7 from rozoff

NATO allies take over Black Sea for military exercise
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 7 2021

The title is courtesy of the new site Transylvania Now. The Pentagon’s Special Operations Command Europe kicked off the Trojan Footprint 21 exercise on May 3; what is identified as its premier SOF drills. The war games will be held until May 14 in five Black Sea and Balkans nations: Bulgaria, Georgia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Romania. SOF from the US, all branches of the armed forces including Green Berets, and the five host nations, Britain, Germany, Spain and Ukraine are involved. With the exception of Turkey, all Black Sea littoral states but Russia are participating. The exercise is designed for “enhancing interoperability between NATO allies” to prepare to “counter myriad threats.” Though there aren’t a thousand threats, only one, Russia. Just as it is all-service so it is “all-domain” with air, land and sea forces engaged in combating an unnamed adversary in the Black Sea. One which has a fleet based in Sevastopol in Crimea. Trojan Footprint 21 is occurring simultaneously with the massive Defender Europe 21 war games in the same area and ahead of the Steadfast Defender exercise, also to be held in the Black Sea region.

Russia criticizes increased US military activity in Syria
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 7 2021

The Russian Defense Ministry has expressed concern about deployment of US military convoys and equipment to the al-Jazeera region in eastern Syria. The Russian Coordination Center in Khmeimim said of the increased air and land transport of American military hardware, “such military mobilization, synchronized with the economic and social situation resulting from the US blockade damages opportunities for a political solution to the crisis in Syria.” In response to the Pentagon’s criticism of alleged Russian violations of the conflict avoidance mechanism in Syria, meant to prevent incidents like the collision of American and Russian armored vehicles last summer in which several US soldiers were injured, the Russian embassy in Washington rebuked the US for having uninvited military forces in Syria in the first place. Its statement said:

We should note that the American military presence in Syria is illegitimate; therefore, the US has no right to slam the legal procedures taken by Russian armed troops operating in Syria at the invitation of the government of this state.

Pentagon involvement in Syria, where there are still an estimated 900 American troops, mainly under the rubric of Operation Inherent Resolve, has been in conjunction with its NATO allies Britain, Canada, France and Turkey and NATO partners and US major non-NATO allies Australia and Jordan. Syria reports that what it refers to as US occupation forces continue to pillage the Tal Alou grain silos in the al-Ya’arubia area of the Hasaka countryside. Recently thirty-five trucks escorted by military vehicles crossed into northern Iraq with stolen Syrian wheat.

NATO consolidates EU as junior military partner
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 7 2021

In the last two days the NATO homepage has reported on General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg and Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană separately addressing EU officials on defense cooperation. That is, on the military integration of the two Brussels-based blocs. On the same day that the EU’s 27 defense ministers approved the inclusion of non-members the US, Canada and Norway in the EU’s “military mobility” initiative to allow for the rapid movement of troops and equipment across Europe, the first time the EU has invited non-member states to join a military operation, Stoltenberg also addressed the ministers and applauded the move, saying:

Non-EU Allies play an essential role in protecting and defending Europe.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said of the unprecedented decision:

Making sure that troops can be moved across borders within Europe is a very important issue not only for the EU but also for NATO.

The US-NATO-EU triad can no longer be denied. Ahead of his joining the EU defense chiefs, NATO’s Stoltenberg gave a briefing which included these comments:

Just as we speak, we are deploying thousands of troops as part of a NATO exercise and we do that in Romania. And it demonstrates how we mobilize and exercise NATO troops, and also how we’re able to deploy them across Europe. And as part of this exercise, there are soldiers from the UK, from the US, from Turkey, so it demonstrates also the importance of moving NATO troops quickly through Europe and that’s also a reason why military mobility is so important. We will also discuss Russia, and the pattern of aggressive Russian behaviour, from dangerous intelligence operations in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, but also the significant military build-up in and around Ukraine.

