Ukrainian National Guard blocks all roads to Donbass

March 15, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
By J. Arnoldski –
All roads and railway lines leading to the frontline in Donbass have been cut off by the Ukrainian National Guard, National Police, and State Border Guard Service.
 
More than 800 troops have been deployed to checkpoints on the Ukrainian side of the frontline in Donbass. The blockade checkpoints are reportedly being reinforced with military vehicles. 
“Pursuant to the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, today all roads and railway lines leading to the demarcation line have been blocked by forces of the National Guard, National Police, and border guard services in order to ensure control over and prevent the illegal movement of goods,” the National Guard’s statement reads.
 
 
This escalation comes on the heels of Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s ultimatum to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics to reverse the nationalization of Ukrainian enterprises. 
This new Kiev-enforced blockade follows the recently dispersed blockade of Donbass railways by neo-Nazi battalions who demanded that all trade with the Donbass republics be terminated. The government’s failure to suppress the latter initiative on the demand of the Donbass republics provoked the nationalization of hitherto undisturbed Ukrainian enterprises on the territory of the people’s republics.
Poroshenko has since named the conditions for the blockade’s lifting: 
“We say: please return enterprises to Ukrainian owners…comply with points one and two of the Minsk Agreements, meaning cease-fire and withdraw heavy equipment and artillery, and we’ll remove the restrictive measures on the movement of goods across the contact line,” the president stated.
In addition, Poroshenko threatened to impose sanctions on Russia if Donbass sells goods manufactured at the recently nationalized factories to Russia.
Meanwhile, the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, has dismissed the blockade as Ukraine’s “own domestic problem.”
“The decision of Porsohenko and the National Security and Defense Council is the internal affair of former Ukraine. More precisely, this is a fact of internal power struggle in Kiev which Poroshenko seems to be losing. We don’t have any relationship to this whatsoever,” Zakharchenko stressed, adding that Donbass has its own blockade in force which will be lifted only when Kiev fulfills its part of the Minsk Agreements.

Building a post-West world order of sovereignty, international law, and mutual respect — Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Munich Security Conference, February 18, 2017

Leaders with a sense of responsibility must now make their choice. I hope that this choice will be made in favour of building a democratic and fair world order, a post-West world order, if you will, in which each country develops its own sovereignty within the framework of international law, and will strive to balance their own national interests with those of their partners, with respect for each country’s cultural, historical and civilisational identity.

From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation:

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s address and answers to questions at the 53rd Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 18, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen,

Ten years ago, President of Russia Vladimir Putin addressed this conference with a speech that many in the West saw as a challenge and even a threat, although what his message emphasised above all was the need to renounce unilateral action in favour of honest cooperation based on mutual respect, international law, joint assessment of global problems and collective decision-making. Unfortunately, the warnings he sounded then about the negative consequences of attempting to obstruct the emergence of a multipolar world have become reality.

Humanity stands at a crossroads today. The historic era that could be called the post-Cold War order has come to an end. Its main result, as we see it, was the complete failure of the Cold War institutions to adapt to new realities. The world has become neither ‘Western-centric’, nor a safer and more stable place. This is evident in the results of ‘democratisation’ in the Middle East and North Africa, and in other places too.

NATO expansion has created a level of tension in Europe unseen in the last thirty years. Yet this year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Russia-NATO Founding Act in Paris, and 15 years since the Rome Declaration on a new quality of Russia-NATO relations was adopted. These documents’ basic premise was that Russia and the West took on a joint commitment to guarantee security on the basis of respect for each other’s interests, to strengthen mutual trust, prevent a Euro-Atlantic split and erase dividing lines. This did not happen, above all because NATO remained a Cold War institution. It is said that wars start in people’s heads, but according to this logic, it is also in people’s heads that they should end. This is not the case yet with the Cold War. Some statements by politicians in Europe and the United States seem to confirm this particularly clearly, including statements made here yesterday and today during this conference.

I mentioned NATO expansion just now. We categorically reject the allegations of those who accuse Russia and the new centres of global influence of attempting to undermine the so-called ‘liberal world order’. This global model was pre-programmed for crisis right from the time when this vision of economic and political globalisation was conceived primarily as an instrument for ensuring the growth of an elite club of countries and its domination over everyone else. It is clear that such a system could not last forever. Leaders with a sense of responsibility must now make their choice. I hope that this choice will be made in favour of building a democratic and fair world order, a post-West world order, if you will, in which each country develops its own sovereignty within the framework of international law, and will strive to balance their own national interests with those of their partners, with respect for each country’s cultural, historical and civilisational identity.

