good reason to be terrified of the Obama-coup regime that had just been installed, from which Russia saved Crimeans), but the lie needs to be promulgated in order for the aristocracy’s invasion of Russia to be able to organized and carried out.

Unfortunately, the reason why this U.S coup in Ukraine has still not been reported in the West, is that to make it public to Westerners would jeopardize not only the Western economic sanctions against Russia after Russia accepted the overwhelming decision by Crimeans to separate from the post-coup Ukrainian government, but would also jeopardize the preparations by all of NATO to go to war against Russia: both the sanctions and the invasion would have no basis and no support among Western publics. All of that (the sanctions, and now the pouring of troops and weapons onto and near Russia’s borders for a possible invasion of Russia) would no longer be at all palatable by Western publics, if this history — that it all began by a violent U.S. coup in Ukraine — were to become known before the U.S. and NATO invasion occurs. So it all remains, instead, suppressed in the‘democratic’ West.

So: please email this article’s URL address (which is immediately above this article), to friends, so as to spread to them the word, that NATO is preparing an invasion of Russia. There’s no way that the ‘news’ media they see are likely to tell them (until it’s already too late).

Author’s Note: The above news report was offered on the morning of June 7th as an exclusive, to the following newsmedia, all of whom ignored it; and so it’s now being distributed free-of-charge to all newsmedia, but the following were the newsmedia that had already declined it as an exclusive news report: The Daily Beast, Slate, The Intercept, Huffington Post, Salon, Common Dreams, Truthout, ProPublica, Harper’s, Atlantic, Foreign Policy, National Journal, AP, Globe and Mail, National Post, Telegraph, Guardian, Financial Times, The Economist, Daily Mail, London Times, London Review of Books, New Statesman, The Spectator, Bloomberg, NYT, McClatchy, CBS, CNN, Politico, The Nation, The National Interest, The New Republic, Reason, Rolling Stone, Buzzfeed, Newsweek, Time, USN&WR, Consortium News Service.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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

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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.

 

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/germany-concerned-about-aggressive-nato-stance-on-ukraine-a-1022193.html

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2015/03/08/breedloves-bellicosity-berlin-alarmed-aggressive-nato-stance-ukraine.html

 

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