His second-in-command, Mircea Geoană, addressed a Military Mobility Symposium co-organized by the European Defence Agency and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU yesterday as well. Like his superior and the German defense chief, he too advocated enhanced NATO-EU cooperation on military mobility (the exact term reported) and the need to “maintain preparedness and preserve collective security.” As though to suggest that the EU effectively falls under the umbrella of NATO’s Article 5 mutual military assistance. He emphasized to his EU interlocutors that military mobility was essential to NATO’s (nominal) defense and deterrence capabilities, and that the thirty-nation military bloc’s ability to rapidly transit troops and military hardware “across the Atlantic and across European borders” is the most essential component of the alliance’s warfighting posture. He described that capability as one that needs to be whole-of-government, that is, to include business, civil and military personnel, and added:

Enhancing military mobility matters not only for the rapid deployment of forces and timely reinforcement of allies, but also to be able to sustain forces in operations, trainings and exercises.

He was speaking, as were the NATO secretary general and the German defense minister, of the expedited movement of troops and equipment to a war front. Nothing else. For information on upcoming NATO war games to test the deployment of armed forces and equipment from North American to Western Europe, and from Western Europe to Eastern Europe, as well as the participation of EU members in NATO military exercises, see NATO to launch new European war games later this month. For the integration of North American and non-EU European NATO members into EU military operations and for a history of NATO-EU cooperation, see US to join EU military transit project as EU considers rapid response force.

Ukraine confirms Pentagon considers providing Patriot, Javelin missiles
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 7 2021

Today the Ukrainian press reports that during Blinken’s trip to the nation yesterday he vowed Washington would give heed to Kiev’s request for additional weapons for the war in the Donbass and for a potential conflict with its Russian neighbor. UNIAN relates that when asked about American weapons, including Patriot ABM batteries, being provided to Ukraine, Blinken responded:

The US, of course, would consider any request since the Pentagon remains Ukraine’s key partner.

Last month Ukraine’s Head of the President’s Office Andrei Yermak requested the US deploy to his nation MIM-104 Patriot batteries of the sort the Pentagon sold to Poland. In 2018 Poland purchased a Patriot system for $4.8b which included four radar sets, sixteen launching stations, 208 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) and related equipment. In 2010 the Pentagon deployed Patriot missile batteries and troops to man them to Morag in Poland, only forty miles from the Russian border. Other weapons discussed according to the report were air defense weapons and anti-sniper technology. There is also discussion of the Pentagon supplying more Javelin anti-tank missiles and munitions in addition to the 210 missiles and 37 launchers provided two years ago. Another Ukrainian news source today quotes Blinken stating:

Of course, we consider every request. The Pentagon is Ukraine’s key partner. Today, we think of what kind of extra aid, apart from the very considerable assistance we already provided, including the equipment, would be useful for Ukraine at this actual point. This matter is on the stage of active consideration.

The US Senate is poised to add $300m worth of lethal and non-lethal weaponry to Ukraine to the $125m the Pentagon has provided so far this year.

Lukashenko names conditions for early presidential election in Belarus
Belarusian Telegraph Agency, May 7 2021

MINSK – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko told the media on May 7:

Belarus will hold early presidential elections, providing the US does the same. I am all for it. I am saying it publicly. I am for the election they demand. I will get over, though we are independent and sovereign. I am ready to do this simultaneously with the US. As soon as the US calls early presidential elections, we will call the elections in Belarus, the same day. We recall how the election campaign was held in the US: people voted by mail, ballots cast for Donald Trump were discarded. These facts were made public. They wiped their feet on the then-incumbent president. They still do not allow him on Twitter. They blocked his account there long time ago. What kind of freedom of speech is that? They criticize us for excessive use of force during the protests. Why did they shoot the woman (Ashli Babbitt)? I do not mean to say that the police officers in the US have acted wrongly in protecting Parliament, the stronghold of American democracy. But why then do they say that we acted wrongly in defending our country? How many were killed? Let us recall last year’s detention of George Floyd in Minneapolis. A police officer stepped on his throat, crushing his vertebrae and strangling him. We all saw it. And after that they dare tell us to hold an early election! I will repeat: I am for it, together with the US. They did more wrong.