Russia has never hidden its views, and has always been sincere in advocating work based on equal footing in order to create a common space of security, good-neighbourliness and development from Vancouver to Vladivostok. The tensions of recent years between North America, Europe and Russia are unnatural; I would even say they go against nature.

Russia is a Eurasian state with a variety of cultures and ethnicities. Predictability and goodwill in relations with all countries, primarily, its neighbours, have always been inherent to our policies. This line of thinking underlies our close work within the CIS, the Eurasian Economic Union, the CSTO, the SCO, and BRICS.

Good-neighbourliness and mutual benefits underlie our relations with Europe as well. We are part of the same continent, we wrote our history together, and we were successful when we worked hand-in-hand to achieve prosperity for our peoples.

Many millions of Soviet people gave up their lives for the freedom of Europe. We want to see Europe strong, independent in international affairs and taking good care of our common past and future, while staying open to the world around it. We are appalled by the fact that the EU is unable to muster enough strength and give up its Russian policy based on the least denominator principle where fundamental and pragmatic interests of its member states are being sacrificed to Russophobic speculations out of sheer “solidarity.” We look forward to seeing common sense take the upper hand.

What kind of relationship do we want to establish with the United States? We want relations based on pragmatism, mutual respect, and understanding of our special responsibility for global stability. Our two countries have never been in direct confrontation with each other. Our history is steeped in friendliness more than confrontation. Russia did a lot to support the independence of the United States as it proceeded to become a united powerful state. Constructive Russia-US relations are in our common interest. Moreover, America is our close neighbour, just like the European Union. We are divided by just 4 km of the Bering Strait. The potential of our cooperation in politics, the economy, and the humanitarian sphere is enormous. But, of course, it has to be tapped. We are willing to go ahead and do so inasmuch as the United States is prepared to do so on its part.

Today there is no shortage in evaluations of the genesis of global challenges such as terrorism, drug trafficking, or the crises that engulfed territories from Libya to Afghanistan, leaving countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen bleeding. Certainly, the Munich debate will provide an opportunity to review in detail all these issues, as well as the continuing conflicts in Europe. Most importantly, a settlement cannot be achieved by military means.

This fully applies to the internal Ukrainian conflict. There’s no alternative to complying with the Minsk Package of Measures through a direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. This is a firm position adopted by Russia, the West and the UN Security Council. Importantly, the Kiev authorities should embark on that path and honour their obligations.

Today, more than ever, we need a dialogue on all complex issues in order to find mutually acceptable compromises. Actions based on confrontation and the zero-sum-game approach will not cut any ice. Russia is not looking for conflicts with anyone, but it will always be in a position to uphold its interests.

Our absolute priority is to use dialogue to achieve our goals and mutually beneficial consensus. It is appropriate to quote a directive which Chancellor Gorchakov, back in the times of imperial Russia, sent to Russian Envoy in the United States Eduard von Stoeckle in July 1861: “there are no such divergent interests that cannot be reconciled through zealous and hard work … in the spirit of fairness and moderation.”

If everyone could subscribe to such an approach, we’d be able to quickly overcome the post-truth period, to reject hysterical information wars imposed on the international community and to proceed to keep up the honest work without being distracted by lies and falsehoods. Let this be a post-fake era.

Thank you.

Question: I have a concrete question about military exercises. Why are Russian military exercises held without prior announcement, and why are they so non-transparent? This year you will hold the largest Zapad (West) exercises in 20 years, which have alarmed your neighbours. What should be done to build up confidence regarding this issue?

Sergey Lavrov: As you know, Russia-NATO relations and the Russia-NATO Council have been suspended at the bloc’s initiative, although after the 2008 Caucasus crisis our American colleagues, including then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, admitted that the suspension of the Russia-NATO Council was a mistake and that it should be more active especially in times of trouble. However, they continue to step on the same rake. NATO has decided to suspend all practical contacts with Russia, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told me yesterday. He said they would maintain contact at the level of ambassadors at the Russia-NATO Council and between himself and me, but that they had curtailed all practical contacts.

At some stage, Sauli Niinisto, the President of Finland which is not a NATO member, expressed concern that not just Russian aircraft but also the planes of NATO states fly over the Baltic with their transponders switched off. He mentioned his concern at a meeting with President Putin during his visit to Russia. Following that, President Putin instructed the Russian military to prepare proposals to settle the issues of transponders and aviation security over the Baltic. Our military experts brought detailed proposals to Brussels in July 2016, when the Russia-NATO Council held a meeting there. We believed that these concrete proposals would prompt a response, and that experts would get together to coordinate security enhancement methods. This did not happen. We still cannot start working on this issue. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told me yesterday that an expert meeting might hopefully convene in March. It is taking too long, of course, but we are not to blame for the delay.