We are still waiting for the EU to give us its opinion on what happened in the US. Why do the Europeans, such Democrats, keep quiet? Because they have skeletons in their closet, too! Macron said: “It is an absolutely different story, we have democracy here” as he compared the actions of law enforcement officers in his country during the crackdown on protests with the events in Belarus. Imagine these statements, at such a level! We can hold this election. The US will never agree on re-election. We are ready to do this any day, as soon as they call an early election in the US. Everything should be fair. I cannot easily imagine us voting by mail. No way we would have been allowed to do this, we would not even have had time to conduct the vote. They would not have just wiped their feet on us, they would have destroyed us. And yet, they can act like this. These are not double standards. It is a war to strangle, kill, destroy us. Because we did not obey them, did not submit to them. This is not because we are such heroes. This is because it is against our interests. We do not want to walk under someone else’s whip anymore. That is the policy I am pursuing. I have promised to do this and I will do it.

Belarusian government concerned about US ambassador’s status
Belarusian Telegraph Agency, May 7 2021

MINSK – Before the appointed ambassador of the USA arrives in Belarus, it is necessary to clearly define in what status and with what authority she intends to work, BelTA learned from Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei. The official said:

We need to see a clear picture regarding in what status the appointed ambassador intends to arrive in Belarus.

He believes that it is necessary to determine whether she will come with love for the country, with a desire to sincerely get to the bottom of the situation, or whether she will come with feelings based only on statements of the opposition. It is also important whether the ambassador intends to work with the official government understanding the need to advance relations between nations or not. In turn, Vladimir Makei assured that Belarus would like to see normal, forward-thinking, equal relations with the USA, relations that favor political, humanitarian, trade, and economic cooperation. He stressed:

We’ve always been intent on such an approach and have advocated such an approach. Moreover, the history, even the latest period of history, demonstrates that those two or three years of normal relations produced so much more than all the previous years of sanctions and confrontations imposed by our American partners. We are interested in a dialogue in all spheres. But we absolutely fail to understand the approaches individual American politicians demonstrate towards our country. In particular, statements by the appointed US ambassador to Belarus represent nothing but absolute propaganda for me right now.

He is convinced the ambassador’s statements are based on a false understanding of the situation, on false facts that rely on the speculations she hears from Belarusian criminal fugitives in the West. In particular, in an interview the ambassador stated that one of the tasks an ambassador has to do is to oversee the operation of government agencies in the host country. Vladimir Makei responded:

We have people to oversee the operation of government agencies. This is why we need to clearly determine in what mood an ambassador comes to the host country first. Sending a Belarusian ambassador to the USA is still on the agenda. We have nearly finished searching for the appropriate candidate for this post. It is quite difficult to find a person, who knows the country and can work effectively over there.

Belarus thanks US for telling it how to run elections, country: with assistance of Sixth Fleet
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Mar 27 2021

Top Belarus commander warns of NATO build-up near Belarusian, Russian borders
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Apr 14 2021

Last bastion: Belarus warns of repetition of 1921, 1941 tragedies
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Mar 19 2021

Belarus: Wars have taken on a different nature these days
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Mar 11 2021

NATO to launch new European war games later this month
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 7 2021