He also mentioned the issue of military exercises yesterday and expressed satisfaction that the Russian military held a briefing on the exercises held last autumn. He also expressed hope that special briefings would be held on the exercises we plan for this year.

As for the surprise factor, I am not a military man, but I know that military attachés working in Moscow, including from NATO countries, are invited to such military exercises. But the best answer to this question, as I told Mr Stoltenberg yesterday, is that we should resume military cooperation to remove all these concerns and suspicions. The NATO Secretary General, who was accompanied by his deputies, could not say that NATO is ready to do this, which is a pity, because without military cooperation our diplomats’ meetings will be of little importance for security issues.

As for our relations with NATO, we proposed resuming them long ago. Instead of accusing each other and discussing and implementing plans to deploy NATO combat capabilities on the border with Russia for the first time in a decade, we should sit down to discuss the situation. We proposed looking at the maps to see how many weapons and military personnel NATO and Russia have, and where. After we collect this data, we will be able to gauge the real measures of military security in Europe. And then we will be able to use this information to consider arms control agreements and additional security measures.

Once again, it was not Russia who suspended practical cooperation in the framework of the Russia-NATO Council.

Question: Russia has submitted the first three provisions of Minsk-2 for discussion by the UN Security Council: the cease-fire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and admission of the OSCE observers to all the Ukrainian regions. Why doesn’t Russia find it possible to meet these obligations and thereby send a message about an increased level of confidence and improved overall situation?

Closer to the end of your remarks, you mentioned the post-fake era. Russia’s interference in the US election campaign was mentioned while it was underway. An election campaign is underway in France, and one of the candidates complained of Russia’s interference as well. French President Hollande even convened an extraordinary meeting of the Security Council to discuss this.

Sergey Lavrov: Regarding your first question, I’m pleased that you are familiar with the Minsk agreements, though it’s a pity you didn’t read them to the end, apparently. Indeed, the first item is the withdrawal of heavy weapons, but then it says that on the 30th day after the start of such withdrawal, which began in April 2014, the Kiev authorities will prepare a draft law on elections and begin consultations thereon with Donetsk and Lugansk. You can ask all kinds of questions about the timeframe of a particular item in the Minsk arrangements – they don’t always offer fixed dates. However, this date is specified and it’s 30 days. The withdrawal has begun. The beginning of consultations with Donetsk and Lugansk did not hinge on the completion of this process. As you may be aware, a lot has changed since then: the weapons were first withdrawn and then disappeared from the warehouses. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, which worked in very difficult conditions – and whose work we highly appreciate and hope that the mission will represent more OSCE members, not just  NATO and EU member countries – repeatedly noted violations on both sides with regard to the ceasefire, and the presence of heavy weapons in the security zone. However, the Ukrainian armed forces have always been the champion when it came to heavy weapons missing from warehouses. Again, other kinds of violations happen on both sides.

There have been repeated accusations (interviews with several Ukrainian political pundits have been published recently) that President Putin uses women and children in Donbass as human shields and tries to convince the Ukrainians living to the left of the contact line that people in Donbass hate them, while people in Donbass are being told that the Ukrainian government wants to destroy them. These arguments are false and hold no water. They also wrote that Donbass self-defence forces and unnamed Russian troops shell Donetsk in order to blame everything on Ukraine.

Getting back to your question, I have many times mentioned  how to make a ceasefire stick. No matter what you think about the Russian media, we can see our reporters doing their jobs along the  contact line in Donetsk and Lugansk on a daily basis. They run their stories live showing us destroyed residential areas and social infrastructure buildings, including children’s homes, schools, outpatient clinics, and civilian casualties. I became interested in what’s happening to the west of the contact line and started watching CNN, Fox News, Euronews, and BBC. I haven’t seen anything like that done by Western reporters on the western side of the contact line. They don’t run live reports, which our reporters do, risking their lives and getting wounded and even killed in the process. I asked my Western colleagues whether Western reporters are instructed to stay away from the other side of the contact line for security reasons. There’s no answer. Then we asked the OSCE SMM to focus, in their reports, on the destruction of civilian infrastructure to the left and to the right of the contact line. So far, we haven’t received exhaustive information. This may give an idea of why Western reporters, who are so bent on bringing the truth about the events in Ukraine to the world, do not show what’s happening in the areas to the west of the contact line, which are controlled by the armed forces of Ukraine. Are they discouraged from going there for safety reasons or are they doing some self-censorship? I would like to figure that out.

Our stats show that there are many times more destroyed social infrastructure buildings on the side controlled by Donbass as compared with the situation on the left side of the contact line. In most cases, fire is aimed at the positions controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces. Nonetheless, some members of the media make it into the war zone.

Not long ago, I saw a report by the Washington office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and Washington Post articles by journalists who have been on the line of contact. They wrote that volunteer battalions are the ones provoking violence in Donbass. These forces do not obey anyone, they do not take orders from Ukraine’s Armed Forces and act solely at their own discretion. The journalists wrote that thousands of ultra-nationalists from the Right Sector are fighting there and are not controlled by Kiev in any way whatsoever. The reporters concluded that Kiev may be interested in armed and angry radicals staying on the line of contact in Donbass instead of staging another Maidan uprising in the capital. These articles also mentioned neo-Nazi foreigners who are fighting in Donbass, while others tend to turn a blind eye to their presence there.

We discuss these issues in the Normandy format. Today, a meeting of French, German, Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers will take place. The question remains: why is there so little information about what is going on to the west of the line of contact? It is key to answering your question about why so little progress has been achieved in terms of security. However, making progress on security issues is not a goal in itself. Our common aim is to ensure full implementation of the Minsk agreements that provide for security on the line of contact (and I mentioned why it has not been achieved so far), constitutional reform to introduce a constitutional provision on the special status, amnesty for all who took part in hostilities in Donbass (just as all those who took part in what happened during Maidan uprisings benefited from amnesty), and the holding of elections. Under the Minsk agreements, the Ukrainian government can restore full control of the border with the Russian Federation only when these provisions are implemented. As I have already said, we are not there yet.

As for what our European partners are saying regarding sanctions, I have already commented on the illogical and artificial nature of the formula whereby the EU lifts sanctions once Russia implements the Minsk agreements. Russia also wants the Minsk agreements to be implemented, and will not lift its sanctions against the European Union until the Minsk agreements are implemented. There has to be clarity on this issue. Paris, Berlin and hopefully Washington and other capitals, including NATO headquarters, know all too well what is really happening in Ukraine and why the Minsk agreements are not working properly. But they are unable to recognise it in public due to a distorted sense of solidarity with those who decided to bring freedom and European values to Ukraine. When our good friend, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Federica Mogherini says that sanctions are a tool for ensuring implementation of the second Minsk agreements, I see this as a way to use sanctions for regulating the crisis in Ukraine, since sanctions unambiguously shift the blame on Russia. As Federica Mogherini said, maybe it was a Freudian slip, ‘We will wait until Russia concedes and departs from Minsk-2 by undertaking something unilaterally and forcing Donbass fighters to take unilateral action.’ The hidden message behind this position is that there is no need to work with Kiev, Kiev is doing everything right. That said, I strongly believe that the key capitals know the truth. I do hope that they send signals to this effect to the Ukrainian government during their contacts, if not publicly. Not only do I hope but I know that this is the case. It is hard to tell whether these signals come across.

Regarding the second question, on Russia’s alleged interference in election campaigns and other events in countries abroad, if you recall, when Donald Trump said that the election was not very honest and that the Democrats got votes from ‘dead souls’, the Democratic Party demanded to see the facts, but for some reason, when it comes to us, no one demands to see the facts. I have not seen any evidence regarding our alleged hacking of Democratic Party sites, or of whatever we are alleged to have done in France, Germany or Italy. We know that there were facts several years ago in Germany, when the eavesdropping on the entire German senior leadership was revealed. Leaks emerged a few days ago, suggesting that the CIA engaged in cyber-espionage throughout the entirety of France’s 2012 presidential race.  A CIA representative told a journalist today that he had no comment on this subject. No comment. But my good friend, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, speaking in  parliament after the information came out about suspicions that the CIA had meddled in the 2012 election (though, as I understand it, there are not just suspicions but also concrete facts), said that they oppose all cyber-espionage, no matter whether it comes from Russia or any other country. Modesty is always a fine thing, of course, but in this case, once again, I ask to see the evidence.