As the 30k-troop, 27-nation Defender-Europe 21 exercise continues through to next month in Eastern Europe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 will begin later this month. He specified that the exercise will “test NATO’s readiness and military mobility, with forces deploying across land and sea, all the way from North America to the Black Sea region and off the coast of Portugal.” The 9k-troop, 22-nation drills, he added, will demonstrate to Russia (he didn’t specify, nor did he need to) “that NATO has the capabilities and the resolve to protect all Allies against any threat.” NATO disclosed the exercise will be first large-scale test of its adapted Command Structure, with the involvement of two new NATO commands: Joint Support and Enabling Command based in Ulm, Germany and Joint Force Command Norfolk based in the US seaport city of that name. The first is designed to facilitate and expedite the transit of NATO military forces in Europe. Its role, its website states, “is to ensure seamless, swift, and secure movements of NATO forces through European NATO states.” One might add: American military forces moving across European borders heading toward the Russian frontier. This is in keeping with the recent decision by EU defense ministers to include the US, Canada and Norway in a project to expedite the transit of troops across the European continent in compliance with NATO demands for such streamlined deployments, which, as the report phrases it, NATO “sees as vital in the event of a conflict with Russia.”

The Joint Force Command Norfolk is based at the same site as NATO’s non-European command, Allied Command Transformation (with the secondary title of NATO’s Warfare Development Command). Its role, justified by alleged Russian threats (as is Joint Support and Enabling Command) is to protect Atlantic sea routes. To put the two together, one insures the transit of US troops and equipment to Western Europe, the other expedites their transit toward the Russian border. The Steadfast Defender exercises will include naval drills with 5k military personnel and eighteen ships, including Britain’s recently-launched Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group. A command post exercise will be held in Ulm, Germany to initiate NATO’s Joint Support and Enabling Command in its role “to coordinate the speedy movement of Allied forces and equipment across European borders.” The Noble Jump exercise to be conducted as part of Steadfast Defender 2021 will deploy NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, since the first of the year under Turkish command. The war games will occur in Romania, a clear message to Russia, and consist of 4k troops from twelve nations. Other drills in the Black Sea region will be held in conjunction with it. The following nations will participate, 18 NATO members and 2 Enhanced Opportunities Partners (effective members): Albania, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the US, Finland and Sweden. The Pentagon, NATO and the EU have created a new Fortress Europe cordoning Russia off from the continent.

Russian foreign minister to UNSC: West imposing totalitarianism, rejecting democracy in global affairs
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 7 2021

And it’s only taken twenty years of wars and color revolutions, sanctions and travel bans, freezing of assets and conspiracy theories about subverting elections in the US and elsewhere, cyber warfare and chemical poisoning accusations, military build-up along Russia’s borders, repeated Western-initiated UNSC votes condemning the nation, isolation of Russia to the point where the West has now divided the world into 192 UN members versus Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, etc. to have this dawn on Lavrov. Until now it’s been nothing but esteemed partners, valued allies, cherished colleagues, ad nauseam. – RR

West imposing totalitarianism, rejecting democracy in global affairs: Lavrov
TASS, May 7, 2021

Russia’s top diplomat stressed that the West’s policy of unilateral sanctions is geared to “punish unwanted regimes or remove rivals.” Western nations are actually planting totalitarianism in international relations in a bid to impose their position on others, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday. He told an online UNSC meeting:

Incredibly but while openly undermining international law Western politicians don’t hesitate to say that the key task of global politics is to counter Russia’s and China’s attempts to change the rule-based order. Such statements came after a recent G7 ministerial meeting in London. In other words, this is nothing but double-talk. The West no longer cares for norms of international law and now insists everyone obey by its rules and stick to the order based on these rules. The West no longer cares for norms of international law and now insists everyone obey by its rules and stick to the order based on these rules. We think that such steps geared to impose totalitarianism in global affairs are inadmissible but they are widely practiced by our Western colleagues, first of all, the US, the EU and its other allies, who reject all principles of democracy and multilateralism, insisting on everything be done their way and threatening punishment. The West’s policy of unilateral sanctions is geared to punish unwanted regimes or remove rivals. Despite the UN secretary general’s calls, the West is toughening these sanctions. Such restrictions amid the pandemic dramatically narrow the chances of several nations to combat the infection.

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