Let me remind you that Russia was the first country to initiate work in the UN many years ago on coordinating our positions on international information and cyber-security. Our Western partners evaded tackling these issues for a very long time. Finally, a couple of years ago, we adopted a resolution by consensus and a group of government experts was established, which produced a good report, which formed the foundation for a new resolution. Another expert group has been set up and will continue working on this matter now. We proposed long ago that our colleagues work more actively on the professional, technical and technology aspects of cyber-security issues. When the USA, during Barack Obama’s presidency, started hunting down our citizens in violation of the agreement our countries have, and did not inform us that they were catching these people on suspicion that they were involved in cybercrime, we proposed that both sides sit down together and settle all these issues. We have absolutely no desire to see our citizens involved in these illegal cyber activities. In November 2015, we proposed to the Obama administration that we meet and begin bilateral work on cyber-espionage, cyber-security and other cyber-related areas. A year went by without a response, even though I mentioned the matter to John Kerry every time we met. In the end, they proposed meeting in December 2016, but then said that everything would have to be postponed because of the new administration coming in.

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, when she spoke about cyber-security today, put forward the interesting idea that the Russia-NATO Council should address this issue. Let me return to my answer to the first question. We always wanted to see the Russia-NATO Council work on real substantive issues. We were not the ones who broke off practical cooperation. If the Federal Chancellor of Germany, one of the main NATO member countries, wants the Russia-NATO Council to work on cyber-security, we see this as a signal that Berlin, at least, wants the Russia-NATO Council to resume real work and not just limit itself to discussions.

http://www.mid.ru/en/vistupleniya_ministra/-/asset_publisher/MCZ7HQuMdqBY/content/id/2648249

Damascus demands UN action against illegal Turkish incursions, reveals location of main Turkish base inside Syria

From Fort Russ

February 18th, 2017 – Fort Russ News
– Al Binaa – translated by Samer Hussein –

Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has renewed calls to the UN Security Council for an immediate end of the violations of The Syrian sovereignty by the Turkish Armed Forces.

The Ministry also published a list of all violations that occurred since last December.

The letter, which was addressed to the UN Secretary General and the President of the UN Security Council, mentions illegal incursions into Syrian territory, building a wall within the so-called Turkish buffer zones (which exist on the sovereign Syrian territory), destruction of the property belonging to the Syrian citizens such as uprooting of hundreds of olive trees in order to build roads for the tanks of the Turkish army (as recently seen in the village of Qljabreen in the Azaz area of Aleppo province) and illegal backing of the terrorist groups which are loyal to the regime in Ankara.
The letter further states that the Turkish authorities recently established a military base inside Syrian territory, more precisely in the village of Jtrar, North of the town of Tal Rifaat, located in the province of Aleppo. The base includes the headquarters for the Turkish army personnel and their allies who are stationed on the Syrian soil and are allegedly involved in the so-called “Operation Euphrates Shield”. Ammunition depots are also being mentioned.

The letter reads: “The Syrian Government renews calls to the UN Security Council to hold to its responsibilities and act in accordance with the International Law and to pressure Turkey in order to stop the violations of the Syrian Arab Republic’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. ”

‘Confrontational agenda’: Russian envoy blasts NATO border activities

From RT

February 7, 2017

‘Confrontational agenda’: Russian envoy blasts NATO border activities

NATO force on Russian border ‘not a threat in any way’ – U.S. State Department

From RT

November 22, 2016

© Ints Kalnins
© Ints Kalnins / Reuters

Washington has expressed discomfort over Russia’s deployment of Iskander missiles and air defenses in Kaliningrad, saying that NATO is a “defensive alliance”and is not threatening Moscow. Meanwhile, more tanks and troops are being deployed to the Baltics.

“NATO is a defensive alliance, it’s always been a defensive alliance, it will remain a defensive alliance,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday. “There is no reason why Russia should view NATO in any way, shape or form as a threat.”

On Sunday, NATO kicked off “Iron Sword 2016”exercises in Lithuania, the largest such maneuvers to date, involving 4,000 troops from across the alliance. The exercises in 2015 and 2014 involved 2,500 and 2,000 troops, respectively.

“There is no reason for anybody in Russia to feel threatened by NATO’s military activities or preparations.” Kirby continued. “In terms of recent months and years, there would have been no reason for NATO to advance and commit additional capabilities on the European continent – including American capabilities – had it not been for Russia’s move in Ukraine.”

This is in line with NATO’s official position that military activities in eastern Europe were a defensive response to alleged Russian “aggression” in Ukraine. NATO said Russia was responsible for “annexing” Crimea from Ukraine. The region voted to join the Russian Federation in March 2014, following the coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected government.

Moscow responded to the recent NATO build-up by announcing it would deploy S-400 air defense systems and “Iskander” missile launchers to Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave containing almost one million inhabitants sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

“Russia is doing all that is necessary to protect itself amid NATO’s expansion toward its borders,” Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told reporters at the Kremlin on Tuesday. “The alliance is a truly aggressive bloc, so Russia does what it has to do. It has every sovereign right to take necessary measures throughout the territory of the Russian Federation.”

‘Russia is doing all that is necessary to protect self’ – Kremlin spokesman on deployment of missiles in Kaliningrad http://on.rt.com/7vt8 

Photo published for Russia has right to defend against ‘aggressive’ NATO – Kremlin on Baltic missile placement — RT News

Russia has right to defend against ‘aggressive’ NATO – Kremlin on Baltic missile placement — RT News

Russia has the right to protect itself against NATO’s eastward expansion, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, commenting on the deployment of Russian ballistic missiles in the Kaliningrad Region….

rt.com

NATO’s military drill on Russia’s border comes amid preparations to permanently station 4,000 alliance troops in Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, a decision made at the NATO summit in Warsaw in July.

A quarter of the force would be composed of US troops currently based in Germany, who would relocate to Poland. A 1,000-strong German-led force equipped with tanks would be deployed in Lithuania in February for the first time since WWII. The remaining 2,000 British and Canadian troops would be stationed in Estonia and Latvia.

READ MORE: Germany to send modern tanks to Russian border – Defense Ministry

NATO has accused Russia of “aggressive military posturing” over reports that missiles would be deployed in Kaliningrad, while on Monday Kirby called for Moscow to “refrain from words or deeds that are inconsistent with the goal of promoting security and stability.”

Kosovo: An evil little war (almost) all US candidates liked (Op-Edge) http://on.rt.com/7822 

Established in April 1949 – six years before the Warsaw Treaty Organization – NATO ensured a permanent US presence in western Europe during the Cold War. After the dissolution of both the WTO and the Soviet Union, NATO expanded both its boundaries and its mission. On March 12, 1999, the alliance admitted the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. Twelve days later, NATO attacked Yugoslavia. After a 78-day bombing campaign, alliance troops were allowed occupy the Serbian province of Kosovo as “peacekeepers.”

Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states joined the alliance in March 2004, putting NATO on the shores of the Black Sea and on the western border of the Russian Federation. In March 2011, NATO launched an intervention in Libya, aiding the rebels that overthrew the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

https://www.rt.com/usa/367860-russia-missiles-nato-defensive/

Russia’s new National Security strategy

Global Research, January 01, 2016

Acting by decree, an updated national security strategy, has been implemented which fundamentally redefines US-Russia relations. 

It addresses significant threats Russia faces – notably US-led NATO encroaching on its borders, stating:

“The buildup of the military potential of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and vesting it with global functions implemented in violations of norms of international law, boosting military activity of the bloc’s countries, further expansion of the alliance, the approach of its military infrastructure to Russian borders create a threat to the national security.”

It accused Washington and it allies of “seeking to keep up their domination in global affairs,” risking greater conflicts than already.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement, saying

“(t)he course NATO has assumed towards ‘deterring’ Russia, materialized as a buildup of military presence in countries of Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, increase in the number and intensity of exercises close to the Russian border, necessitated measures to counter the threats that NATO creates for Russia’s national security.”

“The remaining channels of a political dialogue with NATO and bilateral contacts with the leadership of the key member countries of the organization have been used for the explanation of negative consequences and potential risks from changes to the existing configuration of forces in Europe.”

The Ministry noted the “confrontational nature of the Alliance’s decision to invite Montenegro to the start of talks on its accession to NATO, leading to a further fragmentation of the European security space, creation of new demarcation lines on the continent.”

Are plans to incorporate Ukraine next not yet revealed? Will US-led NATO divisions be deployed along Russia’s borders more than already? Pentagon tactical and strategic nuclear weapons target its heartland.

Are things heading recklessly toward direct confrontation? Russia’s warning against deploying nuclear weapons in Europe to avoid “dangerous consequences” went unheeded.

Former German Defense Ministry Parliamentary State Secretary Willy Wimmer called “new attack options against Russia a conscious provocation of our Russian neighbor.”

Despite Bundestag members overwhelmingly ruling for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Germany earlier, new ones are being deployed, sparking outrage in Russia.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called it “an infringement of Articles 1 and 2 of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”

Putin responded to Washington’s provocative Eastern European expansion, saying Russia “will be forced to aim our armed forces…at those territories from where the  threat comes.”

“It is (US-led nuclear armed and dangerous) NATO that is moving towards our border, and we aren’t moving anywhere.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Washington of “inciting tensions and carefully nurturing (its) European allies’ anti-Russian phobias (as a pretext for) expanding its military presence and influence in Europe” – threatening world peace.

Key US NATO allies Britain, France, Germany, Turkey and others march in lockstep with its aggressive anti-Russian policy. Its officials have just cause for concern.

Russian lower house State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin called NATO a “cancer tumor” in Europe. World peace depends on its “disband(ment).”

“This could be done in several stages,” he said. First “expel” America. Disbandment could “painlessly” follow – a vital step toward “strengthening security and stability on the European continent,” he stressed.

Russia’s updated national security strategy cited other significant threats – including internally or externally instigated color revolutions, a US specialty, threatening its sovereignty by undermining and destabilizing its political integrity.

US bioweapons threaten its security, the document saying its “network of…biological military labs is expanding on the territories of countries bordering Russia.”

Its “independent foreign and domestic policy has been met with counteraction by the US and its allies, seeking to maintain” unchallenged global dominance, including by marginalizing, containing, weakening and isolating Russia, a high-risk confrontational policy assuring no winners.

US-installed fascists in Ukraine pose a direct threat to Russia’s security. Their regime represents a “long-term source of instability in Europe and directly at the Russian border” – an intolerable situation forcing Putin to respond appropriately, at the same time fostering peace and stability.

Moscow wants nuclear proliferation constrained, urging “the creation of appropriate conditions that will enable a reduction of nuclear weapons without damaging international security and strategic stability” – perhaps a first step toward eliminating these hugely destructive weapons once and for all.

Its document explained “(a)n entire spectrum of political, financial, economic and information instruments has been brought into struggle for influence in the international arena.” America’s agenda threatens world peace.

Russia only intends using force when other options to “protect the national interests” fail, a possibility it hopes won’t be necessary.

It’s concerned about its resource-dependent economy, noting a need to become more diversified and competitive.

It cites “a lag in the development of advanced technologies, the vulnerability of the financial system, the imbalance of the budgetary system, the economy going offshore, the exhaustion of the raw materials base, the strength of the shadow economy, conditions leading to corruption and criminal activities, and uneven development of regions.”

It intends initiatives designed to deal with these and other significant issues – planning social and economic policies to strengthen its financial system, as well as “ensur(e) its sovereignty and the stability of the national currency.”

It understands the threats and challenges it faces – intending to address them effectively, permitting no outside forces from compromising its sovereignty, especially US-led Western ones.

Whether its efforts will be enough to avoid potentially catastrophic global war is the most pressing issue of our time.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

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“Humanitarian” supplies for ISIS; NATO’s supply convoys halted at Syrian border

The US could be

“…securing the Turkish-Syrian border within Turkey’s territory itself – especially considering that the United States maintains an airbase, training camps, and intelligence outposts within Turkish territory and along the very border ISIS supply convoys are crossing over.”

But it doesn’t. $9 million per day “fighting” ISIS or supplying ISIS? The answer is obvious.

By Tony Cartalucci
Global Research, November 29, 2015
New Eastern Outlook 29 November 2015

For years, NATO has granted impunity to convoys packed with supplies bound for ISIS and Al Qaeda. Russian airstrikes have stopped them dead in their tracks. If a legitimate, well-documented aid convoy carrying humanitarian supplies bound for civilians inside Syria was truly destroyed by Russian airstrikes, it is likely the world would never have heard the end of it.

Instead, much of the world has heard little at all about a supposed “aid” convoy destroyed near Azaz, Syria, at the very edge of the Afrin-Jarabulus corridor through which the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaeda’s remaining supply lines pass, and in which NATO has long-sought to create a “buffer zone” more accurately described as a Syrian-based, NATO-occupied springboard from which to launch terrorism deeper into Syrian territory.

The Turkish-based newspaper Daily Sabah reported in its article, “Russian airstrikes target aid convoy in northwestern Syrian town of Azaz, 7 killed,” claims:

At least seven people died, 10 got injured after an apparent airstrike, reportedly by Russian jets, targeted an aid convoy in northwestern Syrian town of Azaz near a border crossing with Turkey on Wednesday.

Daily Sabah also reported:

Speaking to Daily Sabah, Serkan Nergis from the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) said that the targeted area is located some 5 kilometers southwest of the Öncüpınar Border Crossing. 

Nergis said that IHH has a civil defense unit in Azaz and they helped locals to extinguish the trucks. Trucks were probably carrying aid supplies or commercial materials, Nergis added.

Daily Sabah’s report also reveals that the Turkish-Syrian border crossing of Oncupinar is held by what it calls “rebels.” The border crossing of Oncupinar should be familiar to many as it was the scene of Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s (DW) investigative report where DW camera crews videotaped hundreds of trucks waiting at the border, bound for ISIS territory, apparently with full approval of Ankara.

The report was published in November of 2014, a full year ago, and revealed precisely how ISIS has been able to maintain its otherwise inexplicable and seemingly inexhaustible fighting capacity. The report titled, “‘IS’ supply channels through Turkey,” included a video and a description which read:

Every day, trucks laden with food, clothing, and other supplies cross the border from Turkey to Syria. It is unclear who is picking up the goods. The haulers believe most of the cargo is going to the “Islamic State” militia. Oil, weapons, and soldiers are also being smuggled over the border, and Kurdish volunteers are now patrolling the area in a bid to stem the supplies.

The report, and many others like it, left many around the world wondering why, if the US is willing to carry out risky military operations deep within Syrian territory to allegedly “fight ISIS,” the US and its allies don’t commit to a much less riskier strategy of securing the Turkish-Syrian border within Turkey’s territory itself – especially considering that the United States maintains an airbase, training camps, and intelligence outposts within Turkish territory and along the very border ISIS supply convoys are crossing over.

Ideally, NATO should have interdicted these supply convoys before they even crossed over into Syria – arresting the drivers and tracking those who filled the trucks back to their source and arresting them as well. Alternatively, the trucks should have been destroyed either at the border or at the very least, once they had entered into Syria and were clearly headed toward ISIS-occupied territory.

That none of this took place left many to draw conclusions that the impunity granted to this overt logistical network was intentional and implicated NATO directly in the feeding of the very ISIS terrorists it claimed to be “fighting.”

Russia Steps In 

ISIS_ConvoysObviously, any nation truly interested in defeating ISIS would attack it at its very source – its supply lines. Military weaponry may have changed over the centuries, but military strategy, particularly identifying and severing an enemy’s supply lines is a tried and true method of achieving victory in any conflict.

Russia, therefore, would find these convoys a natural target and would attempt to hit them as close to the Syrian-Turkish border as possible, to negate any chance the supplies would successfully reach ISIS’ hands. Russian President Vladmir Putin noted, regarding the Azaz convoy in particular, that if the convoy was legitimately carrying aid, it would have been declared, and its activities made known to all nations operating military aircraft in the region.

The trucks hit in the recent airstrikes, just as they were during the DW investigation, were carrying concrete and steel, not “milk and diapers” as the West would lead audiences to believe. That the supplies were passing through a “rebel” controlled crossing means that the supplies were surely headed to “rebel” controlled territory – either Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front in the west, or ISIS in the east.

Russian airstrikes insured that the supplies reached neither.

Strangling NATO’s Terrorists at the Border 

Russia’s increased activity along the Syrian-Turkish border signifies the closing phases of the Syrian conflict. With Syrian and Kurdish forces holding the border east of the Euphrates, the Afrin-Jarabulus corridor is the only remaining conduit for supplies bound for terrorists in Syria to pass. Syrian forces have begun pushing east toward the Euphrates from Aleppo, and then will move north to the Syrian-Turkish border near Jarabulus. Approximately 90-100 km west near Afrin, Ad Dana, and Azaz, it appears Russia has begun cutting off terrorist supply lines right at the border. It is likely Syrian forces will arrive and secure this region as well.

For those that have criticized Russia’s air campaign claiming conflicts can’t be won from the air without a ground component, it should be clear by now that the Syrian Arab Army is that ground component, and has dealt ISIS and Al Qaeda its most spectacular defeats in the conflict.

When this corridor is closed and supplies cut off, ISIS, Nusra, and all associated NATO-backed factions will atrophy and die as the Syrian military restores order across the country. This may be why there has been a sudden “rush” by the West to move assets into the region, the impetus driving the United States to place special forces into Syrian territory itself, and for Turkey’s ambush of a Russian Su-24 near the Syrian-Turkish border.

What all of this adds up to is a clear illustration of precisely why the Syrian conflict was never truly a “civil war.” The summation of support for militants fighting against the Syrian government and people, has come from beyond Syria’s borders. With that support being cut off and the prospect of these militants being eradicated, the true sponsors behind this conflict are moving more directly and overtly to salvage their failed conspiracy against the Syrian state.

What we see emerging is what was suspected and even obvious all along – a proxy war started by, and fought for Western hegemonic ambitions in the region, intentionally feeding the forces of extremism, not fighting them.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.